Top 5 Wednesdays: Fictional Places You’d Like to Visit

I cringe every single time this prompt comes up, which seems to be a minimum of once per year! I seem to be especially burnt out on it right now because several of the reading challenges I’ve been planning to do for next year include multiple geography-based prompts, and I’m a bit tired of it. I know a lot of readers have goals to read one book for each of the US states or one from every country of the world, but that’s never been something that I’ve been interested in. I like to read and learn about different cultures and places, but I also don’t like choosing my books strictly based on their setting. This prompt is a little more open since it involves fictional places, so it includes fantasy settings as well. Every time this kind of prompt comes up though, I find my mind gets a little stuck on remembering the setting only in the context it was in during the book — so if the story took place during some kind of war or revolution, then that’s what I associate it with and I don’t want to visit! For some reason, it’s very hard for my brain to separate the setting from the plot. Aside from that, I find that I don’t necessarily remember settings so clearly in general. I’m a lot more likely to remember the characters or plotline than the setting, even when I like where the book is set. What makes it even more complicated is that this kind of prompt comes up at least once per year, so even if I do find settings I like, I tend to have already used them! I’m doing my best not to repeat any settings I’ve already chosen here, but the search function on WordPress isn’t the best so I’m not sure I caught all the posts on a similar topic to double check.

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) Graves Glen, Georgia from The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling – I love the small town vibes of this place and especially all the witch-themed shops they have (mainly the bookshop)! I was especially interested in the Fall Festival and also Rhys’s gothic house, mostly because it reminded me of The Addams Family. I wouldn’t want to be in this town when it is cursed like in the book, but otherwise it sounds just adorable.

2) Charon’s Crossing Tea from Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune – Even though this teashop is mostly a place for spirits to cross over, it does function as a regular teashop as well. I don’t even like tea but I’d still want to visit this place for the atmosphere, especially because of Hugo himself, and to try some of the baked goods they might also offer.

3) The Great Libraries from Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson – I’m probably too much of a coward to actually want to visit this place because of the potential for magical dangers, but it’s a giant library so it would be hard to resist. I love the concept of a gothic-ish library full of magical knowledge, and this is one book where I do remember the setting being one of the things I loved most!

4) Willow Creek from the Well Met series by Jen DeLuca – This is the one setting that I think I may have repeated from earlier posts because I remember mentioning the Renaissance Faire before! I know Ren Faires are real so it might be a stretch to call this a fictional setting, but the specific town of Willow Creek is fictional, and it just seems like such a fun place to visit.

5) The private island in the Caraval series by Stephanie Garber – I’m not entirely sure what this setting is called, but I love the whole concept of the circus-like private island where Caraval is held. I wouldn’t want to be participating in the games, but I think it would be fun to watch, or maybe to tour the island when the games were not being held just to see it.


Top 10 Tuesdays: Cozy Reads

I had a strangely hard time defining what counts as a a cozy read for me, but I think the conclusion that I’ve come to is that I just don’t read a ton of cozy books! I read a lot of thrillers and a lot of YA fantasy, both of which tend to be higher-stakes than I’d expect a cozy book to be. I had to do quite a bit of digging back through the books I’ve read in the past to see which ones really jumped out at me as cozy. Perhaps not so surprisingly, the ones that struck me as cozy the quickest tended to be children’s books and even a few graphic novels/comic collections. I tend to find books cozy when they have small town vibes (minus the creepiness of small town thrillers), a cute romance, and/or a strong focus on family and friendship. I guess the other thing that I tend to associate with the word “cozy” is the cozy mystery genre, but I’ve read so few of those and often don’t love them, so it’s harder for me to remember or recommend them. I know a lot of people tend to read cozy books around the fall and early winter, but I seem to go the other way and focus on creepy books and thrillers! I do have quite a few romances left on my TBR that I still need to read, so it’s possible many of those would be cozy for the next time this prompt might come up.

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.

An End Of Year Pile of Shame!

