Top 10 Tuesdays: Freebie – Series That I Need to Read

Just over two years ago, I made a Top 10 Tuesdays post about series that I needed to read. My original intent was to revisit that post for this week’s topic and reflect on the series that I’d listed. Embarrassingly enough, I found that I had only completed one series on that list, with another one very close to being finished! Aside from those, I had only even started one other series (The Hangman’s Daughter) and I am very unlikely to continue it. To be fair, many of the series that I’d listed at the time were relatively low-priority for me so it’s not too surprising that I didn’t follow through. It’s only really in the past couple of years that I really got into reading series again, to the point where I now prioritize several each year to incorporate into my reading challenges. Even though there’s little point in giving updates on my previous Series That I Need To Read list, I still thought it was a great topic to revisit. I also would have loved to include Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House series and Maggie Stiefvater’s Dreamer trilogy, but I feel like I’ve mentioned them quite a bit recently so I wanted to give the attention to other books 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) The Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab

22055262This is the one and only repeat on this list from my 2017 post, and this series has become one of my top priorities for next year. The main reason I haven’t read yet is because I initially tried to limit myself to just one series per author at at time, but I’ve started to break away from that by now. This series is about a man named Kell who can travel between parallel versions of London, which are under threat. Kell teams up with a thief named Delilah to save their home. I’ve been  interested in this one for years because I’ve seen it compared to an adult-level Harry Potter series. I’ve also loved everything of Victoria Schwab’s that I’ve read so far, so I’m looking forward to reading more. I’ve also been a little nervous to start it because I’ve heard it is a bit on the dense side, so I want to read it when I can devote the time to it properly. This series is at the top of my list for 2020, and I’m really excited to finally try it.

2) The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black

26032825This is another series that is high on my list for next year, even though I was hesitant about it at first. It’s only since reading ACOTAR that I’ve started to be a bit more open to reading faerie/fae series. I’ve been hearing so much about this series since it debuted last year, and it sounds very interesting. It is about a girl named Jude whose parents were killed, forcing her and her sisters to grow up in the High Court of Faerie. All Jude wants is to belong there, but in order to earn her place, she must defy that King’s cruel son Cardan. I’m a little worried to try this series because I didn’t really love the one and only Holly Black book that I’ve already tried, but I’m hoping this one will be better. The third book in this series comes out this November, so I’ll be able to read the entire thing next year. Hopefully I can avoid spoilers until then, but I’ve been surprisingly successful at that so far. I’m looking forward to give this one a try and I hope I enjoy it more than The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.

3) The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare

25494343I’ve made it a priority to read the entire Mortal Instruments and the Infernal Devices series by the end of this year, so I can slowly start to catch up a bit on Cassandra Clare’s books. To be honest, they didn’t interest me that much when they first came out, but the online fanbase that I’ve seen over the past couple of years has sparked my interest enough to at least give her books a try. I’ve only read the first three Mortal Instruments books so far, and they were all a solid 4 stars for me. The books in this next series in the Shadowhunters world are a little overwhelmingly long, but I’m starting to feel like I’ll never catch up if I don’t make progress on these series. Lady Midnight, the first in the series, is set five years after the end of the Mortal Instruments series, and focuses on Emma Carstairs, who is looking to get avenging her parents. She works with Julian Blackthorn to investigate a demonic plot across LA, and the two of them are also trying to help Julian’s brother Mark who had been captured by faeries, and has now returned but does not recognize his own family. It sounds like quite a complex storyline and very intriguing, and I’d like to prioritize this series next year as well if I can fit it in.

4) The Nevernight Chronicles by Jay Kristoff

26114463I’m realizing as I make this list that it’s probably going to double as a TBR for next year, although I’ll have to really sit down one day and figure out how realistic it would be to read all of these. I’ve been meaning to read this series for a couple of years now, but ended up putting it aside in favour of reading Illuminae instead. It is about a young woman named Mia Corvere who narrowly escaped from her father’s failed rebellion, and is seeking to avenge him by joining a school of assassins. I’m usually not the most interested in stories about assassins, but I really enjoy the Throne of Glass series. I’m not really sure if this one is along the same lines, but I’ve heard such great things about it. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen some very mixed reviews from the Goodreads reviewers that I follow. It seems to be the kind of series you either love or hate. It also sounds like quite a dense story and another one that I’ll really need to pay attention to. I’d love to add this as a priority for next year, but I’ll have to see how my list shapes up.

5) The Legacy of Orisha series by Tomi Adeyemi

34728667I tentatively considered reading at least the first book in this series this year, but just didn’t have room to fit it in. It is one that I was very nervous to even add to my TBR because it seemed ridiculously overhyped when it first came out, but I’ve learned over the past couple of years that sometimes it is worth believing the hype. It is about a young woman named Zelie who lives in a world where magic has disappeared, due to the king ordering the deaths of everyone who has powers. Only a few people have managed to hide their abilities and retain their magic. As one of these people, Zelie has the opportunity to bring magic back and fight back against the king while learning to master her own powers and escape the cruel prince who is intent on eliminating all magic forever. Although I’ve seen that this will be a trilogy, I have not seen any information yet about when the last book will be released. The second in the series is due out this December, so I’d imagine the third will not be until late next year. I’m very interested in reading this series, but I might wait until all three are out so I can read them closer together, even though that means missing most of the hype.

