Stacking the Shelves (#11)

I can’t believe we are already 3/4 of the way through the year!! I genuinely believed that I hadn’t added too many books to my TBR list this month, so I was surprised to realize that my list had grown by another 5 1/2 pages by the end of September. That even includes the tiny amount of books that I (very hesitantly) removed from my TBR just last night. To be fair, the books that I removed were the Baby-sitter’s Club Friends Forever series, which I added to my list originally after finding my copies while cleaning out my closet and realizing that I couldn’t remember if I’d ever read them. For months now, I’d been seeing them on my TBR and thinking about whether I’d ever really get around to them. I read the first two and they were both very familiar, so I’d probably read them before. After moving them back down to a box in the basement to make room for more books, I decided that I wasn’t motivated enough to go get them and read them any time soon, especially if I’ve already read them. Even with all those reasons, I still had a very, very hard time bringing myself to remove them. First signs of a book addiction, possibly?

My TBR list now stands at 2409 books. I’ve also been considering trying to do some kind of “beat the backlist” challenge next year to knock off some of the books that have been on my TBR since 2015 or 2016, but I was frustrated to find that several of the books I was most interested in prioritizing are no longer available at my library, if they ever were at all. I even tried looking on Amazon and my local bookstore’s website, and they were only available through second-hand sellers. I guess I’ll have to go that route, or wait and see if they ever show up on BookOutlet.

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) The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas

38945097If I’m not mistaken, I first saw this book on Destiny’s blog (@HowlingLibraries). I’m not usually very interested in horror books, but this one sounded amazing! It is about a girl named Clare who had been possessed by a demon, known as Her. Unbeknownst to the preacher who performs the exorcism on Clare, she viewed Her almost like a sister and wants to get the demon back. This book was just released last week, and I haven’t heard too much buzz about it yet, but it sounds like such a unique story. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about a person who was possessed, so this would definitely be a bit outside my comfort zone. It almost gives me Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibes, since it is based on the idea that Clare’s relationship with her demon is more complex and leaves open the question of whether the demon really is good, evil, or somewhere in between. I also think it’s an interesting angle to have the person who has been possessed so accustomed to her situation that it becomes her “normal” and taking the demon away from her is a shock. It’s a very interesting angle, and I’d love to see how the story plays out.

2) The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner

37946441This book first caught my attention because of the beautiful cover art. It is another recent book, having just been released on September 25. It is about two sisters, Liba and Laya, who are Jewish and have been raised in a small village surrounded by forests. Just before their parents leave to visit their dying grandfather, Liba discovers that both parents can transform into animals and must keep this a secret from everyone, including her sister. The synopsis for this one is quite vague, but it also sounds very interesting. It reminds me of a fairy tale-style story along the lines of Uprooted, which was one of my favourite books I read last year. I’ve seen quite a few books recently that have to do with a mysterious forest, and this one is no exception. I’m also interested because this book is based on Jewish folklore, which is something I haven’t seen very often in books. It also reminds me a bit of The Hazel Wood, which I recently bought but haven’t read yet. I’m very interested in giving this one a try.

3) Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

36982587This is another YA horror book that managed to make it past my general aversion to horror. It is about a 17-year-old girl named June Hardie whose parents commit her to the Burrow Place Asylum after she resists the kind of life they want her to have. June begins to suffer from frightening hallucinations which, when combined with the horrific conditions of the institution, make it difficult to separate what is real and what isn’t. As much as I get freaked out by horror stories, I tend to really enjoy books set around creepy asylums since it is such a perfect setting for a scary story. To be honest, it was the eerie bird cage on the cover that first drew my attention, and it wasn’t until just now that I noticed the person’s face at the top of the cover. I actually would have preferred it without the person, but it is still a very creepy cover. This book is due out on October 1, just in time for Halloween. The early reviews have actually been on the low side (3.2 average so far), so I’m interested to see what more readers think once the book is out.

4) A Game For All the Family by Sophie Hannah

25182683I’ve had another of Sophie Hannah’s books on my TBR since 2016, so I was surprised to find out this one was released in 2015 and I’d never head of it before. It is about a woman named Justine who has fled London with her daughter, Ellen. While checking Ellen’s homework, Justine finds a creepy story that her daughter claims to have made up, which details a series of murders in the family’s new house, with one of the characters named after herself. Justine starts to receive anonymous phone calls from a woman making accusations and threats, and begins to fear for her family’s safety. This book sounds so creepy! I love psychological thrillers and one of my goals is to read more of them. This is another book that has received extremely mixed reviews, but the plot sounds very intriguing. It is definitely not the kind of book I’d want to pick up if I was home alone. I definitely don’t have room to add it to my reading challenges this year, but it may be one to consider for next year at least.

5) Fight or Flight by Samantha Young

36579299Just to break things up a bit from all the Halloween vibes of the books above, this is a book I discovered on a list of upcoming releases for the rest of this year. The book is about a woman named Ava who is flying back home after attending the funeral of a childhood friend, when her trip is delayed by volcanic ash, and an arrogant man named Caleb manages to swipe the first class seat she was trying to get. When the two realize they have a strong physical connection, despite mutual antagonism, Ava is quick to agree to Caleb’s proposal of a strictly physical relationship while he is stuck in Boston, knowing that it will be temporary and low-risk considering how little she likes him. When the prospect arises of Caleb’s stay becoming permanent, Ava must decide how to handle their relationship and whether she may be developing real feelings for Caleb. The main reason I added this one to my TBR is because it reminded of The Hating Game, which I loved! Both books involve a hate-to-(potentially) love relationship, which is a trope that can be a lot of fun to read if it is done well. I’m hoping to enjoy this book just as much.

6) The Winter’s Child by Cassandra Parkin

33921416I actually can’t remember how I found this book originally, but I was drawn to it because of the beautiful cover. This book is about a woman named Susannah whose son went missing five years ago. Susannah rebuilds her life with a mission to help others, until she encounters a fortune-teller who predicts that her son will return to her on Christmas Eve this year. The Goodreads synopsis describes this book as “a ghostly winter mystery with a modern gothic flavour” which sounds amazing! I always tend to love gothic stories, and this one sounds very intriguing. This book has been out for a year already, but I hadn’t heard of it at all until recently. It seems like this book has flown under the radar in general, with barely 200 ratings on Goodreads and slightly over 100 reviews, although the reviews have been quite good (3.87 stars average rating). I’m interested in giving this one a chance to see if it another hidden gem.

7) The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

36962927I found this book while browsing a list of upcoming 2019 releases, and was immediately interested when I noticed that it was compared to Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia, both of which are books I really enjoyed. It is about a woman named Abi Knight who receives an early-morning phone call informing her that her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge, and is now brain dead. Olivia was also pregnant, and must remain on life support to keep the baby alive. Abi is upset to discover that the police have ruled the fall an accident, and is determined to find out whether something more sinister really happened to her daughter. I tend to love stories that involve a parent or sibling digging into the life of a loved one to try and uncover the truth, although I have read quite a few of these and can sometimes get a little burnt out on the trope. This one seems a little unique from the premise since Olivia is technically still alive and I’m interested to see what kind of affect that has on the story.

8) The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor

40035829I actually own a copy of C.J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man, but haven’t read it yet. This book is his latest release, due out toward the end of February 2019. I’ve also seen this book listed on Goodreads as The Hiding Place, which is a tiny bit confusing. It is about a teacher named Joe Thorne, whose sister Annie disappeared when Joe was only 15. Joe never wanted to go back to his hometown after the way things ended with his group of friends, but he feels like he has no choice when what happened to his sister seems to be happening all over again. Joe gets himself a job at his former high school to finally get the chance to confront what really happened to his sister. If I’m honest, this book actually sounds even more appealing to me than The Chalk Man, although I’m interested in reading that one too, so I may end up picking up this one first. It is exactly the kind of thriller I tend to enjoy, and I’ve heard great things about C.J. Tudor as an author in general.

9) The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

40381942I’m definitely noticing a theme here with most of the books that I’ve added to my TBR, and I guess it’s only fitting to have a Stacking the Shelves that is mostly full of horror and thrillers in the month leading up to Halloween. This book is another February 2019 release, about a woman named Sylvie whose sister Persephone was killed in an unsolved case 16 years ago. Sylvie now returns home to care for her estranged mother who is battling cancer as well as “dark days” that began even before her daughter’s death. Persephone’s former boyfriend is also a nurse at the cancer center, and Sylvie has always believed he was responsible for her sister’s death. Sylvie decides to dig into what really happened to her sister. I found this one while browsing for new and upcoming releases, and it was one of several books that immediately caught my attention. It is along the same lines as many of the other thrillers on my TBR list, but I’m very interested in giving it a try.

