Stacking the Shelves (#23)

I think I set a record this month for the lowest number of books added to my TBR! While my TBR now holds a total of 3132 books, I only added 41 to my list this month. That’s still quite a few, but definitely a lot less than previous months where I was regularly adding over 100. One thing that I did find a little irritating this month is that I’d have notifications about Goodreads giveaways for a book on my TBR, and when I sent in my entry, it told me it needed to add the book to my TBR. It seems like a bit of a paradox — I’m notified about the book because it’s on my list, so why does it need to be added again? It’s how I end up with duplicates, which can be really annoying. I was a bit surprised to realize that I’d hardly added anything this month. I guess I’ve been so focused on reading for my current challenges that I haven’t been browsing for new books too much!

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 Woman Upstairs by Ruth Heald

47570277. sy475 This was the first book I added to my TBR this month, and it caught my interest because it was compared to The Girl on the Train and The Wife Between Us, both of which I loved. It is about a young mother named Katie, who is pregnant with twins. She is lucky to have Ian, her supportive husband, and a woman named Paula who she has hired to help her. When Ian vanishes, missing the birth of their daughters, Katie can’t reach him and starts to wonder how well she really knew her husband, while coming to rely on Paula more and more for support. Just as things start to settle down, Ian suddenly returns, and Katie finds herself caught between him and Paula, neither of whom want the other involved with the children. There definitely seems to be a trend lately toward books about creepy nannies, and I tend to find these stories very interesting. I’ve never heard of this author before but I’m willing to give this one a try since it is supposed to be similar to two thrillers that I really loved. I’m always looking for more thrillers to try, and this one seems like it could be great.

2) The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

44019067. sy475 I added this one because I saw it mentioned a few times on Youtube, and it looked like a lot of fun. It is about a baseball player named Gavin whose marriage is in trouble. Gavin decides to join a group of men who read romance books and try to imitate the actions of the heroes to win back their partners. The group decides to pick up a regency romance called Courting the Countess, and use that story to help Gavin save his marriage. I don’t particularly care for characters who are celebrities or famous athletes of any kind, nor do I really like regency romances, but somehow the combination of these seems like it will make a really fun story to read. I’m not actually sure how much it matters to the story that Gavin is an athlete. I really like the whole concept of the story since I can’t imagine that many romance novels would be a great guideline for real relationships, but it sounds like it could be really funny!

3) Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

43804834. sy475 I think I found this one while browsing Goodreads for more thrillers. It is about a man named Andrew who is the manager of the Shannamore Holiday Cottages, where he watches his guest, Natalie, through a hidden camera. While watching her one night, he sees another person enter and kill her before destroying the camera. I think part of the reason this one caught my attention was because it reminded me of a real case from a local university several years ago where a young woman was killed in her dorm room while on a video chat with her boyfriend. The idea of seeing something horrific happen to someone but being unable to stop it is an amazing setup for a thriller. This one seems especially unsettling because Andrew himself seems creepy because of his habit of watching his guests. It was also interesting to me since it’s a bit different from most of the other thrillers that I read, and it seems like something that I might enjoy.

4) Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna

43998065I’ve seen this one compared to Big Little Lies, which is one of my favourite books, so that alone was enough to add it to my TBR. It is about a group of friends who are all traveling to a week of wedding celebrations, where something has gone horribly wrong. All four of the women rush to confess to the crime, but each insists that they were the one who did it and that they acted alone. I’ve grown to really love these kinds of books that explore friendship or family dynamics, and especially the complex relationships between characters. This book was just released at the beginning of September, so I haven’t heard too much about it yet, but it really sounds like something I will love. I’m very curious to see what would motivate all of these women to confess to the crime. I’ve never heard of this author before either, but looking at her backlist, it seems that she mostly has written mystery series with some kind of twist to it (ie. witches or mafia members), so this one seems like a bit of a departure. None of her other series have really caught my attention, so this book seems like the best place to start.

5) One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski

42867786I have no memory of adding this book to my TBR if I’m honest, but I suspect it has to do with the cover art since I always seem to go for books that have houses on the cover for some reason. It is about a woman named Maureen who goes to the town of Opal Beach to get a fresh start, and vanishes by the end of the summer. Thirty years later, Allison Simpson is given the opportunity to house-sit in Opal Beach, which she sees as her chance for a fresh start too. After arriving at the house, she starts to get absorbed into the mysterious disappearance of a young girl 30 years before, and realizes that the town is hiding some dark secrets. The book is told in dual perspectives, following the stories of both Maureen and Allison, piecing together the story of what really happened all those years ago. I can’t remember where I found this one, but I would assume it was through browsing for more thrillers. Now that I’ve seen what it is about again, it has caught my attention all over again and makes me much more interested in trying it soon!

6) As Many Nows as I Can Get by Shana Youngdahl

43152985I found this one while looking for new and upcoming YA books, and thought it looked interesting. To be fair though, I’m not sure what drew me to it since the Goodreads synopsis is incredibly vague. It is about Scarlett and David, two teenagers who share a strong interest in physics, but go their separate ways because of college, but start to date after Scarlett is dumped by her boyfriend, Cody. If I’m honest, I’m on the fence about whether I will keep this one on my TBR. I’ve seen many mixed reviews for it, and the synopsis has not really done much to convince me to try it either. From what I’ve gathered from several Goodreads reviews, this book touches on a variety of deeper topics and also features characters that are a little older than the typical YA book. I’m always looking for stories that involve characters in college or trying to adapt to adult life, so that part of it could be very interesting. I was also a bit put off to see the word “non-linear” in the description, since that is something I often struggle with. I don’t mind dual timelines, but I tend to get very confused when things jump around too much unless it is very clearly marked. I’m willing to give this one a chance, but right now it is pretty low on my list.

7) Little Voices by Vanessa Lillie

43706724. sy475 I’m assuming I also found this one while looking for thrillers, since I didn’t remember adding this one to my list either. This one is about a prosecutor named Devon who decides to investigate the murder of a close friend while also dealing with severe postpartum depression, manifesting as a cruel voice in her head. Devon is determined to prove that the other friend who was accused of the crime wasn’t the killer, all while the voices in her head get more intense. This definitely seems like a unique premise for a thriller, so I’m interested to see what direction the story takes. I don’t know very much about postpartum depression, but it seems like it could add a very interesting extra layer to this story. I’m always a little on the fence about stories where someone takes it upon themselves to solve a crime like this since it’s often done in unrealistic ways, but this one seems especially intriguing. This book will be out on October 1, so I’m interested in seeing more reviews for it as people start to read it.

8) The Other Wife by Claire McGowan

46801922. sy475 I added one of Claire McGowan’s other books to my TBR last month, so her name caught my attention when I saw this one on Goodreads. This book is her most recent release, due out at the end of October. Actually, looking back it looks like the previous book I’d added (What You Did) came out in August of this year, so it’s pretty quick to have another book out already! It is about a woman named Suzi who has done something bad, and now lives in an isolate cottage with her jealous husband, Nick. When Nora moves into the only other house nearby, Suzi is excited to have a new friend and is very tempted to share her secrets, but soon starts to wonder if Nora already knows about her. Another woman named Elle seems to have the perfect life, until her husband betrays her, revealing secrets that go all the way back to her childhood, and she will do anything to hold on to him. This seems like exactly the kind of thriller that I tend to love, so I’m very excited to give this one a try!

9) Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith

44674897I’m pretty sure this is one of those duplicate books that I’d already added to my TBR, but ended up there again because of Goodreads giveaways, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. This is a YA book about a girl named Divya, who is a gamer trying to use her livestreams of a popular game to win sponsorships to earn money for her family. She meets another gamer named Aaron, who escapes from his parents’ pressure to become a doctor by playing games. The two of them meet when they spawn into the same in-game planet, but are soon also met with a growing number of offline “trolls” who threaten to dox them, and seem intent on driving Divya out of the game. I love books that deal with online friendships and social media, so this one seems right up my alley. I’m not a huge gamer myself but I do play a few games and I like to watch Let’s Plays and livestreams of some as well, so I’m interested to see that in the book too. I’ve seen some books about cyberbullying but I don’t know if I’ve seen any that show this kind of extreme trolling, so it will be very interesting to see how that kind of topic is handled.

10) Seven Days by Alex Lake

44813270. sy475 I read Copycat by this author last year, and really enjoyed it. This book is his most recent release, due out October 10. It is about a woman named Maggie who has been imprisoned in a basement since she was 15. She has given birth to three of her captor’s children, but all of them have been taken away on their third birthday. With her son Seb due to turn three in seven days, she is determined to stop this child from being taken away from her too. Part of what interested me about this book is that it seemed a bit similar to Room, which is a favourite of mine because of the way it was written. The book shows both Maggie’s perspective, as well as her family’s and the police. I really enjoyed the other book I’ve read by this author, although not quite as much as I’d expected given that it was a social media thriller, but I’m very interested in trying more of his thrillers. This one seems especially intriguing because it is the kind of storyline that I don’t read very often, but often enjoy when I do try it.