6) The Infinity Cycle by Adam Silvera

34510711. sy475 I think it may be a while before I end up reading this series, but it is definitely one that I want to look out for. The first book, Infinity Son, is due in January and there are supposed to be two more books after that, so I would imagine the series will end in 2022. It’s another case where I might want to wait until I can read all three closer together, as hard as it is to wait, just because I have so many other high-priority series already and I’ve found it hard to remember any details when I read books a full year apart. This book is about two brothers, Emil and Brighton, who have always idolized a group called the Spell Walkers, a vigilante group who tries to rid the world of specters. Brighton would love to have powers of his own so he can join the fight, and Emil just wants the war to stop. When Emil starts to manifest a power of his own, it puts him right in the middle of the violence and in the position that his brother always wanted. This sounds like such an incredible concept for a series and I love the focus on brothers instead of the typical YA fantasy focus on romance, at least in the synopsis. I have no idea whether there will be a romance in this series. I love Adam Silvera’s writing and this series is quite the departure from the books of his that I’ve already read.

7) The Crescent City series by Sarah J. Maas

44778083Sarah J. Maas has very quickly become one of my new favourite authors. It literally went from being hesitant to even try her books at all, to devouring everything that she writes. I’m currently on the second-last book of the Throne of Glass series, and really enjoying it! I was very excited to see that she was coming out with a new series beginning next year, although this is another one that I may want to wait and read when several books have been published. It’s a bit debatable though, since her books are so long! To be honest, I knew very little about this when I added it to my TBR. I just knew I wanted to read it because it was Sarah J. Maas. It is about a half-Fae, half-human named Bryce who works selling magical artifacts and spends her nights in Crescent City, until a brutal murder shakes up her life. Two years later, no longer enjoying the job she once loved or the nightlife in Crescent City, Bryce is dragged into the investigation because of the murderer’s next attack, and teams up with a Fallen Angel named Hunt, who is ordered to protect her even though he resents her lack of interest in solving the case. I feel like it will be very difficult to avoid spoilers for this one once it comes out, but given how complex Sarah J. Maas’s plots can be, I’ll probably end up waiting and reading the books closer together if possible.

8) Renegades by Marissa Meyer

28421168There is a slight possibility that I will read at least one book from this series before the end of the year, but it seems pretty likely that I will end up saving the whole thing for 2020 instead. Marissa Meyer is another author that I kept putting off reading, but quickly became a favourite once I actually gave her a fair chance. This series is about a group called The Renegades who are humans with special abilities that arose when society crumbled, and established peace. Nova, an orphan, blames the Renegades for her parents’ deaths and teams up with the Anarchists to overthrow them. To be honest, I found the synopsis a bit vague and although I could have sworn I’d seen a more detailed (but not spoiler-y) description that helped me understand it better, I’m having trouble remembering where I saw that. I’ve loved every Marissa Meyer book that I’ve read so far, and I generally enjoy superhero books and movies in general, so this seems like something I’m likely to enjoy.

9) The Cassidy Blake series by Victoria Schwab

35403058. sy475 It’s unusual for me to actively seek out a middle grade book or series, but it’s Victoria Schwab so that is motivation enough. This series has two books so far, and I’m not sure if there are plans for any more. It is about a girl named Cassidy, whose best friend is a ghost, and whose parents are a ghost-hunting team, hired to a haunting in Edinburgh for their new TV show. While in Scotland, she meets another girl named Lara who can also see ghosts and tells her that their job is so send them “beyond the Veil.” Cassidy also learns that people who can see ghosts like her have something known as “the light of life,” which causes her to be hunted by the sinister Raven In Red who wants to claim this light for itself so it can live again. I’m a tiny bit on the fence about this one because I tend to struggle to relate to middle grade characters in general, but although I rarely seek out ghost stories, I often tend to enjoy the ones that I have read, especially when they are not too scary. I’m mainly interested in this one because I love Victoria Schwab’s writing style and I’m interested to see how she develops a story for a younger audience.

10) Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

30075662To be honest I’m still a little bitter about the “exclusive” Illuminae novella that was offered with pre-orders of this book, even though I was lucky enough to have a friend send me her copy of the novella after she finished with it and decided she didn’t want to keep it. It’s frustrating when exclusive things like that are offered to some locations but not others! In any case, this book looks like the start of a very interesting new series that I would love to read, although it’s another one that I may hold off until closer to the publication of the other two books. I still have Jay Kristoff’s Lifelike series to read, and the aforementioned Nevernight Chronicles, so I also don’t necessarily want to lump everything by the same author into next year either. This book is about a star student named Taylor Jones who gets stuck with a team of misfits, including Aurora, who has been trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries and now struggles to adapt to the new world. I love books that involve these kinds of bands of misfits, and I also tend to love these kinds of “fish out of water” stories about people who are trying to adapt to a different world. I loved the Illuminae series, and this one sounds like it will be just as interesting!

Stacking the Shelves (#21)

I didn’t think I would add any books to my TBR this month, especially since I was away for two weeks. I completely underestimated the fact that I would be wandering through the bookstore at least twice during that trip, and even though I didn’t buy anything, I added quite a few books that I saw on the shelves to my list just as a reminder to eventually read them. Compared to other months, this one was actually quite low in terms of new additions. I added around 50 books to my TBR, which pushed me over the 3000 books mark! I also realized that I’d posted my Stacking the Shelves for June a bit early, so that adds about another 20 or so books added since my last post. It is definitely intimidating to see so many books waiting to be read, but I view my list as more of a reminder of books that interested me instead of something that must be completed immediately.

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 Ex Girlfriend by Nicola Moriarty

43195360. sy475 I’m always excited to find new thrillers, and I was especially intrigued by this one because I already have a few Nicola Moriarty books on my TBR. Last year, I read her book Those Other Women and loved it, although it was far from a thriller. This book isn’t due out until this October so it will be a while before I can read it, but it sounded very interesting. It is about a woman named Georgia who has fallen for a man named Luke, whose ex-girlfriend seems to be struggling with their break-up. Georgia starts to think someone is following her, and when things start going wrong in her work and her relationships, she starts to worry that Luke’s ex Cadence is somehow involved. It sounds like a very creepy story and exactly the kind of thriller that I usually enjoy. I tend to like very character-driven stories and thrillers that focus on the dynamics between people, so this one seems like something I’d like. I’m also intrigued because it seems like such a departure from Nicola Moriarty’s other books. It’s interesting when authors branch out from their usual genre, although I’m not sure how often that tends to happen.

