Dabbling in Non-Fiction

Jess Kovacs: A Non-Fiction Lover?

Learning is one of my favourite things (just ask my three university degrees) but when it comes to my non textbook reading, I’ve been pretty loyal to fiction. That doesn’t mean I don’t spend hours researching and reading about random topics on the internet, searching for content like you would find…you guessed it, in a non-fiction book. There’s no explanation for twenty something years of nonfiction avoidance. I am the go to Sci-Fi/ Fantasy librarian at work and I’ve been happy there. I’ve always been drawn to the escapism of fiction, despite the fact that sitting down to watch a documentary provides the same amount of intrigue to me. Earlier this year I found myself questioning this weird phenomenon when I was assigned a book talk all about popular non-fiction. It is at this point that I realized the last thing I read that was even remotely like non-fiction was Andre the Giant: Life and Legend the graphic novel biofic. So I resolved to read at least one non-fiction book a month until the end of the year. The year isn’t done yet but I’ve already way surpassed my original goal of one per month.

So for all you fellow non-fiction avoiders…here are my favourite so far:

Depression: The Comedy by Jessica Holmes


This one may be specific to those battling depression but it’s also hilarious and contains a lot of content anyone would find useful.


Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky


Mildly disturbing (okay really disturbing) but fascinating look at Bellevue and how it shaped the early years of American medicine and found its way to be the revered public hospital it is today.


House of Dreams: The Life of L. M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg 


As a massive Anne of Green Gables fan (some would say aficionado) this obviously had to be on my list. Not only is the cover absolutely stunning but it is well researched and written. Keep in mind that House of Dreams is targeted toward a YA audience but I think that is what makes it so wonderful. It makes the amazing story of L.M. Montgomery accessible to so many. 


Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence

Kind of non-fiction, kind of a creative writing exercise, kind of an ode to books…whatever it is, Dear Fahrenheit 451 is hilarious. I cried, I laughed, I forced everyone to sit through me reading it to them. I have so much love for Dear Fahrenheit 451, as both a librarian and an avid reader. There’s not much more to say, just go read it. Especially if you work in Library Science.


And finally, I just finished We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir

by Samra Habib

Habib could have gone deeper but it was still a really beautiful story of self discovery and perseverance in many aspects of life. A unique perspective that many multi generational Canadians may not have considered.

Heads up though: mentions CSA, references to domestic violence, references to state-sponsored terrorism, Islamophobia, and misogyny.

Other notable favourites: Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold, The Push by Tommy Caldwell, Gorilla and the Bird by Zack McDermott, and Supergods by Grant Morrison. 




And now back to my regularly scheduled fiction featuring The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang.


Happy reading fellow book humans!

Until next time,


Couples Therapy: Bookstagram Edition

How cancer fixed my toxic relationship with Bookstagram

Five years ago I had the pleasure of being introduced to the world of bookstagram while working at HarperCollins. I had dabbled in Instagram a bit before, occasionally posting photos of what I was reading but I had no idea there was a whole community on Instagram dedicated to books. Tumblr was where my book community lived at that time and I was slow to move away from spending 6 million hours on Tumblr every week.

In 2015, unemployed and trying to find a Librarian position, I finally started to embrace my publishing past and took on the world of bookstagram. It was a slow process for me, I started posting bookish content more often on my personal account before discovering that creating a separate account strictly based around bookstagram was the preferable option. Once I well and truly dove into bookstagram as Regularly Reads an undeniable spark was lit. I was addicted. I HAD to post everyday. I looked at people like @pollyandbooks (now @polly.florence) and @abookishloveaffair and marvelled at their success. I would beat myself up every time I lost followers or got less than a certain number of likes. I refreshed the app constantly tracking every analytic that I could. You could say that bookstagram and I had a fairly unhealthy relationship. Perhaps you would even call it toxic. I remember crying when I hadn’t hit 10k followers by the first year. I wasn’t even close (and I’m still not). What was supposed to be a fun hobby to keep me connected to the bookish world I loved so much had quickly become something entirely different.

In early 2017, now employed at the best library ever (I may be biased), I was still obsessed with my bookstagram success. My inability to grow my account had me doubting everything about myself. I had my self-worth so tied up in my success or failures on bookstagram. I wasn’t even enjoying bookstagram anymore, it felt like an obligation more so than a fun hobby. My book buying stopped correlating with my TBR (which was a business all of its own). I was spending money I didn’t have just to keep up with new releases I wasn’t even interested in. Bookstagram and I were seeking couples therapy. Then came my cancer diagnosis.

