Top 5 Wednesdays: Urban Fantasy Books (I Would Like to Read)

Technically, this week’s topic is our favourite urban fantasies, but I feel like I’ve already mentioned many of the books I would pick a lot recently. Series like the Monsters of Verity duology, The Raven Cycle, and The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy are all the obvious choices, and two of those are series I haven’t even finished yet. To be honest, I had a very hard time defining which books exactly would qualify as urban fantasy, so I would hope that the books I picked count. Urban fantasy is generally defined as having an urban setting, but not necessarily a contemporary one. In general, it seems to be real-world settings that have some kind of paranormal elements or conflicts between humans and other creatures. I have plenty of books that seem to fit on my TBR!

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

256683Technically, this includes all of Cassandra Clare’s series, since I haven’t read any of them. I saw the movie version of City of Bones, and I really enjoyed it, but despite having a copy of the book, I’ve never been particularly motivated to pick it up. City of Bones focuses on a 15-year-old girl named Clary who uncovers a secret world of demons and Shadowhunters in New York City, and is quickly pulled into the world herself. One of the main reasons I haven’t picked these series up yet is because they’ve become quite overwhelming between the amount of hype and the sheer number of books. It sometimes feels like I wouldn’t even know where to start. The Mortal Instruments alone is 6 books, and then there’s also the Infernal Devices and the Dark Artifices. Plus the Tales from Shadowhunter Academy! To be honest, I’m getting a little tired of the whole “between-the-numbers” novella trend. Since I liked the movie though, I think it would be worth trying but it feels like such a time commitment.

2) The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade final for IreneThe Monsters of Verity duology was my first exposure to Victoria (V.E) Schwab’s writing, and I immediately fell in love with it That series would have been my top choice for favourite urban fantasies, but since I’ve discussed it so much lately, I thought it was best to switch to something else. I’m very interested in reading more of Victoria Schwab’s series. This one is set in a world where there are four parallel Londons. To be honest, I know very little about what this series is actually about, but I’ve seen such high praise for it and the small amount I do know sounds amazing. I have not picked it up yet because I was trying to limit myself to just one book per author per year, but I’ve loosened that rule up for my reading challenges this year. I’m not sure I’ll be able to squeeze this series in yet, but I am definitely planning on reading Vicious. If I don’t get around to this one, I’m sure it will end up being high priority for next year.

3) The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater

6068551Werewolves have never been too appealing to me, and for a while, just the mention of them would be enough to put me off reading a book. However, I absolutely adored The Raven Boys when I read it last year, and recently bought the entire Raven Cycle series on the strength of that book alone. The main reason I’m interested in reading this series is because of Maggie Stiefvater. I’m not completely convinced that I would enjoy this one as much as The Raven Cycle, but I think if anyone could make me like a werewolf story, it would be Maggie Stiefvater. This series is about a girl named Grace who has a wolf that lives in the woods behind her house who she has always thought of as “hers,” and soon meets a boy who reminds her very strongly of him. The small snippets of this book that I’ve seen seem to be written well enough to keep my attention, and I’m interested in giving it a chance.

4) The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead

345627This is another series that I avoided reading for a long time because I was a little burnt out on paranormal stories. I don’t know too much detail about this series, but I know it involves vampires in a high school (or high school-like?) setting. Lissa is a vampire with a special ability to harness earth magic, and her best friend Rose is dedicated to protecting Lissa from the fierce kind of vampires who want to make her one of their own. I avoided this series at first because I assumed it would be along the same lines as Twilight, which I found disappointing. It’s also turned into a 6-book series, which is a bit more of a commitment than I was willing to make. I know I can always stop reading the series at any time, but unless I really hate it, I usually don’t like abandoning them midway. As long as I’m enjoying it enough, I’d want to read all six books, and I’m not sure I want to commit to so many for a series I’ve always been a little on-the-fence about.

5) The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

15819028This book has only been on my TBR for about a year, but for some reason I felt like it had been on there much longer. It is about a golem named Chava who arrives in New York in 1899, and befriends a jinni named Ahmad who was trapped in Syria and later released in New York. This story seems so unique because it is about mythological creatures that I’ve never read about before. This book has received so many excellent reviews from the Goodreads reviewers that I follow, although there have been some complaints that it is a bit too long and too slow. I wouldn’t say that this book is very high on my priority list right now, but it is something that I’d love to give a chance at some point.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Books I Could Re-read Forever

I am a huge fan of re-reading old favourites. I know a lot of people take the approach of “too many books, too little time,” and avoid re-reading in favour of always reading something new instead. In theory, I would love to do that too, but I can’t help revisiting my favourites over and over. I definitely believe that you get something new from a book each time you read it. Even when it is a book that has a twist ending, like my favourite Jodi Picoult books, it’s still great to go back and try to pick up on clues that I missed. I also think there’s something very comforting about revisiting books that I’ve read before and just getting to experience a familiar story again. I have so many books that I’m long overdue to re-read!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

8I’m sure this is a series that is going to make a lot of people’s lists today, and with good reason. This is a series that I’ve already re-read so many times. Like many of us, I grew up with this series and was a similar age to Harry as the books came out. This quickly became my all-time favourite, and becomes better and better every time I pick it up. This is definitely a series where I uncover more layers each time I read it, and it’s just amazing how much depth there is to what might have been a very typical hero story. I especially love to re-read it and see all the minor references to things in early books that seem to be in passing, and end up being important later on (Mundungus Fletcher or Mrs. Figg, for example). I’m definitely long overdue to re-read this one!

2) A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

65113Due to the sheer length of this series, it’s one that I’ve always been a little hesitant to read all in a row, but this series is so much fun! I discovered it at the same time as I discovered Harry Potter, and for years I was absolutely obsessed with both of them. I loved this series because it seemed so unique. I’ve never seen another series where the author is a character inside the world itself, and this series went all-out in sticking to that concept with the Lemony Snicket identity. Although it was a bit absurd at times, the entire series struck such a great balance of humour, character development, and an entertaining story. Count Olaf is such a cartoonish villain at times, but that was a huge part of his appeal. The situations that the Baudelaires got into were odd, but really only required a small suspension of disbelief to think that they were possible. I also loved how this book didn’t shy away from more difficult vocabulary, and had such a fun approach to defining the words. It treated children as intelligent and capable both within the story, and in the reading experience.

3) The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

7938275This is another series that I almost missed out on because I was so put off by all the hype. In fact, the only reason I picked it up at all was because my mom read it first and was convinced I would love it, and she took me with her to see the first movie. This was one of the rare occasions where I saw the movie before reading the book, and I fell in love with the storyline and especially the characters. I have only read this series once, but I can easily see myself re-reading it many times. I would love to experience this one again now that it’s been several years since my first time, and I’m sure I will love it just as much. Compared to the many other dystopians I’ve read since this one, it still seems like quite a unique story despite the common tropes. I think a huge part of the appeal of this one for me is Suzanne Collins’ excellent writing, which really brought the world and the characters to life.

4) Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

17571564I think this is the only book that I felt compelled to re-read as soon as I finished it, and I even went back and read some of my favourite chapters again. Like most people, I first discovered Allie Brosh through her online comics of the “Alot” and her story about the dinosaur costume. I absolutely adored her style of storytelling and the odd cartoon drawings that went along with them. This book was so much fun to read and I devoured the entire thing in one sitting. I also loved how Allie Brosh managed to combine her sense of humour with some more serious topics, such as her chapter on her experiences with depression. She infused just enough humour to make it relatable and so easy to understand, but without overshadowing the serious nature of the topic. I can’t wait for her next book, whenever it finally comes out!

5) The Addams Family: An Evilution by Charles Addams

7626588I have always been obsessed with The Addams Family in all of its varieties. One of my earliest memories is watching the cartoon version when I was about 5 years old, although for some reason, I was absolutely convinced that Cousin Itt was drawn as a mop. I watched the original and the New Addams Family TV series, and all of the movies. I also saw the original Broadway production of the Addams Family musical, which was absolutely amazing! It was hard for me to imagine the characters singing and dancing, but the show was incredible. I think I found out about this book shortly after I saw the play, and immediately decided that I had to have it. This book is a collection of Charles Addams’ original cartoons featuring the family, with some background information about the characters and Addams himself. I love looking through this book and seeing the original versions of my favourite characters, and how different they are from all the other versions I’ve seen since.

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

140212I’ve made it my goal to finish the entire series this year since I’ve never read them all. I can’t necessarily say that I’d re-read the whole series forever, but this book is definitely the exception. I’ve already read this book many times over the years, and even now as an adult, it is still a favourite. Although the story is a lot shorter than I remember, it is just as magical. I first heard this book in elementary school, when it was read out loud to us as a class, and it’s been a favourite ever since. It is such a great adventure story that holds up surprisingly well no matter how many times I read it. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of the religious allegory, but I honestly didn’t notice that aspect at all until I was much older (and it was pointed out to me). It’s a bit hard to overlook now, but the story is still just as enjoyable to read.

7) Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

24178This is another of my earliest favourites, and I’m so glad I got to read this when I was younger because I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I had first tried it as an adult. I distinctly remember my teacher reading this book to the class in third grade, and we all loved it! I have read it so many times since then, and it is a classic story that I love to revisit. Even though I really hate spiders in general, I think Charlotte has to be one of my all-time favourite characters, and Wilbur is just adorable. I still remember being a little surprised the first time I read it when I realized that Fern was not the  “real” main character. It was probably one of the first books I’d read with non-human protagonists, and it was so creative. Thinking about it now, the story itself seems so bizarre, but it somehow works so well. This one is definitely a classic for good reason.

8) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

1934I’ve been obsessed with this story as long as I can remember. I had an adapted book version based on the Winona Ryder movie that I loved, and when I got a little older, I finally decided to give the full version a try. I know a lot of people now take issue with the book because of the old-fashioned views of how women should behave, and the moralizing nature of the story. However, I’ve always loved and kind of idolized Jo. When I was younger, I wanted to be an author, and was thrilled to see a book with characters who seemed like me. Jo was a reader and writer like me, and Beth was extremely shy, also like me. I absolutely loved Jo’s friendship with Laurie, and the way all of the characters grew as adults. It was one of the first true classics that I’d read, and has always been a favourite. It’s another book that I now have not read for several years, and I’m sure I’m due for a re-read.

9) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

2998This is another book that I became obsessed with as a child because of the movie versions. I had a cartoon movie taped off the TV that I watched so many times, and I fell in love with the story. Although Mary can be an annoying character, I loved the dynamics between her and Colin, and I remember being very intrigued by the creepy Mrs. Medlock. I loved the original book when I finally decided to give it a chance, and although descriptions of plants/gardens are not really my favourite, I was fascinated by the characters. This was another of the first classics that I was exposed to, so it’s no surprise that it became such a favourite. I’ve read and watched several versions of it, and it is another story that seems to have become a classic for good reason.

10) The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

51wxibn2gul-_sx330_bo1204203200_Of all the books I’ve read over the past few years, this is one that stands out most as a book that I would love to re-read over and over. This book was absolutely hilarious, but at it’s heart, it was also a very sweet love story. I can definitely see why a lot of people think Don is an obnoxious character, but he seemed so real. I loved his friendship with Rosie and the whole idea of the “Wife Project” to try and find an ideal partner. It is by far one of the most memorable books I’ve read recently, and one that I think would be just as much fun to read every time. I’m also one of the few who actually enjoyed the sequel, although I agree that it was not quite as strong as this book was. This book was so refreshing and unique, and I love a good unconventional love story.

Stacking the Shelves (#4)

My TBR has definitely hit a new record, with 1915 books currently on it! I’m not sure if I should look forward to it reaching 2000, or dread it. Compared to last month, I’ve definitely slowed down a bit when it comes to adding new items to my list, but I still added about 50 new books to my TBR (as opposed to 80 in January)! Even with goals of reading 150+ books each year over the past couple of years, I’ve barely made a dent in my overall TBR size, but I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. I know a lot of people have a goal of getting their TBR down to zero, but I don’t think that would ever be realistic for me. There are always so many new books coming out that interest me, and I can’t possibly keep up with them all. Actually, many of the books added this time are because I was looking at lists of upcoming releases and found many that seemed appealing.

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

1) All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages by Saundra Mitchell

35140599I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a huge fan of short story collections, but I somehow keep ending up adding them to my TBR anyway. This book is a collection of stories featuring LGBT characters, written by a variety of authors including Robin Talley, Anna-Marie McLemore, Sara Farizan, Mackenzi Lee, and many others. I’ve read and enjoyed books by several of the authors involved, and the few synopses I’ve heard of some of the stories sound good. For example, the Goodreads page mentions a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood in 1870s Mexico, and a story set in a 16th century convent. This book comes out at the end of this month, and has already received excellent reviews by a few of the reviewers that I follow. Like most story collections, it might not be my top priority to read, but it definitely sounds like it could be very interesting. I’d love to see more reviews as they come in when the book is released next week.

2) That’s Not What Happened by Kody Keplinger

37825410I added this to my list only yesterday, but I was very, very hesitant because I really did not enjoy The DUFF at all. The movie was amazing, but the book was a huge disappointment and I wasn’t sure I’d want to read anything else Kody Keplinger wrote. This book is about a survivor of a high school shooting, whose best friend became a martyr after a story spread that she died proclaiming her faith. The unnamed main character was there when her friend died and knows that the rumour is not true, but doesn’t know whether to speak up about it. This book caught my attention because the story of the girl who died proclaiming her faith reminded me of a real victim of the Columbine shootings, and the similar controversy about what really happened when she died. It sounds like such an interesting concept, but I’m very reluctant to try another of Kody Keplinger’s books. This one is not out until the next of August this year though, so I’ll wait for more information to come out. I added it to my TBR for now anyway as a reminder to look into it.