2) I Know You’re There by Sarah Simpson

42868406. sy475 This book further cements the fact that I’m drawn to covers that show houses or doorways, for some inexplicable reason. I found it while looking for new and upcoming thrillers, and it was just released last month. This book is about a woman named Natalie who moves into a new flat and quickly befriends her neighbours. After a difficult childhood, Natalie thinks she has found a place where she will finally feel safe, but soon starts to realize that each of her neighbours is hiding secrets of their own. All four of them start to receive vague and possibly threatening notes in their mailboxes, and unusual things start to happen in Natalie’s flat, causing her to question how safe her new home really is. I’ve seen quite mixed reviews for this one so far, but that seems to be the case with most thrillers. The most frequent complaint that I saw was that the book is slow-paced, but that’s not necessarily a problem for me if it gives time for the story/characters to really develop. It sounds like an intriguing mystery/thriller, and I’d love to eventually give it a try.

3) Fence, Vol. 1 by C.S. Pacat

36373825. sy475 I’ve been hearing about this graphic novel series for a while, and finally decided that I was interested in giving it a chance. One of my goals has been to try more graphic novels in general, and this one has been highly recommended by several of the bloggers and vloggers that I follow, and all I really knew about it is that it is about fencing and has LGBT characters. It is about a boy named Nicholas who is the son of a retired fencing champion and wants to have the chance to compete. Nicholas gets accepted to an exclusive private boarding school with a top-level fencing team, where he ends up with his rival as a roommate. It took me a while to decide to try this series since I don’t have a particular interest in fencing or in books about sports in general but I’ve heard such great things about it that I thought it was worth a try. It reminds me quite a bit of Check, Please! which I tried earlier this year, and really enjoyed, and there are definitely a lot of similarities between these series. I think this will be a great addition to my goal to read more graphic novels since it seems like it could be an interesting story.

4) Have a Little Faith In Me by Sonia Hartl

40818605. sy475 Usually I try to stay away from books that have religious themes, but this one sounded like unique spin on the typical story. It has been compared to the movie Saved! which I know I watched but barely remember, and the To All the Boy I’ve Loved Before series which I liked but didn’t love. It is about a girl named CeCe who is dumped by her boyfriend shortly after they have sex. Her boyfriend is a born-again Christian, and despite knowing nothing about Jesus, she follows her ex to camp with her best friend Paul to try and win him back. When CeCe discovers that her ex has already moved on, she convinces Paul to fake a relationship with her in attempt to save face, and soon starts to realize that her ex may not have been the kind of person she thought he was. Although this book does sound a little on the predictable side, as many fake-dating stories are, it also sounds like it could be very good. I’m especially intrigued by the mention in the synopsis that CeCe’s ex is not who he seemed. Unfortunately, this book is not out until September so I likely won’t get to read it until next year.

5) The Avant-Guards, Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin

42201523I probably could have grouped this one in with Fence, but it was on a different TBR page. This is another sports-themed graphic novel with LGBT characters. It is about Charlie, a former sports star who transfers to an Arts school, where she is unexpectedly recruited by the school’s basketball team. Charlie insists that she is done with sports, until she meets the team captain Liv and “rag-tag” group she’s pulled together for the team. Moreso than the sports, what drew me to this book is that it seemed to be a New Adult story, with Charlie struggling to fit in at college. This is a setting that I really think there needs to be more of in books in general. There are tons of books that focus on teenagers in high school and especially people who are struggling in their senior year before they graduate, but not so many about the challenges of moving on to college and learning to be an adult. It sounded like this series might be along the lines of Giant Days, which I will be starting very soon, and although I’m still not really into the sports aspect, I’m very interested in the rest of the story and think it’s great that there are starting to be more college-focused books.

6) No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant

39974869I found this one too while looking for more graphic novels that might interest me, and although the synopsis is a bit sparse, it sounded like an interesting story. It is about a 17-year-old girl named Hazel, who is a sheltered and homeschooled kid from an affluent family. While taking a job clearing away ivy from the forest over the summer, she finds herself working alongside at-risk teens, which forces her outside of her comfort zone to realize how sheltered and privileged she has been. I did not realize until just now that this book is actually a graphic memoir about the author. I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction, but I tend to enjoy it more in graphic novel format. I’m not sure how high on my priority list this one is, but it sounds like it could be a very interesting story about Hazel coming to terms with the idea that not everyone’s life was the same as hers. I think it is a very important and relevant story for a lot of people. I grew up pretty sheltered (but not homeschooled) myself, and over time started to realize that a lot of things that I took for granted just weren’t that way for a lot of people. I think this could be a very interesting memoir to read.

7) Who Killed Ruby? by Camilla Way

46742811. sy475 Again, a cover that drew me in because of the focus on the house/door. I’d say that was especially the case for this book because I wasn’t very interested in the title and the synopsis was incredibly vague. I’ve also just realized that I have two more books by this author on my TBR already, and didn’t even know they were by the same person. It has been compared to Clare Mackintosh and Ruth Ware, and I’ve enjoyed books by both of them already. This book is about a woman named Vivienne, whose older sister Ruby was killed when she was a teenager. Vivienne was in the house at the time, and gave evidence that led to the arrest of someone who may have been the killer. Thirty-two years later, Vivienne still struggles with nightmares about that day and when strange things start to happen to her, she starts to doubt herself. It’s almost too bad that this book has such a mediocre title since I almost passed right by it, even though it is a very silly thing to judge a book by. This one just came out at the end of June so I’m interested to see more reviews for it, although that’s always risky with a thriller!

