Top 10 Tuesdays: Ten Books that Lived Up to the Hype

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m terrible when it comes to hyped books. I will actually go out of my way to avoid reading them because the hype annoys me so much, or I think it can’t possibly be that good. I’ve been getting much better about it over the past few years, when I started to realize that I actually loved many of the overhyped books that I finally gave a chance to. There are still some books and series that I’m avoiding (His Dark Materials, and anything by Rick Riordan) at the moment, but mostly that’s because I feel like I’ve missed my chance to read those in a sense since I didn’t read them when I was in the target age group. Luckily, I’ve discovered that many of the books I’ve read over the past few years really do live up to all the hype. In most of the cases below, I put off reading the book for a very long time and almost missed out on them completely, but I’m so glad I finally decided to give them a fair shot and decide for myself. Because these are all books that I have discussed in detail in the past, I’ve decided to keep this post short and just show which books I’m picking. Also, since I’m not going into detail about each book, I’ve decided to break the rules a bit and pick more than 10!

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.

 

 

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Stacking the Shelves (#9)

I think I just need to accept at this point that my TBR is only going to keep expanding every month. This month, I only (?) 64 books added to my TBR, so I would say that’s still pretty under control. A few of those books are 2019 releases that I saw Goodreads friends adding to their lists already, and I wanted to add them to mine so I don’t forget about them by the time they come out. Many of the books I added are also ones that I heard about through the vloggers I watch, and are probably books I never would have heard of otherwise. I don’t know if I’ll ever manage to get my TBR down to a reasonable number, since I don’t plan to stop adding anything new. Sometimes I’ve heard about an upcoming book so far in advance, that by the time it actually does come out, I think it’s been out for a long time already. I’ve found it most helpful to keep my TBR pretty full so I  have all the books I want to read in one place, and it’s fun sometimes to just skim through it.

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) Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky

38769727I added this one to my list shortly after making my Stacking the Shelves post last month, because I saw a vlogger mention it in their video. I actually can’t remember whose channel I was watching at the time, but the book sounded so interesting! Mammoth is about a plus-sized girl and fashion blogger named Natalie Page who gets an internship to go to an Ice Age dig site, working with her hero who hosts a popular paleontology podcast. Unfortunately, her hero turns out to be completely unlike what she expected, and Natalie needs to learn to stand up for herself in a male-dominated field. Honestly, I’m mostly interested in this one because I love archaeology and paleontology. I find it so fascinating, and I have never seen a book with a character who has these interests before. I’m not entirely sure how the fashion blogging comes into play, but I’m interested to see how that works.

2) Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

2508164I seem to have developed a really irritating habit of assuming that certain books are graphic novels when they are not. I’m pretty sure I also saw this book on a vlog channel, and thought it looked like a fun graphic novel….only to discover that is isn’t a graphic novel at all. This book is the first in a series about a girl named Charlotte Usher who wants to become popular at school, in spite of the fact that she is now a ghost. Stories about people trying to become popular don’t usually appeal to me that much, but this one just seemed so different. I thought it was cool to have it told from the perspective of a ghost, and I’m curious to see how a ghost can even become popular. I naturally assumed that other people in the school wouldn’t be able to see her, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It does seem to skew a little bit younger than I’m normally interested in reading, but it also seems fun, so I’m willing to give it a chance.

3) The Good Son by You-jeong Jeong, translated by Chi-Young Kim

36804340I discovered this book pretty randomly on Goodreads, but it sounded very interesting. This book is a psychological thriller, by an author who is tagged as “Korea’s Stephen King.” To be honest, that has me a tiny bit worried since I haven’t been a huge fan of either of the stephen King books that I’ve read, but that’s more to do with the writing than the stories themselves. His plots interest me, but I wasn’t a fan of the writing style. This book is about a 26-year-old boy named Yu-jin who wakes up to a phone call from his brother, asking if everything is okay at home since he had missed a call from their mother the previous night. Yu-jin then finds his mother dead at the bottom of the stairs, and can’t remember what happened the night before due to memory problems associated with his lifelong history of seizures. I love a good psychological thriller, and I have definitely never read one set in Korea before.

4) Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer

18616975Again, I assumed this was a graphic novel and it isn’t! This book is about a guy named Martin Banks who discovers that reality is just a computer program, and he can change things by modifying the file. When the changes he makes are noticed, he decides to go back to Medieval times and pose as a wizard, where his “powers” will seem more believable. It sounds like it could be a pretty fun book to read, and the premise is definitely interesting. I’m a little worried about this one because most of the reviews I’ve seen tend to agree that although the idea is interesting, the execution isn’t the best. The last book I read that was anywhere close to this kind of storyline was A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, which I struggled to get through, so I’m hoping this one will be at least a little more fun to read.

5) Heartstopper: Volume One by Alice Oseman

40495957Finally one that actually is a graphic novel! I haven’t read any of Alice Oseman’s books yet, although I’ve always heard great reviews for them. This book is a bind-up of the first two chapters of Alice Oseman’s ongoing webcomic about two boys who meet at a British all-boys school. Charlie is openly gay and dating a boy who wants to keep their relationship a secret, and Nick is a rugby player who is a year older, and has heard about Charlie as “the gay kid who was bullied” but has never spoken to him. This sounds absolutely adorable, and I’ve been wanting to branch out and read more graphic novels (hence the tendency to mix up books and think they are graphic novels, possibly?). I have seen nothing but rave reviews for this one so far, and I’m looking forward to giving it a chance. I guess in theory I could just go online and read it as a webcomic, but I wouldn’t mind waiting to see it in book form.

