7 On Sunday: Hyped/New Releases I’m Not Interested in Reading (Yet)

I had to stretch this week’s topic a bit, since there are so many great books coming out this year that I’m really looking forward to! I had a surprisingly hard time finding hyped books that I wasn’t so interested in reading. Even the books that I did find were not books that I could confidently say I would never read. Most of them are things that I’m not particularly interested in now, but can’t really rule out reading forever. Looking back on previous posts I’ve made on a similar topic last year and even back in 2019, I very quickly realized that this was the most difficulty I’ve ever had compiling this kind of list. I can’t complain though, since it means there are a ton of exciting books coming out this year! I also went back to a few hyped releases from 2020 that I’ve never really had the chance to mention, but definitely fit this week’s prompt.

7 on Sunday is a new weekly project that was started by Grace of G-Swizzel Books, with a weekly topic for videos and/or blog posts! The official Goodreads group with topics can be found here.

1) Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer

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I was never particularly interested in Twilight to begin with, and the only reason I read the series at all was to see what all the hype was about. I rated each of the books either 2 or 3 stars, although I suspect my ratings might be slightly higher now. At the time, I think I got a little swept up in the “anti-Twilight” hype and went into them really not expecting much. I thought the overall storyline was fine, but didn’t care for the characters or for the writing. I’ve been mildly interested in trying the series again since it’s been so long and seeing if my opinion has changed, but I’m not sure if I really want to devote the time to it since I didn’t really like it the first time. If I do that, I’d probably end up reading this one too just for the sake of completion. This book retells Twilight from Edward’s perspective, which I think could be very interesting. On the other hand, we’ve already had a gender-swapped version of the original book which seemed kind of pointless to me. From what I’ve heard about that version, the story was identical, but the genders of the characters were flipped. I’m hoping and expecting that this book would do more than that, but I’ve heard some pretty mixed reviews even from people who loved Twilight, so given that my initial interest in the series was already low, it puts me off trying this one too.

2) Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

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This was a hyped book all through 2020, and one that I never had much interest even though the synopsis does sound like something I’d like. It is about a young woman named Oona who faints as the countdown to the New Year begins, and wakes up 32 years in the future, when she is 51 and living in a house that she is told is hers. She soon learns that with each passing year, she will leap to another random age. It sounds like such a cool concept, and I love the idea of a character hopping around to different times in their own life. This is going to sound incredibly shallow, but I think the main reason I haven’t been interested in reading this one is because I find the cover very off-putting. I’ve often seen it mentioned by others as a favourite cover of the year, and I’m not even sure what it is exactly that puts me off, but I find it very weird and almost creepy. It’s a stupid reason to not want to read the book though, and for that alone, I will probably end up picking it up eventually. I do tend to love time travel stories, especially where the main character tries to cope with jumping back and forth in their own life, so it does sound like something I should enjoy.

3) To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

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This is another book that I’m theoretically interested in trying, but realistically think that it’s unlikely. I never read the Eragon series, despite having the first book my shelves for decades now. It’s one of those series that I wanted to read when I was younger but never got around to, and now I feel like it might be too late to really enjoy it. This book mildly caught my attention last year just because I recognized the author’s name and was surprised to see he had written something new. It is about a girl named Kira who finds an alien relic while on a mission on an uncolonized planet, and soon finds herself caught up in a war, with Earth and its colonies on the brink of destruction. This does sound very interesting, although I don’t read sci-fi or first contact stories very often. I actually have quite a few books involving space on my TBR already for this year, so if I enjoy those, I might be a little more motivated to pick this one up. It also puts me off a bit that this one is nearly 900 pages, so that’s quite a commitment for a book that I’m only on the fence about. I definitely didn’t pick this one up at the height of its hype, and I’m still not sure if it will be like Eragon and just sit on my list unread forever, but I can kind of see myself trying it eventually.

4) The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton

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I first heard of this book because it was a recent Book of the Month choice. I’m Canadian so I don’t have Book of the Month here (unfortunately), but I’ve heard this one mentioned in almost every video on every channel that I watched. For some reason, every time I heard this one mentioned, my instinctive reaction was “Nope, not interested” even though I can’t find any reason why not. It is set it the 70s and it’s about a young woman named Opal who believes she can be a star, and she teams up with Neville, a British singer-songwriter who discovers her at a bar’s amateur night. Just as she’s starting to find her place in the music industry, a rival band on her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a concert, and Opal’s protest sets off a chain of events that serves as a reminder of the repercussions for women, especially black women, who speak out. In 2016, as Opal considers reuniting with Nev, a journalist seizes on the chance to create an oral history of their career, but digging into what happened brings up an new allegation that threatens to ruin everything. To be honest, I have no real reason why my first reaction was to pass on this book, aside from the fact that I’m not particularly interested in books about fame or the music industry. This one reminds me quite a bit of Daisy Jones and the Six, which I loved, so I might be willing to eventually give it a chance. I’d consider it more a book that I’m on the fence about than one that I’m adamantly against reading.

5) Eternal by Lisa Scottoline

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To be fair, I’m not entirely sure how hyped this one really is, but I feel like I’ve been seeing it everywhere lately. I like historical fiction in general, and I’ve liked Lisa Scottoline’s books in the past, but somehow I’m not really interested in the combination of the two. All of the Lisa Scottoline books I’ve read so far have been thrillers, and I think this is actually her first historical fiction. This book is about three best friends who grew up in Rome. Sandro and Marco are both hoping to win Elisabetta’s heart, but everything begins to change in 1937 when Mussolini asserts his power by allying with Hitler. As anti-Semitism begins to take root in the country and WWII erupts around them, the three friends start to realize that Mussolini was just the beginning, especially after the Nazis occupy Rome. To be fair, all of Lisa Scottoline’s books have been 4 star reads for me, which is always a little frustrating because the concepts sound so amazing but the execution never quite hits the mark. I’m wondering if a book from such a different genre might be a better fit, since it was often the very ending of her thrillers that fell a bit flat for me. I’ve read many books set during WWII but none set in Italy, so that alone is enough to put this one on my radar, although I’m not particularly interested in picking it up just yet.

6) Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

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Again, I’m not totally opposed to reading this, but I haven’t read any books by this author yet. I’m sure that if I decide to pick him up, I’d start with The Martian first. This book is his most recent release coming in a couple of weeks, and it is about a man named Ryland who is the sole survivor on a last-chance mission, where his failure could mean the end of Earth itself. However, Ryland has been asleep for a long time and wakes up to find himself millions of miles away with his crew dead and his memory fuzzy. I skipped The Martian when it was at its most hyped because I didn’t have a strong interest in reading books set in space, and especially because I heard it had a lot of technical descriptions of machinery, which really doesn’t appeal to me much. Over the years though, I’ve started to become a little more intrigued by it and would vaguely like to eventually try it. To be honest, when I first saw this one it seemed like a very similar storyline and I was a bit confused about whether the books were meant to be a series somehow, but as far as I can tell, they are both standalones. I think of all of his books, after looking at the synopses of all three in detail, this is the one that sounds the most interesting. I may need to add Andy Weir to a “priority authors to try” list at some point in the future, if I decide that I actually do want to try his books.

7) Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

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I didn’t really expect this book to be so hyped, but I’ve been seeing it everywhere lately. If I remember correctly, it was another Book of the Month pick, so I’ve probably heard a lot of vloggers mentioning in. This book is a cozy mystery about a woman named Lila, who moves back home to recover from a bad breakup. Lila is forced to help save her Tita Rosie’s struggling restaurant and also has to deal with matchmaking aunties trying to involve themselves in her life. However, when a notoriously harsh food critic drops dead moments after he and Lila have a confrontation, she finds herself treated as the prime suspect. Lila is left with no choice but to investigate the incident herself and figure out what really happened, especially to ensure that her family can keep their restaurant. I like mysteries in general, but I’ve never really gotten into cozy mysteries. I tend to like mysteries that have a bit more of a thriller element to them. I’ve also burnt myself out a bit on books that are set in restaurants lately. I have a few that are already on my TBR for this year, but don’t have much interest in picking up any more just yet. This is another book that I probably won’t skip forever, but I’m not really interested in trying it right now.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Incorrect Ratings

This week’s prompt is for books that you were surprised to see had a very different rating from yours on Goodreads! There have definitely been times where this has happened to me, often with a book that everyone else seemed to love and I just couldn’t get into. I’ve had times where I’ve finished a book, hopped onto Goodreads to look at other people’s reviews, and came away with the impression that we must have read a completely different book! It bugs me a bit when that happens with a book that everyone else seems to love — I tend to feel like I’m missing out somehow, even though I know not every book will work for everyone. For this week’s prompt, I thought it might be fun to look at both sides, and pick 5 books that I rated low compared to the Goodreads reviews, and another 5 that I rated high compared to Goodreads. I’m interested to see if there are any patterns!