11) You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

44651744. sy475 I saw this one while looking at upcoming YA releases for 2020, and this one caught my attention although I’m not entirely sure why. It’s been compared to Becky Albertalli, who I love, but also Jenny Han, whose books I find a bit too juvenile for me. It is about a black girl named Liz who plans to get out of her prom-obsessed town by going to an elite college. When the financial aid that she needed falls through, Liz’s dreams seem out of her reach, until she is reminded that her school’s prom king and queen are given a scholarship. Despite her complete lack of interest in anything prom-related, Liz decides to try for Prom Queen to earn back the money she needs to go to the college of her dreams. The only thing that makes the competition tolerable for her is a new girl, Mack, who is funny and another outsider like Liz, but when Mack also decides to run for Queen, Liz starts to wonder if falling for her competition is going to keep her from her dreams. Like Liz, I didn’t particularly care for prom either although it was not a huge deal in my school. I’m not quite sure how strongly I’m interested in a prom-centric story, but there is enough else here that makes it sound very interesting, so I think it will be worth a try!

12) When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

38464995. sy475 I’d never heard of this author before, but I tend to like anything that involves witches and magic. This book is about a group of four teenagers who magic goes awry in an accident that leads to a boy’s death. The main character, Alexis, and her friends come together to try and fix their mistake, but their failures leave them to deal with all the consequences, and the need for each of them to learn to live with their part of what happened. This book is not due out until March 2020, but several of the reviewers I follow have been waiting for it since early 2018. I was surprised to see that since I hadn’t heard anything about this book at all, and it was only recently that I noticed it on a list of upcoming releases for next year. It’s a bit funny that I added two prom-themed books to my TBR considering it is not usually something that I care to read about, but this one at least is intriguing because it comes at it from such a different angle.

13) Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West

46809734I found this one at random on Goodreads, and immediately added it to my TBR because it has to do with parent-teacher politics. It is about a teacher named Isobel who has spent her career avoiding difficult parents like Julia Abbott, a stage mother who is constantly interfering in her teenage children’s lives. When Isobel starts to receive threatening voicemails about her pushing a liberal agenda, Isobel decides to stick to her beliefs rather than backing down. At the same time, Julia is obsessed with the casting decisions for the school’s musical, and accidentally shoves the female lead, in a video that goes viral and causes her to receive a lot of online backlash. Despite their differences, Isobel and Julia start to find common ground as they set out to confront the secret Facebook group that keeps bringing trouble to the school’s community. If I’m completely honest, I didn’t really read the synopsis thoroughly when I added this one to my TBR, but now that I have, I’m even more excited for it! This combines so many of the plot elements that I tend to love, so I’m very interested in reading this.

14) Thrall by Avon Gale and Roan Parrish

42611922. sy475 I literally added this book to my TBR about an hour before starting this post, thanks to seeing Destiny’s new TBR Lows & Highs post! I get so many of the books on my TBR from her. This book is a modern retelling of Dracula, told in the format of IMs, tweets, text messages, etc. It is about a couple, Mina and Lucy, who have begun to garner national attention for their true-crime podcast. When Lucy’s brother Harker disappears while researching a new dating app called Thrall, the girls decide to team up with social media expert Arthur, and Harker’s professor Van Helsing to find him before it is too late. As their investigation leads them closer to a possible serial killer, the line between the online world and the real world starts to blur. This is another book that combines many of my favourite elements. I love epistolary formats, especially when it involves social media, and Dracula is one of my favourite classics. Modern retellings are always a bit hit-or-miss for me because it can be really hard to balance the original story with the modern elements, but I’m very interested in giving this one a try. This book has already been out for a year, and I don’t think I would have heard of it without Destiny’s blog, so thank you!

15) Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth

47627954This was another book that I discovered just this morning through the same blog post linked above, and it was exactly the kind of thriller that I look for! It is about a woman named Violet who is a journalist who has become an online influencer with a successful Youtube channel, where viewers watch her daily life with her three children. When her entire online presence suddenly disappears, fans are left wondering what happened to Violet. She may have just decided not to share everything online anymore, but most fans suspect that something more sinister has happened. Some suspect her husband, Henry, but no one seems to know what really happened. The book is told from the perspectives of Violet and Henry, as well as #1 fan Lily who thinks that Violet is the only one who truly understands her, and Yvonne, who takes comfort in Violet’s channel and other mommy websites after she and her husband struggle with infertility. This book is due out in March of next year, and I feel like it will likely be close to the top of my list!

Top 5 Wednesdays – Authors Who Need to Release Something New Already!

It looks like I need to start thinking of a new monthly theme for Top 5 Wednesdays, since I don’t see any signs of it resuming yet. If anyone has any ideas that they’d like to see me talk about, please feel free to let me know!

As I started to look at authors on my TBR, I realized that were a whole separate category of authors that I’d love to read more of, but they have not written anything new yet! Most of these are authors who have written only one or two books, but they are books that I loved. I love discovering new authors whose writing I really connect with, but it can also be frustrating to realize that it’s been ages since they’ve written anything! I know there are a wide variety of reasons why authors might end up taking a long time to write something new, but it was fun to look back and see some of the authors that I’ve loved in the past. These are all authors whose new books are ones that I’d automatically add to my TBR, and hopefully they will all release something new soon!

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) Robin Roe – I read A List of Cages earlier this year, and it was definitely a standout! It is one of the strongest and most memorable YA books that I’ve read in a long time. For some reason, I feel like it had been on my TBR absolutely forever, but that’s not really possible since it came out  in 2017. It actually hasn’t been that long since this one came out, but I’m really looking forward to more! I immediately connected with this author’s writing style and loved that her story was a bit different from the typical YA book that I read. I vaguely remember seeing something recently about Robin Roe working on something new, but I can’t remember where or when I saw that!

2) Kathryn Stockett – I’ve been waiting 10 years for another book by this author! To be fair though, I’m not sure if she’ll be able to top The Help, which is one of my all-time favourites. It’s always hard to try something new by an author when you love their first book so much, since comparisons tend to be inevitable. What’s weird about it is that I’ve found it very difficult to find any information about her in general. Usually, I’m able to find some kind of interviews or social media posts that indicate if an author is working on something new, but I haven’t had any luck. I hope Kathryn Stockett will write something new soon, but the lack of any kind of news does not seem very promising.

3) Audrey Niffenegger – Of all the authors here, this is definitely the one with the most published books so far. The Time Traveler’s Wife is another of my all-time favourite books, which came out just over 15 years ago! I’ve also read Her Fearful Symmetry (published 10 years ago), and Ghostly, a collection of short stories from 2015. I also saw on Goodreads that Audrey Niffenegger has published quite a few other short stories, graphic novels and contributions to collections, but I can’t wait for another full-length novel! Actually, as I was looking at her Goodreads page to link to the author name, I noticed a book called The Other Husband which is advertised as a sequel to The Time Traveler’s Wife! This is the first I’ve heard of it, and to be honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about a sequel to that story, but I’d love to read more of her writing in general.

4) Jandy Nelson – I absolutely loved I’ll Give You The Sun (published 5 years ago), which I had mistakenly assumed was her debut. It wasn’t until later that I realized The Sky Is Everywhere (published nearly 10 years ago!) was actually her first book, which I also enjoyed although not quite as much since I found the storyline a bit more generic. This was an author that I discovered almost exclusively because of Youtube videos, and I’ve been looking forward to reading more of hers. I’ve had a third YA book of hers on my TBR since 2017 when I first noticed on Goodreads, but it has yet to come out nor have I seen any more news about it since then. It was scheduled for 2017 but somehow never happened, which is a bit weird since I’ve seen quite a few interviews where she talks about it.

5) Sharon Guskin – This was an author that I stumbled upon because of a particularly tricky reading challenge prompt, which had asked for a book recommended by one of my favourite authors. It was surprisingly difficult to find books that my favourites had recommended, but I ended up finding The Forgetting Time on a list of books recommended by Jodi Picoult. I was not surprised at all to realize that I loved it, and that the style was actually fairly similar to Jodi Picoult’s as well. That book came out in 2016, and Sharon Guskin has not written anything else since then, nor have I seen any indication that she is even working on anything. Even her social media pages seem to be mostly inactive, aside from older posts about The Forgetting Time. I hope she comes out with something else soon, since I love her writing style!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books on My Fall 2019 TBR

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that I’m not very good with sticking to TBR lists. I don’t make an “official” monthly TBR since I know I’m likely to veer away from it. I tend to treat my library stack as a TBR, since it gives me a bit of wiggle room to change the order based on my moods, or sometimes based on library due dates! If I’m going to have a TBR at all, it tends to be something a little more long-term, like my goals for the year.  Even then, I sometimes struggle to make sure I fit in all the books I’d expected to read. I think a seasonal TBR is a good middle ground, since it gives me enough time to mood read while still having a bit of structure. I’ve never really been the type to read seasonally, except around Halloween! I always end up reading more dark or spooky books toward the fall, because it just seems like the best time. The books listed here are all books that I’m intending to read this fall, and hopefully I’ll be able to stick to this list!

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) Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

35230429. sy475 This is probably one of the least spooky books on my list for the fall, but I thought it fit because it has a paranormal element to it. It is about a teenage girl named Rose whose best friend is her brother Logan, who also happens to be a ghost. When her old friend Jamie moves back into town, Rose is reminded of everything she’s been missing out on since her brother’s death, but soon starts to realize that Jamie is harbouring a secret of his own. She also begins to find it harder to choose between a friendship that makes her feel so alive, and the brother she is not yet ready to let go. I have not read any of Robyn Schneider’s books yet, although she has been on my TBR for years now. I was drawn to this one initially because of the beautiful cover art, and then was even more intrigued by the premise. I bought a copy of this one from Book Outlet as an extra motivator to read it soon, so I’m expecting to get to it within the next few weeks! I don’t often read books that involve ghosts, but this one seemed like such a unique and interesting story.