Honestly, I’m not even sure how I managed to operate at all during 2017 (and 2018)… let alone keep the pressure on myself to not only perform at work but also keep up with my bookstagram. But I did it, for a while. I started to miss posting a day here or there, then a whole week, then a whole month. I would just feel so terribly guilty and upset for letting “my followers” and myself down. And thanks to the algorithm changes, my lack of posts made me essentially disappear. I was devastated but I was going through cancer treatment, I couldn’t even work. So why should I be berating myself for not keeping up with a hobby when my whole life was busy being turned upside down? It turns out that denial really isn’t just a river in Egypt. In the middle of treatment I found myself having a full on breakdown and it wasn’t because cancer sucked (which it did), it was because I had lost over 100 followers while I took time off to receive treatment. Crazy right? At the time it totally didn’t feel like it. My friend sat me down and asked me one simple question, which she probably learned from Marie Kondo via Emily Gilmore. She asked “What brings you joy right now?”. I automatically listed off a few things, some of which were napping and not throwing up, none of which were bookstagram.  So I made the obvious choice. Take a break, step away from the ‘gram and take care of me.

It’s over a year later and I’m still in recovery mode. I’m cancer free but I’m working on getting back to normal. Which has been interesting because my old normal doesn’t seem to fit anymore. As far as bookstagram and I go, we are still in recovery as well. I’m getting my bookish spark back, starting with enjoying scrolling through bookstagram again and supporting all my fellow bookstagrammers. I’ve made room for myself to read as I wish and what I wish, with no pacing obligations or pressure. I’m taking it one day at a time, participating as I feel, making my contributions to the community more worthwhile and finding my self-worth in other ways. Like allowing myself to enjoy the person I’ve become and being proud of what I’ve made it through. I feel so much more connected to the words I’m reading and the community I’m surrounded by, simply by allowing myself the space to do so. Bookstagram is amazing and a lucky (hardworking) few may make a career out of it but forgetting the real benefits of the community can be toxic. Your worth is not made up of followers and likes.

As for bookstagram and I, we are headed toward a full reconciliation and a potential happily ever after. Bookish love just might be in the air.

Until next time,



Back on BookTube? + GIVEAWAY

Recently I’ve been a little M.I.A. in the book community (find out why in my video below) but I’m FINALLY back on YouTube! I’m coming at you with a Fall Bookish T-shirt Haul! Not only am I talking about my favourite brands, I’m also doing a short try on so you can all compare sizing. I selected four bookish companies that I absolutely love, who have products that I use/ wear on the regular.

And best of all…there’s a GIVEAWAY in the video! Rio from Literary Emporium has kindly partnered with me to give away the t-shirt of the winners choice! Watch the video to find out all the details. I would NOT sleep on this giveaway my bookish friends. Literary Emporium has absolutely drool-worthy products!

Thanks for watching everyone and thank you for sticking with me through cancer and all the weird stuff that followed. Big love to all of you!


Until next time,



Breaking the Binge Reading Cycle


It was July 8th of the year 2000 and I had just got my hands on The Goblet of Fire. All 636 pages of it. It was summer and I had nothing but time. I read for nearly eight hours straight until I reached the final line “As Hagrid had said, what would come, would come . . . and he would have to meet it when it did”.

And that was how I always read; in one single sitting. I was the master of binge reading, sitting for hours at a time reading straight through a novel. It never occurred to me that you could put a book down once you started it. 

I read novels this way all through University with no problem. Then I became a “real adult”. My reading time was suddenly limited to lunch breaks, an hour here or there before bed, and my blissful weekends. I was at a loss for how to go about reading. I couldn’t possibly just read a few chapters at a time, I’d lose the flow of the story. And what if I had to stop at a really good part or on a cliffhanger? I couldn’t be that person who took a month to finish a single novel, people would think I’m a slow reader *gasp*. My solution was to sacrifice sleep. Start a book at 8pm and finish between 12 and 2am. It was great for a while, I was still getting in about three books a week but my 2am bedtime and 7:30am wake up call got old really fast. Back at the drawing board, I’m sure the solution seemed obvious. Instead I went through two years of only reading one book a month, maybe two if I had a particularly relaxing weekend. But at least I finished them in one sitting… so I was following my reading ethos at least. My TBR pile grew and grew. At 9 o’clock every night when I was ready to settle in with a book, I would talk myself out of it because I didn’t have “time” to finish the book before bed.