6) The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

20958632I first heard of Holly Black this year because of all the hype around The Cruel Prince. which I also have on my TBR. This one attracted my attention because of the first few lines of the Goodreads synopsis, where are “Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves.” The book is about a girl named Hazel and her brother Ben who live in Fairfold, a town where humans and fae both live. Hazel knows that the faeries can be dangerous and once knew how to stop them. There is also a boy who has slept in a glass coffin for generations, whom Hazel and Ben were both in love with when they were children. I’m not entirely sure what the plot of this book will be, but it sounds a lot like a fairy tale-ish kind of story, and I always tend to love those! In any case, it’s starting to seem like Holly Black is an author I should try. I’ve only just realized that she was a co-author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, which I’d heard about for years but never picked up. She seems like one of those authors that I should have read a long time ago, and somehow missed out on.

7) Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

10128428This is another book I discovered through watching vloggers talking about books they’d hauled, and I was immediately drawn in by the cover art. This book is about two children, Ben and Rose, who are go on quests to find something they are missing, and who exist 50 years apart. Ben is looking for the father he has never known, and Rose is trying to find a mysterious actress. Ben’s story is told through words, and Rose’s is told through pictures, and eventually the two stories converge. I’m interested in this one because I want to see how the author can bring the two stories together smoothly when they are told in completely different formats. It is quite a lengthy book at over 600 pages, but from what I’ve seen in other reviews, the majority of it is Rose’s pictures so it still moves pretty quickly. I’m very interested in this one because it seems like such a unique style.

8) All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

36344555Emily Giffin is one of those authors who I’ve always had a mild interest in reading, but never actually picked up any of her books. I saw the movie version of Something Borrowed, without realizing that it was one of her books, and I have several others on my TBR. All We Ever Wanted is her most recent release, which I saw in my local newspaper which gave it a great review. The book is about a photo that is taken of a teenage girl who is drunk at a party, which is goes viral. It is told from the perspectives of the girl, her father, and the mother of the teenage boy who took the picture in the first place. Both parents are trying to protect their children, and Lyla, the teenage girl, just wants to put the whole incident behind her. Of all the Emily Giffin books I have on my TBR, this is the one that I think I’m likely to read first. It sounds like a very timely and relevant story, and I’m always a bit of a sucker for anything that is social media-focused.

9) The Grave Keepers by Elizabeth Byrne

33545101I think I’d seen this book around for a few months now, but finally decided to add it to my TBR after looking at the synopsis for the first time. This book is about a girl named Athena Windham whose parents own a cemetery in New York, where people can sit in their own grave while they are alive, and it is treated as your own personal space to be decorated as you like. Athena and her sister live very secluded lives after their older sister died in an accident, and their parents became very overprotective. I’m not entirely sure what the plot of this story is, but the synopsis also mentions a ghost that is hanging around the cemetery and wants to keep the sisters nearby. It sounds like a creepy kind of story that sounds incredibly intriguing. The book only came out last September, so there aren’t too many reviews for it yet, but I think it is definitely worth a try.

10) Every Single Secret by Emily Carpenter

36154689I recently picked up a copy of Burying The Honeysuckle Girls by the same author at a library book sale, after having it on my TBR for several years. I’m not even sure I realized this was by the same author when I added it to my list. This book is about a woman named Daphne whose fiance, Heath, is experiencing escalating nightmares that strain their relationship. Heath insists that the two of them go on a week-long couples retreat with a psychologist who specializes in repressed memories. They arrive, only to find out that the retreat has some very unusual rules, including constant monitoring with hidden cameras, no contact with other guests, and giving up their house keys and cellphones. The whole repressed memory concept alone was intriguing enough, but adding the extra layer of this weird couples retreat makes it that much more interesting to me. It also helps that it has a very interesting cover design. I’m starting to realize that cover art in general interests me more than I thought — it doesn’t completely determine whether I want to read the book, but it certainly helps catch my attention.

11) A Flicker in the Clarity by Amy McNamara

36220551I actually can’t remember where I discovered this one, but the synopsis sounded too intriguing to pass up. It is about two girls, Evie and Emma, who are best friends, until Evie makes a mistake, causing Emma to ignore her and replace her with a new best friend. Evie eventually decides to move on and meets a boy named Theo, but just as she is about to let go of the past, Emma comes back and seems willing to let her back in — if Evie is willing to jump through all the hoops first, putting up with all kinds of strange behaviour from Emma. I thought this one was interesting because of the whole friendship dynamic, and I’m very curious to see what Evie possibly could have done that upset her friend so badly. This book only came out in June of this year, so it does not seem very well-known yet. It definitely sounds like an interesting story.

12) Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

35098024This is yet another example of a book that I assumed was a graphic novel, but it isn’t either. It is a middle grade book, which is definitely outside my comfort zone, but it seems like it might be fun to try. The book is about a girl named Melly who joins the school band because her best friend begs her too, and she discovers that she loves playing the drums. Melly ends up going to summer camp, where she is faced with some big life changes — including developing feelings for a girl named Adeline. I very rarely read middle grade books because I am more than an decade outside of the target age group, but I liked the idea of an LGBT plot in a middle grade story. I’m not even sure why I assumed this one would be a graphic novel, but I would guess it is because of the cover artwork. This book isn’t exactly at the top of my priority list, but it sounds like something I might enjoy reading anyway.

13) Digging In  and All the Good Parts by Loretta Nyhan

3565517929542914I was really on the fence about adding Digging In to my TBR because I have no interest at all in gardening or reading about gardening. It is about a woman named Paige who is having trouble coping with the death of the man she loved. She begins to dig in her yard one day, and decides to make her yard into a vegetable garden, which for some reason alarms the others in her small gated community. I saw this book on a list of upcoming releases for the year, and for some reason I kept coming back to it even though I initially wrote it off completely because of the gardening focus. I added All the Good Parts to my list that same day, and I can’t remember if I knew at the time that they were by the same author. All the Good Parts is about a woman named Leona who finds out that if she wants to have children, she doesn’t have much time left but she doesn’t have any good prospects for a potential father. She has to decide whether she wants to be a mother at all, and if so, which of the men in her life is the most suitable partner. It appealed to me because it was a little bit different from anything else I’ve read, and it seems like an interesting story.

14) The Humans by Matt Haig

16130537This is another book that is a bit outside my comfort zone, but it seems like a very creative story. I first heard about it on one of the vlog channels I was watching (I believe it was Books with Emily Fox). This book is about a man named Professor Andrew Martin, whose dead body is taken over by an alien who is sent to Earth to destroy one of Professor Martin’s projects. The alien soon starts to learn about humans in general, and about Professor Martin’s life specifically, and starts to grow attached to his wife and son, forcing him to choose between completing his mission and going home, or staying on Earth with them. Aliens are definitely not something I normally read about, so this book is immediately a little different from what would usually appeal to me. I absolutely love the concept of the alien trying to fit in to the life of the person he took over, and seeing humans from the perspective of other beings is always a lot of fun. It definitely seems like a great way to branch out a bit and try something new.

15) Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

40189670I added this book to my list because I read and absolutely adored Autoboyography, and soon discovered that this was the latest book by this pair of authors. It does bother me a bit (irrationally, I guess) that it is two authors writing under one joint name — why not just put both names? In any case, this book is about two best friends, Josh and Hazel, who decide to start setting each other up with other people and going on double dates. I’m sure this one will be on the predictable side, but it also sounds like it will be a lot of fun to read. It is the kind of book that I would need to be in the right mood to pick up, but one that I might also really love. I have a few other Christina Lauren books on TBR, although I’m not very interested in the Beautiful Bastard series, and I’m on the fence about Dating You/Hating You, but mostly because I think the title is annoying. If anyone has read these books, please let me know what you think and if they are worth a try!

16) The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

32895536This is another book that originally caught my attention because of the very interesting cover artwork. This book is about a town where a thousand dead birds fall onto a high school baseball field, which starts off a horrible chain of events. One of the reporters investigating the fallen birds catches baseball coach Nate Winters hugging a student, Lucia, in front of a motel and the student quickly claims that she is having an affair with the married man. Shortly after her claims, Lucia disappears and it is down to her teacher Bridget Harris to try to figure out the truth about what happened to her, and about her relationship with Nate.  I generally love this kind of mystery/thriller, so this is right up my alley. I’ve had Kate Moretti’s The Vanishing Year on my TBR since it came out in 2016, and also recently added her 2018 release In Her Bones as well. With three books of hers that interest me, I think it’s about time that I give at least one of them a try!

17) Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir and Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsh

36140710Finally, two actual graphic novels on this list, which I discovered while browsing specifically for more graphic novels since it is a style I would like to read a little more often. Archival Quality is about a woman named Celeste who starts to work as an archivist at a museum after losing her job at the library, and begins to dream of a mysterious woman who asks for her help. Lucky Penny is about a woman named Penny who is going through a period of very bad luck, and is trying to find her way to becoming a “real” adult. Of the two, I am definitely more interested in Archival Quality, but both look like they will be fun to read. In general, I have read very few graphic novels over the years and I was actually actively against reading them for a long time because I just didn’t think I’d be a fan of the style. Luckily, after reading some really great ones I’ve become a lot more open to them in general, and would love to try more.

18) Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk

36127435This is another one that is actually a graphic novel, but it is also a middle grade book so it is a bit outside my comfort zone. It is about a girl named Danielle who is moving on to middle school, and inherits a magical sketchbook that brings the ideal best friend she draws to life, along with her favourite cartoon villain who also comes to life and offers her very bad advice. Danielle needs to figure out how to manage her friendship with Madison, the best friend she created, while also keeping the villain under control, all while dealing with the day-to-day life of being a middle school student. Once again, this is not necessarily the kind of book I would usually pick up, but it sounded like so much fun to read. For some reason, it reminded me a bit of Anya’s Ghost, which I loved, because both deal with a student who has an unusual friend who tries to “help” them make friends. It looks like it will be a quick and fun book to try.