I was originally planning to do my usual Stacking the Shelves today, but decided to put it off for one more week. Technically the month doesn’t end up Wednesday, so this post would be about equidistant from the last day of the month either way. More than anything though, it’s because I spent most of my day on a putting together the newsletter for work yesterday that kept me up way too late. It’s partly my own fault because I’d started it later in the day than usual, but we’d also had a PD Day on Friday so I lost the chunk of prep time I usually has that lets me prepare for this. In the end, I got it all done but the last thing I wanted to do today was much more writing! Instead, since it’s getting toward the end of the year, I decided to go for a Pile of Shame instead. I’ve only really started with these kinds of posts within the past year or two, but I find them equal parts fun and embarrassing! Given how many books I’m super excited to read, it’s embarrassing to realize how few of them I actually get to! I think in a lot of cases, I end up just getting in my own way by deciding that I should try to space some of my most anticipated books out so I don’t read them all in a row, but then I end up running out of time before I can get to them! I’ve seen other blogs where people go back and put checkmarks or some kind of symbol on the image of the books they’ve actually followed through and read, and while I’d love to be able to do that, I can’t figure out how to get it to work aside from editing images in another program, and that just seems annoying. With just one month left of the year, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to get to all of these, but I’m hoping to read at least some of them. In theory, Pile of Shame posts give me an extra level of accountability that will hopefully push me to actually prioritize these books! I know a lot of people do some kind of “I have x number of months to read this, otherwise I’ll unhaul it” but I don’t want to do that either. The time pressure might push me to pick up the book, but I also don’t want to rush it and read it when I’m not really in the mood, because then I’m bound not to enjoy it. The books that I’ve chosen for this post are all books that I was very excited to get and was actively planning to read this year (and hopefully have not already been on another Pile of Shame!).

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books with Long Titles

The last time I did a topic like this, I took the very literal route of trying to find the books on my TBR that had the longest possible titles, including subtitles. I ended up finding 10 books that ranged in title length from 14-24 words! This time, I decided to take a slightly different approach and purposely exclude books that had subtitles. The vast majority of the books I read have 2-4 words in the title, but I was curious to see if I had a lot of books on my list with more than that. I decided to define “long title” as 6 words or more, but very quickly decided to even exclude 6 word titles since there were many of those! I also noticed myself getting easily thrown off by the length of the words. I’d often find titles that had 5 words in them but the words themselves were unusually long, and I’d assume that was a longer title than something that had more words in it. I had to keep double-checking my counting to make sure the books I picked actually fit. I guess another possible direction to go with this kind of prompt is the books that have the longest title by number of letters, but that seems a little extreme. I ended up finding quite a few books with titles that were a minimum of 7 words. I originally intended to stop looking once I reached the point on my list where I started my previous post on this topic (linked above), but it bugged me that there may be other longer titles that I was missing, so I ended up looking through my whole Goodreads TBR. To be fair, I did skim quite a bit since my list is super long, so it’s possible I missed a few. I’m still excluding books with subtitles, although I found many of those that might fit. Since I’m just listing titles, I decided to give 10 instead of just 5.

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.

To be fair, there were many books that had 8 or 9 words in the title, so I’ve just randomly chosen a few:

1) All That Is Mine I Carry With Me by William Landay (8 words)

2) The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk (8 words)

3) How Moon Fuentez Fell In Love with the Universe (9 words)

4) You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi (9 words)

5) By the Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters (9 words)

6) My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman (9 words)

7) And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman (10 words)

8) Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz (10 words)

9) The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks (13 words)

10) We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch (14 words)

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books I Was Thankful To Buy/Get Recently (Thankfulness Freebie)

Even though a thankfulness topic comes up every year, it surprises me every time! I live in Canada so our Thanksgiving has long past, and it’s also not a holiday that my family really acknowledges at all. So every time a thankfulness topic comes up, it seems a bit random to me until I remember why it’s listed. Luckily, this topic always comes up shortly after my birthday so it also gives me a great opportunity to talk about some of the books that I was thankful to get as gifts, as well as some others that I was thankful to pick up for myself. I buy books all through the year, often from Book Outlet since they are the most affordable and their stock changes frequently. Every once in a while, I come across a book that I really badly wanted on Book Outlet for a fraction of the price that I would have paid for a brand-new copy (albeit that’s not too hard to do now, when new hardcovers tend to be $35 – $40) and I can often pick up some of my most anticipated books of the year that way, if I wait long enough. For this year’s list of books I’m thankful for, I decided to include a mix of some of the books that I received as birthday gifts, and several that I was especially excited to buy for myself!

