Reader Struggles: Meme Mini-Series (#10)

Re-reading seems to be a topic that often comes up for debate on book blogs and Goodreads. Actually, it came up very recently for myself too in a conversation I had with my boyfriend. We were talking about books we’d read, and he commented that he couldn’t understand how I can read the same books more than once and still get the same joy out of them. For him, because he has an excellent memory, it is impossible to re-experience the feeling because he remember exactly what will happen next. I wouldn’t necessarily say that re-reading a book is exactly the same as trying it for the first time, but it definitely has it’s own appeal.

Usually when I re-read a book, it’s been so long since I last read it that I can barely remember what happened. I don’t really understand people who can put down a book and then decide to immediately pick it up and read it again right away. The only exception to that for me was Hyperbole and a Half, but that’s not really a story so it doesn’t matter so much if you remember parts of it since it won’t spoil anything. Otherwise, it seems a bit odd to me to read a story, finish it, and then start it again since it would still be way too fresh in my mind.

I have quite a few books that I read so many years ago that I have little to no memory of, including books by favourite authors and books that I really enjoyed. I have quite a few Jodi Picoult books that I want to re-read because I loved them but don’t remember them at all. I’m also long overdue for a Harry Potter re-read! Because of my reading challenges, I haven’t read any Harry Potter (except for Cursed Child) for at least 3 years!! It’s a series that I’ve read enough times that I know it quite well, but it is still a lot of fun to re-read. I will never be able to recapture that experience of reading it for the first time, but reading a book again after I’ve forgotten most of it is pretty close.

I found this meme interesting because of the idea of “unreading” a book to get that experience over again. Not every book has such a strong impact on me that I’d want to have that experience again, but I can think of at least a few that I would love to read again for the first time. I guess instead the best we can hope for is to discover new books to experience for the first time and get that feeling all over again (while still making a dent in the TBR).

Another attitude I tend to experience quite a bit is “You have so many books to read already, why waste time on something you’ve already read??” The only real answer for this is simply because I want to. Sometimes I’m just in the mood to revisit an old favourite, and I genuinely believe you can get something new out of books each and every time you pick them up. This is definitely true when re-reading favourites at different ages or stages of your life, since you can relate to the characters differently. It’s risky of course (as the recent Simpsons episode about Marge’s old problematic favourite book indicates), since there’s always the chance your feelings would change, but in my experience, re-reading has usually just reminded me why I loved it in the first place.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Favourite Fandom Items

This was a pretty tough topic for me since I’m not really a huge collector of fandom items. The only items I have at all have been gifts. As it is, my room is currently overflowing with books and I wouldn’t even have space to put any fandom merchandise. In fact, I’m not sure how much I would really consider myself a huge part of any particular fandom. There are books, movies and TV shows that I like but nothing that I would really obsess over enough to want to collect all kinds of items. I’ve found that most fandom items tend to be mugs (which I don’t use), t-shirts, and figurines (which I have little room for). Below I have photos of the few items that I own, and a couple more that I might like if I had the space.

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) Harry Potter 

I don’t think the pictures really do them justice, but these items were both gifts from my boyfriend, who knows of my love for the Harry Potter series. The wand was a birthday gift, and the quill and ink were an anniversary present, along with a notebook that I’ve been too scared to use because I don’t want to ruin it.

2) The Addams Family

27891959_1784587695184115_7197468974450212864_n.jpg

Can a book count as a fandom item? I was lucky enough to see the original Addams Family show on Broadway, and then again with a new cast (and new songs) when it came to my hometown a couple of years later. The soundtrack above is the original cast recording featuring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, and the book is a collection of the original Charles Addams cartoons that, if I recall correctly, came out as a companion to the play. I got it as a birthday gift a while later, since it was quite a pricey book and I was always hesitant to get it for myself.

3) Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I don’t have these, but I would if I had the space for them! These are Funko figures that were released for the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The ones shown above are Vampire Spike, Dark Willow, Giles, and Buffy, but there are others as well. I don’t generally collect these kinds of items because I have nowhere to display them, but these were just so cute that I kind of want them anyway — especially Spike, since it looks so adorably menacing!

4) A Series of Unfortunate Events

Again, these are items that I don’t have but I would definitely buy them if I ever actually used any of my notebooks. I love the idea of these kinds of notebooks, but I never end up using them because I never want my nicest ones to get damaged. I picked notebooks for this series because some of the characters keep commonplace books where they record their observations and other information that interests them, and because this series is full of amazing quotes that would be perfect for a book cover.

5) Wicked

This was a tricky one, and has more to do with the musical than the book for sure. I kept coming back to these two because they have two of my favourite quotes from the musical. The second one says “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” It’s probably a bit hard to read from that image. I was actually planning on picking a Hunger Games-related item but had trouble finding something that I would realistically use. I could actually see myself wearing both of these shirts.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Frequently Used Words in YA Contemporary Titles

This was an interesting topic that came up for this week’s Top 10 Tuesday. There are definitely some words that seem to come up very, very frequently in book titles. I was on the fence for a while about whether I wanted to focus on YA or thrillers, since both tend to have the same words over and over in their titles. I decided to go for YA because there seemed to be a wider variety of words, whereas most thrillers seemed to be variants on woman/girl/wife. With a TBR currently over 2000 books, it wasn’t too hard to find titles with words in common although most of these are books I have not read yet. It would obviously be completely overwhelming to try to give a synopsis or even the cover art for each title, so instaed I decided to keep it simple. For each word, I will list a few examples of books that have that word in the title. If I’ve read the book, I’ll put my star rating beside it, and if I haven’t, I will write TBR.

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) Heart(s)
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga (4 stars)
This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter (TBR)
Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby (TBR)
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett (TBR)
Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland (TBR)
Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee (5 stars)
Listen To Your Heart by Kasie West (TBR)
Broken Beautiful Hearts by Kami Garcia (TBR)

2) You
You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan (TBR)
The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins (TBR)
A World Without You by Beth Revis (TBR)
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo (TBR)
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (5 stars)
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith (TBR)
Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters (TBR)
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord (TBR)
History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (5 stars)
Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern (5 stars)
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (TBR)

3) What
What We Left Behind by Robin Talley (TBR)
What’s Broken Between Us by Alexis Bass (TBR)
What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick (3 stars)
What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum (TBR)
What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard (TBR)
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (TBR)
What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (Upcoming Release)
What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi (TBR)

4) When
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (5 stars)
When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez (TBR)
When We Collided by Emery Lord (4 stars)
When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer (Upcoming Release)
When Michael Met Mina by Randa Abdel-Fattah (TBR)
When My Heart Joins the Thousand by A.J. Steiger

5) Love
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith (3 stars)
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaria (4 stars)
Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park (4 stars)
Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch (3 stars)
How To Love by Katie Cotugno (TBR)
Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan (TBR)
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (TBR)
Love, Life and the List by Kasie West (TBR)
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann (TBR)

6) Truth
Truth or Dare by Non Pratt (TBR)
The Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo (TBR)
The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (TBR)
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu (TBR)
All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry (4 stars)
The Truth Commission by Susan Juby (TBR)

7) Summer (This one was harder because many of the books seem a bit too juvenile for me, so they aren’t on my TBR)
Twenty Boy Summer  and The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler (TBR)
The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han (Not interested)
The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi (TBR)
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (TBR)
That Summer by Sarah Dessen (Not interested)
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (TBR)
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares (Not interested)
The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy (Not interested)

