2017 End of Year Book Survey

Best books of 2017

Number Of Books You Read:  158 for my challenges, plus about 15 or  so side-reads
Number of Re-Reads: 8
Genre You Read The Most From: Probably YA fantasy or YA contemporary

best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

It’s hard to pick just one! I can at least narrow it down to one per genre (and even that was a struggle):

Best YA Contemporary – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Best YA Fantasy – This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab
Best Graphic Novel – Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Best Fiction – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Best Horror or Thriller – And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
Best Non-fiction – Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Best Classic – Lolita, but probably only because it was narrated by Jeremy Irons

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai. I read her first book last year and absolutely loved it, but this one was a complete disappointment. It felt like it took me forever to read (even though it was only 2 days) and it was boring.

Also, Gena/Finn. It was one of the books I was most excited to read, but it was nowhere near as good as I expected. I still gave it 4 stars, but I thought this one would be an easy 5-star book. It just veered off in such a strange direction toward the end, that it seemed like an entirely separate book.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Definitely a toss-up between The Hating Game and The Status of All Things. I didn’t expect much from either of them, and they both ended up being favourites.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I have no idea if anyone has actually read it based on my recommendation, but I’ve been encouraging people to give Red Queen a fair chance. I feel like it’s a book that gets a lot of hate because it is similar to other dystopians, but I really loved it.

 5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Best series started – The Raven Boys
Best sequel – Cress
Best series ender –  Winter

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

I think any of the authors of the series I started this year: Maggie Stiefvater, Sarah J. Maas, Laini Taylor and Victoria Schwab.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I read a lot of really great graphic novels this year, which is a genre I’ve been trying to read more of. Aside from Nimona which I already mentioned, I also absolutely loved Strong Female Protagonist.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Illuminae! I was hoping for a place on this list to add this one in, since it was by far one of my favourites.

 9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I generally don’t re-read the same books year after year, but if I had to choose one that I’d probably pick Hyperbole and a Half because as soon as I finished, I wanted to re-read it!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Probably Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone. For some reason, compared to the other series I started this year, I feel like I tend to overlook this one a lot, even though I liked it just as much as all the others. I definitely don’t give it as much attention as it deserves.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

Homegoing was definitely thought-provoking.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 

Gone Girl! I’ve been meaning to read this for 3 years and kept putting it off.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

This is a hard one because I don’t keep very good track of quotes that I like. I usually just notice them as they come up, and then move on. I actually went back to Goodreads and looked at the quote pages for some of my favourite books to pick:

“Your soul sings to mine. My soul is yours, and it always will be, in any world. No matter what happens. I need you to remember that I love you.”
― Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke & Bone

“Peace is more than the absence of war. Peace is accord. Harmony.”
― Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke & Bone

“The act of reading is a partnership. The author builds a house, but the reader makes it a home.”
― Jodi PicoultBetween the Lines

“There’s no kindness in offering false hope.”
― Naomi NovikUprooted

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Shortest – Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus
Longest – Winter

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

And the Trees Crept In. I did not expect that ending at all.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Cress and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles! Also, Levi and Cath from Fangirl.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Nimona and Ballister Blackheart from Nimona. The interactions between them were amazing. The friendship between the Raven boys was also great!

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

I’m purposely excluding books from a series for this one, so I would have to go with Fangirl.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Raven Boys. I’ve heard about this book literally non-stop for the past year.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

Levi from Fangirl and Reid from The Upside of Unrequited.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

The Hate U Give

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

There are quite a few good contenders for this one, but I really loved the worlds in Uprooted and This Savage Song.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Adulthood is a Myth

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

History is All You Left Me and Goodbye Days (even though I still take issue with one of the key plot points in this one).

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Might be a bit of a weird choice, but Baba Yaga’s Assistant. It was a very fast read, but I really enjoyed it! I think Wrecked is another hidden gem, since it is a late-2016 release that was very much overlooked, yet an excellent story.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

I’m not entirely sure what this means, if I’m honest. I would assume it means a book that is very upsetting, so I’d have to say History is All You Left Me

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

Ella Minnow Pea, which was a lot of fun to read!

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Goodbye Days. As I mentioned above, there was a key plot point that really annoyed me because it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Even though I tried to overlook it as I progressed through the book, it kept coming up and every time, it bothered me!

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

I can’t actually remember if I started following these people in 2016 or 2017, but some of my more recent favourites are Anushka @GoingThroughBooks, Destiny @HowlingLibraries and C.G. Drews @PaperFury. These last two were actually people I followed on Goodreads, and discovered that they had blogs of their own.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

So I guess I’m a weird kind of a blogger since I don’t actually write a lot of reviews. I find them very time-consuming, and hard to write without repeating myself (and I’m wordy enough as it is!). Instead of reviewing books, I often ended up reviewing adaptations instead. I think my favourite would have to be my review of the movie version of The Girl on the Train (found here) or of the Emma Watson version of Beauty and the Beast (here).