10) They Called Me Wyatt by Natasha Tynes

40643628I was a little on the fence about adding this one to my TBR, and to be honest, I’m still a little unsure since the premise is so strange. This book is about a Jordanian student named Siwar Salaiha who is murdered, and whose consciousness ends up in the body of a baby boy named Wyatt, although she goes dormant when Wyatt undergoes a major medical procedure. Twenty-two years later, Wyatt is now a graduate student working toward a degree in Middle Eastern studies, where he learns about Siwar’s death and inexplicably becomes obsessed with the case. As Wyatt begins to investigate, he is forced to acknowledge the spiritual connection he’s had his whole life to an unknown entity, leading him to Jordan to talk to Siwar’s friends and family to try and uncover the mystery of her death. I was hesitant to add this to my TBR because it seemed very confusing and I wasn’t sure how much I would really enjoy it, but I kept coming back to it because the premise was so unique. As I mentioned above, I tend to enjoy these kinds of stories, but I’ve never heard of one that involved reincarnation or the person trying to solve their own mystery. This book is not due out until April 2019 so I’d love to see what some of the early reviews have to say, and I hope the story itself isn’t as confusing as the synopsis makes it sound!

11) Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

39863492I have all three of Jessica Strawser’s books on my TBR, but I haven’t tried any of them yet. This is her newest book, due out in February. It is about two friends, Molly and Liza, who have always been close until Liza moves away, causing things to become more strained than either of them want to admit. When Molly leaves the room to check on her kids during a video chat, Liza is shocked to see a masked man enter and the screen goes black. Although she is eventually able to reach Molly, who insists that everything is fine, Liza is convinced her friend is in danger and drives all night to confront her friend and find out what really happened. Part of the reason this book drew my attention is because it reminded me of a case I’d seen in the news several years ago where a college student was attacked while on a video chat with her long-distance boyfriend, although I doubt this book has anything to do with that case. Although it is tagged on Goodreads as a thriller, it seems to be more about secrets and the relationships between the characters, which is still very appealing to me.

12) The Boomerang Effect by Gordon Jack

25877250I think I was first drawn to this book because of the Viking on the cover. Although this book has been out for just under a year already, I hadn’t heard of it at all until very recently. It is about a boy named Lawrence who is forced to participate in his school’s mentorship program, where he is assigned to mentor Spencer Knudsen, a highly intelligent Norweigan exchange student who struggles with social skills. When Lawrence is framed for vandalizing the floats for Homecoming, he realizes that Spencer may be the one true friend he has. I was a little hesitant about this one as well since the main character is a slacker and a stoner, which is a kind of character I don’t often enjoy reading about. I’m more interested in seeing how Spencer is developed and how the two characters influence each other. However, I’ve also heard that the book is really funny so it sounds like it could be a fun book to try.

13) Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

40556592I love historical fiction but it is not a genre I reach for very often anymore. I found this book on a list of upcoming releases for 2019 and was immediately interested by the premise. It is set in 1941, and it is about an Italian-American girl named Evalina who falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, who is the son of Japanese immigrants. The couple knows that their relationship would cause a scandal, especially since inter-racial marriage is illegal in California where they live, and things only become worse when anti-Japanese feelings erupt after Pearl Harbor, and Taichi’s family is forced to move to an internment camp. Evalina begins to speak out on behalf of Japanese Americans, while Taichi struggles in the camp with fighting between different factions. I rarely read YA historical fiction because I find a lot of it tends to oversimplify the context to fit a typical romance, so I’m a bit worried that this one would fall into the same trap. On the other hand, I’ve never read a book about Japanese internment or WWII from this perspective in general, so I think its worth a try.

14) Quarantine: A Love Story by Katie Cicatelli-Kuc

39983526This is another book that I discovered while looking for upcoming releases, and I was drawn in by the cover. Oliver who is spending his Spring Break on a volunteer trip in the Dominican Republic, but all he wants is to get back home to the girl who might be interested in becoming his girlfriend. At the same time, Flora is not interested in finding a boyfriend, and just wants to get away from her Spring Break visit to the Dominican Republic to see her dad and new stepmother. When the two of them are on their way back to New York, Flora makes an impulsive decision that leads to them being quarantined together for 30 days. I like YA contemporary romances, but it seems to be quite rare for one to have such a unique setting. I think it will be really interesting to see what happens when the two strangers are stuck together for so long, even though the book may be a bit predictable (I assume they fall in love). It sounds like it could be a lot of fun to read, and I may have to prioritize this one to read next year.

15) Whisper Me This by Kerry Anne King

38198027I don’t remember adding this one to my TBR, but I’m glad I did. It is about a single mother named Maisey, who receives a phone call telling her that her mother is in a coma and her father may be facing charges of abuse and neglect. Returning to her childhood home, Maisey realizes that her father has destroyed family records that include her mother’s final wishes. As she continues to search for any documents that may help, Maisey discovers many family secrets — including the fact that she has a twin sister named Marley. As Maisey becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of her sister, she also faces a custody battle for her own daughter. This book has only been out for about two months now, but it has received very high ratings so far. It sounds like a very intriguing story (and it has a beautiful cover as well). Based on the reviews I’ve seen, it sounds like this book deals quite heavily with abuse so it may be very difficult to read depending on how it is written. It sounds like an interesting mystery, and I’m excited to give it a chance.

16) What Have You Done by Matthew Farrell

38198018I guess my goal of reading more thrillers will be easy to accomplish, given how many I’ve recently added to my TBR list. This book is about a forensic specialist named Liam Dwyer who is called in to an investigation of a body found in a motel. The victim turns out to be the woman Liam had an affair with before he decided to end it to save his marriage, but Liam has no memory of where he was on the night the woman was killed. He turns to his brother, a homicide detective for help, but as the evidence piles up, everything seems to point to Liam as the killer, forcing him to quickly try and clear his own name. As Liam begins to investigate, he is shocked to find that the killer may be his own brother. This book appealed to me because I’m a huge fan of the Bones TV series (but not the books, unfortunately), and I’ve also enjoyed CSI in the past before the cases started to creep me out too much. This one seems like a good mix of forensics and family drama, and it sounds like it could be a fascinating story.

17) The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis

40189902This is a historical fiction book which has been compared to Kate Morton, an author I’ve wanted to try for a while but haven’t read any of her books yet. This one is about a journalist named Samantha Harper, who discovers a letter from the past that is from a young mother begging to be rescued from St. Margaret’s. In 1956, Ivy Jenkins was sent to St. Margaret’s a home for unwed mothers, and her baby was adopted against her will. With the building now due to be demolished, Samantha has only hours left to piece together the mystery of the letter, and the unexplained deaths surrounding the woman in it and her child, before the mystery is lost forever. This book seems to be along the same lines as Nightingale above, about the horrors of these kinds of institutions where people were sent in the past for a variety of socially unacceptable behaviours. It is not a period of history that I know much about, so I’m very interested in giving this book a chance to find out more.

18) Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

36959639I was first drawn to this book because of the creepy cover art, and it wasn’t until afterwards that I realized it was written by the same author as The Bear and the Nightingale, which I hope to read before the end of the year. This book is the author’s middle grade debut, about an 11-year-old girl named Ollie who steals a book from a woman who is about to throw it into the river. As she begins to read it, Ollie finds a story about a girl named Beth and her two brothers, and a deal made with a creepy “smiling man” who grants wishes for a price. Ollie is fascinated by the story until she discovers the graves of the characters the next day on her school trip to a local farm, and starts to realize the story may have been true. The bus driver warns Ollie and her classmates that they’d better leave before nightfall and avoid large places, and “keep to small.” As a middle grade book, I’d imagine this one wouldn’t be too scary but it sounds like it could be a lot of fun to try.

19) Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

35965482I’ve only read one Seanan McGuire book so far (and one of her books written as Mira Grant), but I’m very interested in trying more. This book is due out in May 2019, so I won’t have the chance to try it for quite a while. It is about twins, Roger and Dodger, one of whom is skilled with languages and the other with numbers, The twins were created by Reed, an alchemist who plans to raise them to godhood and claim their power as his own. I was first drawn to this book by the intriguing cover, and as soon as I noticed Seanan McGuire’s name, I knew I had to add it to my TBR. Given that it is still more than 6 months until it is released, there doesn’t seem to be too much information available about it yet, but the plot seems very intriguing. I already have the rest of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series planned for my reading challenges next year, but I think I may need to add this one as well.

20) Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner

38451836I’ve seen this book so many times over the past couple of weeks, and it sounded like a lot of fun. It is a graphic novel (for once something that I thought was a graphic novel actually is!) about a boy named AJ who has a crush on a classmate named Nia who is obsessed with vampires. When the two of them are paired up for a group project, AJ decides to pretend to be a vampire to get Nia’s attention, only to learn that she is actually a vampire slayer. Despite the fact that Buffy is one of my all-time favourite TV shows, I don’t often reach for vampire stories. This one appealed to me because it seemed a little different, and I’m interested in reading more graphic novels in general. This book just came out at the beginning of September, so it’s no surprised I’ve been seeing it everywhere over the past few weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 Wednesdays: Favourite Covers (That I Bought from BookOutlet)

Cover topics are always a tough one for me, although I’ve started to realize that I pay a lot more attention to book covers than I originally realized. I won’t read a book just because I like its cover, but it is definitely more likely to attract my attention if it has an interesting cover. I tend to like covers that are atmospheric or feature some kind of interesting design, and I don’t often like covers that have people on them. I’m not even sure why those are my tastes, but I tend to generally find that covers with people are less appealing. For this week’s topic, I decided to pick books that are already on my TBR, since I’m sure many of these were added (at least in part) because of the cover art, and that I’ve bought from BookOutlet over the past few months since I tend not to post book hauls.

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 Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

32600721This is a book I bought very recently from BookOutlet, after debating for close to a month whether I wanted to place another order given my complete lack of shelves. This book first caught my attention because of the very interesting cover art, which makes the book seem very atmospheric. It is about two young cousins who claim to have photographed fairies in their garden and they become a national sensation. One hundred years later, a woman named Olivia finds an old manuscript in her grandfather’s bookstore, which tells the story of the these two girls and Olivia begins to realize that her life is intertwined with theirs and begins to question what is real. This book has been tagged as both historical and magical realism, which are two genres that I tend to enjoy but don’t necessarily reach for too often. I was first drawn to it by the cover, and I think there is good reason that it made the top of my list when I put together my most recent BookOutlet cart.

2) Hello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

20893378This is another book from my most recent BookOutlet order, and one that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. I wanted to read it in 2016 for a challenge prompt requiring a book over 600 pages, but I couldn’t get a copy of it in time from the library. This book is about a woman named Angela Gillespie who has always sent her friends and family a cheerful “end of the year” letter sharing updates about her life and her family. One year, Angela decides to be honest in this letter, and share what is really happening with her family. I thought this was such an interesting story idea, and I also loved the cover artwork which looks like a beautiful entrance to a home. The book seems to be all about the facade of letting everyone think your life is perfect when it isn’t, and I think this cover fits that really well. Between the vibrant blue of the door and the surrounding flowers, it definitely looks like what should be an ideal home, and I’m very interested to see how the story plays out.

3) The Forgotten Girl by David Bell

20893334Strangely enough, I find thrillers often tend to have the most interesting book covers. This book has been compared to Gone Girl, which I finally read just last year and I loved it! It is about a man named Jason whose younger sister Hayden, a former addict, asks him and his wife to take in her teenage daughter for 48 hours while she takes care of some things in town. When his sister never returns, it brings up more unresolved problems from Jason’s past, and the mystery only deepens when a body is discovered in the woods that might be Hayden’s. I’ve had this book on my TBR since 2016, and if I remember correctly, I found it while browsing a list of thrillers to add a few more to my list. I was drawn in by the beautiful colours of the cover and I’ve been meaning to try it ever since. It is one of many books that have been sitting on my TBR for a long time, so when I saw it on BookOutlet, I decided it could be a good push to finally try it.

4) Just Like Family by Kate Hilton

32051611This is kind of an exception to my dislike for covers with people on them, although I generally like silhouettes more than covers that are just a close-up of a person. It is about a woman named Avery Graham, a chief of staff to the mayor who needs to decide what she wants to do when when her long-term boyfriend proposes, since she has already had one disastrously failed marriage and a “work husband”  in the mayor that she is working for. This book was definitely a cover add. I saw it on several lists of new releases last year and the cover always drew my attention, although I’m not 100% sure what it was that I liked about it. It took a bit longer for me to decide to add it to my list, but once I decided I was interested in trying it, it ended up moving pretty quickly toward the top of my priority list. I’ve seen some pretty great reviews for it so far, so I’m looking forward to reading this one.

5) The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

25467698I bought this one from Book Outlet over the summer, and I’ve had it on my TBR since 2016. It was another book that I debated for a while before finally adding it to my list. It is about a girl named Natalie who starts to see things “wrong” in her town including the whole city disappearing for a few hours. Natalie receives a mysterious message from an apparition telling her “You have three months to save him,” and meets a boy the next day who seems to be the one the message was about. I was hesitant to add this to my TBR in the first place because I’d seen some pretty mixed reviews, and although I tend to like time travel stories, I rarely reach for them. After seeing this book repeatedly on Goodreads over several months, I finally decided to add it to my TBR and give it a chance. To be fair, I haven’t picked it up in the two years since then, but now that I have my own copy, it might be an extra push to finally try it.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books I Still Haven’t Read by Favourite Authors

This was surprisingly challenging since I actually don’t have too many authors that I really consider a strong favourite. Many of the authors that I really enjoy are authors that are still relatively new to me, so it is not so surprising that I haven’t read too many of their books anyway. It seemed a bit weird to mention books of theirs that I haven’t read when I only recently realized how much I like the author. At least putting this list together now will help me get some ideas of books I may want to prioritize to read for my reading challenges next year. I was also considering adding the “Pottermore Presents” books here since I saw them on Goodreads, but I’ve never been sure if they are actually books or just available through the website.

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) Songs of the Humpback Whale and Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult – It’s no secret by now that Jodi Picoult is my all-time favourite author, and I’ve devoured nearly all of her books. The only two I haven’t read yet are her first two, despite owning copies for several years. The main reason I haven’t read them is because I’ve heard they are quite different from her later books, so I’ve been worried that I won’t like them as much.

2) The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks – I think this is the only Nicholas Sparks book that I’ve never read. This book is a sequel to The Notebook, and I didn’t read that one until a long time after it had come out. I’ve always intended to try this one, but never been motivated enough to pick it up.

3) What Alice Forgot and Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty – Obviously I’m not choosing upcoming releases as books I haven’t read yet since I don’t read ARCs, so I won’t have a chance until they’ve come out. Liane Moriarty became a favourite because of Big Little Lies, although I haven’t enjoyed any of her other books quite as much, and actually found the last one I read (The Last Anniversay) pretty mediocre. I’ve been putting these off even though they both seem interesting, so I may need to prioritize them soon.

4) The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas – Sarah J. Maas has recently become one of my favourite authors because of how much I enjoyed the ACOTAR series, which I finished just last week. I intend to read Throne of Glass by the end of the year, but my copy is due back to the library before I’ll have time to read it, and I can’t renew it since there are other people waiting. I’ll have to put my name back on the waitlist immediately and hope I can get it in time!

5) The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater – Technically, I could also pick All the Crooked Saints or The Scorpio Races, which both interest me more, but I also haven’t read The Wolves of Mercy Falls series. I’ve heard about it for years, long before I even knew who Maggie Stiefvater was, and was never too interested because I’m not a huge fan of werewolf stories. Now that I’ve tried The Raven Boys and love her writing style, I may be willing to try this one.

6) The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab – Again, there are many books I can choose for this author, under both of her names, but this is a series that is higher priority. The main reason I haven’t read this one yet is because I already had an overwhelming number of series that I wanted to read this year, and I thought adding another one would be too much.

7) Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor – This is another very recent favourite author, since I’ve only recently finished the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Laini Taylor’s writing is amazing although it can be quite dense. As soon as I finished the series, I decided that I wanted to read this duology very soon. I would also love to read Night of Cake and Puppets!

8) Fairest and Stars Above by Marissa Meyer – I’m generally not a fan of “between the numbers” books, but I love this series so much that I’m interested in trying both of these! I have devoured the rest of the series, including the graphic novels following Iko, so these are the only two books I have remaining in the Lunar Chronicles, before I move on to the Renegades series.

9) One Plus One by Jojo Moyes – The only Jojo Moyes books I’ve read is the Me Before You series, and I absolutely adored it. I have several Jojo Moyes books still on my TBR, but this is probably the one that I’m most interested in picking up next since it seems most similar to Me Before You, at least in terms of genre. The others mostly seem to be historical fiction which I enjoy, but also need to be in the right mood for.

10) Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire – There are only a few Gregory Maguire books I haven’t read yet, but this is the one that I feel worst about since I’ve owned a copy for years. I bought this one along with the majority of his works around the time I first read Wicked, which was back when I was in high school. I’ve always meant to read this one, but I find Gregory Maguire is an author I really need to be in the mood for since his books can be dense, so I almost need to make a conscious effort to make time for this one when I actually feel like reading it.

 

Monthly Recommendations: Binge-worthy Series

I usually like to do my Monthly Recommendations toward the beginning of the month, but I purposely put this one off since my intent was to read several series by the end of the month. It wasn’t until the past year or two where I really started getting into series again. I’ve learned that I have a bit of a problem with reading series. I don’t like to have long gaps between reading the books since I might forget details that are important, but I also sometimes get bored of reading too many books of the same story in a row, especially when it is a very long series (Harry Potter is the exception, of course). I’d been hearing about several very popular YA fantasy series all over the Internet since I started doing my reading challenges, and I kept putting them off because I thought they couldn’t possibly live up to the hype. When I finally decided to give them a fair chance, I was very impressed!

Note: I would definitely consider Harry Potter and The Hunger Games  binge-worthy series, but I feel like that is such a popular opinion already at this point that it doesn’t really need much said on it.

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

1) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

29995315This was the first of the popular YA series that convinced me that I needed to start listening to the hype. I read Cinder in 2016, and I absolutely adored it even though I found it predictable. My original intent with my reading challenges was to incorporate only one book per series per year, but this book quickly convinced me to change my plan! In 2017, I devoured the rest of the series (but wisely decided to space them out through the year) and it quickly became one of my favourite series of all time. For those who haven’t heard of it, the Lunar Chronicles is essentially a fantasy/sci-fi series with each book loosely based on a classic fairy tale. It follows Linh Cinder, an cyborg and mechanic, who lives in a world where a deadly plague has affected the population, and the cruel Queen Levana who rules over Luna wants to extend her control to Earth as well. Each book in the series introduces new characters who join Cinder in her rebellion, and it was the cast of characters that made the story so compelling for me. I thought Marissa Meyer did an amazing job of managing so many different characters and bringing them all to life. I haven’t read any of the “between the numbers” books yet, but I would also include the Wires and Nerve graphic novel duology as part of the binge read.

2) The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor

20706293I think this series would be a little challenging to binge-read since it is quite dense, but it is definitely worthwhile. I read the last two books in the trilogy back-to-back last month, and the series as a whole was amazing! This book is about an ancient war between Seraphim (angels) and Chimaera (demons), following a girl named Karou who was raised by demons. While on a mission to help her family, Karou encounters a seraph named Akiva who seems to recognize her, which leads to her uncovering her own mysterious past as she tries to bring an end to the war. This series is beautifully written, but it does require a lot of attention as you’re reading. I would definitely recommend reading all three books close together since there is a lot to take in and keep track of, but it may be challenging for some readers to read them all in a row for the same reasons. The characters in this book are just amazing, and I especially loved how Laini Taylor developed so many of the side characters. I’m so glad I finished this series!

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

34488733This is another series that I finished very recently, reading the last two books back-to-back just last week. This series was actually the main reason I delayed making a recommendations post because I wanted to see if I would love it as much as I expected (and I did!). This series starts out as a loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, and later a Hades and Persephone retelling, focusing on a girl named Feyre who is taken to live in the Fae world after killing a faerie. As the series progresses, Feyre learns that there is an imminent war involving the King of Hybern, who wants to invade the human world as well as the faerie lands, and she becomes involved in  the efforts to prevent it. I was completely blown away by this series, especially considering I usually have little interest in anything to do with faeries/fae. I loved Sarah J. Maas’s writing and the way she brought all the characters to life, including the cast of side characters. This series is definitely more on the New Adult side of the genre, and readers should be warned that there is some partially graphic sexual content in the second and third books. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this series, and I’m glad I decided to give it a fair chance.

4) The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard

22328546To be fair, I have not finished this series yet, but I have read half of it and I’m currently reading King’s Cage. This series is set in a dystopian world where people are divided according to the colour of their blood. The dominant Silvers have special abilities, and the peasant-class Reds are ordinary people. The series follows Mare Barrow, a Red who discovers she has Silver-like abilities, and becomes involved in a rebellion to overthrow the hierarchy. Of all the series listed here, this one seems to be the most controversial since many readers adore it, but others find it very trope-y and similar to others of the genre. Personally, I absolutely loved Red Queen and although it used some of the common tropes, I thought it ultimately told the story in an interesting and relatively unique way, with a twist toward the end that I genuinely did not see coming. In comparison, I found Glass Sword more trope-y and harder to get into, but I think a big part of that was because I waited so long between books so I’d forgotten a lot of the story and constantly had to backtrack and check online summaries to remind myself of details. I definitely think I would have liked it better if I’d read them back-to-back, and I would recommend binge-reading this one for exactly that reason. This is a relatively long series, with four books spanning a total of about 2000 pages, not to mention two “between the numbers” books, and I think it would help to read them close together to keep track of the story and characters better.

5) The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

35669466Honestly, this is completely a preemptive recommendation since I have not finished this series yet. I’ve only read The Raven Boys so far, which completely blew me away. I went into it expecting very little, despite seeing this series absolutely everywhere, and it quickly became one of my favourites. I am intending to finish the rest of the series by the end of this year. This series is about a girl named Blue Sargent, who becomes friends with a group of boys from the local Aglionby private school who are on a quest to find ley lines and the Welsh king Glendower. The plot itself was a bit confusing at first since I couldn’t really understand why they were looking for this king, but the writing style and especially the characters quickly won me over. This was the first book in a long time that gave me a similar feeling to when I first read Harry Potter, and from everything I’ve heard about it, it’s definitely worth binge-reading.

 

 

Top 5 Wednesdays: Classics that Need Modern Adaptations

In a way, I have a bit of a weird relationship with classics. My best friend and I went through a phase when we were younger where we were both absolutely obsessed with classics, although it wasn’t until much later that I actually read the majority of them. I have a whole list of classics that I want to read, but I also find them a bit intimidating, especially when I try to fit them into my reading challenges. Over the past few years, I’ve actually included a few classics each year to try to push myself, and I managed to get through the majority of the ones that I was most interested in trying, barring a couple of the longer books that I still would love to try. I also tend to really enjoy modern adaptations since they are a great way to get the gist of the story without having to struggle with the language, which can sometimes be very challenging. When I think of modern adaptations, I tend to think of either Jane Austen or Frankenstein. For some reason, those seem to be the classics that are commonly adapted and have multiple versions. It made me realize that several of my favourites are probably long overdue for a modern adaptation. When I’m thinking of adaptations, I’m generally leaning more toward books inspired by the original, since I’m sure TV or movie versions of all of these exist.

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) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

rebeccaThis is my most recent favourite classic, and I’m surprised I put it off for so long! I finally read this one in 2016, and it has stuck with me ever since. It is right up there Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice as one of my all-time favourites. This book is about an unnamed narrator who becomes the new Mrs. Maxim de Winter, only to realize how much of a presence his late wife Rebecca still has in his household. This book is one of the most atmospheric I’ve ever read, and I think that may be one of the reasons it is has not really been adapted, since it would be challenging to capture that creepy atmosphere. It also seems that this classic is not quite as well-known as some of the others I’ve read. There have been TV and movie versions, but I’d love to see another book that is an adaptation of this story.

2) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

6185I owned a copy of this book for so many years before I finally decided to pick it up because I’d always been a little intimidated by it. It didn’t help that a friend of mine read it in high school and complained about how difficult the language was because of one specific character who uses a dialect that is tough to understand. I knew of this classic for a long time but only had  a vague idea of the storyline. It is about a man named Heathcliff who is adopted into a wealthy family, and falls in love with their daughter Catherine, who loves him back but rejects him because of his social standing. This book is definitely not the romance that most people assume it is, and the characters are all generally unlikable but it is a very interesting and haunting story. I was surprised to find that this one has not been adapted very much.

3) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

1934Little Women has always been one of my favourite classics, since I’ve always related quite strongly to a combination of Beth and Jo. I’ve seen some people who have read the book more recently complain that it seemed outdated and a bit preach-y, which to be fair, it is a bit, but that has never bothered me. I find it a bit strange to complain that a book featuring women in this time period was so focused on marriage and how to be “good” women when that is appropriate for the setting. I have re-read this book so many times over the years and thoroughly enjoyed it every time. I thought the characters were all very realistic, and it is still one of the strongest family stories I have ever read.  Jo was already quite a modern character for the time, but I’d definitely be interested in seeing a more modernized adaptation. I think it would actually be a bit challenging to capture the spirit of the original story while still bringing it up to date.

4) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

2998This is another of my all-time favourites, and probably one of the first classics I was ever exposed to through an animated movie version. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another book that is inspired by this story. When I tried to look up what already exists, I was directed to Anne of Green Gables or Emily of New Moon, which aren’t quite the same idea. The book is about an orphan named Mary Lennox who is taken in by her uncle after the death of her parents. Mary is a spoiled and selfish child who begins to change once she uncovers several mysteries in her uncle’s mansion, including a locked and hidden garden. I’m actually not sure how exactly it would be possible to modernize this one without being a straightforward retelling of the same story, but I would love to see how it would play out. For me, the charm of this book is the relationship between Mary and the other children that she befriends, and I’m sure that is something that can be translated over into a modernized version.

5) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

37449I think this one is especially relevant in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. This book is about a young girl named Scout Finch, whose father is a lawyer takes it upon himself defend an African American man who is accused of raping a white woman, set in Alabama in the 1930s. I think echoes of this story probably do exist in more modern books like The Hate U Give or Tyler Johnson Was Here, but I have never seen a book that specifically modernized or adapted this story. On the other hand, I’m not sure how much of the story would really change aside from the setting, since similar attitudes as what are found in the book still unfortunately exist today. If anything, a modern version may be a bit more chilling since it may hit harder to have this kind of story told from a setting that really hits home to modern readers.

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books on My Fall TBR

I’m not really big on seasonal reads, but I find I do tend to save many of my thrillers or otherwise scary books until October. My original plan when I saw this week’s topic is to focus on these books, but I realized that there are bound to be Halloween-related prompts for most of October, so I’m probably better off waiting for those. I’m feeling a bit behind on my reading challenges this year, with 62 books remaining that I need to read before the end of December if I want to finish everything this year. I rarely do monthly TBRs for myself since I’m bound to veer off them and change the order completely, but I made myself a tentative plan for what to read each month to try and balance things out so I can hopefully finish everything I really want. I found that I naturally tended to put any books that were school-themed more toward September/October, and most of the darker or creepier books toward October. These are just a few of the books for the rest of the year that I’m really looking forward to, and specifically that I plan on reading soon.

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) Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

25164304This was actually one of the books I was most anticipating reading this year, so it’s actually a bit embarrassing that I pushed it off for so long. What makes it even more embarrassing is that I’ve had it checked out from the library for a while already, and I’ve already renewed it twice without picking it up since I was focusing on the ACOTAR sequels and didn’t want to read too many fantasy books in a row. I saw quite a bit of hype around this one for a while, before it suddenly died out. This book is about a princess named Denna who is engaged to marry a prince to secure an alliance between their two kingdoms, however she finds herself more drawn to the prince’s sister Mare. It’s been a while since I read such a classic fairy tale kind of story, and I love when authors put some kind of twist on it. In this case, I’m interested to see how the LGBT angle is handled since it sounds like an amazing and unique story.

2) That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston

25528808I’m actually glad my reading challenges this year included a prompt (an alternate history) that naturally fit this book very well, since I’m not sure I would have prioritized it otherwise. I honestly have very little idea of what this book is really about. It is set in a world where the British Empire never fell, led by Victoria-Margaret who is a direct descendant of Queen Victoria and heir to the throne. All I know about this book is that Victoria-Margaret travels to Toronto in disguise as part of her last summer before being set up in an arranged marriage. While there, she meets a woman named Helena who is the daughter of a geneticist, and August, who is the heir of a powerful shipping company. I can’t really remember what it was the drew me to this book in the first place since the synopsis completely confuses me, and it does not necessarily seem like something I would usually try. I’ve heard great things about E.K. Johnston as an author though, so I’m willing to give it a chance.

3) The List by Patricia Forde

31409131This is another book that I was really looking forward to reading this year, and inexplicably kept putting it off. I was first drawn to this one by the absolutely stunning cover art, and it also seemed like a really interesting storyline. The book is set in a city called Ark, where speech is limited to a list of 500 words. When the town’s Wordsmith dies, his apprentice Letta is suddenly promoted to take responsibility for collecting and saving words, and she uncovers a plot to suppress all language and prevent the citizens from speaking. I think this book sounds like a really unique and fun story, and it reminds me a bit of Ella Minnow Pea, which I really enjoyed as well. It also reminds me a bit of The Giver, which I haven’t read since seventh grade. The book has received extremely mixed reviews on Goodreads, but it sounds like something that I would enjoy so I’m looking forward to finally reading it.

4) The Big F by Maggie Ann Martin

30046340I think years of reading The Babysitter’s Club series has made me naturally read this author’s name as Ann M. Martin instead, so it throws me off every time. This is one of the school-themed books that I’m interested in reading this fall, since it’s a time of year that I still associate with back-to-school season, even though I’ve been out of school for about 5 years now. This book is about a girl named Danielle who fails her English course in her senior year of high school, derailing all of her college plans. Danielle instead enrolls in community college, and tries to balance figuring our her future with repairing her relationship with her mom and reconnecting with her childhood crush, Luke. For some reason, I don’t think I have ever read a book with a main character who is in this kind of situation. Honestly, as a bit of an overacheiver myself, it’s hard for me to imagine being in Danielle’s situation so I think it will be very interesting to read about. I’m also interested in reading this one because I love seeing YA books that are about more than just the usual teenage relationship drama, although I’m sure there is still some romance here. Characters who are college-age or starting college are still relatively rare, although they seem to be becoming a bit more prevalent in the past couple of years.

5) Even When You Lie To Me by Jessica Alcott

18740851This is a book that I’ve been meaning to read for literally three years now, and I finally committed to actually reading it. It was among the first groups of books added to my TBR when I started my Goodreads account in 2015. Funnily enough, I kept meaning to buy this book from BookOutlet this year, and placed two separate orders over the span of a couple of months where I forgot to include this one! I was actually convinced that I had it in my cart on the second order, but somehow it wasn’t. I made sure it was the first thing added to my cart on the next order. This book is about a high school senior named Charlie who is dreading her final year at school until she meets and develops a crush on her English teacher, Mr. Drummond. Charlie starts to think that her teacher is the only one who really gets her, and soon comes to believe that the feelings are mutual. I honestly have no idea why it’s taken me three years to pick this one up, other than the fact that I find some YA books tend to feel like they are aimed at a much younger audience, and I’m not quite sure where this one falls.

6) Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

14866This is the only book on this list that is a re-read for me, and even though I know I read and enjoyed it, I have no memory of it at all. Jodi Picoult is my favourite author and I love the way she handles such relevant and complex topics. I read this one during a period of time where I’d read several of her books, so I think several of them ended up blending together for me (and not in a bad way, since they were definitely not all the same). This book is about a school shooting that takes place in a small town in New Hampshire. Like most of Jodi Picoult’s books, this focuses on mutliple characters, and offers several different perspectives that really help make the story come alive. I often forget while reading her books that the events never really happened. This is one of a few of Jodi Picoult’s books that I’m most interested in re-reading since I can’t remember any of the details of the story, and I’m hoping I enjoy it as much the second time around.

7) Friend Request by Laura Marshall

33785151I’ve had the ARC version of this book for quite a while already, and finally decided to prioritize it. This book is about a woman named Louise who receives a friend request on Facebook from Maria, an old friend from high school who Louise thought was dead. The friend request forces her to dig into her past and reconnect with people she never expected to see again to try to piece together what really happened on the night that changed their lives. I have this one earmarked specifically for October because it seems like exactly the kind of creepy thriller that is perfect to read around Halloween. It sounds exactly like the kind of thriller that I tend to enjoy, and I especially love the social media aspect to the plot. I’m actually a bit surprised that I put this one off for so long since it sounds really interesting. I’m already looking forward to reading this!

8) I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

33989585I’ve been fascinated by the story of Anastasia ever since reading the Royal Diaries version when I was in elementary school. I discovered that series on one of my school breaks, where I went to the library for the morning while my mom worked, and it quickly sparked an obsession with several of the royal families. This book focuses on the story of Anna Anderson, a woman who came forward claiming to be the lost Grand Duchess Anastasia two years after the Romanov family was assassinated during the Russian Revolution. When the grave was found, there were only 9 bodies found instead of the 11 that were expected, and the missing bodies were identified as heir to the throne Alexei, and either Anastasia or her sister Maria. Due to the fact that her death had not been confirmed, speculation started that Anastasia had escaped. Anna Anderson was the most famous of the people coming forward to claim to be Anastasia, and this is a story that has always intrigued me. I’m very interested to see how it is handled in this book.

9) Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

7896527I very recently finished reading A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin, and I really enjoyed them both! I’ve been putting off the Throne of Glass series for a while for a few reasons. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be reading two series by the same author at the same time, in case it got confusing, and I was also a little intimidated by the sheer length of the books in this series. I’ve decided to give it a try since I loved the ACOTAR series so much, and I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to manage it so I can read the series next year without feeling “stuck” on the longer books. This series is about an 18-year-old assassin named Celaena Sardothien, who is offered freedom by the Prince in exchange for participating in a competition for assassins as his champion. I wasn’t sure how interested I’d be in this one at first since I’m not such a huge fan of stories that focus on assassins, but I love Sarah J. Maas’s writing so I’m willing to give it a try.

10) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

23437156I actually purposely shuffled around by reading challenges this year to add in the Grisha trilogy, since I’d heard I should read that before reading this duology.This book is about a criminal named Kaz Brekker who is offered the chance for a deadly heist, and needs to team up with a group of outcasts to make it happen. This was another one I was not so sure about since I’m not usually a fan of heist stories, but I love books that involve found families or groups of unusual people working together. I’ve also heard absolutely amazing reviews for this duology pretty much everywhere online. I enjoyed the Grisha trilogy, and I’ve heard that this is even better! It also sounds like this book will have a lot of morally grey characters, and with such a diverse cast, it also seems like there is room for some really interesting character dynamics. I purposely left this one until closer to the end of the year so I could read Crooked Kingdom not too long afterwards, so I’m planning on getting to it by the end of next month at the latest.

 

 

 

Reader Struggles: Meme Mini-Series (#14)

I’m a bit disappointed to realize that this meme is the last one on the original website I was using to find memes for this series! If anyone has any specific memes they would like me to respond to, or another site that has a list, please feel free to let me know.

One of the biggest struggles I tend to have is choosing what to read next. That’s a huge factor in why I started doing reading challenges in the first place, especially challenges that have specific prompts. I find I don’t do well with the “unstructured” kind of challenge just to read a specific number of books within the year. I’ll set myself a goal, and then as the year goes on, I’m more likely to adjust my goal if I think it’s unrealistic. However, when I have a prompts-based challenge, I don’t feel like I have the room to “cheat” since I need to check off each item on the list. The prompts help me narrow down which books I’m prioritizing, and give me a bit of direction. Before I started doing challenges, I had a ton of unread books on my shelf but ended up not picking anything up since I got a bit overwhelmed by all the options. I still have tons of unread books, and my heavy use of the library definitely does not help me get through the books on my shelves, but at least it feels like I have a bit more of a plan for working my way through them.

The one thing in this meme that I don’t relate to at all is the ebooks. I don’t use ebooks at all, despite having several people suggest that I should get an e-reader since it is much lighter and easier to manage than multiple books, especially on the rare occasions when I travel. A co-worker actually gave me her (fairly ancient) e-reader that she doesn’t need anymore, but I didn’t really like it. I find reading off a screen just does not feel the same to me as reading from an actual book. I’m sure things will eventually head in the digital direction more completely, and it may get to the point where “real” books aren’t produced anymore for the sake of protecting trees, so I guess at that point I’ll have no choice but to make the switch and get used to reading from screens.

What I do have, though, is well over 2000 books on my Goodreads TBR, including a couple hundred books I have physical copies of (thanks to BookOutlet, mostly) that I have not yet read. I definitely have trouble picking what to read next. I find that I’ll sometimes be reading a book, and even though I’m really enjoying it, I’m already looking ahead to what’s coming up. I have to keep reminding myself to stay focused on the book I literally have in my hands, and not worry about what’s coming next until it’s finished. I think part of that pressure on myself comes from feeling a bit behind on my current reading challenges, and I want to just move forward and cross more items off the list. At the end of the day though, I’d much rather slow down a bit and enjoy what I’m reading than speed my way through several books just to get a challenge done in time. I’ve made myself tentative TBR lists for the rest of the year, but somehow I don’t think I’ll stick to them very well.

My other main challenge in picking what to read next is that I’m a huge mood reader, and I know from past experience that if I pick up a book when I’m not really in the mood for it, I’m bound not to enjoy it much. It can be tough to predict what books I’ll be in the mood for when I release my library holds, but so far I seem to be doing pretty well. Lucky for me, my library allows us to renew books up to 10 times for 3 weeks each, so in the absolute worst case, I can keep renewing them until I’m in the right mood (or switch it out for something else if I never am).

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books for Your Younger Self

If I’m completely honest, I had absolutely no idea what this week’s prompt meant at first. My natural interpretation was books that I would have enjoyed more if I had read them when I was younger, but once I saw the explanation in the Goodreads group I got a bit confused. According to Sam’s post there, it is “books that you wish your younger self would have read to learn a life lesson, get more self-confidence, open your eyes to a new perspective, etc.” This seems a lot more complicated, but I will give it a try!

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) They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

33385229I finished this book just a few days ago, and I definitely see it as something my younger self (or even myself now) can take away from. This book is about two boys, Mateo and Rufus, who meet through the Last Friend app after receiving the Death-Cast call informing them that they will die today. The Last Friend app is used to give people someone to spend their last hours with so they are not alone. I actually almost included this book in yesterday’s post about hidden gems, since I’d seen so much hype around it, but surprisingly little attention since it came out, but I think the same can be said for all of Adam Silvera’s books. The main reason I picked this one as a book for my younger self is because of Mateo, who is extremely risk-averse, and doesn’t really learn how to live until it is almost too late. I do take some issue with the idea that the only way for Mateo to really “live” is by getting out and doing more risky things, since I don’t think that is necessarily how everyone does or should want to lead their lives. However, what I took from this is to be a little more open to new things and that risks (within reason) can be fun. Like Mateo, I tend to be very risk-averse and hesitant to try new things in case I won’t like them. I think this book could have helped me see the other side.

2) Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

8520610Aside from the fact that I probably wouldn’t have read this book at all when I was younger since I (even now) rarely read non-fiction, I think this one would have had a strong impact. I am naturally introverted and very shy when it comes to new people, and the constant refrain throughout my life both at school and at work is “You need to speak up more often.” When I was in elementary school, I had a teacher literally tell me to stop raising my hand to give other children the chance to answer, and I think I really took that seriously since I stopped participating much in classes since then. This book talks about a variety of topics relating to how introversion is a different but equally important style. I loved how the author compiled psychological studies and real-life examples to support her ideas, and gave specific and concrete examples of how introverts can show their strengths in situations where extroverts are typically favoured. I would have loved a bit more about how schools tend to overlook introverts, and I also would have loved more about people in care professions (ie. personal support workers, social work, etc. ) where they must communicate with team members and families daily, but in general I found this book so helpful. I think it would have been great to read this when I was younger to counter some of the impressions that I got from school and work that my introversion was not good enough.

3) Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly

21444891It’s funny that this isn’t a book that I especially loved, but it is one that seems to have stuck with me quite a bit. This book is about a very naive young teenager named Thea who gets involved in a relationship with an older guy she meets online through a role-playing game, and soon discovers that he might not be who she thinks. When I was the same age as Thea, I was really into websites like Neopets and Habbo Hotel. I met some great friends through Habbo Hotel, which I started using because I had a real-life friend who had moved away was on it. Reading this book reminded me quite strongly of a close friend of mine that I met through Habbo, who was in a relationship with a guy who she’d met through the site, and he showed so many warning signs that she just didn’t pick up on. To be fair, I talked to boys too through Habbo and even considered one my “boyfriend” for a bit (I was 13), but it was never really in a serious way and I saw it more as a role-playing game than anything else. My friend, on the other hand, took her relationship very seriously and was on-and-off with this guy for several years, ignoring all the red flags. Luckily, nothing ever happened and she eventually moved on, but I wish I’d had this book at the time to share with her because many of the red flags that her boyfriend was showing were the same as in this book, and I think it might have hit home.