8) Witchy by Ariel Slamet Ries

45010800This is another one I added because I was looking for more graphic novels, and also because it came up on a list of upcoming releases for this year. It is set in a witch kingdom called Hyalin, where the strength of your magic corresponds to the length of your hair. The strongest witches are recruited as guards, but those whose hair grows too long are considered enemies and they are eliminated. The main character in this story is a witch named Nyneve, who must decide whether to join the Witch Guard when she is due to be conscripted, knowing that they were complicit in her father’s death. This sounds like such a unique and interesting story, and I generally enjoy anything that has to do with witches. I’m especially intrigued to see if there is some kind of explanation about how the magic strength relates to hair length exactly. Wouldn’t those whose hair grows too long be able to just trim it down, and avoid getting killed that way? I’m hoping there is something included in the world-building about this, but given that it is a graphic novel, I wouldn’t necessarily count on it.

9) Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: An Introvert’s Year of Living Dangerously by Jessica Pan

41577600. sy475 If there is a single nonfiction book that I’m likely to read, it’s probably this one! I am definitely an introvert, and I related so strongly to the title. I don’t think I’ve actually ever been late to something because I’d be too anxious about whoever I’m meeting getting upset, but I can easily see this happening. I do struggle a bit with these kinds of books because I feel like they sometimes come across like it is a problem to be introverted or that being extroverted as somehow “better.” There are many situations where more extroverted behaviour is necessary and even better for that context, so I can definitely understand the idea of trying to challenge yourself and become more comfortable stepping outside your comfort zone. This book is about Jessica Pan’s goal of living like an extrovert for a year to see how her life might change if she was a bit more open to new people and experiences. Realizing that she wanted a bit more of a social life, she pushed herself to try new things like going to networking events, meeting friends online, traveling alone, and trying improv comedy. Many of the things that she tried would still be quite outside of my comfort zone, but it sounds like it would be a lot of fun to read about it.

10) Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

40024139I feel like I’ve been hearing about this book absolutely everywhere for a while now, but ironically enough I can’t remember where I found it to add it to my TBR. I’m pretty sure it was someone’s vlog channel (possibly Emmmabooks?), but I can’t remember who or when for sure. I’m always a bit apprehensive about new fantasy series because so many of them end up sounding so similar, and many of them involve a serious time commitment. This book is the beginning of a new series, due out in September, that I ended up adding because it involved witches. It is about a witch named Louise who fled her coven and gave up magic to hide in the city of Cesarine, where witches are hunted and burned. When an attempted burglary goes wrong, Louise is forced into a marriage with Reid Diggory, who happens to be a witch hunter and does not know that his new wife has magic. This sounds like such an amazing concept and it has a lot of the tropes that I tend to enjoy. I’m glad I decided to add this one to my TBR as a reminder to give it a try.

11) They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

42527866To be honest, I’m not sure if this one would have caught my attention if it wasn’t for George Takei’s name on the cover. I was never a huge Star Trek fan, but most of my family was so I recognized his name immediately and was curious to see what he had written. This book is a graphic memoir about George Takei’s childhood as a prisoner in American camps during WWII because of his Japanese heritage. He was only four years old when Japan and America went to war, and his family was forced from their homes as the president ordered all Japanese people in America to “relocation centers” where they were kept under armed guard. Although I had learned a bit about these internment camps in school, it was never something that was discussed in very much detail, and definitely never from the perspective of a person who was Japanese. I think this would be very interesting to read since it is from an angle that I’d never really seen before, and it is a very important and unfortunately still relevant topic.

12) A Mother’s Secret by T.J. Stimson

43377488This was one of many books that I added to my TBR while wandering the bookstores on my trip. It is about a mother named Maddie whose infant son is found dead in his crib in what appears to be a case of crib death (also called sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS). The police begin to suspect that Maddie may be responsible for her son’s death, but even though she experiences blackouts, she is sure that neither she nor anyone else in her family would have killed her baby. I don’t even had kids, but the whole idea of SIDS is terrifying to me, and I’m actually a bit surprised that I haven’t seen it more often as a premise for a thriller since there is a lot of potential there. This book is still quite recent, out April 18 of this year, so it has not received very much attention yet. It drew my attention at the bookstore while I was browsing a display of recent thrillers, and it sounded very intriguing and creepy. Strangely enough, I also see this book listed on Goodreads as Picture of Innocence, which is a little confusing. I assume it’s something to do with where it was published. Either way, this sounds like a very interesting thriller and I’d like to give it a try at some point.

13) The Chain by Adrian McKinty

42779092This book might be a bit outside my comfort zone, but it caught my attention anyway. It is about a single mother named Rachel who learns that her 13-year-old daughter has been abducted from her bus stop. She gets a call from a stranger telling her that she is now part of the chain — the only way to get her child back is to kidnap another child within the next 24 hours, and her daughter will be released only when that child’s parents kidnap someone else. If she fails to kidnap a child, or the next parents don’t kidnap anyone, Rachel’s daughter will be murdered. The plot reminds me a bit of the movie The Box, which I didn’t watch because I thought it would be too scary, since that also involves a similar kind of difficult choice that could result in someone’s death. The premise for this story is so creepy but also so interesting. It’s a bit outside my comfort zone because I saw it tagged as horror, but looking at the synopsis and reviews, it seems more like a suspense/thriller to me, and probably something that I’d be able to handle.

14) A Version of the Truth by B.P. Walter

41564439. sy475 This is another one that I saw at the bookstore and the title caught my attention. I found it while walking around just browsing the shelves. It focuses on two timelines, following the lives of two main characters. In 2019, Julianne’s son approaches her with something strange he found on his iPad, causing her to question everything about her husband and her marriage. In 1990, Holly is a freshman at Oxford who befriends some older, upper class students and begins to develop feelings for one of the men. As the year goes on, Holly starts to notice that her friends’ behaviour is changing and she realizes she may have just been a game to them. The two women share a secret that they would both love to leave in the past. After reading some of the content warnings for this book (and noticing the spots of blood on the cover art), it’s made me a little more apprehensive about reading this one. If you are considering reading this book, please take a look at the Goodreads reviews for content warnings! I’m a little on the fence about whether I still want to read this because the storyline sounds like it could be interesting, but some of the content warnings have put me off.

