Stacking the Shelves (#17)

Looking back on the books that I’ve added this month, I was surprised to realize just how many of them are books that have not come out yet, many of which aren’t expected until 2020! I added about 70 new books to my TBR list since the end of February, and close to a third of those are books that have no cover art and some even with no title yet. Most of those are books by authors that I already know that I enjoy, so it may be a little early to add them to my TBR when there is so little information available about them, but when I saw something like a possible third book to Victoria Scwhab’s Villains series, I just couldn’t resist adding it immediately! My TBR is currently standing at 2761 books, with no signs of slowing down.

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week. It is hosted by TyngaReviewsand ReadingReality

1) The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

43568394I’d added this one to my TBR in time for last month’s Stacking the Shelves post, but skipped over it because it didn’t have a cover at that time. Now that the cover art has been revealed, it seemed like an important one to mention! I have only read 1 book by Kiersten White as of now, but I have several others on my TBR for this year and she is quickly becoming an author that I look for since all her recent books sound amazing! I’m not sure how interested I am in her Paranormalcy series or other books that preceded the Conqueror’s Saga, but her recent releases have all caught my attention easily. This book is due out in early November of this year, and it is about Princess Guinevere who has come to Camelot to marry King Arthur, but she is hiding the fact that she is a changeling who has been sent to protect the King. In order to keep him safe, she must navigate the court which is in conflict between those who want to stick to the old ways, and a second group who is pushing for a new and better way of life. I read The Once and Future King a few years ago and I loved it! I’ve always been interested in the King Arthur legend although it is not something I read about often, and I’m excited to see Kiersten White’s take on it.

2) Social Misconduct by Stephen Maher

40680129This is another book that I added to my list right at the end of February, a few days after my Stacking the Shelves post for the month. It is about a woman named Candace Walker who manages to get a job at a popular new technology company, but soon finds herself the target of online harassment and a smear campaign. This book isn’t out until the end of April, but the early reviews for it so far have been pretty mixed. I was drawn to it because I love thrillers in general, and I especially love books that focus on social media and the internet. There is very little information available about this one so far, but it sounds like the kind of thriller that I tend to enjoy. The only thing that puts me off a bit is that the synopsis mentions that after a week of the online harassment, Candace is hiding out and distrusts everyone. A week seems a bit quick, so I’m curious to see what kind of harassment she was forced to endure to have that effect on her. I’m not sure if this book is at the top of my priority list, but I’m at least interested to see more reviews for it after it comes out next month.

3) The Favourite Daughter by Kaira Rouda

40218863I found this book, coming out in May, while browsing Goodreads and it immediately caught my attention because it seemed like exactly the kind of thriller I tend to enjoy. It is about a woman named Jane Harris, whose oldest daughter Mary died in a tragic accident. With a memorial service planned for Mary on the anniversary of her death, Jane starts to realize that her family has changed, with her husband spending more and more time away and her younger daughter seeming secretive. Jane starts to wonder if her family knows more about Mary’s death than they have told her. I’ve seen comparisons of this book to Liane Moriarty, who is one of my favourite authors, and Shari Lapena, who I have also read and enjoyed. I love thrillers that really delve into character dynamics and this one seems to be along those lines. The early reviews for this one have been excellent so far, and it sounds like it will be a very intriguing story. I doubt I will get to this one within the year, but I’m looking forward to giving it a chance at some point!

4) The Woman in the Dark by Vanessa Savage

40965093If I remember correctly, I found this book while looking at a list of 2019 releases or possibly even specifically new 2019 thrillers. It is about a couple, Sarah and Patrick, who move into Patrick’s childhood beachside home. Although Patrick only associates the home with his happy memories, to everyone else it is known as the Murder House, because of a family that was killed there. After they move in, their children are plagued by nightmares and the longer they live there, the more she notices that Patrick is starting to change. I’ll admit that this book is a little outside my comfort zone because it seems to straddle that border between psychological thriller and horror. I love a good psychological thriller, but I often have trouble reading horror because it creeps me out too much. To be honest, part of the reason I was drawn to this book is because it reminded me a bit of the classic Simpsons episode where Marge sells a “Murder House” to the Flanders family. It seemed like an amazing setting for a creepy thriller, and something that I have never read before. As much as horror tends to bother me, I love books that have a creepy, atmospheric setting so I’m willing to give this one a try.

5) The Third Mrs. Durst by Ann Aguirre

41091207I guess I was in the mood for thrillers this month while I was browsing Goodreads, since the vast majority of the books I added seem to be from that genre. This one is about a woman named Marlena Durst, who lives in the shadow of her controlling husband. Everyone believes that she lives a fairy-tale life, but no one knows the realities of what is really happening in her home. Marlena knows that death may be the only way out, just like her husband’s previous wives, but the question becomes which of them must die. There seems to be quite the trend lately toward more books with female characters who break the stereotype of the passive, non-violent wife (ie. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing, or My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, just to name a few). This book sounds like a very interesting story, and it reminds me a bit of the Jennifer Lopez movie Enough, which I loved when I first watched it as a teenager. This one will not be out until the beginning of August, so I’m curious to see the reviews for it closer to its release.

6) No Place Like Here by Christina June

37856233I’d been debating adding this one to my TBR for quite a while, along with both of Christina June’s other YA books. All three of them initially caught my attention because of the beautiful cover art, but I wasn’t so sure how interested I was in the plots. This book specifically is about a girl named Ashlyn who is sent to work with a cousin she doesn’t know at a team-building retreat, after her father is arrested and mother is sent to a rehab facility for depression. Ashlyn hates the outdoors and has to deal with her difficult boss and her father trying to control her even while in prison. This book is a little on the shorter side, at just over 270 pages, but it sounds like it could be a good contemporary story. It has also been called a Hansel and Gretel retelling because Ashlyn likes to leave inspirational quotes around like breadcrumbs. Other than that, I don’t really see too much resemblance to the fairy tale, so I’m curious to see how that element is woven in. I tend to enjoy fairy tale retellings, so that alone has sparked my interest. After looking into Christina June’s books a bit more, it seems that each of them is a modernized retelling of a classic fairy tale, which sounds like it could be fun.