Finally I tried the obvious solution; read a chapter or two at a time. This was easier said than done. It required me to completely change how I spent 27 years thinking about reading. My whole reading philosophy had to change.

I was skeptical of my ability to enjoy a novel while reading a bit at a time. What is life without instant reward? The first time I purposefully picked up a book on my lunch break I thought I would end up hating it. Instead I had a blissful hour in Scotland while reading The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. Did I want to keep reading? Obviously, a change in mindset wasn’t going to be a complete miracle cure. However, I did enjoy my hour and didn’t become an absolute grumpus when my reading flow had to be interrupted. I experimented with this new reading style for the rest of the week, reading for an hour here or there, and by the end of the week I had read two books. Shock and amazement followed. I could live a productive adult life, get enough sleep, read a good number of books, and still enjoy my reading time? Whhhaaatttt. Game changer.

I successfully broke my binge reading cycle, with binges reserved for the occasional weekend or holiday. Not only does it give me more time to read for business and pleasure but I’ve also learned to enjoy my reading breaks. It’s a little bit like having a nice flirtation with a novel before you get to the climax and inevitable end. And who doesn’t like a little flirtation now and again?

Until next time,


Renegade Cover Reveal + Exclusive Excerpt

Renegade finally has a cover and it is visually stunning!

Renegade is the prequel to Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney which releases on July 3rd.

Isn’t it just squeal worthy!

Check out an exclusive excerpt of RENEGADE below!

Exhaling, the prince took him off guard as he lifted his eyebrow. “What I don’t understand is how the Faes have achieved such loyalty. What did they do?”

He chewed his bottom lip as he hopped over a fallen tree trunk. He looked to Marquis. “They were the dreamers in a time when culture, creativity, and equality were being butchered. The Academy was the foundation of that dream, for desolates, for the people with weaker abilities. For everyone. The people of Kiero followed Roque because they can’t fear him, they can only admire him. How brave he was for standing up to his father, for breaking free of his reign to start his own.”

Marquis chewed his lip. “It sounds like you have a different opinion of him.”

He threw out his hands. “I was born at the Academy. Raised in the Academy. Who am I to doubt the intentions of the Faes? They are practically family.”

Shrugging, Marquis cooed, “Sometimes it is the ones closest to us that betray us first.”

The expansive world building in this prequel had me all kinds of delighted! The descriptive writing only gets better and better. Renegade does a stellar job of filling in some blanks that people may have had questions about from the first book. Especially for those who may have felt Black Dawn was a bit rushed. Plus you will die to see sassy little Brokk! Trust me. The character development is on point.

I may even have loved Renegade more than Black Dawn. Which is saying a lot because Black Dawn was part of my heart, soul, and years of childhood dreams.

P.s. I may be bias because the author is my favourite human in the universe (and my blood) but I was also her first (and hardest) critic.


About the Author:

Mallory McCartney currently lives in Sarnia, Ontario with her husband and their three dachshunds Link, Lola and Leonard. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found day dreaming about fantasy worlds and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.

Until next time,


Professional Reader Problems


Reading for pleasure sounds like a natural action for book lovers. If it’s not for school then of course you are reading for pleasure, especially if you are a book blogger…right? Not always. Unfortunately for us bookish people, we frequently fall in the trap where we read for our audience, for a blog post, a publisher or for “book cred” and forget to read for pleasure. It’s something that can happen without even realizing. Then suddenly a month has gone by, then two, and you are starting to stare bitterly at your TBR pile. So what do you do when reading becomes a business?

I was an intern at a major publisher and it was absolutely amazing, a book lovers dream, BUT I had a reading problem. I had stacks of ARCs to read and prepare work for. They were almost all books I would be happy to pick up in store anyway so I should have been thrilled. But I’d also lost control of my TBR and that can be a bigger problem than expected. It was no longer mine to pick and chose which book I read based on mood or season. I almost resented my book stacks by the end of the internship because I missed reading when and where I wanted to. These feelings were completely unexpected. I was overwhelmed and questioning if I even enjoyed books anymore. I thought I would have my Book Lovers badge taken away because I was so lucky to be in my position, surrounded by amazing books and future best sellers, and not loving every minute. And then my internship was over and I still couldn’t get passed my negative TBR feelings. It became important for me to take back my reading agency. Sounds dramatic, I know.

Here’s how I managed to bring the pleasure back into reading while also making reading my business as a blogger, bookstagrammer, and Librarian.

