Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Books I Read Because of Online Communities

I have no idea why, but I really don’t like the word “Booktube” (Youtube channels devoted to talking about books), although I do watch quite a few channels. I love watching people share the books they love, and I enjoy reading book blogs. It’s only really been in the past two or three years that I really got involved with online book-related communities, especially since starting my Goodreads account. Because of these bloggers and vloggers, I have discovered quite a few books that interest me and many that I have already tried.

In most cases, these are books that I picked up because I saw them continuously on nearly every channel that I watched or every blog that I read. Because of my aversion to overhype, I avoided most of these books for a while before finally cracking and deciding to give them a chance. After all, if so many people are talking about them, there must be a reason for it.

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) I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

20820994This was one of a few YA contemporary books that seemed to be all over every video I watched. The book is about a girl named Jude and her twin brother Noah who have grown apart over the years. The story is told from the perspectives of both twins but on different timelines. Noah’s perspective focuses on the past when they were 13, and Jude’s is set in the present when the twins are 16.  It took me a little while to get into the book, but I ultimately really enjoyed it. I thought it had a great storyline and very interesting characters. The style was quite different from other YA books, not only because of the shifting timeline, but also because the chapters were relatively long and Noah’s perspective specifically used a lot of odd metaphors. It was a great book, and one I probably would not have known about otherwise.

2) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

29995315I literally could not avoid this series! There were several series that came up repeatedly in nearly everyone’s videos and blog posts, and this was one of the most prevalent. This is a series of fairy tale retellings which also blend sci-fi and dsytopian elements. The main character of the series is Linh Cinder, a cyborg and mechanic, living in New Beijing where a deadly plague has affected the population. The world is also in trouble due to the Lunar people, who live on the moon and are led by the villainous Queen Levana. Each book in the series introduces new characters who are versions of several classic fairy tale favourites, and develops an excellent story about Cinder and her allies’ rebellion to overthrow Levana. The characters in this series are amazing! This was a series that I actively avoided for a long time because it seemed so overhyped and not something I would necessarily enjoy, but I’m so glad I gave it a chance!

3) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

12000020Honestly, I feel like I’m missing something a bit with this book because I didn’t love it nearly as much as everyone else seems to. This book is about two teenage boys who meet over the summer at the pool, and develop a special friendship that helps them learn more about themselves. I picked this book up because it was one of several YA books that every channel seemed to talk about, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t quite love it either. I thought the characters were interesting and the book was well-written, but I thought the ending felt a little forced. I actually feel like I need to give this book another chance at some point because there were some aspects of it that I really loved.

4) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

32075671I’m cheating a bit with this one because I haven’t quite finished it yet, but hopefully I will today. I actually can’t remember where I first heard of this book, but it has been absolutely everywhere online. It was another book that I actively avoided for a while because it seemed very overhyped, and I was worried that it couldn’t possibly live up to it. I’m a little more than halfway through now, and I’m very impressed to find that it really is that good! This book is about a teenage girl named Starr whose childhood best friend is shot by a police officer right in front of her, and how her life is affected by the event. This book was all over the internet and widely praised for being such a powerful and meaningful story. I’m so glad I decided to try it.

5) All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

18460392I can’t remember this book being talked about quite as much as the others mentioned here, but I do remember hearing about it on several vlogs. The book is about two teenagers who meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, both contemplating suicide. They end up working together on a school project to discover some of the “wonders” of their home state, during which they develop a bond. I understand that a lot of people have taken issue with this book because of the potentially problematic portrayal of mental illness and suicide. I honestly did not have the same impression when I read the book, and I really enjoyed the story.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Books With Characters Who Have a Disability

With all the push toward reading more diversely lately, I’ve still found it surprisingly difficult to find books that focus on characters who have a disability. It was actually a prompt that I suggested for the GoodReads Around the Year challenge when we were in the process of putting together this year’s challenge, but it didn’t get accepted there. As a backup, I suggested it to a Goodreads thread for the PopSugar challenge that opened it up to suggestions, and was pleasantly surprised when it made the list.

It struck me as a bit odd that when the challenge actually started and people started posting their book choices, everyone seemed to define disability a little differently. What I had in mind were books about characters who had physical, cognitive, or developmental disabilities since those seem to be very underrepresented. I was a little surprised to see how many people chose to use books that had mental health conditions, including PTSD, alcoholism, and mood disorders. I purposely attempted to differentiate mental illness from disability when wording the prompt suggestion, since books about characters with mental illness have come up in challenge prompts before and seem to be much more common.

Another major reason for my interest is that I work in a day program for young adults with special needs, providing vocational, recreational and academic activities for them to continue developing their skills and gaining more independence as adults. A common theme that came up in conversation with some of the young adults I support is that people in the community don’t know how to interact with them, don’t understand them, and as a result, sometimes don’t treat them very respectfully. I think more representation in books and other media would go a long way to helping people become more aware and more understanding. I do not have a disability myself, so I may not be the best person to comment about the accuracy of the representation in these books aside from what I’ve heard directly from the participants in my program.

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

1) With the Light by Keiko Tobe

withthelight_1This is a series I’ve mentioned a few times on my blog, and one that I unfortunately still have not finished. It is a manga series about a Japanese couple who have a young son, Hikaru, who is diagnosed with autism. The series focuses primarily on Sachiko, Hikaru’s mother as she deals with her family and community’s attitudes, and learns to advocate for her son and navigate the resources available to her. I’ve only read the first few volumes, but I think this book gives an excellent window into some of the challenges faced by families of a child who has a disability. I especially like how the characters in the series portray a wide variety of attitudes from others, and some of the small things people can do to help support the child and their family.

2) Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism by Arthur Fleischmann and Carly Fleischmann

12671833This one is about a real person, not a character. Carly Fleischmann is a remarkable young woman who has autism. For much of her childhood, Carly was non-verbal and assumed to be quite low-functioning until one day, she typed out a message that said “Help, teeth hurt.” This was the first time Carly had shown the ability to type, and marked a breakthrough in her communication with her families. This book is written by Arthur Flesichmann, Carly’s father, and includes a chapter that she wrote herself. This book describes Arthur’s experiences as a parent to a child with autism, and once Carly begins to type, his ability to finally get to know her as a person. Carly’s story is very inspiring and this is one of the few non-fiction books I enjoyed.

3) The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

1618I’ve read this book a couple of times, and I would highly recommend it. This book is told from the perspective of a boy named Christopher who is on the autism spectrum (although I’m not sure his diagnosis is ever named in the text). Christopher has extraordinary logical abilities, and an incredible memory for the topics he is interested in, but has difficulties with social interactions. When Christopher discovers his neighbour’s dog dead, he sets out to solve the mystery on his own. This book was a very powerful story, and it was fascinating to read it from Christopher’s perspective. I actually saw a filmed version of the live play, which was an incredible show and well-worth seeing as well.

4) House Rules by Jodi Picoult

6614960This is one of my all-time favourite books. This book is about Jacob, a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome, who is obsessed with forensics and crime scene investigation, which sometimes leads to him trying to “help” with police investigations. When Jacob’s social skills tutor is found dead, the police come to him — but not for help. Jacob is the prime suspect, and some of the behaviours that are a part of his diagnosis end also look like guilt to the police. I think this book is so important because of how the message it gives about how law enforcement needs to adapt their approach when dealing with someone who has ASD. It was also a compelling story with very interesting characters, and a brilliant mystery.

5) The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

10441This is one of the rare books where I saw the movie first, and read the book afterwards. This book begins in 1964, when Dr. David Henry delivers his own twin children during a blizzard. Immediately, he sees that his daughter has Down Syndrome and in attempt to protect his wife, he asks his nurse to take her away and lies about the child’s death to his wife. The story follows the lives of the Henry family and of Phoebe, the young daughter who was adopted by someone else. This book was a great story that showed how Dr. Henry’s choice had a ripple effect that impacted the rest of the family throughout their lives. This was a very strong book, and an even more powerful movie.

6) Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

18635084This was the book I chose this year for the prompt requiring a book by or about a person with a disability. The main character is a young woman named Amy who has cerebral palsy. Amy uses a voice output device to speak and a walker to walk, and her parents have hired her student aides to assist her with her senior year in high school. One of her aides, Matthew, is a fellow student who has OCD and the two quickly develop a strong bond. I really loved how this book addressed the issue of how people are afraid to be honest with someone who has a disability because of pity or fear of being mean. This book challenged this directly by having both Amy and Matthew confront each other with sometimes brutal honesty. I also loved how the author wrote Amy and let us see the fully-developed person behind the disability, an approach that I really appreciate because of the young adults I work with.

7) The Miracle Worker by William Gibson

22327This play is the now-famous story of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. The play details Annie’s attempts to teach Helen, who was blind and deaf, to communicate with others and keep her behaviour under control. Annie recognized that a lot of Helen’s outbursts came from her frustration at not being able to express herself, and with great determination and persistence, managed to reach Helen and open up the rest of the world to her. I also think this story is powerful because of the importance of the family’s approach. Before Annie came, Helen’s family had no idea how to manage her outbursts and allowed her to do whatever she wanted. This story really shows the importance of trying to connect with the person and making an effort to reach them, even when their disability seems quite severe.

8) The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

51wxibn2gul-_sx330_bo1204203200_This is another book where the character’s disability is never quite identified outright, but it seems pretty clear that the main character is on the autism spectrum. The Rosie Project is about a man named Don Tillman, a professor of genetics who understands his world according to rules but has a lot of difficulty managing social situations. He decides to undertake an evidence-based approach to finding a wife based on the criteria he would look for in a perfect partner. This book quickly became one of my favourites while reading it, and it’s sequel (The Rosie Effect) also gives a great look into what it might be like to live with someone who has Don’s kind of problems with social cues. The books do a great job of making Don an endearing, although sometimes frustrating, character and it is a great, entertaining story to read.

9) Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

me-before-you-jojo-moyes-cover-195x300This is another favourite of mine, although that seems to be a very unpopular opinion. This book is about a man named Will Traynor who is paralyzed after an accident, ending his previous habits of extreme sports and travel, leading him to make difficult choices about his future. Louisa Clark is a young woman employed by Will’s family to act as a caregiver and attempt to convince Will that his life is still worth living. I fully understand why a lot of people believe this book has a problematic message, but I do not necessarily agree. I think the book does a wonderful job of showing some of the day-to-day issues, such as accessibility, other people’s attitudes, and most importantly, the individual’s control over their own life. What ultimately made this book so powerful for me was this theme of choice — even if we don’t agree with Will’s choices.

10) The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

32681108This is a book that I read fairly recently, and yet another where the character’s diagnosis is never mentioned. It is only vaguely referred to as her “condition.” I’m beginning to wonder if there is a reason authors are so vague about what diagnosis their characters may have. The book is about a young woman named Elvira who is very literal, and lives her life by schedules and rules. When her overprotective mother has a stroke, Elvira is left to manage on her own and develops a list of seven social rules to follow to help her manage. Although this book was a little slow at times, I thought it gave an interesting look at some of the hypocrisy in how we sometimes treat people who have more difficulty with social skills. Elvira frequently pointed out cases where other people around her broke one of her rules with no problem, yet if she were to do the same, it would be viewed as rude. I also thought it was an interesting take on what it means to seen as independent by others.