3) The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

38255342I have not read anything by Kiersten White yet, but her Conquerer’s Saga series is one I’m hoping to get to soon. This book caught my interest because it seemed to be along the same lines as The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd, which I loved. It is about a girl named Elizabeth who has the chance to escape her miserable home life when she befriends Victor Frankenstein, and is taken in by his family. I read the original Frankenstein for the first time a couple of years ago and loved it a lot more than I expected to, and I’ve really been getting into retellings of classics. Some of them are so incredibly well done, and this one seems to have a lot of potential. I discovered it on a list of upcoming releases for this year, and it is not due out until late September so there isn’t too much information about it yet. I have to say though that the cover artwork is pretty creepy!

4) Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry

34659293This is another book that I was a little on the fence about adding. I’ve seen it on lists of upcoming releases for a while now, and somehow the cover artwork always caught my attention. I was hesitant to add it because of the religious content, which is something I often find off-putting in books, but it actually sounds pretty interesting. This book is about an atheist named Michael who is attending a strict Catholic School, where he meets Lucy, a girl who introduces him to “Heretics Anonymous” consisting of the other outcast students in the school who rebel against the school. Although the emphasis on religion does not appeal to me much, the rest of the story sounds so interesting and it seems like this one could be a lot of fun to read.

5) Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

AlwaysNever_BOM_4p.inddI saw this one on several lists of upcoming releases for the year for a while now, but was a bit hesitant to add it, mainly because for some reason I never bothered to read the synopsis properly. I feel like I skimmed over it a couple of times and dismissed it immediately, but once I actually took the time to read it, the book seemed kind of cute. It is about a girl named Megan who always seems to be the person her exes date right before finding “the one,” so she decides to focus on her dream school’s acting program instead. As expected, in the process she meets an guy who catches her attention and needs to figure out what she really wants. Until writing this post just now, I’d never noticed that this book was co-written by two authors, and I’m kind of curious to see exactly how that plays out. Sometimes I find multiple authors leads to a very disjointed story, but sometimes it works well. This one sounds like a pretty typical YA contemporary, but also sounds really adorable.

6) Sea Witch by Sarah Henning

newbirdRetellings have become such a huge trend lately, and this is the second one based on The Little Mermaid that I’ve seen in the past year or so. Instead of focusing on Ariel, this one is an origin story for the Sea Witch, named Evie in this version. When a girl who resembles Evie’s friend Anna, who drowned to death, appears suddenly Evie is sure that Anna actually survived somehow. She soon discovers that her new friend is keeping secrets and needs Evie’s help to keep the life she’s built and the prince she’s fallen in love with. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a version of The Little Mermaid that focuses on this character, so it will be interesting to see what kind of backstory the author can create for her. This book is not out until the end of July, so there is still quite a while to wait!

7) The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

23197837I’ll admit that I was very hesitant to add this to my list because it already seems so overhyped. For a book that’s only been out two weeks, it has literally been everywhere. I was also hesitant for pretty silly reasons, like the fact that the world was called “Orleans” which didn’t seem particularly creative since it seemed to just be a rip-off of New Orleans. The more I heard about this book, the more interesting it started to seem, . It is about a girl named Camellia who is a Belle, a woman who has the ability to transform things and make them beautiful. Camellia wants to be favoured by the Queen, and arrives at court with other Belles only to learn that her abilities are more dangerous than she believed. It sounds like a pretty unique concept for a dystopian and the early reviews seem pretty positive so far, but I’m definitely going to wait for some of the hype to die down first.

8) Pride by Ibi Zoboi

35068632Although Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite books, I’ve never been particularly interested in Jane Austen retellings. This one is about a  girl named Zuri who lives in Brooklyn, who wants nothing to do with the wealthy Darcy family who moves into the neighbourhood, and especially not with their arrogant son Darius. There is not much detail available yet about the plot, but so far it seems like a very straightforward version of Pride and Prejudice. To be honest, that has me a little nervous to give it a chance because it’s hard to imagine it being done well enough to not just seem like a copycat book. However, I’ve heard great things about Ibi Zoboi’s writing in American Street, and it seems possible that she could present the story in a refreshing way somehow. I’m curious enough about it that I might like to give it a try, but since this one also is not due until September, I’ll have to wait quite a while. I’m interested to see if any more details come out before then to see what makes this version different from the original, aside from the setting.

9) Wrong in All the Right Ways by Tiffany Brownlee

35795906I found this book on a list of upcoming releases by authors of colour as part of a Black History Month feature on Buzzfeed. To be honest, what first caught my attention about this one is the beautiful cover art. This book is about a girl named Emma who is falling in love with her new foster brother, Dylan. When they are assigned to work together on an epistolary-format English assignment based on Wuthering Heights, they try to keep their feelings for each other limited to the page to make sure Dylan doesn’t risk his chance of being adopted. Stories involving feelings between people in a sibling-type relationship don’t always appeal to me, but in this case, it seems as though the characters met when they were already older and had not grown up as siblings. The English assignment aspect also seems like a creative way to tackle the story, and I’m really looking forward to this one.

10) Sarah Smiles by Sean-Paul Thomas

35393894Honestly, the main reason I added this book to my list is because the cover art reminds me of The Addams Family. It is about an introverted and bullied teenage boy who makes friends with Sarah, who changes his life. According to Goodreads, this book has been compared to Stand By Me and Bridge to Terabithia, so I’m assuming it will be pretty sad. It’s also quite a short book, at only 200 pages, so it will be interesting to see how the author manages to develop the story in so little time. This is one of the few books on this list that has already been released. Oddly enough, every version of it on Goodreads is published in a completely different year, which is a little confusing. It’s received practically no ratings or reviews either, so if it really has been out for a long time, it’s completely flown under the radar.

11) Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

30304221For the longest time, I assumed this was a YA book and bypassed it completely even though I usually enjoy reading YA. When I finally took the time to look at it properly, I discovered that I was completely wrong. This book is about a woman named Ingrid who writes a bunch of letters to her husband, Gil, about their marriage, and hides them in thousands of books he’s collected over the years, and then disappears., leaving her husband and two daughters to believe she has drowned. Twelve years later, Gil’s claim that he saw Ingrid recently is chalked up to senility, and their daughter Flora comes home to care for him and in the process, discover what really happened to her mother. I’m kind of surprised I never paid attention to the synopsis before because it seems really interesting, and the cover artwork is also pretty attention-grabbing.

12) Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson

35023989To be fair, I’m not really a fan of the cover or even the title for this book, but it caught my attention because it is based on the real-life Slenderman murder case. It is about a 14-year-old girl named Alice who was attacked and left to die by her classmates, who claimed she was a sacrifice to “Mister Tender,” a fictional character featured in a series of graphic novels written by Alice’s father. More than a decade later, as Alice attempts to move on from the attack, she receives something creepy in the mail that suggests she is being watched. This book just came out this month, and the early reviews have been very positive. The Slenderman case was a very interesting and disturbing news story when it came out, and it was only a matter of time before someone based a book on it.


Top 5 Wednesdays: Your Favourite Romance Novels

Although I have no problem with romance in the books I read, it is not a genre that I reach for very often. It’s actually a bit weird, because I tend to enjoy love stories when I do read them, as long as they are written well. Like most people, I tend not to like insta-love or unnecessary love triangles, but I do like a well-developed love story. While looking through my list to pick out my favourites, I noticed a definite trend toward enjoying adult romances more than YA romances. I think it’s because in most YA books, the love story tends to be quite rushed. It was actually easier than I thought to find 5 romances that I really enjoyed.

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) Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

1885This was the first classic romance I ever read, and it is still a favourite. It was never assigned to me in school, but I first read it when I was in high school and then again once I started university. The first time I read it, I’d chosen it for an assignment and kind of rushed it a bit, although I still really liked it. The second time, when I took my time on it, I loved it even more! Part of why I love this book so much is because of the social commentary that goes along with the romance. Elizabeth Bennett is one of my favourite protagonists, and her relationship with Mr. Darcy was completely fascinating. I also loved how this classic felt a lot more accessible than others, and especially the snarky humour! Like Elizabeth, I thought Mr. Darcy was so arrogant in the beginning, but he won me over too. There’s a good reason he’s one of literature’s most famous romantic characters.

2) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

10210This is another favourite classic that I first read while in university, as part of my decision to try to read more of the classics that I’d always wanted to try. The relationship that develops between Jane and Mr. Rochester has always been one of my favourites, especially because of the banter between them! It was so easy to see the chemistry between the two of them. I think it says a lot about the strength of the characters and their relationship that so many people can overlook the issues from Mr. Rochester’s past and still want him to be with Jane. I also loved how this book was so realistic about it, with Jane struggling to come to terms with what she learns about him before finally making her choice. This is definitely a book that I’m due to re-read!

3) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

18619684This is another book that I’d love to re-read sometime! I know a lot of people take issue with the relationship between Henry and Clare, but I loved the way it developed! The book is about a man named Henry who can travel through time to important moments in the past and future of his own life. When he first meets Clare, he is 36, and she is only 6. Their relationship develops when Clare becomes an adult, and they try to live normal lives despite Henry’s sudden disappearances each time he time travels. I absolutely adored the relationship between the two of them, and it was such a powerful story. I thought the concept was so unique and Audrey Niffenegger is such a talented author. It was so easy for me to get absorbed into the story and so difficult to put it down!

4) The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

51wxibn2gul-_sx330_bo1204203200_I am such a sucker for unconventional love stories, and I think this one can definitely qualify. For those who don’t know, this book is about a Sheldon Cooper-esque genetics professor named Don Tillman who decides that it is time for him to get married. He develops something called The Wife Project, through which he attempts to scientifically find himself his ideal match based on specific qualities that he is looking for. In the process, he meets a woman named Rosie who is looking for her biological father, and wants Don’s help as a genetics expert. Even though Rosie is none of the things that Don is looking for, they develop a surprisingly strong connection. I absolutely devoured this book when I read it because I loved the characters so much. I thought the dynamics between Don and Rosie were so interesting to read, and the relationship that develops between them is so well-done. This is definitely one of my all-time favourite books.

5) The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

25883848I feel like I’ve been talking about this book a lot lately, but it seemed like such a good fit for this week’s topic. This is a hate-to-love story about Lucy and Joshua, co-workers who are competing for the same promotion at their publishing company. This book was completely predictable, but so much fun to read! I think what made this book work so well was how interesting the characters’ interactions were. They had so much chemistry and it was so fun to watch their relationship unfold. It was a book that I really expected very little from, and I was surprised by how much I loved it! It quickly became one of my favourites of last year, and single-handedly convinced me to be a bit more open-minded about trying some of the books from genres that I don’t read too often.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books I’m No Longer Interested in Reading (Any Time Soon)

I’m always very hesitant to say I’m never going to read a book, because who knows when my tastes might change? It’s not too often that I actually completely lose interest in ever trying a book. I have many that have been on my TBR for about three years now, that I have never removed because they still interest me. If I haven’t gotten around to them yet, it’s usually because they are hard to get copies of, or I just haven’t been in the mood. There are so many other books that I’ve prioritized, and it would be impossible to get to everything on my massive TBR! The books listed here are ones that I may still read at some point, but they are very low on my priority list.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

252577I think this is the one and only book that I ever seriously considered removing from my TBR. I added it in the first place because I saw the movie when I was way too young to really get it, and I found it pretty boring. Once I realized it was a book, I thought it might be good to give it another chance. I lost interest in it once I realized it was non-fiction, as harsh as that may sound. I find memoirs rarely interest me much, and considering I didn’t really like the movie either, the book wasn’t particularly appealing. The main reason I’ve left it on my TBR until now is because it has received such positive reviews everywhere, so I almost feel like I’m missing out if I don’t give it a chance. It’s just not the kind of book I think I would ever be in the mood for.

2) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 

17333223To be fair, I was never very interested in this one to begin with. I had it in mind for a challenge prompt a few years ago that called for a book over 600 pages, and it was one of the only ones I could find that seemed somewhat interesting and wasn’t part of a series. I ended up avoiding it the entire year until I finally decided just to switch it out for something else instead, but always vaguely meant to come back to it. The book is about a 13-year-old boy who is taken in by a wealthy family, and all he has left of his mother is a painting that reminds him of her. It follows him into his adult life, although most of the synopses I’ve seen have been pretty vague. It is another book that a lot of people seem to rave about, and I still have some mild interest in trying it, but it is the kind of book that seems like a real commitment to pick up.

3) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabrial Garcia Marquez

320Like The Goldfinch, this is another book that I had in mind for a challenge prompt, but never picked up because I was never in the mood for it. I’ve been meaning to read it for a long time because it is such a classic, but I was a little put off by seeing a lot of very mixed reviews. It seemed almost exactly 50-50 between people who loved this book, and people who found it incredibly boring. This book is a magical realism story that follows a family through seven generations. I actually own a copy of this book and I am still a little interested in giving it a chance at some point, but I have literally never been in the mood to try it. There are many other classics that interest me a lot more, so this one will probably sit on the back-burner for quite a while.

4) The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

28187Technically, this applies to all of Rick Riordan’s series. I know this is one of the most widely loved series, but for some reason, it has just never interested me. It’s a bit odd since I actually love mythology so these kinds of stories should be something that I would enjoy. I think it’s mostly because I’ve never had much luck with middle grade series that I’ve read as an adult, so I feel like I’ve kind of outgrown these. This series also seems incredibly overhyped, to the point where I know I’m just going to be disappointed. There are so many other fantasy series that appeal to me more that I’ve just never been motivated to pick this one up. The only thing that makes me hesitant to say I would never try it is because there have been other books I avoided because of all the hype, and ended up loving. I can’t really see myself reading these series, but I also don’t necessarily want to say it will never happen.

5) The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke

28194I’ve only read the first book in this series, but it was enough to convince me that I’m not interested in the rest of them. This is another series that was extremely popular when I was younger, but I never read it when I was in the target age range. I read the first book in 2016 for a reading challenge prompt, and to be fair, I put it off until quite late in the year because I was just never in the mood for it. The concept behind the story was pretty interesting, but I found the book so boring to read. I had to keep switching between the audio version and the text copy just to get through it. It took almost a third of the book for the story to really get going, by which point I had already stopped caring. Since this one was such a slog, I doubt I’d be very interested in the rest of the series.

6) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

968I wasn’t interested in this one when it first came out, and it has never really caught my attention since then. It’s one of those books that I’ve always felt like I should try because of its popularity. People are always surprised to find out that I haven’t read it yet, and I’ve heard it’s great, but the storyline has never really appealed to me much. It is about a symbologist named Robert Langdon who is investigating the case of a museum curator who has been murdered, and next to him was a riddle that leads to a trail of clues hidden in Da Vinci’s artwork. Technically, the concept does sound like it could be interesting, but I also feel like I’ve waited so long that I’ve already gotten the gist of the story from everywhere else, so there’s not much point to reading it.

7) The Maze Runner by James Dashner

6186357Just to be clear, I had already lost interest in this series before any of the allegations against James Dashner came out. I find it hard to write off an author completely because of allegations that haven’t been substantiated, by I did see a Tweet by Dashner where he takes responsibility and admits that he may not have always make the best decisions in regards to boundaries and power dynamics. Nevertheless, my disinterest in the book started long before any of these allegations came out. I had this book in mind for my first reading challenge in 2015, but never ended up picking it up. It seemed like just another generic dystopian that, while mildly interesting, didn’t really draw me in either. At that point, I had recently read The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies, and was a little burnt out on that kind of storyline. I’m still reluctant to say I will never pick this up, but it’s very low on my list.

8) Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

375802This is another of those books that I kind of feel like I “should” read, even though sci-fi is not a genre I really reach for very often. This book is set on Earth in the future, where children are trained from a young age using games to prepare them to deal with alien invasions. It sounds like an interesting concept, but space and military are two things that have never been huge motivators for me to pick up a book. If I’m honest, another thing that put me off was the fact that this book was published in 1985 and I’ve found books published so long ago tend to be pretty dated. The movie trailer did kind of spark my interest again, but never enough that I actually planned to follow through and read the book. It’s another book that I might read at some point, but I doubt I’ll be interested in picking it up any time soon.

9) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and 10) Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

1686684981I have a whole list of classics that I’ve always felt like I should get to at some point, and these two have been on my list for a very long time. The main reason I haven’t picked either of them up yet is because I actually have very little idea what they are about. I know Catch-22 is a war story, and Slaughterhouse-Five has something to do with a prisoner of war and an alien invasion. It’s been hard for me to motivate myself to pick these up when I know so little about them. These are two of the classics that I probably know the least about, so it’s been hard for me to justify whether to keep them, but I also haven’t wanted to remove them because they might actually interest me.

The Intimidating TBR Book Tag

I really need to start keeping a list of all of the book tags I’ve already done. I was sure I had done this one, but can’t find a post for it. My TBR itself has become a little intimidating, with 1900 books that I want to read. To be fair, some of them are more “long-term TBR” (ie. lengthy classics), and others are books that I’d love to get to soon. I know a lot of people refuse to let their lists get so long, and weed them out as they go, but I have a hard time with that. I’ve gone through my list from start to finish (over several days, to be fair), and I’m still interested in everything on it. There are obviously some books that interest me more than others, but nothing yet that I’ve really decided that I’ve changed my mind about. I’m sure it will keep getting longer and longer as more books are announced every year!  This tag was created by Lindsey Rey, who apparently has taken all of her videos down so I can’t link to it.

1) A book on your TBR that you’ve been yet to finish

The only book that I have never finished was Journey to the Center of the Earth. I started reading it as part of the Book Study program at work, where each year we pick one book and read and discuss it with the participants. This was the book chosen the year I was there was a placement student, and my placement ended before the we had finished the book. To be honest, I’m not sure they finished the book since the staff running the group had trouble with the language and it would have been hard for them to lead the discussion. I never finished it because I was busy with exams, and then forgot about it. By the time I realized I never finished, I was far in enough in that I didn’t want to just restart, but it had been long enough that I couldn’t remember too much of the details.

2) A book you haven’t had time to read

This is an odd question for me, since if I haven’t read it yet, I obviously haven’t had the time to. I guess the closest fit would be either Ivanhoe or The Three Musketeeers because classics tend to take me a while, and I really want to read these when I have the time to devote to them properly instead of just a few pages here or there.

For a non-classic option, I’d say the all of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series or Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. Both are longer series, and I’m sure if I start them, I will want to read all of the books but it is such a time commitment.

3) A book you haven’t read because it’s a sequel

I have so many of these! That’s why I’ve devoted this year to finish off many of the series I’ve started. On the other hand, I’ve added quite a few full series to my list that I haven’t even started yet. I think I’ll go with Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor, which is the sequel to Strange the Dreamer. I added this one to my list yesterday even though I haven’t read Strange the Dreamer yet, just because I love Laini Taylor’s writing.

4) A book you haven’t read yet because it is brand new

Still Me by Jojo Moyes! I’m one of the few who absolutely adored Me Before You, and I liked the sequel although not as much. I was surprised to find out that there was a third book on the way, but I’d love to give it a chance. This book was released just over 2 weeks ago, so I obviously have not been able to read it yet.

5) A book by an author you previously read and didn’t enjoy

Definitely any book by Jacquelyn Mitchard. I read Deep End of the Ocean and really didn’t like it. I have three more of her books on my TBR (A Theory of Relativity, Cage of Stars, and The Breakdown Lane) but have been very hesitant to pick them up because of how much I didn’t connect with the first one.

6) A book you haven’t read because you’re not in the mood

Well, most of the books that are still on my TBR are there because I haven’t been in the mood for them yet. The one example that really comes to mind is The Goldfinch, which I had in mind a couple of years ago for my reading challenge and kept procrastinating on because I was just never in the mood for it. Two years later, and I’m still never in the mood but I’m hesitant to take it off the list completely because I’ve heard it’s very good.

7) A book you haven’t read yet because it’s humongous

Anna Karenina!  Or, for a non-classic, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Both are books that I’d love to read, but I don’t have the time to devote to something of that size.

8) A book you bought just because of it’s cover

I haven’t bought anything just because of it’s cover, but I’ve definitely added a few to my TBR because of the cover (as long as the synopsis interests me). One that I added not too long ago mostly because of the cover was Jokes About Dead Girls, because the title and cover both seemed so intriguing. Unfortunately, this book is not out until next year!

9) The most intimidating book on your TBR

Probably War and Peace, Don Quioxte or Les Miserables. These three are definitely long-term TBR projects. They are intimidating because of the length and because they were written so long ago.

If I had to pick a non-classic, I’d go with The Memoirs of Cleopatra. It sounds fascinating, but the book is over 1000 pages!

Top 5 Wednesdays: F/F Romances

As I mentioned in my post about M/M romances last week, this month’s topics are going to be pretty tricky for me. I have many books involving relationships between female characters on my TBR, but I haven’t read many of them yet. Even of those I have read, very few of the relationships are ones that I would necessarily consider favourites. There is actually only one couple that I would consider a true favourite, and they are included here as an exception to a list all about books. It just didn’t feel right to exclude them.

