Top 5 Wednesdays: My 2020 Wishlist

Last week, I decided to do a bit of a recap on the the five themes, tropes or genres that I’d put on my wishlist back at the end of 2017. I was very happy to see that all five of the things that I’d identified were themes or tropes that I was able to see more often! In the past couple of years, it feels like there has been a lot of changes to the publishing industry in general, especially when it comes to YA. I’ve noticed a lot more feminist themes in books, and a lot more diversity in general. That’s not to say that there isn’t still plenty of room to grow and change, but it at least made me think that it was about time to update my wishlist with a few more ideas of what I’d like to see. Most of these items are themes or tropes that I’ve read and really enjoyed lately, and that I’d love to see more often!

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) Books that focus on friendships rather than relationships

I think this is mostly a YA-specific problem, because I have noticed quite a few adult contemporary books that focus on the dynamics within friend groups. For some reason, the majority of YA books (or at least the ones that I’ve read) tend to focus heavily on romance or make a point of pairing off people by the end, even when it’s not really necessary. Back in 2017, I mentioned that I wanted to see more platonic relationships in books that actually stayed platonic, and I think this is kind of along the same lines. I’d love to see more YA stories where there is a focus on friendships. I do think this has been happening a bit more lately, especially because there has been a lot more emphasis on stories of girls/women supporting each other, or male friendships that break down toxic masculinity.

I think it’s important to see a variety of friendship dynamics in books and not just the typical “my best friend ditched me to become popular/because they got a boyfriend” storyline. Friendships are such an important part of people’s lives, and I find it really weird that they are rarely the main focus of the story. There are a couple of new and upcoming releases (When You Were Everything and We Used To Be Friends) that do focus on friendships, specifically the end of long-term friendships, and I think these could be a great start.

2) Academic pressure

I know there are a lot of people out there who really hate to read about school because they view reading as their escape from their day-to-day lives, but I’ve found academic pressure a strangely underutilized theme. Again, this is a topic that I have seen coming up more often lately (ie. 500 Words or Less or You Asked for Perfect), and it’s just made me realize how little this topic is addressed. In 2017, I mentioned wanting more variety in New Adult topics, and I think books involving academic pressure is one way to make that happen. Of course, it’s also a topic that would be very relevant in a lot of YA too since most are set in high school. I’m specifically thinking of books about characters who put a lot of pressure on themselves or feel a lot of pressure from others’ expectations, but it could also include things like highly competitive schools, struggles with college and a lot more.

I was definitely one of those students who put a lot of pressure on myself to get high marks in all of my classes, and I specifically remember one hellish semester in my last year of high school. It was the semester where our grades were being submitted to the universities we had applied to, and I had 4 intense subjects (English, math, biology and history), two of which had very intense teachers. I was completely overwhelmed and although I ultimately ended up doing fine, it’s an experience I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. Every time I read a book that focuses on academic pressures, it reminds me of how rarely this topic seems to be used, and I think it’s one that a lot of people could really connect with.

3) Characters pursuing a passion/dream

I put this one on my wishlist because I’ve read quite a few books in the past year where the main character has a strong interest in something and I thought it adds a whole other dimension to the story. I find it is usually art or music, but really any kind of hobby could apply. I was thinking of books like On the Come Up or Let Me Hear a Rhyme, which are about characters pursuing rap, or With the Fire On High or If It Makes You Happy, where the characters have a strong interest in cooking, just as a few examples. It could also relate to books about characters who are heavily involved in fandoms or who are online content creators.

These books can be a bit hit-or-miss if the character is interested in something that I really have no interest in reading about, but I tend to find that these kinds of passions or dreams really make the characters come alive. It also tends to divert the focus from the typical romance-centric plot and gives the characters an extra level of motivation. In a sense, it generally plays into my interest in having a wider variety of storylines and characters available across the genre. Again, this does seem to be quite YA-specific, since most of the adult contemporary books I read have characters who are already pretty established in a career and/or family, but it’s something I’ve started to notice a lot more of lately, and I’m very interested in reading more.

4) Family stories other than divorce or death of a parent or sibling

This is a tricky one to put into words because I’m not quite sure what I do want. I just know that I’ve been getting a little burnt out on seeing so many books that focus on the main character’s parents getting divorced as a central conflict, or about grieving the death of a parent or sibling. That is not to say that these topics aren’t important, because they are, or that they aren’t addressed well, because they can be. It may come down to the specific books that I’d been choosing, but for a while, it felt like I couldn’t pick up a single YA book where death or divorce weren’t a main theme. I know that both of these are real and important experiences that deserve representation, but I’d love to see a bit more variety in family dynamics. Or, if the book is going to focus on death or divorce, I’d love to see the topic handled in some kind of new or unique way, although again, I’m not entirely sure what that would look like.

It’s not necessarily a YA-specific wish this time, since there are a ton of thrillers and adult contemporary books on my TBR that are based on the premise of a main character searching for a missing sibling or parent or discovering something that changes their perceptions of a loved one after their death. Again, that’s not to say that these can’t be are aren’t great stories, because they often are. There is a reason why so many books along these lines end up on my TBR in the first place, but I would also love to see more books that deal with complex family dynamics, and especially sibling relationships.

5) Office politics

I think this one again plays into my interest in more variety in New Adult books, but I think office politics can be so fascinating (when it’s not your own office)! This one sparked my interest because I recently watched The Office for the first time, and loved the whole idea of such an eccentric cast of characters working together and having to deal with each other on a daily basis. It also made me think of how many options there could be for these kinds of stories! I find a lot of books that deal with office politics end up being romances, but I’d also love to see more stories about some of the struggles involved in the office. It could be anything from a young adult navigating their first “real” job, difficult co-workers or bosses, or any of the many challenges of having to work with a small core group of people day in and day out. There are a lot of books out there that deal with “playground politics” or neighbourhood dynamics, so it seems like a bit of an odd gap to be lacking books that focus on the office. If anyone has any specific recommendations for this, or any of the items above, please feel free to let me know!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Cover Freebie

I feel so unprepared for this week’s topic! Normally, when there is any kind of freebie post that comes up for Top 10 Tuesdays, I like to plan ahead a bit and come up with a theme, but this time, I was completely at a loss for what I wanted to do. Although I feel like I often say that I was drawn to add books to my TBR because of the cover, the cover art alone is not enough to get my interest in any book. It might be enough to push me to look into the synopsis, and it’s only really then that I’ll strongly consider adding it. I decided to go for a bit of an unusual theme here, and show some of the book covers on my TBR that I think have only been added recently. These are all books that I’m excited to try, and that I didn’t remember having cover art yet! It’s entirely possible that I’m wrong and these covers have been revealed for a while, but they are ones that have only recently caught my attention. I still have nearly 4 full pages on my TBR that are still coverless so I’m excited to see what those covers look like when they are finally revealed! Given that this post is of pictures only, I feel like it’s only fair to go beyond a list of 10 and show a few extra.

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.

If You Like This, Try That (#2)

As soon as I started making If You Like This, Try That posts of my own late last year, I started to notice a lot more similarities between books. It’s funny because in the past, I’ve always struggled to recommend books to people because I was more focused on the differences than the similarities. I’d always get hung up on things like differences in the writing style, or huge plot differences that somehow made the books seem incomparable. It’s been really interesting to have this shift in my mindset and be able to see some of the similarities more clearly! Of course, that’s not to say that any of these books are lacking in originality or anything like that, but there is enough in common that I think fans of one might really enjoy the other as well.

If you like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, you might also like Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

32075671. sy475 36142487Anger is a Gift seemed to have a lot of hype before it came out, but somehow fell off the map afterwards. As soon as I read it, I was reminded quite strongly of The Hate U Give because of the themes. Both books are about African American teenagers who are facing increasingly worse treatment in their communities. In Anger is a Gift, there is increased police presence at Moss’s school and the students are treated like criminals, and in The Hate U Give, Starr’s close friend is shot and killed by a police officer who had wrongly assumed he was a criminal. In both cases, the teens decide to fight back against the way they are treated. To be honest, I liked The Hate U Give better because it felt more realistic. There were a few key plot points in Anger is a Gift that didn’t quite make sense to me, but it was still a very strong book overall and had an especially powerful ending.

