Top 5 Wednesdays: Freebie – 5 More Books That Have Been on My TBR The Longest

The past couple of years, I’ve intentionally made goals around reading some of my backlist books, especially those that have been on my Goodreads list since I started my account in 2015. There are so many books that I’ve added since then, and it’s so easy for the books that have been there longest to get overshadowed by something a bit more recent. In many cases, I haven’t picked up those books because I’ve had a hard time getting copies of them from the library, but I’ve been very hesitant to remove them from my list either. I think the last time I revisited this topic was back in November, with a Top 10 Tuesday post about 10 books on my backlist that I still hadn’t read, and I was glad to see about half of those were books that I had included in my plans for this year. Since this week’s topic was another freebie, I decided to revisit the books added to my list in 2015, and include a few more that I need to just pick up already!

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) Hello? by Liza M. Wiemer

This is a book that I haven’t picked up yet because I haven’t been able to find a copy, which is a bit weird since it was only published in 2015. It is about five teenagers who are each struggling with their own issues, and whose lives are linked and transformed by one phone call. The synopsis really does not give much information at all about what else the story is about, but it does mention that each character’s perspective is told in a different format, with some prose, some poetry, and even one that includes drawings. This book has not received much attention at all on Goodreads, with just under 700 ratings, although it has an average rating over 4 stars. I wonder if this book would have been a little easier to find at the time if I had read it back in 2015 when I first heard of it, since my library has a bad habit of getting rid of books that it arbitrarily decides aren’t wanted anymore. This book seems to be quite unknown, and I wonder why that is. I think it was the beautiful cover that first drew me to it, so I hope I can eventually find a copy to try.

2) Class of ’98 by A.L. Player

18461613This is another book that I keep really wanting to read, but can never find a copy! It is about two former classmates, Jackie and Matt, who barely knew each other when they were at school but are somehow transported back from their 10-year reunion to their senior year. Stuck in high school again, they decide to do things exactly the way they did before to try and get back to their own time in 2008, but soon realize that their feelings for each other have changed which would risk changing the future for themselves and for everyone else around them. I rarely read time travel stories, but I often end up enjoying them and it’s really fun to see characters try to avoid upsetting the future while still figuring out how to navigate the past. I’m actually not too surprised that I can’t find this one since it is published by Swoon Reads, which is a pretty small publisher, so I’d imagine it was not very well-known. It’s too bad since it seems like a fun and adorable story, and I’m hoping I can find a way to get a copy.

3) Hush Little Baby by Suzanne Redfearn

17333460I bought a copy of this one from BookOutlet within the past year, so I really have no excuse not to get to it soon. This book is about a woman named Jillian who seems to have the perfect life, but hides the truth about her abusive marriage in order to protect her children. Out of desperation, Jillian decides to flee with the children and finds herself on the run, with two young children and no money or plan of what to do next. Honestly, I don’t often read books that have to do with abuse or domestic violence because I find most of the stories, although horrific, feel quite similar. To be fair, I’m not really sure what else could be done with this kind of plotline to make it feel a bit more unique, so a lot of it really hinges on the writing style. It’s been quite a while since I’ve read something along these lines, so it’s possible that I was just feeling a bit burnt out on the topic. I’ve heard really great things about this one, and it definitely interested me enough to merit buying a copy, so I’d love to get to it soon to see if it really was worth it.

4) The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

21936809I’ve heard such great things in general about Peter Swanson’s books, and it also helps that my mom recently read at a couple of his books and highly recommended all of them. I’m pretty sure this is the one of the ones that she read and really enjoyed. This was the first of his books that I’ve heard of, and I was immediately intrigued by the premise. This book is about a man named Ted Severson, who meets a mysterious woman, Lily, while on a flight home to Boston. When Ted complains about his wife, Miranda, whom he believes is cheating, and jokes about killing her, Lily is quick to offer to help and Ted soon gets caught up in the plot. I’ve heard a lot about this book, including comparisons to Gone Girl! I’m actually a bit surprised that I’ve put this one off for so long since I love psychological thrillers, and keep setting myself a goal of reading more of them. On the other hand, I currently don’t have this one planned for any prompts this year either!

5) The Manifesto on How To Be Interesting by Holly Bourne

22533460I had this book down as an option for one of my challenge prompts last year, and ultimately decided to go with the other choice instead. I have several Holly Bourne books on my TBR despite never reading anything by her! This book is about an unpopular girl named Bree who is unsatisfied with her life but loves to write. When she is told that she needs to start living a life that is actually worth writing about, she decides to create The Manifesto on How to Be Interesting, with six steps to help her get a life that others might want to read about. I’ve read a few books with this kind of storyline, and generally find them fun to read, although I often have trouble relating to the main characters. I’ve seen extremely mixed reviews for this book, but I’ve heard great things about Holly Bourne in general so I’m still interested in giving it a chance. It’s one of those books that is quite low on my list (hence why it’s been on my TBR forever), but still interests me enough to actually want to pick it up at some point.

Top 10 Tuesdays: The Last Ten Books Added To Your TBR

I always love this kind of topic. For some reason, I find it a lot more fun to write about the books that I’m interested in reading than the books I’ve already read. I think I just have a really hard time commenting on books I’ve read without giving spoilers or being too repetitive (“interesting” seems to be the one word that I overuse the most). My initial intent was to use this prompt instead of my usual monthly Stacking the Shelves post, but I’ve added so many books that I might end up doing both anyway! I actually didn’t feel like I’d added too many books to my TBR lately, so I was a bit surprised to realize that I’d added just under 100 since the beginning of January! I cheated a bit and looked at other people’s posts before making this one of my own, so I ended up adding about 25 new books to my TBR today alone. I decided for the sake of fairness to only include the last 10 books I added before my TBR-spree today. I also “blame” BookBub for most of my recent additions. It is a site that I’ve only really discovered recently, and they give tons of lists of recommendations! I think it’s safe to say my TBR is now completely out of hand.

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) These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

30267904I found this book just yesterday, and the creepy cover immediately grabbed my attention. This book is a YA historical fiction mystery set in 1890s New York about a wealthy young woman named Jo Montfort, who wants to be a newspaper reporter, but is expected to be married off to a rich bachelor instead. When Jo’s father is found dead, it appears that he committed suicide but Jo is sure that there is something more to his death. She meets Eddie, the young reporter from her father’s newspaper, who decides to help her investigate her father’s death and find out what had really happened. I mentioned in a recent post that historical fiction and mystery are both genres that I tend to enjoy, but don’t pick up very often. I haven’t read too many books that combine both genres, but this one sounds very intriguing. I’d never heard of this book until this week, so I was surprised to see that it had quite high ratings from several of the reviewers that I follow. I’m not sure this book is particularly high on my priority list, but I’m definitely interested in trying it.

2) Half of What You Hear by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

35396553This was another book that I found a couple of days ago, and I think it drew my attention because the cover reminded me of another book that I will be reading very soon (The People at Number 9). I was especially sold on it when it was compared to Liane Moriarty, whose books I tend to love. This book is about a woman named Bess who moves to her husband Cole’s small hometown, across the street from her mother-in-law, after losing her job at the White House due to a scandal. Bess assumes the small town will mean a simple life for her and her family, but she soon realizes that it is harder to fit in than she imagines and the town is harbouring some secrets, especially when Susannah Lane returns after a decades-long suspicious absence. With the opportunity to write an article for a lifestyle section of a newspaper, Bess decides to interview Susannah and starts to uncover some of the secrets about her and about the town in general. I find I’ve been more and more drawn to this kind of story over the past couple of years. This one definitely seems to be along the lines of a Liane Moriarty book, and I’d love to give it a chance.