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) Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

This book was literally the top of my birthday wishlist, and I was very excited to see that my brother got it for me! Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors, and I’m especially excited for this one because it’s the first courtroom book she has written in a while. This book is about a woman named Olivia who has moved to a new town with her son Asher for a fresh start, and soon crosses paths with a girl named Lily who has also recently moved there. When Lily is found dead, Asher is questioned by the police causing his mother to realize he may have been hiding more than she knew. I was a little disappointed at first because I think I’ve pretty easily predicted the “twist” that reviewers have been very careful not to spoil, but to me it was obvious from the moment I checked out who the co-author was (since Jodi Picoult has never written with a co-author before, aside from two YA books co-written by her daughter). I’ve grudgingly accepted that this book will be the one I’ll most likely use for a reading challenge prompt next year for “a book related to birds, bees or bunnies.” I say grudgingly because I really didn’t like that prompt, mostly because that group has been on a mission to get a bunnies prompt on the final challenge list for years now, and I was tired of seeing it. Luckily, this book fits since it also involves beekeeping, and it gives me something I’m very motivated to pick up so at least it’s an easy way to get that prompt out of the way.

2) Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

This book was the second highest on my birthday wishlist, and I wanted it mostly because of author name alone. I’ve absolutely loved both of Celeste Ng’s previous books, so I was excited to see she had something new coming. My mom ended up buying this one for me! To be honest, I hadn’t looked too far into what this book was actually about when I first added it to my list. It is about a 12-year-old boy named Bird whose mother was a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was 9. Since then, he has grown up disavowing all of her work until he receives a mysterious letter with a cryptic clue that draws him back into the folktales she uses to share with him. This book is set in a version of America where there are laws to “preserve American culture” which allow authorities to relocate children of anyone who opposes them, and forces libraries to remove books that seem unpatriotic. Since I am not American, I’m not actually sure how closely these laws resemble reality, although if they are fictional, it’s a little sad that I can’t easily tell that they are not real. I’ve seen this book tagged as dystopian so I assume it’s not real. Either way, this book sounds very interesting and I’ve loved both of this authors’ previous releases, so I’m excited to try this one too!

3) Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jagirdar

I have literally been looking for a hardcover copy of this book all year! For some reason, even though this author’s other books are easily available in hardcover here, this one wasn’t. Even though they are not a series, I generally prefer if my books by the same author are all in the same format because it makes it easier for me to shelve them together. Luckily, I have a friend who lives in the UK who offered to buy me some books for my birthday and this was the first one that I chose. I specifically asked him to look for a few books that are nearly impossible to get over here, and even though this is a fairly fluffy (as far as I know) YA romance, it’s been bothering me that I couldn’t get the “right” version here. This book is about a girl named Hani whose friends don’t believe her when she says she is bisexual, so in a panic she blurts out that she is dating Ishu, an overachieving girl whom her friends all hate. Luckily for her, Ishu agrees to fake date her if Hani helps her become more popular so she can be voted Head Girl to add to her college applications. This book sounds absolutely adorable and I love fake dating as a trope (when it is done well). I’m very thankful that my friend was able to quickly and easily find a hardcover copy of this book for me!

4) My Other Husband by Dorothy Koomson

This was one of several books by Dorothy Koomson that the same friend also sent me, since she’s another author whose books can be difficult to find here. I read The Ice Cream Girls from my library several years ago and really enjoyed it, but at the time, none of her other books were available. I’ve just checked now, and there are 5 of her books available to borrow, so at least they have some. I’d completely forgotten this book even existed until my friend read out it’s name. I’d asked him to check out a few authors for me to see if their books were available, preferably in hardcover, and he gave me a list of titles to choose from. I literally thought I’d never heard of this one before, but according to Goodreads I had it on my TBR since July of this year, and it came out in August. I even mentioned it in my Stacking the Shelves post for that month! I have no idea how I completely forgot about this one in just a couple of months, but it’s probably because I hadn’t even bothered adding it to my Amazon wishlist since it was only available as paperback and I wanted the hardcover. My friend ended up buying me 4 Dorothy Koomson books including this one (the others were The Ice Cream Girls, The Friend, and I Know What You’ve Done). I’m hoping to prioritize at least one of these for my reading challenges next year, since it’s been so long since I’ve read anything by this author!

5) Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

I mentioned this in my recent Book Haul post, but I’ve been jealous for years now of the fact that Americans could be part of Book of the Month, and it wasn’t available in Canada. Earlier this year, they finally announced that they were coming here too, and I immediately signed up to be on the mailing list for any news and updates. Just before my birthday in October, I got an email offering me early access to BOTM where I could buy any book I wanted for just $5 and I jumped on that deal immediately. There were so many books that I really wanted, but I ultimately decided to choose Daisy Darker because it was the one that was otherwise most expensive on my wishlist! It was $39.99 on Amazon and around the same on Indigo. I figured that even if I somehow ended up not signing up for BOTM in general, at least this gave me a chance to grab one book that I very badly wanted. Of course, I ended up upgrading my account to an annual subscription shortly after this book arrived, and I saw that shipping took a reasonable time and the books were also excellent quality. For some reason, my mom was convinced that BOTM books were a different size than typical hardcovers and she also thought the pages were a different quality. From what I’ve seen so far, the books are definitely normal sized, and the paper seems fine. Either way, I’m very thankful BOTM is now available in Canada!