4) When Elephant Met Giraffe by Paul Gude

513vzs0ko4l-_sx258_bo1204203200_I’ve mentioned this book a few times in the past, but I think it is definitely worth mentioning here since I wish this had been around when I was younger! This book is a picture book about a friendship that develops between the talkative and kind of bossy Elephant, and the silent Giraffe. The only reason I discovered this book at all is because I was at a library with some of the young adults who have special needs that I work with, and I randomly chose this book off a shelf to read because I had one girl in the group who adores elephants. This book consists of three stories about what it means to be a friend, with a running theme of learning to manage a friendship with someone who is very different from yourself. In this book, Elephant is offended that Giraffe won’t talk until he learns that Giraffe actually can’t speak. Instead of letting that get in the way, Elephant figures out how to make friends with Giraffe anyway.  It is an absolutely adorable story, and I think it has a lot to offer to younger readers. One of the things I love about this book is how Elephant doesn’t let the fact that Giraffe can’t speak prevent them from becoming friends, which I think could be a great message for children to learn to interact with people who have special needs. When I was younger, I was absolutely terrified of a boy with Down Syndrome on my camp bus, and by the daughter of one of my preschool teachers who was deaf and “talked funny” (very loud, and hard to understand). I think a book like this would have helped me become more comfortable with people who are different earlier on.

5) Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci

16002008This is another one that I’ve mentioned many times before, but I really do think it’s worth it. My mom actually discovered this one first while working at the library and brought it home for me to try, and I fell in love with it right away. The book is about a duck named Theodora who is happy with her normal life, which is mostly like the other ducks around her, but she has a few unusual quirks. She soon makes friends with her neighbour Chad, who is very different from her. What I really love about this book is the overall message that normal is relative, and it is important for everyone to be themselves. It also shows the importance of standing up for our friends and not letting others get picked on for being a little different. I think I would have loved this when I was younger (the book didn’t come out until 2013, and I didn’t read it until about 2016) because I was part of a group of friends at school who were all a little unusual, at least compared to the popular crowd. My friends and I hated sports and liked to make up our own imaginary games at recess, or we would read. We all got picked on at various times in our lives for being different, like most kids, and it wasn’t until we became adults where it started to really hit home that being different is okay. I know a lot of kids could really use that message.

 

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Hidden Gems

I feel like hidden gems is a topic that has come up quite a bit recently, and it’s always been something that has been a little tricky for me to define. My first instinct is to go for books that don’t seem very well-known at all, but many of the books I had in mind seemed to have a lot of hype around them initially, and then somehow got overlooked. This especially seems to be the case for YA books, which may be because there are just so many of them being released all the time. It’s hard to keep up, and it’s so easy for great books to be overlooked. In general, I tend not to consider a book a hidden gem if it’s only very recently been released, since it’s hard to tell whether it’s had enough time to pick up yet. I tend to define hidden gems in terms of the number of Goodreads reviews/rating (although that’s tough, since I don’t necessarily have a set number in mind), or even just books that I don’t really see much hype around anymore.

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) Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty

34316345This one already might be breaking my rule about books that have recently come out, since this has only been out since May. However, it is not a book that I see mentioned anywhere, and it has barely over 1200 ratings on Goodreads so far. This book is about a woman named Poppy who who creates a Facebook group with her friend Annalise to celebrate their freedom from having children and vent about some of the “privileges” parents tend to get at work, and the group quickly gets out of hand. I thought this book was a lot of fun to read, and I loved the overall “grass is always greener” perspective that it gave from all the characters. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year ever since I saw it on Goodreads, but it never seemed to get much hype or attention. I also liked how it included several different perspectives from mothers and women without children to really present different sides of the topic. I thought the whole premise of the book was unique and it was very well-executed. I think a lot of people may shy away from this one because it is the dreaded “women’s fiction” genre, but I think it’s definitely worth reading.

2) Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

29456598I was extremely surprised to see how little attention this book has received since it came out last September, and it was another of my most anticipated books to try this year. Although it has an average rating just over 4 stars, it has less than 3000 ratings on Goodreads! Stunning cover art aside, this book was a very powerful story about a biracial girl named Kiko who is struggling with social anxiety and a very difficult relationship with her mother. When Kiko’s abusive uncle is welcomed back into the home, she leaps at an opportunity to get away by touring art schools and uses that time to figure out what she really wants for her future. This was by far one of the best books that I’ve read all year, and I’m shocked that it isn’t more popular. Given the very high average rating, it seems that it is a book that people tend to really enjoy once they find it, but it hasn’t been promoted enough for people to be aware of it. It is also the kind of book that might be difficult for some people to read. If I could suggest one book that I’ve read this year that I want others to read, it would definitely be this one.

3) Dear Martin by Nic Stone

24974996This is another book that I wouldn’t have expected to be a hidden gem, but I feel like it got overlooked compared to Tyler Johnson Was Here. Strangely enough, Tyler Johnson has even fewer ratings and a lower overall average, but it feels like that book has been everywhere, and Dear Martin was pushed to the side. I read both of these books, and in my opinion, Dear Martin is significantly stronger and I’m surprised it hasn’t had more attention. Dear Martin is about an African-American boy named Justyce who is involved with two incidents with white police officers. Justyce turns to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to try to help him understand his experiences, writing letters to him to help process what he is going through. This book touched on so many important topics including police brutality, internalized racism, and microaggressions, and I only wish the book had been a little longer to flesh out the characters a bit more. The book is barely over 200 pages, and there is a lot packed into it. I thought this one was on par with The Hate U Give in terms of its impact, and it’s a shame that it’s been overlooked.

4) Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

28919058Like Starfish, I’m very surprised to see how little attention this book has received considering how much hype I saw about it before it came out exactly one year ago. This book was another one that I badly wanted to read, especially after seeing it heavily promoted on one of my favourite Youtube channels (ProblemsOfABookNerd), and it really lived up to the hype! This book is about a boy named Tanner who is enrolled in a writing seminar during his last year of high school, where he is expected to write an entire book by the end of the semester. Tanner soon finds himself falling for the TA for the seminar, a Mormon boy named Sebastian. I absolutely adored this book and the characters. I thought it was such a compelling story and it drew me in right from the first pages. I’m not usually a fan of religious themes in books, but I thought the portrayal of the Mormon religion (which I know very little about) was interesting and well-balanced. I thought the dynamics between Tanner and Sebastian were adorable, and it was a book that I really didn’t want to put down!

5) Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

28101540I was surprised to discover that this book has actually been out since July 2016, since it feels like no one has read it yet! I saw a lot of hype surrounding this one for a while, and then it suddenly disappeared. Since it came out, it has received just over 5500 ratings, although with an average of just over 4 stars. It seems like another book that people enjoy once they find it, but not enough people know about it. This book is about a girl named Norah who is agoraphobic and has OCD, and she decides to remain at home where she feels safe from all the things that she is afraid of, until she meets her new neighbour Luke. This book reminded quite a bit of Everything, Everything (which I love), and I thought the anxiety representation was very well-done. I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style at the beginning, but it quickly grew on me and I ended up really enjoying this book overall. It seems that this one kind of got lost in the shuffle of so many other mental health-themed YA contemporaries, but it is definitely worth picking up.

6) Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

31952703I guess it’s not such a surprise that this one gets overlooked, since I had it on my TBR myself for quite a while and forgot about it. This book was originally published in August 2016 in Australia, and it has received quite a few awards for YA fiction. It is a bit more popular than the other books mentioned here, with over 13,000 ratings to date, but still does not seem to be a book that is talked about very often. It is about a girl named Rachel who left a love letter for her best friend Henry in his favourite book at his family’s secondhand bookshop before moving away, and returns three years later following her brother’s death, where she ends up working alongside Henry at the bookshop. To be honest (and at the risk of sounding heartless), I’m getting a little tired of the “dead sibling” trope in YA books since it seems to be way too common now, but I really loved this book. I especially loved the whole concept of the “Letters Library” that Henry’s father started, where copies of books are left on shelves for people to write in or leave notes in. I would never write in a book myself, but this sounds amazing! I also loved the letters and notes scattered throughout the story, and I loved both Rachel and Henry as characters. I can see why this book received so many awards.

7) Beside Myself by Ann Morgan

25517205Finally, another book on this list that isn’t YA! This book is a creepy psychological thriller that almost borders on literary fiction given the writing style. It is about identical twins, Ellie and Helen, who switch places when they are only 6, and Ellie refuses to switch back, forcing Helen to live out the rest of her life as the “wrong” person. I thought the concept was very intriguing, and I loved how the author delved into the topic of identity and what makes a person who they are. As children, Ellie and Helen were treated differently by everyone around them, and it was interesting to see how those patterns shaped who the girls became as adults. This book really kept me guessing about whether the switch had really happened, or if Helen was mentally ill and had imagined the whole thing. I found the book extremely compelling and a lot more complex than I expected, and I’m so glad I decided to give it a try. The writing style was a tiny bit confusing at the beginning, but as soon as I got used to it, I was completely hooked.

8) Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

31447601This was another book that I remember seeing a lot of hype around, and then it suddenly stopped. That kind of situation always leads me to wonder if the hype stops because people have read the book and changed their mind, or if we’ve just moved on to the next most anticipated book. I read Riley Redgate’s Seven Ways We Lie last year, and it was one of those books that I enjoyed well enough at the time, but have no memory of whatsoever after the fact, so I was a little nervous going into Noteworthy. Noteworthy is about an Asian-American teenager named Jordan who is a student at a special school for the arts. After facing multiple rejections due to her lower-pitched voice, Jordan decides to cross-dress as a boy and join an all-male a cappella group. I thought this book was a lot of fun to read, especially since a cappella singing is something that seems tricky to capture effectively on the page, when you can’t actually hear it. I loved that this book had a strong emphasis on friendship and minimal romance, which is unusual for the genre, and it brought up some very interesting points about sexism. It was definitely a huge step up for me compared to Seven Ways We Lie, and I’m glad I read it.

9) The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

32890474I also heard quite a bit about this one as an exciting upcoming release before it debuted in May 2017, and once again it seems that most of the hype around it has disappeared. This book is an LGBT retelling of the Little Mermaid, focusing on the origins of Ursula. In this book, Ersel is a mermaid who rescues and befriends a shield-maiden named Ragna. When Ersel’s childhood friend jealously gives her an ultimatum, she seeks help from Loki to escape the limited options for women in her society. I thought this book was very interesting and diverse. Ersel is bisexual and overweight, and Loki is non-binary and goes by they/them pronouns. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book at all if it hadn’t been for all the hype surrounding it, and I really enjoyed it. I loved how it played on the classic fairy tale tropes of bargains and events happening in threes. I think part of the reason that this book lost momentum in terms of the hype is because reviewers have pointed out some potentially problematic elements, which I did notice, but I still enjoyed the story overall. I thought it was unique and creative take on the Little Mermaid and it was fun to read.

10) Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

35721231This is another book that I was shocked to see only had a few ratings, although to be fair, it just came out in mid-May of this year. I saw so much hype around this book leading up to its release, and I would have thought that would have carried over. This book is about a girl named Mara whose twin brother Own is accused of raping his girlfriend, who also happens to be one of Mara’s closest friends. I enjoyed this book overall, but I couldn’t help feeling a little deceived about the direction that the story took, which focused more on Mara’s past than on the case involving her brother. Actually, I have to say that I found the plotline involving the accusation against her brother a bit underwhelming and I expected more from that part of the story, but I found it interesting how it connected with Mara’s subplot. I also liked how this book very naturally incorporated a diverse cast of characters, especially Mara’s ex Charlie, who is genderqueer. Even though I expected a bit more from this book, I really enjoyed it and I’m surprised to see that the hype has died down so quickly. I’m wondering if it’s just that people haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet, because the early reviews have been quite strong.

 

 

 

 

 

The A-Z Bookish Survey

I actually did this tag a couple of years ago in one of my Goodreads groups, but I’m sure my answers have changed quite a bit since then! I’ve always thought this tag was a fun one because it includes such a variety of questions, ranging from favourites to reading habits, to current reads. This tag was created by Perpetual Page-Turner and can be found here. Like most tags, I have no idea who has done this already, so if you want to do this tag, then consider yourself tagged!

A – Author you’ve read the most books from

Technically, Ann M. Martin because I’d read so many of The Baby-sitter’s Club series when I was younger. According to Goodreads, my top 3 are Ann M. Marin, Barbara Park, and Stan and Jan Berenstain. I wouldn’t necessarily count these because they are children’s books and so quick to read. If I limit myself to books I read as an adult, then my most read author is Jodi Picoult.

B – Best sequel ever

It would be too easy to just pick the rest of the Harry Potter series (as I did when I first did this tag), so for sake of variety I will go for something else. If I had to pick, I would probably go for Cress and/or Winter from the Lunar Chronicles series.

C – Currently reading

The Night That Changes Everything by Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice

D – Drink of choice while reading

None! I won’t eat or drink while reading ever since I smudged my copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with chocolate. If anything, I would just have water, which I keep carefully away from my books since I’m pretty clumsy and would probably spill.

E – E-reader or physical book?

Physical book for sure! A coworker recently gave me an old e-reader of hers to try, and my mom owns one that she got as a prize at her work’s Christmas party last year, but neither of us really use it. I’ve grown up only ever reading physical books, and I find it harder to read off a screen for long periods.

F – Fictional character you probably would have dated in high school

Probably someone like Levi from Fangirl or Reid from The Upside of Unrequited

G – Glad you gave this book a chance

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo! I had no interest in reading this at all, but could not escape the hype. I’m so glad I read it because it has become one of my favourites of the year.

H – Hidden gem book

Two that I read recently: Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman and Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

I – Important moment in your reading life

Honestly, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t read. I’ve always had books and loved visiting the library. I think the most important I can remember is reading to my dad when he came home from work. I think most people remember their parents reading to them (and my parents definitely did), but I would read to my dad when he was tired after work and sometimes he would fall asleep.

J – Just finished

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. I’m a bit disappointed that I had to split my reading of this one over three days, which I think reduced some of the emotional impact for me but it was still an amazing story.

K – Kind of books you won’t read

Westerns! This has come up a couple of times on my reading challenges in the past two years, and I dread them every single time. I’m all for branching out and trying new things, but I also want to have at least some interest in the book before I pick it up and I have not found a single western that appeals to me at all. I also rarely read horror because I’m a huge coward, but I will read them sometimes.

L – Longest book you’ve read

Winter, which was 827 pages.

M – Major book hangover because of

I’m still not sure I fully understand what a book hangover is, but I think maybe A Monster Calls would qualify. I definitely did not want to pick up another book immediately after that one because I didn’t want to ruin the impact.

N – Number of bookshelves you own

Only 2! Plus I have books on many of the shelves in my closet, and a nightstand cabinet that is completely packed with books. I also have stacks and stacks of books on my floor that I wish I had a bookshelf for.

O – One book you have read multiple times

I like to re-read, so I have more than one. If I had to pick just one, I’d say Little Women.

P – Preferred place to read

I do the vast majority of my reading in my room, either on my bed or at my desk. I don’t have the kind of job where I have opportunities to read during the day, and I don’t travel very often, so I’m not sure if it’s necessarily my favourite place or just the only one I really use.

Q – Quote that inspires you

I’ll stick with the one I picked the last time I did this tag:

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” —The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne

R – Reading regret

This is a tough one. I regret not being brave enough/committed enough to try some of the longer classics that have been sitting on my shelves forever (especially Ivanhoe and The Three Musketeers). I collected a whole bunch of classics when I was younger because of watching Wishbone and I always intended to read them. Then I never had the time because of school, and now a full-time job. I have to be in the right mood to read classics, and I rarely am in that mood.

I’m also not very good at picking up books when they first come out, and I actively avoid anything overhyped. I was lucky enough to realize that I should read Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events pretty early on, so I at least didn’t miss out on those, but there are many popular books that I don’t pick up until long after everyone else is over them, and then it’s hard to avoid spoilers.

S – Series you started and need to finish

I literally have a list of 12 series that I had in progress and wanted to finish by the end of the year. As of now, I still need to finish The Raven Cycle, A Court of Thorns and Roses (hopefully this weekend), and the Red Queen series. I also need to finish the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia, and the With the Light manga series. I’m sure I will have another list of series for next year!

T – Three of your all-time favourite books

The Time Traveler’s Wife, Me Before You, and The Rosie Project.

U – Unapologetic fangirl for

Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The Addams Family

V – Very excited for this release more than all the others

For this year, What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. For next year, Slayer by Kiersten White because I love anything Buffy-related!

W – Worst bookish habit

I think right now it is buying books off of BookOutlet long before I will have the chance to read them! I literally have stacks of books that I bought over the past year, and I have hardly read any of them yet. I will definitely have to prioritize them in my reading challenges next year!

X – X marks the spot (Start at the top left of your book shelf, and pick the 27th book)

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory (I have not read it yet)

Y – Your latest book purchase

A stack of 14 books from BookOutlet literally a week before they had a sale! I wish I would have waited so I could have bought a few more at the same time, since I couldn’t justify spending more so soon after I’d just bought some when I hadn’t read any of them yet. Some of the books in that stack:

Z – Zzz-snatcher (A book that kept you up way too late)

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh