Top 5 Wednesday: Fictional Food for a Holiday Party

I’m apologizing in advance because this post probably won’t be as long as usual, but I’m having kind of a rough day, and it doesn’t help that this is the kind of topic that is really hard for me. I actually thought I’d done a post fairly recently about fictional foods I’d want to try, so I was surprised to realize that it was a Top 10 Tuesday topic…literally a year ago! Specific food items is honestly not something that I pay attention to in books, so it’s really hard for me to remember it after I’ve finished reading. It was hard to come up with anything specific, and especially anything that I hadn’t mentioned before. It would be way too easy to just come up with a list of Harry Potter foods that I’d love to 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) Maura’s gooey brownies from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – I think it was either Blue Lily, Lily Blue or The Raven King that mentioned these, but gooey brownies sound absolutely perfect for a holiday party to me! Dessert is almost always the best part of the meal for me, and brownies are always a favourite.

2) A variety of pizzas from Bang by Barry Lyga –  This book has become a  frequent mention again lately, but in this case it is for good reason. In this book, the two main characters bond over a Youtube channel based on making their own creative homemade pizzas, many of which sound amazing! I don’t necessarily think of pizza as a holiday party food, but I love pizza and I can easily see it being part of a buffet table.

3) Mocha donuts from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han – I’ll admit I had to cheat a bit to find this one. I read and enjoyed this book much earlier in the year, although I definitely didn’t love it as much as everyone else seems to. I honestly don’t remember this food being mentioned, but it came up on a blog I was looking at of foods mentioned in books to trigger my memory a bit and it sounds delicious!

4) Lamb chops with mashed potatoes from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – I guess it wouldn’t really be a holiday dinner if I didn’t have at least one proper “main course” item. I’ve actually never tried lamb chops but I’ve always wanted to. I’m a little cowardly when it comes to ordering new foods in a restaurant because I don’t want to waste money on something I won’t like, but I’ve tried lamb in other forms (schwarma, mostly) and enjoyed it. I also love mashed potatoes! This dish was part of the meal Katniss and Peeta ate on the train before participating in The Hunger Games.

5) Treacle tart from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – I wasn’t going to include any Harry Potter items on this list, but I was honestly at loss for any other ideas. This is another item that I’ve never tried (and didn’t really know what exactly it was at first), but it always sounded delicious!

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Favourite Platonic Relationships

When I first saw this week’s topic, I thought it would be really difficult to come up with enough examples to fill the list, but the more I thought about, the more I realized how many there are. Platonic relationships are something that I often find lacking in books, although that may be because I read quite a bit of YA so those are often rife with love triangles and romances in general. When a friendship does remain platonic, I often find that it’s in cases where the author has set it up so a relationship between the two characters is impossible (ie. one character is gay or lesbian, and they are friends with a person of the opposite sex). When I started to think a bit more broadly about different kinds of platonic relationships, I realized that there are so many. I would still love to see more YA books where the characters don’t have to end up together too, but it’s nice to see such a variety of relationships on the page.

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) Cory and Shawn from Boy Meets World

This is the one and only example on my list that really has nothing to do with books at all, but I didn’t think I could make a list like this without mentioning one of the strongest best friend pairs of my childhood. Cory and Shawn were lifelong best friends who, despite their differences, stuck with each other through everything. Even as they grew up, moved through school and college, and into their adult lives, their friendship remains as strong as ever. I also have to mention the special bond they both have with their teacher/principal/Cory’s neighbour Mr. Feeny, one of the most brilliantly written mentor characters I’ve ever seen. Although it’s a little weird how he is with them as their teacher literally every year that they are in school, it lets them form a unique and strong teacher-student relationship, to the point where Mr. Feeny is pretty much family.

2) The Addams Family

Gomez and Morticia’s relationship is definitely iconic in its own right, but the family as a whole is an amazing example of platonic relationships as well. This one at least somewhat ties into books because there is The Addams Family: An Evilution, which collects all of the original comics by Charles Addams, letting us see how the family evolved over the years. All of the members of the Addams family fully support and accept each other as they are, and genuinely enjoy spending time together. They have many shared interests and welcome other people, including their many relatives, to join in with them. They are tolerant of each others’ differences, and always willing to help each other out when needed. It is one of the few fictional families that really isn’t dysfunctional, no matter how weird they are.