7) All the Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins

42371083This is another book that I was drawn to because of the beautiful cover. It is about a girl named Vetty who is moving back to London, where she is excited to see her childhood best friend, Pez, again. Now that they are both teenagers, everyone is saying that boys and girls can’t be just friends, but Vetty doesn’t think that will be a problem until Pez tells her she’s “not like other girls,” causing her to question what that means and how she even wants him to view her. As someone who has always had more male friends than female, I can definitely relate to the annoyance of being told that boys and girls can never be just friends. I’m definitely hoping that this will be one of the rare books that keeps the relationship platonic, since that is something I’d really love to see more of in books in general. I’m a tiny bit on the fence about this one because I noticed that the Goodreads page already has it listed as an “important” story, and although it very well might be one, I’m always a little hesitant when books are called important before people have even had a chance to read it. This book has only been out for 3 weeks, so it seems a little early to me to comment on how important the story is, although I’m still very interested in eventually giving it a try.

8) Her by Britney King

43805177This book fits right in with the trend I mentioned above with female killers. This one is about a woman named Sadie who is jealous of her new neighbour, Ann, who seems to have everything. Sadie decides that the best way to overcome her jealousy is to make friends with Ann, and soon learns that there may be more to Ann than she initially realized. Sadie is left to decide how much she is willing to overlook in order to get what she wants. I’d never heard of Britney King before, but after looking at what else she has written, a few of her standalone thrillers seem very interesting, especially The Social Affair which reminds me quite a bit of You by Caroline Kepnes. With so many new thrillers added to my TBR list, I will definitely need to space them out a bit so I don’t end up reading too many in a row and burning myself out on the genre. This one specifically sounds quite intriguing, although for some reason I always tend to find a page count that is under 300 a little off-putting. This book has just 270 pages, which doesn’t seem like too much time for a thriller to really develop, but the synopsis definitely interests me enough to still want to try it.

9) Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

36586697I’ve suddenly started hearing about this book everywhere in the past couple of weeks, but I guess that makes sense since it was just released on March 19. This book is about a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman named Queenie, whose recent break-up with her boyfriend sends her looking for comfort in all the wrong places. I wasn’t so sure at first how much this one would interest me, but then I noticed that it had been considered a cross between Bridget Jones’s Diary and Americanah, and I’m having a really hard time imagining how that would work. However, I have also seen a number of reviews commenting that the Bridget Jones comparison doesn’t really work since this book is much heavier than that story, touching on difficult topics such as race and mental health. The more I read about this book, the more it has started to interest me and I’m curious to find out more about it. I really enjoyed Americanah when I read it a few years ago, so I’m especially curious to see what it is about this book that has drawn the comparisons, aside from the theme. I wouldn’t say that this book is very high up on my list, but I added it to my TBR as a reminder to keep it in mind and check out more reviews for it or a preview when that becomes available.

10) The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J. Harris

36374021To be honest, I added this one to my TBR the second I saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime mentioned as a comparison to this book. This one is about a boy who has synesthesia and who is trying to uncover what happened to his neighbour. Jasper Wishart is 13 and sees colours whenever he hears sounds, but becomes convinced that he might be responsible for what happened to his new neighbour, Bee Larkham. Synesthesia is a very interesting condition, and one that I have not read about very often. After looking into a few more reviews, I saw a few references to autism and many to prosopagnosia, although interestingly enough, neither of those are mentioned in the synopsis. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is one of my favourite books (and the stage play is also amazing!) and I’ve been hoping for more books to be published along those lines. I also noticed on Goodreads that this one mentions both Fredrick Backman (Beartown) and Graeme Simsion (The Rosie Project) as comparisons, both of which are authors that I love. I’m really looking forward to reading this one!

11) Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

42201996I was first drawn to this one because of the unusual title, but the synopsis also sounded very intriguing. It it about Kate and Peter, the children of two NYPD rookies who also happen to be neighbours. When the children finish their eighth grade year, a violent event divides the families with one of them ultimately moving away, and the children are forbidden to have any further contact. Reconnecting as adults, Kate and Peter find their relationship tested by their past. The synopsis is incredibly vague, but I love books that focus on character dynamics, which seems to be the case here. This book will not be out until the end of May, although the early reviews for it have been excellent so far. It reminds me of something along the lines of Celeste Ng’s books, and not just because the cover resembles Little Fires Everywhere. This book is literary fiction, which is a genre that I tend to need to be in the right mood to really enjoy, but it sounds like it could be a very interesting character-driven story.

12) Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

43562239I added this one to my TBR because I very recently read and enjoyed Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi, a book which I had a really difficult time rating because of Goodreads’ inability to handle half-stars. This book is her newest release, due out this September, which is about a college student named Pablo who is working at a local deli while avoiding calls from the student loan office. Leanna is a former Disney Mouseketeer and teenage pop star, who seems to be tiring of the fame. When the two of them randomly meet at 4 am in the middle of a snowstorm, they both know that it won’t last forever, and try to keep it a secret as long as possible, but it doesn’t take long for the world to find out. I generally have very little interest in books about any kind of celebrity, so I’m not sure how much this one would have interested me if I hadn’t already read and enjoyed another book by this author. I ultimately gave Emergency Contact a 4 on Goodreads, but to this day, I’m still strongly considering upping it to a 5. On the strength of that alone, I’m willing to give this one a chance despite it having a trope I tend to hate.