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

Books That I Rated Lower Than Goodreads

This was actually really hard, since I have so few books in general on my list that I’ve rated 3 stars or below! I was also very surprised to see that my ratings weren’t really that far off the Goodreads average. I expected a much bigger gap. I also didn’t include every book that might have fit, because I specifically wanted to bring up some that I thought would show the biggest difference.

1) The BFG by Roald Dahl – I rated it 3 stars, and the average Goodreads rating is 4.21. This was one of the Roald Dahl books that I didn’t grow up reading, so by the time I got around to it, I just wasn’t that impressed. I’m actually a little shocked that this is the book with the biggest discrepancy.

2) Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder – I rated it 3 stars, and the average Goodreads rating is 4.19. Again, I read this only as an adult and found it pretty boring. I honestly don’t think I would have liked it much better if I read it when I was younger.

3) Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch – I gave this one 3 stars and the average Goodreads rating is 4.12. I thought this book was fine, but definitely didn’t connect with it as strongly as a lot of other people did. I didn’t really care for the main character, but I’m also not a huge fan of travel stories generally.

4) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – This was definitely a case of “Did we even read the same book?” after I saw all the reviews! The average Gooderads rating is 4.09 stars, and I only gave this 3. I didn’t really like the characters and I’d been hoping to like it a lot more given how much hype there was. I’m mildly interested in giving this one another chance, but I’m not sure it’s worth it.

5) The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – I’m actually very surprised the average Goodreads rating wasn’t a little higher (it’s 4.03 stars) given how much everyone was raving about this! In theory, I should have loved this book but for some reason I really struggled to get into it and thought it felt so distant for what could have been such an emotionally impactful story.

Books That I Rated Higher Than Goodreads

Again, I’m not including all of the books that might fit here just for the sake of keeping the list short, but I’ve picked out the ones that I was most surprised by! The running theme with these definitely seems to be that I like books with unlikable characters a lot more than most people.

1) Lost by Gregory Maguire – I remember being very surprised to see that this book had such a low Goodreads rating, with an average of just 2.82! I gave this book a solid 4 stars. Unfortunately, I read it during my first year of doing reading challenges and I kept very few notes then so I don’t remember much of it, but I remember loving the creepy atmosphere and enjoying the story overall.

2) The Favourite Sister by Jessica Knoll – Thrillers always tend to be a little hit-or-miss, but I absolutely loved this one! I gave it 5 stars, but the average Goodreads rating was only 3.10! I suspect a lot of people didn’t care for it because the characters were so unlikable, but that was part of what I loved. I loved the dynamics between the women, and even though the book was much slower/denser than I expected, I found it so compelling.

3) Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneffer – I suspect this one suffered a bit because of natural comparisons to The Time Traveler’s Wife, even though this one is so different! I gave this one 5 stars as well, but the average Goodreads rating was only 3.27 stars. To be fair, I didn’t love it quite as much as The Time Traveler’s Wife overall, but I found it so intriguing and I loved the atmosphere that Audrey Niffenegger created.

4) The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling – I read this one before I started doing reading challenges so I have absolutely no notes about it anywhere, but I remember being pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it! Putting aside J.K. Rowling’s politics for now, I love her writing style and I was very interested to see how it would work outside of the Harry Potter world. To be honest, I don’t remember that much of the book by now since it’s been about 6 years, but I remember that I really enjoyed it. I gave it 5 stars (compared to the 3.30 on Goodreads), so I must have loved it!

5) Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia – This is a book that I was raving about the first year I started my blog, and I’ve always been a bit surprised to see how little attention it gets! I gave it an easy 5 stars, but the average Goodreads rating is only 3.42. This is another case where I assume the unlikable main character is enough to put most people off, but for me, she was one of the most intriguing parts of the whole thing! Also, the synopsis is a bit misleading — the book has a lot more to do with academic pressure and the flaws in the education system than the fluffy story about a girl learning to welcome new experiences, like the synopsis suggests.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Book Titles That Sound Like They Could Be Good Crayola Crayon Colours

I think this week’s prompt takes the prize for weirdest topic so far! To be honest, I was dreading it a bit when I first saw it because I had no idea how to even begin to approach it. Luckily, I noticed a note beside the topic suggesting we look up some of the weird colours that Crayola has already used. Once I did that, it didn’t take long to realize how many strange ones they had already! After that, it was a simple matter of browsing through my Goodreads TBR list to see which book titles really jumped out at me as something that could be a colour. I was surprised to see that it didn’t take too long to reach a full list of ten using only books published this year and in the future! I really thought I’d have to dig quite a bit further back to find most of them. I guess it helps that there are so many books with interesting titles coming out in the next year or so! These are all books that immediately caught my attention when I noticed them on my list, with a suggestion of what kind of colour they might be.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen – I would guess some kind blue-green colour, kind of resembling algae that floats on top of the ocean anyway like a kind of “skin,” probably mostly green

2) White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson – Aside from this being one of my most anticipated books of the year, the title immediately struck me as a great crayon colour! I picture it is a kind of very pale gray, close to white but with enough of a gray tinge to be visible

3) Dark Waters by Katherine Arden – This one is probably pretty similar to Skin of the Sea, but a much darker shade to resemble a deeper part of the ocean. I’d imagine it would be a bit more of a deep blue with a little green

4) Flash Fire by T.J. Klune – I feel like this colour probably already exists, but I’m picturing a very bright reddish-orange, maybe with a little yellow or even white mixed in since that sometimes happens with a very hot flame

5) Cool for the Summer by Dahlia Adler – Again, I somehow get the impression this has been done before, but it jumped out at me immediately as a crayon colour. Ironically enough, I have no idea what colour I think it would be. Blue would make sense, but for some reason, I’m thinking it would be a light pink

6) Sunkissed by Kasie West – Definitely a kind of light tan/brown or even a yellow colour. When I think of something sunkissed, I tend to think of a faint suntan so I’d want a colour that kind of captures that

7) Yolk by Mary H.K. ChoiThis would obviously need to be the same kind of colour as an egg yolk, so a relatively vibrant yellow or gold

8) Black Widows by Cate QuinnI guess it would be hard to make a black crayon that has anything other than just black, but it would be cool if this one could somehow have a stripe of red in it that didn’t get interfered with by the black, since black widow spiders are known for their red markings

9) Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. BrowneThis is another one that would probably be on that greenish-blue spectrum. I was picturing it a kind of blue like a swimming pool, but when I looked up the colour of chlorine, that seems to be more like a pale green

10) Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas – I’m not entirely sure what this colour would look like, but the name was too good to pass up! I’m picturing some kind of dusky pink kind of colour, but it’s a little hard to describe

If You Like This, Try That (#3)

I’ve definitely been sitting on this post for way too long! I started keeping track of a list of possible book pairs sometime last year with the intent of sharing them at some point, but kept putting it off because I wanted to wait until I had a full list of 10 pairs. That took a lot longer than I thought! I was actually surprised to realize how many books I’d read last year that reminded me of another book in some way, although some pairs are definitely more closely connected than others. As I mentioned in my last post in this series, this is not to say that the books are unoriginal in any way! In general, these are all books that I loved and when I found another book that was similar, I ended up enjoying it for many of the same reasons. The challenge with waiting so long to post this is that many of these are books I read almost a year ago now, so it might be harder to remember what exactly I thought they had in common! I’ll definitely have to keep better notes for the next round. In most cases, I’ve tried to pair a relatively popular book with another that might not be as well known, but that’s not necessarily the case for each pair.

If you like Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider, you might also like No One Here is Lonely by Sarah Everrett

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This is definitely a pair where I don’t think either book is particularly well-known, but they definitely have some similarities. Both are books that involve characters who are dealing with the loss of someone close to them, who they have been able to hold onto in some capacity. Neither of these are spoilers as they are easily revealed in the synopsis, but in Invisible Ghosts, Rose’s brother Logan appears to her as a ghost. In No One Here is Lonely, Eden’s is able to speak to her crush Will, who passed away in a car accident due to a new kind of technology that uses his voice and memories to create a digital companion. Both books deal with the characters learning to move forward with their lives and the struggle to let go of someone who they really cared about. Both focus quite a bit on the characters’ difficulties interacting with others and I found both main characters very relatable. Both also had a focus on how hanging on to the past can be detrimental, and I thought they both handled this sensitive topic very well.