19) For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

38350063This is due to be this author’s second book within the year, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if it ends up getting pushed back a bit since it is due out in December. This book is about a couple named Natalie and Will, whose young son says he was a victim of the school principal, who has been accused of molesting another student. To protect her son from having to go to trial, Natalie comes up with an elaborate murder plot and enlists her husband to help her. I have read quite a few thrillers, but I don’t think I’ve ever read one where the main characters try to take justice into their own hands like this. To be honest, I added this to my TBR before reading through the synopsis thoroughly, so I thought it was just a Jodi Picoult-type story about the accusations against the principal. Having that extra element of the parents seeking justice on their own just makes me want to read it that much more.

20) The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl

36637243I added this one to my list along with For Better and Worse, after browsing a list of upcoming thrillers. This one just came out in May, and it is about a woman named Cecilia who ends up giving a ride home to a little boy whose parents forgot to pick him up from the swimming pool. When they get to his house, she finds that it is completely abandoned and has no choice but to bring the boy home with her, triggering memories from her past and disrupting the life she has created for herself with her husband and two children of her own. This is another one that initially intrigued me because of the cover, and I also liked that it was set in Norway since that was a little different. It sounds like a very interesting story, and exactly the kind of thriller that I usually really enjoy. The reviews I’ve seen for this book so far have been fairly mixed — most have mentioned that the characters are unlikable and there are some plot elements that are completely unrealistic, but I’m willing to give it a fair chance anyway.

21) Carnivalesque by Neil Jordan

31451203I added this book to my list just a couple of days ago after seeing it mentioned by a vlogger, and the concept sounded so intriguing. It is about a boy named Andy who visits a carnival with his parents. While visiting the House of Mirrors, he walks right into the mirror, and then sees another boy who looks exactly like him leave with his parents. Andy is then pulled into a new and strange world, where he takes on a new identity and learns to become a part of this carnival world. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a good look at the Goodreads page when I added this one, and since then I’ve discovered that is has an extremely low average rating, with only 2.71 stars overall, although this is based on under 150 reviews. I still find the concept pretty interesting, but I’m a bit on the fence about whether this one will end up remaining on my TBR. If anyone has tried this one and has any feedback about it, please let me know!

22) Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

38564416I added this book to my list just yesterday after finding it on a list of upcoming YA books for this year. This book is about a Native American teenager named Louise who breaks up with her boyfriend after he makes fun of Native people in front o her. When she is paired with the school newspaper’s new photojournalist to cover the school’s controversial production of The Wizard of Oz, featuring a more diverse and inclusive cast, Louise has to deal with the tensions and prejudices of others in her town. The last book I read that had a Native American protagonist was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which I honestly didn’t like very much. I thought it was great to see another upcoming YA book with a Native American protagonist, since they are definitely underrepresented, and the storyline in general sounded very interesting. This book is not out until October of this year so I doubt I will read it before the year is over, but it is definitely one that I want to keep in mind for later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books Featuring a Road Trip (On my TBR)

I’ve always had a kind of love-hate relationship with road trip books. These books tend to have the characters in close quarters with each other for the majority of the book, which can lead to some amazing character-driven stories. On the other hand, I often find that not too much really happens when the characters are stuck in the car for most of the story. I’m also not very interested in reading lengthy descriptions of scenery, which also tends to be a common feature. I don’t go out of my way to look for road trip stories and when I do pick them up, my first reaction is often “Ugh, another road trip” but I also often end up liking them. I decided to go for road trip-themed books that are on my TBR since I feel like the majority of the ones I read are by the same author (John Green), so for the sake of variety, I decided to switch the focus a bit.

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

1) Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

1672727This book has been on my list for three years now, and I have never been particularly motivated to pick it up but also reluctant to take it off my TBR because it seems interesting. This book is about a couple named Courtney and Jordan, who are planning to go on a cross-country road trip together to go to their college’s orientation. Just before the trip, Jordan breaks up with Courtney for a girl he’s met online, and they are stuck going on the trip together anyway. I have never really understood what would obligate the characters to still go on the trip together, but to be honest that’s part of my interest in reading this. I want to see how the author could possibly justify that in a realistic and reasonable way. The reviews for this book have been pretty mixed, and I’m still not particularly motivated to read it any time soon, but it’s getting to the point where I might just have to read it just to get it off my TBR already!

2) Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim

35230406I debated adding this one to my TBR for a very long time before finally deciding to just add it recently. It is about a college student named Mariam who embarks on a road trip with her friends to help one of them escape from her parents when a scandalous photo of her appears on a billboard. Mariam and her friends head down to New Orleans, with lots of stops along the way, and Mariam also wants to meet her uncle to learn more about her father, who has disappeared from her life. Part of what interested me about this book is that the three main characters are Muslim, which is not something I’ve ever seen in a road trip-themed book. Unfortunately, I have seen quite a few reviews which say that the Muslim representation is not the best, and actually in general the reviews have been pretty mixed. I’ve also seen a lot of complaints about the characters in general, so if anyone has read this and either loved it or hated it, please let me know! I’m not super-invested in reading it, but I’m willing to give it a try.