If you like Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, you might also like Henchgirl by Kristen Gudsnuk

19351043. sx318 sy475 31237984Both of these books feature female characters who have become the sidekicks/henchmen to a villainous character. Nimona works for Lord Ballister Blackheart, who is trying to prove that his rival Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin is not the hero that everyone thinks they are. In Henchgirl, Mary Posa is the daughter of famous superheroes, who feels underappreciated by the gang of villains and guilty for the crimes they commit, and wants to find a way out. Nimona and Mary are not necessarily similar to each other, but the two books have a similar kind of humour. Of the two books, I found Nimona a bit more cohesive overall, but I think fans of one would really enjoy the other.

If you like The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White and The Madman’s Daughter series by Megan Shepherd

3825534212291438The Madman’s Daughter is such an underrated series in general! It is a trilogy of three books, all loose retellings of classic horror novels, including The Island of Dr. Moreau, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is, obviously, based on Frankenstein as well. Both are books that focus on female main characters who go against the typical expectations for women of the time, and both take elements of the horror classics as the basis for their plots. In both cases, you will be able to enjoy the story even if you have not read the original, but some familiarity with it will definitely bring an extra layer to it. Both are also very dark and atmospheric.

If you like The Broken Girls by Simone St. James, you might also like The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis

35533431. sy475 40189902. sy475 I read these two books about a week or two apart last year, and was immediately struck by the similarities (although I personally liked The Broken Girls better). Both books feature a dual timeline, where a female main character, both of whom are journalists, are digging into their own pasts. In The Broken Girls, Fiona is trying to find more information about her sister’s murder which occurred on the grounds of Idlewild Hall, a boarding school that has recently been set to be restored. In The Girl in the Letter, Samantha finds a mysterious letter among her late grandfather’s things, which leads her to St. Margaret’s, a mother-and-baby home in England that is set to be demolished soon. Both books alternate between these women and their investigations, and the lives of girls and women who lived in the places they are researching. Of the two, I thought The Broken Girls was a bit stronger in terms of the writing style, but both were very interesting.

If you like The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, you might also like Verity by Colleen Hoover

4044041957126. sy475 One of the reasons I picked up Verity in the first place was because the synopsis reminded me so strongly of The Thirteenth Tale. Both books are about young women who are hired by famous authors, or the family of a famous author, to write and end up delving into the lives of the authors. In The Thirteenth Tale, Margaret Lea is writing a biography of the famous Vida Winter, and in Verity, Lowen is hired to ghostwrite the remaining books in a series after the author, Verity Crawford, is in an accident that leaves her comatose. Both books are very atmospheric and creepy, and both have a lot of focus on these women finding out more about the authors’ pasts. Verity has more of a romance element and readers may want to know that there is quite a bit of explicit sexual content, but the overall atmosphere of the two books was quite similar. Both are very well-written and easily compelled me to keep reading.

If you like A List of Cages by Robin Roe, you might also like Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

3506853425613472Both of these are hard-hitting contemporaries that have not received nearly enough attention! It’s actually a bit tricky to talk about some of the similarities between these two without risking spoilers. A List of Cages is about a teenage boy, Adam, who is is working as an aide to the school psychologist, and is tasked with tracking down a younger student who has been avoiding her. Adam soon discovers that this boy is Julian, his former foster brother who moved back in with his uncle. Monday’s Not Coming is about a young teenage girl named Claudia, whose best friend Monday has gone missing and no one but her seems to care. Both books were so powerfully written and have stuck with me long after I finished them. Both also focus on complex friendship and family dynamics, and can be very difficult to read because of the nature of the content, but are definitely worth it.

If you like Eliza & Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia, you might also like  Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

30653843. sy475 31931941. sy475 I think you could also make a very strong case for Fangirl and Radio Silence since both focus on struggles adapting to college, but when I first read Radio Silence, I was immediately reminded of Eliza. Both books focus on characters who are online content creators who join forces with a classmate who is a huge fan of their work, and develop a strong bond through working together. Both also feature characters whose online lives are essential to them, but fear the repercussions of their identities being revealed. Both books also deal with mental health in such a strong and relatable way. Both are also a bit on the longer side for YA, at around 400 pages each, and might be a bit slower-paced, but are very interesting character-driven stories.

If you like The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, you might also like Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

33294200. sy475 25566675I also read these two books just a couple of weeks apart, and immediately noticed the similarities. Both also quickly became favourites of the year. The Poet X is about a Latina teenage girl named Xiomara who discovers slam poetry as a way of expressing herself and understanding her world, which has changed since she hit puberty. Piecing Me Together is about an African American teenage girl named Jade who is chosen to take part in a mentorship program at her school, who consider her an “at-risk” student because of her neighbourhood. Both books tackle topics of racism, sexism, and identity, and have main characters who use creative outlets to express themselves. Xiomara gets involved in slam poetry, and Jade does art. Both are about young women learning to find their own voice and speak up for themselves, and both as so beautifully written.

If you like Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, you might also like The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

23395680. sy475 36039614I think of all the comparisons here, this is the one that is most questionable, but there are some similarities. Both books are set in space, and feature teenagers who are left mostly on their own to try and cope with dangers. In both books, the female main character first interacts with others, including the male main character in each, through instant messaging or similar computer programs. Both also contained some interesting twists, and both contain some unusual formats. Illuminae is a mixed media book, containing transcripts, diagrams, chat logs, and e-mails, and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe contains e-mails and fanfiction, and chapters are presented like diary entries documenting the days since the ship left Earth. I thought Illuminae was the stronger story overall, but both are good for fans of books set in space, especially those that feature young characters trying to survive.

If you liked The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware, you might also like The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

36373481. sy475 43822820Full disclosure: I am only about halfway through The Family Upstairs at the time of writing this, but I’ve already noticed enough similarities that I think a connection can be made. Both books are mystery/thrillers that focus on a young woman who has come into an inheritance that leads them to find out more about their own pasts. Both books have a creepy atmosphere, especially when the characters visit the houses of the deceased relative. Both also focus on the characters digging into their own pasts to try and learn more about their connections to the family and the house. Both  kept me guessing (at least so far, for The Family Upstairs. I’ll know for sure when I finish it), and both were very intriguing.

Top 5 Wednesdays: My 2018 Wishlist Recap

Back in the end of 2017, a very interesting Top 5 Wednesday topic came up. The prompt asked us to create a wishlist for the upcoming year, but instead of wishing for specific books, the focus was on themes, tropes or genres that we wanted to see more of. I’ve definitely been noticing certain trends lately in the books I’ve been reading and books I’ve added to my TBR, so I thought it was a good time to reflect on this list and see whether any of the wishes here have actually come true! I still find it hard to think of books in terms of specific tropes or styles since it really comes down to how the individual story is told, but there are definitely a few things I’d love to see more of. I thought it would be fun to look back on that original list (here) and follow it up with a new wishlist next week!

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) Platonic relationships that stay platonic

In 2017, I noticed a real lack of stories, especially in YA, that didn’t almost automatically end with a romance between the main characters. In some cases, it felt like the author felt a need to match up every character, and relationships were shoehorned in to make this happen, whether they were necessary or not. There were few books I could think of where characters were friends and remained only friends the whole time, especially in cases where there was the opportunity to date. In many cases, platonic friendships seemed to exist only if one or both of the characters in an opposite-sex pair was gay or lesbian since that removed the possibility of them ever dating. I wanted to see more platonic friendships because it felt more realistic, and represents a wider variety of experiences.

Since then, I was surprised to find a handful of books where this actually was the case! I think the most recent example I’ve read would have to be Radio Silence, where there was a focus on the friendship between Frances and Aled, although in this case, both characters were LGBT. Another great example is Bang, where even when a character does express interest in the other, it does not turn into a relationship. If I remember correctly, the friendships in The Inexplicable Logic of My Life also remain platonic. I do find this has been happening a lot more often lately with more representation of asexual and aromantic characters, but I’d still love to see more books where the platonic relationship actually stays platonic.