2) Sheets by Brenna Thummler

38958846Speaking of books about ghosts, this was another one that I added to my TBR as soon as I saw it come up on Goodreads. I thought the cover art was just adorable, and it was a great addition for my goal of trying more graphic novels. It is about a 13-year-old girl named Marjorie who feels like a ghost, and a boy named Wendell who actually is one. When Wendell decides to turn the family laundromat into his new playground, Marjorie is forced to deal with the effects and try to maintain to life she’s struggled to keep together since her mother passed away. This book reminds me a bit of Anya’s Ghost, which was one of the first graphic novels that I really loved. It seems like a story that will have a good balance of humour (ie. the ghost’s antics) with some more serious topics, such as Marjorie’s grief for her mother. I’ve recently picked up a copy from the library, and I’m very excited to finally give it a chance. I also recently learned that there is a second volume due out sometime next year too!

3) Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner

38451836. sx318 This is a graphic novel that I’ve been meaning to try since I first heard of it last fall. It is about a boy named AJ who has a crush on a girl, Nia, who seems to only like vampires. When the two of them are paired up for a school project, AJ decides to dress up like a vampire to try and win Nia over, only to learn that she is really a vampire slayer! I think I was drawn to this one in part because I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so it was interesting to see the idea of slayers in a different context. I don’t often reach for vampire stories, but this one seemed too fun to pass up. I was also surprised to realize that the author was the same person who wrote You’re Welcome, Universe, a book that I’ve been very interested in trying for a long time (even though I haven’t gotten around to it yet). I also think this book will be another great choice for my goal of reading more graphic novels, since it seemed like a fun one.

4) Slayer by Kiersten White

34723130. sy475 There are many reasons that I want to read this one, the main one being my previously mentioned love of the Buffy series. This book is set in that world after Buffy’s time, and focuses on a girl named Nina, who grew up in the Watcher’s Academy, but rejects the violence of that lifestyle and wants to be a medic. When Nina is called as the newest, and last ever, Slayer, her life changes forever. I’m a little apprehensive to try this one because I don’t think it could live up to the Buffy series for me, but I’ve started to really love Kiersten White’s writing after reading one of her series earlier this year, so I’m hoping to love this one too! I’m glad she decided to take it in a new direction with brand new characters instead of trying to stick to the familiar ones from the TV show, but I’m also not sure how well the book can capture all the things that I loved about the series. I think this one would be perfect to read around Halloween, or at least in the fall, because it’s a vampire story which also seems like it might be quite dark.

5) Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft by various authors

36426163I’ve branched out a bit more this year to try and read a few more anthologies, although as expected, it’s been with mixed results. I generally don’t really care for short stories since I find most of them don’t leave enough room for characters or the story to develop, but this one seemed very interesting. I think this was one of the first anthologies that really caught my attention, and I intentionally saved it to read in the fall. It is an anthology compiling 16 short stories by YA authors that all have to do with women who are accused of witchcraft. The authors include several that I’ve already read and enjoyed, such as Emery Lord, Brandy Colbert, Robin Talley and Anna-Marie McLemore. I’ve always been interested in stories about witches, including real-life events such as the Salem Witch Trials. I’m very interested in trying this one and seeing how all of these authors tell their stories, and especially interested that it specifies “women accused of witchcraft” but not necessarily women who are witches. I’m really hoping to love this one!

6) The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

38255342I generally try not to include two books by the same author on the same list, but I couldn’t resist in this case since this one seemed like another perfect fit for the fall. This book is about a girl named Elizabeth who escapes her miserable home life when she befriends Victor Frankenstein, and is soon taken in by his family. Her new life comes at a steep cost, with her survival depending on her ability to navigate Victor’s temper and disturbing whims. Frankenstein was a classic that I waited a very long time to finally try, and ended up absolutely loving! This book immediately caught my attention because it seemed like exactly the kind of retelling that I tend to love. It reminded me of Megan Shepherd’s The Madman’s Daughter trilogy, which also involved loose retellings of gothic-style classics. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book which definitely helped to spark my interest even further. It sounds like such a fascinating story and I can’t wait to read it!

7) The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson

40538605I first heard of the Lizzie Borden case through an episode of the TV show Smart Guy, and I’ve always found it really creepy! Lizzie Borden was a young woman who was accused of murdering both of her parents with an axe in 1892. The case received a lot of attention at the time because she was a woman, and because of the violent nature of the crime. I don’t generally read a lot of nonfiction, but this one caught my attention because it was about a particularly interesting case that I know very little about. It’s especially intriguing because this book is supposed to have real transcripts from her trial, as well as newspaper accounts and letters written by Lizzie herself. If any nonfiction book is going to interest me, it’s likely to be this one. I also thought this book would be a perfect fall read because of the darker subject matter. Something about true crime just seems to be a good fit for the fall. As scary as thrillers can be sometimes, I find real cases that much more creepy.

8) The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

32920220. sy475 I discovered this book last summer while randomly browsing Book Outlet, and quickly decided that it was something that I needed to try. I think mostly I was drawn in by the interesting cover art at first, but it also sounds like a very interesting story. It is about a town where a thousand dead birds have fallen onto a high school baseball field, starting off a horrible chain of events. One of the the reporters following the case catches a baseball coach hugging a female student outside a motel. The girl claims that they are having an affair, but soon disappears leaving the coach as the only suspect. The only person left on his side is a teacher, Bridget Harris, who sets out to find out what happened to the girl and the truth about her relationship with the coach. I didn’t even realize at the time that I’d added this to my list that I also had another book by the same author on my TBR for a few years. This one seems like a great fall read because it has the creepiness of the dead birds, and also the mystery of what happened to the missing girl. I’m looking forward to finally trying this one.

9) An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

38240386I’ve only read one book by this author so far, and I really liked it but didn’t quite love it as much as I had expected. I’m especially intrigued by this one because I’ve seen it compared to Agatha Christie! This book is about a group of guests who are snowed in at a family-owned hotel during a winter storm. As the guests start to turn up dead one by one, everyone begins to panic and now have to survive not only the storm, but also the others trapped in the hotel with them. The premise of this one reminds me quite a bit of my favourite Agatha Christie mystery, And Then There Were None. While it might not necessarily be the most unique set-up for a mystery, it is one that always tends to grab my attention and generally makes a very intriguing story. I guess the blizzard element of this one makes it a good read for either fall or winter, but I’m hoping to get to it sooner rather than later. I’m hoping to enjoy this one even more than I liked The Couple Next Door, and this one actually seems more like something I would love.

10) If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

30319086. sy475 I really need to make sure to prioritize this one! It was one of the first books that I picked for my reading challenges this year, but I think I (partially intentionally?) put it off until the fall. It is about a group of seven actors who share a love for Shakespeare as well as the dark task of convincing police that they are not to blame when one of the actors in the play is found dead. I have heard nothing but great things about this book, and I even bought a copy of it from Book Outlet quite a long time ago to give myself extra motivation to read it. This seems like such a character-driven book, and that tends to be right up my alley. I’m not sure how much familiarity with Shakespeare I actually need to really get into this one. I’m not too worried though since I’ve seen quite a few reviewers mention that they knew nothing about Shakespeare going into it, and it wasn’t a problem at all. I picked this one up mostly on a whim because I’d seen so many great things about it, so I think it’s about time I actually read it and see for myself!

If You Like This, Try That

For years now, I’ve seen many of the vlog channels I watch use “If You Like This, Try That” to offer recommendations. For some reason, I’d always had a lot of trouble seeing enough of a resemblance between books to make a strong enough connection to confidently say that enjoying one would probably mean liking the other. Recently, however, I’ve read quite a few books that reminded me pretty strongly of others that I’d read. Usually, there was something about the characters that called to mind another book, but sometimes it was similarities in the plot or even the theme. In each case, I’ve tried to pair a more popular book with something that people might not be so familiar with. I decided I’d give this kind of recommendation a try, and hopefully it is something I can revisit again in the future when I see some more similarities!

If you like We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, you might also like Defending Jacob by William Landay

8066011367726I read both of these in my first year of doing reading challenges, and was immediately struck by the similarities. Both are books about teenage boys who are accused of horrific acts of violence, and whose parents are struggling with the idea of their sons’ involvement. In both cases, the boys come from two-parent households where the parents don’t agree their son’s behaviour, with one believing he must be innocent, and the other believing that he could be that violent. Both are also a little slow-paced in places, so it might take some time to get into the stories, but both are fascinating from a psychological perspective. These were two of the most memorable books I read that year, and have stuck with me even now, nearly 5 years after I read them. Both are quite creepy!

If you like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, you might also like Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

31931941. sy475 16068905Both of these books feature female main characters who are actively involved in online communities. Cath in Fangirl writes an extremely popular fanfiction series for the Simon Snow series, which are that world’s Harry Potter books. Eliza is the anonymous creator of a very popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. For both of these girls, their online lives are very important to them and they are highly invested in the stories they create, and both are very introverted characters. Both characters also have very strong relationships with their family, and learn to come out of their shell a bit with the help of people who understand how important their online worlds are to them and support them. I found both books very relatable and they are two of my favourites.