If you like What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross, you might also like Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

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To be fair, I didn’t quite love either of these books as much as I expected, but I did end up giving each of them 4 stars. Both are books that deal with a child who was kidnapped and raised by a woman whom they believed was their mother. I picked up both of these because the concept sounded so intriguing, and oddly enough, I ended up having the same overall impression of both: great concept and writing that drew me in at first, but both started to drag a bit as they went on. Both books brought up some very interesting ethical questions caused by the kidnapping and the relationships between characters. Both were also very character-driven, which was both a good thing and a bad thing — if you have trouble buying into the character’s actions (like I did, at times), you might not like the book as much. If I remember correctly, since it has been almost a year for these also, the main difference between these is that What Was Mine involves the kidnapped young woman as an adult, whereas Not Her Daughter focuses exclusively on her as a child. If you’re interested in this kind of plotline, I would recommend reading both although it does feel a little weird to suggest them when I didn’t give them 5 stars myself!

If you liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon, you might also like Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is one of my all-time favourite books, and I was immediately struck by the resemblance to it when I read Ginny Moon. Both are books about a young character who appear to be on the autism spectrum, although to be honest, I can’t remember for sure if the diagnosis is ever mentioned on the page in either of them. Both books also focus on the young characters single-minded fixation on solving a mystery, no matter the difficulties this poses for the people around them. In The Curious Incident, Christopher is focused on figuring out who murdered his neighbour’s dog, and Ginny Moon is set on finding the baby doll that she had at her birth mother’s house. Both are also books that involve the main characters’ strained relationships with their parents, but both also have the support of another adult in their lives who try to help them make sense of their world. I thought both books were very impactful stories and very engaging to read, so they were also similar in that respect as well.

If you liked Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, you might also like The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

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These were two of the best books that I read last year, and I was surprised to notice the similarities! To start with, both are books that are beautifully written, although a little more dense to read and they can become a little confusing at times (especially The Starless Sea). Both also have main characters who are focused on the search for something. In Strange the Dreamer, Laszlo searches for the lost city of Weep, and in The Starless Sea, Zachary searches for the reason a book he finds in the library included a specific event from his own life. I also found both of these characters very relatable and immediately connected with them both, largely because of their love of reading and self-deprecating kind of attitudes. I also loved the interactions both Laszlo and Zachary had with the other characters and enjoyed the way the worlds were developed. Both are books that on the longer side and are definitely the kind you would need to pay careful attention to in order to fully get into, but they are well worth the effort!

If you liked Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast, you might also like Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley

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It does seem a bit odd to say that two graphic memoirs are similar given that they are based on the author’s lives, but I definitely saw a resemblance between these two. Both are books about the authors’ experiences caring for their aging parents or grandparents. In both cases, one parent was diagnosed with dementia and the way each of the author’s relationships with their parents evolved given their need to take on a caretaking role. In Displacement, Lucy Knisley decides to be the sole caregiver for both of her grandparents on a cruise, and in Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, Roz Chast depicts the challenges she faces with her father’s dementia while he is staying with her. Both books handled the sensitive topics of dealing with aging relatives and the logistics surrounding their care so well, and I loved how both authors did not shy away from discussing how difficult it really was. I thought both struck a great balance in showing both the positive and the negative. I also loved how both authors managed to inject some humour throughout, which helped to lighten the focus a little without detracting from the seriousness of the topic. I’m not the biggest fan of non-fiction generally, but I thought these two both did an incredible job of handling such a tough topic, and both were very impactful, especially since I had a grandparent who had dementia.

If you liked Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, you might also like Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

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To be fair, it’s been about 4 years since I’ve read Everything I Never Told You so it’s a little harder to remember the specifics of that one. Both are books about families who have immigrated to the US from Asia (China and Korea, respectively), and both are dealing with a serious issue. Everything I Never Told You begins with the death of their eldest daughter Lydia, and Miracle Creek involves a court case after the family’s treatment centre using hyperbaric oxygen catches fire, killing two patients. Both books focus heavily on the family dynamics between the characters, with a strong emphasis on the immigrant experience and the lasting impact that it had on the family, including their children. Both authors did an excellent job of crafting complex and interesting characters, and the build-up of small moments that eventually shaped what happened. The primary difference between this one is that Miracle Creek focuses on the court case around the treatment center, whereas does not include that kind legal drama. Either way, both are very strong character-driven books, and if you liked one, you will very likely enjoy the other one too.

If you liked The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, you might also like Beach Read by Emily Henry

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I read both of these because of the hype last year, and in both cases, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed them! I think of all the pairs here, except maybe Strange the Dreamer and The Starless Sea, this is the only one where both books are pretty equally known. Both books are pitched as romances, which they are, but they also touch on some much deeper topics, so it may be best to go into them forewarned that they are not quite as fluffy as they might seem. Both books also include main characters who have excellent banter and chemistry. There were even some similarities in how the characters connected with each other, as both included the main couple communicating at times through notes to each other. I also found both of these books so easy to get into because I loved the writing style, and I very easily connected with the characters in both of them. Ironically, they were also both books that I went into with relatively low expectations and both ended up becoming some of my favourites of the year!

If you liked Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, you might also like The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

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This is actually the second time I’ve recommend The Madman’s Daughter series in one of these If You Like This, Try That posts, but I think it is such an underrated series! Both of these are series that are inspired by well-known villains, either from history or from classic horror. Both include a young woman as the main character who defies the expectations for women during the period in which she lives, and take an interest in forensics and science and work with their relatives to pursue this interest. Both are also characters who take it upon themselves to investigate a horrific murder, with the help of a young man who is assisting their relatives in their scientific endeavours. Both series are also very engaging and interesting to read, including a great balance of romance and horror elements. They are also both series that require little to no background knowledge about the historical context or horror classics that inspired them — it may help a bit, but it is definitely not necessary to understand what is happening. The main difference is that the Stalking Jack the Ripper is based on real-life serial killers, whereas The Madman’s Daughter is inspired by fiction, but the overall feel of the two series is very similar.

If you liked Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, you might also like The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne

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This might be a little more of an obscure pair that the others listed so far, but I definitely noticed some strong similarities. Why We Broke Up follows a teenage girl named Min who is writing a letter to her ex-boyfriend about the items she is including in a box, each of which represents a key moment from their relationship and eventual breakup. The Places I’ve Cried in Public follows a girl named Amelie who is retracing her own steps to reflect on all the times and places where her ex-boyfriend made her cry. The latter is a much darker storyline, so anyone reading it should be warned that it can be triggering. I’m a little hesitant to say what for since I think it could be a spoiler, but if anyone would like to know, please let me know! Both books very powerfully captured the experience of a difficult breakup, and one of the strongest similarities for me was the way the two characters reflected back on what had happened throughout their relationships. Both were also books that I had a little trouble getting into at times because I found the main characters a little irritating at times, although both also seemed very realistic. To be fair, both were 4 star reads for me, but I thought The Places I’ve Cried in Public was particularly impactful because of the way it handled some very serious topics.

If you liked Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, you might also like Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

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Big Little Lies was one of the strongest books I read my first year of doing reading challenges (now 6 years ago!), and I was a little surprised to find Whisper Network bore such a strong resemblance! Both books begin with a death that has occurred under mysterious circumstances, the details of which become clear as the story progresses. Both also deal with a group of women who are brought together due to their circumstances — in Big Little Lies, they are mothers of children who are in the same kindergarten class, and in Whisper Network, they are coworkers. There is a strong focus in both on the relationships and dynamics between these women, who all may have a connection to the potential murder which took place. One of the biggest unexpected similarities between these books is how both included snippets of interviews, transcripts, etc. from the investigations between chapters. Both books also touch on some very serious topics and some of the complexities of the characters trying to navigate these situations. Both books were also very engaging and well-written, and I think anyone who loved one would also love the other!

Top 5 Wednesday: Mismatched Titles

As always, title-based topics are among the most difficult for me! I generally think that authors or publishers do a great job at picking titles that really fit the content of the book, so it was tough to think of any that didn’t really seem to match. It’s also not something that I’d really think to keep track of, so unless it was a glaringly obvious example, I probably wouldn’t remember it unless it was something that I’d read very recently. I think the earliest example I can think of that I considered a misleading title at the time was Charlotte’s Web. When I first read it in elementary school, I was confused to find that Wilbur was the main character instead! Similarly, I was shocked to find out that Memoirs of a Geisha was a fictional account written by a man and not an actual memoir, although I eventually learned that he had interviewed a real geisha and used her experiences. When I looked back at books I read more recently, it was a real challenge to find anything that didn’t seem to match! I really had to do quite a bit of digging through my lists of books I’ve read in the past few years to find some.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco – This was the first, and really the only, book that came to mind without any searching. I read this one last October, and I remembered feeling a little misled that Houdini himself wasn’t as much of a major player as I’d expected, given the title. After reading it, I saw somewhere that the author had noted she’d chosen this title purposely because mentioning another more prominent character would have been too much of a spoiler. I can understand that, but it definitely left me feeling a little misled!