2) Social media/online lives as a positive part of people’s lives

I know a lot of people hate when social media is involved in books because they tend to find it makes the story feel dated. I’ve definitely noticed a shift in how social media and the Internet in general is utilized in books, and while I agree that it can make the story dated, this does not necessarily need to be the case. As someone who spends quite a bit of time online myself, I love to see representation of the Internet and online communities as a positive thing. As I mentioned in my original 2018 wishlist, I think it is essential for people to be aware of the risks of being online and take precautions to keep themselves safe, and both the risks and the kinds of precautions needed have evolved with the times. However, I also wanted to see more acknowledgement of the positive aspects of online friendships and communities, and I think that is beginning to happen more often.

There are books like Fangirl or Eliza and Her Monsters, where a character’s online lives are a real and important part of themselves. In both cases, the main characters create online content that is shared online, and both books do a great job of acknowledging both the good and bad sides of this. There are books like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda or Everything Everything, where characters initially connect and get to know each other online or through texting  There are also books that I have not read yet, such as Starworld or Tweet Cute, which also focus on friendships or relationships that begin online. I think it’s great to see much more variety of representation of social media and the impact it has on people’s lives, and I’m loving that there are more positive stories being told, in addition to the many about the risks of behaviour such as cyberbullying, sharing inappropriate photos, etc.

3) Slow-burn romances (or at least romances that take some time)

I think of all the items on my list, this is the one that is most difficult to find. I think insta-love (and love triangles, for that matter) is one of the most widely hated tropes, and to be honest, I can understand why. I have a really hard time buying into a story where I’m supposed to believe that characters who barely know each other are so in love right away. I think some authors can and do make that kind of relationship really work in their story and it makes sense to include it in some cases, especially because it can and does sometimes happen in real life (whether those relationships last or not), but when I made my 2018 list, I was looking for a lore more variety. Specifically, I wanted more stories where the relationships that developed between characters took some time, and people actually got to know each other before jumping into anything. In so many books, issues come up because characters are shocked to find out something they don’t like about their partner’s past, which probably wouldn’t happen if they actually took the time to get to know each other first!

I think the best example of a slow-burn romance that I can think of would have to be Kaz and Inej in Six of Crows, but also the relationships from The Raven Cycle also took several books to really develop. You could probably also make a case for something like The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I understand why many authors tend to go the insta-love route, especially when it’s a shorter book or the romance is needed to move some of the plot along quickly, but I would love to see more slow-burns, even for the sake of variety. I think it also depends sometimes how people define slow-burn. For example, if a relationship develops quickly when characters who knew each other in the past meet again after a long time apart, is that a slow-burn? What about a short book, but where the timespan covered it technically over a longer period? It does seem to be a tricky trope to do well, and it’s one that I’d still love to see more of!

4) More variety in New Adult book plotlines

When I made my original wishlist back in 2017, New Adult was a genre that I rarely read, mostly because so many of them seemed to follow the exact same formula. Most were romances with quite explicit sexual content, and not really the kind of book that I was looking for. When I thought of the term “New Adult” I was thinking more along the lines of books about young adults who have left high school and are moving on to the next stages of their lives, such as going to university or college, finding their first jobs, navigating office politics, etc. That’s not to say that the romances can’t or won’t be good, but I found it really weird that there seemed to be such limited storylines being told for and about this age group.

Now that this genre has a few more years behind it, there seems to be a lot more variety! Books like Fangirl and Radio Silence are great examples again, since both deal with characters who are struggling to adapt to university. There are also fantasy books that kind of bridge that gap between YA and adult fantasy, such as the ACOTAR series, which is a bit too explicit to be YA but might not appeal to fans of adult fantasy, and possibly even something like Vicious, where the characters are in university. There are also a lot more romance options focusing on young adult characters navigating relationships, with varying levels of explicit content, including authors like Christina Lauren, Helen Hoang, or Sally Thorne. It’s great to see so much more variety in the genre, and I’m very interested in reading more now that there is so much to choose from.

5) More fantasy standalones

In 2017, I’d commented that I was sure that these already existed, but the majority of the fantasy books I’d been reading were part of a series. I find this wishlist item tends to be particularly difficult to fulfill because authors keep going back to books that seemed to be standalones, and expanding them into duologies and series. I have put quite a bit of focus on series in general in the past few years, and especially fantasy series, but I would still love to find more standalones since some of these series can be quite the commitment! In 2017, I commented that I tend to find a lot of series drag in the middle with one or two transitional books that don’t have all that much happening, and I find that is often still the case. There are quite a few very long series (4 or often more books), and it can be hard to avoid stretching things out!

I think the best standalones I’ve read in the past few years would still have to be The Night Circus and Uprooted, but I have definitely started to notice more standalone books lately. The Starless Sea and Spinning Silver are new books by these same authors Anna-Marie McLemore’s books are all standalones that involve magical realism, and there are also Shea Earnshaw’s two books, The Wicked Deep and Winterwood. I still tend to find that books I’m expecting to be standalones eventually end up being the first in a series, but there definitely seem to be more options lately, especially if you count magical realism.

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: The Most Recent Additions to my Bookshelves

Normally, when this kind of prompt comes up, I mention the books that I’ve recently added to my Goodreads TBR shelf, but with the end of the month coming up soon, it seemed a bit silly. I usually do my Stacking the Shelves post at the end of the month already to mention recent additions to my TBR, and it just didn’t seem to make sense to do both so close together. Luckily, I’ve also made quite a few book purchases recently to add to my (soon-to-be literal) shelves, so there were still plenty of new additions to mention! I’ve intentionally left out a few of the books that I bought recently that I feel like I’ve also mentioned a lot lately, but these are all books that I’m very excited to own and hopefully will get to read as soon as possible!

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

1) The Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab

Image result for shades of magic box setI was so glad to see that this series had dropped in price a couple of weeks ago, down to what I’d consider more affordable! I bought myself the new hardcover boxset of the Collector’s Editions and I’m so excited to read them. This is one of my highest priority series for this year. The series is about a magician named Kell who has the ability to travel through parallel versions of London, which have all fallen under threat. He soon join forces with a thief named Delilah to save their home. To be honest, I don’t know a ton about this series, but I’ve been very excited to read it for a few years now. V.E. Schwab is one of my favourite authors, and I’ve absolutely adored every book of hers that I’ve read so far. I was especially excited to get my own copies of these so I can read them even sooner, possibly even as part of my “own books only winter” instead of waiting for library copies!

2) The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

40381942I was very excited about this book when I first discovered it toward the beginning of 2019, but somehow failed to include it in my reading challenges and had mostly forgotten about it. I was reminded of how much I wanted to read it when I saw it again recently on Book Outlet and although it is not currently in my challenge plans for this year either, I might try to sneak it in somewhere. This book is about a woman named Sylvie whose sister Persephone was killed in an unsolved case 16 years ago. Sylvie now returns home to care for her estranged mother who is battling cancer as well as “dark days” that began even before her daughter’s death. Persephone’s former boyfriend is also a nurse at the cancer center where her mother is being treated, and Sylvie has always believed he was responsible for her sister’s death. Sylvie decides to dig into what really happened to her sister and starts to uncover some of her family’s secrets. I do have several prompts this year that involve characters involved in the medical field, and this seems like it could be a great fit for one of those. I may need to rearrange things a bit to fit this one in, especially now that I have it.

3) The Conference of the Birds by Ransom Riggs

I41556894. sy475 ‘ve been collecting all the books in this series as they come out, although my goal is to ultimately re-read the whole series next year to prepare for the final book, which I believe is due out in 2021. Even though I won’t be reading it for another year, when I saw this one advertised for an excellent price as part of my bookstore’s pre-order deals, I just had to get a copy! I have only read the original Miss Peregrine trilogy, and have intentionally avoided looking too deeply into what this one is about to avoid potential spoilers. I last read these books back in 2015 as part of my first ever reading challenges, and I loved them! I have read the first two books a couple of times each and Library of Souls only once, so I don’t have much memory of how it all ended. I’m really looking forward to reading more of these amazing characters, and I’m very excited to delve back into this world, even if it is still a year away for me.