13) Girls Like Us by Randi Pink

42642039I added this one to my TBR before realizing that I’d already changed my mind about Randi Pink’s previous book, Into White. That book was about an African American girl who prays to be white, and finds that her wish comes true, giving her the chance to experience what her life might be like if she was white instead. Although the premise really intrigued me, I ultimately decided against it because I’d seen extremely mixed reviews, including many that said it seemed problematic and very simplistic/stereotyical in the way it discusses race. This new book is set in the summer of 1972, focusing on four teenage girls who are all dealing with pregnancy, either their own or of someone close to them. This book is not due out until the end of October of this year, so I’ve mostly added it to my TBR as a placeholder until I find out more about them. I’m willing to give this author a fair chance, and I haven’t even completely ruled out reading Into White either, but I’m going to wait and see what the reviews are like for this one before I decide one way or the other.

14) Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

41150487Every year, there seems to be one book that I actively try to avoid because it seems so overhyped, and I think that this year, this is that book. It is not even out yet, and I can’t escape from hearing about it literally everywhere, with several of the reviewers I follow already giving the ARC rave reviews. For me, books about politician’s kids or royalty fall under the category of “celebrity characters,” meaning that I’m often not interested whatsoever. This book is about both — Alex, who is the President’s son, and Prince Henry, a British prince. When photos of a confrontation threaten the relations between their countries, Alex and Henry have to stage a fake friendship to try and repair images, and soon find themselves falling for each other for real. To be honest, I’m mostly giving this one the chance because I feel like it will become another scenario like The Hating Game for me — a book that I normally wouldn’t be very interested in, that ended up becoming a favourite. With so many reviewers I trust loving it, it seems likely that I’ll end up enjoying it too.

Advertisements

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books I Expected to Hate, but Ended Up Loving

I had a hard time choosing books for this prompt because I wanted to avoid mentioning books that I already have brought up frequently. Since I started doing reading challenges, I’ve become pretty good at predicting which books I’m going to enjoy and I intentionally try to only pick books that I’m very excited about. There are always inevitably a few prompts where I’m forced to just pick something, whether I’m excited for it or not, either because the prompt itself just doesn’t interest me at all or because there are very few options for it in general. I decided that “hate” was definitely too strong a word for me for this prompt, so I decided to loosen it up a bit to mention some books that I was expecting not to interest me very much, but surprisingly became favourites. In most cases, these were books that had some major element that usually puts me off or just doesn’t attract my interest, so it was great to see how much I enjoyed them!

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 Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

32620332I wouldn’t say I expected to hate this one, but I had virtually no interest in reading it at all. It wasn’t it until it really started to blow up online that I felt like I had no choice but to give it a chance, and I’m so glad that I did! The main reason I wasn’t interested in this one initially is because Evelyn is an Old Hollywood star, and I’m generally not interested at all in books that have anything to do with celebrities of any kind. In fact, seeing any mention of celebrities of any kind (including teenage royalty/the president’s kid) often puts me off picking up the book to begin with. It’s a bias that I am slowly getting over because I’ve found a few books that I really enjoyed using these kinds of characters, but this one is definitely a favourite. For anyone who doesn’t know, this book is about a woman named Monique who is hired to write the memoir of Evelyn Hugo, a reclusive Marilyn Monroe-like icon who specifically chose Monique to write the story of her life, and all about her many marriages. This book drew me in right from the first few pages, and I’m so glad I decided to pick it up since it was by far one of the best books that I read in 2018.

2) Beartown by Fredrik Backman

33413128The only reason I picked this book up at all was because I had a challenge prompt that required a book involving sports, which is another topic that I generally avoid. I’ve never been interested in sports and definitely am not interested in reading about them, but I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this one. It was the first Fredrik Backman book that I read, and I’m very interested in trying more. It is about a hockey town in Sweden which is also the site of a horrible crime involving one of the star players and a female classmate. I was a bit surprised how vague most synopses and reviews have been about the plot since I found it quite obvious what the main issue would be before I ever picked up the book, but since it could be considered a spoiler, I will avoid going into any further detail. I thought this book was brilliantly written and I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed it, especially considering the heavy focus on hockey. To be fair, the parts that were mostly about hockey were least interesting for me, but this was such a strong, character-driven story that I ended up absolutely loving it.

3) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

27071490My reason for expecting to hate this one may be a bit weird. I borrowed this book as well as Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad from the library at the same time since both were chosen as Book of the Month picks for my Goodreads groups. I read The Underground Railroad first and really struggled to get through it, and this book somehow became inextricably linked in my mind to that one. I assumed that because I hadn’t enjoyed The Underground Railroad, my impressions of this one would be very similar and I would hate it too. Luckily for me, that was not the case at all and this one actually ended up becoming one of my favourites of the year. This book follows two half-sisters and their descendants over the span of generations. One branch of the family stays in Africa, while the other moves to the US. Each chapter is told from the perspective of one character, giving a small window into their lives and experiences. There were some chapters that I enjoyed more than others, but overall I was thoroughly impressed by this book and how ambitious of a project it was to craft so many characters, each with their own distinct voice and personality. I’m so glad that I didn’t abandon this book because of assumptions I’d made about it.