3) In Search of Us by Ava Dellaira

26594811I really liked Love Letters to the Dead when I read it last year, so I was glad to see a new book out by the same author. This book has two parallel stories of a mother and daughter pair. Angie, the daughter, has always been told that her father was dead but when she finds out about an uncle she has never met, she begins to wonder if her father might actually be alive too and sets out to find him along with her ex-boyfriend. Her mother, Marilyn, tells the story of the summer she fell in love with James, who is African American, when she was the same age that her daughter is now. This book just came out in March of this year, and the early reviews for it have been pretty strong so far. This seems exactly like the kind of character-driven road trip story that I would like, although again I’m a little confused about why the character’s ex is the only person who can go on the trip with her.

4) Questions I Want to Ask You by Michelle Falkoff

36137797This is another relatively recent release that is along the same lines as In Search of Us. Honestly, it was the cover art that initially drew me to this one and I debated adding it to my TBR for a while because I wasn’t sure how interested I was in the storyline. The book is about a boy named Patrick Walsh who receives a letter from his mother on his 18th birthday, leading him to embark on a trip to find her. It seems that most road trip books either focus on finding a parent that the main character never knew, and this one is no exception.  According to the Goodreads synopsis, Patrick is pretty happy with his life and is happy to stay in his small town, until his mother’s letter changes everything. This book only came out at the end of May 2018, and it seems to have received very little attention so far but it seems pretty interesting.

5) Other Breakable Things by Kelley York and Rowan Altwood

20657470I completely forgot about this book until I started looking at a Goodreads list of road trip books to help jog my memory a bit. This book is about a teenage boy named Luc who had a heart transplant after being involved in a car crash. Luc decides that he is tired of hospitals and transplants, and travels to Oregon where physician-assisted death is legal, along with his best friend Evelyn, who doesn’t know he had a transplant. I’m a little worried that this book will try to go the “love cures all” route, but it seems like a very interesting and unique road trip story. It reminds me a bit of a YA version of Me Before You, which has become one of my favourite books. This is another case where it seems like the book will be such a fascinating, character-driven story that has the potential for a lot of depth. I didn’t remember that it was on my TBR at all, so I’m glad I discovered it again.

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books with Sensory Memories

When I first saw this week’s prompt, I honestly thought I would not be able to do it. For some reason, I automatically associated the term “sensory memory” with scents, and I have a terrible sense of smell! I have no idea why that was what I assumed, but I struggled for quite a while to figure out what else would work. I also don’t necessarily have a great memory for the circumstances around reading a book. I have read so many books over the years, so it is difficult to remember specifics. The more I thought about it, the more I started to find books that I did associate with some kind of specific memory.

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) Stacey’s Secret Friend by Ann M. Martin – I was absolutely obsessed with the Baby-sitter’s Club series when I was younger, and I remember packing my bag with several of them every time I went on a vacation. We used to take yearly trips to my grandparents’ house in another province, and there were a couple of years in a row where I specifically brought this one, and I remember reading it in my grandmother’s living room. She would always joke that it was the library, since my grandmother, my mom and I would all sit there reading.

2) The Merchant of Death by D.J. MacHale – This book is the first in the Pendragon series, and I always associate it with the Scholastic book fair. I got into this series in the first place because the school librarian came over to the table where my friend and I were browsing and recommended this one. I honestly probably would not have picked it up otherwise. I’ve always been a little scared of my school librarians since all of the ones I’ve had have been a bit intimidating, so I remember kind of awkwardly thanking her and then picking up the book to look at the first few pages after she left. It drew me in right away, and I just had to have it.

3) Prince Caspian & The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis – To this day, I still have not finished the entire Narnia series, although it is one of my goals for this year. I have only a vague memory of these two books because I was sick with the flu when I first tried them. I remember lying in bed with a fever, drifting in and out of sleep while my mom read them to me. As a result, I have very, very little memory of the storyline of either of them. I also kept getting confused about which order to read the series in, before finally settling on the original publication order this year.

4) Black Beauty by Anna Sewell – This is a very similar situation to the two Narnia books above. I kept trying to read this book when I was home from school with a flu or bad cold, and could never get into it. It was one of the only books I ever DNF’d, but I did eventually go back and commit to finishing it off. It got to the point where I decided it was just ridiculous that I hadn’t finished it since it is a relatively short book and it is such a classic, but my only memory of it was not liking it much so I kept putting it off. I ultimately decided to bring it to university to read during my break between classes. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t a huge fan, but I’m at least glad I finally finished the whole thing!

5) The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – I first read this book when I was about 11 or 12, and there is one specific part that I associate with a sensory memory. One of the strongest memories I have of reading this book is the section where Anne talks about getting her period, and this was around the same time when we were learning about puberty in school. I remember getting this really weird, gross taste in my mouth while reading that section, which I think is because I associated it with the health class lessons which I found a bit gross at the time. The weird part is when I re-read the book years later, I had the same weird taste in my mouth at the same part of the book, which I’m pretty sure is because I already had the association.

6) Wishbone Classics: Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Billy Aronson, Jules Verne, Joe Boddy and Kathryn Yingling – This was another series that I was completely obsessed with throughout elementary school. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure if this was the book, but I’m fairly certain that it was. The memory I have associated with this is from fifth grade. We had to sign up for our book reports by adding our names and the title of the book to a list. I have a very distinct memory of standing up to put my name on the list, and this girl who always made fun of me asked what book I was using. I got so flustered because I didn’t want her to make fun of my choice, so I awkwardly said “I don’t remember!” and sat back down. I distinctly remember the extremely confused look on her face.

7) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince  by J.K. Rowling – I actually have two memories associated with this one. The first is talking with one of my best friends, who has since passed away, about this book and our theories about what would happen in front of his house. We always walked home from school together, and often ended up sitting outside in front of his house for hours just talking about everything. The second memory is from a party one of my friends had in her backyard over the summer. Earlier in the year, I had been talking with some friends about who the major death at the end of the book would be, and I predicted one specific character.  I remember my friend (a different friend from the previous memory) coming up to me at the party, having already read the book herself and knowing full-well that I didn’t want any spoilers, and saying “All I will say is you’re an excellent prophet.” Immediately, I knew that meant I had been right about the character death, since that was the only prediction I had made. I was so upset with her!

8) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling – I guess it’s a bit of a cheat to put two Harry Potter books on this list, but it was such an important series to me that it’s not surprising that I have strong memories associated with it. This book came out the one and only summer I ever tried working as a camp counselor, which to be fair, I knew wasn’t the best idea since I’ve never liked camp as a camper and I hate being out in the sun. My two best friends both worked at the same camp and convinced me to give it a chance, so I applied and I lasted only one month before I decided to quit. I associate this book with that summer, since I remember literally everyone talking about it. I remember reading it for the first time only to notice that something was wrong — the copy I had was printed incorrectly. There was a chunk of duplicate pages in the middle, instead of the chapters that should be there. I remember being so frustrated about getting a defective copy! It wasn’t that big a deal really, since I just went to the bookstore and switched it for a normal one, but I didn’t want my reading to be interrupted!

9) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – I am a huge coward when it comes to any kind of ghost or remotely scary story. When books scared me, I needed them to be out of sight completely. I hid one of my Baby-sitters Club books in my basement because it involved a scary ghost story, and I didn’t want to even see it. I read this book because it was so hyped at the time, and I’m pretty sure I ended up DNF’ing it once before finally going back to it.  The one strong memory I had of this book is lying in my bed reading it one evening, and when I got to a part that mentioned the ghost rushing past someone, I swear I saw a flash of light in my hallway. Now I’m sure it was just a car passing by, but at the time I associated that with ghosts and was so scared. I was even nervous to pick up the book again because I thought I might see a ghost again, and I also remember putting it face down on the table in the hallway where our library books were, and rushing past it every time I needed to go down the hall so I wouldn’t have to see it. I also had music playing at the time, and although I can’t remember what song it was anymore, I associated that song with this book and seeing the “ghost” for a long time too.

10) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness– This is the only recent memory on my list, but is is a strong one. I was absolutely drawn into this book and read the entire thing in one sitting. It is still by far one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. Unfortunately, one of the strongest memories I associate with it is being very close to the end, fully immersed in the story, when all of a sudden from the corner of my eye saw something move, so I had to look up. It was a centipede scuttling across my carpet! It completely pulled me out of the book because I needed to make sure it was gone, and I remember being so irrationally annoyed with this bug for interrupting my reading! It got away, so for the rest of the book, I kept glancing back over to where I had seen it to make sure it wasn’t coming back. I really, really hate it when bugs disappear in my room!

Reader Struggles: Meme Mini-Series (#13)

I went through a span of quite a few years where I rarely, if ever, bought any books at all. It got to a point where books became very expensive and I was using my library so heavily that I just didn’t see the need to buy anything. The only exception is when I read something that really stood out to me and that I knew I would want to revisit. For example, I went out and bought both books in Victoria Schwab’s Monsters of Verity duology shortly after finishing the first one because I felt like I just had to have it. I’ve also been desperately trying to find the “right” edition of A Monster Calls. I want the hardcover version that has all the illustrations, but somehow that one doesn’t seem to exist anymore! There was one version I found that was close, but it was expensive and very awkwardly sized. I’ve managed to get a second-hand copy for now that was a library discard, but I think this is one of the books that I’d want to have a brand new copy of my own. The other main reason I stopped buying books is because I just literally didn’t have the space for any more…and then I discovered Book Outlet.

As soon as I saw this picture, I knew it fit me perfectly. When I placed my first order from Book Outlet, I already didn’t have any more shelf space for new books. I placed a relatively small order anyway because I wanted to check out the service and see the condition of the books I received, and I was very impressed! Despite the fact that I haven’t gained any additional shelf space since then, I have made three more orders, with more and more books each time. My last two orders had 21 books each! I blame that almost entirely on the fact that Book Outlet has frequent sales, and the books are generally cheap enough that I can get huge amounts for a relatively low price. Depending on the sale or if you have reward points available to redeem, you can also end up getting some books essentially for free.

Even though I know I don’t have any more shelf space, I can’t help but check out Book Outlet frequently, and watch for upcoming sales. It helps that they offer many of the books that I want to read for my reading challenges that are sometimes tricky to get from the library. And it’s not just Book Outlet either — in the past year, I have also bought new copies of several of the series that I started and loved last year. Again, this is in spite of the fact that I have no shelf space for them, and I knew that when I bought them! Those series alone make up about 15 books (from 4 different series) that I just had to have, with nowhere to put them. I’m tentatively planning to do some rearranging in my room this week while I have some time off work, but somehow I doubt I’ll be able to clear too much space. Ever since the last order of 21 books, I’ve been hesitant to buy any more but I’m sure that will change the next time I see a good sale!