3) The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel and The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

4059028440590422I’m grouping these two together because I found them both on BookBub at the same time while browsing lists of recommendations. I’m a tiny bit apprehensive about The Secrets of Ink and Paper because I’ve just noticed that it is tagged as Christian fiction, which is a genre that just isn’t for me. It is about a woman named Sophia who moves to Cornwall, England a year after the death of her abusive fiance, and rents a place on the condition that she works at the bookstore underneath it, and another woman named Ginny who wants to save the bookstore that she co-owns with her husband. Together, these two discover the 200-year-old letters and journals of Emily Fairfax, a governess who wanted to be a published author, and they try to find out more about this woman. The plot does sound interesting enough to keep on my TBR for now, but I’m hoping the religious content isn’t too strong since that is what usually puts me off. The Printed Letter Bookshop is about an attorney named Madeline who inherits her aunt’s bookstore in a small town, and decides to quit her job after being passed over for promotion, and work at the bookstore instead to prepare it for sale, quickly finding herself at odds with the other employees who love the bookstore and want to keep it alive. I tend to like books that have to do with bookstores and reading, so I’m hoping that I will enjoy these as well.

4) The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

39863092As much as I tend to say that I don’t read romances very often, I seem to be adding more and more of them to my TBR. This book is about a woman named Rhiannon who creates a new dating app and soon finds herself attracted to a former pro-football player, Samson, who happens to be in league with one of her business rivals.  Ever since I tried reading The Hating Game, I’ve started to be a bit more open to reading these kinds of books. This one put me off a bit at first because of the football aspect, since I’m not a fan of sports at all and tend to find it boring to read about them. It also didn’t help that I took a look on Goodreads to see what else this author has written, and saw a ton of the kinds of romance/erotica books that I actively avoid. This book is not due out until early July of this year, so I may wait a bit and see what I think when there is a preview available or at least when more reviews come in. I’m still interested enough to give me a chance, but I’m definitely pretty wary about if this is really the kind of romance book I would like.

5) Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

40121959This was another book that I discovered through BookBub, which has been compared to Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng. It is about a Korean immigrant family who run an experimental treatment involving a pressurized oxygen chamber that is meant to cure issues including autism and infertility. When the oxygen chamber mysteriously explodes, killing two people, the family becomes embroiled in a murder trial to discover who or what caused the explosion. The suspects include the couple themselves under suspicion of cashing in on the insurance to send their daughter to college, and the single mother whose young autistic son died in the blast. I’ve heard about oxygen pressure chambers as a treatment for autism, but I don’t know very much about them. I’m very interested to see how the author handles this kind of story and it sounds like exactly the kind of courtroom drama that I tend to love. There are so many different elements and potential controversies involved here, so I’d love to see how they all come together. The early reviews on Goodreads so far have been amazing, but this book does not come out until April!

6) The Last by Hanna Jameson

40381927This book is definitely a bit more outside my comfort zone, but it sounds very intriguing. It has been dubbed a “dystopian psychological thriller” which is not a combination that I’ve ever seen before. It is about a historian named Jon Keller who is on a trip to Switzerland when the world ends, with news coming in that nuclear weapons have detonated in major cities all over the world. With only 20 people remaining in his hotel, there is nothing they can do except wait. When the body of a young girl is found, it seems obvious that she has been murdered, which means that someone in the hotel is the killer. Jon decides to investigate her death, but doesn’t know what kind of justice to expect now that the world has fallen apart. It sounds like such a fascinating concept, although I was a little disappointed to see that the book is relatively short, with just under 300 pages! It seems like a lot going on for such a short book, but I’m very interested by the topic. I haven’t read many (or possibly even any) adult dystopians, but I love thrillers so I’m excited to see how the two genres blend.

7) The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman

39863502I found this one on BookBub’s list of upcoming historical fiction, and it interested me because it reminded me a tiny bit of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. Like The Nightingale, this is about two sisters during WWII who have very different roles. One sister lives on the Armory Campus as an officer’s wife, and the other is a war widow who becomes a “soldier of production” making things for the war. One of the things I loved most about The Nightingale was the way that it showed how the war affected the civilians who were left behind, and the profound impact it had on everyday life. Although we know that a war must have had an effect on everything, I think it’s sometimes really hard to imagine what it must have been like for the people trying to live their daily lives while the soldiers were fighting. In this book, the focus is on the relationship between the two estranged sisters, Ruth and Millie, who are brought back together because of the war. From what I can gather, this story focuses mostly on the character dynamics, which definitely seems appealing to me.

8) The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

38359036I only added this one to my TBR very recently, although I’ve been considering it for quite a while, especially after someone at work recommended it to me. For a long time, I was feeling pretty burnt out on stories about WWII/The Holocaust, but I’ve heard such great things about this one that I thought it was worth a try eventually. It is based on a true story about a Jewish man named Lale Sokolov, who is assigned the task of tattooing the numbers on the other prisoners at the concentration camp. Over the years that he is kept there, he witnesses all the atrocities and does what he can to help keep the other prisoners alive, using the privileges he gains from the role he has been assigned, at great risk to his own life. In 1942, he comforts a young woman, Gita, who is waiting in line to be tattooed, and from the time of their first meeting, he vows that he will survive and marry her. I think part of what appeals to me about this story is that it is a Holocaust story that comes from a slightly different angle, and also because Lale Sokolov was a real person and this story is based on true events of his life. The only reason I’m hesitant to try it is because I’ve seen many reviews complaining that while the story was excellent, the writing wasn’t so good. I’m hoping I have a better impression of it when I try it for myself.

9) Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

36809135This is another one that I’d debated adding for quite a while, after seeing it literally everywhere. The book is about a young woman named Kya who grew up in the marshes near Barkley Cove, earning her the reputation of “The Marsh Girl.” Left behind by her mother and siblings who escape her abusive father, Kya is left mostly on her own, living mostly as an outcast until she catches the attention of two men in town. When one of those men turns up dead in the marshes, Kya quickly becomes the prime suspect, putting the life she has struggled to keep together at risk. When I first heard about this book, I wasn’t especially interested because the synopsis on Goodreads seemed so vague, but the more I learned about it, the more it appealed to me. I’m always a little hesitant with books that are as hyped as this one is, but so far I’ve seen nothing but rave reviews. I feel like this may end up being one of those books that I keep putting off until the hype dies down, although I’ve been learning over the past couple of years that sometimes all that hype really is worth it.

10) Between the Lies by Michelle Adams

37912967To be honest, I have a ton of very similar thrillers on my TBR already, yet that doesn’t seem to stop me from adding more. This book just came out this month, and it is about a woman named Chloe Daniels who wakes up in the hospital with no idea who she is, how she got there, or who these people claiming to be her family are. As she starts to recover, her parents and her sister start to tell her more details of her life, but she can’t escape the feeling that they are hiding something. I tend to enjoy thrillers in general, but always have a hard time choosing one to read. I tend to default back to the same few favourite authors that I already know that I like, so books like this often get pushed aside in favour of something more popular, but it seems like a very interesting story. I have a few thrillers on my TBR about characters who are struggling with some sort of memory issue and try to uncover what really happened to them, so I think it’s about time that I actually pick up a few of them! This is still quite a new release, so I’m interested to see more reviews as they come in.