4) The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer and the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

3638103716096824These are both series that I actively avoided for such a long time before I ultimately decided to just give them a chance. I heard about both of them for such a long time on Goodreads and Youtube, to the point where I was getting really sick of hearing about them and honestly, I was probably avoiding them on principle by that point. I finally broke down decided to try the first book in these series, along with several other big series, so I could finally see what all the hype was about. The result was discovering two of my new favourite series and potentially favourite authors! I didn’t expect to enjoy The Lunar Chronicles very much because it was tagged as sci-fi, which is a genre that I don’t reach for very often. I also was a little on the fence about the whole fairy tale retelling aspect, since I like the idea of retellings but the execution isn’t always as strong as I expect. Although I found Cinder a tiny bit too predictable, I was very impressed by the world and especially the interesting characters, and it soon became a series that I not only had to finish, but also to buy. The same can be said for the ACOTAR series, which I avoided because I wasn’t very interesting in stories involving Fae, although my opinion has changed since reading this series. I absolutely devoured the (very lengthy) books in this series, and both of these are now among my favourites.

5) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

23437156Of all the books listed here, this was probably the one that I was most confident I was going to like, although it took me many years to decide to get around to it because the plot is generally not something that I thought I would like. I actually squeezed in the entire Grisha trilogy last year after seeing it mentioned that although it was not essential to read that trilogy first, it would help. I’m definitely glad I read those first though, because it added so much to my understanding of the world in this book (and Crooked Kingdom). This book is about a criminal prodigy named Kaz Brekker who is recruited to pull off an incredibly risky heist, and pulls together a band of other misfits to help him accomplish the task. Part of the reason I put this one off for so long was because I wasn’t sure how interested I was in the original Grisha trilogy, although I ended up really enjoying that too. More than anything though, I was on the fence because I’m generally uninterested in heist movies/shows, so I assumed that reading about one wouldn’t interest me much either. This book quickly won me over because of the characters, which I expected after seeing such rave reviews for it online, and I’ve recently seen rumours that more books are planned for this series so I’m hoping those are true!

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Audio Freebie

I cringed a bit when I first saw this week’s topic because I initially read it as “audiobook freebie” and I knew that was something I would not be able to do. The only times I listen to an audiobook is when a challenge prompt specifically directs me to do so, and even then, it’s usually grudgingly. I’ve actually enjoyed most of the audiobooks that I’ve listened to, although I still find that I don’t pay attention to them the same way I do with a physical copy. It’s a lot more likely for me to get distracted and tune out while listening to an audiobook, forcing me to backtrack and listen to parts of it again to make sure I haven’t missed anything. I also find that when I’ve finished an audiobook, it doesn’t quite “feel” like I’ve read it the same way that finishing a physical book does. I’m sure a big part of that is just because I’m more used to physical books, but I tend to find it easier to remember details of the physical books I read better. I was glad to see that the prompt was open to more than just audiobooks. I haven’t listened to enough to make a full list of 10 that I could recommend, nor do I have any specific books that I’d really want to hear as audiobooks instead of reading them physically, so I was at a loss for a while of what to do. Instead, I decided to focus on music, since I often like to listen to music while I’m reading. It all depends what mood I’m in, and what kind of book I’m reading — sometimes I like having music in the background, and other times I find it nearly impossible to focus. For this week’s prompt, I decided to repeat a recent tag I did where I pick the first 10 songs that come up when I put my playlist on shuffle. I generally listen to my Spotify playlists on shuffle anyway when I’m reading, so it seemed like a close enough fit to make sense here. Like last time, I’m focusing on my “favourites” playlist since that has the most variety, and I’m curious to see which 10 songs come up!

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.

Attention by Charlie Puth

You just want attention, you don’t want my heart
Maybe you just hate the thought of me with someone new
You just want attention, I knew from the start
You’re just making sure I’m never getting over you


Anywhere by Evanescence

We’re leaving here tonight
There’s no need to tell anyone
They’d only hold us down
So by the morning’s light
We’ll be half way to anywhere
Where love is more than just your name


Dangerous by Jennifer Hudson

I do it for the thrill even if it kills
Dangerous, you make me feel dangerous


Blur by Britney Spears

Can’t remember what I did last night
Maybe I shouldn’t have given in
But I just couldn’t fight
Hope I didn’t but I think I might’ve
Everything, everything is still a blur


I Care by Beyonce

Ain’t nobody tell me this is love
But you’re immune to all my pain
I need you to tell me this is love
You don’t care well that’s okay


Why Can’t It Be by Tamia

Every time I see you look in my direction
I wanna find a way to get your attention
Come over say somethin’
I need to know
Why can’t it be?
‘Cause I’ve been lookin’ for that special guy


Misery Business by Paramore

Whoa, well I never meant to brag
But I’ve gotten what I wanted now
Whoa, it was never my intention to brag
To steal it all away from you now
But God does it feel so good
‘Cause I got him where I want him now


She Cood Neva Be Me by Lil Mo

What kind of girl is she to leave a family?
She could never be me
‘Cause that’s not what I would do
I’m not her
I’m still loving you


All That I Am by Joe

Cause all that I am, is a man in love with you
Cause all that I am, is a man who’s heart is true
And in love with you


Nothing Compares 2 U by Siobhan Magnus (American Idol cover of Sinead O’Connor)

I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing
I said nothing can take away these blues
‘Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares to you


As an extra, since I realized that I hadn’t turned shuffle on for the Charlie Puth song, this is the 10th song that actually came up when shuffled:

Private Dancer by Tina Turner

You don’t look at their faces 
And you don’t ask their names 
You don’t think of them as human 
You don’t think of them at all 
You keep your mind on the money 
Keeping your eyes on the wall


Reader Struggles: Meme Mini-Series (#15)

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to make a post in the Reader Struggles series! I was using a specific list of memes that I found online, but realized last September that I had reached the end of that list! Surprisingly enough, although I feel like I see memes about reading often, when it came time to actually look for some, I had a lot of trouble.