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books You’ve Removed From Your TBR

I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a very, very hard time getting rid of books. It doesn’t even matter if the book has been sitting on my shelves for years untouched, it still always leaves me with the reaction of “But what if I want to read it later?” I think part of my issue is getting rid of books when they are still in good condition because in my mind, it seems more justified to get rid of something broken than something that still seems brand new. It was only in the past year or so that I finally got rid of many of the old books that I picked up through library book sales and never read, and even that was a struggle. When it comes to my TBR, I’ve come to realize I have a similar kind of approach. I’m extremely hesitant to remove anything from my list, even if I can’t even remember why it is there in the first place. I guess I tend to assume that I added it to my TBR in the first place for a reason, so I must have really wanted to try it at some point. Technically, I’ve had to adapt this week’s prompt a bit — I haven’t actually removed these books from my TBR, but these are all books that I’ve considered removing. If anyone has any feedback, feel free to let me know!

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 Maze Runner by James Dashner

6186357I intended to read this one for my first ever reading challenge in 2015, and ended up switching it out for a different book. I can’t even remember which prompt this was for, but I’ve always been a little on the fence about how much I really want to try it. I didn’t pick it up because I was a bit burnt out on dystopians at the time, and while I’m a little more open to them again now, this one has never really been top of my list. This book is about a boy named Thomas who wakes up in an elevator surrounded by other boys, and all of them can’t remember anything about how they got there or why. The boys are sent into The Glade, which they can only leave by making their way through a dangerous maze that changes its configuration daily. I was interested in this book because it seemed to be along the lines of The Hunger Games, which I absolutely loved, but it’s now been 3 years without ever wanting to pick it up. I don’t think I’m going to remove this, but I also don’t see myself reading it any time soon.

2) The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

119322I was a little hesitant to add this to my TBR in the first place since I have never had much interest in this one, but I also feel like the only person left who hasn’t read this trilogy yet. It’s one of those series that I feel like I might not really appreciate since I didn’t read it while I was in the target age group. At the time it came out, I was too absorbed with Harry Potter, and Pendragon so I wasn’t too interested in another fantasy series. I actually have never even had a very strong idea of what this book was about except for a girl who rides a polar bear, and I think it says something that I’ve never been motivated enough to even go and look for a plot summary. This book has been on my TBR since August 2015, and the main reason I have left it there is because it is such a popular book that so many people have listed as a favourite, so I feel like I might be missing out. On the other hand, I tend to have trouble with books that I read when I’m so far out of the target age range, and there are so many more recent fantasy series that I want to read more, so I think this one will end up staying on the backburner.

3) The Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar

22188To be fair, I’ve read at least two or three of the books in this series, although it was back when I was at the age where all the mentions of sex and rugs were still a bit shocking. I wanted to finish off the series for a long time before finally giving up and moving on. I even had secondhand copies from the library that sat on our bookshelves for months (maybe even years) before I finally decided to give them to my cousin to make some room for more books instead. I fairly recently added these back onto my TBR because I want to watch the TV series and I was interested in seeing how far they diverged from the books, and because it felt a bit weird to have it still unfinished. However, this series consists of 12 books and while I liked the ones that I read at the time, I’ve never gone back to it and I’m not even sure how much I would enjoy it anymore. I think it’s more of the completionist tendency to not leave the series unfinished, but I’m not sure that’s a good enough reason to have it on my TBR either.

4) The Baby-Sitter’s Club Friends Forever series by Ann M. Martin

558215It’s a little embarrassing that this is even on my TBR, and this is the one that I’m most strongly considering just removing altogether. This is definitely a case of being too much of completionist. I was absolutely obsessed with The Baby-Sitters Club series when I was younger, and I hoarded all of them. The Friends Forever series was a bit of a sequel that follows the girls when they are a tiny bit older (I think?), with more of an emphasis on their boyfriend drama. I collected this series as they came out through the Scholastic catalogues we used to get at school, but I don’t think I ever read most of them. I have no idea why I continued to buy them without reading them. It’s entirely possible that I’ve read them all but just don’t remember anything about them. I added them back to my TBR because I found my copies while cleaning out my closet and unhauling a bunch of books. I didn’t want to get rid of them completely, but it sparked my interest in finally reading them to see what I had missed. I read the first two, and then they ended up sitting on a shelf for a long time before finally moving to a box in the basement. Once books are down there, it’s very unlikely I will go for them and I’ve kind of lost interest in the series anyway.