Stacking the Shelves (#1)

Last month, during the Top 10 Tuesday topic hiatus, I made a post about 10 books that I had recently added to my TBR on Goodreads. My TBR list is constantly expanding and I thought it would be fun to revisit this topic periodically to give a look at some of the books I most recently decided to add. The struggle was trying to find a way to differentiate these posts from my usual weekly Top 5 and Top 10 lists — a problem I have not yet figured out how to solve. Although I do add books to my TBR pretty frequently, this is most likely something I will revisit once a month or so. This week alone, I added 14 books to my shelves, just to give a sense of how huge my shelves can get. My TBR is currently sitting at almost 1700 books!

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

1) The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

29417325If I remember correctly, I found this book because it was suggested to me based on another book I’d already read, although I can’t remember exactly which one. I also thought the cover art was very interesting. This book is about Ruby and Ethan, a couple who has split up and meet again 10 years later at Ruby’s sister’s wedding. For a while, I avoided these kinds of contemporary romance stories but after reading The Hating Game this year, I realized how much fun they could be. This book is also supposed to be a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which I haven’t read but I love Jane Austen so I think it could be good.

2) Crossed and 3) Reached by Allie Condie

1581281413125947I finished reading Matched earlier this week, one of several series that I’d been meaning to try for a while. While I do agree with a lot of online reviews I’d seen which commented that it was not the most original dystopian, I still really enjoyed the book and I’m interested enough to find out what happens next. I went through a phase for a while where I actively avoided reading any more YA dystopians because after The Hunger Games (which I loved) and Divergent (which I liked), they all started to feel pretty similar. I thought Matched was generally well written, although a little rushed in places. It will be interesting to see how the story and characters develop in the rest of the series.

4) Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

32768516Aside from the ridiculously long title, this book just seems like such a cool concept! This book consists of a series of letters addressed to various books that Annie Spence has read. I love the idea of this because it seems like such a unique format for writing reviews and sharing your opinions on books. I enjoy reading book reviews online, but I’ve never really thought about reading a book that consists of reviews. I especially love the creativity of how this book is set up, and also just the idea that our attachment to books can sometimes feel pretty similar to relationships with people. This is a new release that will be out on September 26, so it is definitely something to look forward to!

5) The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt

31247109I discovered this book a couple of days ago when I went to the library to pick up a couple of my requested book that had come in. This book was on a display near the door featuring some of the new and popular books, and the cover art caught my attention. This book was released in February of this year, and focuses on a woman named Dahlia Waller who is trying to distance herself from her childhood with her eccentric mother, and years later she returns home to confront her mother and try to piece together the secrets of her past. I’m a little worried about this one because the Goodreads reviews so far have generally been pretty mixed, with many quite negative comments about the book being slow and confusing. Although I often look at reviews, I don’t necessarily let them put me off a book, so I’ll have to wait and see when I read it myself.

6) Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato

29939185This was another book that I discovered on the same shelf in the library as The Good Daughter, and another that was released earlier this year. This book is about a young boy named Edgar whose father died in an accident that he can barely remember, and now lives with his mother, Lucy.  The plot synopsis was actually fairly vague, but the book received excellent reviews on Goodreads, described as both a page-turner and a masterpiece. To be honest, I’m always a little wary of such high praise but the book seems very intriguing. I was also interested since a prompt requiring a literary fiction book had recently been voted into one of my reading challenges for next year, and this one seems to be a good fit.

7) Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

29983711Although I’d heard about this book earlier this year, it didn’t interest me much at the time because I didn’t properly understand what it was about. I thought this book was another one along the lines of Windfall, which is about a character who suddenly wins the lottery and the way all that money affects their lives. It wasn’t until a couple of days ago where I actually really looked at the synopsis and realized that I had it completely mixed up with other books. This book is a family saga about a Korean family exiled from their homeland and seeking a better life in Japan. Although I’ve always been very interested in Asian history, I know very little about Korea and I don’t think I’ve ever read any books about it. This is another book that has received excellent reviews on Goodreads, so it seems like it could be a great one to start with.

8) Fowl Language: Welcome to Parenting and 9) Fowl Language: The Struggle is Real by Brian Gordon

2811169234536960I’m not even a parent, but I love Brian Gordon’s cartoons! I first encountered them on Facebook, where many of my friends who are parents started sharing them and I found them adorable and hilarious! I discovered the comics had been collected into books earlier this week after reading Adulthood is a Myth, another comic series that I follow on Facebook. The slight downside with these collections is that fans of the series probably already follow the page on Facebook, and the cartoons in the collection tend to be the same ones we’ve already seen. I still think it would be fun to read a book that has several of them together though! I especially love the Fowl Language comics because they have the perfect blend of humour and sarcasm, and give (what I imagine anyway) is a very accurate look at what it is to be a parent.

10) The Pocket Wife by Susan H. Crawford

22635867I think this was a book that came up on my recommendations pages, and I was intrigued by the unusual title. This book has been compared to Before I Go to Sleep, which I read earlier this year and loved. It is about a woman suffering from bipolar disorder, who may have murdered her friend during a breakdown. This book has been out for a couple of years already, but I’d never heard of it before. I tend to love stories with unreliable narrators trying to piece together what really happened. I’m especially intrigued to find out what “pocket wife” even means, since it seems like such an odd phrase.

11) The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase

22716454It’s a little funny that I added two contemporary romance books with the exact same name to my list in the same week. This book is about a woman named Sarina whose ex-boyfriend Eamon returns to town while her soon-to-be fiancee is away. Eamon approaches Sarina, who has an architecture practice, so renovate his new house, and their time together causes her to remember all of the reasons she fell in love with him in the first place. As I said earlier, this is not necessarily the kind of book I pick up very often but I’m starting to realize how interesting they can be, and how fun. I go into books like this expecting something light and entertaining, and usually they tend to deliver.

