Top 5 Wednesday: Character’s Fitness Routines You Want

I have to be honest — I cringed when I saw this topic on the list for Top 5 Wednesdays. Fitness routines are not something that interest me much, and definitely not something that I pay much attention to while reading. I am not an athletic or coordinated person at all, and I tend not to enjoy fitness routines. I hate going to the gym or doing exercise for the sake of exercise. I prefer activities like soccer, yoga or swimming that are fun but active at the same time…not that I do any of these consistently. It was hard for me to think of characters whose routines I might want without putting myself in their shoes, and thinking about what they need those routines for.

I loved how Sam, in her video explaining this topic, specified that we are not limited to characters who are athletes. It can also incorporate characters who are good at a variety of skills, or even foodies! Personally, I think it is important for everyone to find a routine that works for them. Ideally, I would love to be able to eat whatever I want and not worry about burning off the calories, so it would be great to find some characters who can do that! The characters I’m choosing here, for the most part, are all ideal goals and definitely not realistic for me. I apologize for the lack of pictures this time!

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) Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This was the first character who immediately came to mind when I saw this topic, but also one that I almost didn’t choose because of what Buffy’s fitness routine really means. It may actually be a bit of a cheat since Buffy, as a Slayer, is gifted with supernatural strength, speed and healing abilities, but she still goes through a lot of training to keep developing her skills with weapons, agility, and a variety of other abilities. I definitely would not want to be a Slayer with all the responsibilities that go along with that, but I would love to be able to handle Buffy’s fitness routine. I actually did a kickboxing class for a short time in high school, which seemed fairly similar to what Buffy was doing, and I loved it!

2) Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games

One of the things I enjoyed most about the Hunger Games was learning about how Tris and the other tributes got to train and hone their skills before being thrown into the arena. Katniss is a talented archer, but also got to learn a whole bunch of other survival skills that I think would be great to know. Actually, even if I could just have her archery abilities, I’d be pretty happy. Like Buffy, Katniss seems to be a character who is pretty well-rounded in terms of her abilities but in a way she is more impressive because she does not have the supernatural powers to help boost her. This is another case where I would love to have the skills, but not to be in Katniss’s situation!

3) Tris Pryor from The Divergent Series

I almost didn’t include this one because I was so strongly opposed to the idea of being in the Dauntless faction, but I think it would be really interesting to be trained to control fears the way Dauntless members are. Most of the rest of their lifestyle is much too intense for me and I actually would really hate to go through the training that they require in order to master your fears, but the ideal of being able to control them to that extent is pretty tempting. In theory, I think it would be very valuable to learn how to control your emotions in the most frightening situations, but I’m too much of a coward to actually go through with it.

4) Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series

This one probably seems like an unusual choice, but I think mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness. Hermione is definitely a character who keeps her mind active by reading and absorbing as much information as she possibly can. She also challenges herself to play chess, even though it is a game that she consistently loses at. Not only is chess a great mental exercise, but it is also good to push ourselves to do activities that are difficult for us and not win every time. Plus I’m sure Hermione gets some kind of a workout by lugging all those books around all the time!

5) Sunny Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events

Again, probably a bit of a weird choice but I picked Sunny because of her talent for cooking that develops at a ridiculously young age. For me, diet is an important part of a fitness routine and I especially think it is important to really enjoy what you’re eating. I don’t care how healthy a food is — if I don’t like the taste, I’m not eating it. Sunny develops amazing abilities to cook simple foods for herself and her siblings, eventually branching out to try new and more complex dishes. I would love to be able to cook simple, healthy and delicious food for myself (although I don’t think there is anything wrong with having treats sometimes!).

Top 10 Tuesdays: Ten Books With a Social Media Focus

I’ve seen a lot of discussion on several blogs lately about how readers feel about the use of social media and other very specific technological references in our books. On the one hand, some readers find including social media runs the risk of dating the books unnecessarily when it makes out-of-date references. On the other hand, social media has become such a huge part of many people’s lives that it makes the books seem more contemporary.