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I’m not sure if anyone actually read it, but I really liked my post about diversity using the TV show Degrassi as an example of how to do diversity properly. This post can be found here.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Nothing that I can think of. I don’t really go to these kinds of events.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

Finally winning a Goodreads giveaway! I’ve entered so many of them and never really expected to win anything, so I was very surprised to get an e-mail last week saying I’d won a book.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Keeping up with my posts during the week! I have a full-time job, and I always intend to pre-write my posts for the week over the weekend, but I rarely actually do that. In general, I participate in Top 10 Tuesdays, Top 5 Wednesdays, and then I post at least one more time during the week doing something of my choice. It’s hard for me to sit down and write during weekdays after work.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Apparently my post about my 10 favourite books from 2017 got over 100 views, and I didn’t even know it!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

The Problem with “Problematic” because it took me such a long time to figure out how to put what I wanted to say into words!

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I recently tried ordering from BookOutlet for the first time. My books haven’t arrived yet, so I’m hoping they will be in good condition, but I was very impressed with the Boxing Week deal they were offering, which let me get close to 20 books for about $2 each, including some I want for next year’s reading challenge and couldn’t find otherwise.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Yes, I surprisingly managed to complete all of my reading challenges by December 30, with one day to spare!

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

Our Dark Duet. This may literally be the first book that I read.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Folded Notes from High School by Matt Boren. I only heard about this one recently, but it sounds really cute!

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

War Storm and Obsidio.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

Just to read as much as I can, and hopefully finish the reading challenges I’ve taken on.

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

I haven’t read any yet!

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Top 5 Wednesdays: My 2018 Wishlist

This week’s topic was an interesting one, coming at a time when everyone is reflecting on highlights of the year and looking ahead to specific books we want to read. The topic this week is a wishlist for the year, but discussing the themes, tropes or genres we want to see more of, instead of individual titles. I find it hard sometimes to think about books in terms of specific tropes or styles because so much of my enjoyment comes down to how the individual book is written. When I started to look back on the books I read this year, I actually did notice a few things that I would like to see more of.

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) Platonic relationships that stay platonic

I’m all for romances in books, and I do generally enjoy stories where childhood friends fall in love, but I think there’s a real lack of platonic friendships, especially in YA books. I can only think of one or two books off the top of my head where characters were friends and remained friends throughout the story, without developing any romantic feelings for each other. I find a lot of the time when the characters remain friends, there is some mention of an unrequited crush or “We tried to date in the past, but we decided we were better off as friends.” Even in books geared toward adults, characters often seem to be friends because they failed as a couple in the past. I want to see more books where the two friends are just friends, and dating was never even a consideration. I think this is especially lacking when the pair in the book are opposite-sex friends where both are heterosexual. There seems to be an assumption that two straight people cannot be friends without someone eventually developing feelings. I know there are plenty of cases where friends do fall in love and stay together, but there are also lots of cases where the relationships stay platonic.

2) Social media/online lives as a positive part of people’s lives

I think the attitude in general toward social media and the Internet has shifted. The earliest books I read that were very Internet-focused all essentially focused on the online predators and the risks of talking to people online. To be clear, I still think it is essential for people to be aware of the risks and to take precautions to keep themselves safe. However, I think that using social media and the Internet is also a very positive thing for a lot of people, and it really bothers me when books try to downplay or negate the importance of online communities and friendships. Again, everyone is still responsible for their own safety and to be critical of what they see online, but for many people, online friendships are just as real and as valid as friendships that start in real life. In general, I think books have shifted to account for this, especially with so many books recently that talk about fandoms, online friendships and support groups, and even the risks of sharing things online. I would love to see more books that treat social media and people’s online lives as real and positive parts of their world, and not necessarily a problem that needs to be fixed.

3) Slow-burn romances (or at least romances that take some time)

I’m not 100% sure if “slow-burn” is really the right term, but it’s very annoying to for characters to fall in love instantly in just about every book I read. I know some of that might be because the author only has the 300 pages or so for the entire story to develop, but I find it so unrealistic for characters who didn’t know each other at all beforehand to be suddenly ready to die for each other, move across the world for each other, etc. especially when those characters are teenagers. That’s not to say I automatically hate any insta-love romance, because some of them are just adorable and work decently with the story. However, I would love to see more books that show that it takes time for the relationship to develop. I find it so hard to buy into couples who are suddenly so in love with each other when they just met and really know nothing about each other at all…and then end up shocked and the relationship is threatened when they discover something they might not like about their partner’s past. Maybe if they slowed down a bit and actually got to know the person they were dating, it wouldn’t be such a shock to realize that there is something they don’t know.

4) More variety in New Adult book plotlines

I struggle with “New Adult” as a genre in general. Although I’m sure these kinds of books have existed for a long time, the genre name seems to be relatively new. New Adult is meant to encompass books that are aimed toward 18-25 year olds, focusing on issues such as leaving home, going to university, establishing a career, etc. I think in general, we need more books that focus on this life stage. It’s easy for teenagers to find protagonists who are going through the same experiences as them since most YA books are set in high school, and then there is a jump to adult protagonists who are often married and already working in a career. I was very excited to see a New Adult section on Goodreads with characters who were about my age and might be going through many of the same experiences as I am. There are so few books I can think of that even focus on university or college, or getting a first “real” job after graduation. Unfortunately, the New Adult section on Goodreads was absolutely packed with “steamy” romances, many of which seemed borderline-abusive to me. Where are all the books about living on your own for the first time? About horrible bosses and office politics? About struggling through university or college? I know a lot of people read to escape their real lives, but I’m sure many people would love to have characters their own age to relate to.