12) The Party by Elizabeth Day

33229392I found this book the other day on a list of thrillers that rival Gone Girl, which I haven’t read yet but will be reading soon. This was one of a couple books on that list that I hadn’t already added to my TBR. It is about a man named Martin who makes friends with the wealthy Ben Fitzmaurice, giving him access to an exclusive upper-class world and forming a close friendship that lasts several decades. The plot summary reminded me a bit of a more fleshed-out Great Gatsby-type story, although since it is a thriller, the details are quite vague. This is another book that was only recently released, in mid-July of this year, so it will be interesting to see more reviews as they come in.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Favourite Fancasts

I think this may be the most difficult Top 5 Wednesday post I’ve had to do so far. For anyone (like me, at first) who didn’t know, a fancast is when a fan decides who they would like to play certain characters if there were going to be a film version. I am so out-of-date when it comes to current actors/actresses that it’s really hard for me to cast anyone. If a film version already exists, I tend to get pretty stuck on the first version of the character I see, so it would even be tough for me to re-cast characters! As I started to dig further into it, I realized three more big challenges:

1) I actually pay very little attention to how characters are supposed to look while reading, so it was hard for me to remember what characters from most of my books looked like unless there was something particularly distinctive about them

2) I tend to find a lot of mainstream actors look pretty much the same, and because I pay so little attention to how characters are meant to look, it’s tough to find someone specific to fulfill a role

3) I have very, very limited knowledge of actors and actresses of colour, so there were certain roles that I wanted to cast, but I literally could not think of anyone. I think a big part of this is just my own lack of knowledge of recent actors/actresses, but it might also be a sign that we need more diversity in the field. Not only that, but it is also very difficult to find any actresses who are plus-sized (I’m not sure if the same is true for men, since I happened not to look for any).

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) Liam Aiken as Bobby Pendragon (The Pendragon series by DJ MacHale)

9thannualtribecafilmfestivalkillerinsidexcaul787xtzmI realize that some of the casting choices I make here are probably for people who are outside of the appropriate age range for the character. I originally thought of Asa Butterfield for this role, and I think he would also make a great choice but I slightly prefer Liam Aiken. Part of the appeal of the Pendragon series was seeing the character evolve as he grew up, following him from age 14 until he was about 18 or so, if I remember correctly. I think Liam Aiken would have been a great actor to grow up with the character, and he also has the look I have in mind based on the cover art for the series. The picture shown here is a few years old already, but given that Liam is now 27, it would have made more sense to cast him when he was younger.

2) Elle Fanning as Cress (The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)

mv5bmtc0oda1mjy5m15bml5banbnxkftztcwnzcwmdyzoq-_v1_ux214_cr00214317_al_To be honest, I saw this choice while looking at other blogs and videos today to try to get a bit more of a pool of current actors, but I think Elle Fanning is the perfect choice for this character. Aside from already having the long, flowing hair, Elle has this kind of wide-eyed innocence that I think would suit Cress so well. Cress has spent so much of her time isolated on her satellite that she does not necessarily fully understand how to interact with other people, but she is also a talented hacker. I think Elle could bring a great balance to that role. I really, really wanted to find someone to cast as Cinder, but I just couldn’t think of any Chinese or Chinese-American actresses that I was familiar enough with the choose.

3) Amandla Stenberg or Reiya Downs as Natasha (The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon)

This might be a bit of a weird choice in a way because Amandla Stenberg just played Maddie in the film version of Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything. Is it weird to cast the same actor in two stories by the same author? When I read this book recently, Amandla was pretty much the image I had in mind for the character. Natasha is an undocumented immigrant who is at risk of being deported back to Jamaica. Amandla is a very talented actress who I think would be great in this role. I also really like Reiya Downs (an actress who portrays Shay on Degrassi) could be another great choice. Both of these actresses are the same age and I think would be great fits for the role.

4) Tom Hiddleston as Ballister Blackheart (Nimona by Noelle Stevenson)

032648f207e5f79a148c760934a385e7-loki-marvel-wavesI think this a book that needs to be made into a film version at some point, although it would probably work better as an animated movie than a live action one. The look of this character reminds me so much of Loki in the Avengers movies that I couldn’t help but pick Tom Hiddleston, but specifically with his Loki look. This is another case where I would have loved to cast another character, but couldn’t find anyone that fit! I wanted to pick someone to play the hilarious Nimona, but couldn’t find any actresses at all who would have the right look. I also have no idea who I would pick if this book was turned into an animated movie instead.

5) Stacy Farber as Kady Grant (Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff)

n0leufniI’m not actually sure how much of a fit this one is image-wise, but the more I thought about this choice, the more Stacy Farber came to mind. I first saw her on Degrassi, where she played one of my favourite characters and I think Stacy Farber is a great actress who could bring a lot to this role. Kady is a skilled hacker and comes across as quite tough and sarcastic, but with an underlying softer side. I think Stacy would be a great choice because on Degrassi, she’s already proven her skill for managing a similar character. I also really like the fact that she’s a lesser-known actress, since sometimes it’s easier to relate to characters when you aren’t so hung up on which major star is playing them.


Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Books on Your Fall TBR List

At the beginning of the year, one of my strategies for my reading challenges was to purposely space out some of the books I was most looking forward to so I wouldn’t finish them all off early in the year. As a result, I’m lucky enough to still have quite a few books that I’m really looking forward to left for the rest of the year! I’m a little further behind on my overall progress than I would like to be though. I’m currently at 104 books out of a total of 158 needed to complete all of my challenges, so I think it will get pretty tight to try to squeeze in everything that I want. It definitely helps that I have so many books left that I’m very excited to try.

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

1) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

32075671I’m both very excited for this book and very nervous about reading it because of all the hype. Any book that has this much attention around it is always a bit risky because it sets expectations so high. I recently released my request for this book from the library, expecting it to take a long time to arrive, so I was surprised to get it the next day! It will be a little longer until I get to it since I have a few other books lined up first, but I’m really looking forward to reading this one. This book has received nothing but positive reviews from literally all of the Goodreads reviewers I follow who have read it. At the risk of sounding disrespectful, I’m a little worried that the high ratings have more to do with the subject matter than the book quality itself, but I will find out for myself soon enough!

2) Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

25855506It may seem a little strange that this is one of the books that I’m most anticipating for the rest of the year, but I absolutely love Sarah Andersen’s comics. I used to see her work on Facebook and other websites all the time before I ever knew her name, and I was very excited to see that there was a book that collected some of this. Another main reason I’m really looking forward to this is because it will make a light, quick read that will help me catch up quickly on my challenge progress and I think it will be a lot of fun to read. It will definitely make a nice change from some of the longer books I still have on my TBR. These comics are just so cute!

3) The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

6604794I didn’t realize until just now that Jandy Nelson has actually been around for a while as an author. I first heard of her last year, when many people in my Goodreads group were talking about her other book I’ll Give You the Sun, which I read and loved. For some reason, I was convinced that this book was recent, but The Sky is Everywhere actually came out in 2010 so I’m a little surprised I never came across it before. This book is about a girl attempting to cope with her sister’s sudden death, although the synopsis also hints strongly of a love triangle. I’m hoping that this book is as strong as I’ll Give You the Sun.

4) Save as Draft by Cavanaugh Lee

10349398I’m a little worried I won’t actually be able to read this book before the year ends! This is one of several books I’ve had on order from the library for several months now, meaning that I requested them to buy it and it has supposedly been ordered but there have been no updates since then. This book is told through e-mails, Facebook messages, texts, etc. which is something I’ve been very interested in this year. I love how the portrayal of social media in books has evolved over the years, and I tend to really enjoy books that are told in this kind of format. I’m really hoping the library manages to get a copy available soon, since this is one of the books I’ve been most excited for all year.

5) The Magpies by Mark Edwards

17726978This is one of the rare horror books that I am very interested in reading, although it has also been tagged as more of a psychological thriller, which I love. This book is another one in the group that I ordered along with Save as Draft, so it seems to be in some kind of library limbo. This book is about a couple, Jamie and Kirsty, who moves in to their first home together, but they soon find that weird things are happening. The synopsis seems to suggest that the couples’ neighbours are terrorizing them, until Jamie finally decides to fight back. It sounds like such a chilling, creepy story and I think it would be great to get this one in time for Halloween.

6) And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

28449150This is another one that I think would be great for Halloween. I heard quite a bit about this book toward the end of last year, but not too much since then. This book is about two children who go to live at their aunt’s creepy house, where odd things start happening. The trees seem to be moving closer, and one of the sisters has been playing in the basement at night with a man that no one else can see. This is another book that I think I will probably enjoy, but it will haunt me for a long time afterwards. This is why I don’t usually read a lot of horror books, but this one just seemed too interesting to pass up.

7) When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

28458598This was actually another book that I planned to actively avoid this year because of all the hype surrounding it, but eventually I caved and decided that I had to give it a chance. This book is about two Indian-American teenagers who meet at a summer program for teenagers who are interested in becoming web developers, only to learn that their parents have suggested an arranged marriage for the two of them. Although everyone seems to be reading this book lately, the reviews I’ve seen have been quite mixed so I’m interested in trying it for myself. I’m not sure how different this book will be from most other YA contemporary romances, so it will be interesting to see how much of a role the cultural aspects and arranged marriage angle play into it.

8) Wrecked by Maria Padian

28110862I’m actually a little surprised I held off on this book for so long since it was one of the first books I had in mind when I sat down to plan out my reading challenges for the year. I think one big factor is that I had several other books lined up for the year that focused on a similar topic, so I purposely tried not to read them all back-to-back. Also, this was one book I was fairly confident I would enjoy so it fell into that category of books that I decided upfront to space out throughout the year to make sure I didn’t read all the “best” ones right away. Compared to many of the other YA books I had lined up for the year, this one received surprisingly little attention from the reviewers I follow. I think I will have to pick this one up pretty soon.

9) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and 10) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

160968248490112I decided to group these two together since my comments for both would be pretty similar. This year, one of my goals was to try some of the bigger YA fantasy series that everyone seemed to be talking about and that I’d missed out on. These two series were two of the main ones that kept coming up no matter where I looked, and both also had excellent ratings on Goodreads.  I’m looking forward to trying both of them and seeing if they really live up to all of the hype. I have never read anything by either of these authors, but I have heard great things about both of them. I can’t decide which of these I’m looking forward to more!

Books I Will Probably Never Read Tag

It’s been a while since I did a book tag, but I saw this one recently on Kourtni Reads (link here), and it seemed like a very interesting one! I’m always hesitant to say that I will never read a book because it’s impossible to predict, especially when I do so many reading challenges. Who knows? Maybe one will require me to read a book I thought I’d never try. The books I thought of for the questions today are books that I can safely say I have no interest in as of right now, but I guess there’s always a chance I could change my mind.

1) A really hyped book that you’re not interested in reading

10964As I’ve mentioned in past posts, over-hype really tends to kill my interest in books. I will actively go out of my way to avoid reading something until all the hype dies down. It wasn’t until fairly recently that I really started to get more interested in trying the books that everyone else seems to be reading, although I still tend to read them at a bit of  a delay after most of the hype has stopped.

I actually really struggled to find something for this, since many of the books I looked at are ones that I had at least a mild interest in. Any books that I had no interest whatsoever were already a bit older and not that hyped anymore. I think as of right now, I would have to go with Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I was actually looking to pick something more recent, but this one’s gained back a lot of hype because of the TV series. Although I keep hearing about how amazing this book is, I can honestly say it has never really appealed to me.

