Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Authors You’d Want to Write Like

I spent at least half of my childhood convinced I was going to grow up to be a professional author. In fourth grade, my best friend and I decided that we were going to start our own series of children’s books. He would draw the illustrations, and I would write (although neither of us were particularly talented). This led to many recesses and lunch breaks working on our first “book,” a bizarre story involving talking animals that have special powers and go on small adventures. Growing up, I always tried to write stories of my own and although I had many ideas, I never had the ability to follow through on them and often abandoned them midway.

When I saw this week’s topic, it brought me back to my childhood wish of being a professional writer. Although writing is one of my strengths, I’m not really sure that extends to creative writing. I definitely wish I had the abilities of some of my favourite authors!

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) Jodi Picoult

It’s no secret by now that Jodi Picoult is my favourite author. I would love to have her ability to tackle complex topics from a variety of viewpoints. Jodi Picoult takes controversial issues, and crafts a story that includes such a range of characters that it is nearly impossible for me to tell her own personal biases. I also have a lot of respect for the amount of research she puts into each book to make sure they are as accurate as possible. Her characters feel so real that I sometimes forget that they are not real people. Like all authors, some books are better than others, but even my least favourites tend to be very strong. I would love to have J.K. Rowling’s ability to to manage difficult topics so sensitively and realistically, while avoiding her own biases.

2) J.K. Rowling

I really admire J.K. Rowling’s ability to create such an intricate and detailed world, and especially how she manages to tie together seemingly insignificant details and characters from previous books. A character who is mentioned in passing in the first Harry Potter book, who seems like no more than just a random name, often later becomes an important figure. It takes a lot of forethought and planning to pull that off, and I love how J.K. Rowling was able to bring it all together so smoothly. In my own attempts to write stories, I tend to get stuck on specifics and stop writing until I can sort things out, which sometimes means abandoning things if I can’t find a good solution. I would love to have J.K. Rowling’s ability to plan ahead and make such strong connections, as well as to build such a fascinating world.

3) Daniel Handler

For those who don’t know, Daniel Handler is the real author behind the Lemony Snicket character who wrote A Series of Unfortunate Events. I think it takes a lot of talent to create this whole persona of a mysterious author who is a character himself in the books, and I love the series for the blend of intelligent writing, interesting (and strange) characters, and humour. Aside from the series, Daniel Handler has also written several books under his own name which are great as well. I love how he wrote a children’s series which treated the children who read it as well as the younger characters as competent and intelligent people who were able to understand the story and the jokes. I would love to have Daniel Handler’s ability to play with language and create a story that is so funny and so serious at the same time.

4) Audrey Niffenegger

Audrey Niffenegger hasn’t written very many books yet, but I love her writing style! I fell in love with The Time Traveler’s Wife as soon as I read it, partly because of the intriguing concept but mostly because of the beautiful writing. I love how Audrey Niffenegger takes on storylines that are kind of complex and weird, but presents them in a way where the story does not seem so impossible. Even when the events that are happening are strange, they are written so well that they seem completely real and plausible. I’m not even sure I can put into words exactly what it is about her writing style that I love (and maybe that’s why I would love to write like her), but it is so easy for me to get absorbed into her stories. I would love to have Audrey Niffenegger’s general ability to write so beautifully.

5) Suzanne Collins

I’ve only just realized that Suzanne Collins had another series before The Hunger Games. It was a middle grade series called the Underland Chronicles, which I’d never heard of and never read (and to be fair, probably won’t read at this point). I avoided The Hunger Games for a long time because it was so overhyped, even though my mom, who rarely reads YA but loves fantasy, kept highly recommending it. It wasn’t until after I saw the first movie that I decided to give it a chance, and all three books quickly became favourites. I loved how Suzanne Collins struck a perfect balance between action and character development, in a completely believable world. Her characters were all so well-written, especially Katniss. I thought this was by far one of the strongest YA dystopian series I’ve ever read, possibly because it was the first, but the writing style really made it stand out. I would love to have Suzanne Collins’ ability to balance action and emotion/character development.