5) More fantasy standalones

Actually, I’m sure many of these exist but I would love to read more of them. So many of the fantasy books I’ve been reading or that I want to read are part of series, and it always makes me hesitant. Reading a series for me means committing to read the whole series (assuming I like the first book), and sometimes all I want is one book. I’ve read many great fantasy series over the past couple of years, and I have many books from series on my TBR for 2018 alone, but I would love to see more fantasies where the entire story can be told in one book. I find that some series tend to drag things out unnecessarily, almost to justify being a series instead of one longer book, and many of them tend to drag in the middle. A lot of series tend to have that transitional middle book where not much really happens, aside from characters moving from one place to another, and a ton of exposition. I would love to see more books like Uprooted or The Night Circus, which tell an entire (and incredible) story from beginning to end.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2018

This topic couldn’t have come at a better time! I spent most of my day yesterday trying to finalize my lists of books for the challenges I’m taking on next year, and ordering them from the library. I think this is the most exciting overall list I’ve ever had! It is also definitely the most ambitious, because there were just so many books that I really wanted to read. I might go into more detail about my plans in a future post, but I’ve decided to take on 5 prompts-based challenges, although with extended timelines on at least 2 of them. I also decided to ease up on some of the rules I normally set for myself. For example, I usually try to limit myself to only one book per author to try to encourage more variety, but with so many series in progress, I decided to scrap that rule.

I spent quite a long time yesterday on my library’s website placing holds on the books I want, a process that was simultaneously very exciting and a bit disappointing. I was surprised to find that the library didn’t have quite a few of the books I was most excited for. I’ve put in requests for a bunch of them to see if the library will purchase them for me, but I’m not sure how likely they are to do it. There are still quite a few more that I would like them to order, but I didn’t want to ask for too many all at once. I guess I’ll have to start looking for backup options, either for other ways to get the books or to replace them with something else.

This week’s topic asks for the 10 books you are most excited for next year, which is a tough one to narrow down. There are so many books that I’m really looking forward to reading! I decided to limit this post to stand-alones only, since the entire list might otherwise be taken up by series. If anyone is interested, I can make a post another time about the series I have in progress.

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

1) Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

28919058I first heard about this book on CeCe’s Youtube channel, ProblemsOfaBookNerd, and as soon as she mentioned it, I knew I wanted to read it. The book is about a boy named Tanner who is taking a creative writing seminar where he has to draft a book in the four-month span of the class. I’ve always been interested in creative writing myself, although I’ve never been able to follow through on any of my ideas. Another thing that interested me about this book is that one of the major characters is Mormon, which is a religion that I know very little about. I was also drawn to this book because of the beautiful cover artwork!

2) Crosstalk by Connie Willis

25430566I’ve wanted to read this book for about a year now, but couldn’t fit it in this year. I’ve never read anything by Connie Willis before, but my mom has read Doomsday Book and highly recommends it. This book is about a couple who undergoes a medical procedure to increase empathy between partners, before they get engaged. Something goes wrong with the procedure causing Briddey to connect to someone other than her fiance. I tend to love books that are very social media-focused, and this one takes it to an extreme and warns about the dangers of being too connected. Sci-fi is not a genre I reach for very often, but this book seems right up my alley.

3) Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

31931941This was another book that I really wanted to read this year but couldn’t squeeze in. It is about a teenage girl named Eliza who is the creator of a very popular webcomic, a life she attempts to keep secret, until one of the biggest fanfiction writers for her comic transfers to her school. Eliza seems like such a relatable character, especially because many of the reviews I’ve read seem to indicate that she has some kind of social anxiety. I read Made You Up by the same author this year, and I really enjoyed it, although it was not quite as strong as I had hoped. This book has received such rave reviews from the reviewers I follow on Goodreads, and I can’t wait to try it for myself!

4) Bang by Barry Lyga

31420736This book came out in April 2017, but it seems to have been one of the more overlooked releases of the year. It is about a boy who accidentally shot and killed his infant sister when he was only 4 years old, and has lived with the guilt ever since. I’ve always been horrified by news reports of children who have access to their parents’ weapons (even legal ones) and the accidents that follow. It is a topic that I have never seen addressed in books before, so I’m very excited to see how it is handled. I think it is so important to have a story like this which shows the aftermath of this kind of incident for the surviving child, so people can understand the depth of the impact this kind of event would have.

5) Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

32905343I was first drawn to this book because the title alone reminded me of the famous line from Scooby Doo, where the villain says “I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.” I checked out the book on Goodreads, only to realize that it was based on that very idea, following a crew of former teen detectives who are now adults who have not seen each other since their last case 13 years ago. I loved watching Scooby Doo cartoons, and I thought the idea of a book about similar kinds of characters sounded so interesting. The book’s actually been out since July, but I didn’t hear about it at all until closer to Halloween. It definitely seems like another of the underrated, or at least underexposed, books of the year.

6) Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley

25894060This book at first seemed like the opposite of all the social media books I’m interested in reading. It is about two sisters who decide to keep in touch using handwritten letters to improve their relationship, which seems to be working at first until the letters end up on the Internet. I have never been that interested in “chick lit” books (and I really hate the term “chick lit”), but after reading a couple this year that really surprised me, I’ve opened my mind and added a whole bunch to my TBR. This book seems like a great one to start with because it fits my interest in social media stories, and just seems like it might be a lot of fun to read.

7) Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

25707621I really hope I’ll be able to read this one within the year. It is one of the books that my library didn’t have. It’s been out for two years already, but I hadn’t heard of it until it came up as a recommendation after I read When Dimple Met Rishi. This book is about a Muslim woman named Sofia Khan whose boss persuades her to write an expose about the Muslim dating scene. If I’m honest, I have not read very many books with Muslim protagonists because I have not come across very many that interested me…or very many in general, for that matter. According to the reviews I’ve seen, this book tackles racism and Islamophobia, and it seems like a great read. I really hope I can get a copy of this one before the end of 2018!

8) Almost Like Being In Love by Steve Kluger

239092This is another book that I’m not sure I’ll be able to get. I added it to my list this year because every time I browsed by Goodreads TBR, this book jumped out at me. I didn’t check whether the library had it until after I’d already made up my mind that I really wanted to read it. This book is about two men, Travis and Craig, who fell in love in high school, and when their separate ways. Twenty years later, Travis realizes that he is still in love with Craig and sets out to win him back. Aside from the storyline, part of what appealed to me about this book is the fact that is told in such a unique format. The book is told through news clippings, letters, lists, and regular narrative. I’m a huge sucker for books that are told in such unusual ways, so I’m looking forward to this one (if I can get a copy).

9) Copycat by Alex Lake

33026842I have this book down as one of two options for a prompt, but I’m starting to think I want to read both of them. This book is a thriller about a woman who discovers that there are two Facebook profiles with her name. Not only does the account that isn’t hers have accurate details, but it also has recent photos of her with friends and family, including some taken from inside her own house! This book seems incredibly creepy. I love psychological thrillers, even though they tend to really scare me. It definitely seems to play into everyone’s worst nightmares about the dangers of posting information about ourselves online. This is definitely not the kind of book that I would read at night or if I’m home alone!

10) Keep You Safe by Melissa Hill

33198765I found this book while looking through recommendations on Goodreads, and was immediately interested by the synopsis. This book is about the controversy about parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. In this book, a child who cannot be vaccinated due to a medical condition becomes critically ill after a classmate’s parents make a choice not to vaccinate their child. I remember seeing an episode of Law and Order several years ago on a similar topic and I thought it was a very interesting ethical question. I was glad to find a book on the same topic since it seems like very interesting premise, along the lines of a book Jodi Picoult might have written.

 

The 2017 Year in Review Book Tag

I wasn’t tagged in this one, but I saw it over on Destiny’s blog HowlingLibraries (linked here), and it looked like a lot of fun. This tag has kind of made me realize how out of touch I am with the news, since I didn’t get a lot of the references they made. I don’t know what it was this year, but it feels like in general there’s been quite a bit of negativity and stress everywhere. I’m hoping that this will all ease up with the new year, but if nothing else, at least I know I’ll have a lot of fun with next year’s reading challenges!

1) First Ever Doctor Who (Your favourite female protagonist)

23395680I had a few characters who were good contenders for this question, but I think I have to give it to Kady Grant from Illuminae, specifically because of her interactions with the ship’s AI system. Kady was a lot of fun to read, and I loved her devotion to the people she cared about, and her willingness to do whatever it takes to get out of bad situations. She is definitely one of the most memorable characters I read this year.

2) GCC Cuts Ties with Qatar (An author you cut ties with)

16115612This is actually a tough one for me to answer because (with a few exceptions), I have a self-imposed rule that I try not to read more than one book by the same author in the year to encourage myself to read a wider variety. I think the closest for this one would have to Khaled Hosseini, although I’m hesitant to say I cut ties since I would probably still read his books. This year, I read And the Mountains Echoed, and it was my least favourite of his books. I love The Kite Runner, and I really liked A Thousand Splendid Suns, but I found this one disjointed and not that interesting.

3) La La Land Oscar Mix-Up (A book that surprised you)

23492736I’ve mentioned this one before, but definitely The Status of All Things. I feel like it’s the kind of book you need to be in a certain mood for in order to enjoy, but I rarely read this kind of story and wasn’t expecting much from it. I ended up really enjoying it, and immediately went onto Goodreads to add more books by this pair of authors to my TBR. I love books that involve social media and books that are character-driven, so I guess it’s not a huge surprise that I ended up enjoying this one. I’m glad I decided to give it a chance.

4) Hurricanes and Earthquakes (A book that rocked your world)

17675462I have to give this one to The Raven Boys. After hearing about it non-stop for about a year, I finally decided to give it a chance, and I was really missing out! This book drew me in right from the first pages, and I was captivated the entire time. I put it off for so long because it seemed way too overhyped, although I should have learned my lesson from doing the same with Harry Potter. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, and find out what happens next! The characters are so well-developed and interesting, and although I found the plot a little confusing at first, it was easily one of my highlights of the year.