2) A series you won’t start/won’t be finishing

28187Luckily this was a much easier choice: The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. I think I’ve just outgrown this series by now. Although I love mythology, I never had much interest in this series when I was in the intended age range and it’s never really caught my attention since then either. I’ve always been a little confused about whether Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus and Magnus Chase series are connected to Percy Jackson, and if so it would be an overwhelming number of books to catch up on. Although I do enjoy a lot of YA and some middle grade, I sometimes feel like I’ve outgrown books geared toward a much younger audience and there is enough on my TBR already that I just don’t see myself getting to this one any time soon (or at all).

3) A classic you’re just not interested in?

62111My first instinct is to say Ulysses by James Joyce, just because that book seems incredibly intimidating and confusing, but it also seems like a bit of a cop-out to choose it since it does not seem to be a book that anyone really wants to read. There are several lengthy classics on my list (Moby Dick or War and Peace, just to name a few) that I’m theoretically interested in trying, but also can’t really see myself reading any time soon. But in terms of one I’m not interested in at all, I’d have to say Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. I tend not to enjoy stories that involve boats or sea travel, nor do I enjoy books that focus a lot on survival skills. This is one of the few classics I’ve never had any interest in at all.

4) A genre you never read

I never really read horror or New Adult books. I actually think New Adult has a lot of potential as a genre, but it seems to be stuck in this weird rut where all the books are romances and they all seem fairly similar to me. It would be great to have more options for people in their 20s to find characters their own age and going through some of the same experiences. I have nothing against romance as a genre, although it’s another one that I don’t read often on its own, but when all the books seem to be heavy on the romance side, it seems more like a subgenre of romance than a genre on its own.

And I almost forgot one other big one — non-fiction. It is extremely rare for me to voluntarily read non-fiction, and I often do not enjoy them every much. When I do read non-fiction, it tends to be something related to psychology or my field of work (working with individuals with special needs), and even then it’s hit or miss. I typically find non-fiction pretty dry and strongly prefer fiction.

5) A book on your shelves you’ll probably never read

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. I have this book on both my TBR and my actual bookshelves, and to be honest, I’ve been debating removing it. I’m hesitant to take it off (as irrational as that is, since I can always add it again) since I must have put it there for a reason, but I can’t for the life of me remember what that reason was. I saw at least part of the movie when I was younger, but I think I was too young at the time to understand it, and given that this book is non-fiction, I don’t think I’d enjoy it very much.

Since I always forget to tag people when I post tags, I will leave it up to you. I tag anyone who is interested and who has not done this one yet!

Top 5 Wednesday: Books To Read Without the Synopsis

It is very rare for me to pick up a book without reading the synopsis first. I actually find it really frustrating sometimes when the synopsis is too vague since I like to have at least some idea of what I’m getting myself into. I understand why it is sometimes necessary for authors (or whoever writes the synopsis) to leave things pretty vague, but it’s so hard for me to hear “I can’t tell you anything, or else it will spoil it!” It can be really irritating to try to find a decent synopsis that helps you figure out whether the book will interest you, but without revealing too much about what happens.

On the other hand, it is also just as frustrating when the synopsis does not quite match up to how the book actually goes. There have been a few cases where the synopsis seems to lead in one direction, but it does not really reflect the book at all. I didn’t even think of this kind of misleading summary for this week’s topic until I watched Sam’s video (here), where she explained the prompt a little more. In these cases, reading the synopsis is unnecessary since it gives the wrong impression of the story, so it is still pretty much going into the book blind.

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) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

16143347I heard about this book for a couple of years before I finally decided to try it, and the main reason I avoided it for so long was because I had no idea at all what it was about. The Goodreads page gives only a few lines about a family, and island, a group of friends, and lies. Even reading and watching online reviews kept running me into the same comment — “I can’t say any more because it will ruin it.” I ended up picking it up last year to finally see what all the hype was about, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it quite as much as everyone else seemed to. I don’ t necessarily agree that nothing at all can be said without spoiling it, but it’s really hard to tell sometimes. People all have very different standards for what counts as a spoiler.

2) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

9361589This book tends to fall more into the second category that I mentioned above. The synopsis on Goodreads is actually quite long and detailed, but it doesn’t quite match up to the way the story progresses. The synopsis promises a duel between two competing magicians, setting the expectation for magical battles and a lot of action. Instead, the “battle” is more of a competition where the two magicians try to outdo each other, in a never-ending contest. I actually really loved this book because of the beautiful writing style and the incredible cast of characters, but I was thrown off because it was not at all what I expected from the synopsis. The book is much slower-paced and more character-driven than expected, and the duel is not really what I would have had in mind when hearing the word “duel.” I would still highly recommend this book, but be warned that the synopsis may be a little misleading.

3) The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

6632916I am currently struggling my way through this book because of its misleading synopsis. This book is about a man who slaps a child who is not his own during a barbecue, and the aftermath of the slap for the adults who were there. I was under the impression that this book would be a Jodi Picoult or Liane Moriarty-style contemporary, possibly involving a court case or some kind of ethical dilemma. Instead, this book focuses surprisingly little on the slap itself. Although I knew that the book was more about the aftermath, I was still surprised to find how small a role the BBQ actually played. The book instead tries to flesh out all of the adult characters, but they are all quite unlikable and it is sometimes tough to understand how they are relevant to the rest of the story. This book was definitely not what I expected at all.

4) Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

20649195I read this book fairly recently, and it was another case where I thought the synopsis was a little misleading. This book is about two boys who form an online friendship, but cannot meet in real life because of their strange medical conditions. Ollie is allergic to electricity and suffers from debilitating seizures if he comes in contact with it, and Moritz uses a pacemaker and also has incredible echolocation abilities due to being born blind. When I first picked this book up, I was led to believe that it was a fairly typical contemporary, social media-focused book, but it actually had a lot more of a sci-fi element to it. Since I went into it without knowing or expecting that, I found the sci-fi aspects very off-putting at first because it made the story so unrealistic.