As technology becomes more firmly entrenched in our lives, I’m noticing more books that use social media as a main plot device. It’s funny sometimes going back to look at older books from the start of the Internet age, which focus almost exclusively on online predators and other pitfalls. That’s not to say that the risks of social media and the Internet should not be mentioned — it is very important to remain aware of the potential dangers and to keep ourselves safe. However, I think it just as important to break away from some of these stereotypes and recognize that the majority of people using social media are just regular people trying to interact with their friends and relatives, and participating in groups and discussions about their interests.

As someone who has made some great online friendships over the years, I have really appreciated how books have evolved a bit to include more positive relationships and friendships that develop online. I also really appreciate how more books are including different angles on social media — the risks are not just random strangers you meet online. It’s quite scary how many people in real life fall victim to cyberbullying, harassment and other online issues involving people that they know in real life. I think it’s great that books are starting to reflect this reality as well. There have been so many recent releases that focus on how social media affects our lives, but unfortunately I have not had a chance to get to most of them yet. Instead, for this week’s topic I will talk about ten of the books I’ve read so far that have plots that focus on social media in a variety of forms.

Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

1) Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

8909152I will admit that this book is not the most realistic, but it was quite an entertaining read. This book is about a man named Lincoln who works as a security officer for a company, where his role is to monitor employee’s emails and ensure that they are being used appropriately for work purposes. In the course of his work, Lincoln becomes fascinated by conversations between two women, Beth and Jennifer, eventually falling in love with Beth through her messages. However, Lincoln struggles with what to do about his feelings since he and Beth have technically never met. Employees at this office know that their email accounts are monitored, but I don’t think anyone would assume their messages were being read fully. What I loved about this book is all the near-misses between Lincoln and Beth, where they could have met but didn’t. It was a fun book, although hardly the most realistic account of online relationships.

2) Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight

15776309Social media is such a great tool for mysteries and thrillers, since so much of what we do online can be different from our “real” lives. In this book, Kate Baron receives a phone call from her daughter’s school claiming that her daughter, Amelia, has been caught cheating. By the time Kate arrives at the school, Amelia has died from an apparent suicide. Kate soon begins to receive anonymous texts telling her that Amelia did not jump, and she begins to look through Amelia’s texts and online messages to try to piece together what happened to her daughter. This was one of the first social media-heavy books that I read, and it was an excellent story.

3) Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros

51kdakbpg2lThis is a book I’ve mentioned a few times before because it was one that really surprised me. It is about an author named Abigail Donovan who is pressured by her publicist to develop more of a Twitter presence to keep her name out there while she struggles to write her next book. Abigail quickly begins to interact with one of her Twitter follows, a man named Mark, developing feelings for him. This is one of the fairly typical “online friend might not be what they say” stories, but it is handled very well. I loved how the author was able to develop her characters so well using mostly Tweets and direct messages, and the interactions between Abigail and Mark were great! This is a very quick read, but it was one of my favourite books of the year when I read it.

4) The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

23492736This is a book that I read more recently, and it was another one that really surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. Compared to other social media books, it has a bit more of a magical realism slant. This book is about a woman named Kate who was recently dumped by her fiance. Kate is obsessed with Facebook and she quickly discovers that the statuses she posts are affecting her real life, giving her the idea to use Facebook to go back and fix her relationship. I went into this book not expecting very much, and ended up absolutely loving it! It was a much stronger book than I expected, although the social media angle actually was not used quite as much as I thought it would be. I would still say it fits though, since it was a central plot point to set things in motion.

5) The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

10959277In a sense, this book is the YA version of The Status of All Things (and predates it by about five years). This book is about two teenage neighbours in 1996 who receive a free AOL CD in the mail. When they put it into the computer, they are automatically logged into Facebook, 8 years before the website even existed! The profiles they see are of themselves 15 years in the future, and the decisions they make today have consequences that can be seen when they refresh their pages. It’s been several years since I read this one, so it is hard for me to remember specifics. I just remember that I really enjoyed it, although not quite as much as Thirteen Reasons Why.