2) Ghosted by Rosie Walsh – This one was probably the most frustrating! I was really looking forward to reading this one, but both the title and synopsis was misleading. I thought it was going to be a thriller about the main character’s attempts to find out why the man she’d quickly fallen in love with had disappeared so suddenly, but found the second half disappointing because it completely changed its focus. I did think the twist toward the middle was well done, but it was not at all the kind of book I was expecting it to be.

3) Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley – I assumed this book would be almost entirely epistolary given the title, and it wasn’t. This book is about two sisters who decide to keep in touch through handwritten letters, and end up sharing some of their deepest secrets through the process of writing them. I was a bit disappointed to realize that this book was not really the format I expected. Although the letters were still a big part of the story, it wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind. I guess it’s mostly my fault for making an assumption, but I remember feeling like it didn’t quite match.

4) The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud – This one was definitely my fault for making assumptions! Given the title, I kept thinking that this one was related to Jane Eyre in some way, and it really wasn’t. Technically, the title does still match the content of the book since it’s based around the idea of the main character’s view of herself as “the woman upstairs” who is always on the sidelines, but for some reason it sticks in my head as something that didn’t quite match. To be honest, I generally didn’t quite love this one as much as I’d expected, so I’m sure that’s a contributing factor too.

5) The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch – I barely remember anything about this one, except that I found it very slow and boring, unfortunately. It’s been almost three years since I’ve read it so I had to rely on my notes to remember much about this one, but when I’d made my comments on it at the time, I’d noted that I found the title deceptive because the daughter plays such a minimal role in the story, compared to what I’d expected. I thought she would be the main character when instead, it seemed to be her father who had the bigger role. I was very disappointed not to like this one as much as I expected because it sounded so interesting, but I definitely found the title mismatched!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books I’d Gladly Throw Into the Ocean

To be honest, it took me a while to figure out what this topic even means, and I’m still not 100% sure that I have it right. I’m pretty sure it’s asking for books that I really didn’t like and would want to throw away. If that’s the case, it’s still a very difficult topic for me! I’ve become pretty good at picking books that I’m reasonably certain that I’m going to enjoy, and it’s very rare that I’d hate something that much that I’d want to just get rid of it. The other direction I guess this could go is books that had such an unexpected shock or twist or that went in a direction that I really didn’t want it to go that I had to throw it away. For me, that’s even harder — I tend to think authors choose the right direction for their characters, at least in the majority of cases. Even if I don’t personally agree with their decision, I can generally see why they did it. I decided to stick with my first idea of picking a few of the books that I found particularly frustrating. Given how few books I tend to rate 3 stars or lower, I’m sure many of these are books I’ve complained about before!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) The Exit by Helen Fitzgerald – This is my most recent book that I found frustrating! It had such an interesting concept, but I was very disappointed in the way it was executed. I didn’t connect with the author’s writing style at all, which made it much harder for me to get invested in the story. I found it repetitive, and even though it went in such a disturbing direction, it wasn’t enough to save it for me. I’d throw this one in the ocean because it was so frustrating to have such a great concept go to waste!

2) Natalie Tan’s Book of Love and Fortunes by Roselle Lim – To be fair, I wasn’t that excited to read this one in the first place. It was another one where I thought the concept was very interesting, but didn’t care for the execution. Mostly, I found the main character very irritating. I found a lot of the story repetitive, possibly because I was listening to the audiobook and I didn’t really care to listen to step-by-step recipes read out or the character’s repetition of her insecurities about failing. I also did not care for the romance at all. I’d throw this one in the ocean because it was too repetitive and the main character was annoying.

3) The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry – I really expected to love this one because I’d heard it was comparable to the Time Traveler’s Wife, which is one of my all-time favourite books. I liked the main characters but couldn’t get invested in their relationship, and also was disappointed that the time travel element was not as much of a focus as I expected. I found the pacing slow and just couldn’t really get into it in general. I rated it 3.5 stars in the end and ultimately rounded it up to a 4 on Goodreads because I liked the writing, but I’ve often considered changing it to a 3 instead. I’d throw this one in the ocean (maybe with some hesitation) because of the inconsistent pacing which made it so difficult to get into it.

4) Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok – This is one that I’d want to throw into the ocean for one very specific plot point that I found extremely off-putting. I did give it 4 stars in the end so I enjoyed it overall, but there was one key part of the plot that kept pulling me out of the story. I’m not even sure if it’s just a matter of a cultural difference that I’m not understanding, but it made it difficult for me to connect with Sylvie, and also found her sister Amy irritating at times too. It was a huge disappointment because I’d loved the previous book I’d read by this author! I’d throw this one into the ocean because it got my hopes up!

5) Creepy & Maud by Dianne Touchell – This book was probably my biggest disappointment of 2020 because I’d waited so long to be able to read it! It was among the first books I’d discovered in Goodreads in 2015 and had a lot of trouble finding a copy, so I was very excited to see the ebook available through my library. Unfortunately, I really didn’t like it! I thought it got off to an intriguing start, but quickly fell apart because there wasn’t much of a plot. I do like character-driven books, but I didn’t connect strongly enough with either of the characters to really care. I’d throw this one in the ocean because it was such a disappointment after waiting so long to try it.

6) Hello from the Gillespies by Monica McInerney – I went into this one not necessarily expecting much, but still found it a bit disappointing. It’s about a woman named Angela who decides to use her annual Christmas letter to vent about her family, and the angry version accidentally gets sent out to everyone instead. I loved the idea behind it, but I didn’t care for the writing style and thought the book was much too long (at around 600 pages!) for what it was. I’d throw this one in the ocean because although it was decent, neither the writing nor the characters were strong enough to keep my attention.

7) Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes – I think of all the books here, this is the one that is probably the most frustrating. You was such a unique and interesting thriller, and Joe Goldberg is a fascinating character! Unfortunately, this book removes the second-person narration, which was one of the most engaging parts of the original, and I didn’t care as much for the storyline as I had in the first book. Most of the characters aside from Joe were irritating and the writing felt a bit disjointed. I didn’t hate it because Joe was still an interesting enough character on his own, but it was definitely a let down. I’d throw this one into the ocean to let You be a standalone instead (although hopefully I’ll have better luck with the new sequel coming this year).

8) Textrovert by Lindsey Summers – I guess I can’t complain too much about this one because I went into it already knowing that I probably wouldn’t like it much, but it was still a disappointment. I was drawn to this one initially because it focused on a relationship that develops by texting, and I tend to love that trope, but that ended up being such a minor part of the story. I found the characters incredibly bland and predictable. It was a completely mediocre YA romance, and I’d throw it in the ocean to make room for other books that did a similar kind of storyline much, much better.

9) The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard – It’s been years since I’ve read this one, but it still stands out as one of the books I found most frustrating! I absolutely loved the concept of this book, which focused on a mother whose 3-year-old son is kidnapped from the hotel lobby of her class reunion, only to return years later to a family he does not remember at all. This is an incredible premise and I really expected to love it, but I just couldn’t stand the main character. I found her so selfish and irritating, and unfortunately, that impression didn’t change much over the course of the story. I thought the chapters told from her perspective of her other son were much more interesting, and I wish the book had also included the perspective of the son who had been kidnapped. I’d throw this one in the ocean because it’s poor execution was so disappointing, especially when it had such potential to be amazing!

10) Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten – I think the same could be said for this book, which I picked up during my first ever reading challenge because I’d already read and enjoyed Defending Jacob and We Need to Talk About Kevin. I expected this book to be along the same lines, and it just didn’t work for me. Again, my biggest issue was the main character, Danielle, who is trying to prove that her son Max is innocent of a murder committed in the psychiatric facility where he is staying. Aside from Danielle’s generally frustrating decisions, I really did not like the way this book portrayed autism. Max was supposed to be autistic, but that only seemed to manifest as an exceptional skill with computers, and some vague references to his being aggressive at home (hence why he’s in the facility). I’d throw this one in the ocean because it was so frustrating to read!