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Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Books on Your Winter TBR

When I first saw this week’s topic, I thought it was a bit strange since there is only one month left of the year. For some reason, I naturally interpreted “winter” as “December” since I’m so used to thinking of my TBR in terms of my reading challenges. To be fair, it’s a bit harder to think about which books I’m planning on reading for the rest of the winter because I haven’t decided which books from next year’s challenges I will be starting with. The best I could think of is a few books which I would like to read early on next year, but I can’t know for sure yet.

Throughout the year, I tried my best to spread out some of the books I was most excited for so I didn’t read them all at once at the beginning and leave myself stuck with prompts that I was dreading. I’m a little worried about the sheer number of books I have to read if I want to complete my challenges by the end of the year. Actually, it’s not so much the number but the average length of the books, since I seem to have left myself with a few longer books instead of my usual pattern of mostly YA by this time of year. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s really not such a big deal if I can’t. There’s no “challenge police” who are keeping track of what I read, but I would still love to reach my goal.

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

1) When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

28220826I’m actually a little surprised I put this book off for so long since it was one of the first books I decided I wanted to try this year. This book is a magical realism story, which is a genre I like but don’t reach for very often. It is about a girl named Miel who grows roses out of her wrist, who befriends Sam, whose life before moving to the town in which they live is mysterious. The Bonner sisters, rumoured to be witches, decide they want Miel’s roses and will do anything to make sure they get them. It’s a tricky plot to explain, especially when I have not read the book yet, but the cover art is stunning and I’ve seen such rave reviews for this one. I’m currently waiting for this one to come from the library, so hopefully it will be here soon!

2) Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino

23492533I read one of Renee Carlino’s books last year and I really enjoyed it, so I immediately went online and looked at what else she had written. I was most intrigued by this book, which is about a writing instructor at a San Diego college who realizes that the plot of a bestselling novel from a mysterious new writer seems suspiciously similar to her own life, meaning that the writer must be the childhood friend she has not seen in more than 10 years. It sounded like such an interesting concept, and I tend to love books that have to do with writing and mysterious authors. This book sounds like it has a lot of potential. It is very unusual for me to pick up any “new adult” books, but this one sounded so interesting that I couldn’t resist giving it a chance.

3) It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Suigura

29073707This book was not part of my original plan for the year, but I started to hear more about it as the year went on. Oddly enough, I remember hearing a lot of criticism for this book being extremely problematic, although when I search for those reviews now, I can’t find anything on the subject. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? This book is about a 16-year-old Japanese-American girl who starts to have feelings for her new female best friend after moving to California. If I’m honest, a big part of why this book caught my attention enough to prioritize it for this year was all the controversy surrounding it. I just couldn’t understand what could be that problematic about it, to the point where people were demanding a rewrite. I’m curious to try it for myself and see what all the hype was about.

4) The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper

3148095This book has been a bit of a strange one for me all year. Every time I look at the synopsis, I think it sounds so interesting and I want to read it, but it has never been the book I reach for either. This book is about a man named Patrick who joins a creative writing group in Toronto, where a serial killer has been murdering people and taunting the police with notes. Patrick discovers that one woman in his group seems to be writing stories that bear a strong resemblance to the real attacks. It sounds like a very interesting story, and as I mentioned above, I tend to like stories that deal with writing in some capacity. I’m hoping it will be as much of a fast-paced read as many of the reviews seem to say it is. I generally really enjoy thrillers, and this one sounds good!

5) The Widow by Fiona Barton

25734248This is another thriller that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. This one is about a woman named Jean, whose husband has recently died. Jean’s husband was suspected of committing a crime, and now that he is gone, people want to hear her story and know the truth about her husband. Like many good thrillers, the synopsis offered by Goodreads is quite vague but it has been compared to The Girl on the Train, which I loved. I’m a little skeptical about this one because the reviews seem to be quite mixed, but that often seems to the be the case for many thrillers. I tend to like books that are very character-driven, and it seems like this one is a good candidate for that. I’ve also had a copy of this book at home for quite a long time and never picked it up, so it seems like it’s about time!

6) Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

1472878When I read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah last year, it quickly became one of my favourites of the year. I loved Kristin Hannah’s writing style and I immediately went on to Goodreads to see what else she had written. I managed to get copies of several of Kristin Hannah’s books for free over the past year, so there are a few that have been sitting on my shelf for quite a while. I kept putting this one off because I was prioritizing books from the library over the ones I had at home, and because I wanted to make sure I had the time to devote to it since it was a longer book. This book is about two girls who meet and become best friends in eighth grade, following their friendship over the next three decades. Given how much I enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s writing style, I’m hoping to really love this one as well.

7) Our Dark Duet by V.E. Schwab

32075662I read This Savage Song earlier this year, and immediately fell in love with the story and the writing style. I’d been hearing rave reviews about V.E. Schwab for well over a year but never managed to pick up any of her work. I have not yet decided if I’m going to try and squeeze this book in this year or pick it up early next year. Immediately after finishing This Savage Song, I knew that this was a series that I had to buy (and it’s very rare for me to actually buy books anymore).  This book is about a world where monsters created by people’s sins have taken control, picking up several months after the previous book left off. I am very excited to find out what happens to Kate and August next. I can’t wait to read this one!

8) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

19288043I don’t know what it is about this book, but I just keep putting it off. I’ve had this book in mind for at least two years now, to the point where it’s just getting ridiculous that I haven’t read it yet. Each year, I include it as an option for my reading challenges, and each year I decide to pick up something else instead. I finally decided that enough is enough, and I will read this one by the end of the winter (if not the end of this year). The weirdest part is I actually do want to read this one, so it’s not like I’m putting it off because it lost my interest. It just always comes down to a lack of time or too many other books that I want to read first. It’s received such great reviews from the majority of the reviewers I follow, and it’s just getting silly now that I keep delaying it when I actually do want to give it a try.

9) The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

9572203Aside from the fact that the title seems very appropriate for winter, the “Nordic noir” prompt was chosen as the theme of the month in my PopSugar 2018 challenge group. This book was one of the contenders for the book of the month for us to read as a group, but it ultimately lost out to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I want to read that one also, but I have so many other lengthy books on my list for next year that I decided to go for something a bit shorter to balance things out. This book is part of Nesbo’s Harry Hole series (which I haven’t read, hopefully that won’t matter too much) about a police investigator who is working on a case of a young boy whose mother has gone missing, and instead sees a snowman wearing his mother’s scarf in his front yard.It sounds very creepy!

10) Beartown by Fredrik Backman

33413128If I’m honest, I’m not sure how much I’m looking forward to this one. I’ve always been a bit on the fence about it because although it’s received exceptional reviews, I’m not very interested in books that focus on sports. Unluckily for me, PopSugar decided to include that as a prompt for next year’s challenge, and this book was chosen as the book of the month for February in the Goodreads group. I’ve never been interested in sports and tend to find books that focus heavily on them hard to relate to, but this one seems like it might interest me. I’m glad the group chose a book I was considering anyway as the book of the month since it could be a good motivator to read it along with everyone else. I guess if nothing else, it means knocking out a prompt I’m not excited for early on in the year, which I’ve also found to be a pretty helpful challenge strategy.

Reader Struggles: Meme Mini-Series (#6)

It’s been quite a while since I even looked at the list of reader struggles memes (found here), and I forgot how much I relate to most of them. I have to say, the next meme on the list is probably the one I relate to least, (and not just because of the obnoxious neon green background!).

not-here

To a certain degree, I do relate to this because I can get very absorbed into a book, but it is very contingent on what book I am reading. It seems to be most true for fantasy series. I think it goes without saying that when I read Harry Potter, I’m fully immersed in that world and can easily lose track of time. Recently, I also got very absorbed into The Raven Boys, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. All of these were great starts to their series and captivated me right from the start. I find that my ability to get absorbed into a story has a lot to do with the writing style, and the author’s ability to draw me in to really care about the characters.

It seems easiest to do that with fantasy series which rely quite heavily on world-building, even when it is set partially in real places like The Raven Boys and Daughter of Smoke and Bone were. Both of these set in real-world places, but modified to work with the fantasy elements. However, even contemporary or other more realistic books can draw me in. This is especially true for any book by my favourite author, Jodi Picoult. When books are that well written, it’s easy for me to get absorbed into them.