8) Girl(s)
Girls Like Me by Lola St. Vil (TBR)
The Girl Who Fell by S.M. Parker (TBR)
Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn (TBR)
Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake (Upcoming Release)
A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena (TBR)
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (TBR)
Frat Girl by Kiley Roache (TBR)
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews (4 stars)
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers (TBR)
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo (4 stars)

9) All
All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (5 stars)
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (TBR)
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (4 stars)
All the Rage by Courtney Summers (TBR)
Once and for All by Sarah Dessen (TBR)
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (TBR)
We Are All Made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen (TBR)
Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall (TBR)
All in Pieces by Suzanne Young (TBR)
All the Feels by Danika Stone (TBR)

10) Life
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz (4 stars)
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (4 stars)
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales (TBR)
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (TBR)
Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (TBR)
True Letters from a Fictional Life by Kenneth Logan (TBR)
Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King (TBR)
In Real Life by Jessica Love (3 stars)
In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody (TBR)

Stacking the Shelves (#6)

At the beginning of this month, I honestly thought I wouldn’t have enough new books added to my TBR to warrant making a Stacking the Shelves list. Toward the end of last month, my TBR was at 1967 books, and since then it has expanded even further to 2036, meaning I’ve added nearly 70 books! This is what happens when I decide to look at lists of upcoming releases for the year. Earlier this week, I used the Top 10 Tuesday freebie to post about some of the thrillers I’d recently added, but that was just a small fraction of the new books on my TBR. I guess technically it would have made more sense to save Stacking the Shelves for the true end of the month next week, but given that there are already so many new books on my list, I think that would just be overwhelming!

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) Obsession by Amanda Robson

33229367I added this one to my list shortly after my last Stacking the Shelves post at the end of March. This book came out last June, and it about a woman named Carly who decides to ask her husband Rob who else he would go for, if he could and gets an answer she is not prepared for. The couple is good friends with Craig and Jenny, leading to the age-old question of whether a man and a woman can just be friends. Carly’s question how much she can trust her husband and her best friend. It is quite a lengthy thriller at close to 500 pages but it seems like a very interesting concept. I actually don’t think I’ve ever seen a book in this genre that was quite so long, so I’m hoping it will be strong enough to keep my attention the whole way through when I finally get around to reading it.

2) Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

20483038Honestly, this book probably should have been added to my TBR a long time ago. It kept coming up for me as a recommendation on Goodreads, and I thought the title was very intriguing. It is about a young woman named Shandi Pierce who is trying to balance finishing college and raising her three-year-old son when she meets a man named William, who protects her from an armed robber. The Goodreads synopsis is pretty vague, but mentions quite a bit about destiny and choice. I’m hoping this book doesn’t focus too heavily on religion since that is something that often does not appeal to me very much. However, this book has come up so many times over the years that I finally broke down and decided to add it to my TBR. I have never read anything by Joshilyn Jackson, but I have a few of her books on my TBR, so if anyone has read any, please let me know what you think!

3) Maternity Leave by Julie Halpern

23848171Part of the reason this book appealed to me is because I have two coworkers who are currently on maternity leave, and another one who will be starting maternity leave this summer. It is about a 36-year-old woman named Annie who is on mat leave from her job as a middle school teacher, and finds that the experience is much more difficult than she expected. I am not a parent myself so I’m not sure I will relate to this book as strongly as other people do, but it still sounds like a lot of fun to read. Many of the reviews so far have talked about how honest and accurate this book is about the ups and downs of being a new parent and adjusting to being on mat leave. It has been out for three years already, so I’m a little surprised that I hadn’t heard of it at all until recently.

4) That’s What Friends Are For by Marcie Steele

27570152I’ve actually added quite a few “Women’s Fiction” books to my TBR over the past few months, which was a bit surprising since it is a genre I used to actively avoid. I’ve started to realize that these books can be a lot of fun to try and that I shouldn’t necessarily write off the whole genre. This book is about two women, Sam and Louise, who have been best friends since they met on the first day of school in first grade. Now that they are in their thirties, things have become more complicated. Sam is now married and has a successful business, but finds it hard to resist a handsome stranger who walks into her life. Louise seems to have a great life that hides her sadness about her past heartbreak, and she wants to find someone to love. According to the Goodreads synopsis, someone from their past returns and puts a strain on their friendship. This book has only received just over 200 ratings since it came out in 2015, but it has received excellent reviews so far. It is definitely not very well-known, but it sounds like it could be great.

5) Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

35297272I added this book to my list after seeing several blogs and vlogs raving about it. This book only came out at the end of March, and has already received excellent reviews. It is about a college school student named Penny who crosses paths with Sam, a boy who works at a cafe and is struggling to get his life together. The two of them swap phone numbers and decide to stay in touch via text, and soon become very close through their digital relationship. This seems like exactly the kind of book I’ve been waiting for. I love books that focus on online and digital relationships, and especially those that show how people can form real and genuine connections with others, even long-distance. It sounds like a very cute story, and I’m hoping it doesn’t fall into the same trap as other books on this topic, where online relationships aren’t shown so positively. From what I’ve heard about this one so far though, it sounds like it will be amazing!

6) Tradition by Brendan Kiely

36373518This is another upcoming release, due out on May 1. It is about a girl named Jules who is attending Fullbrook Academy, a prestigious private school, where she meets Jamie Baxter, a hockey scholarship student who doesn’t feel like he belongs. The two of them realize that the one thing they have in common is their wish to just survive their time at school, and are faced with the realization that the school’s culture expects them to remain silent and go along with tradition, even when those traditions are horrible and even violent. It sounds like this book is along the lines of Beartown, which I read earlier this year and enjoyed a lot more than I expected. I’ve added a few books to my list recently that are centered on private school culture, and this one seems like it could be an especially powerful one.

7) Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton

36105772Is it bad if a big part of the reason I added this book to my TBR was because of the word “Neanderthal” in the title? At least, that was a big part of my initial interest in this book, but the plot summary sounded great too. This book is about a high school student named Cliff who is nicknamed Neanderthal because of his size. When popular quarterback Aaron Zimmerman returns to school after a near-death experienc, he claims he’s not only seen God, but God told him that he can make the school better and only Cliff can help him. This book sounds so unique and interesting, although once again, I have to hope it is not too strongly religious for my tastes. It reminded me a bit of Benjamin Alire Saenz’s lengthy book titles, and the cover art was pretty appealing too. This one won’t be out until the end of May, but I’m looking forward to giving it a chance.

8) The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell

6192737Like the Joshilyn Jackson book above, this is one that I’ve seen on Goodreads many times over the past few years, and always considered adding to my list, but never followed through. I finally decided to add it to my TBR after realizing I had several other Lisa Jewell books already on it, and this seemed like another interesting story. It is about a woman named Melody Browne who lost everything to a house fire when she was 9, including her memories of her life before her ninth birthday. Now in her 30s, Melody faints while at a hypnotist’s show with her date, and when she wakes up, she starts to remember pieces of her life, leading her to a seaside town to try and uncover what happened. The reviews for this one seem to be pretty mixed, but it still sounds like it could be a great story.

9) Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

27793667I added this book to my TBR because it was advertised as being good for fans of Liane Moriarty and Paula Hawkins. Liane Moriarty has become one of my favourite authors, and I really enjoyed The Girl on the Train. This book seems to be along the same lines, focusing on an alcoholic journalist who is trying to uncover what happened in an unsolved crime from 15 years ago. In 1995, a 15-year-old girl disappeared while walking home from school and was found in a coma days later, which she remains in to this day. Alex Dale stumbles across her case while researching for another story, and feels compelled to solve it. I’m a little hesitant about this one because there seems to be a huge trend toward thrillers featuring alcoholic protagonists, to the point where they all start to feel very alike. I’m still interested enough to give it a chance though since it has been compared to other books and authors that I’ve really enjoyed.

10) The Cry by Helen Fitzgerald

17846926I think it was the cover art on this one that first caught my attention since it seemed so creepy. This book is a thriller about a missing baby, taken from a roadside in Australia. The investigation about the case turns the child’s parents against each other. Like many thrillers, the synopsis for this one is intentionally very vague, and this doesn’t seem to be an especially well-known book. I’ve seen quite mixed reviews for it, which seems to be the case with a lot of books in this genre. I tend to find that complaints of unlikable characters are especially common with thrillers, although it doesn’t often bother me if the characters are written well (and are unlikable for a reason). This is another book that I hadn’t heard of until very recently, but as soon as it came up as a recommendation, I knew I had to add it to my TBR.

11) Freshmen by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

37754670It looks like we are finally starting to get more YA books with college-aged protagonists! I’m completely finished with school myself, but I’ve always noticed a bit of a gap in YA with nearly every book focusing on high school only. This book was published last August under the title Freshers, and for some reason is getting published again this June as Freshmen. I’m not entirely sure why the change, but I would assume it’s from different countries. It focuses on Phoebe and Luke, two college freshmen who are redefining themselves in college. Phoebe can’t wait for new experiences and wants to reinvent herself as someone cooler and better, and Luke soon finds himself changing even though that was never his intent. Just when things start to get better, rumours start and Luke’s soccer team is implicated in a text scandal involving compromising photos of girls. This seems like a very timely story about consent and social media, and it’s great to see more protagonists who have finally left high school!

12) Rebel with a Cupcake by Anna Mainwaring

34722536This book came up as a recommendation for me after I read Dumplin’ and I thought the title was pretty unique (and funny!). It is about an overweight girl named Jesobel who is comfortable with her life and her body, until a wardrobe malfunction at school causes other students to tease her and call her fat. Now questioning her self-confidence, Jesobel needs to decide if she’s been a little too comfortable with her size and whether she’s rather try and fit in. I’m always a little wary of books that feature plus-sized main characters with a storyline focusing mostly on their weight because it is so easy for these books to cross the line into some pretty questionable messages. The synopsis for this one has me a bit worried that it would fall into the trope of equating weight loss with social status and falling in love, which can be very problematic. However, I’ve also heard that this book is hilarious and good for fans of Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicholson series, which I love!

13) Always the Bridesmaid by Lindsey Kelk

24500150I keep adding Lindsey Kelk’s books to my TBR even though I haven’t read any of them yet. I actually ordered this one from BookOutlet just yesterday, so I’m hoping it’s good. It is about a woman named Maddie, who has one best friend planning a wedding while her other best friend is in the midst of a divorce. Maddie has always been the kind of person to stay in the background, but now things may need to change. It is definitely the kind of book I would need to be in the right mood for, but it sounds like it could be a lot of fun to read. It’s not too often that I read books like this, but I’m definitely open too trying more and this one has received some great reviews. It has an average rating on Goodreads of 3.99, although to be fair, that’s only from just over 2500 ratings. In any case, it seems like a book that could be really funny and definitely should not be taken too seriously.

14) Stormdancer  and 15) LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

1085234329456569I could have sworn Stormdancer was a recent release as well, but apparently it has been out since 2012. LIFEL1K3 on the other hand is Jay Kristoff’s most recent upcoming book, due out at the end of May. I added both of these to my TBR because I loved Illuminae and was looking forward to trying more books by both of the authors. Stormdancer is a Japanese-inspired steampunk book about a girl named Yukiko who is stranded in the wilderness with a griffin, a creature thought to be extinct, and together they form a bond and decide to challenge the empire. It sounds like a very unusual story and I’m a little skeptical since many of the reviewers I follow have given it terrible reviews, but somehow it still interests me. LIFEL1K3 (I really hate having to type it that way) is about a girl named Eve who discovers the ruins of an android boy, and together with this boy and her best friend, she sets out to uncover the truth behind the robots’ revolt. It is set in a world where robots are treated as slaves, and androids have been outlawed, so it reminds me a bit of the Lunar Chronicles. Of the two, surprisingly enough, I would have to say LIFEL1K3 interests me a bit more, but I’m interested in giving both a chance.

 

Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Ideal Mash-Ups

I think this has to be hands-down the most difficult Top 5 Wednesday topic for me so far, because I’m just not creative like that. This week, the prompt was to list some of our ideal mash-ups that could include books, TV, movies, etc. The problem I tend to have with this kind of topic is I tend to think the author writes the story the way they did for a reason, so it’s hard for me to imagine fitting in other worlds and other well-known characters. I guess in a sense I tend to think of the worlds as pretty self-contained, so it doesn’t really come naturally to me to think of how to combine them. It was actually nearly impossible for me to just combine two books, so most (if not all) of my ideas involved movies and TV series as well. This was a very, very difficult one! (Apologies in advance for not linking to any of the books or other media mentioned, but I think most of them are well-known enough that it is unnecessary).

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) A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Addams Family

I’m not entirely sure how well this would work, but I think it could be really interesting to see the Baudelaire children sent to live with The Addams Family. I have always thought that the Addams Family, although eccentric, are pretty much the ideal family. The family members all love each other, they genuinely enjoy spending time together, and are completely supportive of each other’s interests. Although the Baudelaires would definitely not be into the more macabre side of the Addams’ interests, I feel like the family would be completely open to accepting the children as they are and treating them as family. Plus the blend of darkness and humour in A Series of Unfortunate Events seems to be a perfect fit for the Addams Family. This would definitely work better as a TV show or movie than a book, but I would definitely watch it. It also helps that Barry Sonnenfeld is responsible for the Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix series, and the Addams Family movies in the 90s, which probably explains why they have a similar feel to me.

2) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and The X-Men

Honestly, I just think it would be pretty cool for the Peculiars to be exposed to Professor X’s school and learn how to develop their abilities. The children in the series actually seem to have a pretty good understanding of what they can do, and it seems interesting to have the potential to train them to be another group of X-Men. I’m not entirely sure how well it would work because of the whole issue of the time loops and how the Peculiars are stuck repeating the same day, but I think it would be really interesting to see Miss Peregrine and Professor X work together to try and protect and teach the students. In a sense, it’s probably not the best mash-up since they actually fit so well together. The Peculiars are essentially the same idea as the mutants, but on the other hand, it might also be interesting to see how the Peculiars deal with ideas that come up in the X-Men movies. For example, in one of the movies, the idea of a cure for the mutation that gave them their abilities was raised. It might be interesting to see how the Peculiars would feel about being “cured” and losing their abilities to have a normal life instead.