4) The Lost & Found by Katrina Leno

23253261. sy475 This book was part of my huge Book Outlet haul back when they had their Black Friday sale! I bought a couple of books by this author because she is one of my top priority YA authors to try this year, and I’ve heard such great things about her! To be fair, this is one of her books that I seem to hear the least about. It is about two teenagers, Frannie and Louis, who meet through an online support group and have never met face-to-face. Both have in common a strange tendency for to “lose” things (or have things disappear), and soon take a road trip to Austin, Texas to find each other and along the way, each finds important things that the other has lost. Magical realism doesn’t always work for me, but this sounds like such an interesting idea, and it has so many of the tropes that I love! I’m always on the lookout for books that focus on online friendships, and especially where that kind of online support is a positive thing. I’m really looking forward to giving this one a try, and hopefully I’ll love it as much as I’m expecting!

5) A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma

18046369. sx318 I was drawn to this one by both the intriguing title and the beautiful cover, even though I have yet to read anything by this author, aside from a short story in an anthology! I bought The Walls Around Us on Book Outlet too a couple of years ago, and have been meaning to read it ever since. This book is about a girl named Bina whose mother promised her they would escape her cruel father and start over, but soon finds herself with a new stepfather and stepsisters which leaves her feeling betrayed. Eight years later, Bina finds herself at Catherine House, a young women’s residence with a tragic history, where she is drawn to a mysterious neighbour, Monet. As far as I can tell from the reviews and the summary, this is one of those books that leaves you guessing whether Catherine House is truly haunted, or if the creepiness is all in Bina’s mind. I really didn’t know that much about this book before I bought it, but I’m glad I did because it sounds so interesting!

6) No One Here is Lonely by Sarah Everett

39872929I discovered this book way back in September 2018, where it quickly became a book that was high on my radar although I somehow managed to bypass reading it last year. I was very excited to see a copy of it on Book Outlet, and immediately knew it was one I just had to buy! This book is about a girl named Eden, who is growing apart from her best friend, Lacey, and her crush Will has died in a car accident. She takes comfort in an account Will set up with In Good Company, which uploads voices and emails to create a digital companion that people can call upon any time. Eden soon comes to rely on this version of “Will” and becomes to invested in that relationship that she barely notices all the new opportunities opening up around her in her real life, but opening herself up to these means letting go of “Will.” I love books with a social media twist, and this one sounds so intriguing. I have no idea why I didn’t actively plan for this one to be in my reading challenges last year, but I will definitely be reading it by the end of 2020.

7) Love From A-Z by S.K. Ali

40148146. sy475 I read Saints & Misfits by this author last year, and although I didn’t love it quite as much as I’d expected, I did like it enough to want to continue reading more by this author. This book is the author’s 2019 release about a Muslim girl named Zayneb who gets into trouble at school after standing up to a teacher for racist comments, leading to her suspension from school and the teacher begins to investigate some of her activist friends. Feeling guilty for getting her friends in trouble, Zayneb decides to get a fresh start and be a nicer version of herself now that she is travelling to a place where no one knows her. Her path soon crosses with Adam’s, a boy diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, who is hiding his diagnosis from his grieving father who is still struggling with the death of his wife. Both Zayneb and Adam are playing roles for other people, and both keep their real thoughts hidden in their journals. There have been so many YA books lately that involve characters travelling across the world to stay with family and meeting important people along the way, and although I’m not particularly invested in travel stories, I often end up enjoying these books!

8) Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

37486235Sarah Pinborough is another of my top priority authors to try this year, but I’ve found myself having a weird kind of mental block with this book! I was thinking of reading it in February because of the title (which I’ve loosely associated with Valentine’s Day), but I also somehow feel weird about reading it before Behind Her Eyes! I guess I could always read that one first, but I also wasn’t sure I wanted to read them both so close together either. This book is about a woman named Lisa, who is starting to believe she may be able to share her life with a new man and trust someone again, letting go of a terrible secret. When her daughter Ava rescues a boy from drowning, Lisa finds everything she has worked so hard to build threatened when her and Ava’s pictures are suddenly all over the news, putting everything at risk all over again. The book is told from the perspectives of Lisa, Ava, and Lisa’s best friend and co-worker Marilyn, all of whom have their secrets. I’ve heard some pretty mixed reviews for this one, which is part of why I wanted to try Behind Her Eyes first, but the synopsis does sound like something I’d like, so I think it will be worth a try!

9) A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

33984056. sy475 I’ve somehow managed to mention every Shari Lapena book somewhere on this blog except this one! This book is her 2017 release which I’ve been wanting to read for a long time, but kept putting it off. It is about a man named Tom who returns home one day to find that his wife Karen has vanished, leaving everything behind but her car. Soon, police knock on his door to tell him that his wife is in the hospital after an accident, leaving her with a concussion and no memory of what she was doing or where she was going when she crashed. The police are suspicious of her memory gaps, and upon her return home, Karen is also sure that something is not right and begins to suspect someone else may have been there. I’ve really enjoyed both of the Shari Lapena books that I’ve read so far, although neither have quite reached a full 5 stars yet. I’m hoping to enjoy this one just as much!

10) Watching You by Lisa Jewell

38355282. sy475 This was another book that I was very excited to see on Book Outlet because it’s one that I really wanted to read! Lisa Jewell is another of my top priority authors to try this year, and I was lucky enough to have this book come up as my pick for a prompt requiring a book chosen at random from my shelves! I put my unread books from Book Outlet through a random number generator, and this was the one that came up. I was very excited since it was a book that I’d already really wanted to fit into my reading challenge this year! This book is about several families who live in the same neighbourhood, where a murder has occurred and everyone seems to have their secrets. I find the Goodreads synopsis a bit confusing, but I’m hoping it will all start to make more sense as I read the book. This is one of several Lisa Jewell books that I’m planning to try this year, and I’m excited to finally give it a chance!

Review of You (Season 2)

I was pleasantly surprised by the first season of Netflix’s adaptation of You last year, and intentionally decided to read the sequel, Hidden Bodies, before the new season came out. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed with the book! I’d seen many negative reviews for it over the years, but didn’t think it could be that bad. In a way, some ways, it really was as bad as the reviews suggested, but in other ways, it wasn’t. In either case, it left me pretty apprehensive about the new season, even more than I was for Season 1. At the same time, I was very curious to see what was going to happen with some of the plotlines invented specifically for the show, so I decided to give it a chance anyway.

Plot

To be honest, the plot of Hidden Bodies was one of the biggest downfalls for me when it came to reading the book. It took what could have been an absolutely amazing concept, and somehow just fell completely flat. The book followed Joe Goldberg in his on-going quest to find love, as he traveled to Hollywood in pursuit of a girlfriend who scammed him. While there, he meets another woman whose name happens to be Love, and soon falls for her instead, and gets caught up in her co-dependent relationship with her brother, Forty, who Joe sees as an obstacle to their happiness. I thought Hollywood would be such an incredible setting for a character like Joe who can’t stand hypocrisy, but I was ultimately disappointed that the plot of the book felt so meandering and didn’t really feel as cohesive as the first book.

Season 2 of the adaptation took the very basic elements of the plot, and run with it it an almost completely different direction. In the show, Joe has moved to Hollywood, under the assumed name Will Bettelheim, to get away from ex-girlfriend Candace, who he’d presumed dead. In the books, Candace really had been killed before the start of the story, so the entire plotline about her attempts to get revenge on Joe was invented for the show. In the book, Forty was a struggling screenwriter, and Love was cast in a movie alongside an old family friend, Milo, who wrote the film specifically for her. In the show, Love is an aspiring chef, although Forty’s role is mostly the same although even his story had a radically different ending. The majority of Love’s story arc is completely different in the show, but hard to comment on without spoilers. Like Season 1, this season also introduced a new younger character, Joe’s teenage neighbour Ellie, who did not exist at all in the book. In the show, Ellie is the younger sister of Delilah, whose role has also radically changed from her very minor part in the book.

This season also made use of quite a few flashbacks to try and flesh out Joe’s character a bit. We are frequently shown snippets of Joe’s childhood living with his mother and abusive father, and his mother’s promises that they will get away together. This was another element that I don’t think was mentioned in the book at all, but was seemed to offer a bit of background to Joe and possibly even an explanation for how he became the way he is. We also get some flashbacks for Love as well, showing her relationship with her deceased husband shortly before he died. The flashbacks for both characters have also lent themselves to a lot of fan theories going into Season 3, and it will be interesting to see whether any of them will happen.