Aside from characteristics of the book itself, I find my mood is a huge factor for whether I get absorbed into whatever I’m reading. Even if it is a great book, if I’m stressed or tired I probably won’t be able to fully get into whatever I’m reading. Sometimes after work, I find that even when I really want to read, I have trouble focusing and get easily distracted. It’s a shame sometimes because there have been a few cases where I’m reading something that I know I should be enjoying, but I have trouble getting into it. I don’t want to take it out on the book when I  rate or review it though, so I do my best to keep any other factors in mind and rate the book fairly. It can be really frustrating to know that you should be enjoying a book but can’t get into it because of other factors. I’m hoping to get absorbed into a few more books before the end of the year!

Top 5 Wednesdays: Book-related Things I’m Thankful For

As I mentioned in yesterday’s Top 10 Tuesday post, I had to change this week’s topic slightly to avoid posting twice in a row on the exact same subject. I decided to switch today’s post to the top 5 book-related things that I’m thankful for instead, to still go with the Thanksgiving theme. Reading has always been very important to me, and I’m lucky enough to have people in my life who support my interest. Here are five of the people or other book-related things that I am most thankful for.

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) My Parents

Reading and books have always been a major part of my household. My mom has always been a huge reader, and my dad to a lesser extent. Reading was always something that we did together when my brother and I were kids. My parents would often read to us, or we would read to them. We were given books as treats and gifts. Almost every time my dad came home from a business trip, he brought me one of those books that talk or make sound effects at certain points in the story. Reading was always a favourite activity and always presented as something fun to do, and not as a chore like I’ve seen some people believe. I’m thankful to my parents for instilling a love of reading and making books such a huge part of my life.

2) My School Librarians

I had two very influential school librarians in elementary school, both of whom I was terrified of when I was in school. My first school librarian was a big, loud man who was great with kids, but I was scared of him because I always thought he was yelling. I was an incredibly shy child and hated loud voices. This librarian let my mom volunteer to help out in the library, and allowed me to spend my recesses there too. He was also the man who read us the first paragraphs of Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, which introduced me to two of my favourite series. The second school librarian I have in mind was also my eighth grade teacher, and I was also nervous around her because she seemed very strict. However, she was extremely knowledgeable about books and was great at giving recommendations. She introduced me to the Pendragon series, which also became a favourite. I’m thankful to both of them for teaching me about how libraries work and introducing me to many of my favourite books.

3) My Best Friend

I’m lucky enough to have a best friend who was just as strongly interested in books as I am, although our tastes are pretty different. We were both always really into the classics (at least abridged versions), and I think in some ways that motivated both of us to branch out and try some of them. One of our favourite things to do together is to visit the local bookstore, where were can both spend hours just browsing the shelves and talking about books. I’ve had other friends over the years who shared my interest in many books, especially Harry Potter, but none have been willing to spend so long just wandering through bookstores. I am thankful for my best friend and how we have introduced each other to so many great books over the years.

4) Reading Challenges

Participating in reading challenges over the past three years has brought me back into reading in a huge way. Even though I’ve always loved it, I strayed away from reading for fun while in post-secondary education since I had so little time to devote to the books I wanted to read for myself. I took on my first reading challenge in 2015 in a very casual way, just to see if I could do it and I found it a great motivator. Not only did I discover many new books, but there was something strangely satisfying about being able to cross items off the list. Since then, I have participated in multiple category-based challenges each year, and it has been a lot of fun! It can be a bit stressful at times if I feel like I’m falling behind on my total for the year, but I love looking for new books and the scavenger hunt aspect of trying to fit everything in.  Plus, posting about the books I’m reading online gives me a built-in conversation topic, since everyone seems to ask what I’m reading or what books are coming up next. I’m already looking forward to next year’s challenges! I’m thankful for reading challenges for giving me motivation to read more and to try new books.