6) The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

This was an other book that I grabbed from BOTM in my first full box. My monthly selection was The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh, which I was also very thankful to grab, but I was even more thankful to be able to get this book as an add-on. This book was literally one of my most anticipated of the year, but I hadn’t been able to buy it anywhere because it was just too expensive! I was holding out for it to come up on Book Outlet or possibly if Amazon or Indigo had a Black Friday sale. Simone St. James’s books have consistently been my favourites every year that I’ve read them so far, and I’m hoping this one will be no exception. It is about a woman named Shea who gets the opportunity to interview Beth, a woman who was accused of murdering two men 40 years ago, but eventually acquitted of the crime. Shea meets Beth at her mansion to conduct the interviews for her true crime website, but quickly finds herself uncomfortable and wonders whether Beth may be manipulating her or if there are other dangers lurking in her home. This book sounds so good and I’m very excited to finally have a copy! I’d strongly considered buying this one as my “early access” book instead of Daisy Darker but ultimately went for that one instead because it was a little more expensive to get elsewhere. This book was closer to $35 so with a good sale, it might have dropped down to a reasonable price whereas Daisy Darker was closer to $40, so pretty unlikely. I’m so excited to read this!

7) Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

This was one of the few top priority books I had on my list that I didn’t actually own yet, again due to the ridiculously high price. Luckily, I managed to snag a copy of this one from Book Outlet after coming across it completely by chance! I usually set my Book Outlet page to show me books by arrival date so I can see things as they come in, but every so often, something sneaks through that it never shows me. I found this one was available unexpectedly after digging a through pages into their new arrivals. I was very surprised to see it was listed since I had never seen it show up on the front page, and it was already about 5 or 6 pages in. It’s possible it just got buried by a bunch of other new releases during a time where I didn’t check the site, but usually I catch things as they come in unless they are super low in stock. Either way, I was very excited to grab a copy of this one because it’s a book I’ve been really looking forward to trying. This book is about a woman named Emma who worries that her insomnia is a sign that she is going insane like her mother. Emma and her sister grew up in foster care from the time she was 5 due to a horrific incident with her mother, whom Emma can only remember as a monster although her sister remembers her differently. Now a mother herself, Emma wants to keep her life as separate as possible from her past, but her insomnia is just one of several worrying symptoms that her mother also showed, causing Emma to fear that she might hurt her family too. This premise sounds incredible, and I’m very thankful that Book Outlet eventually had copies available!

8) Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak

This is a book that I’ve only very recently become obsessed with trying. I included it on my birthday wishlist as a last minute addition, but it was not one of the gifts I received. Luckily, shortly afterwards it also showed up on Book Outlet during their Black Friday deal where most books cost just $7.50, which is much more reasonable than the $37 price tag anywhere else for the hardcover. I’ve had this book on my TBR since April but had mostly forgotten about it until I saw some hype around it lately. It is about a young woman named Mallory who takes a job babysitting for a 5-year-old boy named Teddy shortly after finishing her stint in rehab. Mallory loves her job and quickly bonds with Teddy, but starts to notice his drawings becoming more detailed and much more sinister, including a drawing of a man dragging a lifeless woman into the forest. Mallory begins to suspect that these drawings might be glimpses of an unsolved murder that took place long ago, possibly coming through a supernatural force in the forest behind Teddy’s house. This book sounds really weird, but I love these kinds of stories that blend thrillers with some possible supernatural elements. I’m not sure I’ll get to this one before the end of this year, but if not, it will definitely be very high on my list to pick up in 2023 instead. I’m very thankful that Book Outlet has been stocking some more newer releases lately.

9) Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn

I haven’t even read Legendborn yet, but I’m really expecting it to love it! I ended up preordering this book much earlier in the year when the release date was set to be sometime in July, and I was disappointed when it got pushed back all the way to November. Whenever that happens, I always get a little nervous that the book will just keep getting delayed or might not come out at all. Aside from publishing, I rarely preorder books more than 6 months in advance, since it gives me anxiety that the store might somehow forget my order even though I know that’s unlikely to actually happen. Luckily, even though the date was delayed by several months, my copy arrived right on time! I was very thankful that it came through with no problems, and it’s now given me an extra push to pick up Legendborn as soon as possible. I’ve purposely avoided looking at the synopsis for this one because I didn’t want to risk any spoilers, but I’m hoping I’ll love this series as much as I expect to. It’s always a bit of a risky move for me to keep longer books like this for the end of the year since I often lose motivation to read anything so bulky by the end of the year, even if it’s a book I’m really excited for. However, I’ve been really looking forward to trying this duology so I’m going to do my best to prioritize it anyway as soon as possible! This series was easily one of my most anticipated to pick up this year, and I guess I can kind of justify putting it off so I can read both books together, but I really need to stop procrastinating on books that I’m excited to read!

10) Greywaren by Maggie Stiefvater

This was one of several books that I picked up for myself because of an Indigo sale that happened not too long after my birthday. All of the books that I grabbed were options that had been on the wishlist I gave to my family, and I was actually surprised that many of them weren’t chosen! Many of the books that I thought would easily be chosen because they were a little less expensive and also easily available weren’t the ones they picked, so I was very surprised! This book was a high priority for me to pick up for myself so I can finally prioritize the whole trilogy again. I read Call Down the Hawk when it first came out in 2020, but I want to reread it because I really don’t think I gave it the attention it deserved. I read it during the first wave of COVID lockdowns at a time where I was struggling to really focus on any book at all. I finished it but didn’t have a very strong grasp of what really happened, and I definitely think that was more on my mindset at the time than the book itself (although there is a possibility it was both). Now that the whole trilogy is available, I want to revisit it and make sure that I read it at a time where I can properly focus on it. I loved The Raven Cycle, and while I know a lot of readers have said this series isn’t quite as good, I want to make sure I can at least give it a fair chance, hopefully less impacted by world events. I really enjoyed the parts of Call Down the Hawk that I do remember, so I think there’s a pretty good chance I can love this series too!

Recent Reads (#22)

My original plan for October was to spend almost the entire month reading some of my Halloween-themed books, but that plan quickly fell apart when I noticed that I still had some of my top priority duologies remaining to read! I have no idea how I left these both so late when they were the series that literally drove my decision to include a bunch of duologies as part of my series goal this year. I had quite a few random days off work in October so it seemed like a great time to devote to some of these books since they were a little on the longer side. I don’t know what it is about this year, but in general, I’ve found that I’ve been having so much trouble focusing on any book, even when it’s a book I really like or I’m really excited to try. My brain has somehow gone back into what I call “pandemic mode” since this is what it was like for me during the first wave of lockdowns — even though I want to read, I can’t seem to settle into any book until late in the evening, which leaves me with limited time to actually read. During the initial lockdowns, this wasn’t such an issue because I could stay up late to read and just wake up a little later in the morning, but that’s not possible now since I have to get up and go to work. To be fair, I’ve been going to work in person again for the past two years already, so it’s not like this is new! I have no idea why it’s been such a struggle to motivate myself to read. I don’t think it’s an issue of burning myself out by reading too much in general, although I guess that is a slim possibility. Luckily for me, within the month of October I managed to finish off two duologies that I very badly wanted to read as well as one of my top priority books, so at least I was able to fit those in!

I actually started reading These Violent Delights right at the end of September, but finished the duology in October. I was drawn to this duology because I started seeing it absolutely everywhere, and the premise just sounded so intriguing. Usually a lot of hype will put me off a book, but I’ve learned over the years that many of the overhyped books are actually worth a try. This duology is set in 1920s Shanghai, and it is a loose Romeo and Juliet retelling, with characters who are members of rival gangs and also exes, who must work together to stop a dangerous threat. I was immediately drawn in by the author’s writing style and I loved how she incorporated classic Romeo & Juliet elements in a setting that still felt new and fresh. I loved the dynamic between Roma and Juliette, and especially the way their lingering love and also distrust affected their ability to work together. I was also very impressed by how compelling many of the side characters were, including Benedikt, Marshall, and Juliette’s cousins Rosalind and Kathleen. I immediately picked up the sequel after finishing the first book, and was just as impressed! I loved how the sequel gave even more focus to these side characters, and especially loved Benedikt and Marshall’s entire subplot. I also loved how the author showed the constantly shifting dynamics between Roma and Juliette depending on what they learned about each other over the course of their investigations, and I was very pleasantly surprised by many of the twists in both of the books, especially the ending. Because of my issue focusing on books in general, I did end up listening to some of this as an audiobook and I really enjoyed that format too, although I’d love to go back and revisit this again and read it entirely physically as well.