5) Louvre Abu Dhabi (Favourite book cover art)

26721568I’m not really one to judge books by their covers, although there are a few that catch my attention. What I sometimes find is that the books with the most appealing covers aren’t always the most appealing reads, unfortunately. I think I have to give this one to The Problem with Forever because I first decided I wanted to read it after the cover art caught my attention at the bookstore. This book was a 4-star read for me. It was a little on the lengthy side for a YA book, but the character development was great. I love the cover because of the beautiful blend of colours.

6) Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi Sells for $450 Million (A take-my-money book)

23299512Hands down, I have to give this one to This Savage Song. As soon as I finished reading it, I knew I had to buy this book and it’s sequel, and I got them both within a couple of weeks of reading it. I was going to put this one down for the book that rocked my world above, but once I saw this question, I knew it would fit best here instead. This is one of the few books I’ve read that literally made me want to run out and buy it as soon as I had read it, and where I actually followed through on that and bought it. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to read Our Dark Duet this year, but it’s top of the list for next year for sure!

7) Total Eclipse (A sequel that overshadows the first book)

13206900I was more focused on starting new series than on continuing ones I’d already started this year, so I don’t have a ton of sequels to choose from. The one series I did finish was The Lunar Chronicles, and I think Cress and especially Winter were excellent sequels. I loved Cinder, and I liked Scarlet but not quite as much. I thought Winter especially was an amazing ending to the series, and it was impressive that book that was so long managed not to feel like it was dragging. And as much as I enjoyed Cinder, that book was very predictable. I would love to read more by Marissa Meyer!

8) Muslim Ban (Favourite diverse read)

32075671I’m starting to feel like this book is becoming the Harry Potter of the year, where it’s almost a cliched answer to any kind of “favourite book” or “best diverse book” question, but I have to say The Hate U Give. I thought this book did a great job of making the issue so clear and accessible to a wider audience, and it really brought it to life for me. I’m sure we’ve all heard the news stories about police brutality and racial profiling, but this book brought it down to such a personal, human level that it was easy to connect with. I was very worried going into this book that it couldn’t possibly live up to all the hype surrounding it, or that the subject matter had overshadowed the book itself, so I was glad to find that it really was that great.

9) Italy Doesn’t Qualify for World Cup (Most disappointing book)

30555488The Underground Railroad! Can a book really count as disappointing if you weren’t sure in the first place how much you wanted to read it? I honestly had no intention of reading this book, and the only reason I picked it up is because it was chosen as a Book of the Month in one of my Goodreads groups. It seemed like everyone was talking about it, and everyone seemed to love it, so I thought I would give it a chance. I’m sure it didn’t help that I went into it expecting that I wouldn’t be that into it, but I just could not connect with the book at all and I found it very boring. The concept was great and thinking about the overall storyline afterwards, I liked what the author tried to do, but I didn’t enjoy reading it at all.

10) Prince Harry Gets Engaged (Favourite ship)

Easy one for this one — Cress and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles.

11) Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Most anticipated book)

I’m not sure if this is meant to be my most anticipated book from this year, or for next year. Right now, the book I’m most anticipating for next year is What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, two authors that I only started reading in the last year or two, and that I’ve grown to really love. There is no cover art available for this one yet, so I can’t add anything, but the book is due out all the way toward the end of next year — October 2! It’s such a long time to wait!

 

Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Books of the Year (That I Haven’t Talked About Yet)

The end of the year is always the time for lots of “Best Of” lists, although it was a challenge for me since I felt like I’ve already talked about many of my favourite books this year. After looking back on my Goodreads list, I discovered several favourites that I have not discussed very much yet. In many cases, these were books that I loved just as much, but I didn’t feel like I had as much to say about them as other books I’ve read. I thought this week’s topic was the perfect opportunity to mention some of my other favourites and give them the attention they deserve.

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) Seconds by Bryan O’Malley

18630542I’m actually surprised that I haven’t talked about this book at all really, since it is by far one of my favourites of the year. I think I tend to overlook it because it’s a graphic novel, which I devoured in a day. This book is about a young chef named Katie who plans to open another successful restaurant, but runs into a series of problems that prevent her plan from working. A mysterious girl shows up in her room one night offering her magical mushrooms that will give her the chance to re-do her mistakes and make them right. The art style took a little getting used to, but once I got into it, I was hooked. I found the story very compelling, and I liked how it felt like a fresh take on a familiar plot device. It was also hilarious when Katie broke the third wall and sarcastically addressed the narrator. I would highly recommend this book!

2) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas/Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

3207567128587957I’m including these two books together because they both address racism in a very realistic and powerful way. I’m sure The Hate U Give will make it onto many people’s lists this year, and it deserves it. I was so nervous that this book would not live up to all the hype, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it really was that good. Small Great Things is about an African American nurse who, at the parents’ request, is removed from the care of a patient, who is the child of a Neo-Nazi couple. When an emergency occurs while Ruth is the only nurse on the floor, she is forced to make a split-second decision about whether to follow orders or step in and try to help the child. Although this was not necessarily my favourite Jodi Picoult book, I thought it handled the topic very well, and it was a great story.