Monthly Recommendations: Books From a Genre You Don’t Read Often

I kept going back and forth about whether I was going to do this month’s recommendations prompt at all, because I had a really hard time wrapping my head around it. In general, I would say that the genres I read most often are thrillers, YA contemporary, and YA fantasy. It was a real challenge for me to try to think of genres that I like but don’t read very often, and that I had books to recommend which I haven’t already talked about to death. There are very few genres that I don’t read at all. I don’t like Westerns, and I’m a huge coward when it comes to horror. Other than that, I think I read a little bit of everything. If I had to pick a couple of genres that I don’t read too often, it would probably be historical fiction and sci-fi. I actually tend to really enjoy historical fiction, but I need to be in the right mood for it. Sci-fi is a genre that I don’t pick up very often but I tend to enjoy the books that I do read. I also found that I rarely read books that are just mystery. If anything, I read a lot of mystery-thrillers, and it’s sometimes really hard to separate out which books belong to each of those genres separately. Since this is the genre that I feel like I’ve discussed the least, I decided to go with recommendations for a few mysteries that I’ve really enjoyed. As much as I tried to avoid books that I’ve discussed many times, I think these are all books that I’ve mentioned before, but they are definitely worth the attention!

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) And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

16299Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first — this was the first Agatha Christie book I’ve ever read, and I was completely blown away by this mystery! I’ve read a few others over the past couple of years, and I’m currently in the middle of Murder at the Vicarage, but so far none of them have topped this one. This book is about a group of ten people who are invited to a private island by an eccentric millionaire, who is nowhere to be found once they arrive. Each guest has a secret that they are hiding, and over time, they begin to die one by one. The group tries to work together to figure out which one of them is the killer. I found this mystery completely fascinating and I devoured the entire thing in one day. It was an ingenious case that kept me guessing right up until the end. It was a bit tricky to keep track of all the characters at first because there were several introduced in very rapid succession, but once the mystery really got going, I was hooked. It’s been almost three years since I’ve read this, and it is still one of the best mysteries I’ve ever read. It is definitely a classic for a reason.

2) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

1618I’m actually surprised that I haven’t talked about this book more, since it is one of my favourites! I’ve read it twice, seen the play, and even went to a local movie theater when they broadcasted a version of the stage play. This book is about a boy named Christopher who seems to be on the autism spectrum although it is never stated in the text. Christopher is extremely logical and rigid in his routines, and he has a lot of difficulty with social situations. He is also extremely logical and has an excellent memory. The book focuses on his investigations after he discovers that his neighbour’s dog has been killed, and sets out on his own to solve the mystery. I thought this book had an incredible story and Christopher was a very interesting main character to follow. The mystery is a key part of the story, but there is also a lot more depth and content to it, especially around Christopher’s family and how he relates to the people around him. I love this book, and I would highly recommend it! For what it’s worth, I would also highly recommend the stage version of this book since it is amazing to see the character brought to life.

3) The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

40440In some ways, I have a hard time thinking of this book as a mystery even though it really is one. This is another book that drew me in as soon as I read it, and kept me hooked from the first pages. It is about a woman named Margaret who is hired by an old and ill author, Vida Winter, to write her biography. Vida Winter was known for a mysterious book that was missing a chapter, and Margaret hopes to uncover what happened to those missing pages. I think anyone who enjoyed The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo would enjoy this one, since both share the same basic premise of a younger woman learning about the life of an older woman, sharing their story for the first time. This book is so atmospheric, and reminds me quite a bit of Jane Eyre. I love the way the author had us learning about Vida’s life alongside Margaret, and it was such an intriguing story. The other thing I really loved about this book was the emphasis it placed on the love of books, especially through Margaret, who grew up in her father’s rare bookshop. This book is so beautifully written, and I think there is a good reason that it immediately became one of my favourites.

4) Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

19486412I’m noticing a pattern here that all of the best mysteries I’ve read are books that I’ve read more than 2 or 3 years ago. I read this one back in 2015, as part of my first ever reading challenge, and it has also become one of my favourite books. The book centers on the death of a character at a school trivia night. Several mothers of kindergarten students seem to be suspiciously connected to the death. I think this was one of the first books that I’d read which had to do primarily with “playground politics” and the character dynamics were what really made this book work for me. It focuses on three women: Madeline, a stay-at-home divorced mom whose child is in class with her ex’s child with his new wife; Celeste, the young wife of a businessman who gave up her life as a lawyer to be a full-time mom to her twins; and Jane, a young single mother who is new in town and looking for a fresh start. This was a completely fascinating mystery that kept me guessing right up until the end. I love books that have a strong focus on characters, and this one was excellent. It is still the strongest Liane Moriarty book that I’ve read, and definitely the first one of hers that I would recommend.

5) Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

35068534I think YA Mystery is a genre that I read even less frequently than mysteries in general, however I read one last year that really stood out. This book is a 2018 release that focuses on a young teenage girl named Claudia whose best friend Monday has suddenly gone missing just before they are due to start school. Claudia knows that something must be wrong to prevent Monday from coming to school, but Monday’s family and Claudia’s parents insist that she needs to leave it alone. The book jumps back and forth in time, and although I’ve seen many reviewers complain that it became confusing, I never had a problem with the timeline. Chapters are labelled with titles like “The Before,” “The After,” or “Three Weeks Before The Before.” It seems a bit confusing at first, but it actually makes a lot more sense as you read it. I was surprised by how much this book drew me in especially because Claudia was a much younger narrator, at only 14, than I usually can relate to. Even though I was not particularly surprised by the reveal, I found the book completely engaging and I devoured the whole thing very quickly. It is definitely one of the most interesting YA mysteries I’ve read, and I think it also touches on several very important topics.




Top 5 Wednesdays: Books at the Top of Your TBR

I feel like there have been quite a few topics recently that have led to listing my top priority books for the year. In mid-December, I had a Top 10 Tuesday post about the 10 books that were at the top of my list and I also included a list of my top top priority standalones in my post about my 2019 goals. Usually I don’t like when I have too many similar topics so close together because it feels a bit repetitive, but I was excited to see this one so I could talk about some more of the books that I’m very excited to read! I will do my best not to repeat any from the previous lists I already made, but these are top of the list for a reason. I think this topic also relates quite strongly to my most anticipated books of the year, but I tend to gear that one more toward new releases that I’m waiting for. I consider this post more of a continuation than a separate list. Even then, it was a huge struggle to narrow this list down to just 5 because I kept coming up with more and more books that were at the top of my list.

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) Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

36896898I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t mentioned this one too much yet, but it is definitely at the top of my list for this year! I absolutely loved Uprooted when I read it in 2017, so I was very excited to see something new by Naomi Novik. I know she has quite a few other books out as part of a series, but I’m not sure if I’m interested in those. This book is a Rumplestiltskin retelling, which is a fairy tale that I’ve always enjoyed. It is about a girl named Miryem who sets out to collect the money that the other villagers owe her father, and who has a talent for turning silver to gold, which attracts the attention of Staryk, a brutal winter fairy king who wants to use her ability to his advantage. I think this books sounds incredibly interesting and I’m  hoping it is along the same lines as Uprooted. I have seen so many excellent reviews for this one, but also a couple of complaints: some reviewers have called it slow-paced, and many have said that there are multiple perspectives that are not clearly indicated, which both might be a bit off-putting for me. However, the plot of this one sounds very interesting and I’m looking forward to giving it a try.

2) The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

34189556One of my goals for the year is to read more thrillers in general, and this is one that is very high up there on my list. Like many thrillers, the Goodreads synopsis is incredibly vague and I’m hesitant to read too many reviews to find out more because I don’t want to see any spoilers. From what I can gather, this book is about a woman who becomes obsessed with the younger woman that her husband left her for, but with many twists. I have seen this book absolutely everywhere recently, and although the reviews have been a bit mixed, the majority of what I have seen has been very positive. I love thrillers in general, but it is rare that I find one that I really love and that genuinely shocks me. I’m hoping that this will become a new favourite, and it is one that I’m really looking forward to reading this year. I’ve already added Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekannen’s next book, An Anonymous Girl, to my TBR although I don’t think I will be getting to that one within the year. Depending how much I enjoy this one, I may just have to shift things around to squeeze it in.