15) To Siri With Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of a Machine by Judith Newman

30177646. sy475 I could have sworn I already had this one on my TBR, but I guess I’d never actually added it. It is a nonfiction book about the author’s family, which includes a 13-year-old son, Gus, who has autism. The book chronicles one year in this family’s life, and focuses on the friendship Gus develops with Siri. I remember hearing about this story a couple of years ago, and it seemed like such an interesting use of the technology. Siri would answer all of Gus’s questions without losing patience, and also taught him to speak clearly and use his manners since that got the app to work. Looking at the Goodreads page now, it seems that I might not have added it to my TBR at the time because there is a lot of controversy around this book and some of the author’s views. Some have stated that this book exploits Gus and invades his privacy, and more than that, many have expressed an interest in boycotting the book because Judith Newman has said that she wants her autistic son to have a vasectomy. Others have also said that the book is ableist and that the author has been dismissive of attempts by other people with autism to reach out to her and express their concerns. I’m on the fence about whether I’ll end up reading this one after seeing all of this. If anyone has read this one yet, please let me know what you thought!

Top 5 Wednesdays: TBR Benchwarmers (#8)

I really don’t know what I was looking for when I added books to my TBR at the beginning of 2016, since it is such a strange mix. The very first set I added (some of which are mentioned in last week’s post) were mostly education/teaching-related books, many of which were nonfiction. As I moved on to the next page, it is mostly Sarah Dessen and other YA books that seem to fall on the younger end of the spectrum. I love YA in general, but I do tend to find there are some books that seem to skew a bit toward a younger audience (ie. Sarah Dessen or Jenny Han), and others that seem to be aimed more toward older audiences. That’s not to say that I can’t enjoy or won’t read both kinds, because I can and I do, but it was a bit weird to notice so many clustered together. I must have been specifically looking for YA at the time.

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) Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar

204297I know very little about this book and can’t even remember where I found it, considering it was published back in 2005. It is about a boy named Scott who is starting high school, and his mother has recently announced that she is pregnant. Scott decides to take what he learns about surviving high school and write a survival manual for his new sibling, while also trying to capture the attention of his classmate Julia. Right off the bat, this book reminds me of the TV series Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, which was a bizarre but fun show about three friends putting together a guide to help people survive a variety of common school problems. I was also very surprised to see that this book has a sequel that was published a full 10 years after this one, about Scott’s sophomore year. My initial impression when I saw this one on my TBR just now was that I wasn’t sure it would interest me much anymore since it is narrated by such a young teen, but looking at a preview of it changed my mind. It looks like this could be a lot of fun to read, and worth a try at least.

2) November 9 by Colleen Hoover

25111004. sy475 I think I specifically added this one to my TBR because I had a challenge prompt that required a date or time in the title, but I ended up reading a different book instead. I have several of Colleen Hoover’s books on my TBR even though I’ve never read any, especially because I keep seeing such mixed reviews for them. This book is about a woman named Fallon who meets an aspiring writer named Ben the day before she moves across the country. Their attraction leads them to spend her last day in the city together, and her life becomes the inspiration Ben needs for his book. Over time, they continue to meet on the same day every year, until Fallon begins to question whether Ben has been telling her the truth. I keep putting off reading this one because I’ve seen some very negative reviews for it from several reviewers that I follow, and my taste is usually quite similar to theirs. The synopsis interests me enough that I think it may still be worth a try, but it’s become fairly low on my priority list.

3) The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

51737Honestly, I could have listed just about any Sarah Dessen book since I added 7 of them to my TBR the same day, beginning with her most recent release (at the time), Saint Anything. I was never a huge fan of Sarah Dessen even when I was in her target age group, although I did really like Dreamland. That was the only book of hers that I distinctly remember reading, although it’s possible that I’ve read a few others. The Truth About Forever seems vaguely familiar, but I don’t think I’ve ever read it. It is about a girl named Macy who is bored over the summer because her boyfriend is away at camp, but is also grieving the traumatic loss of her father. Macy is prepared for a long summer of prepping for the SATs, working at the library, and spending time with her mother. When her summer takes an unexpected turn, Macy finds hserlf coming out of her shell, especially when she meets a new boy named Wes. Even though I think I may have outgrown these books a bit, they still interest me enough to give them a chance. It helps that I enjoyed the one book of Sarah Dessen’s that I have read, so hopefully I will get around to the rest eventually.

4) Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

15937108Speaking of being outside the target age range, I was a bit surprised to find a middle grade book on my TBR since it is a genre that I read very rarely. This book is about a 12-year-old girl named Willow who is obsessed with diagnosing medical conditions and is comforted by counting by 7s. Willow is also adopted, and her world is turned upside down when her adoptive parents are both killed in a car crash. The book focuses on the aftermath of this for Willow, as she is left to build a new life for herself, with others that are brought together by the accident. This seems like quite an intense storyline for a middle grade book! I’m very interested in this one because I tend to like books where the main character is a bit unusual, like Willow. It is a book that I have heard about quite a few times over the years, and it has also received a lot of award nominations. I’m not sure how soon I’ll be getting to this one, but it sounds like it could be great.