3) The Scooby Gang from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I’m thinking mostly of the TV series to be honest, but it could also apply to the graphic novel series as well. There are several romantic relationships within the group, but I love the platonic friendships that also exist between everyone. I especially love the strong friendship between Willow and Xander, who are both protective of each other and look out for each other’s best interests (aside from the brief time they considered dating each other). They have such a great history together, and I love how we get to hear small snippets of it such as Xander’s Snoopy dance, the infamous “yellow crayon” story, etc. What’s also interesting about this group is how even characters who start out hating them often end up being a part of the group, including Cordelia, Anya, and especially Spike. The gang helps Buffy in her many battles against vampires and demons and do what they can to support her, but it is the character dynamics of the show that really caught my attention.

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

Again, going for an obvious choice here, but there are so many amazing relationships in this series that I couldn’t choose just one to focus on. There’s the Marauders, Dumbledore’s Army, the trio, Ginny & Luna, and the Weasley family in general, just to name a few. One of the things I love most about this series is the characters and the way their dynamics grow and change as the characters do. Harry, Ron and Hermione as a group of friends all influence each other. Neville grows and changes a lot through his friendships with the others, and so does Ginny. The Weasleys are one of the most amazing fictional families I have ever read because of how close-knit they are. Even when they irritate each other at times, it’s clear that it is all out of love and they still care and respect each other. Dumbledore’s Army is another unique set of dynamics that mean such different things to different people, especially Luna. Although there is a lot of emphasis on romances toward the end of the series, I thought most of them evolved quite naturally from a basis in a strong platonic friendship first.

5) The Baudelaire siblings in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

This is another series that I mention a lot, but it was another childhood staple for me. The Baudelaires are left in the horrible situation of suddenly becoming orphans with only each other to depend on, as they are shuffled repeatedly from one guardian to the next, many of whom put them in dangerous or at least uncomfortable environments. Through it all, the three children love, support and take care of each other and become a strong family all on their own. I especially love how each of the siblings have their own separate and complementary talents, and they often take the time to specifically acknowledge each other’s strengths and show their appreciation. Considering the amount of stress these three are under, it’s amazing that they rarely if ever take it out on each other. I’m sure at least some of that has to do with the fact that their siblings are now all they have so it would be especially risky to damage that relationship, but it is still a great example of a very strong sibling bond.

6) Katniss and Haymitch/Cinna from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

When most people think of The Hunger Games, they tend to focus mostly on the Katniss-Gale-Peeta triangle, but I was also very impressed by the amazing relationships between Katniss and her two main mentors. Haymitch, as a former Hunger Games winner himself, is one of the few people in Katniss’s life who can truly understand what she is going through as she volunteers to become a tribute in the games. I’ll admit I didn’t really like his character much as the beginning because of the alcohol, but once I started to see the bond he had with Katniss, he really grew on me. Cinna was Katniss’s stylist who played a major role in Katniss’s popularity in the competition and as a rebel leader. Their bond was completely unexpected both to me and to Katniss herself, who didn’t expect her stylist to be much more than a shallow hair-and-makeup person, so the bond they form  is that much more special.

7) The Raven Boys and Blue Sargent from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

I just finished this series a couple of days ago, and it was amazing! One of the things that really stood out to me was the friendships between the four boys, and between Blue and the rest of the group. I especially loved the friendship that developed between Blue and Ronan, and the way they both casually teased each other by the end of the series. I loved how Blue developed separate and different bonds with each of the boys, and also how the boys themselves had such interesting and dynamic friendships with each other. I loved the interactions they all had as a group, but I also loved the individual scenes between any pair of characters. I also have to give special mention to Blue’s relationship with her mother and the other female relatives that she lived with, since it was definitely a unique and very different way of growing up, but it was obvious that it was a very loving and supportive family.

8) Rhysand’s Inner Circle from A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

I think this group really became major players in the second book in the series, but they are some of the strongest characters I’ve read both individually and as a group. This is another case where there are some potentially non-platonic feelings among some of the characters, but ultimately as a whole group, I loved the way they all helped and protected each other. Amren, Morrigan, Cassian and Azriel were each strong and compelling characters in their own rights, and it was so interesting to read scenes that involved them all. I especially loved how the series allowed us to get a look back into Rhysand’s past to see how he had met and befriended Cassian and Azriel, and to see the lengths that he was willing to go to keep his friends safe. It seems to be a common theme that I tend to love very character-driven series, and this one was no exception.

9) Karou and Zuzana from the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series by Laini Taylor

Zuzana herself is part of one of the most interesting couples I’ve read all year, but her friendship with Karou also stands out. It was amazing to see the friendship between them and how that friendship survives so many revelations about Karou’s life and the hidden world she inhabits. Zuzana is extremely loyal and open to accepting Karou the way she is, and even to explore some parts of her world herself. She is also open to Karou’s other friends and easily befriends them as well. It is also clear that her friendship is integral to Karou, since Karou’s life begins to improve again once she is reunited with her friends. Zuzana brought a lot of light to what otherwise could have been a very dark second book, and I think that really shows her role in Karou’s life as well.