5) Goodreads and the Online Book Community

I’ve always enjoyed participating in online communities about my favourite topics, and would gladly choose Goodreads and other online discussions over an in-person book club just due to time constraints. I’ve had a lot of fun browsing Goodreads for recommendations and reading reviews of the books I’m interested in. I can easily spend hours on Goodreads just browsing, even if it’s just my own massive TBR list. I’ve also discovered some great blogs and vlog channels that I love keeping up with. When I’m not reading books of my own, I often like reading blogs or watching videos about a variety of book-related topics. I also think online communities are a great way for people to connect over shared interests, and even to discuss some of our unpopular opinions. I’m thankful for Goodreads and other online communities because it gives me the chance to discuss books with many others around the world!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Books I’m Thankful For

I’m not in the US, so I actually didn’t even realize it was Thanksgiving this weekend. I was surprised when I saw that the topics for both Top 10 Tuesday and Top 5 Wednesday this week were “books you are thankful for.” Since I participate in both of these, and I don’t want to make two back-to-back posts on the same topic, I decided to go ahead with the books I’m thankful for on Tuesday, and another thankfulness-related topic for Wednesday.

Honestly, I have a lot of reasons to be thankful for books and reading. My original idea was to swap today’s topic for 10 reasons that I’m thankful for reading in general since I didn’t think I’d be able to come up with ten books to discuss, but the further I dug into it, the more I realized there are tons of books that I’m thankful for. Books and reading have always been a huge part of my life, so I decided to pick 10 of the books that have been influential in some way throughout my life as the books I’m most thankful for.

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

1) A Boy in the Doghouse by Betsey Duffey

4953993This is not the first book I ever read, and I’m pretty sure it’s not even the first chapter book I read, but this book by far stands out as a childhood favourite. This is the one book I distinctly remember reading over and over again for years. The book is about a young boy named George who is determined to train his new puppy, Lucky, to prove to his parents that the dog should be allowed to stay. The book is told in alternating perspectives between George and Lucky, and the chapters from Lucky’s point of view are just so cute! It was a lot of fun to read what dog training techniques look like to a dog. I’m thankful for this book because it provided me with hours of entertainment throughout my childhood, and because it was one of my earliest favourites.

2) Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin

233722This book itself is not necessarily one of my favourites, but it sparked my years-long obsession with The Babysitters Club series. For most of my elementary school years, I devoured anything Babysitters Club related. I bought all the new releases and even some merchandise from the Scholastic catalogs, and collected over 100 books from the series, which I read over and over for years. The series is about a group of 13-year-old girls who all like to baby-sit, and who form a club to help people in their neighbourhood find babysitters more easily by calling just one place to reach several of them. When I first read the series, I thought the girls were so mature and it seemed like they had so much fun babysitting. I’m thankful for this book because it was the first in a series that pretty much defined my childhood.

3) Isabel: Jewel of Castilla, Spain by Carolyn Meyer

440121This was another book series that became a major part of my childhood. This book is the first in the Royal Diaries series, which is now unfortunately out of print. Each book in the series focuses on a princess or member of the royal family as a pre-teen or teenager, told in the form of a fictional diary written by that character. I discovered this book while at the library one day during a school break. I used to go there for hours while my mom worked when I was too young to stay home alone, and spent hours reading books. This series sparked my interest in historical fiction and I even once assigned myself the task (although I never finished) of using the family trees provided in each of the book to try and create a master tree to see how the royal families all connected. I thought this series was so cool because it included a mix of famous figures like Marie Antoinette and Cleopatra and other royal figures that I’d never heard of, including Isabel. I’m thankful for this book and the series because it sparked my initial interest in historical fiction and history in general.

4) Wishbone Classics: The Odyssey by Joanne Mattern

679717My interest in this book series had a lot to do with my obsession with the Wishbone TV series, but both of these played a huge role in my interest in the classics. I’m not sure how widely known this series is, so for those who don’t know, Wishbone was a TV series that featured a dog named Wishbone who imagines himself as the lead character in famous classics, which are told alongside a parallel story about Wishbone’s owner, Joe.  It sounds very strange, but it was a great show that really did a good job of giving a brief summary of many works of classic literature. This book series was a companion to the show which gave a children’s level version of the classic. Most of my original knowledge of classics came from this show and the books that went with them, and it was another series that I collected and read repeatedly. I’m thankful for this book and the rest of the series because it sparked my interest in reading the classics and gave me a good knowledge base about many of them for when I tackled the real version later on.