5) Eragon by Christopher Paolini

113436I could actually lump this one in with The Golden Compass a bit, although this one interests me a lot more. I have had this book on my shelves for probably more than a decade already, and although I theoretically want to read it, I have never been particularly motivated to pick it up. It is about a boy named Eragon who becomes a dragon rider, and honestly the dragons alone are a reason for me to read this. I think I was initially put off reading it because it was such a lengthy book, and as more books in the series came out, each progressively longer, it got a bit overwhelming to get started. This was another case of a series that I felt like I kind of missed the boat on, since I was already 16 by the time it came out. At the time, I was already unsure about whether I was too old for it, and that has only compounded over the years. I still have some interest in eventually giving this a chance, and I’m hoping I have better luck with it than other series from around the same time.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Novellas/Short Stories On My TBR

I got completely mixed up with the schedule for Top 10 Tuesdays, somehow. I was fully prepared for next week’s topic about books with sensory reading memories, only to realize at the very last minute that I was off by a week! This week’s prompt is for our favourite novellas and short stories, which is a very difficult one for me since I rarely read either of these. I decided to adjust it slightly to instead mention the novellas and anthologies I have added to my TBR. It’s a bit surprising that I have so many at all, since I often find anthologies so hit-or-miss, but these all sound so interesting!

Because of the mix-up with the topics, I unfortunately don’t have enough time to devote to making this post as detailed as I usually do (although maybe that’s a good thing for those of you who prefer shorter posts!). I’m on vacation this week with limited Internet, so I’m pre-writing these posts in advance while also trying to pack. I also realized that my reasoning for why I want to read these novellas or anthologies are all very similar, so for the sake of avoiding repetition, I’m going to keep it on the shorter side and focus instead on what the novella or anthology is about.

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 Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire – So far, I have only read Every Heart a Doorway, and I absolutely loved it! There are currently three books out in the series, and another two have already been announced for the next two years. I actually would love if these were fleshed out into full stories (my most common complaint with novellas in general), but I’m looking forward to reading them all.

2) Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet – I’m suddenly realizing the logistical difficulties of listing the authors of anthologies like this, so instead I will just link to the Goodreads page. This anthology consists of short “how they met” stories, featuring authors like Nicola Yoon, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Nina LaCour, and Julie Murphy. I love these kinds of adorable stories, so this book sounds like a lot of fun to read!

3) Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy by Ameriie – This book is a collection of thirteen reimagined fairy tales from the villains’ perspective. I have always been very interested in alternate fairy tales, ever since seeing Wicked on stage. I was also interested in this one because it was put together by Ameriie, who is one of my favourite singers. This collection also features input from a variety of Youtube book vloggers, although I’m not entirely clear on what their involvement is. I’m really excited for this one because if features some of my favourite authors, including Marissa Meyer and Victoria Schwab.

4) Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft – I’ve always been intrigued by witches, from the real-life Salem Witch Trials, to Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Willow Rosenberg. This book is due out later this summer, and it features stories about  women who are accused of witchcraft from a variety of perspectives. It sounds like a lot of fun to read! I’m less familiar with the authors who were involved with this one, but the topic was too cool for me to pass up.

5) Three Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles – The dreaded love triangle! I was actually very surprised to see an entire anthology devoted to love triangles given how many readers tend to list it as their least favourite trope. I have no problem with love triangles in books as long as they are handled well, so it will be interesting to see how these authors tackle them. This one features stories from several authors that I haven’t read yet like Sabaa Tahir, Renee Ahdieh and Katie Cotugno, despite having several of their books on my TBR.

6) The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo – I’ve only just finished reading the Grisha trilogy earlier this week, and I really enjoyed it. It took some time for me to get used to the writing style, since it wasn’t quite a strong initially as I expected, but I think it really grew as the books progressed and I loved the story. This book is a collection of stories from the Grishaverse, including illustrations. I think these could be a great supplement to the trilogy itself, and I’d love to give it a chance.

7) Stars Above and Fairest by Marissa Meyer – I have to say, I’m actually not really a fan of “between the numbers” stories in series. I tend to think that if the author really wanted to include that back story in the book, they would have and it sometimes seems like a kind of cash-grab. I think I have to make an exception for this series though, since The Lunar Chronicles has quickly become one of my favourite fantasy series. Stars Above is a collection of nine stories featuring prequels to each book and to the series as a whole. Fairest is a novella that gives the backstory for Queen Levana. I’d love to revisit these characters, and although I don’t usually like these kinds of extras on principle, these seem too interesting to pass up.

8) A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman – As a complete sidenote, this book just drove me nuts because I knew I had it on my TBR and wanted to mention it, but could not for the life of me remember what it was called in order to find it. This book is a collection of stories from fifteen authors that reimagine folklore and mythology from Asia. It includes stories from Renee Ahdieh, Roshani Chokshi, and Rahul Kanakia, who is not as well-known but he wrote one of my all-time favourite YA books Enter Title Here. I love reading myths and legends from different cultures, so this book seems right up my alley.

9) Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens – This anthology is an #ownvoices collection of short stories featuring characters who have disabilities, including stories by Kody Keplinger, Marieke Nijkamp, and the originator of the “own voices” hashtag Corinne Duyvis. I’m very interested in reading this one because people who have disabilities still seem to be extremely underrepresented in books, and I’d love to see more stories with that as a focus.

10) Fresh Ink: An Anthology by Lamar Giles – If I’m honest, I’m a little confused about what the theme of this anthology is, but it was put together by one of the co-founders of We Need Diverse Books, featuring 13 stories by well-known YA authors. According to the Goodreads synopsis, “this collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and colour outside the lines.” I’m not entirely sure how that will play out here, but it sounds amazing!