5) But I Love Him by Amanda Grace

9541845This is another book that I haven’t been able to read because my library doesn’t have it. It is about a high school senior named Ann who is dating Connor, and believes she is the only person who can “heal” him, only to find herself in an abusive relationship. The story is told in reverse order, tracing back through their relationship to show how it developed and why Ann stayed with him. When I was younger, I went through a phase where pretty much all that I was reading were “issues books,” especially the Beatrice Sparks series of diaries supposedly by anonymous teenagers. This seems like exactly the kind of book I would have picked up at that time, although it’s been a while since I’ve read this kind of realistic fiction, at least in something that wasn’t a thriller. I stopped picking up these kinds of “issues books” for a while because they were all starting to feel a bit similar, but it’s been such a long time by now that I think this might interest me, if I can actually find a copy.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Settings I’d Like to See/

I always find setting prompts the most difficult to respond to. The setting is not necessarily something that I pay much attention to while reading, although that might be because so many of the books I read are contemporaries set in real-life places. I’m not a huge fan of books that revolve around travelling either, so I don’t have an especially strong interest in reading about specific countries or cities. I like to read about them as they come up, but I don’t necessarily seek them out because of the setting alone. I struggled quite a bit with this week’s topic until I decided to broaden it a bit. At first, I was thinking of it in terms of settings that weren’t used very often, which was hard. After a while, I started to think of settings that might be used but that I haven’t necessarily read many times, or settings that I’ve really enjoyed and want to read more often. That made this list much more manageable! Please feel free to send me recommendations if you know of any books set in any of these kinds of places.

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) Hogwarts/The Wizarding World – This is the only highly specific setting on this list, but I think it is worth it. The Wizarding World in general, and Hogwarts specifically, is one of the only settings I’ve ever very strongly connected with, and I’d love to see more books set there.

2) Boarding schools in general – For some reason, I’ve always really enjoyed books that are set at boarding schools, even though I’d never want to go to one myself. Maybe that’s why I’ve always enjoyed those stories. I think having the characters so far from home and forced to deal with problems on their own could be a very interesting setting, especially for mystery/thrillers, but also for contemporary stories.

3) College/university – I have seen so many YA books about characters preparing to go away to college, applying to schools, stressing out while waiting for admissions, etc., but very few that actually take place at a college or university. This seems to be something that a lot of readers have been asking for in the past few years, and I think it would be great to expand out YA or even New Adult to actually show characters in college or university, adapting to that new stage of their life.

4) Offices – I mostly thought of this one because I’m watching The Office on Netflix for the first time, and it is such a hilarious cast of eccentric characters. Like university/college, I find there aren’t too many books that focus on young adults in an office setting for the first time. I think there are so many interesting stories that can be written around office politics.

5) Libraries/bookstores – This is one setting that I know already exists and I have read several books that are set in either libraries or bookstores, but I’d love to read more. I find that books set in these kinds of places tend to really capture a love of reading. I also find they are great settings that lend themselves very easily to a variety of genres.

6) Ancient cities/cultures – I thought of this one mostly because I read Madeline Miller’s Circe earlier this year, and I realized that this was a setting I didn’t see very often. I’ve always been interested in ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, and I would love to see more books that incorporate these cultures and especially their mythology (aside from Rick Riordan).

7) The Internet – I don’t know if you can really count the internet as a setting, but I was thinking of it in terms of books where a lot of the action takes place online (ie. cyberbullying, social media, etc). There have started to be a lot more books that incorporate this angle in the past few years and it is something that I really look for, since it brings some really interesting storylines, especially for thrillers.

8) Futuristic worlds with advanced technology – I was specifically thinking of something like Crosstalk or maybe even Warcross, where the advanced technology is incorporated directly into society. I wouldn’t say that I’m a huge fan of sci-fi, but these kinds of worlds tend to be so interesting to me. I think it ties into my interest in reading about social media and how that affects people’s lives, and these kinds of worlds just take that to an extreme.

9) Therapy – I’m not completely sure how to describe this one, but I was thinking of something along the lines of The Silent Patient. I haven’t read it yet, but from what I understand therapy is a key part of the story. Or even something like Nine Perfect Strangers,  where the characters are at a retreat. As someone who has studied psychology, I find these kinds of stories fascinating and I think there is a lot that can be done with therapy/therapists in terms of different storylines.

10) Cults – I haven’t read very many books that focus on cults, but I think it would be very interesting to read something set in what is usually a very isolated community. The only book that I can think of off the top of my head is Always Watching by Chevy Stevens, which I really enjoyed. Or even something set in an Amish community, like Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult. Please note that I am absolutely not trying to say that the Amish are a cult, but something along these lines about a group living together with very strongly held beliefs could be very interesting.

The Summer Bucket List Book Tag

I love book tags, but for some reason I always struggle to find one that I’m interested in doing. When I look at the questions, I always seem to draw a blank for any books that might fit, somehow! At the very least, I knew that this time I wanted to go for something summer-themed, and I stumbled across quite a few interesting ones. I ended up picking the Summer Bucket List tag, created by Tiffany at Read By Tiffany because it looked like a lot of fun! Also, thanks to Tiffany for allowing us to use her graphics with the questions!

35716237The first book that came to mind for this one was Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, especially because the cover itself shows the water. It is set in Hawaii and there are some parts devoted to surfing. It is about a girl named Rumi who is sent to live with aunt in Hawaii after the loss of her younger sister, Lea, in a car accident. While there, she meets Kai, a surfer who lives next door, and others who help her learn to cope with her grief. This was a beautifully written book and really handles the topic of grief so well. I can’t wait to see what Akemi Dawn Bowman will come out with next, since I’ve already really loved the two books she’s released so far.

17927395. sy475 I would have to go with Feyre and Rhysand in A Court of Mist and Fury. This was by far one of the most passionate romances I’ve ever read and there was definitely a lot of chemistry. I know a lot of people get put off by the whole “mates” wording of things, but I think it makes sense given the setting. I loved how much Feyre grew as a character in this book, and how well-developed her relationship with Rhysand became. On his own, he was a very interesting character, and it was so amazing to see their romance take off. All of the characters and relationship in this series are among the best that I’ve read in a long time, and I’m so glad I finally decided to give this series a chance. I’d avoided it for a while because it seemed overhyped and I wasn’t so interested in faeries at the time, but this was definitely worth reading.