6) Gena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson

19254725Honestly, this was such a weird book for me. It was one of the books that I was most strongly looking forward to reading this year, and it wasn’t quite what I expected. This book is about two young women who meet online because both are heavily involved in the fandom of one of their favourite TV shows. Gena, who is getting ready to go to college, keeps up a popular blog and writes fanfiction, and Finn is in a long-term relationship with a man who knows nothing about her online life. The two young women begin to interact online and develop a fast friendship, and even feelings for each other. I thought this book did an excellent job of developing the online friendship between the two characters and I loved the first half where this was the focus. The second half of the book took a bit of a strange turn toward a darker storyline, and the relationship between Gena and Finn became a bit weird. It honestly almost felt like an entirely different story that the authors were trying to fit in, but it didn’t quite match with the rest. It is still a great book and I enjoyed it though, and I think it is worth giving a chance.

7) Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

11096647This is another book that was a great depiction of developing an online relationship, including the risks. This book is about a teenage girl named Julie who moves in with her mother’s old college roommate and her family after her off-campus housing opportunity falls through. The family has three children: Finn, who is away travelling the world; Matt, the geeky middle child who is Julie’s age; and Celeste, an odd 13-year-old who carries around a life-size cutout of her oldest brother everywhere. Julie develops an online friendship with Finn, without ever meeting him, and soon develops feelings for him. However, she also tries to uncover what is really going on with the family, especially Celeste’s unusual behaviour. While the “twist” in this book was a little on the predictable side, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the online relationship development, and the very realistic way that it played out. Although Julie was an irritating main character at times, I thought it was a great book.

8) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

16068905Aside from online relationships, another huge aspect of social media is fandom and online communities. In this book, Cath is a huge fan of Simon Snow (a Harry Potter type series) and has been heavily involved in the fandom, even writing her own very popular fanfiction. Cath is devastated to find her twin sister wants to branch out a bit more now that they are starting college, and that her professor does not consider fanfiction “real” writing. I really loved all the snippets of Cath’s fanfiction that were interspersed throughout the story, and the emphasis placed on how important the fandom was to her. Although I have never written any fanfiction, I do enjoy reading it and participating in online discussions about my favourite TV shows, music, etc. (and books of course!). I think it’s great that authors are starting to include online hobbies as a normal part of their character’s lives. This was an excellent book, and one of my favourites of the year so far.

9) Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

22692740This is another book where social media is not necessarily the main focus, but it plays a pretty significant role in the story. This book is about a gender-fluid teenager named Riley, who under the advice of a therapist, begins blogging anonymously about their feelings and experiences. When Riley’s blog goes viral, someone threatens to reveal who is behind it, forcing Riley to choose between giving up everything the blog has done to help, or risking everything by coming out. Aside from this book being a great introduction to gender-fluidity for people (like me) who are not familiar with it, I loved how it incorporated the blog and the idea of an online support group or community. I think it is important to show the variety of ways the Internet is used in our daily lives, and finding a supportive community is definitely an important one.

10) Feed by Mira Grant

7094569This is probably the most unusual of all the books here, blending social media and zombies. This book takes place in a world where humans have cured cancer and the common cold, but in the process created an infection that takes turns people into zombies that are only driven to feed. Since the usual news channels are all controlled by the government, the public depends on bloggers to post the truth. This book focuses on three bloggers: Georgia, her brother Shaun, and their friend Buffy who are following a presidential candidate on his campaign to post honest updates about the elections. I am generally not a fan of zombie stories, but I loved the social media angle on this one. I thought it was a really interesting way of showing the importance of critical thinking about the media and how bloggers can help give an alternative view. I found the book a little long and repetitive, but it was still a pretty interesting read and definitely a unique take on social media.

I’m A Guilty Reader Book Tag

It’s been quite a while since I did a book tag related to my reading habits. I stumbled across this one recently in one of my Goodreads groups, and I thought it was a great follow-up to the Reader Confessions tag that I participated in a couple of months ago. The I’m a Guilty Reader tag was created by Chami at ReadLikeWildfire, and her video can be found here.

1) Have You Ever Regifted A Book That You’ve Been Given?

No. I struggle as it is to give up my books, even when I haven’t read them in years. Earlier this year, I went through my closet and finally got rid of some of the books that I’d gathered at library book sales, where you paid a certain fee per bag of books. I had tons that I’d been holding onto for years because they seemed vaguely interesting, but never actually bothered to read. Even giving those up were a struggle!