If you like the Lumberjanes series by Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters, you might also like the Giant Days series by John Allison

22554204. sy475 25785993Aside from the obvious similarity of these both being graphic novel series, I was surprised to realize how much they seemed to have in common. Both series are about groups of female friends living away from home. In Lumberjanes, there are five girls who share a cabin at a summer camp, and in Giant Days, they are three college roommates. Both series follow the friends as they navigate a variety of obstacles, and they both have a very strong emphasis on friendship and the way the girls support each other. Both also feature diverse casts of characters. While the Lumberjanes series has more fantasy elements than Giant Days, both of them have similar humour and a similar blend of serious and silly situations. Both are quick and a lot of fun to read. Even the art styles of these two series seem a bit similar to me.

If you like The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, you might also like The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

32620332. sy475 40440I actually read The Thirteenth Tale first, but I think fans of either one would enjoy the other. Both are books that feature a young woman who is hired by a famous person to document their lives. Evelyn Hugo is a famous Hollywood movie icon, and Vida Winter in The Thirteenth Tale is a famous author. Both stars have been hiding secrets about themselves and their lives that the women hired to write about them are determined to uncover. Both are also people who have moved away from the public eye, and handpicked the women to write their biography for reasons unbeknownst to her at the time. The two books are different styles, with the Thirteenth Tale having a much more of a gothic mystery feel, while Evelyn Hugo is a bit more of a contemporary or even historical fiction. Both are very well-written and compelling stories that are easy to get absorbed in.

If you liked The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare, you might also like The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

29283884. sy475 7171637. sy475 These are both series that I tried for the first time this year, and I was struck by several similarities. Both are set in Europe in the past. The Infernal Devices is set in Victorian England, while The Gentleman’s Guide explores several European countries, including England, in the 1700s. Both feature groups of three main characters, two male and one female. Both have a major character who is struggling with a physical illness or disability, which are significant to that characters’ arc as well as those around them. Both also feature a similar kind of snarky humour and banter between the main characters. The overall storylines in both books are quite different, with the Infernal Devices series involving paranormal elements, while The Gentleman’s Guide is more of a quest story. However, the similarities in the setting and some of the character dynamics are close enough that I think fans of one would like the other.

If you like The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, you might also like Sadie by Courtney Summers

25812109. sy475 34810320. sy475 To be completely honest, I liked The Female of the Species but didn’t love it, while Sadie is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. Actually, when I read Sadie, my initial reaction was that it was the book that I’d expected The Female of the Species to be. Both books feature a teenage girl who is seeking revenge for the deaths of their sisters. Alex in The Female of the Species seems to have a naturally more dark and violent nature, while Sadie is acting out of anger and revenge. Both are determined not to let the man who killed their sisters get away with his actions, and will stop at nothing to make sure he is punished. Both books also include outside perspectives, with Sadie involving a podcast by a man who was following her story, and The Female of the Species including perspectives from two other characters. Both books also have very gripping endings.

If you like The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan, you might also like Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

3571623735604686I would also highly recommend Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman if you like The Astonishing Colour of After, but Summer Bird Blue seemed like a bit closer of a fit. Both of these books are about teenage girls who are dealing with grief after the death of a family member. The characters in both of them travel to a place they have never visited before to stay with relatives as they try to come to terms with their loss. In the Astonishing Colour of After, the main character Leigh travels to Taiwan to stay with her grandparents, while in Summer Bird Blue, Rumi goes to Hawaii to live with her aunt. Both girls are trying to hold onto the person they have lost, with Leigh believing her mother has become a bird, and Rumi trying to finish the song she and her sister had been writing together. Both books are beautifully written and are excellent representations of grief and loss.

If you like Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, you might also like Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Koharram

1200002037506437Full disclosure: both of these books were 4 star reads for me, not 5 stars. However, when I read Darius the Great is Not Okay, I was immediately noticed several similarities. Both books are about teenage boys who are dealing with depression, who make friends with another boy who shares their culture. In Aristotle and Dante, the boys are Mexican-American, and in Darius the Great, they are Persian and meet when Darius travels to Iran to visit his grandparents. In both stories, the boys quickly develop a very strong friendship that hints at something more. There was one particular scene in Darius the Great when he is talking to one of his parents about his friend that reminded me very strongly of a conversation that happened toward the end of Aristotle and Dante. Both are stories about boys who start to feel more comfortable with themselves through their bonds with the boy they meet.

If you like On The Come Up by Angie Thomas, you might also like Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

35887567. sy475 36285129. sy475 Angie Thomas and Tiffany D. Jackson have both become some of my new favourite YA authors, and I was very surprised to see that their newest books had some similarities. Both books are about African American teenagers with a talent for rap. In On the Come Up, the main character Bri wants to become a rap star in order to help support her family, who are struggling financially. In Let Me Hear a Rhyme, Quadir and Jarrell decide to make their friend Steph, who was recently killed, a rap star, with the help of his sister Jasmine. Both books are so well-written, with very interesting and memorable characters. Both also touch on deeper topics about how African Americans are viewed and treated. Both books are about fighting for your dreams and what it takes to pursue this kind of fame. I also think both are  interesting books even for people who are not necessarily rap fans. I’m not really into rap, but loved both of these.

If you like The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, you might also like The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

3418955634043643. sy475 Even at a surface level, these two have a lot of similarities. Both of these are thrillers that are written by two female authors. Liv Constantine, for those who don’t know, are sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine, who write together under a shared name. Both of these books focus on women who have been replaced in their marriage by a younger woman. It is actually really hard to talk about how these books are similar without revealing anything that might be a spoiler, but both involve narrators who might not be so reliable, and characters who are manipulative and conniving. Both are very compelling, and although it took me a little time to get into each of them, they were worth it. Both have moments that are genuinely very creepy. Both also seem to be relatively polarizing books, since I’ve seen that most reviews either love them or hate them.

 

Top 5 Wednesdays – Authors I Need to Read More From

Carrying on with my inadvertent author-themed month of topics, I’ve found that there are many authors on my TBR that I have tried just once or twice. I think a big part of this is because there was a time when I first started challenges where I actively tried to avoid reading more than one book by the same author within the same year. This of course meant that I was spreading series out across way too many years, but my intent was to encourage myself to read a wider variety of books and authors. Through doing my reading challenges, I’ve discovered many new-to-me authors that I love, and several of them are authors who already have a (sometimes very lengthy) backlist to choose from. After doing challenges for so many years, there have started to be a few key authors that I look out for and make sure that I read every year, but there are also many that I would love to read more from, but somehow keep putting off. The authors mentioned here are ones that I’ve tried and loved, but somehow haven’t picked up anything else from them yet!

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) JoJo Moyes & Kristin Hannah – For some reason, these two authors have always been linked in my head, probably because I first tried them in the same year and always meant to read many more by both authors, but kept putting them both off. I’ve only read JoJo Moyes’s Me Before You series and I’ve read Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Firefly Lane. In both cases, I loved the authors’ writing styles enough to immediately add the majority of their backlists to my TBR, as well as any subsequent new releases, yet I haven’t picked up another book by either one yet. I actually have one book by each of them in mind for this year, so I’m hoping to get to both. I keep putting off JoJo Moyes because most of hers are historical fiction, and while I like the genre, I’m rarely in the mood for it, and Kristin Hannah’s books just keep getting put aside for others that I want to read more. I definitely need to make it a priority to try more books by both of them!

2) Anna-Marie McLemore – To be completely honest, I’ve only read When The Moon Was Ours, which I really liked but didn’t love as much as I expected. I loved the concept and the writing, but I found the plot a bit confusing and there were some times where I didn’t really get what was happening. However, her writing interested me enough that I still wanted to try more of Anna-Marie McLemore’s books. They all have such intriguing concepts, and I’ve even bought one of them from Book Outlet to give myself an extra push to try it. Of all the authors here, she would also be the one that is easiest to catch up on since she doesn’t have so many books out yet, and they are YA. I also seem to have the idea in mind that this is an author I could love with the right story. I really thought When The Moon Was Ours would be that story, but somehow I just didn’t connect with it. I’m excited to try more of her books though!

3) Dorothy Koomson – The main reason that I haven’t read any more books by this author is because they are not accessible to me! I read The Ice Cream Girls back in 2016, and I’m pretty sure that at the time, I had to specifically ask the library to buy a copy. I have 12 more of her books on my TBR, but my library only has one. Even if I wanted to buy my own copies, I’d be paying full price from second-hand sellers on Amazon, although it looks like several of them are being reissued. Dorothy Koomson is a British author who is not so popular over here, so it’s not such a surprise that her books are hard to get. Her books are mostly Women’s Fiction/Contemporary, but several of her newer releases have been moving more toward thrillers, which I’m very interested in trying. I’m hoping that as her books get released here, they’ll become more accessible either through the library or at least for a more affordable price.

4) Fredrik Backman – This is the other author that I think would be easiest for me to catch up on. I have currently read both of his books in the Beartown series. I’ve had all of his other books on my TBR for years without reading any, and probably wouldn’t have even tried Beartown if it hadn’t been for a challenge prompt requiring a book involving sports. I love Fredrik Backman’s writing style and I’m very interested in trying the rest of his books, but they also seem like the kind of stories I might need to be in the right mood to pick up. His books definitely seem closer to literary fiction to me, and I’d need to read them when I’m in the right mindset for that. I’m also not entirely sure where to start with his earlier books. I’d assume A Man Called Ove is the best place since that seems to be hist most famous and I think it has been on my TBR the longest, but when it comes time to plan out books for my next challenge, somehow his never seem to make the list even though I do really want to read them.