10) Bang by Barry Lyga

*Some may consider this spoilers, but I’ve done my best to keep it vague. It is also not the main plotline of the book*

I have to give this book credit as one of the only YA contemporary books I’ve read featuring an opposite-sex pair where the relationship remains platonic, even though both people are interested in the opposite sex. In this book, a friendship forms between two of the characters, including one who is new in town, based on a shared interest in creating a Youtube channel together. Although one of the characters ultimately confesses their feelings for the other, they are not returned and the pair are able to overcome this and continue their friendship anyway. It was great to see this in the story because it is realistic. In most YA books, as soon as someone’s feelings are confessed, it’s almost inevitable that the other person will like them back or eventually realize that they do. It was great to see another side to it, where people are able to admit they have feelings and have those feelings not be returned, and still manage to remain good friends (even if it is awkward at first).

The Ultimate Book Tag

I could have sworn I’d done this tag at some point in the past couple of years, but apparently I haven’t. I’ve seen this around so many times, but kept passing by it thinking I had already answered the questions. I was surprised to find that upon doing a search through my blog, I’ve never done this one! It was originally created by Chapter Chicks (video here). Since I always forget to tag people, whoever wants to do this one, consider yourself tagged!

1) Do you get sick while reading in the car?

Yes! It makes me extremely nauseous, unfortunately. I have no problem reading on trains or planes, but I can’t read in a car or on the bus. It would have been great if I could have, since it would have made long car rides or commutes to school much more fun.

2) Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why?

Going with the cliched answer for this one, and choosing JK Rowling because of the way she made the Harry Potter world completely come alive, and also how she managed to tie together seemingly minor plot details from previous books in unexpected ways that still made a lot of sense.

3) Harry Potter series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer

Harry Potter by far. It has better characters, better writing, and a much more interesting world/storyline.

4) Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it?

I don’t, but that’s mostly because the places I’m going are not very conducive to reading. I won’t bring books to work because they might get lost or damaged and I have no time to read there, and otherwise I’m generally going out with friends or family so no time to read then either.

5) Do you smell your books?

I actually don’t have much of a sense of smell at all, so there would be no point to me smelling my books.

6) Books with or without illustrations?

I don’t really mind either way. Illustrations are fun, but I don’t go out of my way to look for books that have them either. Most of the books I read don’t have any, but I wouldn’t be opposed to them.

7) What book did you love while reading, but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?

Tough question. I’d probably have to say my Nicholas Sparks books. I still read and generally enjoy everything he writes, but I wouldn’t necessarily say they are high quality writing either.

8) Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!

I would say more embarrassing (for me, anyway) than funny, but I once was doing a book report for my class on a Mary Higgins Clark book called Let Me Call You Sweetheart. I was a terrible public speaker and extremely shy, so my teacher didn’t hear the title of the book when I said it, and I had to repeat it a few times. Of course, this being seventh grade, everyone had a good laugh at me saying “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to my teacher.

9) What is the thinnest book on your shelf?

I think my copies of Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (the original “texbook” one, not the screenplay).

10) What is the thickest book on your shelf?

As of yesterday, Kingdom Of Ash by Sarah J. Maas, although strangely enough a couple of the other books in the series that are shorter physically look bigger.

11) Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future being an author?

Being an author has kind of always been a dream job of mine, but I don’t think it would ever happen since I never follow through on writing anything. I like to write, but I don’t do it much anymore, and I’ve never finished any of the stories I started.

12) When did you get into reading?

I actually have no idea when it started, since I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember. It was always a huge part of my family. My mom is a huge reader and we’ve always had tons of books around the house. I used to love Scholastic Book Fairs and the order forms that we got in class, read-a-thons in school to track how many pages we read, and whenever I have free time, I usually read.

13) What is your favourite classic book?

Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Pride & Prejudice, and Little Women

14) In school, was your best subject Language Arts/English?

Generally, yes. I was a good student in general when it came to academics (not so much when it came to the arts or gym), but English was generally one of my highest marks.

15) If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated, what would you do?

I’d say thank you and take it, and either give it away or see if I could exchange it at the store for something different. I once got a copy of a book I already owned (but hadn’t read yet) and switched it for another one by the same author, so I guess that’s along the same lines.

16) What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or the Hunger Games?

I wouldn’t say they are lesser known, but Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle has a writing style that reminds me of Harry Potter even though the stories are very different, and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games.