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) Willow and Tara (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

newwillowtaraThis is my exception, although there are many Buffy books so I’m sure they appear together in at least some of them. Willow was my first favourite character on what quickly became my all-time favourite TV show. I remember being surprised at first when she started to show interest in Tara because I loved her relationship with Oz, but Willow and Tara were just so iconic together. They were one of the first same-sex couples shown on TV, and I remember seeing so many interviews where Joss Whedon commented about the battle with the network to have the women kiss on-screen. When they first get together in Season 4, it is some time before the nature of their relationship becomes clear. and it was often hidden behind magic as a metaphor. They were such a strong couple, and I loved the way they supported and grew with each other.

2) Clementine and Emma (Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh)

17465574I actually first heard about this story through a trailer for the movie (which I never saw), and decided to give the graphic novel instead. It is about a girl named Clementine who encounters a blue-haired girl named Emma while out with her friends at a lesbian bar, and the two quickly develop a relationship. Her attraction to Emma forces Clementine to question her sexuality, and the book is told from Emma’s perspective as she reads through Clementine’s diaries that detail their relationship. I thought the characters were very well-developed, especially given the graphic novel format. I loved how the author was able to capture the intensity of their relationship and all the emotions that went along with it with few words and relatively simple drawings. Be warned that there is some quite explicit content in the images, which not everyone may be a fan of. I loved how this book addressed the relationship itself, and not just the girls’ orientations, while also bringing up issues of acceptance and respect.

3) Zoe and Vanessa (Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult)

9917765To be fair, this is not my favourite of Jodi Picoult’s books but I wanted to include it anyway because of the interesting relationship between the two characters. After Zoe’s marriage falls apart due to her desperate desire for a child despite multiple fertility problems, she begins to fall in love with Vanessa, her counselor. The women decide to have a baby, and battle Zoe’s ex-husband Max for the right to use the embryos they left at the fertility clinic. Compared to Jodi Picoult’s books, this one felt a bit rushed and the relationship between Zoe and Vanessa definitely reflected that. It seemed odd that Zoe would so suddenly fall in love with a woman she recently met, when she had never even questioned her sexuality before. However, I thought they were very cute together and I wanted to include the book because of its exploration of the couple’s rights. I almost felt like there were two stories in one here, one about gay rights and another about fertility struggles, that probably each could have been full books on their own.

4) Cassie and Mina (The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli)

30653853I was hesitant to include this one because the couple are both side characters, but they were very natural together. Cassie is the twin sister of our main character, Molly, and Mina, the girl she’s interested in. Cassie tries to set Molly up with one of Mina’s friends to let her spend more time with her crush without “abandoning” her sister. One of the things I really appreciated about this couple, and about Becky Albertalli’s characters in general, is how realistic they seem. The relationship that develops between the girls happens so naturally, and I love how it happened without anyone making a big deal about the fact that they were both women. Considering these characters weren’t even the protagonists in the story, it was great that their relationship was still so memorable. One minor complaint is that one of the characters in this book identified as pansexual, and it would have been great to have a little more detail about that, especially since it not an orientation that everyone may be familiar with. Otherwise, this was a great book overall, and the relationship between Cassie and Mina was very cute.

5) Liza and Annie (Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden)

595375I think I would have liked this book a bit more if I had read it when I was younger, or at least when I hadn’t already read several other LGBT-themed books. This is an iconic book written in the 80s about a teenage girl named Liza who falls in love with Annie, a friend she meets at a museum. The book follows the relationship that develops between the two girls, and the attitudes others have about it. I think at the time it was probably groundbreaking, but there was nothing in this book that really surprised me, reading it for the first time as an adult only this year. The relationship between the girls is very sweet, but develops a little quickly (maybe too quickly?). One of the most interesting aspects of this book to me was the older lesbian couple that the girls meet, which give them a look at what their future might look like. This book gives a pretty good look at people’s attitudes at the time, and it’s interesting to see how things have changed since then.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Ten Love Stories Still on my TBR

I had so many ideas in mind for this weeks’ Valentines-themed freebie, that it took quite a while to settle on one. My first idea was to discuss some of the tropes that I’d like to see more of in romance stories, but I struggled to come up with a list of 10. I also thought of compiling a list of some of my favourite romantic quotes, but realized how difficult that would be since I’m terrible at keeping track of quotes that I enjoyed unless I remember to mark them on Goodreads. Instead, I finally settled on making a list of 10 love stories from my TBR. I realized as I was going through my list how few straightforward love stories I actually have. Many of the romance books on my list are YA books that involve some sort of tragedy, which didn’t quite seem like an ideal fit. I managed to find quite a few great options, and eventually narrowed it down to 10 of the books I’m most excited for.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) Other People’s Wedding by Noah Hawley

716583This book has been on my TBR for two years already, and it seems like such an interesting plot. It is about a wedding photographer named Laurie, who starts a project to document what happens to the couples whose weddings she’s photographed. At one of them, she meets a wedding crasher who she immediately feels sparks with, and later realizes that he appears in photos of many of the weddings that she’s taken pictures of. Laurie seeks this man out and finally manages to connect with him, but their relationship is affected by her past. The whole concept of wedding crashing and Laurie’s photography project seems like such a unique angle that I’ve never read before, and it sounds like a great backdrop for a love story. This is one of those books that interests me every time I look at the synopsis, but somehow never manage to pick up.

2) You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

15733851Aside from a title based on a classic movie quote, this book’s cover artwork caught my attention. It is about a couple named Rachel and Ben, who broke up ten years ago. When they meet again after a decade, it starts to feel like nothing has changed except that Ben is now married. I tend to love stories that involve couples who were separated by circumstances and reunite several years later, after they’ve had a chance to grow up. The fact that Ben is now married though does put me off a bit since I’m not really into books about cheating. Obviously I don’t know whether Ben decides to cheat since I haven’t read this yet, but it does seem like a possibility. I’m willing to overlook that though if the story is written well. From what I’ve heard about Mhairi McFarlane, she’s a very funny writer and all of her books sound like they would appeal to me if I’m in the mood for something light-hearted.

3) The Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo

31145157I first heard about this book on one of the blogs that I follow, but unfortunately I can’t remember whose. This book is about a girl named Alyssa who works as a theme park princess. According to the Goodreads synopsis, Alyssa’s summer starts to fall apart and her long distance boyfriend starts to become more distant. I’ve never even seen a book involving a character who was a theme park princess, so that alone was a selling point for me. I do think it’s a bit unfortunate that it seems the long distance relationship doesn’t work out, because that’s something that almost never happens in any book, but this book sounds so fun. It sounds like a nice, cute story and I’m looking forward to reading this one, whenever I finally decide to pick it up. 

4) The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

31145148I actually had this book down last year as an option for my espionage thriller prompt, although I doubt it really qualifies as a thriller. My library couldn’t get a copy in time, so I had to switch it for something different. This book is about a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies, with agents called Love Interests. The book focuses on two main characters, a “Nice” called Caden and a “Bad” caled Dylan, who are competing for the attention of the same girl. I was initially put off because I thought directly calling the groups “Nice” and “Bad” seemed a bit generic, but the book itself seems pretty interesting. I’m not 100% sure I’m right about this, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that the boys might have feelings for each other instead.

5) Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

36464087I only found this book on Goodreads recently, and the title was what drew my interest in the first place. This book is about a woman named Sarah who immediately develops a connection with Eddie, quickly falling in love with him and the feelings seem to be mutual. When Eddie leaves for a vacation, he never follows through with his promise to call her. As weeks go by, Sarah becomes more worried and wants to uncover the secret behind why Eddie really disappeared. When I first heard about the concept of ghosting in general, it shocked me that people would actually do that to each other. I don’t think it has been addressed yet very often in books, but it definitely seems very current. This book won’t be released until this summer, and I’m looking forward to seeing the reviews as they come in.

6) The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

33815781I’m always a little on the fence about the whole “fake date” trope, but this book just sounds like a lot of fun. On the one hand, they are very predictable and you can almost guarantee that the couple will fall in love for real, but on the other, it can be really fun to see how it all plays out. This book is about a woman named Alexa who agrees to go to a wedding with Drew, a man she got stuck in the elevator with who is looking for a date to his ex’s wedding. The date goes better than either of them expected, but they soon have to return to their regular lives. This book has only been out for a couple of weeks, but it came up on several lists of anticipated debuts this year. Reviews for it so far seem pretty positive, although it is still very early to tell.

7) Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein

32070436This is another book due out later this year, and seems like a cute YA contemporary. It is about a 17-year-old girl named Maya who is suddenly dumped by her boyfriend, and discovers that her scientist mother was conducting research on pheromones to enhance human attraction before she died. Maya wants to continue this research with the hope of winning her boyfriend back. Honestly, what first drew me to this book was the cover art because it seemed so cute. I also know there’s been quite a bit of demand lately for female protagonists who are more into the sciences. This is the kind of YA book that could easily go either way. Sometimes I love YA contemporary romances, but sometimes they can be kind of boring.

8) Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

24921988I’m also a little on the fence about this book because it seems like it has the potential to be very problematic (and it’s rare that I use that word). This book is about a 16-year-old high school student named Will who is blind, and develops a crush on a girl named Cecily. After their relationship begins to develop, Will undergoes an experimental surgery to give him eyesight for the first time, and he discovers that Cecily does not look the way he expects nor the way others described her. The main reason I think this book could be problematic is because the synopsis seems to imply that Cecily is not very attractive, and I’m finding it difficult to imagine how they could possibly describe her in a way that would not offend people. However, it also seems like it has potential for a great message about looking beyond people’s appearances and falling in love with who they are as a person, which is a message I would definitely support.

9) The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry

25467698This is another book that has been on my TBR for about two years now. It is about a girl named Natalie who starts to see small things that are “wrong” in her hometown, including the whole city disappearing for a few hours. Natalie receives a mysterious message from an apparition telling her “You have three months to save him,” and meets a boy the next day who seems to be the one the message was about. Part of the reason I’ve put this book off for so long was because I’m not 100% sure it’s the kind of story that would appeal to me, but it has been compared to The Time Traveler’s Wife, which is one of my all-time favourites. I’ve seen very mixed reviews for this one, which has also made me pretty hesitant to give it a try. I’ve seen it described as everything from sci-fi to fantasy to magical realism, and even some reviews which say it is not really a romance at all. It seems pretty tough to know what to expect from this book, but sometimes that’s a good thing.

10) Indecent by Corinne Sullivan

34964941This book is coming out next month, and it’s another one where I’m not quite sure what to expect. The synopsis describes it as a story about an introverted (and inexperienced) woman named Imogene who becomes a teacher at an all-boys prep school, and also becomes involved with one of her students. Even though I don’t support student-teacher relationships at all in real life (except possibly if both people are of age, and even then, it’s questionable), I always seem to be drawn to books about them. More than the plot itself, the Goodreads page also mentions that this book explores issues of class, gender, and blame/victimhood, which seems like it will be an interesting angle on the story. I think I’ve only ever read books where the teacher was male and the student female, so this would definitely be a different perspective. I don’t think I’d consider it a romance, but it seems very relationship-focused.

Monthly Recommendations: Graphic Novels


Well, this has been a slump-y month all around. I think this is the first time I’ve deviated from my usual routine of posting twice during the week and once on the weekend, but I had an unexpectedly busy weekend and just ran out of time.

If you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said that I never read graphic novels and probably wouldn’t like them very much. I assumed that I would have trouble following the format (and I do, sometimes) and that it just wouldn’t be as fun for me as reading “real” books. I was assigned one for my children’s literature course in university, which is still hands-down one of the best classes I ever took, precisely because the professor wanted us to move past this kind of bias. Although the story wasn’t my favourite, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected and started to become more open to trying more graphic novels. Since then, I’ve found quite a few that I really enjoyed!

Monthly Recommendations is a Goodreads group created byKayla Rayne and Trina from Between Chapters. Monthly topics cane be found on the Goodreads page here

1) Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

anyasghostcoverbrosgolThis was the first graphic novel I read of my own choice, and the first since university. I picked it up because my first reading challenge in 2015 required a graphic novel, and it was a prompt I was dreading at the time. I ended up completely blown away by this book, which is about Anya, a girl from an immigrant family, who falls down a well and encounters the ghost of a girl named Emily who seems to want to be her friend. I was very impressed by the story and especially by how relatable Anya was as a protagonist. I was surprised to find that it was not difficult at all to follow the format, and I think this was one of the best choices I could have made for a reintroduction to the genre. The art style was a perfect fit for the story, and I loved the focus on Anya trying to find a balance between her culture and her life in America. This is definitely one of the best graphic novels I’ve read, and I would highly recommend it.

2) Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

19351043I’d been hearing about this book for close to a year before I finally decided to give it a chance, and I’m so glad that I did! This book is about a shapeshifter named Nimona who teams up with the villain Lord Ballister Blackheart to prove to everyone that his rival, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, is not the hero that everyone thinks he is. It is such a interesting concept that reminded me of the movie Megamind, and the story was just hilarious! Nimona was such a funny character, and I loved the dynamics between her and Blackheart. It took me some time to get used to the art style since it was a bit more simplistic than I expected, and I wasn’t sure at first how much I enjoyed it, but the story and characters very quickly won me over. I’m already hoping there will be more books featuring the same characters, but I don’t know if there are any intentions to turn this into a series.

3) Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson

22554204As of right now, I’ve only read the first book in the series, which is called “Beware the Kitten Holy.” I have to say, that title bothers me a bit since it very easily could have been “Beware the Holy Kitten” which would have made more sense grammatically, and not affected anything in the storyline. This book is about a group of five girls who are best friends and attend the same summer camp, which has a fantasy twist including mythical creatures and strange adventures. I love the dynamics between the friends and especially with counsellor who tries to keep them under control. I’m glad there is more to this series and I’m looking forward to reading the rest, since this book ended just as I was starting to really get into it. The artwork on this one was very cartoon-y but in the best possible way. Noelle Stevenson is definitely an author that I will have to follow.

4) Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan

23131550I’ve mentioned before that this book reminds me of a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Incredibles, two of my favourite things. It is about a girl named Allison who has given up her life as a superhero to go to college. The story was a lot more complex with a lot more layers than expected, and it really explored that grey area of what it means to be a hero. Like many graphic novels, I found it a tiny bit confusing right at the start because you’re thrown straight into the world without much context, but Allison was a fascinating main character. Hers was such a unique and interesting perspective to read from, and I loved all the discussion of the line between hero and villain, and what separates heroes from the rest of us. I was a little disappointed that my copy of the book only had black-and-white illustrations, when the story seemed perfect for something a little more colourful, but it was still one of my favourite books last year!

5) Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge

8928004I read this book for a challenge prompt requiring a book with illustrations, and it seemed like the perfect choice given that the main character is an artist herself. The book is about an introverted teenager named Paige whose parents make her move to New York, and it follows her as she tries to adapt to her new life and push herself out of her comfort zone a little more. I especially loved how the author depicted Paige’s rich inner world, including how her social anxiety affected her interactions with her new friends. It was another book where I was a little disappointed to find that the illustrations were all black-and-white, especially when the main character was an artist, but I loved the art style. I also loved the interactions between the characters, and how the illustrations were used to show both what Paige was actually saying and what she was thinking at the same time. This book had a lot more depth to it than I expected, and it really surprised me.

6) Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola and illustrated by Emily Carroll

24727085This was another graphic novel that really surprised me. I devoured the entire thing in about an hour, but it was such a great read. The book is about a girl named Masha whose father has recently remarried, and she is not looking forward to having a new stepmother and stepsister. To escape, she applies for a job as the mythical Baba Yaga’s assistant, and to get the position she needs to pass a series of tests based on the traditional myth. This story was so well-done, incorporating the myth with Masha’s story as well as her memories of hearing the myth from her grandmother who has passed away. I especially loved the challenges the Baba Yaga set out for Masha, and all of the interactions between the two of them. The Baba Yaga herself was a great character. The illustrations were colourful and a perfect fit for the tone of the story. This book was a very quick read, and it was a lot of fun. I thought it was a great introduction to the Baba Yaga myth, and it was a great book. I really enjoyed reading this!

7) Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

18630542Once again, a graphic novel that was so much better than I expected. This book is about  a chef named Katie who runs a successful restaurant and wants to start a new one. Just as her life begins to feel like one problem after another, she discovers strange mushrooms that come with directions to write down a mistake, eat one, and then go to sleep in order to get a second chance. The mushrooms are guarded by a mysterious girl who doesn’t want Katie to use them.  I was initially put off by the art style since it made the characters, particularly Katie, look young and cartoonish, making it harder to take her seriously as the adult she was supposed to be. Luckily, the story itself quickly captured my attention and I found it so compelling. The “redo” trope was done so well, and Katie was a hilarious character, especially when she broke the fourth wall and directly talked back to the narrator. It was so easy to get immersed in this book, and the more I read, the more I loved it!


Top 5 Wednesdays: M/M Romances

I have to say that in general, Top 5 Wednesdays are going to be pretty tricky for me this month. Going with a Valentine’s Day theme, most of the topics are romance-heavy. When I first saw the list, and especially this week’s topic of M/M romances, I worried that I would not have enough books to mention. I have quite a few books featuring M/M romances on my TBR, but I haven’t read most of them yet. Even of the books that I have read involving couples where both partners are male, not all of the couples are necessarily ones that I would consider favourites.

Just one disclaimer — My discussion of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe reveals a bit of detail about the ending. If you don’t want any spoilers, you may want to skip that section.

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) Simon and Blue (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli)

19547856This book was easily one of my favourites of the year when I read it in 2016, and I think it was also one of the first books centered on a gay male couple that I’d read. Simon is a 16-year-old high school student who has been privately messaging another boy at school. His school life gets complicated quickly when a bully blackmails him with threats to out him and his conversation partner, unless Simon agrees to play wingman and help set the guy up with one of his female friends. I thought the relationship between Simon and “Blue” (the pen-name of the guy he chats with online) was adorable and I loved trying to find out who he really was. I connected so easily with the characters and the writing style, and I would highly recommend this book. It’s one that I mostly read because of all the online hype, and I’m glad I listened.

2) Noah and Brian (I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson)

20820994If I’m honest, I can’t remember this book in great detail, but I remember that I really enjoyed the relationship between Noah and his friend Brian. The book is about two twins, Jude and Noah, whose mother has died in a car accident. It is divided into two perspectives, with Noah telling the story of their earlier years, and Jude narrates the present. The one key part of their relationship that I do remember is that Brian was not out yet and wanted Noah to keep their relationship a secret. Their relationship was well-developed and I also thought it was realistic, especially with the obstacles thrown in their way. This was another book that I picked up because of all the hype, and it was another great choice. I’m glad I read it before Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere, since this one is much stronger!

3) Griffin and Theo (History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera)

25014114This was the first Adam Silvera book that I’ve ever read, and I’m very excited to read more. This book is about a teenage boy named Griffin whose ex-boyfriend, Theo, has recently drowned to death, and the only person who seems to understand how he is feeling is Theo’s current boyfriend, Jackson. This book is one of the most powerful portrayals of grief that I’ve read, and the emotions and characters easily leap off the page. Even though the book takes place after Griffin and Theo broke up, I thought their relationship was so cute, especially the “Griffin on the left” drawing that Theo made for him. Although I have to say, I think their reason for breaking up was stupid and it probably never had to happen. The book was by far one of the most impactful that I read last year, and I loved the way Adam Silvera handled the complex emotions and relationships between the characters.

4) Ari and Dante (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamine Alire Saenz)

12000020I’m a little on-the-fence about this book. I didn’t love it as much as everyone else did, but I also really want to give it another chance. The book is about two teenage boys who meet one summer, and eventually come to realize they are in love. The book was very character-driven, with very little action, and at times I found Ari a frustrating narrator. The relationship that develops between them is adorable, and I especially loved Dante. The one thing that kept me from really loving this book is that I couldn’t quite buy into Ari’s side of the relationship. Dante’s feelings for Ari were clear, but I kind of got the impression that Ari’s feelings were pushed on him a little since he did not seem to recognize how he felt until his parents pointed it out. I’d really like to give the book another chance and see if my impression changes because I feel like I rushed through it a bit, and may have missed some nuances.

5) Ronan and Adam (The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater)

17675462I’m cheating a bit with this one, since I’ve only read the first book in this series so far, but the books have been out long enough that it’s tough to avoid finding out who will end up together. I have not yet got to a point where these characters have even remotely acknowledged their feelings for each other on the page, but given how much I enjoyed the writing and character development so far, I’m sure I’m going to love it! Adam is probably the character that I’ve paid the least attention to so far, so it will be interesting to see how he develops over the rest of the series. I’m not sure I quite see yet how they would work as a couple, but there have been a few small hints already.