5) Taylor Jenkins Reid – Like many people, I was first introduced to Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing because of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which I picked up on a whim to see if it was really worth all that hype. I immediately fell in love with her writing style, and added the rest of her backlist to my TBR. Since then, I have only read Daisy Jones & The Six, which was closest in style to Evelyn Hugo anyway. Her earlier books are contemporary romance, which is a genre that I’ve only recently started to get more into.  I’ve heard great things about all of them, including many other readers who started with the same two books of hers that I’ve read, so I’m excited to give them a try. It’s another case where I’m not entire sure where to start. Usually, I go by whichever book has been on my radar the longest, but I added these all at once. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Ten Foods/Drinks to Have While Reading

Technically, this week’s topic was supposed to be our favourite food and drinks to have while reading, but I never eat or drink while I’m reading anymore. I’ve mentioned this story before, but I smudged chocolate on my copy of Prisoner of Azkaban when I was in elementary school, and that upset me enough to not want to have food around my books anymore. I’m actually trying to remember what I did when I was in university, since I always brought a book to read between classes. I definitely remember eating while reading, so I guess I just must not have brought anything that might be messy. Actually, I think it also works to my advantage not to have snacks around while I’m reading because it would be way too easy for me to mindlessly overeat. No matter how hard I try to eat neatly, I inevitably end up spilling or dropping something, or my long hair gets into the food. Instead, I decided to mention 10 food or drinks that I love, and decide whether I’d be willing to have them while reading, if I was going to have anything.

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) Water – I don’t know if I can call water a favourite, but it is the drink that I have most often. Actually, this is the one and only exception since it is the one thing that I do drink while reading. I have a closed water bottle on my desk at all times, although if I do drink anything, I tend to put the book aside, drink, and then close the bottle and move it away to avoid spilling or dripping. I will go out of my way to avoid the slight risk of dripping on the book, because I’m always convinced that I’ll somehow accidentally knock the water bottle and spill.

Would I eat/drink this while reading?: Yes, but carefully!

2) Chocolate – I love chocolate! With Prisoner of Azkaban, I’d been eating a chocolate-coated granola bar, and didn’t realize it had melted a bit until it was too late. I would very happily eat chocolate while reading if there was no chance of it melting, but I can’t guarantee that it won’t happen. There’s also lots of chocolate that have some kind of messy filling (ie. caramel), and I definitely wouldn’t want to risk that.

Would I eat/drink this while reading?: No!

3) Popcorn – I love popcorn, but I don’t eat it very often since it tends to bother my stomach. I think it would depend on what kind of popcorn I was eating. In general, I only really like caramel popcorn or buttered popcorn. I wouldn’t mind eating popcorn while reading if it wasn’t sticky or oily, but it depends on how exactly it was prepared. The store-bought yellowish buttered popcorn is probably fine, but plain popcorn with melted butter and salt on top seems more risky.

Would I eat/drink this while reading?: Maybe, it depends

4) Frappucino/Ice Capp – Technically, this has never come up since I only ever drink these kinds of drinks when I’m out, while I do most of my reading at home. In general, these drinks are self-contained enough that it would probably be fine, but knowing how messy I can be, I don’t know if I’d want to risk it. I sometimes like to use the straw to scoop up some of the whipped cream or topping (especially chocolate chips), and that has a huge risk of it falling.

Would I eat/drink this while reading?: Probably not, but it’s possible

5) Toast and butter – It may be a little weird, but one of my favourite snacks is buttered toast. I’m a huge carb-eater in general, but I don’t like peanut butter or jams of any kind. I love the taste of buttered toast and for some reason, it is a food I tend to crave. I might consider eating buttered toast while reading, if I was careful not to touch the butter, but toast also makes a lot of crumbs, and it’s really annoying to have crumbs stuck between pages!

Would I eat/drink this while reading?: Maybe, but carefully

6) Muffins – This one completely depends what kind of muffin it is, and how likely it is to be messy. I usually eat blueberry or chocolate chip muffins, and those can both stain things very easily. I also find that some muffins tend to be a bit sticky or oily too. My mom makes these amazing apple raisin muffins, which I love, but they are sticky and I wouldn’t want to touch a book while I eat them.

Would I eat/drink this while reading?: Probably not, but depends what kind

7) Lemonade – I love lemonade! It is my favourite thing to drink in the summer aside from frozen hot chocolate or iced capps/frappucino. I don’t actually drink it very often either, but it is definitely not something I’d want to drink around my books. It’s bad enough to spill water, but lemonade is very sticky even when it finally dries, and I’m sure it will result in pages stuck together.

Would I eat/drink this while reading?: No

8) Cookies – As much as I’d love to have a huge plate of cookies with me while I’m reading, I avoid that so I don’t end up overdoing it. I think something like an Oreo would be fine to eat while reading, although I’d still want to be careful about the crumbs, although chocolate chip cookies might be a little more risky. If any chocolate fell on the page, with my luck it would smudge into the edges.

Would I eat/drink this while reading?: Maybe, depending what kind

9) Bagel – I don’t really know if this is something that most people do, but I love to eat bagels on their own. I’ve never liked cream cheese or peanut butter, so at most, I might toast a bagel and eat it with some butter. This is one of the safer options on this list, although I guess there’s some chance of seeds or crumbs getting stuck in the edges. Honestly, it’s still pretty unlikely that I’d actually end up eating a bagel while I’m reading just because I find it a bit awkward to eat anything and hold a book easily, but it’s something that I would be able to eat.

Would I eat/drink this while reading?: Yes, if it was plain

10) Pizza – I love pizza, but I would never eat it while reading! Even if it was just a plain cheese pizza, there are so many ways it could go wrong. I’d be worried about either getting grease or sauce on my fingers, or that the cheese/toppings/sauce might drop onto the pages. I also think it would be hard to hold an average-sized hardcover, which is what I typically read, and manage a slice of pizza at the same time. If I was upset about a bit of chocolate on the edge of my Harry Potter book, I can’t even imagine how much pizza stains would bother me.

Would I eat/drink this while reading?: Definitely not!

Bookish Pet Peeves (Part 3)

I was very surprised to see that I had not written anything about my bookish pet peeves since I first started my blog back in 2016 (here and here). I think the closest I’ve come is with a late-2017 Top 5 Wednesday topic that asked for bookish things that I’m a Grinch about. To be honest, I’d completely forgotten about that post and it wasn’t until I searched just now that I realized I’d already mentioned a few of the pet peeves that I’d planned to talk about here! Given how old these posts are, it was fun to look back and see which, if any, of the things I mentioned were still pet peeves of mine (spoiler alert: most of them!). These are all things that I’ve noticed recently when reading or buying books, and I thought it was about time to make another list of some of the most annoying things that bother me about books sometimes!

1) When there are characters with extremely similar names – I noticed this one recently while reading the Throne of Glass series, because of the characters Aelin and Aedion. While it made sense for these characters to have relatively similar names because they are related, I did find it a bit irritating to read because I kept naturally mixing up their names. These characters are pretty different from each other, so it would throw me off a bit to misread a name and think that the wrong one had said or done something, only to realize it was actually the other one. It wasn’t even that I was skimming or reading especially quickly, but for some reason, I kept misreading their names. It can be pretty confusing! There have been plenty of YA books that I’ve read where there are characters with similar names, which is especially frustrating when the characters are not that well developed so it’s already harder to differentiate between them.

2) When a character speaks in another language for no real reason – To be clear, I don’t mind if characters speak in other languages in a book if it serves an actual purpose for the story, and preferably if it is also translated on the page so everyone can understand. While reading The Infernal Devices, I found it bugged me a bit when Jem would randomly say things in Chinese or when Will and his sister would speak Welsh. Sometimes it fits a story well (ie. in The Astonishing Color of After, where the main character traveled to Taiwan and met relatives who don’t speak English), but sometimes it feels like it’s thrown it just for the sake of it. When the phrases are neither translated nor at least explained by the context, it pulls me out of the story because I end up having to stop and try to look up what was said in case it was important.

3) Movie tie-in editions and special editions – I’ve already mentioned that movie tie-in editions tend to be annoying in the Grinch post above, because the covers rarely look good. It’s annoying because once a movie version comes out, it becomes next to impossible to find the original cover art so I get stuck with the movie cover instead. It’s not the biggest deal since the content is more important to me anyway, but given the choice, I’d rather have the non-movie version. I also tend to find any kind of store exclusive or special editions frustrating, but for a different reason. I was really annoyed when Aurora Rising came out with the offer of a copy of Memento, a novella related to Illuminae, for anyone who pre-ordered it. It was a great offer, but way too expensive for me to justify spending the money on! Similarly, it has always bothered me when specific stores get to have exclusive editions of books (or CDs) with bonus content that is not available anywhere else. I don’t care so much when it’s just artwork, but when it’s extra chapters, it’s frustrating! I’m also not the type to buy more than one edition of a book I already have, so if the special edition comes out after I already have a copy, it will feel like a waste to me to buy the new one too.