3) The Perfect Mother by Aimee Malloy

The Perfect MotherThis is another thriller that I’m really excited for, and it was one of the first books that I added to my list when I started planning for my 2019 challenges. This book is about a group of women who call themselves the May Mothers because they are all new moms who gave birth in May, and they meet twice a week to support each other and share their experiences as new parents. When the group agrees to meet for drinks one night, Winnie’s six-week-old son goes missing. Three of the other mothers in the group decide to go to any lengths to help her find her son, as the police and the media begin to dig into Winnie’s personal life, and soon start to scrutinize the other women as well. This book sounds like a very intriguing thriller, and I’m excited to try it for myself. I would have loved to read it in 2018, but by the time it was released, I couldn’t a place to fit it into my challenges and had no room for any extras. I am already looking forward to finally reading this one for myself, and I hope it lives up to all the hype I’ve seen surrounding it!

4) Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

35698114Every so often, there is a book on my TBR that just grabs my attention and moves all the way up to the top of my list, for no apparent reason. This book quickly became one of those, ever since I first found it on Goodreads back in May. This book is about a woman named Frances who is part of a local carpool, which allows her to find out way too much about the other families in her neighbourhood. When Frances witnesses another woman having an affair, she decides to just mind her own business, but that becomes impossible when the woman’s husband throws her out, with repercussions that affect everyone involved in the carpool.  I’m finding that a lot of adult contemporary books that have to do with family secrets or character dynamics in general have become very appealing to me, although I’m not always such a fan of the way they are executed. This one sounded like an intriguing storyline, and I was especially interested in the carpool angle that felt a tiny bit more unique. I’m very curious to see how one neighbour’s affair can have such a huge impact on everyone else in the carpool. I have no idea how this book made it to the top of my TBR, but now I’m very excited to try it.

5) The Giant Days series by John Allison

25785993I’ve been hearing about this series for quite a while, and I finally decided to prioritize it this year. Part of the reason I really wanted to try it is because it is a series of graphic novels, which I thought would be a great counterbalance to the many longer books that I have on my list, but mostly it was because I’ve heard such great things about it. It’s only really in the past year or two that I’ve really started to read graphic novels, and this is a series that I’ve been meaning to read because of how often it’s come up when I look for graphic novel recommendations. I’m actually a bit confused about how many books there are in total. I thought there were 10, but I’m only seeing up to #9 on Goodreads, due out in February, at least for the collected editions (so if anyone knows for sure, please let me know so I can adjust my plans accordingly). This series is about three girls, Susan, Daisy and Esther who quickly became friends when they started university, and all are hoping to reinvent themselves now that they are away from home for the first time. I’ve only seen a preview of the first one so far, and I loved the art style and the small amount of the story that I saw. I’m really looking forward to trying this series!



Top 10 Tuesdays: Books I Meant to Read in 2018 But Didn’t

Toward the end of December, my Top 5 Wednesday group also had a prompt asking for the books we meant to read in 2018 but didn’t get around to. I originally wasn’t sure I had enough books that I’d skipped to fill both posts, but the more I started to look back on the plans I had for the year, the more I realized that there were a lot of books that I’d intended to read, but didn’t. In my previous post, I focused mostly on books that I had very tentatively slotted in to different prompts, but only one of them was a book that I really felt I’d missed out on reading. As I started to look at the books I wanted to include this time around, I realized that there were quite a few books left! I had two challenges that I didn’t finish, with a total of 6 books remaining, and several others that I felt compelled to switch out in favour of something shorter/easier to read by the end of the year. At least it gives me some books to prioritize for this year instead!

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) Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

33275690I’m actually currently reading this book, and as of posting this, I’m about a third of the way through it. This was one of the books I had in mind for a prompt for my Rejects Challenge, and I just ran out of time to get to it. It was frustrating, since I bought a copy from Book Outlet and really wanted to read it, but I did such a poor job of organizing myself last year, that I just couldn’t get to it. This book is about a girl named Claudia who accidentally overhears a popular couple at school breaking up, and ends up paired with Iris, a mean girl who was one half of that couple, for an assignment that leads to them both becoming involved in the school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This is one of two Emma Mills books that have made it to my list for this year, and I’m glad that I’m getting to read it now. It was especially frustrating to run out of time for this one last year because it’s such a quick read, at least so far. The book is just over 300 pages, but it goes pretty quickly and it’s been fun to read so far.

2) Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

23131103This was another book that was very high on my priority list for last year, and I ended up running out of time for it as well. It was the only other book from my Rejects Challenge that I didn’t finish, so I decided to add this one and Foolish Hearts to my Rejects Challenge for this year instead. This book is about a woman named Evie who is frustrated with social media and the constant communication that it entails, and decides to take a break from her smartphone and social media accounts. I love books that focus on social media, which is why this one was so high on my list in the first place. I was so excited to find an inexpensive copy of this one on Book Outlet too, and the only reason I kept putting it off was because I was prioritizing my library books instead. I’m very disappointed that I didn’t get to this one, but I’m planning on reading it within the next week or two instead. Technically I have the whole year since I added it to a new challenge, but it only seems right to knock off some of the leftovers from last year first.

3) The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser

29102939I’ve had this one on my TBR since 2016, when I fell in love with the stunning cover art, but unfortunately I keep putting off reading it. This was the first of four books (the next 4 listed here) which I planned to read for my Book Riot challenge last year, and ended up scrapping because the books I had remaining were all for prompts that I found repetitive, or at least that was my excuse to not feel bad about running out of time. I had this book in mind for yet another “book in translation” prompt, which is a challenge category that I’m very tired of seeing. It is about a girl named Amy who moves to her mother’s childhood home, where her grandmother insists that she must read. Amy discovers that she is a “book jumper” who is able to leap into the stories she is reading, and interact with the worlds inside her books, and soon realizes that someone might be stealing from the books. I love the concept of this one, although it reminds me quite a bit of The Neverending Story and Inkheart, neither of which did I enjoy very much. I was interested in reading this one, but kept pushing it off until the end of the year, at which point I lost interest. I would love to come back to it at some point, but it’s not in my immediate plans.

4) OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

13326677I had this book in mind for a prompt asking for a book that has an ugly cover, mostly because I found the colours of the cover pretty obnoxious. It was another one that I put off because I prioritized my library books over the books I owned, so this one fell to the bottom of my list, despite my interest in trying it. It is about a girl named Bea who is interested in a guy named Beck, but also can’t stop thinking about someone else, a guy that she watches and even takes notes about in her journal. While Bea insists that she has it under control, it seems to be more of a compulsion that is related to her OCD. I have seen extremely mixed reviews for this one, especially around the OCD representation. It’s interesting because I’ve seen several reviews that say the representation is terrible and even harmful, and about an equal number of reviews that are impressed with how accurate it seems. I do not have OCD myself so I’m definitely interested in seeing what reviewers who do think about the representation, but either way I still have some interest in giving this book a try.

5) The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

18465852I’ve been hearing great things about this book for quite a while, and although I’m interested in trying it, it always seems to slip to the bottom of my list. I had this book in mind for a prompt requiring a book that was about an immigrant, and ultimately switched it out for an amazing graphic novel instead. This book is about a Mexican girl named Maribel whose parents move to America after she suffers a near-fatal accident, and the family soon realizes that her recovery may be more difficult than they expected due to language and cultural barriers. Maribel also meets Mayor Toro, a boy her age whose family moved from Panama 15 years ago, and the two of them form a close bond that is soon overshadowed by violence. If I’m honest, I rarely seem to find books about South or Central American characters that interest me very much, but this one sounds very intriguing. It reminds me a bit of Jean Kwok’s Girl in Translation, which I absolutely loved, and which may have something to do with the very similar cover art. Every time I look at the synopsis for this one, it reminds me that I’m interested in reading it, but it never seems to make it to the top of my list.

6) Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for AlgernonThis is the one and only re-read on this list, which I chose for a prompt requiring a book that was assigned in school that I’d hated or never finished. I had to stretch the prompt since I always did my assigned reading, and the only book that I outright hated was a book that I had no interest in trying again. I chose this one because it is commonly read in schools, and I read it while I was at university, although it was never assigned to me. When I last read this book, I didn’t like it very much. It is about a young man named Charlie who has a cognitive disability, and who participates in a lab experiment in which an operation increases his IQ to genius levels. When scientists notice some serious side effects in Algernon, the lab rat who has undergone the same treatment, it seems likely that the same will happen to Charlie, forcing him to lose his new life. In theory, I love the concept of this book and I was really hoping to enjoy it more than I did. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it very must because I found Charlie’s arrogance as his intelligence so off-putting. I’d love to try it again now that I know a bit more about what to expect from the character, but I wouldn’t say it is very high on my list.

7) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

256683I’ve been debating reading this series for such a long time already, and even debated whether to include it in my plans last year at all. I initially decided against it, but eventually changed my mind and had it in mind for a prompt requiring a book that had been turned into a movie that I had seen. I saw the 2013 movie version, and I enjoyed it but wasn’t too interested in reading the books at the time. The longer I put it off, the more I felt overwhelmed by the series. It just started to feel like there were a million books to catch up on, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to it. I finally decided to give it a chance after seeing that so many other of the very hyped series that I’d been avoiding ended up becoming favourites. I intended to read this one closer to the end of 2018 so I could move on to the rest of the series this year without forgetting too much detail, but I pushed it off so long that I just ran out of time. I ended up making the 6 books of this series plus the 3 Infernal Devices books a goal for this year (assuming I enjoy the first one enough to continue), so I’m hoping to get to it soon.

8) Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

28374007I’ve just realized that this was actually the last book I intended for last year’s Book Riot challenge, so one of the books above must have been for another one, not that it really matters much. This was another series that I wanted to try because I’d seen so much hype around it, and I also left it until close to the end of the year with the intent of reading the rest of the series early in 2019. It is about a set of triplet queens who are all heirs to the throne, competing in a game of life or death to see who will ultimately win the title of ruler. Each of the sisters has a different kind of magic that they use to try and overthrow the other two and take their place as queen. I kept mentioning this one late last year as a book I meant to finish before the start of 2019, and I just couldn’t get to it in time. I didn’t want to rush through it right at the end of the year since it seemed like a book that I would really enjoy, so I decided to push it off and read the trilogy together in 2019 instead. I’m probably not going to be reading the Queens of Fennbirn novellas this year, unless someone tells me that they are essential to the rest of the series (but no spoilers, please!) just because I don’t think I have any room to fit it in.

9) Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

23308087I think this is the book that I’m most embarrassed about not reading. I asked for it for my birthday in 2017, with the intent of reading it for my 2018 reading challenges, and I just never managed to pick it up. I was first interested in this one because I saw it described as a Mulan retelling, and that has always been one of my favourite movies. The more I read about it though, the more I saw people commenting that it really has very little to do with Mulan, and I think that put a lot of people off. THis book is about a 17-year-old girl named Mariko who has been raised to be married off. On her way to meet the man she is supposed to marry for the first time, her convoy is attacked by a group called the Black Clan who aim to kill her, and as the lone survivor, Mariko decides to disguise herself as a boy and seek revenge on the Clan. I have been meaning to read Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn duology for a while as well, but haven’t read those either. Actually, the one biggest complaint I’ve seen about this one is that it is very slow-paced, which is something that tends to put me off, but the story still sounds interesting enough to appeal to me.

10) Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

32333055This was another book that I was really annoyed about not getting to in time, especially because I really wanted to read it. It was another one that I managed to get from Book Outlet, which meant it got pushed back to the end of the year so I could finish my library holds first. Unfortunately, that also meant I left it too late. This book is about a hijabi Muslim teenager named Janna who is struggling to find her place in her family and friends. When Janna learns that a highly respected member of her mosque is responsible for a horrible act, she also has to decide whether she will be the one to call him on it, and risk causing an uproar in the community. I have heard a lot of great things about this book, and it was one that I was really looking forward to reading. I actually wasn’t completely sold on it at the beginning of the year, but the more I looked through my Goodreads TBR, the more this one kept coming back to me and I knew it was something I’d have to give a try soon. It’s frustrating that I didn’t get to it last year, so I’m hoping to get to it within the next couple of weeks.

Bonus #11) You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

30339479I usually don’t list more than 10 books for a Top 10 Tuesday, but this list just didn’t feel complete without this one, even though I nearly forgot it. This was a book that caught my interest very early on in the year, but I ultimately switched it out for a different option when I had trouble getting a copy of it. For most of last year, my library did not have a copy available and I ended up buying one from Book Outlet instead. By the time I got a copy, I’d already read another book to fulfill the prompt that I wanted it for and I didn’t have anywhere else to put this one, so I decided to leave it for 2019 instead. This book is about 18-year-old twins, Adina and Tovah, who are Jewish and whose mother suffers from Huntington’s disease. The girls have their futures all lined up, until a genetic test reveals that one of them tests positive for Huntington’s, while the other tests negative. With little in common already, these opposite results push the twins even further apart as they try to come to terms with the results and the impact it will have on their futures. I’ve seen such amazing reviews for this one, and it reminds me a bit of a YA version of Lisa Genova’s books, which I love. I wish I would have found a copy sooner last year!





The Compelling Conclusion: Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 3 (Netflix Series)

I’ve been very impressed with the Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events since it debuted two years ago, so I was looking forward to seeing the newest season, covering the last 4 books. Every time I re-read this series, I tend to find myself getting a little bored toward the end. I have the habit of trying to read all 13 books back-to-back, so it’s not surprising that I start to get a little worn out toward the end. I was a bit apprehensive going into this new season because most of my favourite books in the series had already been covered. The Slippery Slope and The Grim Grotto have never been my favourites, but I was really looking forward to The Penultimate Peril, which I’ve always found one of the best. I was so glad to see that this season kept up the quality of the previous two, and ended very strongly!


Toward the end of the book series, the Baudelaire orphans have become more self-sufficient, breaking away from the pattern of moving from guardian to guardian and instead needing to fend for themselves and take care of each other. It brings up so many interesting moral dilemmas for them, as they try to decide how to survive and escape, without compromising their ideals. Season 3 picks up right where the previous season leaves off, with Violet and Klaus plummeting down a mountain behind Olaf’s car and Sunny in the villain’s clutches. Although this season included two books that tend not to grip me very well, I found the episodes very compelling and I loved the way the stories translated to the screen.

Like the previous seasons, Season 3 generally stuck pretty closely to the original source material, but there were a few key changes. In The Grim Grotto, for instance, the Netflix series excludes the Captain Widdershins character entirely, and instead delegates most of his role to Fiona. I’m usually put off when adaptations make such major changes to a story, but in this case I think it actually worked quite well. I honestly didn’t remember too much about Captain Widdershins as a character, so his absence wasn’t too noticeable. I also loved how the episodes gave a bit more background to Count Olaf’s past, and what led him toward the life of villainy that he has chosen.

Not unexpectedly, my favourite episodes of the season were both parts of The Penultimate Peril, which is one of my favourite books in the series. I thought this pair of episodes did an amazing job of bringing to life the bizarre Hotel Denouement, and bringing in all the previous characters who the Baudelaires had encountered. I thought these episodes did a brilliant job of showing the moral complexities of the characters, raising the questions of whether noble people might sometimes act in ways that seem villainous. A recurring line that kept coming up seemed to be “But what choice do we have?” when the children were met with the difficult decision of whether to do something they felt was wrong. I was also especially impressed with The End, another book in the series that I’ve always felt a bit underwhelming. I thought the adaptation did a fantastic job of bringing that part of the story to life in a way that I never felt with the book, even if it was quite condensed into one episode instead of the usual two, with elements of The Beatrice Letters also mixed in.