I learned how to skim *gasp* fiction in a productive manner. Pick and choose the books that draw you in, even if a blog post is required. If it doesn’t draw you in on that particular day but you have a deadline then skim it. I promise no one will revoke your reading rights. Unless you work for a literary magazine or are advertising a detailed review, no one is expecting a 5000 word detailed essay. They want fun quick points. Grab a favourite line or really fabulous scene in the novel and highlight that. Take note of the writing style and compare similar books. Make sure you hit the major plot points (or at least have read them) and be aware of problematic language. Readers will still get a genuine feel for the book, regardless of whether you read every nuanced word or not. Scandalous.

I’m not suggesting building a career on skimming books, i’m just suggesting that if reading is your job, learn when a book needs an in depth read and when you are in a position to skim. Sometimes even the act of taking the pressure off your reading will help remove the bitter feeling and you’ll find yourself falling into an in depth reading regardless of original intent. Your TBR will slowly start to shrink and that crushing feeling will dissipate. Then allow yourself time for your pleasure reading, even if it’s just a chapter or two a day. Don’t make a book you are dying to read wait just because your TBR is filled with business reading.

Reading may be my job but I don’t let that job over power the joy of reading. At the end of the day, life is too short to read books you don’t like.

Until next time,


P.s. Other tips from a professional reader: learn to say no (publishers will not cease to work with you because you said no once) and always be honest with your readers.

Bruja Born

Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with Latina Brujas

bruja born

Book Blurb from Chapters Indigo

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead. Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life. Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back? 

Labyrinth Lost was more like Charmed with Latina brujas but this time around I got major Buffy feels. Complete with a monster of the week type style.

Once again I had the luxury of going into the second installment of this series with little to no expectations except for the need for more bruja mythology. And I was not disappointed.

In Labyrinth Lost, I was not super attached to Lula (I was a big Nova fan and grew to love Alex) so when I heard that the 2nd book would tell Lula’s story I had no base for what that story would look like. Hence the little to no expectations. I was surprised at how quickly the story pulled me in. Lula is definitely a teenager in love, therefore smart choices aren’t always made. It was occasionally frustrating but her actions were consistently rooted in immense pain which made it SO much more understandable and definitely realistic. If having magical bruja powers can be considered realistic.

Lula’s character turned out to be very complex and I had no problem tapping into her mental state. The story that unfolds is an interesting mix of an episode of Buffy/ The Strain. As for the world building, it definitely advanced from Labyrinth Lost but it is still vague in the sense that there is no definition to how many “species” exist in this world. Which maybe makes it strong world building? We’ve found out there are vampires and shapeshifters and given little information about how they fit into the world. Which is totally fine because at no point does it feel like it doesn’t fit in with the story, you are just kind of like okay, that’s another aspect that might be explored later. The continued exploration into bruja mythology was one of my favourite parts of this book. Definitely one of the reasons I mowed through this book in 3 hours. I couldn’t stop once I started, which is always a fantastic sign. The mythology is so strong and such an awesome base for the magical world Córdova has created.

And of course all the wonderful diversity from the first book is still there in the second. We get a lot less Rishi but that’s fine because it wasn’t Alex’s story this time. And my lovely tortured Nova was back in action. I was also chuffed to see Rose’s character come into her own and can’t wait to explore her point of view.

Would definitely recommend, especially to fans of Charmed or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’m excited for the next installment, especially seems it looks like we may be diving back into the Faerie world.

Until next time,


Someone Thought #BookTube Was a Great Idea…

And it was me.

I have no idea why I suddenly (in the middle of thyroid cancer treatment) thought BookTube would be a wonderful idea. But I did, so i’m doing it.

It all started with the #TryAChapter Tag on BookTube.

I decided to experiment with the #TryAChapter tag and give it my own spin. Every Tuesday, when new releases hit the shelves, I’m going to go out and grab my favourite new release of the week (or the most recommended/ requested) and i’m going to read you guys an excerpt of the 1st chapter! Sometimes I find goodreads/ the book description just doesn’t give me enough of a feeling about if I should buy a book or not. I find reading the first chapter generally gives me a good idea of if i’ll be into it. So now you can have this luxury without leaving the house/ forced socializing with well meaning bookstore employees. As long as you don’t find my voice or reading style too irritating. Although the reading style can always improve. Unfortunately my voice is my voice and that’s all i’ve got.

This is the 1st video in my new series, cleverly titled “#TryAChapter Experiment Series”.