Shortly after finishing this series, I also decided to pick up A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, which was literally one of my most anticipated books to read this year. It was a bit embarrassing that I had put this series (and These Violent Delights, for that matter) off until so late in the year! I’d actually intended to read both around February/March, but kept putting them off because I had other longer series that I wanted to knock out first. This series was definitely worth the wait, and easily became of my favourites of the year too! This is another series where I was immediately drawn in by the writing, arguably even moreso than These Violent Delights, and I loved how the author so quickly captured the voices of both of the characters. I also really appreciated how the author included mental health representation through both of her main characters, with Malik dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, and Karina has migraines and is also grieving losses in her family. I loved the entire premise of the two of them trying to kill each other and sometimes even meeting without knowing who the other was at the time. I also loved the relationship that developed between Malik and Karina, even if it was a little insta-love in places, and I was very surprised by the ultimate direction the author took with the plot in the first book. I was a little nervous going into the second one since I had seen quite a few reviews suggesting it was disappointing, but luckily that was not my experience with it at all! I did find the second book a little more confusing overall, however I absolutely loved the way the author portrayed an abusive relationship and showed how someone doing anything for love might not always be a good thing. I loved the focus on Karina’s relationship with her sister Hanane, and enjoyed the flashback chapters that showed their childhoods. I thought this was an incredible duology overall, and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author in the future!

Immediately after this series, I picked up Under the Whispering Door, which was one of my top priority books to read this year, and seemed to be a good way to transition toward more Halloween-themed books given the theme of death and the afterlife. I read The House In the Cerulean Sea earlier this year and it immediately became my favourite of everything I had read so far! While I still think I liked that book a tiny bit better overall, this one was also amazing and very likely to be another favourite of the year. This book is about a man named Wallace who dies suddenly, and a Reaper collects him from his own funeral to bring him to a teashop run by a ferryman named Hugo who will help him cross over. I loved how the author immediately established Wallace’s Scrooge-like behaviour in the opening chapters that show him callously firing an employee, as well as his experience of seeing his own funeral and how others spoke of him. I loved the teashop setting and especially loved Hugo as a character, although it took me a little longer to warm up to both Mei and Nelson since I found both a little annoying at first. I loved the way the author focused on Wallace’s stages of grief for his own life as well as the subplots about other characters he meets at Hugo’s shop who have all either died themselves or experienced loss in some way. I did find the synopsis a tiny bit misleading since it mentions Wallace “living a lifetime in seven days” after being given just one more week to crossover. I expected that part to take up more of the book, so I was a bit surprised that it wasn’t really addressed until closer to the end. I also really loved the focus on the bureaucracy behind death and the afterlife since it was a pretty creative concept. Overall, I loved this book although I was a tiny bit disappointed that it didn’t grip me quite as strongly as this author’s previous book.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Young Reads

For some reason, I always struggle a bit with prompts related to books that I read when I was younger or books that I’d recommend to someone younger. The same few books are always the ones that come to mind, even though there were a ton of books that I read! I think part of the issue is that I never really read “middle grade” books. I was a pretty advanced reader from a young age, so I think I skipped over a lot of children’s books. I was reading chapter books in first grade while the rest of my class was learning their letters. The only reason I remember that is because I distinctly remember choosing that Goosebumps book with the hands playing piano on the cover from the back of my classroom. As an adult now, I sometimes read children’s books or middle grade books, but not very often. I have definitely found some amazing books that I’m so happy I tried despite being outside the target age demographic, but the ones that tend to stick with me the most are books that I read and loved when I was younger. I’m a little worried that some of these books (most are from the 80s/early 90s) will seem a bit dated to readers now, but they are all books that I have strong memories of reading. Unfortunately, because it’s been so long since I read most of them, it’s hard for me to remember them in enough detail to accurately discuss, so instead I’ve decided to just show pictures of the covers. These books do vary a bit in terms of what age they are for, but they are all generally for younger readers.