One of my biggest struggles while I’m reading is stopping at the end of the night! I have a full-time job and it is not one at all conducive to reading during my work day. Even over my lunch break, there are constantly other people around so it is hard for me to focus. I also don’t really trust my coworkers not to accidentally ruin my books, since as a group we have a tendency not to keep the staff room very clean. I do most of my reading in the evening or on weekends, and it is very easy for me to spend hours reading when I can, sometimes without even realizing how long I’ve been reading for. I have often found that at the end of the night, even when I’m really tired, I’m hesitant to put down the book and go to sleep because I want to continue the story.

Image result for book memes

Unlike this meme, it’s not very often that I’m up until 1 am reading because I definitely would not get enough sleep to function at work the next day, but I have been known to stay up way too late to finish off a book or at least a chapter. I really hate leaving things mid-chapter, unless there is a natural break point in the text since it’s really hard to find my place again and I end up re-reading a huge chunk of the page anyway to try and figure out where I was. I also hate leaving the story when it is just getting to a really good part, although I will sometimes intentionally put it down so I can read when I am more awake and able to actually focus on the story better.  I don’t want to miss out on a great plot twist or scene in general because I was too tired to process it properly. There are many days where I’m actually upset to put down the book and go to bed because I want to know what happens next!

The only times recently where I have stayed up way too late with a book is when I was very close to the end, and especially if I knew that book was due back to the library soon. I think this year was the first time I actually ended up with a late fee on my library account, because I’d misread the amount of time I had left on one of the books I checked out (I think it was City of Glass), and there were other requests on it so I couldn’t renew it! I’m usually very careful to read and return my books on time, or at least to renew them if I know I won’t be able to, because I can’t stand it when I’m waiting for a book that is three weeks overdue and still hasn’t come back in! I know it’s silly because that is sometimes a problem on the library’s end, not the reader, but I didn’t want to force people to wait, especially if I was already done with the book. I can understand incurring late fees if you’re in the middle of the book, but I hate when I have finished books that need to be returned and might not be able to get to the library in time to give them back. It just seems really silly to me to have to pay a late fee on a book that was finished on time. Generally, I’ve been pretty good about making sure everything is returned on time though, and I’m actually a bit annoyed about having the late fee (even though it’s literally about $2) because it’s ruined my streak of always giving things back on time.

I think reading challenges have also contributed a bit to my tendency to stay up late when I’m close to the end of a book. With the Goodreads challenge tracker on their homepage, it can be a bit discouraging to see “You are X number of books behind” and I’ve found it sometimes bothers me when I feel that a book is taking “too long.” It is completely self-imposed pressure because there is no set amount of time that any book should take, but I’ve found that if I’m already close to the end, I’ll stay up a bit later to finish it off so it will take what I perceive as a more reasonable amount of time to finish. On the other hand, if I’m already so close to the end I want to see how the author wraps things up without being pulled out of the story and having to wait until the next evening just to read the last 20 pages or so. If I think I’ll be able to finish it off relatively quickly, I don’t mind staying up a little bit later than usual, although sometimes my estimates are completely wrong! If it’s a work night, I won’t stay up past 12:30 at the latest although on a weekend, I have definitely stayed up longer if I have nothing else to do the next day. The last book that I remember staying up well past my bedtime for was Vicious, and considering I have Vengeful in my current library stack, I’m sure that one will be the next to keep me up late!

Top 5 Wednesdays: Spring Reads/Releases

It always bugs me a bit when the Top 10 Tuesday and Top 5 Wednesday topics are basically the same back-to-back. Yesterday, I posted about 10 books that I planned on reading this spring, so I wanted to differentiate today’s topic a bit to focus on spring releases that I’m excited for. There is no guarantee that I will be reading any of these this spring or even this year, but they are all books that are coming out between March and May of this year. As I mentioned in my Top 10 Tuesday post this week, I don’t have a distinct idea in mind of what makes a book a “spring” read, at least compared to other seasons. I have a ton of new releases on my TBR in general, so there are lots that I’m looking forward to. The challenge with this topic is that I’ve already posted about my most anticipated releases for the first half of the year (here and here), so I am intentionally not including any of those books again. The books I’m mentioning here are not necessarily my top priorities, but they are all books that I’d love to read at some point!

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 Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson (March 12)

40538605I was on the fence about adding this one to my TBR in the first place because it is nonfiction, and I generally find nonfiction very dry. I ultimately ended up adding this one anyway because Lizzie Borden is a fascinating murder case. I first heard of it on the show Smart Guy, where it was the focus of  a school project that the characters were working on. Lizzie Borden is a young woman who was accused of murdering both of her parents with an axe in 1892. The case garnered a lot of attention at the time, and the interest has persisted even now that it has been over a century. Part of the fascination with this murder was the fact that Lizzie was a young woman, and the murders seemed unusually brutal to be committed by someone her age and especially by a woman. It was also a very mysterious case because most of the evidence, at least to my knowledge (which is admittedly very limited) pointed to Lizzie and there didn’t seem to be many other viable suspects. This book includes transcripts from her trial, newspaper accounts, and recently found letters written by Lizzie herself. I think if any nonfiction book was going to interest me, this might be the one.

2) Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi (April 2)

34992959This is one book that I am planning to read this year, although not necessarily in the spring. I still need to read Restore Me, although I may end up leaving aside the companion novella for now just because I’m not sure I can squeeze it in among all my reading challenges. I won’t say too much about the specific plot summary of this one because I haven’t looked at it in detail in case there are spoilers for Restore Me, but this series in general is about a teenage girl named Juliette, who has the unusual ability to harm others by touching them, which caused her to be imprisoned before the start of the series. I absolutely adored Shatter Me when I first read it, and I read the two following sequels over the span of two years. I kind of regret spreading them out so much because by the time I got to each of the next two books, I had forgotten a lot of the story and the characters, and needed to read a summary to refresh myself. I’d also burnt myself out a bit on this kind of dystopian story by the time I got to the third one, but I still really enjoyed it and was excited to learn that the series was continuing. I will definitely need to refresh myself again before reading the next two books, but I’m expecting to like both of them.

3) The Boys Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews (April 4)

40170373I haven’t read C.G. Drews (better known as PaperFury) debut A Thousand Perfect Notes yet either, but I’m very interested in that one as well because it reminds me of Your Lie In April, which was a beautiful anime series. This book is her second YA novel, about a 15-year-old boy named Sam who has been abandoned, along with his autistic brother, by his relatives. Trying to build a new life for the two of them, Sam breaks into empty houses while the owners are away, but is caught when one family returns home unexpectedly. He is surprised to find that this huge family takes him in, with each of the teenagers in it assuming he is the friend of one of their siblings, thus not questioning much about why he is around. This sounds like such a cool concept for a story and I’m very interested to see how the dynamics between Sam and the family play out. I’m especially interested in the way he blends in so easily just because no one thinks to question who he is. I always tend to gravitate toward YA books that have some kind of unique angle to them, and this one seems like it will have just that. I don’t currently have this one in my plans for this year, but I may need to squeeze it in somewhere!

4) Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki (May 7)

29981020On the other hand, I had this book in mind for a specific challenge prompt this year, but tentatively switched it out for something that has already been released instead. This book is a graphic novel by the author of This One Summer, which I really enjoyed. It is about a girl named Freddy who has an on-and-off relationship with Laura Dean, who keeps breaking up with her. Freddy’s friends hate the way Laura Dean treats her, but have trouble getting to believe just how toxic the relationship is. I’m really hoping I can get a copy of this book sometime this year, although I’m not actually sure it will fit into my challenge plans anymore at this point. Part of the reason I wanted to try it is because I really wanted to read more graphic novels in general this year, and this story specifically sounded very interesting. It is not very often that toxic relationships like this are addressed, and I’m not sure I’ve ever read about one where both partners are female. Depending how it is written, it could also be a very important book to show how difficult it can be to recognize and get out of a potentially toxic relationship. I’ve seen such amazing early reviews for this one so far, so I’m excited to read it (whenever that may be)!

5) Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (May 7)

30075662I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that sci-fi is not a genre that I reach for very often, but the Illuminae series by this author duo has quickly become a favourite, so I’m really looking forward to what they come out with next. This book is the start of a new series, set in the year 2380, where Tyler Jones, star student and graduate of Aurora Academy, somehow gets stuck with a team of misfits that no one else would work with. Difficult team aside, Tyler’s biggest problem is Aurora, a girl he rescued who has been trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries and is now struggling to adapt to the new world, and whose rescue may be the spark that ignites a war. This book sounds so incredible, and I can’t wait to read it! Over the past few years, many of my new favourite books and series have involved some of these same elements (bands of misfits or at least very different people working together for a common goal, like Six of Crows or The Lunar Chronicles). I was completely fascinated by the Illuminae series and I’m hoping that this one will be just as good. I doubt I’ll be able to get to this one before the end of this year, but it is definitely top of my list for next year at least, which may actually be better so I can read it closer to the release of the next books in the series since I assume those will be out over the next two years.

 

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books on My Spring TBR

It’s hard to believe that it is spring already, especially when winter here started so late! I wouldn’t really say that I’m the type to have seasonal reads, and I think of all the seasons, spring is the toughest one for me to think about in terms of what kinds of books might fit. Even though I don’t necessarily shape my reading habits around the seasons, I at least have a kind of book associated with each one. For summer, I’d think of books that are light and quick to read or that are set in summer. For fall, I think of either creepy thrillers or something very dark and atmospheric, in the spirit of Halloween. For winter, I might think of books that have a cold/wintry setting themselves or that seem cozy. But when it comes to spring, I can’t really think of any specific patterns. This year, it does feel like I’ve been moving a bit more toward seasonal or at least thematic reading to a degree. For example, in February I originally thought of reading books that I associated with Valentine’s Day (although that plan fell through), and I had a couple of “winter” books that I planned to read while it was still cold. It’s not really something I want to take on completely since I am such a mood reader, but it’s been kind of fun to try to plan around a theme at least some of the time. I don’t currently have a theme in mind for my spring reading though, but it just so happens that I got in a whole bunch of books from the library just yesterday, so those are definitely books that I intend to read this spring! I also want to note that for the sake of variety, I’m excluding a couple of the books that I’m definitely planning on reading this spring (Vengeful by V.E. Schwab and The Perfect Mother by Aimee Malloy) because I’ve already mentioned them quite a bit recently.

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) Check Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

37534577This is a book that I would have associated more with winter, but didn’t really plan it out properly when I was taking books from my library. Actually, I even included it on my list for Wintry Reads on my TBR This book is a graphic novel about a boy named Eric Bittle (called Bitty) who has joined his college’s hockey team. He is an experienced figure skater, but not so good at hockey. Bitty is also gay but has not come out yet, and he is a vlogger who talks about his life. This book follows him through his first two years of college, and I’ve seen so many great reviews for this one! I’m not usually interested in stories about sports, but this one just seemed so adorable that I just had to give it a chance. I think it could be a great transitional book between winter and spring since the weather is just starting to warm up here, and our ice is finally starting to melt. This book seems to be the perfect blend of winter (with the ice hockey aspect) and spring because of the coziness/new beginning elements. This book seems really adorable, and it sounds like it will be a lot of fun to read.