3) The Monsters of Verity Series and Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I absolutely love Victoria Schwab’s Monsters of Verity duology, and I think the morally gray characters would be a great fit for the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The world that Victoria Schwab built is actually one that is dangerous enough where it might be necessary to have a Slayer, and I can see both Kate and August fitting in with Buffy and her group of friends. The show itself often delves into moral gray areas about what it means to be a monster, including characters such as Angel and Spike who “should” be evil because they are vampires but aren’t necessarily, friendly demons like Clem, and horrible normal people like Principal Snyder. I think these two worlds would blend so well together. I can see Buffy being called to Verity to help deal with keeping the monsters under control. I can see August having some very interesting conversations with characters like Anya or Spike about what it really means to be a demon/monster or a person. The more I think about this one, the more I see it working.

4) Death Note and House or Bones

Mostly, I thought of this one just because I want to see L try to interact with either Gregory House or Temperance Brennan. All of these are extremely intelligent and logical characters, and I think it would be really interesting to see them attempt to work together on a case. I can’t necessarily see either House or Bones in the actual Death Note world since it would require them to believe in the supernatural more than either of them are prepared to do, but on the other hand, it could also be really interesting to see Brennan trying to do a forensic analysis on someone who was killed by the Death Note, or House try to find a medical explanation for symptoms. Mostly, I just think the characters would end up hating each other and getting into a complete power struggle about whose ideas fit the case best, and what course of action they need to take. They are definitely too similar to really work well, but it would be very entertaining to see.

5) Harry Potter and The Hunger Games

I’m not entirely sure how I want this one to work, since I definitely don’t want any more characters to die. I think it would be kind of cool to have Hunger Games-style competitions that are along the lines of the Triwizard Tournament, but without needing to kill each other to win. It would be interesting to see a group of very different witches and wizards put in an arena where they need to rely on their own skills and magical knowledge to survive and overcome a variety of challenges, with one ultimate winner. I would imagine that in order to make this feasible, the Hunger Games element would involve somehow preventing your opponents from continuing. There would need to be rules in place to stop competitors just running around and stunning everyone else, so possibly some restriction on directly casting spells on other people. Again, I’m not entirely sure exactly how this would work out, but it could make a very interesting story.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Ten Thrillers I Recently Added to my TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie, which surprisingly left me struggling to try to choose a topic. I decided to go with a prompt I last wrote about all the way back in June 2017, which was a list of thrillers I’d recently added to my list. Earlier this year as well, when I discussed my goals for the year, I included thrillers as a genre I wanted to try more often. I’m a coward when it comes to horror, but I love a good psychological thriller. It’s a genre that I often add to my TBR but don’t pick up too often because the books often start to feel too similar, and there are so many that seem very overrated. As I started looking at my TBR for an upcoming Stacking the Shelves post for this weekend, I realized I had quite a few thrillers that I’d recently added and I thought they deserved their own post.

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) I’ve Got My Eyes on You by Mary Higgins Clark

35297310I have to admit, I’m a little hesitant about this one. Mary Higgins Clark was one of my first introductions to “adult” level books. I’ve only read a few of her books, and although there were two that I really loved, the others have always been pretty hit-or-miss. The synopses of her books always sound so interesting, but I’m not always a fan of the execution. This book just came out earlier this month, and came up recently on a list of new thriller releases. It is about an 18-year-old girl named Kerry who is found fully-clothed at the bottom of her family’s pool, and her boyfriend is immediately suspected of the crime. Kerry’s older sister is a guidance counselor who wants to help with the investigation. It sounds like a fairly straightforward mystery-thriller, and although I haven’t always been a fan of the Mary Higgins Clark books I’ve read, I always hope to discover another one that has the same appeal as the first few that I read.

2) The Teacher by Katerina Diamond

28689742I actually heard of this book when I asked my boyfriend for help with a challenge prompt requiring a book that a stranger was reading in public. I rarely (if ever) see people reading in public, but he commutes to work on public transit every day so I asked him to look out for a few titles. This was one of the books he saw someone reading, which is about a head teacher who was found dead at an exclusive school, a few hours after receiving a mysterious package. I thought the cover art alone was pretty intriguing because it seemed so dark and creepy. I’m also a tiny bit hesitant toward thrillers or mysteries that are marked as part of a series since they can kind of walk a fine line between series and standalone, but this one is the first in the Imogen Grey series, and the author’s first novel ever, so it seems like the perfect place to start.

3) Trespassing by Brandi Reeds

36156747I discovered this book on a list of new and upcoming releases for this year. It is the author’s debut novel, which just came out on April 1. This book is about a woman named Veronica Cavanaugh whose recent failed fertility treatment seems to have left her mentally unstable. At the same time, her three-year-old daughter has a new and creepy imaginary friend, and her husband has failed to return home from a business trip. When her daughter starts insisting that her father is dead, Veronica’s paranoia takes over and she is led to a house in the Florida Keys to try to uncover what happened to her husband.  Honestly, the words “creepy imaginary friend” were enough to convince me to add this to my TBR. I usually love thrillers where you can’t be sure what’s real and what’s not, and this one seemed very intriguing.

4) Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

34129111This is another fairly recent release (January 23 of this year) that I only discovered recently, but it’s another that immediately caught my attention. It is about two women, Kat and Alice, who have been friends for a long time despite being very different. When Kat’s husband plunges to his death from their balcony, Kat stops responding to calls and texts and her family prevents Alice from seeing her. At the same time, investigators seem to be taking an interest in Alice as a potential suspect. This book has received some great reviews so far on Goodreads, with a 3.89 average after just under 4 months out. This is pretty impressive considering it is the author’s first ever psychological thriller, although she has written 12 other novels under another name. It definitely seems like an interesting concept, and I’m looking forward to eventually giving it a chance.

5) Social Creature by Tara Isaballa Burton

34909789This is another book that I discovered through a list of upcoming releases, and the cover art caught my attention because it reminded me a bit of the movie poster for Black Swan. It is about two women, Louise and Lavinia, who meet through a chance encounter and develop an intense and toxic friendship. It was actually tricky to find any plot details about this one, but according to the synopsis of one edition on Goodreads, Louise is a poor struggling writer who meets the wealthy Lavinia, and is invited into her charmed life, but knows that it can’t last forever. It seems like the focus will be how far Louise will go to keep her new lifestyle, so maybe Black Swan wasn’t all that far off. This book won’t be out until early June of this year so it will be interesting to see the reviews as they come in.

6) The Neighbors by Hannah Mary McKinnon

35083336I’ve found quite a few books lately that focus on creepy neighbours or conflicts between neighbours. It is about a woman named Abby who was responsible for a car crash that killed her brother many years ago. Abby ends up married to the man who was first on the scene and rescued her from the car, but who lives with the guilt of being unable to save her brother.  Years later, Abby’s ex-boyfriend Liam moves into the house next door with his family, and the two pretend they have never met despite the shared secrets they have both been carrying. This is another case where I was first drawn to the book by the cover art because of the row of houses that all seemed to be perfect clones of each other. The plot itself also sounds pretty intriguing, and I’m curious to see how two people who have such a history together could possibly act like they don’t know each other. This book definitely seems less “thriller”-like than others on the list, so I’m curious to see how it works out.

7) The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

35087559This book has such an interesting concept! It is about a woman named Samantha who exchanges letters with a prisoner named Dennis, who was convicted of a brutal murder. Over time, she falls in love with him and decides to marry him and campaign for his release from prison, only to discover that she might not know him as well as she thought. I’ve always found it pretty interesting that there are people who strike up a friendship and even a relationship with individuals convicted of horrible crimes. It’s hard for me to imagine being able to trust someone who was accused of something like that enough to feel comfortable in a relationship, but I think it makes a great idea for a book. I’m very interested to see how the author builds the relationship between Samantha and Dennis, and especially what it takes for her to decide to marry him. It seems like such a unique premise for the story, and I’m really looking forward to this one.