Surprisingly, I don’t receive too many books as gifts. Usually I just get gift cards to the bookstore and I choose my own, or I just buy the books I want myself. If I choose to buy the book, it’s practically guaranteed that I will not give it away because it is a book that I actually wanted to own.

2) Have you ever said you’ve read a book when you haven’t?

I’ve never outright lied about reading a book, but there was one textbook in university that I just couldn’t get through. I had two deaths in the family back-to-back at the time and needed to read quite a huge chunk of the book for an assignment. Using the index and skimming subheadings, I managed to complete my assignment (and got an A!) without properly reading the chapter. That was the first and only time I’ve ever skipped a required reading, but I just couldn’t manage it and everything else going on at the same time.

3) Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it?

I only ever borrow books from the library, and I always return them. I’m pretty careful not to take out more than I can manage, and I’m pretty on top of renewing things when needed.  I’m not even sure if I’ve ever returned a book late.

4) Have you ever read a series out of order?

Not unless you count the Narnia books, and I don’t really since there seem to be two “acceptable” orders for reading them (chronologically, or in publishing order). I’ve honestly never understood how people can read series out of order since in most of the series I read, the events follow from one book to the next. There’s no way I would understand what’s going on without reading the previous books.

5) Have you ever spoiled a book for someone?

Not intentionally. Ever since I had Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince spoiled for me, I’ve been pretty careful. One of the reasons I’m so hesitant to write reviews is because I have a hard time talking about the books without risking spoiling anything.

6) Have you ever dog-eared a book?

This is one that I actually am guilty of! I used to dog-ear all of my books up until about sixth grade, when someone pointed out that it was damaging them. I have no idea why that thought never crossed my mind before that. I think I continued to do it a little while longer, but now I would never dog-ear my books! I hate when they get damaged.

7) Have you ever told someone you don’t own a book when you do?

No, but I have told them that I don’t know where my copy is when they are really intent on borrowing it. I don’t like lending out my books to anyone, but sometimes I feel bad saying no. Most people who know me would know how many books I have everywhere in my room, so claiming I don’t know where it is would be a very feasible excuse (unless it was something like Harry Potter, which is pretty obviously on my shelves).

8) Have you ever told someone you haven’t read a book when you have?

Not that I know of. There are some books that I read so long ago that I might not remember whether I’ve read them, but I don’t think that’s what is being asked here. I’m not embarrassed by the books I’ve read, so I’d have no problem talking about them.

9) Have you every skipped a chapter or a section of a book?

Only the occasion that I mentioned above. Like I said for series, I don’t really understand how people can skip ahead in a book without missing anything, unless it is something like an anthology where nothing is connected to each other anyway. If I did skip chapters, I know I’d just get annoyed later on when reference was made to something I’d missed.

10) Have you ever bad mouthed a book you actually liked?

No, not that I know of. Like I said, I’m not embarrassed by the books I read and I have no problem having the unpopular opinion about them. I don’t see any reason why I would need to badmouth a book that I liked. Just to be clear, I think there’s a big difference between badmouthing and reading critically/being aware of the problems in it.

Looking back at my answers, apparently I am not a very “guilty” reader but I’m curious to know about other people’s reading habits. I will tag:

Harini @ BooksandReaders
Kourtni @ KourtniReads
FNM @ FNMBookReviews
Anushka @ GoingThroughBooks
Beth @ ReadingEveryNight

Top 5 Wednesdays: Best Second Books in Series

Once again, my very limited number of completed series puts a serious damper on my ability to answer the question. As I discovered the other week when we were asked for series that got better as they went on, I have not completed very many series. To be fair, there are quite a few where I have read the first two books but I find it difficult to say that the second book is best when I don’t know yet what is coming next. I may need to revisit this topic at some point in the future when I have read more series! Instead of choosing series where the second was the best, I’m going to talk about 5 series which I thought had very strong second books.

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 Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

140212This may be a controversial choice since this book is viewed as both the first and second book in the series, depending who you ask. It was the first to be published, and the first that most people read, but in terms of when the events take place chronologically, it should be second. It may be cheating a bit to select this one, but given the limited amount of series I have read, I’m making an exception for this one. I have not completed the whole Narnia series, but this is by far the strongest and most memorable of all the ones I have read. This book is one of my all-time favourites!

2) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

224912It is practically impossible for me to choose a favourite Harry Potter book, but I still remember being blown away by this one when I first read it. As much as I loved The Philosopher’s Stone, I enjoyed this book a lot more. I think the real brilliance of this book is how it is actually part of a much larger plotline throughout the later series, but works just as well as a standalone. This book also introduced Dobby, and led to many of the funniest moments in the series! I have no idea why, but I’ve always found Ron’s line “Of all the trees we could have hit, we had to get the one that hits back!” hilarious. This book was the perfect blend of creepy mystery, fantasy, and even a great story of the relationships between Harry and the people around him. I’m not sure if it is the strongest in the series, but it is definitely a very strong second book!

3) The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

78418I can’t emphasize enough how much I love this series! The Bad Beginning was an amazing introduction, and I thought The Reptile Room was just as strong. This book is a great follow-up, with the Baudelaire children moving in with their eccentric Uncle Monty, a herpetologist with a room full of reptiles to study. I thought this book did a great job of establishing the children as self-sufficient and compelling characters, especially given their horrible circumstances. This was also our first introduction to Count Olaf’s many disguises and plots to capture the children away from their well-meaning relatives. It was a very strong addition to the series.

4) Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

6148028Again, I’m not 100% sure this is my favourite book in the series, but I thought it was a very strong follow-up to The Hunger Games. I loved how Katniss and Peeta had to try and keep up the charade they started in the first book, and this is a book that introduced some of my favourite characters (Finnick, for example). I was a bit worried when I first learned this book threw Katniss back into the arena, but I loved how it managed to create a different Hunger Games competition that was unique and just as compelling as the first. I was equally invested in this story as I was in Katniss’ fate in the first book. I often find the middle book in a trilogy is too much of a transitional book without much really going on, but that was definitely not the case in this series. All three books were equally strong for me.

5) The Lost City of Faar by DJ MacHale (Pendragon series)

215543Full disclosure: This was a 4-star book for me, and not my favourite in the series, but I still think it is a very strong book from an extremely underrated series. In this book, Bobby Pendragon visits a world called Cloral which is predominantly made of water, which has different islands responsible for different things to benefit the community. Like the other books in the series, this one does a great job of presenting real moral and ethical issues in the context of a fantasy world. In this case, the main issue had to do with food supply and crop contamination. Later books in the series deal with animal rights, overuse of technology, drought, etc. Although I have never found this book the most interesting or memorable of the series, it is still quite a strong addition and I think the series in general deserves more attention.

Top 10 Tuesdays: 10 Books I’ve Added to My TBR Recently

I will be so happy when the hosts at The Broke and The Bookish are back next week, and I can start getting my topics from them again! Over the last few weeks, it’s been fun to have the freedom to choose my own topics, but also a real challenge sometimes. Since my TBR list is constantly expanding, I’ve decided to make this week’s list 10 of the books I’ve recently added to by TBR. To be honest, I add books to my list so frequently, this could probably become a series of it’s own!

Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

1) The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember 

32890474This book came out just a couple of months ago, and seems to be receiving quite a bit of attention recently. It is an LGBT retelling of The Little Mermaid that is also partly inspired by Norse mythology, which seems to be a very interesting mix. Lately, I’ve seen some pretty mixed reviews for this book for potentially problematic content that apparently goes unchallenged. Having not read the book myself, I have no idea how the representation is but this kind of retelling sounds very interesting. I never would have thought of combining The Little Mermaid with characters like Loki, so I really want to see how that will work.

2) Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

32075662I just finished reading This Savage Song a couple of days ago, and I absolutely loved it! It is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year, and it ended in such a frustrating way. As soon as I finished the book, I went straight onto Goodreads to add this one to my TBR. Given the way my reading challenges are going, I don’t know if I will be able to squeeze this one in by the end of the year but I’m sure it will be one of the first I pick up next year at least. This is such a unique and well-written series. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

3) Follow You Home by Mark Edwards

24833801I’ve kind of pre-emptively added this one to my list before I’ve read anything by this author. I have Mark Edwards’ The Magpies on order from the library to read later on this year, and a few of his other books recently came up when I was browsing recommendations. I love psychological thrillers, but I can’t read them too often because they tend to really creep me out. This book actually first caught my attention because of the very eerie cover design. It may be a while before I work up the nerve to actually try this one though.