4) How the cover of a paperback tends to curl up after it’s been read – I think this is subconsciously one of the main reasons that I’ve mostly switched over the hardcovers whenever possible. Aside from cracked spines or damage to the edges of the cover, it annoys me to put down a paperback after reading it, only to have the edges of the cover curl up and be stuck that way. I don’t even know why it bothers me so much since it just shows that the book has actually been picked up and read, but for some reason, it’s always irritated me to see my books lying on my desk like that while they are still in progress. It distracts me completely, and I end up trying to figure out ways to flatten the covers back out again. Flipping the book upside down does seem to work, at least temporarily. I think it bugs me because I somehow find the covers are easier to damage that way, since I’m more likely to accidentally bump them and risk folding over corners, etc.

5) Stickers on book covers, especially when they cover the synopsis – I think this is another one that I’d mentioned in one of my previous Pet Peeves posts, and I’d mostly forgotten about it until my most recent Book Outlet order. Of the 10 or so books that I’d ordered, at least half of them had a sticker on the dust jacket, and most of those were really hard to remove. Sometimes I’m lucky and it’s a sticker that pulls right off, but most of the time, it either leaves behind a lot of sticky residue, tears the dust jacket or cover, or, in most cases, the sticker itself rips. I guess it wouldn’t annoy me as much if I just left the sticker on, but sometimes books have stickers on the back that cover the synopsis, or on the front that take up a lot of space or just seem to ruin the cover. It’s really annoying to think you’ve been able to remove the sticker only for it to rip and force you to take off small fragments at a time, or decide to leave the remains of it which looks even worse than leaving the whole sticker would have!

6) Accidentally spoiling myself for the rest of the book when checking an online summary or reviews – This happened to me twice this year with thrillers! I accidentally spoiled myself for major twists in both The Woman in the Window and The Wife Between Us because I had seen some of the reviews on Goodreads. One of the spoilers was in the form of a trigger warning, which clued me into what was happening. I’d already suspected it, but was disappointed to have it confirmed in that way since it ruined the impact a bit from the actual book. It was my own fault for looking at the reviews while the book was in progress, but at the same time, I also generally like to look at some reviews at some point before reading a book, so spoilers are always a bit frustrating. I also sometimes use online summaries while reading very long series to make sure I haven’t missed anything or to refresh myself on details, but I’ve managed to also accidentally read a bit too far ahead in those too, and spoil myself for upcoming details! I guess the lesson here is to just not look at any online resources for a book I’m reading until I’m done.

7) Lack of clarity about who is narrating or who is speaking in dialogue – I finished Spinning Silver not too long ago, and while I mostly enjoyed it, one of my biggest complaints was that it contained 6 different perspectives, all first person, without any indication of who was narrating! Luckily, in this case it wasn’t too bad because it was easy to figure out who it was each time without too much trouble, but I’ve seen similar problems in other books where it is much less clear. I like books that use multiple perspectives, but I need it to be clear whose perspective we are in, and for the perspectives to be distinct enough from each other to make it worthwhile. To a lesser extent, it also really bugs me when there are pages or sections of dialogue where I can’t tell who is saying what. I don’t expect the author to name the character after each time, but there have been many books that I’ve read where I have no clue who is speaking and have to try and trace it back to figure it out.

8) Information that would have been very helpful (ie. maps, pronunciation guides, family trees, etc.) that is at the end of the book, and not noticed until I’ve already finished – Given my tendency to accidentally spoil myself by looking at online reviews or summaries, I’m very hesitant to flip ahead in a book and see what’s at the end. I don’t want to see what happens on the last pages since it’s very likely that I will end up spoiling myself. The downside of this is sometimes I discover that there were very useful resources that really would have helped me make sense of the world-building, politics, etc. that I didn’t know about at all until I’ve already finished reading! I actually can’t remember what book specifically I was thinking of when I noted this down as a pet peeve, but it did happen with something that I’d recently read. It would have been great to know that I could flip to the end to get an explanation for something that had confused me!

9) Epistolary books where the character remembers and documents in unrealistic detail every single thing that was said or done – I’m actually not sure how common of a problem this is, but I have seen it a few times. The book I specifically had in mind was Stolen: A Letter to my Captor, and to a lesser extent, it seems to be happening as well in my current read, That’s Not What Happened, although it is somehow less irritating in this one. I like the epistolary format in general, but it completely ruins my immersion in a story when the character writes an entire 300+ page book as a single, extremely detailed letter that mentions every word that each person said, every event, etc. I can understand characters trying to document their experiences in detail, but sometimes too much detail just makes it seem unrealistic. The same could be said for books in diary format, but those are often separated into multiple entries. While those characters still seem to have unusually great memories for their day, it’s at least a little more feasible to think that they’ve intentionally paid a lot of attention to their conversations or activities that day in order to record it. When the entire book is a single letter covering a longer stretch of time, it loses credibility for me.

10) Disjointed writing – I don’t expect an author to spell out each and every little thing that happens in detail to show how we move from one event to the next, but it bothers me when a book seems to jump around a lot. It’s especially frustrating when scenes start or end abruptly without much context, so it leaves you wondering how the characters got there. Luckily, I haven’t found this to be a very common problem, but it’s extremely irritating when it does happen. I love to get immersed in a story and nothing ruins my immersion more than having to stop and figure out what just happened, like when characters are suddenly in a different place with no explanation, or we join them midway through a conversation in progress, without enough context to figure out what is going on. It’s fine when authors throw you right into a world with the characters and let you catch up to where they are through the world-building, backstory, etc. but it can be frustrating when not enough is done to make what we are given make sense on its own.

Top 5 Wednesdays – Five Authors that I Need to Read (YA)

It was lucky that I managed to accidentally stumble across a theme for my Top 5 Wednesday topics for this month. What started as a single author-themed topic spun off into enough author topics to last the whole month! I’m at the point in the year where I’m simultaneously working on this year’s challenges, and also starting to tentatively look ahead and get some ideas in mind for what I might like to read next year. Obviously, it is much too early now to make any definitive decisions about which books I will choose, but it never hurts to get a head start on planning a bit.

Last week, I listed a few non-YA authors that I was interested in prioritizing, but I soon realized that there were just as many YA authors too. I’m not the target audience for these books anymore, but I still read a lot of YA and enjoy the vast majority of it, especially when it is more than just a standard romance. Actually, I think the main reason I haven’t tried most of the authors below is because there books tend to seem like the typical romance storylines, and those don’t always interest me. I feel like I’ve tried at least one book by the majority of the most popular authors, but these are a few I’ve been meaning to try and haven’t gotten around to yet! Like last time, if anyone has any specific recommendations about where to start with any of these authors, I’m totally open to suggestions!

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) Morgan Matson – I’ve been meaning to try Morgan Matson for years now, since she was one of the first new authors that I discovered while browsing Goodreads. I’ve heard so many great things about all of her books, but keep putting them off for two main reasons. The first is that most of them seem to be skewed a bit younger (like Sarah Dessen, for example) so I’m not convinced I’ll like them, and the other main reason is that for YA books, they are quite long! The majority of them are between 400 and 500 pages, which I don’t mind if there’s something a bit more to the story, but for fairly typical YA romance/family stories, I wasn’t sure I’d be invested enough to read such long books.

Currently on my TBR:

2) Kasie West – I think I may have had Kasie West mixed up with Morgan Matson for a while, and couldn’t tell who had written which books! I’m not really interested in Kasie West’s Pivot Point series, but I have just about all of her contemporaries on my TBR, which is a whopping 10 books considering I’ve never even tried one yet! I added her to my list after hearing many great reviews from several vloggers that I follow. I’ve put off trying her books because they seem like the type that I really need to be in the right mood to try, and there have just always been others that took precedence.

Currently on my TBR:

3) Maurene Goo – I was convinced that Maurene Goo was a new author who only debuted in the past couple of years, so it was a bit of a surprise to realize that Since You Asked came out in 2013! I guess on some level I must have known that, since I added it to my list back in 2016, but obviously must have forgotten about it. I feel like I hadn’t heard of her at all until last year. Maurene Goo only has four books out so far, and I’ve already added all of them to my TBR. I’ve heard her books are a lot of fun to read and have great humour, so she is definitely an author I would like to try soon. To be honest, I think some of the elements of her stories (ie. Korean dramas and K-pop) may have put me off a bit since I wasn’t sure they would be something that would interest me, but I’ve heard such great things about these that I want to give at least one of them a try.

Currently on my TBR:

4) Jenn Bennett – I think Jenn Bennett is a bit of a strange case on my TBR. I’ve had several of her books on my list for years now, but she’s not really an author that I know by name if that makes sense. I knew the titles of several of her books without associating them with her. She is another author that has been highly recommended by the vloggers I watch, so I think it’s about time that I give her a chance. I’m not interested in the series she’s written, and actually didn’t even know that she had any until just now when I looked to see how many of her books were on my list. I’m also on the fence about adding the upcoming The Lady Rogue, and might want to get a sense of her writing style in general before I try something that’s outside her usual genre.

Currently on my TBR:

5) Katrina Leno – I feel like this is the most “obscure” author listed here, but that may be because I personally hadn’t heard much about her until fairly recently. I think I first heard of Katrina Leno because of the Youtube channel ChelseaDolling, who frequently recommends her books. However, I just realized that I’d added one to my list back in 2017, so I’m not sure if that was because of a video or if I found it by chance on Goodreads. In any case, I now have the majority of them on my TBR! The only one that I’m a little on the fence about is her 2014 debut, The Half Life of Molly Pierce. I’ve learned over the past few years to take recommendations from vloggers, so I may have to try at least one of Katrina Leno’s books soon!