8) The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet

36700649I remember watching so many shows when I was younger about people who swapped homes and redecorated for each other. Honestly, I was never a huge fan but my parents watched them all the time, so when I saw this book, I thought it was a great concept for a thriller. In it, Caroline and Francis have the opportunity to swap homes with someone, giving them a chance to get away from the tensions at home. Meanwhile, their new neighbour seems to be showing a little too much interest in them, and Caroline starts to notice some very familiar signs of life in the house — signs of her own life, that only someone who knows her would be aware of. This book is not due out until late May, but it seems like a great one. There really seems to be a trend for creepy neighbour stories recently.

9) Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra

34273509This is another book that came up on a list I found recently of recent thrillers. This one came out last October, and focuses on a journalist named Rose who is looking for a big story. In her town of Colmstock, Australia, an arsonist is on the loose, and porcelain replicas of girls in town begin turning up on people’s doorsteps. Rose thinks she’s finally found her story, and the terrified town has begun to turn against each other as suspicions grow. Creepy dolls are one of those plot devices that tend to automatically freak me out. I have a cousin who collects dolls, and some of them are so incredibly realistic that it’s scary! This book hasn’t received the best reviews so far so I’m a little worried about how much I’ll actually like it, but it sounds like a great premise.

10) The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

36212848This was one of the first books I added to my TBR this month, discovered on a list of upcoming releases for this year. It is about a woman named Emily who falls in love with Adam, a man who she thinks is perfect for her, until she realizes that his mother Pammie wants her out of the way, and will stop at nothing to make sure that happens. The premise reminds me a bit of a much darker version of the Jennifer Lopez movie Monster-in-Law. Although it is not due out until August, it has already received rave reviews on Goodreads from people who have read ARCs of it, and it sounds like such a great story. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the primary rival for someone’s affection is a parent rather than a partner, so this one definitely sounds pretty unique. I’m looking forward to this one!

 

 

 

 

The Nope Book Tag

This entire weekend has pretty much been a “nope” for me. I had plans both days that got cancelled because we are in the midst of an ice storm. I actually first saw this tag a few months ago and I liked it because it reminded me of the Unpopular Opinions Book Tag. It may be a bit weird, but I tend to like the more negative tags sometimes because it is  fun to see some of the opinions that people might not share because of the potential for backlash. Plus, a negative tag seems to be a good fit for a gloomy “spring” day. This tag was originated by A Booktube Book, and the original video can be found here.

1. NOPE. Ending: A book ending that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage, or simply because the ending was crappy.

I have to go with Requiem by Lauren Oliver. This it the third book in the Delirium trilogy, which I picked up because the concept seemed very interesting. The series is set in a world where love is viewed as a disease, and at age 18 people are expected to be cured by the government. The cure stops you from feeling love, and instead you are matched to someone to marry. The first book was great, and I even enjoyed the next two, as the main character Lena joins a resistance movement to rebel against the government. Unfortunately, the ending to this series was completely underwhelming and anticlimactic. It was a very strange way to end, and it was unfortunate since the rest of the series was pretty good.

2. NOPE. Protagonist: A main character you dislike and drives you crazy.

Danielle Parkman from Saving Max. This book was so frustrating because it could have been amazing, but the main character Danielle was so annoying. Aside from the fact that the book is written in a very awkward tense, Danielle makes ridiculous decisions. She would literally be thinking “I really shouldn’t be doing this” as she proceeds to do exactly that. The book is about Danielle trying to prove that her son, Max, who is on the autism spectrum, did not kill another patient at the psychiatric facility where he is living.

Max was actually an equally irritating character because despite being labelled as having ASD, there was absolutely nothing in the text to support this. He was very skilled with computers, and there were a few mentions early on of aggressive outbursts that Danielle could not manage at home, hence why he was moved to the psychiatric facility. His behaviour is told to us but never really shown on the page, since these events happened before the story starts.

The entire book hinges on the premise that Danielle disagrees with the professionals’ assessment that Max is violent and dangerous, but the majority of the plot focuses on her taking matters into her own hands and trying to find evidence on her own. Never mind the fact that Danielle herself is a lawyer, and should therefore be well aware of proper procedures for acquiring admissible evidence. I think what was most frustrating for me about this book is that the ending was actually brilliant, and it’s the kind of book I really could have loved if the characters weren’t so frustrating.

3. NOPE. Series: A series that turned out to be one huge pile of NOPE. after you’ve invested all of that time and energy on it, or a series you gave up on because it wasn’t worth it anymore.

I’ve mentioned this one recently, but I would have to go with the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie. The first book was great, the second was mediocre…and the third was good, but a completely separate story from the rest of the series. It literally felt like I was reading some kind of companion novel that just so happened to involve the same characters.  I wouldn’t say that this trilogy isn’t worth reading at all, but I found it a bit odd that there’s so much hype around it when it’s so hit-or-miss.

4. NOPE. Popular pairing: A “ship” you don’t support.

Cassia and Ky from the Matched trilogy. I don’t know if they count as a popular ship, but I couldn’t by into them at all. Their relationship was rushed, and the characters were so underdeveloped that I couldn’t really see how or why they ended up together in the first place. I also can’t say I really support Bella and Edward or Bella and Jacob from the Twilight series, but that’s mostly because I didn’t like Bella as a character at all.

I’m sure I’ll get hate for this one, but I have trouble supporting Aristotle and Dante in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I think I need to re-read this one because I feel like I missed something when I first read it. I got the impression at the end that literally the only reason Ari went for Dante at all is because his parents basically said to him “Don’t you realize you’re in love with him?” It seemed like he was pushed into it before he was ready. I actually think these two would be very cute together and I want to support them, but the way it was written struck me the wrong way. To be fair, I read the book pretty quickly and may have rushed a bit so I might have missed something.

5. NOPE. Plot twist: A plot twist you didn’t see coming or didn’t like.

I didn’t like the plot twist in We Were Liars because I didn’t find it shocking at all. I predicted it very early on (and the characters’ actions toward the end would definitely qualify for the next question as well).

In terms of an ending I didn’t see coming, I definitely didn’t expect the ending of My Sister’s Keeper,  although I’m one of the few who actually thought it was very fitting. The movie ending was a whole other kind of “nope.”

6. NOPE. Protagonist action/decision: A character decision that made you shake your head NOPE.

Thea in Who R U Really? The entire book is premised on the idea of 14-year-old Thea making bad decisions when it comes to the “boy” she met online, so in this case, it actually worked well for the story. That just doesn’t excuse the fact that her decisions were terrible. I get that she’s young, and I especially get that it can be hard to believe that your online friend isn’t who he says he is, but she had so many warning signs that she chose to just ignore and one particular decision toward the end of the book was especially stupid!

7. NOPE. Genre: A genre you will never read.

I wouldn’t really say never to anything, but I generally avoid non-fiction because I find it boring. I rarely read horror. I’m also really not interested in Christian fiction or anything else with heavy religious themes.

8. NOPE. Book format: Book formatting you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition

I hate mass market paperbacks because I find them so awkward to hold because of the size. I get that they are supposed to be more convenient, but I tend to find them annoying. I also very rarely listen to audiobooks because I find I often tend to tune them out, and I don’t read e-books because it’s hard for me to focus on reading on a screen for a long time.