5) The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

17235026I actually did not go into this book blind, and given that it has been out for 3 years already, it may be tough to avoid the main spoiler, especially given that it is mentioned on the Goodreads page. This book is about a young girl named Melanie who loves going to school, but the synopsis hints that there is something unusual about her. By the time I read this book, I already knew what the “twist” was and if I remember correctly, it is not too long into the book before it all starts to come together. When this book was first released, it seemed that the mystery of what was different about Melanie was a central to the story so I would definitely recommend trying to go into this one blind to get the full impact of the story. Like We Were Liars, it seems to be one where the less you know going into it, the better.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Throwback Freebie — 10 Books that Have Been on My TBR The Longest

About a month and a half ago, while left to choose my own topics for a month or so of Top 10 Tuesdays, I came across one that talked about the books that had been on your TBR the longest. I had so much fun with that post (found here), that I decided this week’s throwback would be a bit of a follow-up with ten more books that have been on my TBR for a very long time. It is a throwback to when I first started my Goodreads account and the books I was interested in when I put together my TBR list.

I’ll confess that although I go through my TBR list pretty often, I never really remove anything from it unless it is a repeat copy of a book I’ve already read or added. I know there was a trend going around where some bloggers went through their lists and decided whether to keep or delete the books in batches of 10 or so. My thinking usually is that if I added it to my list, there was something about it that made it catch my attention. I’m hesitant to delete it in case I’m interested in it later, and I tend to view my TBR as a (very) long-term project, so it’s not such a problem for me to have a huge list. Here are a few more of the books that have been on my list the longest.

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

1) Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult

6564261Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while now will know that Jodi Picoult is by far my favourite author. However, as of right now I still have not read all of her books, although I’m getting very close to it. I have never read her first two novels and I have heard that they are quite different from her later work. This book was published in the early 90s, so it’s no surprise that her style has changed since then. I actually own a copy of this book but have never picked it up because I’ve been busy reading her more recent books among many others. I will definitely have to get around to reading this one soon!

2) A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

3682This is another book that I actually own a copy of, but have never bothered to read. I got this one for free from the library’s discards and I’ve had it for years but never had the motivation to pick it up. I’ve heard so many great things about this book and the author. This book is about a 16-year-old girl who is sent to boarding school after having a vision of her mother’s death, where she is led to discover a mystical Order and explore other realms. On the one hand, a Victorian-style boarding school seems like it would be right up my alley, but on the other, I’m not so sure about the paranormal elements.

3) When Lightning Strikes by Kristin Hannah

836944I read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah last year as part of my reading challenges, and it was one of my favourite books of the year. Although I’m sure I added this book to my TBR before reading The Nightingale, I can’t remember which of them I discovered on Goodreads first. This book is actually a good example of one that I was less sure of keeping on my list, but decided to leave it just in case. This book is about a romance novelist who is sent back in time to the Western setting of her latest novel. I am not a huge fan of romance novels, and especially not of Westerns, so I’m having a hard time remembering what my reason was for adding this book. I think I discovered it through the recommendations pages and decided it sounded interesting enough to consider so I added it to come back to.

4) While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky

4071018There are a few authors that I must have discovered soon after joining Goodreads, since I added several of their books to my TBR. Since then, I’ve read and enjoyed two books by Barbara Delinsky, and I believe I added this one to my list around the same time. This book is about a young woman named Molly whose sister suffers from a heart attack and may not regain consciousness. When the rest of her family has difficulty coping, Molly is left to make all of the tough decisions and to learn more about her sister. Both of the other books by this author have been 4 star reads for me, which is still very good, so I’m looking forward to trying another one.

5) Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock

80534This was a book I discovered while playing around with the recommendations section on Goodreads and trying out different genres. This book is about two sisters who live in an unstable, abusive situation, and the Goodreads synopsis seems to promise a lot of twists and a shocking ending. It is a book I kept putting off because there were so many others that interested me more, but each time I come back to this one, it seems like something I might like. I guess it may be a little strange to say I’m not a big fan of abuse stories (is anyone, really?) but I love stories that have a good plot twist.

6) The Lies We Told by Diane Chamberlain

7602266Diane Chamberlain was a bit of a strange author for me since I added nearly all of her books to my TBR before ever reading one of them. It wasn’t until this year that I finally managed to get a copy of one, and I loved it! This book is about two sisters, Maya and Rebecca, who lived through a terrifying experience together, and grew up to be very different. When a hurricane hits and the women, along with Maya’s husband Adam, join the relief effort, Maya ends up lost in a helicopter crash and presumed dead, forcing her to find her own way to survive. I think the main reason I have not picked up this book until now is that I’m not a huge fan of survival stories but this one seemed very interesting. I kept passing it over for other books that appealed to me more at the time, but knowing now that I enjoy Diane Chamberlain’s writing, I may be more willing to try it.

7) The Good Sister by Drusilla Campbell

8423841I’m pretty sure I often mixed this book up with Me & Emma because of the fairly similar cover art. It also seems that I went through some kind of “sister relationship” phase when looking at Goodreads, which is a bit weird since I don’t even have a sister. This book is about a young woman, Simone, who commits a crime while suffering from postpartum depression. Her older sister is drawn back into her difficult relationship with Simone to help her family make sense of what happened. I had never heard of Drusilla Campbell before, so this one was a discovery purely from the recommendations pages.

8) Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

6567017This is one of the few books from my early TBR list that I’m a little surprised I haven’t read by now, although I usually self-impose a rule on my challenges not to read more than one book by the same author if I can avoid it. I’ve read one John Green book a year already since I started my challenges, and this one was a bit lower on the list. This book is about two boys, both named Will Grayson, each written by one of the two authors who (if I understood the synopsis correctly) fall in love while working on the school musical. I like John Green’s books in general, and I’ve absolutely loved the one book by David Levithan that I’ve tried so far. This is one that I may have to get to pretty soon.

9) Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

33906This book has actually been on my TBR for a lot longer than I’ve really had a TBR. I first discovered this book years ago on Amazon while looking at book recommendations based on books I’d already read. I didn’t read it at the time because I had a lot of other books that interested me more, and haven’t picked it up since then because I thought I might have outgrown it by now. The book is about a teenage girl who is caught in the backseat of a car with her older brother’s best friend, leading a rumours and reputations. It is a story that has been told many times by now, and given how short this book is (just under 200 pages), I was worried that it would not develop very much. This is one I’ll have to pick up at some point just to be able to say I finally read it. It’s probably quite literally the book that I’ve been meaning to read the longest, even though it is not first on my TBR.

10) No One You Know by Michelle Richmond

2512103Another book that seems to focus on sister relationships! I really must have been going through a phase. This book is about a young woman named Ellie, whose sister Lila was murdered in a crime that was never solved. Ellie confided in a man who turned the story into a bestselling book that seemed to identify the killer. Years later, someone gives Ellie her sister’s notebook which she uses to begin investigating what really happened to Lila. This actually sounds like a very interesting book, and I think the only reason I haven’t picked it up yet is because it got buried among all the others on my TBR!

Reader Struggle: Meme Mini-Series (#3)

One of the advantages of posting about my reading challenge picks online, both on Goodreads and my personal Facebook page, is that it gives people a natural conversation starter to use with me. I have never been very good at random small talk or starting conversations, but ever since I started posting about the books I’ve been reading, people have naturally started asking me what I’m reading, asking for recommendations, and the most dreaded question of all — what is my favourite book?

I relate very, very strongly to this meme. I can’t say that I have just one favourite book, although I do have some favourite authors. I love the Harry Potter series, but I struggle to decide which one of those books is my favourite. I love Jodi Picoult’s books, but I can never choose just one that I like best. Whenever someone asks me what my favourite book is, or even what my favourite genre is, I struggle to just answer the seemingly simple question.

Most often, I find people tend to phrase the question as “So, what do you like to read?” A new co-worker of mine asked me this question the other day while we were having lunch together in the staff room, and I immediately drew a blank. I think it’s the same kind of phenomenon as when your teacher or professor asks you to introduce yourself to the class, and you instantly forget who you are (or maybe that’s just me?). Generally, I end up saying that I like to read a little bit of everything, but that is not a good enough answer for some people. Since it’s so vague, the next natural question is to ask for a specific favourite book, which is even more difficult to pinpoint.

I think part of the challenge is that I take the question a bit too literally. I have many, many books that I enjoy but I have a hard time classifying some of them as favourites. For me, a favourite book is not just something I enjoyed reading, but also a book that I want to read more than once, and that I would enjoy or get something out of each and every time I read it. On the other hand, it may just be the pressure of being put on the spot. Thinking about it now, I can come up with a whole bunch of books that I would consider my favourites, but I know that if someone were to spring the question on me, none of them would come to mind in that moment — or too many of them, and I would get stuck trying to pick just one. I guess nothing limits you to just one book when people ask, unless they specify that themselves, but it’s so hard to choose!

Top 5 Wednesdays: Classes Based On Books/Characters

I have such a hard time with Top 5 Wednesday topics sometimes because they are so out of the box. As a bit of a back to school special this week, our prompt asked for classes based on books or book characters. Creative prompts like this are really challenging for me since it is not the way I think about my books at all, but after some thought, I thought of a few classes that I’d love to see taught by some of my favourite book characters.

It was especially tough since the prompt specifically requested that we do not include Harry Potter! There are so many classes from Harry Potter that I think would be really interesting, but I can see why we were asked to leave those out.

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) Creative Inventions 101 with Violet Baudelaire (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

Violet Baudelaire has always been one of my favourite fictional characters, and also one that I think is very underrated. Violet is a skilled inventor who can put together very creative and useful inventions from very simple or very random items that she encounters. Violet has a great talent for looking around her surroundings and finding all of the available materials, and reconfiguring them into something that will help her or make people’s lives just a little easier. I think it would be great to have her talent!

2) Demon Lore with Rupert Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

I always feel like it’s a bit of a cheat to include Buffy on this list, but there are several books and graphic novels based on the series so I think it can still apply. As scary as it would be to live on the Hellmouth like Buffy, or in a world where demons really do exist, I find the demon mythology in this series so in-depth and fascinating. I would love to be able to take a class with Giles and learn more about the mythology and history of the demons of their world.

3) Hacking and Managing AI 101 with Kady Grant (Illuminae)

This is a book that I read very recently, and I absolutely loved the characters. I was especially interested by Kady’s abilities to hack and manipulate computer systems, and especially to deal with AIDAN, the ship’s AI system. Her interactions with AIDAN were some of my favourite sections of the book. I don’t think I would want to be a hacker in real life, but I think Kady would be a very interesting person to learn from.

4) Advanced Logic with L (Death Note)

This is another of my favourite characters that I don’t necessarily associate with books, since I first heard of L through the anime series. L is a detective who has an exceptionally high IQ and very advanced analytical skills, which he uses to try to uncover the identity of the person killing people using the Death Note. While I don’t think I could ever learn to be on the same level as L, I think he would be another fascinating, eccentric teacher.

5) Intro to Robotics by Linh Cinder (Cinder)

I can’t say that I have much skill with technology, but this seems like a class that would be very practical in the near future. When we are first introduced to Cinder at the start of the Lunar Chronicles, she is a very skilled mechanic who has a vast amount of knowledge about repairing devices and throughout the series, she uses her skills to help take care of her own cybernetic components, ships, AI and many other technological advances. I also think that Cinder would be a great teacher on a personal level, since I think she would be good at actually conveying the information to others in a way that is easy for them to understand.