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

140212I feel like this book has been coming up on a lot of my lists recently, but with good reason. This book was one of the first (Charlotte’s Web being the other big one, which only narrowly missed this list) book that I had the chance to study in detail at school. Our teacher read it to us in one of the earlier elementary school years, and I remember being completely fascinated by Narnia and the children’s adventures. Although I’ve had trouble getting into the rest of the series, this is a book I keep revisiting and it still feels as fresh every time. This book was the first true fantasy story I’d ever read, and it amazed me how C.S. Lewis could create such a vivid world filled with amazing creatures, and yet one that felt so real and possible. I’m thankful for this book because it was my first real introduction to fantasy as genre, which has since become one of my favourites.

6) The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

78411I think I’ve mentioned before that I almost missed out on this series and on Harry Potter because there was so much hype around them. I ended up obsessed with both because of a “book chat” with my former school librarian, where he read a couple of paragraphs with each. I was very quickly hooked on this book because of the snarky humour and the way that Lemony Snicket created such an intriguing plot. I thought the way that the author himself was a character within the series was such a unique concept, and I really loved the play on the whole trope of self-sufficient kids and completely ineffective adults. I also loved the way this series played with language, and how the author didn’t shy away from using difficult vocabulary. The overall style of the book was so compelling, especially for such a long series, and it was so easy to be drawn into the world. I’m thankful for this book for being the first in one of my all-time favourite series.

7) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

3Honestly, I’m thankful for the entire Harry Potter series, but it seemed appropriate to pick the book that started it all. My views on this one are actually very similar to my comments above for Narnia. The world that is created is fascinating, detailed and complex, and I love the way J.K. Rowling crafted this parallel wizarding world that really doesn’t seem all that impossible. This book was the perfect introduction to the series, especially for readers who were about the same age as Harry, like I was when I first read it. I love the way the series and the content grows with the characters, and I especially love how even seemingly insignificant details often come to play a huge role later on. It shows so much effort and devotion to crafting a fully-formed world, and it is always such a joy to read this series, no matter how many times I pick it up. And as much as I complain about the series being overhyped, I actually also love how it sparked such a global community of fans and got so many people reading. I’m thankful for this book and series for hands-down being my all-time favourite, and for giving a way for so many readers to connect and share their love for these books.

8) Let Me Call You Sweetheart by Mary Higgins Clark

170632I can’t even remember what made me decide to pick this book, but I read it in eighth grade for a book report, where I had to pick any book I wanted and present it to the class. All through school, my reading was well above grade level and my parents had the problem of trying to find age-appropriate material that was also at a challenging enough level. This book was one of the first “adult”-level books that I remember reading, chosen from my mom’s collection. I don’t remember why I chose it, but I absolutely loved it. This book is about a prosecutor named Kerry visits a plastic surgeon after her daughter is injured in a car accident. While there, she notices that several of the doctor’s patients resemble a woman who was killed eleven years ago, which is understandably very creepy! Although I have not really enjoyed most the Mary Higgins Clark books I’ve read after this one, I was blown away by the mystery in this one and completely shocked by the ending. I’m thankful for this book because it was one of my first steps into the world of books written for adults, which led to me reading a lot more variety of books and genres.

9) A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks

3463I’m not 100% sure if this is the first Nicholas Sparks book that I read, but it was definitely among the first. Nicholas Sparks was one of the first authors I really latched onto when I made that transition to adult books (I still feel weird calling them that, though). He quickly became my favourite author at the time and I devoured everything he wrote. A Bend in the Road is about a man named Miles who lost his wife in a hit-and-run accident two years ago, and wants to bring the driver to justice. Miles starts to fall in love with his son’s second grade teacher, but as the two of them grow closer, they soon realize they are connected by a secret that may change everything. I remember reading this book and several of Nicholas Sparks’ other early books so many times, and I loved the melodramatic storylines. At the time, I thought his writing style was amazing, although I’ve since moved on to other authors. I still buy his books and read them all, but most of them don’t have the same impact as this one did. I’m thankful for this book for being a long-time favourite and introducing me to an author who became a favourite for several years.