9. NOPE. Trope: A trope that makes you go NOPE.

Insta-love frustrates me. It’s one thing if it’s just a crush or initial attraction, but I find it very hard to believe that people will be so deeply in love that they are willing to do anything for each other after meeting once, when they barely even know each other.

I’m not a fan of love triangles unless they are very, very well-written (and this is often not the case). It’s usually way too easy to predict who the person will choose, so the triangle ends up being pretty unnecessary.

Poorly represented mental health conditions, especially when the condition is only mentioned when convenient to the plot and does not seem to exist otherwise, or when falling in love magically cures the person.

10. NOPE. Recommendation: A book recommendation that is constantly hyped and pushed at you that you simply refuse to read.

I’m really sick of hearing about Rick Riordan’s books absolutely everywhere. I’m sure they are great, but it’s getting to the point where the hype alone has completely put me off even considering them.

11. NOPE. Cliche/pet peeve: A cliche or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.

It really bugs me when authors choose to write their book in epistolary format (ie. letters, diary entries), but where the entire book is just one massive letter that covers absolutely everything that was said and done in perfect detail. It ruins my immersion because it seems so unrealistic. No one can possibly record every single detail like that. For example, in Stolen: A Letter to My Captor, the book consists of 300 pages of a single letter, detailing absolutely everything from the moment Gemma was kidnapped. I think I would even accept it a little more if it was divided into multiple, still very detailed letters because then at least it seems a tiny bit more realistic. It just seems pointless to me to call a book epistolary, and then mask the entire text as one long letter.

12. NOPE. Love interest: The love interest that’s not worthy of being one. A character you don’t think should have been a viable love interest.

Not a fan of Jacob or Edward in Twilight at all. I also didn’t really think Alaska in Looking for Alaska or Margo in Paper Towns were very viable love interests.

13. NOPE. Book: A book that shouldn’t have existed that made you say NOPE.

I think the one and only book I would truly say this for is What If…Everyone Knew Your Name by Liz Ruckdeschel and Sara James. This is the only book I have ever abandoned, and with good reason. It is a YA choose-your-own-adventure story that follows a girl named Haley through her first time in a public high school. The reader can make choices for Haley about who to hang out with, what classes to take, what extracurricular activities to pick, etc. The problem is, the book is so poorly structured that the “choose-your-own” style does not really work.

The only reason I picked this book up at all was because I was at the library with an individual I support who was doing her work placement, and I needed something to read while she was doing her task. This book looked quick and fun. I quickly realized that it really just didn’t work at all. Choosing one path often brought me to pages that referenced characters I hadn’t met at all or events I hadn’t read, so it was a bit confusing to follow. The paths all seemed intertwined to the point where there wasn’t much purpose it picking between them, since everything referred back to each other anyway. I abandoned this book when I was about halfway through, and have no desire to try it again at all. It’s also apparently part of a series of 8, so I hope some of the logistical issues get worked out later on in the series.

14. NOPE. Villain: A scary villain/antagonist you would hate to cross and would make you run in the opposite direction.

Dolores Umbridge. Also, Abigail from Little Girls was pretty terrifying.

15. NOPE. Death: A character death that still haunts you.

Many of the deaths in Harry Potter.

16. NOPE. Author: An author you had a bad experience reading for and have decided to quit.

Honestly, Stephen King. I tried two books, and wasn’t that impressed with either of them. I wouldn’t necessarily say I had a bad experience, but it was enough to decide that his books weren’t for me.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Auto-Buy Sci-Fi and/or Fantasy Authors

I have to modify this one a little to authors I would automatically add to my TBR, instead of automatically buy. It’s pretty rare for me to buy books anymore because of a combo of the price and my complete lack of shelf space. The exception of course is buying from BookOutlet because of the great deals, but for my favourite books, I’m very picky about getting them in proper condition. There are many fantasy authors, many of whom I only started reading in the past couple of years, who have quickly become new favourites, and I always add their books to my TBR. These are authors whose books I also would be interested in buying, so I guess it still technically fits the actual topic. One of the challenges I had is that many of the authors I wanted to pick (ie. Suzanne Collins or J.K. Rowling) have only ever written one fantasy series, so although I’m definitely interested in reading more of their books, I’m not sure they will write any more in that genre.

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) Maggie Stiefvater

I have only read one of Maggie Stiefvater’s books so far, but I immediately fell in love with it! As soon as I read The Raven Boys last year, it reminded me of how I felt when I first read Harry Potter. I adored the characters and the writing style, and this is a series that I actually did end up buying. I even went back and added her Wolves of Mercy Falls series to my TBR, even though I’m not always a fan of werewolf stories. Her writing style is absolutely amazing, and I can’t wait to read more of the Raven Cycle series and Maggie Stiefvater’s other books.

2) Laini Taylor

This is another author that I only discovered last year and immediately fell in love with. I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone last year, and it quickly became one of my favourites of the year. It is another series that I ended up buying just by the strength of the first book alone, and I’m really looking forward to reading the rest. I actually was under the impression that all Laini Taylor had so far besides this trilogy was Strange the Dreamer and its sequel, but according to Goodreads she also has written 2 Faeries of Dreamdark books, which I’m not sure I’d be interested in. That doesn’t really change the fact that I’d now consider her an auto-add author though, at least for her works from Daughter of Smoke and Bone onward.

3) Victoria (V.E.) Schwab

This is another case where Victoria or V.E. Schwab is mostly an auto-buy author, but she has some older series that I’m not sure I’d like. I think it’s fairly safe to discount the middle grade series since that is not a genre I really read anyway. My first experience with Victoria Schwab’s writing was This Savage Song, and I thought her characters and world-building were both amazing. I’ve finished that duology, and I’ve actually had her Archived series on my TBR since 2016. I’m not even sure I realized they were the same author when I added them. I have all of the books she’s written under V.E. Schwab on my TBR already as well, and plan on starting Vicious later on this year.

4) Marissa Meyer

I think this is the only author on the list where I’ve actually completed the whole series. I’ve read all of the Lunar Chronicles series, excluding the between-the-numbers books, and I have Heartless in my current stack from the library. I avoided reading the Lunar Chronicles for such a long time because they seemed very overhyped and I wasn’t sure it was something I would be interested in, but as soon as I picked them up, I was hooked. Cinder was a tiny bit too predictable but still thoroughly enjoyable, and I was very eager to read the rest of the series. I’ve since added all of Marissa Meyer’s books to my TBR, including all between-the-numbers books (and I usually hate those), and the new Renegades series.

5) Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I haven’t really been able to separate these two yet since the only book of theirs that I’ve read is Illuminae, which absolutely blew me away! Although I haven’t necessarily added all of their books to my TBR yet, many of them interest me and I’ve definitely added a lot more that I would have if I hadn’t tried Illuminae. I’m actually not a huge sci-fi/space fan, but Illuminae convinced me that I could like that kind of setting if it was done well. Of Amie Kaufman’s books, I’ve so far added the first book in each of the Starbound and Unearthed series. Her only other series so far is Elementals which is middle grade, so I think I’ll wait and see more of her style before deciding if I want to try that. I also have Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight series on my list and just added Stormdancer as well. I also immediately added the untitled book from the upcoming Andromeda Cycle that Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman wrote together, due out next year.