First Quarter Challenge Check-In (2021)

It’s so weird to think that the first quarter of this year is already over! Last year alone seemed to drag on forever, but 2021 seems to be flying by, which is weird because really, not much has changed. Mid-March last year, my workplace closed down due to COVID-19 restrictions, and it remained fully closed for in-person services until the middle of the summer, when we started to gradually reopen. This year, we’ve been able to remain open full-time so far, although I don’t know how long that will last with case counts climbing again. It definitely looks like it will be another very strange year overall. Like last year, I decided to take on an absolutely huge set of reading challenges. I took on a total of 7 challenges for a gigantic total of 360 books, but my goal is to read them all over the span of two years. 2020 was the first time that I tried this 2-year approach to a challenge, but that’s mostly because there are just so many books that I really want to read that I couldn’t narrow it down! If anyone is interested in seeing my monthly wrap-ups or a full (tentative) list of books I’m planning to read, you can see my Goodreads thread in the Around the Year in 52 books group here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/21838038-rachel-s-fresh-start-for-2021

So far, I’m very happy with my progress! I’ve read a total of 42 books so far, which is actually quite a few more than I had read by the same point of the year in 2020. I’m actually pretty much on par with my reading pace for 2019, which as my best overall (198 books total that year, albeit including many graphic novels). I set my Goodreads goal for 200 books, so I’ve accomplished 21% of that goal so far, but only 11.7% of the total goal of 360 books! Specific details of my goals for this year can be found here, so for my quarterly wrap-ups, I’m planning to give a more general progress report and some overall commentary. So far this year, I have only read one book that I rated 3 stars, and all the rest of have been 4 or 5! In total, I’ve given 27 books 5 stars and 14 books 4 stars. Compared to the same point last year, I’ve read about the same number of 4-star books and a few more 5-stars. At this point last year, I had not read any 3-star books yet, but generally, 3 stars or below is fairly rare for me.

Series Goals and Standalone Goals

Each year, I set myself a goal of reading some of the series that I’ve been meaning to try for a long time. This year, I identified a total of 19 series that I wanted to read by the end of 2021, including 3 that I’d intended to read last year but didn’t get to. By the end of the first quarter, I finished all three of the leftover series: The Dark Artifices, Shatter Me (all 6 books), and Nevernight, as well as read the entire Cursebreakers trilogy by Brigid Kemmerer. Like last year, I made a point of intentionally reading these series early on because I’d run out of time for them last year. The same goes for the Cursebreakers series as well, since I’d meant to read it last year but ended up pushing it back once I realized the third book was due out in January. So far, I’ve read a total of 4 out of 19 series! I think this is great for the first quarter, especially since I’ve already finished The Dark Artifices, which is huge! I definitely found it helpful to give myself a bit of structure and “assign” one series per month to read, to make sure I remembered to prioritize them. The one catch with my original list of 19 is that there are at least 3 series on it that will not be completed until very late this year. I’ve recently learned the third book in the Aurora Cycle series is due out in November and the third book in the Camelot Rising series is due out in December! It’s still technically possible I can finish them, especially if I preorder the books, but knowing myself, it’s very unlikely that I’ll be prioritizing series so late in the year. Worst case, those three series (the two listed above and the Children of Blood and Bone series, which doesn’t have a release date yet for the third book as far as I know) will be top of my list for next year instead.

In keeping with a 2021 theme, I also set myself a list of my Top 21 Books to Read in 2021. Like last year, I had the difficult task of trying to balance this list with my 5-star predictions to minimize overlap, and it still left me in a bit of a weird position where it feels like books are missing from one list or the other. For example, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, which was one of my most anticipated books to read this year was a 5-star prediction but not on my Top 21 Books list! It doesn’t really matter since the goal is to read everything on both list anyway, but it makes keeping track a bit harder. By the end of March, I had read a total of 3 books from my 5-star predictions: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Finding Jake, and Invisible Girl, and only 1 from my Top 21 list: Solutions and Other Problems. I have the majority of the books from each of these lists, either currently or at least already preordered, so hopefully it won’t be too much of a struggle to finish them all!

Priority Authors

Last year, I tried a new goal of making a list of authors that I’d been meaning to try for a long time and really wanted to prioritize. These were often authors that already had multiple books on my TBR even though I’d never read anything by them to know whether I liked them! I decided to try the same goal again with a new set of authors. This time, I picked 10 YA authors and 11 non-YA authors, still with the goal of trying at least one book by each one before the end of the year. Like last year, I ended up adding multiple books by each author to my plans, which give me maximum flexibility, but I consider the goal accomplished if I’ve read one each. I think the biggest difference with my list this year is that the majority of the YA authors that I picked are a bit newer. There are a few of them who only have one or two books out so far, but I chose them anyway because they are authors I’ve been looking forward to trying and wanted an extra push to actually pick them up.

By the end of March, I had only read two authors from my YA list (Shea Earnshaw and Monica Hesse), and none from my non-YA list! I was a bit surprised to realize so few. To be fair, I think a part of the reason is because I’ve been so focused on my priority series, and those naturally took up quite a bit of my reading time. Like last year, my priority YA list will be a bit of a challenge just because I’m limited to books I own, and I don’t have any yet by 4 of the authors on my list. I’m intending to buy at least one from each of them, once prices drop a bit since they are currently around $25 each for the hardcovers. I could always get the ebooks or audiobooks from the library if needed, but I prefer not to read in those formats, especially for books that I’m highly anticipating. I think my other challenge so far is that last year, I had my priority list of authors memorized very early on in the year so I knew right away when I was able to cross one off my list. This year, I’m still working on memorizing which authors I ended up picking, since there were some I’d originally had in mind and ended up bumping out for others (Julian Winters, for example, even though I’m planning to read at least one of his books anyway). I keep needing to double-check which authors I kept on there, but I’m definitely planning to devote a bit more time to this goal soon.

Prioritizing Better

This is a recurring goal for me, because it is one that I’ve still yet to master! In the past few years, I constantly find myself scrambling at the end of the year to finish my two highest priority challenges — ATY and PopSugar. Even though these are always the first two challenges that I commit to doing and the ones I’m generally most excited about, I somehow end up with way too many books remaining. It’s probably because I’m trying to balance them with so many other challenges in total. This year, I wanted to make sure that I can finish them both in time, so I’ve decided to take the extra step of adding some loose structure to my reading to keep me on track. My plan is to read an average of 4 books toward each of these challenges per month. I started the year very strong on this, but by the end of March, I had only read an average of 2.3 books per month for ATY (7 books total) and 2.7 books per month (8 books total) for PopSugar. It’s not the biggest deal since it is an average, not a set number, but it is definitely something that I will need to consciously pay attention to as the year goes on to make sure I finish these challenges in time for once!

I’ve also read just 2 books for my ATY Top Picks challenge (3.8%), which is the prompts that I voted for that didn’t make the final ATY list. I read 9 for my Leftovers challenge (20%), which consists of books that I meant to read last year but didn’t, so great progress on that one! I’ve read only 2 books toward the 52 Book Club challenge, and for the second month in a row, read nothing toward that one. I’ve read 8 books (16%) for the Flourish & Blotts Magic in the Books challenge, and 6 books (11.5%) toward BookList Queen. Of all of those numbers, I think I’m most surprised to have read so little toward my Top Picks considering those were all prompts that I was very excited for. I’m also a bit surprised that I have mostly been ignoring the 52 Book Club challenge, and definitely want to prioritize that one a bit more in the next few months.

Read Some Non-Fiction

Shockingly enough, considering I generally don’t care for non-fiction, I have already completed this goal! I set myself a goal to read 8-10 non-fiction books throughout the year after noticing that several of my challenges had prompts requiring non-fiction. I’ve read a variety of non-fiction in the past and rarely end up enjoying it, so I decided to make it a goal to give myself an extra push to actually read some and not just avoid these prompts. As of the end of March, I have already read a total of 10 non-fiction books! To be fair, it might be cheating a bit since 4 of those were in graphic novel format (Book Love, The Fire Never Goes Out, and both of Allie Brosh‘s books), but the rest were audiobooks of full-length non-fiction. I definitely found that these two formats work best for me. Audiobooks allow me to listen to non-fiction while I’m doing something else at the same time, so it’s not quite as easy for me to feel bored of it, and I really like the graphic memoir format in general. I’m not sure if I have many (or even any) more non-fiction on my list for the rest of the year, but I’m very happy to have one goal already safely accomplished so early!