4) I Came To Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington

9482772This book has been out for quite a while, but I had never heard of it until it showed up on my recommendations page. It was another one that caught my attention with the cover art. This book is about a young woman who abducts a child from the hospital. The synopsis did not say much, but it is a plotline that I don’t think I have read much before so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. The book is also on the relatively short side (just under 300 pages), which doesn’t necessarily leave a ton of room for the story to develop. However, it received a pretty high average rating on Goodreads (3.85 stars overall), so I think it will be worth a try.

5) Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

289190581Just to move away from some of the darker books, I also recently added this one after hearing one of my favourite Youtube channels talking about it. This book was recently mentioned by CeCe at Problems of a Book Nerd (in this video), and it immediately caught my attention. I thought the cover art was beautiful, and the storyline also seemed interesting. This book has been compared to Fangirl and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, both books that I loved. I actually think I heard about this book a while ago but found the title a little annoying at the time, so I bypassed it. This book won’t be out until September, but it already seems to be pretty highly anticipated.

6) Them and Us by Nicola Moriarty

34316345Is it too early to start adding books from 2018 to my TBR? To be fair, I started doing that well over a month ago. I actually have not read anything by Nicola Moriarty yet, but her sister Liane Moriarty has quickly become one of my favourite authors. This book is about two women who decide to create a Facebook group dedicated to women who don’t want to have children, setting tasks for the group to make sure they receive the same kinds of “benefits” that parents get (ie. leaving work early). It seems like it has the potential to be a very interesting book, but also has the potential to upset a lot of people depending how the story is handled.

7) The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin

30046340It seems to be rare for YA books to tackle issues about getting into college or university, which is a bit surprising since that is often such an issue for people that age. This book is due out at the end of August, and although it is also tagged as a romance, it also seems to focus quite a bit on planning for the future, and what happens when those plans don’t go as expected. Although I am well past the college stage myself, and honestly never had much worry about whether I would get in, I think it’s nice to see a book addressing the topic. We definitely need more YA books where the characters aren’t stuck at age 16 or 17, but actually manage to graduate and move past high school!

8) Alphabet Weekends by Elizabeth Noble

44312This is the type of book that I usually would not be very motivated to pick up, but I’ve actually been enjoying some of the “Women’s Fiction” that I’ve read, although I hate that term. This book is about two best friends, Tom and Natalie. When Natalie’s boyfriend suddenly leaves her, Tom convinces her to spend 26 weekends with him, participating in different activities for each letter of the alphabet, believing that by the end they will have fallen in love. I’m not usually very interested in these kinds of stories, but I loved the alphabet concept and I think it can be very creatively done if it is done well. It definitely seems like a very cute story.

9) More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

34236194It wasn’t until just now as I started writing this that I realized this book follows a character from Brigid Kemmerer’s Letters to the Lost, which I haven’t read yet so I will probably need to read that first. This book caught my attention because the cover art seemed to suggest it was a book that might focus quite a bit on social media, something that I’ve been very interested in lately. This book is not due out until March of next year, but it is already receiving rave reviews on Goodreads. To be fair, I’m always a little hesitant with that because I’m never sure whether these reviewers have actually read ARC copies unless they can provide some detail about what the book is about. Either way, it seems to be very highly anticipated, and I want to read both of Brigid Kemmerer’s books.

10) Copycat by Alex Lake

33026842This is another book that is due out a bit later on this year, and it sounds really creepy! This book combines two of my interests: social media, and psychological thrillers. It is about a woman who discovers that someone has been keeping a Facebook profile with her name and with recent photos of her and her family and friends. It seems like a very creepy story. I have all three books by this author on my TBR, and all of them sound very interesting but also quite scary for me to read. Hopefully I will eventually be brave enough to try them.

Has anyone read any of these books yet? Any recommendations for what else I should be reading? 