3) Wrecked by Maria Padian

28110862This was one of the first books that I committed to reading this year, and ironically enough, I did not get to it until close to the end of the year. This book is a powerful account of a sexual assault on a college campus, as told from the perspectives of the victim’s roommate, and the accused’s friend. I thought it was such a unique way to tell this story from an angle that I’d never seen before. I thought the book was very well-written and the characters were compelling and realistic. I really liked how the two main characters represented several different viewpoints, and how their attitudes shifted throughout the story. I thought this book brought up so many relevant insights about the topic and about the way we treat these kinds of cases and the people involved. The ending was a bit frustrating, but I think that just added to the impact of the story.

4) Asylum by Madeleine Roux 

13597728I feel like I’ve mentioned this book only in passing, although I liked it a lot more than I expected to. This book is the start of a YA horror series about a teenage boy named Dan Crawford who is attending a college prep program where the students’ dorms are in an abandoned asylum for the criminally insane. As Dan and his new friends begin to explore the asylum, they uncover secrets that link them to the building’s past. This book reminds me quite a bit of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because of the use of creepy “found” photos that supplement the story, and these add a lot to the eerie atmosphere. I thought the storyline was very compelling, although there were a couple of plot holes that made some of the character interactions a bit inconsistent, but I loved the overall story and I thought it was so creepy!

5) Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

18635084This book was special to me because of the population I work with. I work in a day program for young adults with disabilities, including one person with cerebral palsy who reminds me quite of a bit of the character in this book. This book is about Amy, a young woman who has CP, which affects her speech and mobility. While attending her senior year of high school, Amy convinces her parents to set her up with student aides to help her, including a young man named Matthew who has OCD. I absolutely loved both Amy and Matthew and the relationship that developed between them. I also loved how this book addressed the issue of people being afraid to honestly speak their minds to individuals who have disabilities out of pity or fear of being mean. That’s not to say that people should be free to treat others disrespectfully, but a central issue in this book was that Amy wanted to be viewed and treated as a normal teenager, and would have appreciated being spoken to like one. I thought this book did a great job of bringing the characters to life, and although I wasn’t so sure about the direction the plot took in the second half, I still thought this book was very well-done.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Ten Books I Hope to Receive as a Gift

Unfortunately for my book-buying habits, I don’t celebrate any winter holidays that involve much gift-giving. If I’m lucky, I’ll receive a couple of gift cards, and with the costs of books lately, they don’t go very far. Actually, for some reason I’ve received a ton of Starbucks gift cards this year, even though I don’t drink coffee! I love their frappucinos and some of their food though, so it’s still a great gift. I think this year was the first time I actually thought to put books on my wishlist for my birthday a couple of months ago, and I received quite a few of the books I was most looking forward to. It’s been quite a while since I bought any books for myself, so it wasn’t too hard to think of books that I’d love to receive as a gift.

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

1) Uprooted by Naomi Novik

22544764One of the challenges I faced when trying to put together my birthday wishlist was whether to ask for new books that I was looking forward to trying (but might not like), or ask for a copy of favourites from the year. The list I came up with was a mix of both, and this one was one of the first books that came to mind once I decided to pick a couple of books that I’d already read and loved. This is a book that I can definitely see myself coming back to in the future and re-reading more than once. I generally tend to enjoy books that have this kind of fairy-tale atmosphere, and I’m so glad this one lived up to all the hype.

2) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

9361589I read this book last October and I absolutely loved it! I have to say that it was not exactly what I expected based on the synopsis, but I adored the writing style and the story overall. It always feels a bit weird to me to buy books that I’ve read not too long ago since it will be a while before I revisit them, but I would love to have a copy of this one on my shelves. It’s another book that I can see myself re-reading repeatedly. I was hesitant to add this to my birthday wishlist since I wasn’t sure how much preference I had about whether to get the hardcover or paperback. Sometimes I’m very picky about which version I want. Since this one ended up on my wishlist but I did not get one yet, it’s an easy pick as a book I’d still love to receive.

3) The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

220px-thirteenthtaleThis is yet another book that I’ve already read and thoroughly enjoyed, and I would love to have a copy of my own. This is by far one of the best books I’ve read in the past couple of years, which is saying something since I’ve read somewhere in the range of 350 books in the past three years alone. I went into this book not expecting very much, and ended up absolutely blown away! It was one of the rare books that really exceeded my expectations, and I would love to have a copy. I actually didn’t even think of adding this one to my wishlist until just now, and that’s something that needs to be changed right away!

4) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

a_monster_callsThis is a tricky one to have on my wishlist because there’s a very specific edition of it that I want, but it does not seem to exist anymore. When I first read this book, I had a hardcover edition that included the illustrations, and (for lack of a better word) was a normal-sized book. Since then, I’ve only ever seen two versions in stores: a paperback edition with no pictures, or a (very expensive) hardcover with pictures but that is a weird shape/size. This is one of the few books that legitimately made me cry and I really want my own copy, but I’m adamant about having a copy with the illustrations since I think they add a lot to the impact of the story. I’ll settle for the awkwardly sized one if I have to.

5) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

rebeccaI spent years collecting different classics, yet for some reason, this one was never on my radar at all. I finally read it toward the beginning of 2016, and it quickly became one of my favourite classics, on part with Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. It is one of the few classics (or at least ones that interest me) that I don’t own yet, and I would love to add it to my collection. My problem with buying classics is finding a decent edition. I originally collected the Wordsworth editions, which were available when I was a kid for about $3 each, and once those stopped existing, I switched over to Penguin. I’ve been looking for Rebecca, but haven’t found a good version yet. I’m kind of surprised I hadn’t read this one much earlier, since it was similar to many of the others that I enjoyed.