Read More Thrillers

This is a pretty hard goal to track since I didn’t really specify a number. I just wanted to make sure that I actually prioritize reading some of the many thrillers that I have on my list for the year! It’s one of my favourite genres, but one that I always somehow feel that I don’t read enough. Even though I always add a ton to my challenge plans, I tend to put off reading some of them. I think I always worry that if I read too many too close together, I won’t end up liking them but then I end up regretting that I didn’t read more. In total, I read about 30 thrillers in 2020, so I think I can consider this goal accomplished if I read 30 or more this year, although I’m not too strict about the number. So far this year, I’ve read a total of 6 thrillers this year. Possibly 7, depending how you classify My Dark Vanessa, but I personally don’t consider that one a thriller. I think it’s a pretty good start for the first quarter, but I’m definitely looking forward to reading more!

Read the Books That I Keep Putting Off

Again, this was a relatively vague goal because I didn’t really have a set number in mind. It’s also my first time not setting myself a goal of reading more new releases vs. books that had been on my list for 3 years or more. Instead, this year I decided to focus on reading some of the books that had already been in my challenge plans at least once before, to make sure that I don’t procrastinate again on reading them. I didn’t really have a set list or number in mind. My Leftovers challenge is definitely a good way of assessing this one since many of the books there would easily fit this goal. If I’m looking at books that I distinctly remember having in challenge plans several times already or that I’ve been specifically meaning to pick up for a long time, I’ve read a total of 5 books so far that I think would fit. As mentioned above, I read a total of 9 Leftovers so far, so that list is not a perfect fit for this goal, but it’s a pretty good guideline. This goal is incredibly subjective, so hopefully it’s not too hard to really feel like I’ve accomplished it by the end of the year. I guess the best measure for that would be to look at the books I have remaining at the end of the year and see how many of them have been on my list more than once.

Reader’s Choice Awards

As always, I want to end off with a “Reader’s Choice Awards” for the quarter. The Around the Year in 52 Books Goodreads group used to run this every quarter, but I haven’t seen it posted there in quite a while. I love doing these because it’s such a fun way to reflect and mention some of the books that really stood out to me each quarter, especially some that might not make it onto a “Best Books of the Year” kind of list.

Breakout Read: A book that was surprisingly good or exceeded expectations

I think I have to give this one to My Dark Vanessa, given how hesitant I was to pick it up in the first place. When I first mentioned this book last year, it was on my list of new releases that I was on the fence about, and I’m not even sure why because it sounded like something I would love. The more I heard about it over the year, the more I decided that I had to try it and I’m so glad that I finally did! It’s a very difficult book to read given the subject matter, but I thought it was so well done.

I also want to give a special mention to Red, White and Royal Blue. I should have known I would love this one given all the hype, but I think that actually put me off more than anything. I went into it with relatively low expectations because I thought it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype. Luckily for me, I was wrong and this book completely exceeded my expectations!

Biggest Let Down: A book you thought would be brilliant but was a total disappointment

Definitely The Exit. This was my one and only 3-star read this quarter, which was upsetting because it was a book that I really expected to love. It’s about a young woman named Catherine who is forced to take a job at a palliative care home, where an elderly resident with dementia is convinced that something sinister is happening. Given her diagnosis, no one believes her but the more Catherine begins to investigate, the more she realizes that this woman might be right. This book had such an incredible concept and I even loved the very disturbing direction it took since it was so different from what I’d expected, but unfortunately, the writing just didn’t work for me.

Best Dressed: The book with the most attractive cover

Best Characters: A book with characters you couldn’t get enough of

I think I have to give this one to the Dark Artifices series, specifically because of the Blackthorn family. I love Julian and Emma as main characters, but I especially loved all the dynamics between Julian and his siblings. Ty is by far one of my favourite characters of the year so far, and I can’t wait to see more of him in his next series.

Best Place: A book that was set in an interesting place (fictional or not)

Given the level of detail offered about the setting, I think I have to give this one to the Nevernight series. The series is set in a world with three suns that almost never set, and the author goes into great detail with the worldbuilding using the snarky footnotes. It’s not really a world I’d want to live in or even visit because it sounds so horrible, but it definitely felt real and interesting. To be fair, this series was also a close call for best characters, since it had a great cast too!

Best Story: A book with a great storyline

I think I have to give this one to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. While not the most action-packed of the books I read this quarter, I absolutely loved the storyline and the way we followed Addie through so much of her life. I thought this book was so brilliantly written and I loved the themes of loneliness and legacy. I also especially loved the way that characters who were cursed got what they wanted but at an unexpected cost, which reminds me a lot of classic fairy tales.

Best Feelings: A book that made you really emotional

This is always the most difficult category for me since I don’t often get too emotional over books. I think it’s only fair to give this one to My Dark Vanessa because it was the most intense and difficult read of this quarter.

Best Love: A book with a romance worth swooning for (does not have to be a romance book)

This is a hard one because there were a lot of couples that I really liked! I think if I had to pick one, I’d probably pick Julian and Emma from the Dark Artifices, because despite their angst, I loved them together. I also really liked both pairings in the Cursebreakers trilogy, but found them both a little less memorable than Julian and Emma.

I also have to give a special mention to Juliette and Warner from the Shatter Me series. They were high up on my list too, but I decided not to choose them because I’d already read the first three books before, so they weren’t really new to me.

Best Shock: A book that made your jaw drop in surprise

The ending of Invisible Girl! I won’t spoil it, but just when I thought the book was wrapping up in a fairly predictable direction, the author hit me with a great twist!

Best Author: An author whose writing you really clicked with

As always, I’m limiting myself to new-to-me authors for this, but I would have to pick Casey McQuiston and Kate Elizabeth Russell. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t have a ton of new-to-me authors this quarter, but these two were by far the standouts.

Best Series: A book from a series you either can’t get enough of or can’t wait to indulge in more

I’m surprising myself a bit with this one, but I’d have to go with the Nevernight Chronicles. While I was reading it, I kept feeling like it was taking forever (even though each book took me a completely reasonable amount of time to finish) because the writing was quite a bit denser than I expected, but I ended up absolutely loving it! I was blown away by incredible characters and the complex but very intriguing plot. The writing style did take some getting used to, but once I got invested, I loved it.

Best Read: The book you read in January, February, and March that topped all the others

I think I have to give this one to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue with My Dark Vanessa in a very close second. Both were books that I found so powerful and I’m really glad that I finally got a chance to pick them both up!

Top 5 Wednesdays: Give Me More!

This week’s topic is about standalones that we think need a sequel, and it was a very fun one to think about! I struggled a bit more than I expected because I’ve read quite a few series in the past year or so, and not quite as many standalones. At least, not as many standalones that I would think demand a sequel. Many of the standalones I’ve read are thrillers or YA contemporaries, and not many of those are things that I’d really think need much more. I was tempted to pick Middlegame, before I realized that there is already a sequel planned! I actually went back to my post on this topic from two years ago, and I was surprised to find that several of the books I picked actually did end up getting a sequel. Three of the books from that last have another book that is already out or that is due out in the next year! I wonder if any of the books from this list will end up following that same pattern.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – Aside from Middlegame, this was the first book that jumped to mind. Not only is it one of the few fantasy standalones that I read recently, but it is also one that I think would lend itself very well to a sequel. I don’t want to go into any detail about the ending and risk spoiling for anyone, but I’ll just say that it ends off on a very intriguing note that really left me wanting more!

2) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – I actually heard rumours a few years ago that there might be a sequel for this one following Henry and Clare’s daughter, but I guess nothing ever came of it. On the one hand, I would love to see more of these characters, but on the other, I’m worried that adding any more books to it would just ruin it. Either way, I’m long overdue for a reread of this, and I’d love more books by Audrey Niffenegger in general.

3) On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – This book was already amazing as it was, but I’d love to see more of Bri! It’s one of those cases where I’d just love a chance to check in on the characters later and see how things are going for them. I was surprised how quickly I connected with Bri considering I’m not that into rap and have no interest in becoming famous myself, and I think it would be great to see more of her and especially get an update on how her career is going, after all the work she put into it!

4) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – I may be biased on this one because I related so strongly to Cath, but I really want to know what happens next for her after college. I guess technically the Carry On series could be considered a sequel, but it’s not really since it follows a completely different character and story. I think it’s the perfect opportunity for a “new adult” book about navigating challenges such as getting your first “real” job and learning to manage on your own, outside of college. It’s a topic rarely addressed in books already, and I’d love to see it with characters I already love.

5) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Techncially, I don’t really want a sequel to this because I think it stands a very high chance of ruining it, but if it’s done well, I can also see it being absolutely amazing. I think it would be so interesting to see Nick and Amy in the next phase of their life. This is still by far one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read and I’d theoretically love to see more of these characters, but I’m also super apprehensive about how it would play out.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Places In Books I’d Love to Live

To be honest, I’ve been putting off making this post all day because I always have such a hard time with this kind of topic. I always have a really tough time with prompts that focus on settings because it’s really not something I tend to remember after the book is over, or when I do, it’s not really a place I’d want to live. For example, I found the world of the Nevernight series (which I’ve just finished today!) very interesting, but I wouldn’t want to live there because it sounds so brutal. On the other hand, if I do remember a setting well enough, I might have trouble separating the setting itself from the specific circumstances of the character. I’d wanted to live in Narnia, for instance, but not under the White Witch and it’s hard for me to imagine what the place might look like after she is gone. When trying to think of settings I might want to live in, I had to kind of give myself a pass to guarantee that I’d be able to live in the place safely, unlike most of the main characters. Every time this topic comes up, I struggle with it!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) The Blackthorn residence from The Dark Artifices series by Cassandra Clare – I don’t really want to be a Shadowhunter myself, but I’d love to hang out with the Blackthorns. Julian and his family were a huge part of the reason I loved this series. It kind of gave me the same feeling I had about visiting the Weasley family – a huge, very close-knit family, who I think would be a lot of fun to spend time with.

2) Emberfall from the Cursebreakers trilogy by Brigid Kemmerer – This is very much an example of a setting I’d love to live in if I was guaranteed my safety. I love the fairy tale-like kingdom that Rhen lives in, but I don’t want the risk of being attacked by his monstrous form every season. I think his castle would be very interesting to live in, but the world itself sounds so interesting!

3) France from The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – Technically, I was thinking of France in the 1700s, where the book begins, but given that Addie lives over 300 years, I could really include the country at almost any year from then on. I have a fear of flying so I’m always scared to travel, but I’d love to visit France at some point. I don’t know if I’d necessarily want to live there full-time, but I’d definitely love to see the country and especially to try the food.

4) MidMerica from the Arc of the Scythe series by Neal Shusterman – I’m choosing this one only if I’d be guaranteed safety from being gleaned! It might just be because we are living through a pandemic right now, but the idea of a world where there is no war or disease sounds very appealing right now. I don’t love the idea that I could be gleaned at any time, although it does make sense to balance things out, I guess.

5) London & Chicago from Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco – I’ve always wanted to go to London, and I’ve visited Chicago once before and really liked it there! I could easily see myself living in either of these places, at least in theory. This book was set during the World Fair, which sounds amazing to experience, but I think I’d prefer modern-day versions of these cities.

6) Elfhame from The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black – I don’t like the cruelty of many of the Fae, but I thought Elfhame sounded like such an interesting place! I would want to live there as a Fae though, to avoid some of the issues that Jude had because she was half mortal. This is definitely a world I’d want to join after the events of the series, when things seem a little more stable.

7) Atlanta from Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed – To be fair, I’d specifically like to visit the version of Atlanta mentioned in this book because I’d love to hang out with the main characters, and I’d especially like to visit the restaurant they visit that has an amazing chocolate cake. I actually don’t know too much about Atlanta in general nor has it ever really been on my list to visit, but I really liked the way it was described in the book.

8) Gatlon City from the Renegades trilogy by Marissa Meyer – I don’t want any part of the battle between Renegades and Anarchists in this world, but it would be pretty cool to have a superpower of some kind. I would also love to meet Nova and Adrian and their friends, since they are some of my favourite characters from any series I’ve read in the past couple of years. I think this one is a bit of a stretch for me since it seems like such a dangerous setting, but it sounds interesting anyway.

9) New England from The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern – Again, I don’t know too much about the real version of this place, but I’d love to go to the school that Zachary Ezra Rawlins goes to and meet him. I found him so relatable, and I (sometimes) like the idea of going back to school. I’d especially love to go to the amazing literary-themed party that he went to, and even find the world that he travels to fascinating, but also confusing.

10) Red London from the Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab – To be honest, it’s been about a year since I’ve read this series so I’m only pretty sure that I’ve picked the right version of London. In general, I find the idea of having multiple parallel versions of a city very interesting, but I’d definitely want to stay out of White London with the Dane siblings in charge. I remember Red London being a decent place to live, at least compared to the others.

Stacking the Shelves (#41)

I think this is the first time I’ve actually been able to mention every single book that I’ve added in a month in one my Stacking the Shelves posts! For some reason, I hardly added anything at all to my Goodreads list this month. Even though I knew I hadn’t added much, I was still very surprised to realize just how few books it was! In total, I added only 13 books to my TBR, and at least one or two of those were books that I already had but they got added again because of Giveaways! I’m skipping over This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron, even though it’s my most anticipated of the books I added this month because I’d already added it two months ago. It’s so rare for me to add so few books to my list in a whole month. I suspect a large part of that is because I’ve already put many new and upcoming releases for the year on my TBR, but I also haven’t been spending quite as much time on Goodreads or other book blogs lately, so I just haven’t been hearing about as many new books. Given that my TBR is already close to 4000 books (3934 to be exact), that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week. It is hosted by TyngaReviewsand ReadingReality.

1) Lucky Girl by Jamie Pacton

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I can’t remember where I first saw this one or why I added it to my TBR in the first place, but I’ve only just realized that this is by the same author as The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly, which is a book I really want to try! This book is a YA contemporary about a 17-year-old girl named Fortuna Jane who has just won the lotto jackpot, but has yet to claim her prize of millions of dollars. Jane is still a minor and does not anyone to know that she bought her ticket underage, and she also worries that her mother, who is a hoarder, might cash the cheque and buy more stuff. She also struggles with keeping the secret from her best friend, who is an aspiring journalist intent on finding out who won, and her ex-boyfriend Holden has also come back into her life with big ideas about what he might do with the prize money. With so much on the line if she cashes it in, Jane begins to wonder if winning so much money might actually be a bad thing. I think part of the reason that I added this one to my TBR is because it’s such a unique concept. I’ve seen a couple of other YA books over the past few years that involve people winning large sums of money, although I haven’t tried any yet. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure this one was added to my TBR because I’d signed up for the Goodreads giveaway, although I wouldn’t say it’s particularly high on my priority list right now.

2) My Husband’s Girlfriend by Sheryl Browne

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I found this one by browsing my Goodreads feed and recognized the author’s name since I already have several of her books on my list, although I haven’t tried any yet. This book is about a woman named Sarah who notices that her young son Ollie’s favourite teddy bear has been replaced by a new toy from her ex’s new girlfriend, Laura. Upon asking her son, he tells her that Laura told her a big secret and he’s not allowed to tell, except when she tries to raise any of her concerns, she’s written off as just the jealous ex-wife. She had always been suspicious of Laura, and that only heightens when Ollie begins to distance himself after spending more time with his father. While out in the garden one day, Ollie disappears which only seems to confirm her worst fears. I have quite a few thrillers like this one on my TBR, which also makes it hard to narrow down which ones to choose next! I have a total of five thrillers by this author alone on my list already, so I’ll probably have to prioritize trying at least one at some point soon. This is likely an author that I’ll wait to try until I get library access back, but I’m very interested in trying them.

3) Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

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I added this one to my TBR because I was reading The Exit by this author at the time, but unfortunately, I didn’t love that one quite as much as I’d expected. It ended up being a 3 star read for me, mostly due to the writing style. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to giving this author another chance, but it did make me question whether I wanted to keep this one on my list. This book is the author’s 2019 release about a probation officer named Mary whose job is currently on the line. When an alleged murderer named Liam is released into her care, Mary soon finds herself obsessed with him and her son and his daughter also quickly develop a relationship. Although Liam had been accused of murdering his wife and the book of letters he published afterwards made him a leading figure in the Men’s’ Rights movement, Mary decides that she will stop at nothing to get her own brand of justice. I am very intrigued by the premise of this one, and especially by the focus on the Men’s Rights movement, since that is not something that I’ve read much about. I’m hoping I’ll have better luck with this one than I did with The Exit. I loved the premise of that one too, but had a hard time getting into the writing, which was too bad since it could have been an incredible thriller. I’m hoping that a more recent book might be a little stronger!