Every season, one of the main highlights for me has been the brilliant casting decisions. This season was no exception, although there seemed to be fewer brand new characters overall. I was slightly disappointed not to recognize any familiar faces among the new characters. Of course it is not necessary to have actors who I was already familiar with in order to enjoy the show, but it was always a lot of fun to recognize someone (ie. Mindy Sterling from the Austin Powers movies as a Village Elder in The Vile Village). Of course, I realized afterwards that a few of the actors were actually very well-known from other TV series, so I think it just goes to show my own complete lack of awareness of current TV. The main addition as of this season was Allison Williams (best known for her role on Girls) as Kit Snicket, who made a brief appearance toward the end of Season 2 but became a much more prominent character this time. Kit Snicket was a very interesting characters, and I think my favourite part was seeing her attempts to interact with the infuriating Mr. Poe. I also especially loved Max Greenfield (from New Girl) as the Denouement brothers in The Penultimate Peril. 

The series also introduces new villains, Richard E. Grant as the “Man with a beard but no hair” and Beth Grant as the “Woman with hair but no beard,” Count Olaf’s mentors who take a great liking to Esme instead. These two are characters that I had completely forgotten about from the books, but I thought these actors did a great job of bringing them to life. Kassius Nelson, as Fiona Widdershins, did a fine job with her role as well, although I wouldn’t call her the most memorable character. I’m not sure if that has to do with the actress herself, or with the relatively small role Fiona has in the overall series. Peter McNicol as Ishmael in the final episode also did a great job of balancing both sides of the enigmatic character. I also have to give a special mention to Dylan Kingwell, who plays both Quigley and Duncan Quagmire. After Season 2, I’d commented that I was a bit underwhelmed by the children playing the Quagmires. While I still think the characters could have had a bit stronger of a presence on-screen, I thought Dylan did a great job as Quigley.

Aside from the new faces, I thought the returning actors especially shined in this season. It was great to see Sunny Baudelaire, played by the adorable Presley Smith, have such an expanded role in these episodes, following the same pattern that happened in the books. It’s still very odd to see a child so young become such a talented chef, but somehow the show made it work. Malina Wiessman (Violet Baudelaire) and Louis Hynes (Klaus Baudelaire) have continued to grow with their roles, and I loved the way they portrayed the characters. In this season more than any other, Neil Patrick Harris truly embodied the role of Count Olaf, to the point where I completely forgot that he was an actor at all. I think nothing brought that home to me more than The Grim Grotto, where he and Esme started to use their ridiculous villainous laughs. Lucy Punch as Esme Squalor and Kitana Turnbull as the obnoxious Carmelita Spats were both still brilliant, and fit their roles perfectly. The casting alone was enough of a reason to watch the series.


As the series progressed, the settings and locations that the children end up in become more and more ambitious. This season alone, the children ventured to the top of a snowy mountain, underwater in a submarine, a gigantic hotel organized like a library, and a remote island. I thought the show did an amazing job of capturing all of these locations, and I was especially impressed by the hotel. One of things I especially loved about this series is how it has the perfect blend of humour and the macabre, which is no surprise given that it was produced by Barry Sonnenfeld, who is also responsible for the Addams Family movies in the 90s. I’ve always thought this series had a similar overall feel to these movies, and it is the perfect fit for story.

Once again, the show also really impressed with the costumes, which play such an essential role. A big part of this series hinges on the ability of the characters to disguise themselves and go undercover to find the information that they need, or to get away. This season was no exception, with all the costumes working well to bring the characters and their schemes to life. I also loved the visual gags of the show, especially the ridiculous “blind justice” of The Penultimate Peril.  I thought the visuals did a great job of bringing the series to life and capturing the tone, and they were just as strong right up until the end.

Overall Impressions (10 point scale)

Plot – 9.5
Casting – 9
Setting/Visuals – 9.5

Overall – 9.5/10


Top 5 Wednesdays: Hyped New Releases You Are Not Excited For

I have absolutely no idea how this happened, but I somehow managed to mix up this week’s prompt and last week’s, despite having a schedule written out. I decided to just flip the order anyway, so at least I’ve covered both topics at some point. There are so many new releases out this year, and there are quite a few that I’m very excited for. The advantage of doing this prompt a week late is that it gave me the chance to see what books other people were choosing, because I was having a hard time thinking of which books were most hyped, aside from a few obvious big ones (ie. King of Scars). Unfortunately for me, many of the books that others seemed to be choosing are books that are pretty high on my list. I’m generally up to a year behind when it comes to new releases, so there’s a good chance that I won’t get to all the new releases I’m interested in. The books that I’ve listed here are books that I would like to read eventually, but they are pretty low on my list, and very unlikely to be read any time soon. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m not excited for them, but I definitely haven’t bought into the hype around them either.

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 Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

39863498I feel like I should get the obvious one out of the way first, since I’ve literally been hearing about this book everywhere in the past couple of weeks. I’ve been meaning to read Roshani Chokshi’s Star-Touched Queen duology for quite a while, and still haven’t picked it up (nor it is on my list for this year, as of right now). I initially had little interest in this book because I saw the title, and somehow assumed that it was a book about werewolves. When I finally looked at the synopsis properly to see what all the hype was about, I realized that I was completely wrong. This book is actually a historical fantasy, set in France in 1889, focusing on a treasure hunter and wealthy hotelier named Severin Montagnet-Alarie, who is sought out by a powerful secret society called The Order of Babel to find an ancient artifact. I’ve seen quite a few comparisons to Six of Crows, which I loved, but also comparisons to The Da Vinci Code, which I have no interest in. I also haven’t read anything by this author yet to know whether I like her writing style. I’m interested in reading it at some point, but I’m nowhere near as excited about it as everyone else.

2) Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

41147279When I added this book to my TBR, I didn’t realize that Christine Riccio was a popular Youtuber, and up until about 5 minutes ago when I finally decided to look her up, I could have sworn I’d never seen any of her videos. It turns out that I have, but she is not really someone that I follow or watch very often. I’ve seen a ton of hype around this book recently, a lot of which seems to stem from her Youtube popularity, and while I would like to read it eventually, it’s pretty low on my list as of right now. This book is about a girl named Shane who feels like she has been “doing college wrong” and decides to take a semester abroad in London to get the chance to start over. I like the whole concept of this book of a person challenging herself to get outside her comfort zone and try something brand new, but it is not something that I’m particularly drawn to trying right now. I think I would be a lot more excited about this if I was a fan of Christine’s channel. In general, I find the whole trend of Youtube stars writing their own books a bit questionable. I’m sure many of them are great writers, but I’m always a bit skeptical. To be fair, I don’t think I’ve read any books by Youtubers yet, so I really can’t judge.

3) I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

39678923I think of all the books listed here, this is the one that I’m most interested in reading, but I’m still not sure if I will get to it this year. I’ve seen a ton of hype around it lately, and interestingly enough, a lot of it seems to be around the cover art. I personally am not a huge fan of the cover art style, at least not the way it looks on Goodreads. It might look better on the physical book, but so far it doesn’t really draw me in much. I’m not a huge fan of people on book covers in general though, so that’s my own bias. This book is about a person named Ben De Backer who has come out to their parents as nonbinary, causing them to be thrown out of the house and forced to move in with their estranged sister and her husband. Ben struggles with anxiety and is trying to keep a low profile at school and just get through their senior year, which becomes complicated when Ben becomes friends with Nathan, and their feelings for each other begin to change. I have only read one or two books about characters who are nonbinary, so it is something I would definitely be interested in reading more about. I also generally like YA contemporary, especially when there is something a little unique about it, but this one just feels very low on my list. It’s becoming one of those books that is starting to put me off with all of its hype, rather than motivate me to read it.

4) Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

30254032I have only read one book, The Female of the Species, by Mindy McGinnis so far, and although I liked it, I definitely didn’t love it as much as everyone else seemed to. It was a very interesting concept, but I couldn’t quite connect with it. Her upcoming release, Heroine, is about a star softball player named Mickey, who lives in a small town where there is an opioid epidemic, and whose college dreams are ruined when she gets into a car accident that shatters her hip and the arm of her best friend Carolina, who is the softball team’s pitcher. Mickey soon finds herself taking medication for the pain, but when her prescription runs out, she looks for other ways to get the drugs which help her cope with not just the pain, but also the pressures of her life. I rarely, if ever, pick up a book that focuses primarily on drugs or drug addiction, but I have at least some interest in this one because I did like Mindy McGinnis’s previous book. To be honest, I think I added it to my TBR more to remind myself to decide whether I really wanted to try it, but it does seem at least somewhat interesting. It’s very low on my priority list right now, but I’m interested to see the reviews when the book is finally released.

5) Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

39926661This is the only book on this list that is not on my TBR (yet), but I’ve been debating whether I want to add it. I’m not actually sure how hyped it is, but I have seen it on Goodreads quite a few times already. This book is a modern-day retelling of Pride & Prejudice, set in Pakistan. It is about a woman named Alys Binat who has sworn she will never get married, and who tries to inspire the girls that she teaches to dream of more than just becoming a wife. When Alys and her family are invited to one of the biggest weddings in their town, her mother sets out to match up Alys and her sisters with eligible men. Alys accidentally overhears the snobby Valentine Darsee’s rude comments about her, and as they wait to see if her older sister will get a marriage proposal, Alys’s feelings for Darsee start to change. I will start by saying that Pride & Prejudice is one of my all-time favourite books. I also generally love retellings of classics because I think they are a great way to be familiar with the storylines in an updated setting. Unfortunately, I’m really on the fence about this one because it seems like a straightforward copy of the original, right down to the names of some of the characters. When I read a retelling, I look for something a bit unique or different about it to set it apart from the original. Aside from the setting of this one, I’m not really seeing much different, so it doesn’t interest me very much at this point.




Top 10 Tuesdays: New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2018

When I looked back at the books that I read through 2018, I was a bit surprised to realize just how many of them were by authors that I had read before. I think a big part of that was my commitment to finishing off series that I had in progress, with a list of 12 series that I wanted to complete. Just over half on the books that I read were by new-to-me authors, which seems like a surprisingly low percentage overall. I actually don’t think I’ve ever counted how many new-to-me authors I discovered through previous years challenges, so it might be interesting to go back and take a look. Luckily for me, I enjoyed the vast majority of the books that I read last year, so it wasn’t too hard to choose ten new authors that I was most excited to discover, and many of those have already made it into my plans for 2019. I’m counting an author as new-to-me if I had never read anything by them before, even if I had heard their names, and I’m generally counting them as one of the best of the year if it’s someone I’m interested in reading more from 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.

There were many great new authors that I discovered last year, but I think these ten would have to be my favourites (in no particular order), and with the book I read by each one listed beside them:

  1. Taylor Jenkins Reid (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo)
  2. Fredrik Backman (Beartown)
  3. Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy, Six of Crows)
  4. Gail Honeyman (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine)
  5. Clare Mackintosh (I Let You Go)
  6. Christina Lauren (Autoboyography)
  7. Akemi Dawn Bowman (Starfish)
  8. Corrie Wang (The Takedown)
  9. Connie Willis (Crosstalk)
  10. Nicola Moriarty (Those Other Women)

My Reading Patterns

I feel like all I’ve been talking about lately when it comes to my reading is balance, and trying to prioritize better. I think that’s a direct result of how I felt toward the end of 2018, where I thought I’d done a very poor job of planning. Even going into this year, I’ve already been feeling a bit behind although not in terms of my actual reading. I usually have an almost-complete plan in place of all my challenges and the books I’m intending to read by mid-December, with the books I need from the library put on hold by the start of the new year. I started this year with my plan still feeling a bit up-in-the-air, and without any books placed on hold until the year had already started. I think the biggest hint to myself that I was behind is that I didn’t post my plans for the year to my Goodreads group until January 11! I usually have those up by mid-December too.

For the sake of my own curiosity last year, I decided to keep track of how many books I had read per month over the past three years of doing reading challenges. Technically, I started doing challenges in 2015, but I only participated in one challenge that year which consisted of 52 books, so I didn’t think it would really be comparable. I’m pretty terrible with Excel, so it took me quite a while to figure out how to even make the chart (and turn it into a graph) in the first place. The number of books I read per month each year are as follows:

2016 2017 2018
January 9 12 14
February 11 9 13
March 10 11 14
April 9 12 14
May 8 16 13
June 12 13 14
July 10 13 13
August 16 12 17
September 17 12 13
October 14 16 13
November 14 16 19
December 12 16 19

From this, I noticed some patterns to my reading, which I think will help me a bit with my goal of balancing and prioritizing better this year. I should mention that I don’t use monthly TBR lists because I find they put too much pressure on me. To be fair, the only time I really tried it was last year when I was already quite behind, and I found having the list just made me feel more pressured and more behind, but it might be worth exploring the option again.

The First Quarter

Something I’ve found very helpful over the past few years was making a conscious effort to get rid of some of the books/challenge prompts that I’m least excited for very early on in the year. I usually spend a good part of January and February knocking out some of these prompts. The thinking behind this is if I push off reading the books that I’m not excited for, I’m going to keep procrastinating on them until close to the end of the year, when I would have lost all motivation for them at all. The downside to this is that I sometimes find my first month or two a bit underwhelming, which usually leads to a burst in March of trying to read some of my most anticipated books to make up for it.

I find January and February also tend to be on the lower end in terms of the number of books read, which I think is because it’s a bit of a transitional phase from the previous year. I often end the year feeling a tiny bit burnt out, and slow down a bit at the start of the new year. I think it’s also a bit of a psychological thing of thinking that I have the whole year ahead, so I have time to slow down a bit. I also tend to feel like I read a bit less in February, which I think is just because the month itself is a few days shorter than any other. I usually read a book in 2-3 days, so having 2 less days in the month naturally means at least one less book.

The Second Quarter

When I saw that I had only read 8 or 9 books in April and May 2016, I was a bit surprised! Looking back, I figured out that it was because the books I’d been reading were, on average, quite long or slower-paced and honestly most of them were books that I did not enjoy as much. It picked back up in the following years during those months because I was reading more graphic novels and books that I found more motivating in general. I also have a major work event in early April, and often two toward the end of May, which both affect my reading time. There are also the holidays in April where I have guests over for at least two evenings, which again means less time to read despite having a few days off work.

In June, my reading tends to pick back up again because all of my major work events are over, so I have more time to myself. Looking back on the books I read during these months over the past three years, I find that although there are a few of my most anticipated and favourite books of the year are scattered through these months, this quarter still tends to be quite underwhelming on average. I think I’ve gotten better about making sure I have some of the books I’m most interested in during the second quarter, and it is something that I’d definitely like to continue in the interest of balance.

The Third Quarter

The third quarter tends to fairly consistently be one of my best. In July, I have two weeks of staff training, and usually take two weeks off work. I always assume I’m going to get a lot of reading done while on vacation, but I never end up reading nearly as much as I plan. I’m also responsible for a biweekly newsletter at work, which takes up one day every other weekend for most of the year. I always take a break from the newsletter over July and August, when most of the participants in my program are away at camp, so that opens up several hours on the weekend that otherwise would have been spent working.