A Thriller That Still Thrills: The Girl on the Train Movie Review

I seem to be in the minority of people who actually thoroughly enjoyed reading The Girl on the Train. When I picked up the book two years ago, it was receiving rave reviews. After reading it and loving it, I was very surprised to see that many reviewers on Goodreads couldn’t stand the book! It may have been because this book was one of the first of its kind that I’d read, but I thought it was very well-written and I was completely caught off-guard by the ending. I was excited to see the movie version when it came out the following year, but somehow managed to miss it until today, when I finally got a copy from the library to watch. I think it actually really helped that I watched the movie so long after reading the book, because the experience was pretty fresh and almost prevented me from comparing the two.

Plot

The basic premise of The Girl on the Train is that a woman named Rachel, taking the same commuter train every day, becomes obsessed with a couple she sees through the train window every day. She imagines a perfect life for this couple, until one morning where she sees something that completely destroys this image. After a night of drinking, Rachel wakes up injured and with no memory of what happened the night before only to learn that the woman she has been watching has gone missing. Rachel becomes convinced that what she saw is relevant to the case and goes to the police, and becomes heavily involved in trying to piece together her memories of that night and what might have happened.

As with most thrillers, it is difficult to describe too much of the plot without giving anything away. The movie version stays incredibly true to the novel, which is a rarity for adaptations. When I first read the book, I was completely absorbed in the storyline and trying to figure out what happened. Being two years after reading it, I did not remember too much of the details, and especially barely remembered the ending. I actually was sure they had changed the ending until I went online afterwards and double-checked how the book had ended, discovering that it was the same. I was impressed by how well the movie managed to recapture the same experience I had when first reading the book. I was completely absorbed and invested in the plot, and still thought that it was a well-crafted story with a genuine twist at the end. I was surprised by how many reviewers of the book complained that the ending was predictable. Maybe it was my own inexperience with thrillers at the time, but I had no idea what to expect.

Characters/Casting

One of the major criticisms I’ve found about this book is how unlikable all of the characters were. Personally, I found the characters all very compelling and more troubled than unlikable. Both versions of the story quickly established Rachel as an unreliable narrator due to alcoholism, and it is her unreliability that really drives the story along. The film does a great job of showing Rachel as a depressed, lonely woman who drinks to the point of blacking out. The flashbacks and memory fragments used to show how Rachel understands what happens in her life kept me trying to piece things together alongside her. I did not find her unlikable at all. Emily Blunt, one of my favourite actresses, did a brilliant job of portraying Rachel perfectly. I was a little worried when she was cast because she did not seem to fit the character, but she really brought Rachel to life.

The cast also consisted of Justin Theroux as Tom, Rachel’s ex-husband, and Rebecca Ferguson as Anna, Tom’s new wife and mother of his child. Aside from her fixation on the couple she watches from the train, Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett), Rachel also is struggling to move on from the dissolution of her marriage to Tom and especially resents his new family. I was not very familiar with any of these actors before this movie, except for Luke Evans who recently played Gaston in the live-action Beauty and the Beast remake, but I thought they all were strong choices for their characters. All of the characters in this movie have several layers, and I thought the actors were all very convincing and made their characters seem very real and human. They all brought a depth to their characters which brought them out of the “unlikable” label, and instead made them complex, fully-developed individuals. To be fair, I thought that was true in the novel as well, despite it receiving so many complaints about how all of the characters seemed to be horrible people. Without revealing too much, I will just say that I think the story works better because of how the characters are written, and it may not have been so effective if they were more “likable.”

Visuals/Music

Once again, this is the most difficult aspect for me to review because it is always the part that is least memorable for me. While watching the movie, I thought the cinematography and music both worked well to create a creepy atmosphere, and I especially liked how Rachel’s flashbacks were captured to leave the audience doubting her just as much as the other characters did. During flashbacks, images were often blurred or fragmented to show how Rachel saw things. The cinematography was also used very effectively to maintain the mystery/thriller aspects, letting the twist come as a true surprise. I thought it was very well-done.