The only really lesser-known series that I can think of is Pendragon by D.J. MacHale. I wouldn’t necessarily compare it to either of those series, but it was one of my favourites around the same time that I was also reading Harry Potter for the first time. It is a long series (10 books) following a boy who travels to different worlds where he must help them through a turning point by steering it in the right direction, while his nemesis tries to push the worlds the opposite way into chaos. Each book features a different and interesting world that touches on topics including animal rights, drought, slavery, artificial intelligence, etc.

17) What is a bad habit you always do (besides rambling) while blogging?

It’s too bad the question already said “besides rambling” because my first answer would have been writing way too much. Aside from that, I think I may tend to repeat myself sometimes, but I wouldn’t say it’s something I “always” do.

18) What is your favourite word?

I’ve literally never thought about it. I have no idea.

19) Are you a nerd, dork or dweeb? Or all of the above?

A nerd, I guess? I don’t really know what the difference is.

20) Vampires or fairies? Why?

I don’t actively reach for stories about either of these, actually. Up until the past year or so, I would have said that I don’t read stories involving fairies but the ACOTAR series changed that. I guess if I had to pick, I would chooes vampires since that is what I’ve read more often, and I tend to like the lore that go along with them.

21) Shapeshifters or angels? Why?

Shapeshifters. I think there is a lot more that can be done with a story involving shapeshifting than with angels. Although with that said, I did really like the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy with involved seraphim.

22) Spirits or werewolves? Why?

I’m much more likely to pick up a book involving ghosts or spirits than werewolves. I’m actually not even sure what it is I have against werewolf stories, they just don’t often interest me very much. Ghosts/spirits creep me out, but they often make for some great stories.

23) Zombies or vampires?

Vampires, again because of the backstory and lore that usually comes along with it.

24) Love triangle or forbidden love?

I don’t mind either of these, as long as they are written well. I’m a little burnt out on love triangles, but that’s usually because it is immediately obvious which partner the person will end up with, so there aren’t really any stakes involved. Forbidden love can be very interesting, depending on what exactly is making it forbidden.

25) Full-on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?

Depends what I’m in the mood for, but I’m fine with both. I tend to prefer character-driven books in general and sometimes get bored with a lot of action scenes, so I’m okay with full romance too.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Characters I’d Invited Over for Friendsgiving

Is it bad that I’d never heard the term “Friendsgiving” until making this post? I’ve heard of Thanksgiving dinners, and I know a lot of people who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving still take the opportunity to get together with friends and family. I’ve never been the type to try to imagine hanging out with fictional characters or what they might be like outside of their book world, so these kinds of topics are always a bit challenging for me. I did my best to balance it out with characters who were a bit different from each other, so each could bring something unique to the table.

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) Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling – To this day, Luna is still one of the most unique and memorable characters I’ve ever read. What I’ve always loved about Luna is how she is totally unafraid to be herself, even when she knows that other people make fun of her for it. She comments almost matter-of-factly about not having friends or how others tease her, but also doesn’t seem interested in changing herself to fit in. She is unique and creative, and I think she’d definitely bring some very interesting dinner conversation.

2) Catherine from Heartless by Marissa Meyer – To be fair, I mean the Catherine of the earlier part of the story, before she fully becomes the Queen of Hearts. Catherine is a talented baker who knows how to make all kinds of delicious treats and desserts. For me, the highlight of any great meal is the dessert, so I would love to invite Catherine so she can contribute some treats to end off our meal. I also thought Catherine was generally a very interesting character and she seemed like someone I would get along with, up until the end.

3) Jo March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – I think Jo was one of my first ever favourite characters in a book, and a character that I really strongly related to because of her interest in stories. I’ve always loved Jo’s passion for writing and the way that she was confident enough to stand up for herself and speak her mind, even when it might not be the most appropriate to do so. I would love to invite Jo because I think she could provide some interesting entertainment during or after the meal by telling stories or getting everyone involved in acting out one of her plays.

4) Karou from Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor – I swear, my intent was not to get a group of all female characters, but these were the first that came to mind. Karou is an interesting and witty character, so I would love to invite her for her conversation skills alone. She is also an artist who lives and studies in Prague, so I think it would be great to invite her to talk about her experiences there. She is one of my favourite protagonists that I’ve read recently, and I found it interesting how she was so relatable even though her life is so outside the norm.