In September, my workplace is often closed for several days. I work for a religious organization, and we have multiple holidays through September/October that require the place to be closed. It is also generally the point in the year where I realize that I haven’t read too many of the books that I was excited about, and really start to make an effort to read those. So not only do I have more time to read, but I’m also reading books that are much more motivating and therefore easier to move through quickly.

The Fourth Quarter

This is the quarter that I tend to characterize as “crunch time,” where I pay extra attention to how many books I have remaining and actively plan how to finish everything on time. In 2016, my reading numbers dropped off by December because I managed to finish all of my challenges early. One was finished in November, and another halfway through December. The remaining two were finished by the last week of December, and I had a couple of days to spare. In 2017, I managed to divide my remaining books equally, and finished everything with one day to spare. In 2018, it was the first year I had ever failed to finish my challenges completely, and I was frustrated to find that I had way too many books remaining on my highest priority challenges. Even though I finished 19 books in both November and December, it was not quite enough to finish off all challenges!

By this quarter, there are often a few books that I’ve been putting off for the majority of the year, so I might end up switching them out, usually for something a bit shorter. Like many people, I also tend to read a bunch of Halloween-themed books or thrillers during October. I like to purposely save a few highly anticipated books for this quarter to keep my motivation up, but I also find it helps to avoid too many very long books because it gets discouraging to feel like I’m spending too long on any book when I have so many left to read.

Overall Trends

Each year so far, I’ve increased the overall number of books that I’ve read. I went from 145 books in 2016 up to 176 in 2018. Looking back at my lists of books from each year, I also think I’ve become much better about choosing books that I think I’m going to enjoy. I know a lot of people complain that reading challenges sometimes make them feel like they can’t read what they want, if those books don’t fit any prompts. I’ve been pretty good about fitting the books I really wanted into my challenges, and each year, I’ve been enjoying the books that I’ve been reading more. I’m hoping that this year I can keep going with choosing books that interest me and that I’m likely to enjoy!

Top 5 Wednesdays: Most Disappointing Books I Read in 2018

I often find that the there is a huge difference between my worst books of the year and my most disappointing books. The ones that disappoint me most are often books that I still end up really enjoying, but nowhere near as much as I expect. After doing reading challenges for several years now, I’ve become pretty good at assessing which books I’m going to enjoy. There are always a few that I think I’ll like much more than I actually do, and some that end up really surprising me. When I look back at my books from last year, I realized that most of the handful of books that I rated only three stars were books that I didn’t really expect to like very much anyway, so I wouldn’t really consider them disappointing. Instead, there were another handful of books that I thought would be easy 5 star reads, but I ended up a bit disappointed.

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) 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant

36 Questions That Changed My Mind About YouThis was the only book comes from the 3-star list. I wasn’t really expecting this one to be a 5-star read to begin with, but I thought it would be easily at least a 4. Unfortunately, I was completely disappointed by this one. It is about two teenagers, Hildy and Paul, who are randomly assigned as partners as part of a psychological study where they must ask each other 36 questions from a prearranged list to get to know each other, and the questions must be answered honestly. The purpose of the study is to see whether these questions can facilitate a relationship between two complete strangers. I absolutely loved the concept of this book. I have a psychology degree myself, and I remember reading about this kind of study, possibly even this exact one, as part of my classes. I was very disappointed to find that I did not like anything about the story aside from the basic premise. For some reason, I kept forgetting that the characters were only 18, even though it was clearly mentioned at the beginning. I kept assuming they were much older (early to mid-20s, possibly) and then wondering why they seemed so immature. I also found it annoying that the characters kept dropping vague hints about topics that they were unwilling to talk about. Although it was understandable given that they were strangers, by the time the details were revealed, I’d lost complete interest in the characters. I also could not buy into the relationship that developed between Paul and Hildy at all, since they had so little chemistry and seemed like a terrible fit for each other. This was definitely my most disappointing read of the year since I expected to love it based on the premise alone.

2) The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

1282954Big Little Lies is one of my favourite books, and I’ve been making my way through all of Liane Moriarty’s others over the past few years. I’ve really enjoyed all of them, but I was a bit apprehensive about this one because it was one of her earlier books and I find most authors change quite a bit over time. This one is about a woman named Sophie who inherits a house from her ex-boyfriend’s deceased aunt, which is also the site of a decades-long mystery about a baby whose parents have gone missing. While I liked the general storyline, I found that I just couldn’t get into this one at all. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, and since most of them were related to each other, I would have loved if there was some kind of family tree included to help keep all the names straight. I usually don’t have too much problem keeping track of characters, but I was constantly lost with this one and found that really frustrating. I liked the mystery and the explanation toward the end of what actually happened, but I found the process of reading this one frustrating because I was often bored or completely confused. Even though I ended up giving it a 4 because of the storyline and the few character arcs that I liked, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I hoped.

3) Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger

Almost Like Being in LoveTo be honest, I can’t even remember why I had such high expectations for this book, but I was convinced it would be an easy 5-star read. It was about two young men, Travis and Craig, who fall in love during their last year of high school but split up. After 20 years apart, Travis realizes that he still has feelings for Craig and decides to search for him, only to learn that Craig has been in a serious relationship for the past decade. I think what drew me to this book is that it was told in the format of letters, journal entries, etc. which is a style I tend to really enjoy. I really liked the characters in this book, especially how the author didn’t make Craig’s new partner into the automatic villain like many books do with this kind of storyline.  In general, I really liked the way both relationships were treated, and thought they were both very realistic. However, I was a bit disappointed that this book didn’t draw me in nearly as much as I expected. I found the format a bit confusing in places, which made a few parts of the story a bit hard to follow. It definitely wasn’t a bad book, but I expected it to be 5 stars, and it didn’t quite make it there.

4) The List by Patricia Forde

31409131 I think this may be my most disappointing of all my 4-star reads because I had such high expectations for it. In a way, I think it was my own fault that I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought because I read it in a month where I’d somehow ended up with multiple back-to-back YA fantasy books, and this one just didn’t stand out from the crowd. This book is about a wordsmith’s apprentice named Letta who lives in a world where people are only allowed to speak List, a language consisting of just 500 words. When Letta’s master disappears, she meets a stranger who shows her that there is more going on with List than she realizes, especially as more and more words are starting to get cut out. I thought the setting and the concept were both fascinating, but the story felt very underdeveloped a bit scattered without enough attention given to parts that I thought were most interesting. I found the first half very engaging, but the story lost my interest toward the end because Letta wasn’t the most compelling main character. I’m tempted to revisit this book at some point in the (distant) future and give it another chance because I still think it’s something I could enjoy, if I wasn’t reading too many other similar books around the same time. As it was though, I found myself underwhelmed.

5) Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

25164304This one was another huge disappointment after I’d heard so many great things about it, especially from CeCe at ProblemsOfaBookNerd, which is one of my favourite Youtube channels to get recommendations from. It is about a princess named Denna who is betrothed to marry a prince in order to secure an alliance between their lands, but she falls in love with the prince’s sister instead. I absolutely loved the concept of this story, but I didn’t like the way it was executed because the world-building was on the weak side. That’s not usually something that bothers me too much, and it is another one I may want to revisit in the future since I also read it in that month where I was feeling a little burnt out on too many similar books. I wanted more background about the different kingdoms, and especially about people’s attitudes toward magic. I can generally just accept that things are the way they are in a book as long as there is even a minimal explanation given, but I didn’t feel like this book even had that. I liked the relationship that developed between Denna and Mare, the prince’s sister, and although they were both interesting, I found the side characters sadly underdeveloped. This book frustrated me because it was just good when it could have been amazing!