Overall Impressions

I was very impressed with this adaptation, and it is quite rare for me to see a book-to-movie adaptation where I am not left constantly comparing the two. Even if the movie did stray away from the strict text, it definitely captured the spirit of the story very effectively. I went into the movie expecting a mediocre adaptation, and instead I got a well put together thriller that was just as engaging as the original novel. The cast did a brilliant job capturing the characters, and this really helped to make the movie so compelling. I would definitely recommend it, although those who already did not enjoy the novel probably won’t enjoy this either.

Plot – 10/10
Characters/Casting – 9/10
Visuals/Music – 9/10
Overall – 9.5/10

Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Covers I Would Like To Live In

I have to be honest — I don’t really like topics about cover art very much, and I especially found this one tricky. I don’t mind it so much when topics come up about the most beautiful or most appealing covers, although I don’t really judge my books by their artwork either. In this case, I honestly had no idea what the topic meant. It seemed like an odd blend of a fictional world I would love to live in, but when looking for options, I found myself just looking for the covers that just attracted my attention visually, whether or not I actually wanted to be in that world.

I often find the Top 5 Wednesday topics very challenging because some of them are so out of the box. Part of the fun is that they make me think about books a different way, but it’s also a challenge for me since I can interpret them very literally. I always want to make sure I’m getting it “right” or at least what the topic was meant to be asking, even though I know that they are very open for interpretation. It was definitely hard for me to find covers that fulfilled this one! I originally intended to only choose books that I had already read, but found that my TBR list had much more interesting options.

As a side note — this topic really made me aware of just how many books there are that have beaches on their cover art! I’m sure that would be great for anyone doing this topic who loves the beach. Unfortunately, I hate beaches (for a variety of reasons), and although some of those covers were beautiful, I couldn’t see myself wanting to live there on a practical level. This is why I say I take the topics too literally sometimes.

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 House at Riverton by Kate Morton

1278752I have not read this book or any other of Kate Morton’s books, although I have several of them on my TBR. I chose this book because the cover art was stunning. Even though you can’t see the house itself, the image on the cover hints at a beautiful, elaborate home. It’s the kind of house I might dream of one day living in, but probably actually would not like very much if I actually had to live there. I don’t mind bigger houses, but sometimes they seem a bit silly unless there are a lot of people living there.

2) The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

10163292This is a cover that seems a little more realistic in a sense. The cover art depicts some of London, England with an old-fashioned feel to it. I have not read this book yet either, but it is set in two time periods — 1960, and 2003. If I had to guess, I would assume the cover art is from the 1960 storyline, but I’m not sure how much London has changed since then. I actually think I would prefer the cover art without the couple in bottom corner, but it still looks like a beautiful setting.

3) The Forgotten Book by Mechthild Glaser

34499244This book has not even been released yet, but I’m already loving the cover art. According to Goodreads, this book is due out in January 2018. Because Goodreads is being extremely glitchy today, I’ve been having trouble figuring out whether this book is in any way connected to The Book Jumper by the same author, which has an equally beautiful cover. Either of these would actually be book covers that I would like to live in, and both seem to involve literally living in books. I think it would be amazing to be able to enter books and live in them, at least sometimes. Some of the worlds created in books are pretty scary!

4) The Night That Changed Everything by Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice

23346359I honestly can’t figure out what it is about this cover that makes me think I would like to live in it, but it was one of the few that really strongly jumped out at me and that I kept coming back to. I originally excluded it because I couldn’t see how to “live” in it, but the more covers I looked at, the more this one appealed to me. I think it helps that the colours on the cover are all basically my favourites, and I absolutely love the design. Actually, if I remember correctly, the cover art was the first thing that caught my attention about this book in general and made me decide to add it to my TBR (well, after checking the synopsis at least).

5) The List by Patricia Forde

31409131This cover reminds me quite a bit of Peter Pan, and the plot reminds me of Ella Minnow Pea. This is a middle grade book due out later this month, but it was another book where the cover art first caught my attention. I love the emphasis on the moon and the starry sky, but even the village across the bottom seems like it could be an interesting place to live. The buildings are all a little different and kind of cartoonish. Looking at the plot summary, which involves restrictions on speech and language, it is definitely not a world I would like to live in, but the cover makes it seem so peaceful!