5) Adam Parrish from The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – At least I have one male character to add to the mix. I have only read the first two books in the series as of now, so it’s possible that my opinion of Adam can change. The main reason that I wanted to invite him was because of a point made in The Dream Thieves (which I just finished yesterday) that hit home for me — how Adam has had such a difficult time already, and deserves some happiness in his life. I think a fun evening with friends and a good meal, assuming Adam was friends with the rest of us, would be great for him. I’d also love to invite Noah since he is one of my favourites in the series, but he’s so introverted that I’m not sure a party would really interest him much.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books I Was Thankful To Find On Book Outlet

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday is a Thanksgiving-themed freebie. I’m not American, so it’s not Thanksgiving for me nor is it a holiday I really celebrate anyway, but it also coincides quite nicely with an upcoming sale from Book Outlet. Book Outlet is always a little risky because items go in and out of stock frequently, and it is possible for people to buy an item even when it is already in your cart. As a side note, I really don’t like that aspect of the site — I think once it’s in your cart, it shouldn’t be eligible for others to buy. I get that people can end up changing their mind and removing the items from their cart, but it’s frustrating to go through the entire ordering process only to realize that a book or two that you wanted to get are no longer there. In any case, I’ve had some amazing finds on Book Outlet, and I’m hoping that the books I’m planning on getting won’t go out of stock before I can grab them! I’m thankful for Book Outlet in general because it gave me a much more affordable way to buy a lot of books…to the point where I no longer have space, although that’s not stopping me from taking advantage of this week’s sale!

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

1) The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty

30363076I read another book, Those Other Women, by Nicola Moriarty this year, and I really enjoyed it. I’ve heard about The Fifth Letter occasionally in the past, but never knew too much about it. As soon as I finished Those Other Women, I knew I wanted to try more of her books, and this was one that immediately caught my attention. This book is about a group of four best friends who dare each other to write anonymous letters that reveal their deepest secrets. The letters are already much darker than the women expect, and after the others have gone to bed, one of them, Joni, discovers a partially burnt fifth letter which is very angry and reveals a long-held grudge. The discovery of this letter leaves Joni wondering what to do with the letter, and how her friends could have been so angry for so long without any of them every knowing. It sounds like a very interesting story and I was glad to see it on Book Outlet very soon after I decided I wanted to try it.

2) The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman

30653949I actually discovered this book through Book Outlet in the first place. I kept seeing it come up while browsing new arrivals and for some of my favourite genres, and it sounded really intriguing. It is about a girl named Cressida Strauss who falls from a fourth-floor balcony at her school in France, where she had also become obsessed with a secret society at the school. Cressida’s best friend Kersti had always wondered whether the fall as a suicide attempt or an accident, and when she is invited as a guest to the school’s 100th anniversary, she decides to dig into the incident and find out what really happened to her friend. I generally enjoy stories that involve people trying to uncover the mystery behind suspicious events, so this one seems to be right up my alley. It first caught my attention on Book Outlet because of the pretty cover, and since it was only $5 last time I ordered, it seemed like a great choice.

3) Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

33590214I was very excited to see this one on Book Outlet because it was one that I already really wanted to read, and it is very high on my priority list for 2019. This book is about a Congressional intern in Florida who makes the mistake of having an affair with the married Congressman who is also her boss. Aviva quickly learns that the affair has a much bigger negative impact on her life than on his, and sees no other choice than to move away to a small town to start over. When others in the town convince her to run for office herself, she learns that it is not so easy to move on and the scandal can still haunt her. I was hearing quite a bit of hype around this book for a while, although it seems to have suddenly died off. I’m interested in this one because I rarely read anything that has to do with politics or political scandals, so it would be something a little different for me. Several of the reviewers that I follow have given it rave reviews, which only makes me want to read it that much more.

4) Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel

29430752This book has been sitting on my TBR list for about two years already, but it is only recently that I’ve really been motivated to pick it up. It is about a grad student named Kate who gets a job in the admissions department of a competitive day school to distract herself from a recent breakup. I think part of the reason I’ve put this one off for so long is because I kept forgetting what it was actually about, and for some reason, I was convinced it had to do with death and the gates of heaven. I have no idea why that’s what I thought, but I think it was mostly the cover art. This has always been the kind of book that I see on my TBR, decide I want to read, and then overlook in favour of other things that I want to read more. I’m planning on finally prioritizing it next year since it has been so long, and I have my own copy now so there is really no excuse!

5) He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

31450961I added this book to my TBR in the summer of 2017 because I was looking for more thrillers to read, and it’s remained untouched ever since then. This book is about a couple, Kit and Laura, who witness an incident involving another man and a woman during a solar eclipse. Although the man insists nothing happened, Kit and Laura decide to report the incident to the police, only for the victim to turn up on their doorstep months later. Fifteen years after this happens, Kit and Laura are now living under fake names and completely off the digital grid, but are still unable to escape from what they saw. One of my goals this year was to read more thrillers in general, although I didn’t really measure it in any kind of quantifiable way. I’m most likely going to keep that as a goal for next year as well since there are so many thrillers on my TBR and I generally enjoy the ones that I have read, so this one is definitely up there on my list.

6) Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

34078013I’ve been seeing this book around for quite a while, always with amazing reviews, but never really thought to pick it up until I saw it on Book Outlet. It is about a 14-year-old girl with autism named Ginny who is living with her fourth foster family who is supposed to be the family she will stay with forever. Her new parents have adopted her but are also expecting a baby of their own, triggering Ginny’s anxiety and an obsession with reaching out to her birth mother and get back the baby doll she had when she was younger. I’m always interested in books with autism representation, and I’m very interested in giving this one a chance. I think a huge part of the reason that I kept putting it off is because the synopsis I saw online was very vague and didn’t give me much more to go on than the fact that Ginny was autistic and adopted. To be fair, those are both things that interested me about the story, but it also wasn’t enough to really motivate me to read it at the time. Now that I know more, it’s moved way up on my priority list.

7) The Exit by Helen Fitzgerald

22614273I was actually looking for another book by Helen Fitzgerald that I had on my TBR already, but I found this one instead. This book is about a 23-year-old woman named Catherine who reluctantly gets a job at a local care home for seniors, after her mother forces her to work. One of the elderly residents seems convinced that there is something sinister going on and that her life is in danger, but no one will believe her because she has dementia. As Catherine starts to dig deeper into the woman’s claims, she starts to uncover more about what is really going on at the care home. I think this is such an amazing concept for a thriller, and it reminds me a bit of Elizabeth is Missing because of the whole theme of an elderly character being disbelieved because of their age as well as dementia. I think it is such an important story to tell to show that dementia does not necessarily mean that the person’s words can be discounted, and I’m curious to see how the author handles the story.

8) My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry

31439381I bought this book from Book Outlet several months ago, after receiving another book by this author from a Goodreads Giveaway. This book is about a lawyer named Lily who marries a man named Ed to try and get a fresh start, but she soon meets Joe, a convinced murderer that she is strangely drawn to as part of her first murder case. Lily soon realizes that her young neighbour Carla, only 9 years old, may already know more than people think, and both she and Ed’s lives get entwined with the child. When Carla unexpectedly shows up on their doorstep 12 years later, it leaves the couple wondering what her motives really are. Honestly, the plot synopsis on Goodreads still seems pretty vague and confusing to me, but I guess that is to be expected with a thriller. A huge part of the intrigue of this one for me is the title, since I’m very curious to figure out what “my husband’s wife” means. This is another one that is pretty high on my list for next year.

9) Always the Bridesmaid by Lindsey Kelk

24500150I’ve bought a few of Lindsey Kelk’s books on a whim, even though I’ve never read anything she’s written. This book is about a woman named Maddie who is stuck in the middle when one best friend announces she is getting married, just as her other best friend is in the process of getting divorced. To make matters worse, she also learns that her ex is also planning on getting married. This is the kind of book that I need to be in the right kind of mood to really enjoy, but it can also be a lot of fun to read. One of the things I love about Book Outlet is how inexpensive the books are, so I don’t feel too stressed about buying something that I might not love. I’m still generally pretty careful to only buy things that I really want to read and that I think I’ll want to own a copy of, but once in a while I’ll take a chance on something like this which I would never buy for myself at full price. I also bought We Were on a Break, in part because of the Ross Gellar vibes.

10) The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

22635858This is another book that I’ve had on my TBR for way too long, so I’m hoping that finally having my own copy will give me the push I need to finally pick it up.  It is about a single woman named Kitty Miller who happily runs a bookshop with her best friend Frieda in Denver in the early 1960s. Kitty dreams of the life of another woman, Katharyn Andersson, who is married, has children and beautiful home — the kind of life she always wanted, but it only exists when she dreams. Each time she has this dream, it leaves her questioning which life she really wants to live, and where the boundary is between what’s real and what’s not. I think I kept putting off reading this one because it wasn’t quite what I expected the story to be about. I thought it would be more along the lines of The Thirteenth Tale, but now that I take another look at it, it seems very interesting.

 

Monthly Recommendations: Relatable Characters

I find it a little strange to recommend books that have relatable characters because it seems like such a personal topic. Characters that may seem relatable to me probably won’t seem very relatable to other people. I tend to relate to characters who are introverted and on the nerdy side. I love characters who love to read or write, and who are passionate about their hobbies/interests. I also tend to relate quite strongly to characters who have social anxiety. Although I have never been diagnosed or formally assessed, I am pretty sure that I have social anxiety myself. Even if I don’t, I definitely see a lot of myself in those characters. I don’t necessarily need a character to be relatable for me to enjoy reading about them, but it is always nice to read a chapter and see the characters respond in exactly the way I would have.