Currently on my TBR:

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books On Your TBR That You’ve Been Avoiding

This is such an interesting topic! If you asked me this question a couple of years ago, I think my list would have consisted almost entirely of popular series that I haven’t tried yet. In the past 5 years of doing reading challenges, I actually made the effort to try several of the series that I thought were incredibly overhyped, and I ended up loving most of them! Now, I’m much more likely to avoid a book if I think it is going to be very long or very difficult to read. I put things off when I don’t think I have the time to devote enough attention to them. No matter how good a book is, I’ve found that I don’t enjoy it as much if I’m reading it in a very fragmented way over several days or when I’m not really in the mood for it. There are some books that have been on my TBR forever, but I keep avoiding them because I’m just never in the mood. I find that I’m also likely to put off books that are a bit older, since I tend to assume that I won’t like them as much.

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

1) Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult

913734I first posted about the embarrassing fact that I haven’t read this one yet in 2017, and it has been on my TBR from 2015. This one is especially embarrassing because Jodi Picoult is my favourite author and I usually actively seek out her books. I even own a copy of this one, and have yet to try it! It’s the same for her second book, Harvesting the Heart, as well. These two books are her earliest releases and they are the only two of hers that I have not yet read. The main reason I keep avoiding them is because I find author’s debut books are not always the best. I wasn’t such a huge fan of a couple others of her books published around the same time, although I loved The Pact and Mercy, which were both from the 90s as well. Songs of the Humpback Whale is about a woman named Jane who leaves her husband with her daughter, and travels across the country. Her husband Oliver is an oceanographer who is an expert at tracking whales, and sets out to search for his wife and daughter, and find a way to understand her. It does sound like an interesting story, but I’ve been so nervous that I won’t like it so I keep putting it off!

2) The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers by Margaret George

10108. sy475 I have always loved reading about Tudor England, and especially about Henry VIII and his wives and children. In theory, this should be a book that I will love, but I’ve always been a bit intimidated by the fact that it is over 900 pages! This is also definitely a case where the age of the book has put me off a bit. It was first published in the late 80s, and as mentioned above, older books tend to put me off. I have two Margaret George books on my TBR and others that seem interesting, but I keep putting off actually trying them. I think one of the other reasons I keep putting this one off is because I’m already quite familiar with Henry VIII’s story, so it falls into this weird trap with historical fiction where I feel more comfortable reading about people or eras that I have some familiarity with since I have a bit of background knowledge on the topic, but then I also don’t want to read those books because I feel like they might be repetitive. I definitely would not say that I’m any kind of expert on Tudor England and there’s always a lot more to learn, but so far I haven’t had the patience to read 900+ pages of it.

2) 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

10357575I think I added this one to my TBR because in theory I’d like to try it, but in reality, I don’t really get what it is about. I’ve heard such amazing things about this author and I have several of his books on my TBR as a reminder to try them, but when it comes time to actually pick something to read, they are never what I reach for. It is set in 1984 in Tokyo, and as far as I understand, it is about a woman who realizes that there is a parallel world that she calls 1Q84, and she crosses paths with a man who has taken on a strange ghostwriting project. As far as I understand, the woman is also an assassin who goes after abusive men, and there is also a religious cult that is somehow involved. I’ve mostly put this one off because it is a huge book (another one that is over 900 pages!) and given how little I actually understand of what it is supposed to be about, I haven’t been particularly motivated to try it. I’m usually more likely to pick up a book sooner if something about the synopsis really captures my interest, and this one just seems confusing.

3) The rest of the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery

77390I have read Anne of Green Gables at least three or four times, and I also listened to it as a book-on-tape when I was much younger, so I’ve been familiar with the story for a long time. I’ve always vaguely meant to continue on with the series, but never strongly enough to pick them up. To be honest, while I liked Anne of Green Gables a lot, it wasn’t my favourite classic, so it makes sense to me that it wasn’t the highest priority to read 8 more books about her and her family, although I think the last few focus more on other characters. It’s a series that’s always kind of been at the back of my mind as something that I should really continue at some point. Anne is a very interesting main character, and I’m curious to see what happens to her as she grows up. For some reason, I only have the first 6 books on my Goodreads list, including the original which I’ve read. I’m not sure if I intentionally didn’t add the rest because they were about different characters, or if I didn’t know of them at the time. I think another reason that I haven’t been super-motivated to try these is because I tried reading the sequel to Little Women, which is one of my favourites, and wasn’t a huge fan, so somehow I assumed that these would be along the same lines.

4) The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas/Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

71906440I think these two books are among the last “major” classics that I’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t actually read yet. I have copies of both books, albeit they are both buried behind stacks of Book Outlet purchases and books I got as gifts, but as much as I want to read them, I also want to wait until I’m in the mood. In the past couple of years, I have not really been in the mood for lengthy classics. I’ve heard that Alexandre Dumas’s books in general tend to be relatively easy to read. For Ivanhoe specifically, I got confused because I saw it listed on Goodreads as the fifth book in a series, but I have no idea if I actually need to read the others first. I hope not, because I have no interest in any of them! These are both books that I’d only want to try when I’m in the mood for them and have patience for the more old-fashioned language, and that has not happened in quite a while.

5) Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

16981. sy475 To be fair, this is probably not a book that I would have had much interest in on my own, but my mom has highly recommended it to me repeatedly, so I thought it was worth a try. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I also think I had this book completely mixed up with Black Like Me, which I’ve also been meaning to read and putting off. It is told from the perspective of a nameless narrator who is a black man, who talks about the many ways he has felt invisible his whole life. He comments that his invisibility is because of others’ refusal to see him, and it has led him to go underground. The story takes us through a variety of incidents throughout this man’s life that have led to his decision to go underground. I’m not really sure how I managed to confuse this one so strongly with Black Like Me, but I found that while reading the synopsis just now to refresh myself, I really had no idea what the book was about. Considering I’d added it to my TBR on recommendation alone, it’s not so surprising that I haven’t been especially motivated to try it, but I have enough of an interest in it to keep it in mind for the future.

6) Watership Down by Richard Adams

76620I first heard of this book when my brother was required to read it for school. I knew nothing about it at the time except that it contained rabbits, and since I loved any kind of cute animal, I decided I wanted to read it at some point. Since then though, I’ve consistently put it off. I can’t remember exactly why I never tried it, but I seem to remember my brother telling me that I wouldn’t like it. This book is about a group of rabbits who are trying to escape the destruction of their home and find a new place to live. I was probably told I wouldn’t like it because it wasn’t going to be the cute, fluffy animal story that I was expecting, but even when I got older, the idea persisted that this wasn’t a book I’d be that interested in. I have it on my TBR because it’s one of those stories that I’ve always kind of felt that I should try at some point, but I’ve never been interested enough to actually pick it up. I even had the chance to read this one for a challenge prompt a few years ago requiring an author with the same initials as me, and I avoided this one completely and chose to read Mr. Popper’s Penguins instead, even though that didn’t really interest me either. Luckily, since then I’ve found plenty more authors with my initials, but I think all that will mean is that I’ll end up still avoiding this one.

7) The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

33917. sy475 I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve seen this book included in lists of options for a variety of reading challenge prompts, and yet I still haven’t picked it up yet. I’m not sure if I’m actively avoiding this one, but I’ve had a many opportunities where I could have chosen it, and went in a different direction instead so I think it counts. This is another book that I wasn’t completely sold on reading in the first place, but I’d heard such great things about it seemed worth at least adding to my list. I have a copy of it, and my mom has read and enjoyed it, so those are both extra motivators to try it at some point. It is about the Ganguli family, who has moved from India to America, where they eventually have a son that they name Gogol after a Russian writer when pressured to name him, instead of their cultural tradition. The story follows Gogol through his life in the US, where he struggles with his parents’ attempts to preserve their Bengali culture. The synopsis definitely sounds like something I would enjoy, but although I’d heard great things about it at the time, I’ve seen incredibly mixed reviews from many of the Goodreads reviewers I follow, which has put me off a bit. I think of all the books here, this is the one that I’m most likely to actually try, aside from the Jodi Picoult books.

8) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

2429135I have a copy of the first book in this series that I somehow got for free, even though it is not a series that I’d ever had much interest in. Actually, I think I somehow pre-judged this series before I even really knew what it was about, because to this day, I’m still not quite sure what it is. I wonder if this was one of the earliest examples of me actively avoiding a book due to my perception that it was overhyped. It is about a financial reporter who has the chance to redeem himself when he is hired by a wealthy man to solve a decades-old murder of his niece, with the help of Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant hacker and social outcast. To be honest, I’m still not completely sure whether this is something I would enjoy. It is quite a lengthy series, and from what I’ve seen about it, it can be quite confusing. I’m also a bit apprehensive to start it now that the author has passed away, and the series has changed hands. I do generally enjoy thrillers and stories about crime investigation, so it might be worth a try at some point, but it’s pretty low on my priority list right now.

9) The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

7244As a complete sidenote, I realized recently that I’ve completely been misreading this author’s last name for years! I thought it was “Kingslover,” not “Kingsolver.” I actually can’t remember what first drew me to put this book on my TBR in the first place, but it’s been there since 2017. It is about the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a Baptist who takes his family to the Belgian Congo on a mission trip in 1959. I suspect that I added it to my list because I’d enjoyed Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which was also set in Africa, although I don’t think it bears much other resemblance. It is told from the point of view of the five women, talking about Nathan’s work and what is happening in the Congo as they fight for independence from Belgium. This wasn’t particularly high on my priority list even at the time that I added it, and it is definitely the kind of book that I would need to be in the mood to try it. I’ve heard some great things about this book and the author in general, but I’ve also heard her books tend to be quite slow-paced and dense, which definitely makes me think I should wait until I really want to try it. It also doesn’t help that the previews I’ve seen all show incredibly tiny font, which is a huge pet peeve of mine!

10) Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

15790842I added this one to my TBR back in 2015 because of a potential challenge prompt that required two books that had the same title. This one sounded like such an interesting concept, but another book that I’d want to be in the mood for before I attempt it. It is about a woman named Ursula Todd who dies and is repeatedly reborn, retelling her story again until the next time she dies. The way the story has been described, it sounds like it could be very interesting, but also has the potential to be incredibly repetitive. I like books where characters get to relive days or years and try to correct things, but I also get frustrated with them sometimes because I get easily bored of reading the exact same scenes over and over. The reviews I’ve seen for this one seem to reflect exactly that — some people love the creativity of the premise, where many have also complained about the repetition. Right now, I’m leaning toward the idea that I’d likely find it annoying, which is probably why I’ve put it off for so long, but it still interests me enough to keep it on my TBR and hope that one day I’ll be willing to try it.

Less Traumatic, but May Be Problematic – 13 Reasons Why (Netflix Series) Season 3 Review

**Warning: May contain spoilers — I apologize, but it is difficult to talk about this series without going into some detail**

This season caught me completely off-guard, but for once it was not because of the content. I knew that this season was coming at some point this year, but I had no idea when, so I was very surprised to see it on my Netflix list. I really enjoyed both previous seasons (reviews linked here and here), but as I mentioned with Season 2, I was a bit apprehensive since we have now veered very far off the original book. Given that the second season ended on such a cliffhanger, I was excited to see what happened, but not quite convinced that continuing the show in general was necessary.

Plot

This season picks up soon after the events of Season 2, focusing on the disappearance of Bryce Walker after Homecoming. When Bryce’s body is found, all of the main characters seem to have motive and opportunity to be the killer. A new character, Ani, is introduced to narrate the episodes as she attempts to uncover what happened to Bryce, in the process revealing many of the secrets that everyone has been trying to hide. The season is mostly told through flashbacks, showing what has happened for everyone after the attempted shooting at Spring Fling, leading up to the Homecoming riot. It was an interesting approach to show, although it didn’t quite grip me from the start as strongly as the first two seasons. I went into this season knowing almost nothing about what the major storyline would be, aside from a brief trailer I’d seen that mentioned Bryce’s death, but it was a bit jarring to have a brand new person unconnected to any of the events of the previous seasons take over as narrator.

Another central overarching storyline for this season is about healing, with both Jess and Tyler starting to heal from what has happened to each of them. I thought it did a particularly good job with Tyler’s story, especially around his decision whether to tell anyone what had happened and/or report it. For Jess, a big part of her healing was getting involved in a group for sexual assault survivors and their allies, and struggling to figure out what she needs herself in order to move forward. Interestingly enough, the show also attempts a kind of redemption arc for Bryce, where he finally begins to understand the impact his actions have on others, and deciding that he wants to be better. I found it interesting how the writers contrasted Bryce, the main villain of the first two seasons, with Monty, who really became the monster by the end of Season 2. In this season, we do get a bit more backstory for Monty as well. Both Bryce and Monty will be discussed in a bit more detail in the Characters section below.

Given the focus on healing and how to move forward following traumatic events, I found this season less dark overall. I liked the use of flashbacks to show what had happened for all of the major characters, and the season in general kept me guessing all the way to the end about who the killer really was and why. I had absolutely no idea who it was since everyone seemed equally implicated. A large part of the season also focused on Clay, who the police strongly suspected, although to be honest, I felt like his character almost took a backseat to the others this season. When I think about the season arc as a whole, the characters who most strongly come to mind are Bryce, Jess and Tyler. While I enjoyed the season overall, I didn’t quite connect with it as strongly as I had with the previous two. That may have been because I didn’t expect it to be out at the time, so I hadn’t fully been prepared to watch it, or possibly because I wasn’t sure if it was really necessary to continue this story.

Characters & Casting

As always, the main strength of this show is the characters and the brilliant cast who brings them all to life. I often forget that I’m watching a fictional show since the characters all seem so real. Ani (played by Grace Saif) was a character whose presence alone seemed to spark a lot of controversy among fans. Many have complained that adding someone new at this point made little sense. Ani is a British transfer student whose mother works as a nurse for Bryce’s dying grandfather, so the two of them live in the Walker’s home. To me, Ani functions in a similar way to Hannah in the earlier seasons, narrating events from more of an outside perspective. There are definitely things about Ani’s character that make little sense, such as how someone who is brand new can get people, especially those who are very guarded like so much of the main cast, to open up about traumatic experiences. Ani seems to quickly and easily befriend everyone, to the point where they are willing to tell her just about everything, while simultaneously leaving the viewer to wonder how reliable she is herself as a narrator. It also strikes me as a bit odd that a teenager manages to piece together what happened relatively easily, especially since she is completely depending on what she is told since she wasn’t there. Personally, I didn’t mind Ani as a character, and although it was a bit of an odd decision, I thought the actress did a great job and it somehow worked.

I thought both Devin Druid (playing Tyler Down) and Alisha Boe (playing Jessica Davis) once again did a fantastic job of playing these two very complex characters. Both of them have really come into their own as characters who are struggling to move forward, and I thought they both did an outstanding job of portraying that. I was especially impressed by the subtle way Tyler began to change over the course of the season, as his daily photography project showed, as he began to once again regain some confidence through the support of those around him. Jess’s arc similarly showed her learning to feel in control again, and attempts to take steps to ensure that no one else will have to face what she did by targeting “jock culture” at her school. Both characters also had especially powerful scenes where they confronted Monty and Bryce respectively, which were brilliantly handled.

I have to give a special mention to Timothy Granaderos, who plays the cruel and aggressive Monty. This actor did such an amazing job playing this character that I genuinely found him scary to watch. This season did attempt to add a bit more complexity to Monty’s character, showing his difficult home life as well as him struggling to come to terms with some things about himself. What made him truly creepy though was his outright refusal to take any responsibility or even admit what he did to Tyler, attempting to pass it off as “a joke” or “just hazing.” He even tells Tyler not to make such a big deal about it since it happens to lots of other guys, in a particularly eerie interaction. Like Bryce in Season 2, it seemed that the writers were attempting to flesh this character out a bit more as a full person, although I felt a bit conflicted about how it was done. Similarly, while I thought Bryce’s potential redemption arc was interesting to watch, and definitely believable thanks to the brilliant acting job by Justin Prentice, this entire storyline can be a bit problematic. We spent two seasons viewing Bryce as a monstrous person who takes what he wants and doesn’t care what it means for anyone else, only for him now to start to realize and openly acknowledge that he was wrong. Although I really liked how it was portrayed, that part of the story arc left me feeling a bit conflicted about Bryce in general — his desire to change and be a better person seemed genuine, but it doesn’t erase the harm he has caused. At the same time, I’m not sure he deserved to die for it either.

In general, I found that this season had cut back quite a bit on the overall number of characters to follow. Characters such as Ryan, Marcus and Sheri are completely absent. I did find it interesting how some of the adults were brought in for brief appearances, including Derek Luke as Mr. Porter, the school counsellor, and Kate Walsh as Hannah’s mother, Olivia. The season also gave ample attention to Justin (Brandon Flynn), who is still living with Clay’s family, and my personal favourite — Tony (Christian Navarro), who once again is a strong and interesting character to follow. This season also gave a bit more time to Zach Dempsey (Ross Butler) and Alex Standall (Miles Heizer), rounding out a complex cast of characters with secrets to hide. Although Clay (Dylan Minnette) was still a prominent part of the series, especially as the police’s main suspect for much of the season, I didn’t connect with him quite as strongly as in previous seasons.

Visuals/Music

As always, the is the most difficult part of any show for me to comment on since it’s not something I actively pay attention to. I can’t really say that I remember any of the music that was used, although it must have fit quite well since I don’t remember finding any of it out of place either. This season once again kept up the stark visuals of the previous two, although it was much less graphic and violent overall. I thought the show once again did a strong job of capturing the tone of the show. I don’t think there were any specific scenes that stood out for me in the way that a few did in each of the previous seasons, but that’s probably a good thing because the scenes that tended to stay with me the most were some of the most difficult to watch.

Overall Impressions

To be honest, I went into this season with relatively low expectations. I had really enjoyed Seasons 1 and 2, despite the graphic and violent content, so I expected to like this one as well. I somehow couldn’t help feeling a little disconnected from this season in general, and I wonder if that had to do with the change in the kind of story. This season was more of a murder mystery, whereas the previous one was a courtroom drama and the first a (dark) contemporary high school story. Once again, I found the casting one of the strongest parts of the show, and it is a huge reason that I continue to watch, even when I’m not sure the story really needs to continue. I also thought that this was going to be the last season, so I was surprised to see news about an upcoming fourth and final season due next year. I’m interested to see how much further they can take this story, considering it’s already stretched so far past the book.

Plot – 8/10
Characters/Casting – 10/10
Visuals/Music – 8/10
Overall – 8.5/10