6) Heartless by Marissa Meyer

18584855When I put together my birthday list, I wanted a mix of books that I’d already tried, and newer books that I was looking forward to. I finished the Lunar Chronicles series this year and absolutely loved it, so I’m really looking forward to trying more of Marissa Meyer’s books. I enjoy retellings, and especially those that tell familiar stories from different perspectives. The Queen of Hearts is such a weird character and I think her backstory could be really interesting. Given how well Marissa Meyer did with all of the fairy tales in the Lunar Chronicles, I’m expecting this one to be just as good. It was a Book of the Month for one of my Goodreads groups this year, but I couldn’t fit it in. It’s definitely top of my list for next year.

7) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

32768522In a way, I have mixed feelings about this one. When I read Fangirl, I loved the snippets of Cath’s fanfiction that were interspersed throughout, and like many fans, I would love to read the full version. The only reason I’m hesitant about this one is because this one picks up essentially mid-series in the fictional Simon Snow series. It seems a bit weird to just jump straight into it midway through, although I would assume that Rainbow Rowell provided enough backstory in it to make it easy to follow. Plus, it’s similar to Harry Potter, and that’s enough of a selling point for me on its own!

8) The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater

35669466One of my goals this year was to start several of the highly talked about fantasy series that I’d been hearing about all over blogs and vlog channels. I was so glad to find that all of these series really did live up to the hype! I’ve only read the first book so far, and it quickly became one of my favourites of the year. The characters were so compelling and seemed so real, and I fell in love right way with Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style. I’ve avoided her books for a while since I’d only heard of her Shiver series, which involves werewolves. It seemed too Twilight-esque, but given when I know now about her writing, I might be willing to try that one too. The Raven Boys grabbed my attention right away, I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

9) A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

34488733This is another series that I actively avoided for a long time because I didn’t think it would interest me much. The more reviews I heard for it, the more it seemed like I was missing out on something. I’ll admit that when I first started the book, I wasn’t quite convinced that it lived up to all the hype, but the further in I got (as in, closer to where Rhysand became a major player), the more I got into it. By the end of the first book, I was hooked and looking forward to reading the rest. I’d love to receive this series as a gift to see if the other two books hold up to all the hype surrounding it. I’d especially love to find out more about Rhysand and the other Courts.

10) Red Queen collection by Victora Aveyard

26072627This may have been the series that I was most worried to try since the reviews for it have been so mixed. I was nervous to try it after seeing so many people complaining that it was nothing unique, and came across as a mix of other dystopian series. While I can see where these complaints might come from, I was drawn in by the writing style and I thought the story was great even if it was not the most unique. Ideally, I would love to receive a set of the entire series as a collection, but the version pictured here that has the first two books and the two “between-the-number” books would be a great start as well. I’m looking forward to reading more of this one.

7 Things I’ve Learned in 2017 (My Third Year of Reading Challenges!)

As we approach the end of the year, it seems like the perfect time to reflect back on my reading challenges and the books I’ve read this year overall. Just the other day, I was talking to a friend of mine on Goodreads about how close we are to finishing our challenges, and she asked me whether I was happy with my reading year overall. It really helped to take that step back and look at the year as a whole, since I’ve been feeling pressured by the time crunch to finish everything off by New Year’s Eve. It especially didn’t help that I realized that I’m not really super excited for any of the books I have left, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s challenges more.

When I went back and looked at my year overall though, I realized that it had actually been a great year! I got to read all of the books that I was most excited for, including starting several new series that I finally broke down and bought into the hype about. I had a few books that really surprised me with how much I enjoyed them, and of course there were a few that were disappointing. I accomplished my goal of reading the Season 8 Buffy comics, even though those weren’t counted toward any of my challenges. I knocked off a few more classics that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, and most importantly, I got to try a lot of new authors. Once I started looking back at this year, I decided to take it one step further and think about all of my years of doing reading challenges, and the lessons I’ve learned about myself and my reading process.

I am a terrible judge of how long it will take me to read a book

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is how long it takes me to read. I post what I’m reading to my personal Facebook page, and people are often amazed at how many books I read in the year and how fast I seem to be reading them. I’ve always said that I can read an average-sized book (300-400 pages) in about 3 days, but I’m realizing that I’m not a very good judge. At the start of this month, I made a tentative schedule just to see whether it was even feasible to read everything I still had left before the end of the year. As of the first day of the month, I was already behind schedule. I’ve learned that on average, most books will take me at least one day more than I expect because there are just so many unpredictable factors. I might think I’ll be able to come home from work and finish off an entire YA book, but then have a terrible or exhausting day, and not feeling like reading much at all. I might expect to spend an entire day on the weekend reading, only to have last-minute plans come up. It’s so hard to predict how much time it will take!

Literally any book can become a “doorstop.”