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.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Favourite “Aww” Moments in Books

This is the kind of prompt that really makes me wish I had a better way of tracking quotes. I’ve been trying my best to save quotes on Goodreads when I can, but I often don’t think about it until long after I’ve finished the book. The problem with that is if the quote I wanted isn’t already there, it’s unlikely I’d be able to find it again easily. I don’t mark or annotate my books at all, and when I’m really into a book, the last thing I want to do is put it down just to record a quote, even if it’s one that I really love. This prompt was also a bit challenging for me since I haven’t read too many books involving romance this year, despite reading contemporary romances being one of my main goals. On the other hand, these kinds of moments do not necessarily have to be romantic! There are many sweet moments that take place between friends, family, and especially found families, so there should be plenty of options. There have definitely been moments that I’ve read this year that have struck me as very sweet or cute, but they are not necessarily quotes that I remember long after the fact. I decided to go through the quotes that I’d saved on Goodreads and pick the ones that best seem to reflect these kinds of cute moments, although I’m sure there are many that I’m missing!

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.

“You’re awfully strange.”
He heard the smile in her voice. “Thank you, that might be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me. You’re awfully strange too, Wallace Price.” — T.J. Klune, Under the Whispering Door

“I’ll say it however many times you want. I’ll romance you until you get sick of me. I am horrendously in love with your dreadful face, and we need to go now” — Chloe Gong, Our Violent Ends

“I have done some of the best work of my life because of you. And I know you have done some of the best work of your life because of me. I don’t know a better way to explain what love means to two people like us” — Casey McQuiston, I Kissed Shara Wheeler

“This thing between us didn’t start with us dating. It didn’t even start when you kissed me. You’re in me so deep, I wouldn’t know how to dig you out. I may get fed up with you…But, Simon, I’ll never get tired of you” — Rainbow Rowell, Any Way the Wind Blows

“Love offers choice, and I made mine — I made the choice my squad had taught me from the moment I met them. Your family is where you find it, and this is mine” — Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff, Aurora’s End

“Why do I require you? What a weird question. I always require you.” — Sally Thorne, Second First Impressions

“What I’m realizing is that I like myself the most when I’m around you. And I think it’s because I’m the most honest version of myself. I don’t have to try as hard, and I don’t have to hide. I can just…be” — Rachel Lynn Solomon, Weather Girl

“I’m not trying to win her hand. I’m offering her mine, and everything that comes with it, hoping she’ll take it and decide she wants to keep it” — Stephanie Garber, Finale

“Every version of you is interesting to me” — Brittany Cavallaro, A Question of Holmes

“I love him on purpose” — Casey McQuiston, Red, White & Royal Blue (not really a recent read, but I had to include this quote because it’s one that has stuck with me ever since)

Birthday Book Haul, BOTM, and More!

It may be a little silly to post a book haul now since I have another Book Outlet box already on its way to me, but I have quite the pile up so it seemed like a good opportunity to share some of the books that I’ve acquired recently. I was a little surprised to realize it had already been about a month and a half since I last posted a book haul, but to be fair that haul was pretty huge and so was this one! I am definitely out of space for all of these books, which is just going to become a bigger problem when there are so many 2023 releases that I also want to buy!

This first photo is my birthday book haul! It was my birthday right at the end of October, and pretty much the only thing on the wishlist that I gave to friends and family was books. I had a few movies on there too but they were much lower priority for me. I gave my family a list of somewhere around 20 options to choose from of books that I already really wanted, and I was very surprised by many of the ones they chose! I also got a stack of books from a friend who lives in the UK and has access to books/authors over there that may be a little harder to find here. I’ve literally been searching for a hardcover copy of Hani and Ishu all year, and he was able to grab it for me right away, along with all the Dorothy Koomson books shown here:

This next picture are books that I bought for myself, which were some of my most anticipated books of the year! A couple of these were preorders that I’d been waiting for, but several were books that I bought just after my birthday because Indigo had a sale on for 25% off. I have to say, I was a tiny bit disappointed with the copy of The Kiss Curse I received from Amazon since the edges were already a little banged up, but decided it wasn’t worth complaining to them about it.

The third and quite possibly most exciting photo is the books that I bought from Book of the Month Club now that it has finally come to Canada! I’ve been super jealous for the past year or so every time I saw the vloggers I subscribe to showing off their BOTM books, because there was always at least one book that I really wanted per month. I was especially jealous when I realized that they were offering hardcover copies for way cheaper than they are in stores! Luckily, I saw a couple of channels mentioning that BOTM was coming to Canada and signed up for early access and updates. It gave me an early access pass where I got my first book for just $5, and I chose Daisy Darker (which cost up to $40 in stores here!). Once that book arrived and I trusted that it would be in good condition and also arrived in a reasonable amount of time, I signed myself up for a yearly subscription and ordered my first box! The Last Party was my monthly pick, and the other two books were add-ons, but all three were books that I very badly wanted.