29283884. sy475 Going for a recent read with this one, and choosing The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue. This book follows Monty on his Grand Tour of Europe, as one final year of freedom before he must return home and take over his family’s estate. Through the course of the book, Monty travels with his sister, Felicity, and his best friend/crush Percy through various countries of Europe, including France, Italy and Spain. I’d been meaning to read this book for two years already, so I’m glad I finally decided to pick it up. I meant to read the sequel immediately afterwards too, but unfortunately had to return it to the library because someone else was waiting for it before I even had the chance to start. It took me a few chapters to really get into this one, but once I got invested in the characters, I was hooked.

23437156I’m not entirely sure what it means by “starstruck,” but I assume it means a book that I’m obsessed with or can’t stop talking about. I think for this one, I would have to go with the Six of Crows duology. I went into this series not expecting too much because I’m not so interested in heist stories, but this one completely blew me away because of the amazing characters. I read Six of Crows last November and Crooked Kingdom early this year, and I absolutely adored both of them. These books have some of the strongest and most compelling characters that I’ve read in a long time, and like all of the books I’ve mentioned so far, I’m glad I decided to pick this one up, even if it was a bit outside of my comfort zone. This book had such an intricate plot and it was so entertaining to read because of the dynamics between Kaz and all of his crew. I think all of them have become some of my favourite characters of all-time.

40597810I can think of a few off the top of my head, but I’ll stick to some of my more recent reads. One of the books that I couldn’t put down this year would have to be Daisy Jones & The Six. It definitely helped that it was written in interview format, which kept me going through it very quickly, but it was also so well-written. Considering I have very little interest in 70s rock bands or stories about celebrities in general, I was surprised by how quickly this one captured my attention. Like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I went into this one not expecting very much and it ended up being one of my favourites of the year so far. I’m not sure I enjoyed it quite as much as Evelyn Hugo, but it was pretty close, and definitely left me interested in reading more of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books. I was a bit worried that this one would be too similar to Evelyn Hugo since they are both about fictional celebrities being profiled, but once I got started, it wasn’t hard to separate the two stories.

34092885I didn’t quite love this book as much as I’d hoped, but the romance in Always Never Yours was definitely very sweet. This book is about a teenage girl named Megan who often ends up dating a boy just before he finds his “true love.” She is also cast as Juliet in her school’s production of Romeo & Juliet opposite her ex, who is now dating her best friend. While working on the show she befriends Owen, who is working on a play of his own inspired by Rosaline, the girl that Romeo loved before Juliet. I really enjoyed this book, but I was a little disappointed to find that it wasn’t the immediate 5-star read that I thought it might be. I loved the relationship that developed between Megan and Owen, and thought that it was very cute even if it was a bit predictable. I thought Megan was a great main character and a little different compared to the typical YA protagonist, and this book was a lot of fun to read.

35887567. sy475 Prompts like this are always a bit tricky for me because they seem so abstract. I think I would have to choose On the Come Up because it was one of the most unique YA stories that I’ve read in a long time. Many of the YA books that I read tend to be the typical contemporary romance kind of story, so it’s always great to read something a little different. This book is about 16-year-old Bri, who wants to become a rapper to help support her struggling family. Although there was a tiny bit of romance involved, the majority of the story is about Bri going after her dream and trying to overcome the obstacles in her way. It was a definitely a breath of fresh air to see another young character, like Starr Carter too, who was so realistic but also so determined to go for what she wants. I loved the interactions between Bri and her family. I thought this was one of the strongest YA stories I’ve read recently, and I’m so glad it lived up to the hype.

22817368I think the fact that this series is called The Conqueror’s Saga is a good indicator that the characters had a lot of obstacles to conquer. I’m specifically going to choose the final book in the series, Bright We Burn, but really it’s the series as a whole that fits here. I also feel like I don’t mention this series nearly enough, considering how much I loved it. This series is a gender-swapped version of Vlad the Impaler. From the start, Lada is faced with the obstacle of her gender — her father wanted a son, and she soon has a younger brother, Radu, whom she must protect. Lada is a fierce and often ruthless character, whose sole goal is to take power in her homeland, Wallachia and improve the country, by whatever means necessary. There are so many obstacles that Lada and Radu face throughout the series, beginning with their exile to the Ottoman court, and many occasions where their loyalties are tested. This was an incredible series, and I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned it more.

35247769. sy475 I’ll pick a recent read for this one, and go with Always and Forever Lara Jean, which included Lara Jean’s attempts to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I’m sure there were other foods mentioned in the book, but the cookie baking is what really stood out. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure this needed to be a trilogy. I really liked the first book and thought it stood well enough on its own. I listened to the second one as an audiobook and didn’t like it very much because I wasn’t a fan of the narrator, and felt that she made the characters sound a lot more immature than they seemed when I read the books myself. Actually, in general I may have liked this series a bit more if I had read it when I was younger, but it was still a nice, fluffy book, and it definitely made me crave chocolate chip cookies.

7784Again, this is a very difficult kind of prompt for me because I also find it abstract. I mostly read thrillers, fantasy, and YA contemporary, so I’m not sure any of those genres are particularly inspiring. I think if I had to pick something, it might be The Lorax, which I read recently for the first time (or at least the first time that I can remember). I found it very interesting how this book handled the topic of caring for our environment so well and at such an appropriate level for children. It is a character who decides to cut down all the trees in an area in order to knit “thneeds, which everyone needs” and continues to grow his business at the risk of more and more environmental destruction, despite warnings by the Lorax about the effects of this on the local animals and plants. I thought this book was a great reminder to care about the environment and consider the impact our behaviour has on it.