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

1) Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

464164I have a feeling many of us will pick at least one Harry Potter character as someone we relate to, which I think really speaks to one of the core strengths of the series. A huge part of the appeal of this series for me is that it made the wizarding world seem so plausible that it’s almost hard to believe that there isn’t a secret world hidden in our real world. I think the characters played a huge role in that as well, since despite being witches and wizards, they seem just like normal people that we might know in real life. For me, Hermione was one of the first characters in a book that I really strongly related so. In part, that was because of the physical description of her in the first book which sounded a lot like me (although I’d love to look more like the Emma Watson version!). Hermione was described as having bushy brown hair, and at the time I first read the books my own hair was definitely very bushy and hard to control. I related very strongly to her Yule Ball moment as well, where the boys first see her in a dress and with her hair tamed, since something similar happened to me. I loved Hermione because she was a bookworm who spent most of her time in the library, and was rarely seen without a book in her hand. I also related to her difficulties making friends at first, but the loyalty she showed to those she cared about. I wouldn’t say that I’m anywhere near as confident as Hermione (ie. punching Malfoy, or walking out of a class she hated), but I relate to her so strongly.

2) Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

16068905I’ve mentioned this book a few times in the past as one that I really strongly related to. Although I never went away to college like Cath, I think I would have reacted to dorm life in a very similar way that she did. Cath spent most of her time in her room, reading and working on her fanfiction for the Harry Potter-like Simon Snow series. I loved Cath’s passion for her writing and the way it played such an integral part in her life. I’ve always been interested in writing and had ideas for stories that I would love to write, but I’ve never been able to follow through and actually write any of them. I also related very strongly to some of the anxieties Cath showed about being able to manage college, such as anxiety about eating in the cafeteria with everyone else. I found it very interesting how Cath coped with her anxiety by reading and writing, since that is basically how I managed as well. It was interesting to see a person so much like me in a situation that I had never been in, and really easy for me to put myself in her shoes.

3) Molly from The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

30653853I think this book is inextricably linked to Fangirl in my mind at this point, since I never seem to mention one without the other. In general, I think Becky Albertalli writes very relatable characters, and Molly was one of my favourites. The one thing about her character that I definitely did not relate to was the many, many crushes Molly had on various boys. I’ve never really been the type to get tons of crushes, but I definitely relate to her anxiety about doing anything about her feelings. Like me, Molly is the type who overanalyzes everything and that often leads to her jumping to conclusions. She had a lot of anxiety about dating in general, and about falling behind the rest of her friends as they moved forward in their lives. I also loved Molly’s interactions with her geeky coworker Reid, since I could easily see myself having many of the same conversations.

4) The unnamed narrator from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

rebeccaI still have no idea why I put off reading this classic for as long as I did. It quickly became one of my favourite classics of all time, and I think a big part of that was how strongly I related to the main character. This book is told from the perspective of an unnamed woman who has recently married widower Maxim de Winter, only to learn that the presence of his late wife Rebecca is still omnipresent in the house and in their relationship. Like Molly, I related very strongly to the protagonist’s tendency to overthink, which contributed so much to the long-lasting influence of Rebecca on the household. I was constantly left wondering whether Rebecca really was such a strong presence, or if it was the narrator’s own obsession about it that made it seem that way.  I loved to see a classic that had a main character who was more introverted and socially awkward compared to others like Elizabeth Bennett or Jane Eyre. There were so many things that this woman did that I can see myself doing, or thoughts I could see myself having in a similar situation. I can’t recommend this book enough.

5) Celaena Sardothein from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

7896527I’m including this one mostly because it was such a surprise to me that I related to the character at all. Before going into this book, the only thing I knew was that Celaena was a talented young assassin, so I assumed there would be no way I could ever relate to her. I am definitely not assassin material at all. I was shocked to discover that I related much more strongly to Celaena than expected in other ways, especially her love of reading and her tendency to obsess over desserts and treats. There were a couple of conversations that she had which sounded almost exactly like conversations I’ve had (or that I could have had) with my boyfriend. It was such a surprise to see myself on the page of a book when I didn’t expect that at all. I don’t relate to her as strongly as the other characters listed above since we are otherwise incredibly different, but it was still great to have those moments and really made her seem more realistic and human to me.