10) Mercy/My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

mercy10917I can’t for the life of me remember which of these books I read first. I remember reading My Sister’s Keeper during my first year of university because I wanted to see what all the hype was about, but I also seem to remember reading Mercy before that even though I have no idea when. Both books quickly became favourites, and Jodi Picoult is now my all-time favourite author. I love the way she explores complex issues in such a balanced way and with such wonderfully written, complex characters. Like all authors, she has some books that are better than others, but I have yet to find any Jodi Picoult book that I didn’t like at all. It takes a lot of skill to be able to navigate the topics she does in a way that is meaningful, thought-provoking and still entertaining, but that is exactly what she does. Jodi Picoult’s books are always my most anticipated of the year and I can’t wait to read each one as it comes out. I’m thankful for whichever of these two books I read first for introducing me to my now-favourite author and raising the bar for what I expect of a well-written book.

The Television Tag

I actually don’t watch very much TV anymore. I used to have one show to watch just about every day of the week, including big reality shows like Survivor or American Idol. Now, I find it hard to keep up-to-date with so many shows, especially with Netflix putting out so many series, but I have a few that I record each week and catch up on each weekend. In the past year or two, I’ve also discovered the fun of binge-watching shows on Netflix. I saw this tag on CeCe’s channel ProblemsofaBookNerd, and thought it would be a nice change from talking about books.

1. Favourite shows?

My all-time favourites are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Addams Family and Boy Meets World, but I also like The Big Bang Theory, Dawson’s Creek, The Simpsons (although admittedly, the new seasons aren’t as good) and a few anime like Death Note, Black Butler and especially Clannad. I also loved House and Bones, which didn’t come to mind immediately since they are both over now.

2. Favourite genre?

I tend to watch fantasy, comedy, or drama.

3. Least favourite show?

South Park. I could never get into it, and I just don’t find it funny at all.

4. Most rewatched show/favourite show to binge watch?

Boy Meets World, Buffy, and Friends. I wouldn’t necessarily consider Friends one of my top favourite shows, but it’s a lot of fun to binge-watch. I’ve also been rewatching Degrassi The Next Generation.

5. Do you prefer watching things week-by-week or binge-watching?

At this point, binge-watching. My time during the week is limited, and I often find I’m so tired by the evening that I end up falling asleep when I sit down on the couch to watch TV. Instead, I either binge-watch online or PVR the shows and watch them over the weekend. I try to keep up with them week-by-week if they are recorded to save space, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

6. Favourite television characters?

  • The Addams Family (most of the characters, but especially Morticia and Wednesday, although Wednesday in the New Addams Family and movies more than the original TV series)
  • Willow, Tara, Oz and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I love most of the characters, but those 4 are my favourites
  • Shawn Hunter, Topanga Lawrence, and Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World
  • Pacey Whitter, Joey Potter and Jen Lindley from Dawson’s Creek
  • Homer Simpson
  • Phoebe Buffay from Friends
  • Dr. House
  • Dr. Brennan and Agent Booth from Bones
  • Sheldon Cooper

7. Favourite television ships?

  • Willow and Tara, but I also really liked Willow and Oz on Buffy
  • Buffy and Spike. I know there are a lot of problems with their relationship, but I really liked them together
  • Cory and Topanga on Boy Meets World
  • Pacey and Joey on Dawson’s Creek
  • Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler
  • Gomez and Morticia Addams

8. Show you could never get into?

Family Guy and South Park

9. Show you fell out of love with?

Reality shows, mainly. I used to love Survivor but I got bored with it. I especially got frustrated with American Idol because the shows dragged out so long and I just didn’t have the time to commit to watching it. I also started to not really like many of the people they picked, especially when the top 2 contestants in season 11 were both country singers and I didn’t like either of them. That was the last season I watched.