Honourable Mentions

Tahereh Mafi
Seanan McGuire
Ransom Riggs
Erin Morgenstern
Sarah J. Maas
Noelle Stevenson

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books You Enjoyed But Will Never Re-read

It’s kind of funny that this is the topic for the week, since I very recently had a conversation with my boyfriend about re-reading (or re-watching) things we’ve already read (or watched). Personally, I love to re-read favourites and there are certain books and series that I’ve revisited so many times over the year. For him, it’s different because he has an excellent memory and can remember plots in great detail, so it’s never as fun as the first time. Part of why I love to re-read books is because it’s hard for me to remember all the details of what happened, so it can be fun to go back and remind myself. I also love discovering clues and small details that I may not have noticed the first time. Usually, when I pick a book to re-read, it’s because it’s something I already know and love, but sometimes it is because I know I’ve read the book but literally remember nothing from it. I re-read Go Ask Alice several times when I was younger because no matter how many times I tried it, I can still never remember anything about it. What’s harder to think about are books that I don’t want to re-read, since if I liked it, there’s a good chance I’ll want to revisit it at some point.

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 Matched trilogy by Ally Condie

17987508I completely missed out on this series when it first came out back in 2010, around the height of the dystopian trend. At the time, I just wasn’t interested enough in the genre to read more than The Hunger Games and Divergent, and although I’d heard good things about this one, I didn’t care enough to try it. I finally decided to give it a chance this year because it was one of a few very popular series that I’d never picked up, and although I generally enjoyed it, I don’t think I would pick it up again. I really enjoyed Matched, but I found Crossed a bit boring. Reached was great, but felt more like a standalone that just so happened to feature the same characters since the plot had almost nothing to do with the previous books. My biggest issue was that both the world-building and especially the characters were underdeveloped, and I could not buy into the main romance at all because I didn’t think there was any chemistry whatsoever. When I read Matched, I’d commented that the romance felt rushed, and as the series developed, that impression never really changed. It seems like the characters just jumped into being madly in love for no real reason, and that was not very interesting to read. I’m glad I gave it a chance, but I don’t think I’ll care enough to re-read it.

2) The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

25573977I picked this book up last year expecting to love it, and unfortunately it was not quite as good as I expected. I still ended up rating it 4 stars, so obviously I enjoyed it but I expected a little bit more. The book is about a young woman named Sara who is from Sweden and visits a small town in Iowa after corresponding with a woman who lives there about books. She arrives in town to discover that her friend has recently died, but the townspeople persuade her to stay anyway, eventually leading her to decide that the town needs a bookshop. Essentially, the book was about Sara opening her bookshop to try and provide the people around town with the books they “need” to read based on their situation. There were some scenes that I absolutely loved, such as the entire town gathering to see how long Sara would continue to read non-stop, but as a whole, I found it a little too boring in places to want to try again.

3) All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry

17297487I read this book earlier this year for a challenge prompt requiring a book written in second person perspective, which is very difficult to find! This book had been on my TBR for close to three years so I decided it was about time to give it a chance. It is about a girl named Judith who had been kidnapped and had her tongue cut out by her kidnapper, and returns home. The story is told in the form of letters that Judith writes to her crush as she talks about her experiences since coming home. I found this book a little misleading since nothing in the synopsis even remotely suggested that it would be set in a Puritan-style village. While that is something I would have been interested in anyway, I found it off-putting while I was reading since it wasn’t what I expected. The book was a pretty quick read and an interesting story, but not something that I’d be very motivated to try again. I think the fact that it took me three years to get around to it in the first place is explanation enough.

4) We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

16143347I actively avoided this book for a long time because it seemed ridiculously overhyped, but finally gave in and decided to give it a chance. When I first heard of it, I was very frustrated by the complete lack of a synopsis because every single review commented that it was impossible to say anything without giving things away. The most I can share is that this book is about a wealthy family who spend their summers on a private island, where something has happened. This was another book that was very fast to read, and I generally enjoyed it but I was disappointed that I very easily predicted the twist early on. It was not a surprise to me at all, and I actually did not like the way the incident in question was executed because it seemed so unrealistic. Given that this book is so contingent on the twist, it would be hard to re-read it anyway knowing what happens, and I especially would not be too interested since I wasn’t such a fan of the execution.

5) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

12700353This was another book that I eventually had to pick up because it was so heavily hyped. It is about a boy named Greg whose classmate Rachel is diagnosed with cancer, and his mother pressures him to rekindle their former friendship. Greg and his friend Earl decide to try to cheer Rachel up by making their own (terrible) films.  It’s the kind of story that I generally would have loved, but I just found the characters so irritating. Both Greg and  Earl were frustrating because their humour was just so immature and vulgar. I did not find it funny at all. I really loved how Greg’s emotions toward Rachel and her diagnosis were portrayed, including his reluctance to get involved and admission that he probably wouldn’t have hung out with Rachel otherwise. It was definitely very different from other YA cancer stories, and I appreciated it for that, but this book was nowhere near as good as I hoped, and I probably wouldn’t want to read it again.

6) My Life Next Door and 7) What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

1229465215832932I’m grouping these two books together since they are by the same author, and both had basically the same problem. I enjoyed them both as I read them, but they were ultimately completely unmemorable. My Life Next Door is about a girl named Samantha who falls in love with the literal boy next door, Jase Garrett, whose family is looked down upon by others in the area. What I Thought Was True is about a teenage girl named Gwen who is trying to move past mistakes she’s made over the past year, and is annoyed to find that one of the boys she is trying to avoid has taken a summer job on the island, where she can’t seem to escape seeing him. Literally the only thing I remember about My Life Next Door is that Jase had a huge family, and Sam’s mother was completely awful. I don’t remember much about What I Thought Was True at all, but I know I did not like it quite as much. Normally when I remember so little about a book I’m tempted to try it again at some point, but I doubt I’ll be too motivated in picking these up again.

8) Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher

6408862This was another book that I read because it was so hyped, and had been on my TBR for a long time. This book is formatted as a letter from a teenage girl named Gemma who was kidnapped by Ty, a man a few years older than her who claims to have fallen in love with her and takes Gemma away to the Australian outback to keep her forever. I was really looking forward to this one because it had received such rave reviews for it. I liked it, but didn’t love it. The format of the book didn’t quite work for me because the entire thing was formatted as a single, very detailed letter that describes absolutely everything. Most of the time, it did not really read like a letter so it was a little bit of an odd format choice. I think it may have worked better if the story had been split into several shorter “letters” instead. I also had a lot of trouble buying into the whole Stockholm Syndrome aspect of the story because it was impossible for me to look past the fact that Ty had stalked and kidnapped Gemma, even though as kidnappers go, he wasn’t so horrible. It’s another case where I’m glad I got it off my TBR, but probably wouldn’t read it again.

9) The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

6604794I’m a little more on the fence about this one since it is one that I can see myself eventually giving a second chance. I read this book because I really loved I’ll Give You the Sun and I was hoping this one would be as good. Unfortunately, this one didn’t appeal to me as much. This book is about a teenage girl named Lennie who is dealing with the loss of her older sister, Bailey. Lennie is torn between her sister’s boyfriend Toby, who seems to be the only person who understands her grief, and the new boy, Joe. My favourite part of this book were the scraps of notes and poems that Lennie left scattered around the city, which really gave great insight into her relationship with her sister. I just wasn’t a huge fan of the characters in general, nor of the love triangle. I can see myself giving this one another chance at some point in the future, but definitely not for a while.

10) Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

6482837I don’t know what it is with Lauren Oliver’s books, but they never reach past 4 stars for me. I always like them, but something always holds them back from reaching a full 5 stars. This book is about a catty popular girl named Sam who dies in a car accident on her way home from a party, but is forced to relive the day several times to try to change her life. It took me quite a while to get into this book because Sam and her closest friends were such unlikeable characters who were shallow, selfish, and bullies. I also found the book a bit repetitive since the restart of the day tended to use similar language before diverging based on Sam’s decisions. I thought the book really picked up in the second half, where more of the side characters started to get more fully developed. One of the strongest elements of this book for me was the very realistic portrayal of bullying, including the behaviours, the effects, and even the idea that sometimes it is for no real reason at all. It took a long time for Sam to start to recognize her own bad behaviour, but I really liked when she started to notice the hypocrisy and facades used by the popular crowd. Overall, I thought the book was a little too long for such a repetitive story premise, but it was also a lot better than I expected.

 

 

The Excellent Episodes: Review of a Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 (Netflix Series)

It’s hard to believe it has already been over a year since the first season of Netflix’s adaptations of A Series of Unfortunate Events debuted. I was really looking forward to the second season since it covered two of my favourite books in the series — The Austere Academy and The Hostile Hospital. As I mentioned in my review of season 1 last year (found here), so far we’ve had excellent adaptations of this lengthy series. With 13 books in the series, there is always the risk of it feeling a little repetitive or dragged out. I was glad to see that with 2 episodes devoted to each book, the series managed to stay true to text while providing a thoroughly entertaining watching experience. This season definitely continued the brilliance of the first!

Plot

This season covered the next 5 books in the series, following the Baudelaires from their time in boarding school through to their job as circus freaks in The Carnivorous Carnival. I thought the series did an excellent job of adapting the books and bringing these plots to life. This book series has always walked the fine line between being a little cartoonish yet still believable. The Baudelaire orphans attempt to avoid the villainous Count Olaf who follows them to each new home in hopes of stealing their enormous fortune. As the series progresses, they begin to uncover more about the mysterious secret organization that their parents seem to have been involved with.

Compared to the first season, I found this one veered a bit further away from the original source material by adding in several subplots that fleshed out the secret organization backstory. Season 1 hinted at this backstory with a few additional scenes and characters, and it comes even more to the forefront in Season 2. Characters from the books such as Jacques Snicket and Olivia Caliban are given much larger roles than existed on the page. As with the first season, I found this a little off-putting at first since I didn’t want them to get too far off-track, but ultimately found that it added another great layer of complexity to the story. I especially enjoyed the fantastic Larry Your-Waiter, who first appeared in The Wide Window, whose role was significantly expanded compared the books. As in, he actually has an extended role here, while he did not exist outside of The Wide Window in the books.

Another great change that was a bit of a shock at first was the addition of a couple of musical numbers performed by Neil Patrick Harris. Obviously a musical would not work very well on the page, but it adds a nice surprise to the series. He performs one song in a restaurant during The Ersatz Elevator, but my favourite would definitely have to be his showstopping introduction to the freak show in The Carnivorous Carnival. These songs seemed a bit odd at first, but really plays to Count Olaf’s insistence on his theatrical talents.

Another fairly subtle change from the books, but one that works brilliantly on-screen, is the expanded emphasis on the siblings’ feelings and thoughts as they uncover more about the fire that killed their parents. We get to see a lot more of the children’s struggles with their own actions and morals as the series progresses and starts to become much darker toward the end of Season 2. Again, this added a great additional layer to the storyline and fleshed out the characters very well. By the end of the first season, the Baudelaires have come to realize that the adults won’t protect them, and so they need to look out for themselves. This leads them to make many very difficult decisions and start to question their own choices and whether protecting themselves is justification enough for potentially villainous behaviour. It’s been quite a while since I last re-read the series, but I do remember this being a theme that was partially mentioned, but got a little more on-screen attention.

Casting

Where this season really shines is with the incredible casting decisions. This season kept up the streak of excellent casting with the introduction of many new characters. The most powerful addition to the cast must be Lucy Punch as Esme Squalor, a wealthy woman obsessed with being trendy, who also happens to be Count Olaf’s girlfriend. Lucy Punch is perfectly cast, and brings the villain to life in a way that I never quite felt from the books. She brings this larger-than-life kind of presence to the character, and makes an excellent foil for Count Olaf. Similarly, Tony Hale is another perfect casting choice as Esme’s husband, Jerome. I’ve never been the type to imagine who I would cast as characters while reading, but as soon as I saw Tony Hale in this role, it seemed like a perfect fit. I actually think this character felt a little underutilized in the series compared to the books.

This season also introduced Nathan Fillion as Jacques Snicket, Sara Rue as Olivia Caliban, and brought back Patrick Breen as the aforementioned Larry Your-waiter. These three all brought a lot to their roles as VFD members who did their best to help the Baudelaires whenever possible. I also have to give special mention to Roger Bart, an actor I’d never heard of before, playing the horrible Vice Principal Nero. Again, as soon as I saw this man in the role, it seemed like the perfect fit. I also thought it was nice to see some familiar faces playing various roles throughout the episodes, including Mindy Sterling (from Austin Powers) as a Village Elder in The Vile Village and Robbie Amell (from The DUFF) in The Carnivorous Carnival. Unlike Season 1, I did not recognize many of the actors who were playing the Baudelaire’s guardians/the adults around them, but they all fit their parts very well.

I also feel like I need to give special mention to Kitana Turnbull, the young actress playing the obnoxious Carmelita Spats. As far as I can tell, this is her first major acting role and she was another perfect choice for the bratty child that the Baudelaires meet at their boarding school. Kitana found that perfect balance between appearing sweet when needed, and being a bully toward other children. Unfortunately, I was a little underwhelmed by the Quagmire triplets, portrayed by Avi Lake and Dylan Kingwell. To be fair, the children had quite a small role in this season since they spent a lot of it captured and off-screen, but neither of them seemed to have as much presence as I expected, and if I remember correctly, Duncan and Isadora do not show up again in the series, despite being occasionally mentioned.

Setting/Visuals

Once again, this series continues to outdo itself on a visual level. As with Season 1, I thought the series did an excellent job of capturing the atmosphere of the books. The CGI for Sunny even seemed a little smoother, which I would assume is because they were now working with a toddler who could do a little more on her own. This series also by necessity had to raise the bar a bit because of the sheer variety of settings needed as the Baudelaires moved from place to place. In the span of the 10 episodes, the Baudelaires’ homes ranged from a shack at boarding school to a lavish apartment to a village overrun by crows to a half-finished hospital, and even a creepy carnival. This is quite the range of sets needed, and they were all very well designed.

As always, the costumes were an essential part of the storyline as Count Olaf’s ridiculous disguises were critical to his ability to inexplicably fool every adult the children encounter. Aside from this, there were also Esme’s over-the-top outfits, and even Carmelita’s ridiculously bright pink dress (what is it with horrible people in books and bright pink? First Umbridge, now Carmelita). The costumes added a lot to the characters and the overall atmosphere of the episodes. Once again, the visuals of this series captured my attention immediately and were a great addition.

Overall Impression (10 point scale)

Plot – 9
Casting – 9.5
Setting/Visuals – 10

Overall – 9.5/10