This last photo is the combination of a couple of different Book Outlet orders, taking advantage of some deals that they had. The stack on the left was bought during a “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” deal, and the other stack was actually just regular price but I was excited to see some books that I’d been waiting for finally come in. I was especially excited to see Insomnia, since that was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I wasn’t expecting it to be on Book Outlet so soon! The two books on top (After You and The Last Lie) were from my library’s sale shelf. They rarely have anything I want there, so I was lucky to see these two!

If anyone would like to follow along with my reading challenges and see what I’m currently reading in addition to book hauls, please follow me on Instagram here

Top 5 Wednesdays: Award-Winning Books

I don’t really pay a lot of attention to awards in general, aside from when a reading challenge prompt requires it. My original idea for this week’s prompt was actually to focus specifically on Goodreads Choice Awards winners that I’ve read and enjoyed. I know a lot of people don’t consider the GCA a “real” award because they seem like such a popularity contest, but to be honest that has always confused me. I tend to think a lot of awards in general (not just for books, but also things like movies and music) are ultimately popularity contests to some degree. Every year, people complain a lot about the books that are nominated for the GCA and especially how predictable the winners tend to be, but I still find it fun to see which books come up and vote in the process. I don’t put too much stock into whether a book wins or not but it’s fun to vote anyway. However, when it came time to actually making this post, I got curious about which books I’d already read this year that were award-winners. I decided my easiest option was to just check the Goodreads page for any awards, and rule out any books that had either had nothing or had been nominated for an award that it did not win. It turns out that of the over 130 books I read this year, only 16 of them were award winners which is somehow both more than I expected but also less than I’d expected. I think I assumed that some of my books had at least won a Goodreads Choice Award, but instead I had many nominees but no winners. Instead of trying to narrow it down further, I decided to just list all of the award-winning books I’ve read this year and the awards they’ve won. I am not well versed enough in awards to know which ones are the “best” or most prestigious, so it seemed only fair to mention them all. Keep in mind that I am only listing the awards that the book won, not necessarily a full list of nominations.

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) Smile by Raina Telgemeier

  • Vermont Golden Dome Book Award (2012)
  • Iowa Children’s Choice Award (2012)
  • Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Publication for Teens (2011),
  • Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award (2013)

2) The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

  • Swoon Award for Contemporary Romance (2021)

3) Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

  • ITW Thriller Award for Hardcover Novel (2019)

4) I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

  • Anthony Award for Best Critical / Non-Fiction Work (2019)
  • Goodreads Choice Award for Nonfiction (2018)

5) 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

  • Irish Book Awards for Irish Independent Crime Fiction (2021)

6) Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis

  • Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction (2019)
  • Hea Noorteraamat (2019) (I have no idea what this award is! I couldn’t figure it out even from searching online, so if anyone knows, please leave me a comment)

7) The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

  • ALA Alex Award (2021)
  • Blogistanian Globalia (2021)

8) The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

  • Orange Prize for Fiction (2012)
  • Gaylactic Spectrum Award for Best Novel (2013),
  • Women’s Prize for Fiction (2012)

9) Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

  • Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel and for Best Young Adult Novel (2019)

10) My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

  •  Anthony Award for Best First Novel (2019)
  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller (2018)
  • The Rooster — The Morning News Tournament of Books (2019)

11) Educated by Tara Westover

  • Audie Award for Best Female Narrator (2019)
  •  ALA Alex Award (2019)
  • Goodreads Choice Award for Memoir & Autobiography (2018)
  • Evans Handcart Award (2019)
  • Reading Women Award for Nonfiction (2018)

12) Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

  • National Book Award for Fiction (2017)
  •  Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction (2018)

13) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

  • Kate Greenaway Medal (2012)
  • Galaxy British Book Awards for Children’s Book of the Year (2011)
  • Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire for Jeunesse (2013)
  • Red House Children’s Book Award (2012)
  • Galaxy National Book Award for Children’s Book of the Year (2011)
  • The Kitschies for Red Tentacle (Novel) (2011)
  • Carnegie Medal (2012)

14) The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

  • Pulitzer Prize for Special Citation (1992)
  • American Book Award (1992)

15) Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

  • Ignyte Award for Best Novel – Adult (2020)

16) The Dark by Lemony Snicket

  • Charlotte Zolotow Award (2014)