10. Cancelled too soon?

Tru Calling! I still can’t believe they stopped making this show just a few episodes into season 2, and just when they started leading up to what seemed to be a bigger story arc. The show had such a great concept, and I wish they had at least finished the season before giving it up.

11. Guilty pleasure show?

Re-watching old favourites, including Disney channel shows like Lizze McGuire, Even Stevens, and That’s So Raven. I’m not sure if I’d consider Degrassi a guilty pleasure, but it definitely could be.

12. What are you currently watching?

  • Hell’s Kitchen (the one reality show I haven’t gotten bored of yet)
  • The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon
  • The Simpsons
  • Buffy and Angel (I’ve never seen most of Angel, so I’m watching the episodes of both together in the “correct” viewing order)
  • Will and Grace (I never saw the complete original series, but the revival is a lot of fun)
  • Degrassi

Top 5 Wednesdays: Nostalgic Book Crushes

I made a post on a similar topic for my Top 10 Tuesdays recently, about my top 10 book boyfriends (post here, for anyone interested). Just like I mentioned for that post, this topic is a real struggle for me because I don’t really get crushes on fictional characters. I remember in seventh grade, a close friend of mine (at the time) going on and on about the two main characters from Death Note and how “hot” they were, and I found it really strange since not only were they not real, but they were animated characters so how would she know what they actually look like?

It’s still very difficult for me to come up with characters who might have been crushes, or whatever the closest equivalent to that might be. I’m also not feeling so well, so my usual patience for searching for good options is pretty limited this time. I’ve also challenged myself to limit it to just books, since including TV or movie characters would be a little too easy.

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) Peter from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)

As I mentioned in my Book Boyfriends post, Peter was one of the first characters that I might be able to legitimately consider a crush. I read the book when I was about 8 the first time, and Peter seemed so mature, even though he was probably no more than 13. I loved his maturity and how protective he was of his siblings, and a great leader. For some reason, one of the most memorable parts of the book to me is when Peter learns to use his sword for the first time because at the time, I thought it made him seem so brave and grown-up.

2) Laurie from Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

This is another repeat from my previous post, but it’s another of the only characters that I would truly consider a potential crush. I read versions of Little Women from the time I was in third or fourth grade, until eventually reading the full version closer to high school. I loved Laurie’s interactions with Jo, but also the way he was so kind and friendly toward the whole family. I loved his passion, although his impulsivity could be frustrating at times. He was a very charming character and I loved his devotion to the people he cared about.

3) Dickon Sowerby from The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

I was actually familiar with this character from a cartoon version of the movie long before I read the book, so it was again around the time I was 8 or 9 years old. I read the full version of the book toward the end of elementary school/early high school, but the story was the same. I liked Dickon because of his kindness to animals, since I was first exposed to the character around the same time that I was interested in becoming a vet. I loved his patience and the way animals just naturally flocked to him. I also loved the way he just seemed like such a genuinely nice and sweet person.

4) Mike Harris from The Guardian (Nicholas Sparks)

I used to be so obsessed with this book! Actually, with many of Nicholas Sparks books, and while I still enjoy them, he is not really my favourite author anymore. This book is about a woman named Julie who has begun dating again after her husband passed away. She ends up dating the sophisticated Richard, but also develops feelings for her husband’s best friend Mike. I loved Mike because he seemed like such a normal, down-to-earth kind of guy, and the type I think a lot of people could imagine settling down with. I loved how the book contrasted him to Richard, who went out of his way to impress Julie, but her relationship with Mike just flowed so naturally. He was another very sweet and realistic character, and a big part of why I liked the book so much.

5) Logan Bruno from The Babysitter’s Club (Ann M. Martin)

This is probably the most embarrassing one on this list, and one that was very short-lived. I was absolutely obsessed with this series all through elementary school, and when I first read the books when I was about 7 or 8, I thought the girls were so mature! I initially loved the storyline about shy Mary Anne, who I strongly related to, getting her first boyfriend and I thought their relationship was really cute in the beginning. My interest in Logan died out pretty quickly when his character ended up being pretty controlling, but he is another one I remember having some interest in at the time.