 

 

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books You Want to Read by the End of the Year

I’m definitely starting to feel the time crunch to finish all the books I want before the end of the year! This year, I’ve taken on the most reading challenges I’ve ever had at once for a total of 182 books, and I currently have read 145 of them. That leaves me with a total of 37 books that I want to finish before 2019. Even though I gave myself until the end of March to complete several of the challenges, I’d really prefer not to do that because it will completely confuse me when it comes to tracking next year’s challenges. There is a possibility that I’ll be able to finish everything, especially since I’ve incorporated a few more short books and graphic novels to fill in some of the prompts that I didn’t have anything definitively chosen for. It’s hard not to feel the pressure (even if it is completely self-imposed) to finish everything off, but at least I have a few exciting books left to keep me motivated!

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) Vicious by V.E. Schwab

13638125I first read Victoria Schwab’s This Savage Song last year, and it immediately made me want to read the rest of her books as well. I purposely put off this book until closer to the end of the year so I could read the sequel soon after, although I’m now regretting that decision because I don’t want to feel rushed when I’m reading it. Also, I’ve heard it can be a little slow-paced, which is not particularly motivating when I’m worried about the time crunch. Vicious is about two college roommates, Victor and Eli, who discover that people can develop extraordinary abilities and begin to experiment with that idea. A decade later, the two of them are now enemies who are on opposite sides of a fight over the existence of people with these special abilities. I’m very excited to read this book because it is supposed to be about two characters who are both morally grey, and that is generally the kind of character that I’m most interested in reading. I’ve heard so many great things about this duology, and I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

2) And I Darken by Kiersten White

27190613This is another series that I’ve heard so many great things about, and I’m excited to give it a chance. I also left it close to the end of the year with the intent of reading the next two early next year. I’ve heard this book described as a “female Vlad the Impaler” story, featuring the cruel princess Lada who is trying to take her homeland back from the Ottoman Empire, at least as far as I understand it. Part of the reason I put this book off so long is because I only had (and still have) an incredibly vague understanding of what the series is really about. I’m very interested because I’ve heard that it has very strong characters and I’m really intrigued by the Vlad the Impaler comparisons. I don’t often see fantasy books that are also more along the historical fiction lines, and I’ve seen some incredible reviews for this one from many of the reviewers I follow, so I think it’s about time I give it a chance. Like Vicious, I’m a little worried because I’ve heard this one is a bit slow too, so I’m hoping it won’t be hard for me to get through.

3) Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

28374007I’ve really missed out on some of the more popular fantasy series over the past few years, but in a way that’s a good thing because it means I can read the entire series close together. This series is about a set of triplet queens who must compete as heirs to the crown. Each of the sisters has a different kind of magic that they use to overthrow the other two and win the title of queen. I’ve only read one other book by Kendare Blake so far, and I really enjoyed it, so I’m hoping this one will be just as good. I’m actually currently struggling a bit with finding a place to add in the other books in the series to my reading challenges for next year, although I guess I should read this one first to make sure I’m interested in reading the rest. This is another series that I seem to have heard about non-stop for the past couple of years, and often with excellent reviews. It would be great to have a series that focuses a bit more (hopefully, anyway) on the family dynamics instead of a love triangle too.

4) Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

39752700I received this book as a birthday gift in 2017, and knew immediately that I wanted to add it in somewhere in my reading challenges this year. I absolutely loved The Girl on the Train, so I’m looking forward to reading Paula Hawkins’ next book. I intended to read this book over the summer, since it was part of a multi-week challenge prompt that involved reading a book for each of the 4 elements. My intent was to read all four in a row over the summer while my library was closed, but I ended up getting a ton of library books to hold me over for the summer, so I kept putting this one off. The book is told in multiple perspectives from a fairly large cast of characters, focusing on the deaths of several women who have drowned and the connections between their deaths. Like The Girl on the Train, I’ve seen very mixed reviews for this one, with most of them focusing on the fact that there is an overwhelming number of characters to keep track of, and that most or even all of them are unlikable. I don’t usually have too much trouble keeping track of characters if they are distinct enough, and I tend to find unlikable characters quite interesting, so I’m very intrigued by this one and I hope to get to it soon.

5) Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

34273236This was another book that I intended for the 4 elements prompts over the summer, that ended up getting pushed back by everything else I had to read and get back to the library. Celeste Ng’s debut was one of the best books I read last year, so I was excited to see that she had something new out. I got this one as a gift for my birthday last year as well, and it’s too bad that I’ve put it off for so long. I think I need to set myself a goal of managing my reading order a bit better in general next year. This book is another one that seems a bit hard to describe, but it is about a  woman named Mia and her daughter who rent a property from the Richardsons, whose four children soon are drawn into the lives of their tenants. When the Richardsons’ friends decide to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle sparks conflict between Mia and Mrs. Richardson, who takes it upon herself to uncover more about Mia’s past. It sounds like another great family story with some very interesting character dynamics, and I’m looking forward to reading it.