Top 5 Wednesdays: TBR Benchwarmers (#7)

I’ve finally made it onto a new year of my TBR list! The books I added in 2016 started on the 18th page of my TBR, and I’d have to say it is quite a random mixture. This was just after I finished my first year of doing a reading challenge, so I think some of the books I’d added were meant to plan ahead for potential prompts. I added several nonfiction books, even though I rarely read nonfiction. It seems that I was looking for books about teaching since I had quite a few education-related books in a row, both fiction and nonfiction. I can’t remember now what prompt I was even going for. I think of all the books on my TBR, the batch that these come from are the ones at highest risk of being removed from my TBR unread, especially because several of them are not easily accessible to me. On the other hand, I’ve left them on my list so long because if I am going to read non-fiction, books about teaching are usually what I would go for.

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) Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock

12245809This was the first book I added to my TBR in 2016, and I think I found it by browsing Goodreads’ recommendations page. It is about a couple named Lucy and Mickey, who are determined to make their relationship work. Mickey has bipolar disorder, and Lucy has a family history of breast cancer. Given their circumstances, they make the difficult decision not to have any children, but just before their 11th anniversary, Lucy gets an impossible surprise during a routine physical that changes everything. I have not read very many books about bipolar disorder, but it is something that I’m very interested in reading more about. The main reason that I haven’t picked this one up yet is because I keep forgetting about it. This is the author’s one and only book so far, and it has not received very much attention on Goodreads, so it was easy for it to get buried on my TBR.

2) Send in the Idiots: Stories from the Other Side of Autism by Kamran Nazeer

12506This book combines two of the elements that would actually motivate me to pick up a nonfiction book: autism and teaching. Kamran Nazeer was diagnosed with high-functioning autism himself, and this book is about his journey to find his former classmates from his small specialized school in the 1980s. From what I’ve seen of this book, it touches on special education and people’s attitudes toward autism, but the main focus is on the futures of Kamran’s classmates. I have not read this one yet because it is not accessible to me through the library, and it probably is not something that I’d be strongly interested in buying. However, I am very interested in reading it. I currently work with adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, and have been in this field in varying ways since I was in high school, when I volunteered in our school’s special needs classroom. I was drawn to this one because I thought it was a very attention-grabbing title, so I hope I can eventually find a copy of this.

3) Riding the Bus with My Sister: A True Life Journey by Rachel Simon

40100I actually strongly considered reading this one for a challenge prompt last year, and can’t remember why I ended up going for a different book. Rachel Simon wrote this about her experience taking the bus with her sister Beth, who has a developmental disability. Beth spent her days riding buses around their city, and asked Rachel to come with her for an entire year. I realize now as I look at the synopsis that I’d misunderstood what the book was about. I thought it was about Rachel accompanying her sister on bus rides to school with other special needs classmates, but that is not the case. It is actually about the year that Rachel committed to visiting Beth every weekend and riding the bus with her, which gave her the opportunity to get to know her sister in a new way and learn from her. This sounds like it could be a very interesting memoir and definitely something I’d be interested in trying.

4) Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind: Thoughts on Teacherhood by Phillip Done

6546439I love stories about “little kid logic” and generally about people working with younger children since they are usually so much fun to read. This book is about a teacher’s year of teaching a third grade class. Phillip Done had been a teacher for around 25 years at the time that this book was published, so I’m sure he has a ton of stories to share. This book takes us through the school year month by month, sharing the best moments he had with his class. It sounds like it could be a very fun book to read, but unfortunately it is another one that is not currently accessible to me. When I was younger, I wanted to be a teacher for the early elementary school grades or even kindergarten, so I love to read funny kid stories or books about teaching in general. This seems like it would be a lot more interesting to me than most other nonfiction, so I hope I can find a copy of it at some point.

5) Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom

22701879. sy475 I have both of Eric Lindstrom’s YA books on my TBR already, even though I keep putting them both off. This one is about a girl named Parker who is blind, and who is also struggling with her father’s fairly recent death. When Scott, a boy who broke her heart, suddenly comes back into her life, Parker decides to keep him at a distance to avoid getting hurt again. The more Parker starts to learn about what really happened with Scott and with her father’s death, the more she realizes that the rules she’s put in place for herself might need to change. Although I don’t feel like I’ve heard very much about this book in general, many of the reviewers that I follow on Goodreads have given it excellent reviews, and I’m especially interested in the representation for blindness since that is not something that I’ve read much about. I especially like that this one has a bit of a different angle from most other YA contemporaries that I’ve read, so I’m excited to give it a  try.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Auto-Buy Authors

I think I need to keep a master list somewhere of all of the topics I’ve posted about in the past, since once again I was convinced that I had already written something on this topic. It turns out I had, but in a more limited capacity. Last year, I had a Top 5 Wednesday topic that was about my auto-buy authors, but limited to sci-fi and/or fantasy books only. At the time, I had commented that it was rare for me to automatically buy from any author due to limited shelf space and the overall cost of books, but I think I’ve changed my mind on that by now. There are now several authors that I’m likely to buy, no matter what they write, or at the very least, automatically add to my TBR. Given that many of these are authors that I’ve discussed in detail in the past, I’m just going to list names this time around. I’ve already collected many of the books by these authors, and I’m definitely planning on getting the rest! The only thing I struggle a bit with sometimes is the older series by some of these authors, like Maggie Stiefvater’s Faerie series. Sometimes these older books don’t appeal to me very much, but I’d at least consider these authors auto-buy for their work from now on.

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. Jodi Picoult
  2. Leigh Bardugo
  3. Maggie Stiefvater
  4. Victoria/V.E. Schwab
  5. Marissa Meyer
  6. Sarah J. Maas
  7. Laini Taylor
  8. Audrey Niffenegger 
  9. Liane Moriarty
  10. Patrick Ness