4) Too Good to be True by Carola Lovering

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I kept hearing about this one because it was a Book of the Month selection in March, and practically all of the Youtube channels I watch from the book community work with BOTM. I’ve often wanted to join BOTM, but it’s not available in Canada yet! This book sounds like exactly the kind of thriller that I tend to enjoy. It is about a woman named Skye who is thrilled when her boyfriend Burke proposes to her. Skye believes she now has it all, but Burke is not who she thinks and in fact, he is already married. Thirty years earlier, a teenage girl named Heather is determined to end things with Burke and find a better life for herself, but he may find a way into her future. As Skye begins to plan her wedding, Burke’s schemes grow even more twisted. I was immediately intrigued by this one the first time I saw it mentioned in someone’s video. I love domestic thrillers in general, and I have so many of them on my TBR already. I even have several on my reading challenge plans for this year alone, and I’m really looking forward to reading as many of them as I can! It took me a little while to remember to actually add this one to my list, but after seeing the repeated reminders in so many videos, I finally remembered to make note of the name.

5) A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth

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This is another one that was added to my list this month mostly because of Goodreads giveaways. I’m pretty sure I already had this one on my list previously, but can’t find it now because I went through my duplicates and deleted some the other day. I’m so happy to have found that Goodreads feature! This book is a YA urban fantasy set in Toronto and involving Fae. To be honest, as a Canadian, I’m generally not very interested in reading books that are set in Canada. For some reason, I find they tend to hit you over the head with the fact that they are Canadian. However, this one has been compared to the Mortal Instruments and The Cruel Prince, both of which I loved. The book follows four queer teenagers who each have part of the truth about a series of ritualistic murders that have been taking place throughout the city. They decide to from an alliance to track down the killer, but their failure could mean the end of both the faerie and the human world. At the same time, a war is also brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens may be the one to tip the scales. It took me a few tries to fully understand the synopsis, but it sounds so good! I’ve been getting a lot more into both urban fantasy and fae in the past few years, and I’d love to try this one at some point.

6) What’s Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

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If I remember correctly, this one was also a Book of the Month pick for March. It is a historical ficiton book about a community in North Carolina that is outraged about attempts to integrate their schools. Students from the largely Black east side of the town are given the opportunity to attend predominantly white high schools on the west. For two of these students, Gee and Noelle, the integration sets off a long-lasting chain of events that ties their families together for the next two decades. Gee’s mother Jade is determined to give her son the tools he needs to survive as a Black man in America. Noelle’s mother, Lacey May, is a white woman who denies the fact that her daughters are half-Latina, and strives to protect them from their unreliable father. When Gee and Noelle both join the school play that is meant to bridge the gaps between the students, their paths collide and it brings their families together in ways that cause both mothers to make choices that might haunt them for years to come. This sounds like such an interesting book and I’d love to give it a try. I haven’t read very much about integration in schools, and I don’t think I’ve read anything aside from YA on that topic. This is another book that very quickly caught my attention when vloggers mentioned it, and I’m looking forward to picking it up.

7) Nice Girls by Catherine Dang

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This book follows my usual pattern of being drawn to thrillers that have a house on the cover! I can’t remember whether I first saw it on a list of upcoming thrillers, since it’s due out this September, or just on my Goodreads feed. It is about a girl named Mary who thought her scholarship to an Ivy League school was her ticket out of her town in Minnesota. Three years later, she returns after being kicked out of the school at the beginning of her senior year, although no one knows why. When a rising social media star named Olivia goes missing, Mary becomes obsessed. Olivia had been her childhood best friend, but the two hadn’t spoken in years, and Mary knows that behind her sweet online persona, Olivia was manipulative. Mary also believes that her disappearance is tied to another missing teenager whose absence has gone under the radar, and soon delves into the lives of the two of them to figure out what really happened. Aside from the cover art, this one caught my attention because of the focus on social media, which is something that I tend to look for in thrillers. This book has also been compared to Megan Miranda’s All the Missing Girls and Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive, which are both also on my TBR. Given that it’s months until this one is released, it will be quite a while before I can get to it, but I’m looking forward to it!

8) Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

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I’ve only recently added The House on the Cerulean Sea to my TBR after hearing about it endlessly, so when I saw a new book coming by the same author, I decided to add it to my list right away. This is another book that won’t be out until this September, so it’s still quite a long way off. This book is about a man named Wallace Price, who is collected by a reaper at his own funeral. Instead of taking him to the afterlife, Wallace is led to a small village, with a tea shop on its outskirts run by Hugo, who is the ferryman to souls who need to cross over. Wallace isn’t ready to abandon his life just yet, and with Hugo’s help, he starts to learn about all the things he’s been missing. When a powerful being known as The Manager arrives at the teahouse and gives Wallace only one week to cross over, he sets out to spend his last week living an entire lifetime. I’m still kicking myself a bit for neglecting to add The House on the Cerulean Sea to my TBR for so long! Somehow I’d assumed it was middle grade and didn’t think I’d be that interested, but the more I’ve heard about it, the higher it’s jumped up on my list. This book sounds like an absolutely incredible concept too, and I’m already excited to try it. I’m hoping to love this author’s writing as much as I expect!

9) Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

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This is the third book in the Friend Zone series of companion novels. I have all three on my TBR although I haven’t read any of them yet. This book is about a woman named Vanessa who likes to live every day to the fullest, and is not interested in wasting any time because she may share a fatal genetic condition with her mother. Vanessa wants to travel the world and show her Youtube followers the joy she finds in seizing every moment. When her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in charge of her young daughter, she finds herself stuck at home for the forseeable future. The last person she expects to help is Adrian, the lawyer who lives next door, but as they grow closer, Vanessa soon realizes that her lifestyle clashes with his need for structure and doubts that they would be compatible long-term. I’ve really been getting into these kinds of adult romances in the past couple of years, and this one sounds like the kind that I tend to love. I guess it’s a bit of a stretch to have added this one to my list when I haven’t read anything else by the author yet, but I’m expecting to really enjoy them all. This one is due out in just two weeks, but it will be a while before I get to it since I’d want to read the other two first. Even though it’s often not necessary in these kinds of romance series, I still like to read them in order.

10) I’ll Never Tell by Catherine McKenzie

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Several books by this author were available as Goodreads giveaways this month, and I signed up for several of them because they seemed like the kinds of thrillers I tend to like. I’ve had Fractured by this author on my TBR for years now, but I’m not sure I even realized it was by the same author when I added it. I won a giveaway for another of Catherine McKenzie’s books and I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive. This one is her 2019 release about a the MacAllister family. Twenty years ago, a woman named Amanda Holmes was found bludgeoned in a rowboat at the family’s Camp Macaw ,but no one was ever charged for the crime. Now, after their parents’ deaths, the MacAllister siblings return to the camp to decide what to do with the land, only to learn that the will specifies that nothing can be done until they unravel the mystery of what happened to Amanda. Any one of the siblings could have been responsible for her death, and each one holds a piece of the truth. I tend to love thrillers that involve family secrets and people who may not get along forced to work together to figure out the truth. This book is not necessarily at the top of my list currently, but it sounds like something I’d like to try.

11) Girl A by Abigail Dean

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This is yet another book that I discovered through mentions of Book of the Month picks, and it’s one that for some reason, I was very hesitant to add to my TBR despite it sounding like something I’d love. This book is about a young woman named Lex who grew up with her siblings in a House of Horrors. She was known as Girl A, the oldest girl in the family who helped to free her older brother and four younger siblings. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t avoid her past any longer. Along with her sister, she decides to turn the house into a force for good, but in order to do that, she needs to come to terms with her siblings and what happened to them all. This book has been compared to Room, which is one of the best books I’ve read in the past few years, as well as Sharp Objects, which I haven’t read yet, although I’ve loved both of the Gillian Flynn books that I have tried. After looking at some of the reviews, it looks like this is more of a character study than a true thriller, but I tend to love character-driven books. I’m a little nervous because I’ve seen very mixed reviews for this one, but it sounds so interesting. I’m definitely interested in trying this one for myself.

12) The Boy in the Photo by Nicole Trope

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I added this one to my TBR just today after seeing it come up on my feed. I have many of Nicole Trope’s books on my TBR already, but haven’t tried any of them yet, which seems to be a pattern I have with many thriller authors. This book is about a woman named Megan whose six-year-old son Daniel disappears from the schoolyard. According to his teacher, he was picked up by his father Greg, but Megan and Greg are no longer together after she escaped from his cruelty and finally divorced him. Six years later, Megan is feeding her new baby daughter when she gets a call from the police saying that Daniel has just arrived at the police station. Megan is thrilled to have her son back, but he is no longer the boy that she remembers. Daniel is grieving the death of his father and blames Megan for the loss. She also soon realizes that Daniel is harbouring a secret that could put them both in danger. I’m especially intrigued by this one because I love the concept of Megan’s son returning after so long away from her. It’s an angle that I rarely see addressed but it has such great potential. I have at least 5 other books by this author on my TBR, most of which have been there since 2018, so she’s another one that I’ll likely have to prioritize soon!