2) Campaign Widows by Aimee Agresti

36476537I’ve had this book on my TBR since last June, and I was surprised that it caught my attention because I have so little interest in politics. This book is about a woman named Cady whose fiance is working on the upcoming presidential election. Cady soon finds herself involved with the other “campaign widows,” which are women whose husbands or partners are heavily involved in the political campaign. I thought this book would be a lot of fun to read because it gives a behind-the-scenes look at a political campaign, which is an angle I know very little about. It also seems to be a very character-driven book, which is something that I tend to enjoy. I’ve had this one checked out from the library for several weeks already but kept putting it off because there were other books I prioritized ahead of it. I’ve put this one off again for a couple of days now because I’m currently reading another character-driven book that has to do with the dynamics between the people in a group, and I didn’t want to read two in a row that were along the same lines. This one sounds very interesting, even if the political angle is a bit outside of my comfort zone, and I will definitely be getting to it within the next week or two.

3) Unteachable by Elliot Wake

20877902I think this is one of the books that has been on my TBR the longest, and I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to read it because my library has a tendency to get rid of a lot of books they decide are not popular enough. It is about an 18-year-old girl named Maisie who falls for a guy named Evan that she meets at a carnival shortly before her senior year, only to learn that Evan is her new film teacher at school. They decide to pursue a relationship anyway and keep it a secret in hopes that they don’t get caught. Although I don’t like the power imbalances inherent in student-teacher relationships, I find I often end up enjoying books that involve this trope, especially when the author takes a different angle on the topic. I’m not sure if that is the case here, but this is a book that I’ve been meaning to read since 2015 so it seems like it is about time to finally pick it up. Once I saw that it was easily accessible from my library, there was really no excuse not to try it. I decided to add it to my spring TBR to ensure that I could read it without the risk of my library getting rid of it.

4) Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

35750311If I’m honest, this book was not the highest on my priority list for this year but the more I looked into it, the more interesting it seemed. It is about a 16-year-old girl named Tiffany Sly who is sent to live with the father she never met after her mother passes away, but she has trouble fitting in to her new home. Shortly before she moves in, another man comes forward claiming to be her biological father instead. I thought this would be a nice change of pace from the typical YA books that I read which tend to be more romance-focused. I’ve heard so many great things about Tiffany as a character, but also that this book has a lot of content that is hard to read because of some difficult themes. I heard a lot of hype for this book for a while, but not so much in the past few months. This book has been out for a year already, and has under 1000 ratings and reviews on Goodreads. It’s always a bit surprising to me to see which YA books seem to keep the momentum of the hype, and which ones seem to slip through the cracks. Given some of the reviews for this one, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was enough to put people off, but it sounds like an interesting enough story that I’m still up for giving it a fair chance.

5) Final Draft by Riley Redgate

35960813I feel like I’ve had this book on my TBR forever, even though it’s been out less than a year. I must have added it to my list long before it was supposed to be released. It is about an 18-year-old student named Laila who is a talented writer, but her Pulitzer-prize-winning creative writing teacher is extremely critical and unimpressed with her work. Laila becomes obsessed with proving herself to her new teacher and has to decide how far she is willing to go to win her approval. I was first drawn to this book because of its focus on academic pressure, which is a topic that I don’t see often enough in YA books. I loved Noteworthy by this author, and liked Seven Ways We Lie (although I found it unmemorable in the long-run), so I’m fairly confident that I will enjoy this one as well. I think of all Riley Redgate’s books, this is the one that appeals to me most because I tend to love books that involve characters who are writers. This is also surprisingly on the short side, with only about 275 pages, but I’m hoping that’s enough room to let the story develop well.

6) Now I Rise and Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

4066990622817368This is definitely not a series that I would naturally associate with spring, but I wanted to finish it off while I still had the first book fairly fresh in mind. I have quite the long list of series that I want to finish this year, and I’ve done my best to space them out, but also read the sequels to series I started late last year pretty soon before I have the chance to forget the details. I actually have a total of 4 Kiersten White books on my TBR for this year, including these two, so I think it’s a good idea to space them out a bit as well. This series is known as a gender-swapped retelling of Vlad the Impaler, focusing on the brutal Lada and her brother Radu as they attempt to overtake the Ottoman Empire and reclaim Wallachia. I loved And I Darken, and I’ve heard that both of these books are even better so I’m excited to get started on them soon!

7) The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

40389527I’m sure I’ll get a lot of flak for this one considering all the recent controversy about the author, but I’d already made up my mind that the story interested me and I’m sticking to it. I chose this book for a challenge prompt requiring a book that is being turned into a movie this year, and as soon as I saw it on the list, I knew it was the book I would pick. It is about a reclusive woman named Anna Fox who lives alone and spends her days spying on the neighbours, including the Russell family who recently moved in across the street. When Anna sees something shocking one night, her world begins to crumble and she is left to question what is really happening. The book sounds quite a bit like Rear Window (which I never saw in its original version, but I’ve seen many variations of the story) mixed a bit with The Girl on the Train. It does have some of the same kinds of tropes that are starting to get a bit repetitive, but I’ve heard such great things about the story as well. It sounds like exactly the kind of thriller I tend to enjoy.

8) Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

39280445I’m still on the waitlist for this one from my library, but I’m hoping to get it within the next couple of weeks. I’ve read 5 of Liane Moriarty’s books so far, and although nothing has topped Big Little Lies for me, I’m always looking forward to her next release. I think the only book of hers that I wasn’t such a fan of so far was The Last Anniversary, which was one of her first. I could have sworn I mentioned this one more often on my blog, but apparently it’s only been once or twice so far, probably because the synopsis had been so vague up until recently. This book takes place at a remote health resort, where nine people have gathered for a variety of reasons, over the span of 10 days. The characters include a struggling romance novelist, a family of three, a young couple, a young mother whose husband left her, a divorce lawyer, and a former football player. It sounds like a very interesting mix of people and I’m interested to see what happens when all of them are together at this health resort. I’ve heard that this book is more of a character study than a thriller, although I’ve come to expect that from Liane Moriarty’s books anyway. I’m looking forward to trying this one!

9) Circe by Madeline Miller

35959740I think of all the books here, this is the one that I’m most apprehensive about even though I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. When I was younger, I was completely fascinated by Greek and Roman mythology and loved to read about the many gods and goddesses. It has been a very long time since I read anything on this topic, but after hearing so many rave reviews for Madeline Miller’s books, I knew I wanted to try at least one of them. I was on the fence for quite a while about whether to start with this one or Song of Achilles first, since I would eventually like to read both anyway. I decided to start with Circe because it was a bit more easily accessible from my library, and also because the story interested me a tiny bit more. This book is about the mythological figure Circe, who is banished to a deserted island after discovering her powers, where she develops her skills and encounters many of the most well-known names from Greek myths. I’m a little worried about this one since I’m not too familiar with the Circe story in general, but it sounds like this book would be a great place to start.

10) Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

35716237I guess technically this should be a summer read instead, but I’ll be reading it very soon because I chose it for a four-part reading challenge prompt, and I wanted to read all four books together even though they are unrelated to each other. I chose this book because Akemi Dawn Bowman’s book Starfish was one of my favourites of last year, and I immediately added everything else she had written to my TBR. When I saw a prompt on my challenge list that asked for “something blue” I thought this one would be the ideal fit because it has a blue cover and the word blue in the title. It is about a girl named Rumi who moves in with her aunt in Hawaii after her younger sister Lea dies in a car accident. Struggling with her loss and feeling abandoned by her mother, Rumi wants to recapture her passion for music and finish the song that she and Lea were working on together. This book sounds absolutely heartbreaking, and if it is anything like Starfish, I’m sure that I will end up loving it too.

Monthly Recommendations: Magical Realism

I was glad to see a new topic posted this month for the Monthly Recommendations group! To be fair, this is a topic that is a bit more difficult for me. I’ve always had a really hard to time defining what magical realism is, and searching for examples has not been much help. Most of the books that came up when I looked for examples are South American classics like One Hundred Years of Solitude (which I have not read) or Like Water for Chocolate (which I read, but didn’t love). The best definition I could find is that magical realism involves stories set in a realistic environment, but containing magical elements which blur the line between reality and fantasy. The authors generally tend to withhold information about the magic system and instead present it as a normal, everyday occurrence. Part of the reason it confused me is because of books like Harry Potter, where it is set partially in a realistic location and even the Wizarding World seems like it could be real, but this series somehow does not qualify as magical realism. I don’t know if I can say with 100% confidence that the books I’m picking here are all magical realism, but they definitely seem like that genre to me.

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) Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson

22554204I have not read this whole series yet, but from the two or three books I have read, I think it definitely fits for magical realism. This series follows five girls who are attending a summer camp, where they are learning to be Lumberjane Scouts and earning scout badges for various tasks. In the first book, the campers of the Roanoke cabin see an old woman transform into a bear, and follow her into the woods where they meet a pack of hostile and unusual creatures. This is just the start of their many adventures involving strange creatures and supernatural phenomena around the camp. When I first started reading this series, I actually had no idea that it would have these elements at all, so it caught me off-guard to have the girls suddenly confronted by supernatural creatures. I don’t recall any explanations given as to why these events were happening, and they were treated in the matter-of-fact way that seems to be characteristic of magical realism. The main characters do not have any magical abilities themselves, but each has skills such as physical strength, archery, etc. that are not necessarily unusual in a camp setting but are definitely put to the test in unusual situations.

2) The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

17675462This was one of the only books/series that immediately came to mind when I thought of magical realism, although I’m not actually sure whether it counts more as fantasy instead. This series features a girl named Blue Sargent who comes from a family of psychics, and gets involved with a group of students from the local Aglionby Academy who are searching for the sleeping Welsh king Glendower by following the ley lines. This series is set in a place called Henrietta, Virginia which seems to be a normal town but there is a magical atmosphere that permeates the entire story. I think the magical realism elements get even stronger as the series progresses, especially with the character Ronan. Only minimal explanation is ever offered for why people in this town might have some magical abilities. What struck me most about this series is how it felt so real and so possible, despite all the fantasy elements, much in the same way that Harry Potter did the first time I read it. It was not hard to believe that a place like Henrietta could actually exist. This series has quickly become one of my favourites, and I think it could be considered magical realism.

3) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

9361589This was another book that I had trouble really defining whether it was more magical realism or fantasy, but I decided to consider it magical realism because of the setting. This book features a mysterious circus that arrives suddenly and without warning, and it features amazing performances and things for people to explore. In this book, Celia and Marco are two magicians who have been trained by their instructors since childhood to compete against each other. The story is set in a Victorian-style London, following the lives of these two performers who can use real magic, and through their competition create many amazing things for the Circus. This book is another one that has such an atmospheric quality to it, and it really captures the spirit of magic throughout. It seems like magical realism to me because the setting is mostly realistic, and even the characters’ magic seems like it could be real and possible. I know some people were a bit disappointed with this one because the synopsis can be a little misleading in terms of the magical competition, but I think it is definitely worth reading and so beautifully written!