And because I’m super keen and my bookish energy has been rejuvenated, I’ve been filming other content as well. Like Book Hauls and TBR videos everyone hates to love.

Check out my BookTube Newbie video, where I answer a bunch of questions in the most concise way I know how. Which isn’t concise at all.

I know BookTube is really going to challenge me. Not only because I’m the type of person who has fluctuating energy levels (and commitment levels because of that) but also i’m fairly insecure about my physical appearance. So putting myself out there in Youtube land is a little scary. I just have to keep reminding myself that this is for me because i’m enjoying the process SO SO much and I needed a new bookish outlet. And if there’s anything i’m good at, it’s talking about books…or just talking in general. Ask anyone who knows me. So i’ve decided to take on the challenge and hopefully overcome my insecurities.

Here’s to a long BookTube “career” and many more videos of me being an awkward taco. But hopefully a charming awkward taco.

Until next time,


Labyrinth Lost

Charmed but with Latina Brujas.


Book Blurb from Chapters Indigo

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives. Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland?

I had zero expectations for this book; I saw the word Bruja and knew I wanted to read it. And as we all know, if the cover is stunning (which it is) I need to have it. This book hit so many marks for me. Full of POC characters, with a strong and varied female cast, a good portrayal of bisexuality AND bruja mythology.

I was pulled into Alex’s world immediately. Despite not loving her character to start, I grew to understand her rational and was fascinated by her family and cultural dynamics. Power NEVER felt like a positive thing to Alex and she worked to distance herself from her bruja identity. Once the secrets started to unfold, I felt more connected to Alex and loved her blunt sense of humour. Once we hit Los Lagos, things went from mostly paranormal to fantasy real quick. I thought the pacing was good and the world building was detailed enough that I could get lost in it. There were occasional moments when the world building felt slightly vague but it didn’t take away from the plot enough to bother me. That being said, I’m really looking forward to some world building advancement in book two. 

I will say that I was super concerned about potential queer-baiting about halfway through the novel. It was clear that Rishi loved Alex but she was developing a romantic fascination with Nova. What wasn’t clear was if Alex’s love for Rishi was just friendly or something beyond. I honestly thought that Rishi would die after confessing her love and a heartbroken Alex would find solace in Nova. I was clearly being too pessimistic. I was pleasantly surprised when the girls got their happy ending. I was over the moon that Rishi and Alex ended up together but I can’t say that I loved Rishi’s character, despite her being exactly what Alex needed. She just felt slightly one dimensional? I love a salty, mysterious and slightly broken character (Kaz Brekker anyone?) so obviously I was a Nova fan, even after the betrayal. I know we aren’t done with his character though, so I’m really excited to see how that situation pans out in book two.

I enjoyed Labyrinth Lost and it left a very complete feeling but I didn’t end the book with a WOW. I know I loved a book when I can’t help but utter a soft “wow” at the end. Maybe I’ll fall in love with the sequel, which I will definitely be reading. I’m looking forward to diving further into bruja culture and mythology.

EDIT* Just found out book two is going to be about Lula…so maybe no more Nova. But I still don’t feel we’re done with him yet.

Until next time,


King’s Cage

“All will burn.”


(Photo Credit: Epic Reads)

Book Blurb from Chapters/Indigo

In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

As one of the most anticipated YA novels of 2017 I was pretty excited to sit down Tuesday night and dive back into this world. I meant to read a few chapters before bed but ended up reading the whole novel in just over five hours. I was not disappointed.

It was clearly a “middle” book, very political (which I loved, SO relevant to current events) and it worked to set up the final book for the action/ climax/ultimate emotional destruction. The political hopelessness I can’t help but feel on a daily basis was mirrored perfectly in King’s Cage. But the hope and drive to continue to stand up for what is right was also mirrored.

And my Maven feels were all over the map. I can’t help but hope he can be redeemed, but another part of me knows that he doesn’t deserve to be. Despite his mental struggles and childhood torture. Such a wonderfully complex character can’t help but create mixed emotions in the reader.

And Cal, ohhhhh Cal. No spoilers but there is a scene at the end that may crush some and maybe I should have been crushed but maybe i’m just not as attached to that whole situation as I should be? Definitely attached to the characters but I totally understood where everyone was coming from plot wise, so maybe that’s why I felt slightly detached. Or maybe it was just because it was 3:23am.

I’m already looking forward to the release of the 4th and final book to see how this is going to end.

Until next time,