Up until this year, I’ve always associated “doorstop” with a book that was either very long, or had very difficult language (ie. old-fashioned language in many classics). I’ve realized this year that just about any book can become a doorstop when it doesn’t catch your attention, and also that longer books don’t necessarily have to be a doorstop. I wouldn’t necessarily call Listen, Slowly a doorstop since it still only took me two days to read, but it felt like one. This is a middle grade book of about 250 or so pages, and I expected to race through it in a day just like Inside Out and Back Again, but I could not get into it at all.  It seems very silly to consider a book that took only 2 days a doorstop, but it definitely felt like one. And don’t even get me started on The Underground Railroad, which took me almost a full week (and the same amount of time as Winter, which is almost three times the length). By now, I’ve come to realize that a “doorstop” is any book that impedes your momentum in any way, either by taking forever or just feeling like it does!

Some books will really surprise you – for better, or for worse!

I had a few books this year that I wasn’t expecting much from, and ended up being some of my favourites. The two best examples of that are The Hating Game and The Status of All Things, which were both books that I expected to be pretty mediocre. Both of these books really surprised me! On the other hand, I had other books that I was very excited for which ended up being a disappointment. The main example of this is Gena/Finn. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it and I rated it 4 stars, but I was expecting this to be an easy 5 star read. I love books that are told through social media messages, and this one seemed right up my alley. The first half of the book was great, but it kind of fell apart and lost direction in the second half, to the point where it seemed like it was a completely different story. Another example is The Slap, which I expected to be along the lines of Liane Moriarty or Jodi Picoult. It was nothing like either of those, and it was another major doorstop this year.

I have a serious addiction to compiling lists of books

I realized this in the past week or so, when the latest Book Riot and Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge lists came out. Neither list really appealed to me much at first, but I still had many books that I wanted to fit in next year. I ended up creating my own challenge list using prompts from the Goodreads Around the Year challenge process that were my top picks but didn’t make the final list. I originally intended to make lists for both that set of prompts and Book Riot, and pick which of the two I wanted to do. Of course, that’s a completely biased process since of course the list of my favourite prompts would naturally seem more exciting. The problem was, once the lists were compiled…I was excited for both of them! I’ve now run into the problem of potentially biting off more than I can chew, so I’m thinking of extending the timeline on some of my challenges. That of course makes it’s own logistical nightmare of how to track progress, but I’m sure I can figure something out.

Choosing books I’m legitimately excited for is more important than anything else when picking which challenges to do

The PopSugar challenge for 2018 has a very interesting prompt that asks us to pick our favourite prompt from any of the previous years’ challenges. I struggle with this one since my enjoyment tends to be more about the books I pick and not necessarily the prompt itself. When I was looking at challenges for next year, the prompt lists might not have been too exciting on their own, but when I started filling them in with the books I’d like to read, I ended up loving them. I’m very much a mood reader, so I reserve pretty much the whole year’s worth of books from the library at once, and pause the holds. It lets me keep my place in line, while still having the freedom to pick and choose which books I feel like reading based on what I’m most excited for. I’ve found that some challenges (Book Riot, especially) seem to really have an agenda, whether that’s to branch out of your comfort zone, encourage diversity, etc. While I think these are all great reasons, at the end of the day, I’m not going to enjoy a challenge much if I feel forced into reading something I don’t really want to read.

It’s inevitable that every year, there will be at least some prompts that I’m really dreading

Along the same lines, I realize that every year, there will be some prompts that just don’t appeal to me at all. There are two main reasons that I dread a prompt. The first is that I have very limited options, sometimes even just one book that interests me that fits. The second it starts to feel like homework, I start to lose interest. I like reading challenges because of the freedom to read what I want and the puzzle aspect of trying to fit those books in to fulfill the prompts on the list. The second main reason I dread a prompt is if it’s something that I already know does not appeal to me. Last year, it was PopSugar’s political memoir, and next year, it’s Book Riot’s Western. I can understand the push to try new things because they may surprise you (as mentioned above), but Westerns really don’t appeal to me at all. I’ve found that there are ways to deal with these kinds of prompts. If a challenge list in general has too many prompts that I’m really dreading, I just won’t take on that challenge, but if there are only a few it’s not too bad. My trick is to try and find a way to work within the prompt with a book that is still somewhat appealing to me, if at all possible. If I’m really stuck, I find the best available option and get rid of it early on in the year so I’m not stuck putting it off all the way until the end, when I definitely won’t want to read it.

It’s not “cheating” to switch out books you were planning on reading for others

This may be the hardest one for me to learn. As I’ve mentioned, I compile my lists of books that I want to read for each prompt before the year starts so I can request whatever I need from the library. Although I always have the idea in mind that these lists are flexible, I still have a hard time switching out more than a couple of books without feeling like I’m cheating. Once I have it down on the list, it feels like a commitment to read it, and for the most part, I’m good at picking books that I really do want to read. Toward the end of the year is usually when the problems happen. I switch books either because I’ve lost interest, or because of the time crunch. It’s this second reason that tends to feel more like a cheat even though rationally I realize that no one is policing my challenges and no one is going to complain that I didn’t stick to my list. Losing interest is another story. Since I have most of my books on hold for most of the year, it’s pretty easy to tell which books I’m not so excited for. If I haven’t released the hold (or at least been tempted to) any of the times I released my next set of books, it probably isn’t one that I want to read very much. Often, these are books that I was on the fence about reading in the first place, so I don’t feel bad about switching, but sometimes the idea that it’s cheating still bugs me.