Initially, all the plot changes really threw me off, since I had so recently read the book, but I ended up really enjoying it! I thought the overall storyline for this season was much stronger than the plot of Hidden Bodies in general, although I would have loved to see Joe trying to fit in on a movie set and dealing with his girlfriend being an actress like in the book. When I read the book, I was especially disappointed to see that the author had dropped the second-person narration, which had been such a huge part of what made You as original and unique as it was. Luckily, the show managed to keep more of this element by continuing Penn Badgley’s voiceovers as Joe, which really let us get into his head as he navigates his new relationship while trying to keep Candace out of the way. While it was weird at first to see an adaptation that was so radically different from what I’d expected, it ended up working very well.

Casting

Any doubts that I originally had about Penn Badgley playing Joe are long gone by this point, since the actor has easily proven himself as the right fit for this character. I was also very impressed by Victoria Pedretti, who was playing Love, and James Scully as Forty. Neither were  really how I had pictured the characters, but I thought they both really brought these two to life. For some reason, when I was reading the book, I had pictured Forty as much older, which doesn’t even really make sense since he and his sister are twins! I especially thought they both did a great job with the unusually co-dependent relationship that the siblings had, and it was easy to forget that these were just actors playing a role. James Scully’s Forty reminded me a bit of Beck’s hipster boyfriend in Season 1, but much more interesting. I especially love the scene where Forty, completely by accident, seems to stumble upon the truth about Joe, and immediately thinks himself a genius for coming up with such a brilliant but far-fetched idea. Victoria Pedretti as Love also did an amazing job with this character, bringing such a level of depth to her, which was especially intriguing given all the changes to her role compared to the book. She definitely proves herself a match who can hold her own against Joe, and a strong character in her own right. I’m very interested to see more of her in the next season.

One of my favourite additions to the show was Carmela Zumbado, who played Delilah, a character whose role was vastly changed from the books. In Hidden Bodies, Delilah was a neighbour in Joe’s apartment building who ultimately became one of his flings (and later, a victim). If I remember correctly, Delilah was another aspiring actress in the book. In the show, Delilah is Joe’s landlord and a successful journalist who is trying to break a story about a local comedian who is suspected of assaulting several women. Delilah was one of my favourite characters and additions to the show, and I loved that she had a much more interesting plotline in the show. I thought the actress did an amazing job at portraying this character. Jenna Ortega, playing Ellie, was another new addition to the show. To be fair, Ellie’s role seems to mostly be a rehash of Paco from season 1, as a younger character who humanizes Joe a bit by giving someone to protect, but the actress did a fantastic job with the role. It was great to see her interactions with the adults around her, especially with Joe.

Ambyr Childers as Candace was another strong addition to the show, although hers was the role that I was most apprehensive about since it was such a huge change from the books. At the end of Season 1, I’d commented that I wanted more of this character, and she definitely did not disappoint. I thought the actress did a great job with this character, and especially with her reactions to Joe. It was very interesting to see Candace try to sneak her way into Joe’s life through Forty, and put him on edge. In the book, Joe obsessed about some evidence that had been left behind at Peach’s house that he thought could implicate him. In the show, his obsession over his past crimes was externalized instead through Candace and his on-going attempts to keep a step ahead of her and make sure she didn’t get in the way of his new relationship.

Setting/Visuals

As always, this is the most difficult element for me to comment on since it is the point that I pay the least attention to. One thing that did strike me in the early episodes is that some of the scenes felt particularly graphic and gory, even moreso than in the first season. There is a scene involving a character’s finger being cut off and another of a murder involving a meat grinder, which were very difficult to watch. On the other hand, I have to give some credit to the meat grinder scene because of the way the murder was interspersed with shots of another character cutting and cooking meat. It was gruesome, but a very interesting way to shoot the scene.

I thought the choice to move the series to LA was a very interesting one, and loved the way the characters themselves made reference to the town with the “seven totems” which are common things in LA, and seeing them all is supposed to make the person who sees them a true “Angeleno.” Although the show did capture a bit of Joe’s disdain for the city, it was an element that I would have loved to see a lot more of just because it would seem like something that Joe would really dwell on. I thought it was interesting to see Joe interacting with a brand new cast of characters and trying to adapt to a new way of life, and I thought the series did a great job overall at capturing the changes from New York to LA.

Overall Impression (10 point scale)

Plot – 8
Casting – 9
Setting/Visuals – 8

Overall – 8/10

Top 5 Wednesdays: Backlist Books I Plan to Read This Year

I didn’t even plan this, but it worked out really well that both of my posts this week deal with books that I’m planning to read this year! That is definitely a gap I’d been noticing on my blog over the years. I mention my reading challenges in general all the time, but rarely delve into the books that I’m actually planning to read or that I have been reading. Most years, my reading challenges include a fairly vague goal about reading a few backlist titles off my TBR. I tend to define backlist as books that  have been on my own list for more than 3 years, but many of these are also older books by authors that I may or may not have already read. I purposely leave this goal vague to allow room to mood read and pick up books that I’m genuinely excited for, instead of feeling “forced” to read older books, but it is definitely something that I keep in mind when I’m making my plans. This year, I think it was a bit easier to tie in backlist books because I set myself a goal of trying 20 specific authors, many of whom have been on my TBR for years!

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) More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

19542841. sy475 This is one of those books that I’ve been meaning to read for so long that it’s beginning to feel a bit ridiculous! I’ve included it in challenge plans more than once in the past, and somehow always end up putting it off even though it is a book that I am actively interested in trying. I’ve had this one on my TBR since July 2015, which is just a few months after I first started my Goodreads account! This book is about a 16-year-old boy named Aaron Soto, who is struggling to find happiness after a family tragedy, and finds that his new best friend Thomas is the only person who can get him to open up about his past, even more than his girlfriend, Genevieve. As Aaron and Thomas start to grow closer, Aaron realizes that the only way to deal with his future may be going through the revolutionary procedure offered at the Leteo Institute to alter his memory. I don’t even know why I keep putting this book off because it really sounds like something that I would like, and it’s about time I finally commit to picking it up. It’s actually the only Adam Silvera book that I have not read yet aside from Infinity Son, which I am also planning to read this year.

2) The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain

10059498I’m actually really annoyed with myself for not reading this one last year, especially because I specifically bought it with the intent to read it in 2019! I have so many of Diane Chamberlain’s books on my TBR even though I’ve only read two so far, and this one has literally been on my TBR from the third day that I added books to my Goodreads list in 2015. This book is about a midwife named Noelle, who has died by suicide and left behind an unfinished letter to her friends, as the only clue to explain why. I put this book off initially because it was tricky to get copies of any of Diane Chamberlain’s books from my library, and ended up buying myself a copy because I was so sure I’d read it last year. I had a very specific challenge prompt in mind which called for a book with an occupation in the title, and this seemed like such a perfect fit! Last year was a bit of a disaster in terms of prioritizing all the books I wanted to read so I didn’t end up getting to it, but it is definitely high on my list for this year instead.

3) How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

20517379This is another book that I remember writing down as an option for my reading challenges a couple of times in the past, but always ended up going in a different direction. It is about about a 16-year-old black boy named Tariq Johnson, who is killed by a white shooter. In the days that follow, Tariq’s friends, family and community all try to make sense of what happened, but no two accounts of the day seem to match, leaving everyone struggling to find out what really happened. I was recently reminded of this book because I added another one by Kekla Magoon to my TBR, and I recognized the author’s name. I think the main reason I hadn’t picked this one up is because there were other similar books that interested me a bit more, which I always ended up reading first (ie. Dear Martin or Tyler Johnson Was Here). I’ve even almost bought this one from Book Outlet several times and ended up passing on it because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to own a copy, but it’s become another of those books where it’s become a bit ridiculous that I haven’t tried it yet, so I will have to make sure to read it this year.

4) Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

30312700. sy475 I added my first Jenn Bennett book to my TBR back in 2015, and have been adding all of her standalones ever since, even though I haven’t tried a single one of her books yet! This book is about a girl named Bailey, who is a huge fan of classic movies, and has been crushing on fellow film geek Alex, whom she has only spoken to online since they live on opposite sides of the country. When Bailey moves to Alex’s hometown, she is hesitant to tell him in case he’s not really who she thinks he is, and soon begins working at a local museum, where doesn’t get along with the security guard, Porter. As the months go on and her feelings for Porter change, Bailey must decide whether to risk clinging to her online bond with Alex, or risk the realities of a relationship with Porter, who is hiding a secret of his own. I think one of the reasons that I’ve put this one off for so long is because the Goodreads synopsis seems to reveal absolutely everything, even if it is something I’d already guessed, so it felt a bit pointless to pick this one up. However, Jenn Bennett’s made it onto my list of priority authors to try this year because of how long I’ve been meaning to read any of her books, so it might be good to finally knock this one off my list.

5) Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

18189606Morgan Matson is another author at the top of my priority authors list for the year. I’ve always been a bit hesitant to pick up any of her books because they seem like the kind of fluffy YA romances that I mostly feel like I’ve outgrown, but I’ve heard so many great things about her, that I wanted to give her a fair try before writing off her books. I mentioned this book over two years ago as a book that I feel like everyone had read but me, but didn’t really do anything to rectify that. It is about an introverted teenage girl named Emily, whose best friend Sloane has suddenly disappeared, leaving behind a to-do list of tasks that Emily would usually never try. Emily spends the summer trying to check things off the list, with the hope that finishing them all will bring her best friend back. Being an introvert myself, I’m always a bit hesitant about books that seem premised on the idea that being introverted is something that needs to be “fixed” or that a more extroverted personality is naturally better, and it seems like this book might be one of those. Mostly, I’m curious to see how and why Sloane has disappeared so suddenly, but I expect I will likely relate at least a bit to Emily.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Bookish Discoveries I Made in 2019

This was a surprisingly tough topic for me to approach! I don’t feel like I made too many new discoveries in 2019 compared to previous years, aside from favourite new authors which I’ve already mentioned several times in the past month. In previous years, I’d found a number of new blogs or Youtube channels, and sometimes even bookish websites. In 2019, not only was I horrible at keeping up with the blogs I was already following, but many of them also significantly slowed down or even stopped updating altogether. I did find a couple of new channels, but none that I really watched consistently enough to consider a true discovery. Instead, I decided to look back on some of the books that I discovered in 2019 that I’m planning to read this year! These are all books that I heard of for the first time in 2019, and are currently in my plans to read by the end of 2020, although that can still change.

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) Twenty-One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

43263472I found out about this one toward the end of the year, and only recently started thinking about adding it to my plans for this year because it seemed so unique. This book is about a man named Dan who is quit his job to open a bookstore, and is hiding the fact that the shop is struggling from his pregnant wife. Not only does Dan want to save the shop and provide for his family, but he also wants to be someone. He is an obsessive list maker, and the book is told entirely in list format, which is what really made it catch my attention. I have previously read one other book that had been told all in the form of lists, and it was a lot of fun to read something so different. I love books that have these kinds of unusual formats, so it seems like it could be a lot of fun to read and I’ve heard that it is supposed to be very funny. I had this one in mind for a PopSugar prompt requiring a book with the word “twenty” in the title, and this is likely what I will pick if I can get over my mental block that keeps getting me stuck on the fact that “twenty-one” is not the same word as “twenty” since I usually like an exact match.

2) I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

43699608. sy475 I first heard of this book back in April, and the title immediately caught my attention enough to add it to my TBR. Since then, I’ve started to see this book everywhere since several of the channels I watch received a copy of it in one of their book boxes. It wasn’t until very recently that I finally decided that I wanted to pick it up this year, but the more I heard about it, the more I thought I would like it. It is about some high school students who hear that the Earth might end in a week, after it makes contact with another planet called Alma.  One does not care if the world ends since his life has been nothing but struggles anyway, another is desperate to use her last week to find the father she has never known, and the third is struggling to forgive his sister for leaving. I’m always up for YA books that are a bit different from the typical high school romance storylines, and this one sounded especially interesting. I’m glad I started seeing it everywhere lately, otherwise I might have forgotten about it.

3) The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee

48473560I had no idea that another book was even planned for this series! I finally read the first two in 2019 after putting them off for a couple of years, so this is perfect timing. Toward the end of the year, I discovered that a third book was due out in August and immediately added it to my TBR! This book follows Adrian Montague, the youngest sibling of Monty and Felicity, who is now a teenager and sole heir to the family fortune. Adrian wants to be free of his father’s expectations and is grieving the loss of his mother, and is also looking to escape a public breakdown after keeping his diagnosis of hysteria secret for most of his life. To avoid the scandal of this breakdown, Adrian is given an opportunity to travel to the Caribbean to claim the remainder of his mother’s possessions, and soon discovers that his older siblings whom he had never known went missing over a decade ago, and sets out to find them. This sounds like another amazing addition to the series, and I’m very excited to try it when it comes out this summer. I found it on Goodreads completely by chance, but I’m so glad I noticed it!

4) Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna

43998065I added this one to my TBR mostly because it reminded me of Big Little Lies, so it was an easy choice to add to my plans for this year. This book is about a group of friends who are 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 acted alone. I love this kind of mystery-thriller, and this one sounds so good! In general, I’ve been trying to read more thrillers and I like that this one is a bit different from the typical domestic thriller that I’ve been reading lately, although I really enjoy those too! I was also surprised to realize that this wasn’t a debut like I’d thought! The author has previously written several mystery series, although I can’t say that any of those particularly interest me. Big Little Lies is still one of my favourite books that I’ve read since I started doing reading challenges, and I’m hoping to find another one that I love just as much.

5) We Used To Be Friends by Amy Spalding

39324806. sy475 I’ve somehow recently become obsessed with this book, and it’s jumped straight to the top of my list to try this year. I think it’s because I’ve been looking for more YA contemporaries that focus on friendship rather than relationships, and this one really seems to fit the bill. This book is about a pair of inseparable childhood best friends who, by the end of their senior year of high school, are no longer friends. This is exactly the kind of story that I’ve been looking for, and I’m really hoping it lives up to all my self-imposed hype. I think it’s definitely a relatable topic for many people. I had one very close friend in high school who suddenly (in my perspective, anyway) stopped speaking to me after a year or two of growing more distant, for no apparent reason. We used to walk to and from school together daily, eat lunch together, and hang out all the time, and then she began to distance herself. It was very upsetting at the time, and even years later, I’ve been left to wonder what happened since there really wasn’t any closure, even though I’ve moved on from it by now. In any case, it’s a topic that I really think should be represented more often.

6) Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth

47627954I found this one while randomly browsing Goodreads, and it immediately caught my attention because it was a social media-based thriller! It is about a popular journalist and mommy blogger named Violet, whose entire social media presence suddenly disappears overnight with no explanation. Her fans become obsessed with finding out why, and they begin to believe that something must have happened to her since she had previously shared so much online. It is told from the perspectives of Violet and her husband, Henry, as well as Lily, her #1 fan who thinks that Violet is the only person to understand her, and Yvonne, who took comfort in Violet’s channel after her own struggles with infertility. I love thrillers in general, but especially those that involve social media as part of the plot since it leaves so much room for some very interesting and creepy stories. I’m really hoping to be able to read this one, but I’ll need to wait and see if my library gets a copy. I’m hoping this one is already on their radar, since I could request that they buy it but that always seems to take forever!

7) The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

44779471. sy475 I didn’t quite love Little & Lion as much as I expected, but I did enjoy it enough to keep wanting to read more by this author! This book is her upcoming July 2020 release about a teenage girl named Marva who is excited to finally be able to vote in her first election. When she sees Duke turned away from the polling station, she decides to take it upon herself to make sure his vote gets counted. The two of them spend the day skipping school and rushing to different locations to try and find a place that will allow Duke to vote, and soon realize there is more to their connection than just their mission. I’m a bit confused about what specifically prevented Duke from voting in the first place, but this sounds like an interesting story. I’m definitely noticing a lot more political campaign themes in YA lately, which at least offers a different setting from the typical romance. This is another book that I’m going to have to hope my library gets in time for me to pick up by the end of the year!

8) Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

45045129I’ve been hearing so much about this book lately, mostly thanks to ChelseaDolling’s channel! This book is about two teenagers whose parents run rival restaurants, and they are each in charge of their restaurant’s social media. Pepper is an overachiever and a perfectionist who is struggling to keep everything together while her family seems to be falling apart, and Jack is a class clown who decides to take the rival restaurant down after they steal his grandmother’s famous grilled cheese recipe. The Twitter war between the two of them goes viral, but they also soon find themselves falling for each other over an anonymous chat app that Jack built. This reminds me so much of a book I read a few years ago called Goodnight Tweetheart, because of the emphasis on the tweets, but this one sounds even more adorable. It reminds me a lot of You’ve Got Mail with the whole idea of the two rivals falling for each other over an anonymous chat, and it sounds like such a fun story to read. I tend to love social media-focused books (even when they are not thrillers), so this sounds like something I’d really enjoy and I can’t wait to try it.

9) Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

44281049I have only read one Emma Mills book so far, but I have a couple of them on my TBR for this year. This book is her most recent release, which just came out today! It is about a teenage girl named Nina who decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year because she expects it to be easy, only to realize that her team has nothing in common, and to make matters worse, it includes Jamie, a childhood friend that she hoped to avoid for the rest of her life. I actually don’t know a ton about this one yet, but it sounds like it could be a very cute story. I’m also a bit intrigued by the group dynamics of the radio team, since group projects in general are always the worst! To be honest, I didn’t quite love the last Emma Mills book (Foolish Hearts) that I read quite as much as I’d expected, but it was still a great read and definitely strong enough to make me want to try more of this author’s work. I think I was first drawn to this one because of the cover art, but once I realized it was an author I’d already tried and enjoyed, it jumped even further up my priority list.

10) You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

45046742I was a bit surprised to come across this book again toward the end of last year on a lot of Most Anticipated lists for 2020, since I’d mostly forgotten about it! I discovered this book while randomly browsing Goodreads last June, immediately added it to my TBR since I loved The Wife Between Us, and must have immediately forgotten about it. It wasn’t until it resurfaced again on the Most Anticipated lists that I was reminded how much I wanted to read this, and I actually have both this one and An Anonymous Girl lined up for sometime this year. This book is due out in March, and is about a woman named Shay, who becomes friends with sisters Cassandra and Jane Moore and feels like her life is starting to turn around because of their influence, but she soon starts to question their real intentions. Like most thrillers, there is not too much revealed about this one in the synopsis and I’ve been hesitant to really read any reviews because I’ve accidentally spoiled myself for details of too many thrillers that way last year, but I’m really looking forward to trying this one.

My 5 Star Predictions for 2020 (Part 2)

Check out yesterday’s post here for part 1!

ATY Top Picks & Leftovers Challenge (Part 2)

3) Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

30075662. sy475 Prompt: A book with an ensemble cast

What Is It About?: Tyler Jones, the star student graduating from Aurora Academy is expecting to put together a dream team, and instead left with a band of misfits. He has also just rescued Aurora, a girl who has been trapped in cryo-sleep for 200 years, who may be the trigger for a war that has been in the making for many years, and Tyler’s team may be the last hope to prevent it.

Why I Chose It: I absolutely loved The Illuminae Files series, so I was looking forward to reading another series by this author pair even though sci-fi is not a genre that I reach for very often. The synopsis for this one just sounded so interesting that I knew I had to give it a try!

Why 5 Stars?: This book has so many of the tropes that I tend to love! I love ensemble casts in general, and especially when that group is a band of misfits who might become a “found family.” I also love the whole idea of a character who wakes up in a time different from their own and has to try to adapt.

4) The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica

44422774Prompt: A book whose title contains an honorific (Mr., Mrs., Doctor, Lord, Lady, etc.)

What Is It About?: A couple, Sadie and Will, move into a new home in a small town, inherited from Will’s late sister, only to find that their neighbour has been murdered in her own home. Sadie is worried about the idea of a killer so nearby, and disturbed by their creepy new home and the dark presence of Will’s teenage niece Imogen. As suspicion is cast on the family as the new people in town, Sadie begins to dig deeper into their neighbour’s death.

Why I Chose It: Mary Kubica is one of my top priority authors to try this year because I’ve had several of her books on my TBR for years now, without ever reading any of them. This book is her upcoming 2020 release and it was one book that I kept coming back to while looking through my TBR.

Why 5 Stars?: I’m taking a bit of a chance with predicting this one since I don’t even know if I like the author yet, but this sounds like exactly the kind of thriller that I tend to love. It has many elements (ie. the creepy house, a disturbed family member) that I tend to like so I’m expecting that I’ll enjoy this one too.

Mommy Mannegren 2020 Challenge

1) Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

40121959Prompt: A book that leaves you thinking

What Is It About?: The Yoo family, who are immigrants from Korea, conduct hyperbaric oxygen therapy sessions that are supposed to be beneficial for a variety of conditions, including autism, cerebral palsy, infertility, etc. When a fire breaks out near the tanks during a session, two patients are left dead and other injured. The family must defends themselves in court, and testify against one of their clients, a mother of young son with autism, who is accused of orchestrating the fires to kill him.

Why I Chose It: Autism is one of my buzzwords that draws me to a book in the first place, but this one sounds like such an intriguing story. I love a good courtroom drama. It was a difficult prompt in general since it’s hard to predict what would leave me thinking, but this one has so many different elements to it (ie. immigration, oxygen treatment, disability) that it just sounded so interesting.

Why 5 Stars?: I’ve seen a lot of excellent reviews for this one, which has definitely helped to spark my interest, but this also reminds me quite a bit of books by my favourite author, Jodi Picoult, and I rarely rate her books less than 5 stars. I love this kind of courtroom drama and books that tackle these kinds of complex topics.

2) Yes, No, Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

43615530Prompt: A book published in 2020

What Is It About?: A Muslim teenage girl, Maya, who is going through a rough time at home is pushed to volunteer for her local state senate candidate. She is paired with Jamie, an awkward Jewish boy who hates talking to strangers to go canvassing door-to-door. As they work together, they soon begin to bond.

Why I Chose It: Becky Albertalli is one of my favourite YA authors, and I always add her latest books to my TBR. This one sounded just adorable, and although I haven’t read anything by Aisha Saeed yet, she is another author that I’ve been meaning to try anyway.

Why 5 Stars?: I have yet to be truly disappointed by a Becky Albertalli book, although Leah on the Offbeat was my least favourite. I connect so well with her writing and her characters, and I’m expecting that it will be the same with this one. I also like that this one has a bit of a unique angle with the focus on canvassing for a politician, so it’s a little different from the typical YA romance.

3) The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

21936809Prompt: A book with a W in the title

What Is It About?: A man meets a mysterious woman on a flight, and after revealing some problems in his marriage, he jokes that he wants to kill his wife. Surprisingly, the woman  he just met offers to help him do it.

Why I Chose It: I’ve had this book on my TBR since my first year on Goodreads, and finally decided it was about time that I pick it up! Peter Swanson is one my top priority authors to try this year, and given that this is one of his best-known books, it seemed like a great place to start.

Why 5 Stars?: My mom read a couple of Peter Swanson’s books within the past year or so, and while she enjoyed them all, this was the one she most highly recommended. I’ve also seen many comparisons of this one to Gone Girl, which is one of my favourite thrillers.

4) The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

36337550Prompt: An award-winning novel

What Is It About?: Aiden, a guest at a party where Evelyn Hardcastle is killed, must relive the day over and over until he is able to identify the killer. Each time he restarts, he finds himself in the body of a different guest, and someone is determined to prevent him finding out who the real killer is.

Why I Chose It: I feel like I’ve been hearing about this book absolutely everywhere for the past year or so, and generally with rave reviews. I actively avoided it for a while because it felt so overhyped, but once I looked properly at the synopsis, I realized that it actually sounded so good!

Why 5 Stars?: Mostly by it’s reputation, since I’ve seen a ton of very strong reviews for this one. I’m always a bit hesitant about books that involve repeating a day since they risk becoming extremely repetitive, but if it is done as well as I hope, this book could be so interesting and it is such a unique premise for a murder mystery.

Flourish & Blotts Wizarding World Tour Challenge

1) Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

40024139Prompt: A book related to a serpent

What Is It About?: A witch named Louise le Blanc, who fled her coven and has been hiding her powers for the past two years, is forced into marriage with Reid Diggory, a witch hunter who does not know that his new wife is a witch herself.

Why I Chose It: This is another book that I’ve been hearing about absolutely everywhere, and the more that I heard about it, the more I knew I had to read it. I love books that involve witches in general, and this one sounded like such a great story. I loved that it came from a bit of a different angle than I’ve read in other books involving witches.

Why 5 Stars?: The whole concept of a witch married to a witch hunter sounds incredible, and this book also has quite a few of the tropes that I tend to love. It sounds like it will be a lot of fun to read with such an interesting dynamic between the two main characters.

2) Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

32768509. sx318 Prompt: A book with a dark cover

What Is It About?: A Snow White retelling, about a young woman named Mina who is the daughter of a cruel magician, who wins the heart of the king with her beauty, and becomes stepmother to the princess Lynet, who is expected to grow up to become a copy of her late mother, whom she has never known. Lynet would rather be more like Mina, but when her father makes Lynet the queen of the southern territories instead, Mina’s feelings for her shift toward hatred, forcing Lynet to decide what to do next about the only mother she has ever known.

Why I Chose It: This book came very highly recommended by many of the vlog channels that I watch and reviewers that I follow on Goodreads, and although it took me a couple of years to get around to it, I was finally motivated enough to pick it up.

Why 5 Stars?: Of all the books here, this is the one I’m most on the fence about since it is one of the ones that I knew least about before deciding to read it. I’m a big fan of fairy tale retellings in general and books that are character-driven, and this one seems to be both of those things.

3) Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

38326343. sy475 Prompt: A book where a character follows a dream

What Is It About?: A teenage girl named Harley runs away from home to join a rival circus after her parents, who own a famous circus in Las Vegas, insist that she goes to school instead of performing with them. Harley wants to follow her dream of being a trapeze artist, but soon realizes the sacrifices she is making to get there.

Why I Chose It: Akemi Dawn Bowman is a new favourite YA author and someone whose books are automatically added to my TBR. I was interested in reading this one long before I even knew what it was going to be about, and it was one of the first books that I knew I wanted to add in somewhere to my reading challenges.

Why 5 Stars?: If her previous books are any indication, this book will be beautifully written and very character-driven. I also love how Akemi Dawn Bowman strays chooses such unique and interesting concepts for her stories!

4) A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

43204703. sy475 Prompt: A book set in a palace

What Is It About?: A Beauty and the Beast retelling, about a prince named Rhen who is cursed to repeat his 18th year over and over until a girl falls in love with him, but he is also forced to turn into a beast every autumn, intent on destruction. A teenage girl named Harper, who has cerebral palsy and who is dealing with multiple difficulties at home is suddenly pulled into Rhen’s world after trying to save a stranger on the streets of Washington DC, and finds herself stuck with Rhen in his castle while she looks for a way to get back home.

Why I Chose It: I didn’t love Letters to the Lost as much as I’d expected when I read it, so I’ve been a bit hesitant to try more of Brigid Kemmerer’s books, but Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite stories and I’m always up for a good retelling of it.

Why 5 Stars?:  I really enjoyed Brigid Kemmerer’s writing last time, even if I didn’t love the story, and I think her style would be such a great fit for a fantasy story like this. I’ve also heard such great things about the characters and the cerebral palsy representation, which are both big reasons I’m expecting to enjoy this as well.

My 5 Star Predictions for 2020 (Part 1)

I had a lot of fun trying out something new last year, and making some predictions of books that I thought I was going to love. I recently took a look at my reading stats on Goodreads for the past few years, since I started doing reading challenges, and was happy to see that my overall average rating has been going up a bit every single year! I think I’ve become pretty good at choosing books that I’m fairly sure I will enjoy. There are always a few books that fall a bit flat for me or that I have to read just to knock off a certain difficult prompt, but most of the time, I seem to get it right. Even though I didn’t quite get to all of the books that I had made a prediction for last year, I was glad to see that in the majority of cases, I was right! None of the books that I had predicted would be 5 stars was anything less than a 4 star rating, which is still very good!

I thought it would be fun to try this out again, and soon realized that I was actually in a perfect position to make 20 predictions for 2020! This year, I have taken on a total of 5 challenges, so I decided to choose 4 books from each challenge for a grand total of 20. I’ve made an effort to avoid choosing books that are already on my high priority list, although several of those are certainly also books that I’m really expecting to love! In the interest of keeping the post length a bit more under control, I will be splitting it into two parts. It does mean kind of awkwardly splitting the predictions from one of my challenges in half, but it should all work out. Please check back tomorrow for Part 2!

Goodreads Around the Year Challenge

1) Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

43892137. sy475 Prompt: A book by the same author who wrote one of your best reads in 2019 or 2018

What Is It About?: Two teenage girls, one living in the Dominican Republic, and the other in New York discover that they have the same father after he dies in a plane crash. They are forced to face the reality that their father was living a double life, and what it means to suddenly have a sister that they never knew they had.

Why I Chose It: I absolutely loved The Poet X when I read it last year, and was eager to read more of Elizabeth Acevedo’s books. I put both of her other releases onto my list for this year, and I’m really looking forward to reading them both. I’ve been drawn to this one by the title alone when I noticed it on a list of upcoming releases, before the cover or synopsis were even available.

Why 5 Stars?: I love Elizabeth Acevedo’s writing in general, and I especially like that she takes on plots that are a bit different from the typical YA story.  The plot sounds so compelling, and I’ve read a couple of other excellent YA books about grief in the past year, and I thought this might be another strong one to add to that list.

2) Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

41716679Prompt: A book by an author that you’ve read only once before

What Is It About?: The eldest daughter of the Lee family vanishes after flying to the Netherlands to pay one last visit to her grandmother. Her family is devastated and her younger sister Amy decides to retrace her steps to find out where Sylvie may have gone, and what secrets she might have been keeping.

Why I Chose It: I read Girl in Translation by this author back in 2017 and loved it a lot more than I expected to! It reminds me quite a bit of Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You, which is another book that I loved. I had quite a few authors that I’ve read only once before and meant to try again, but this one just jumped out at me.

Why 5 Stars?: I really enjoyed Jean Kwok’s writing style the last time that I read one of her books, and especially how compelling her characters were. This sounds like exactly the kind of character-driven story that I tend to enjoy.

3) Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

41555931. sy475 Prompt: A book inspired by a leading news story

What Is It About?: Four women who are long-time employees of the same company learn that their boss may be next in line to become CEO. Armed with knowledge about his bad behaviour toward women that has long been ignored, the women decide to take a stand that will change their lives and the lives of the other women in the company.

Why I Chose It: This was the book that immediately sprung to mind when I saw this prompt on the list, and it sounded very interesting. I think this book is very timely given it’s connections to #MeToo, and I was curious to see how the story would play out. I’ve also been interested in reading more books that have an office setting or focus on office politics, so this one would definitely seem to fit.

Why 5 Stars?: I already assumed I would enjoy this one, but I’ve recently seen a lot of comparisons to Big Little Lies, which I absolutely loved!  Also, this book was part of Reese Witherspoon’s book club, which I don’t really follow but I always end up enjoying the books she picks.

4) Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

44218347. sy475 Prompt: A book with a silhouette on the cover

What Is It About?: A pair of red shoes attach themselves to a girl’s feet, causing her to dance uncontrollably, which draws her to a boy whose family was blamed for this curse when it struck 500 years before. Discovering the truth about the shoes and the strange “dancing fever” that it causes may be the secret to saving this girl’s life.

Why I Chose It: To be honest, I think the stunning cover was a huge part in why I was so motivated to pick this one up, but I’ve also been very interested in trying more of Anna-Marie McLemore’s books anyway. I somehow kept getting drawn back to this book when I was making my lists for the year, so I decided I needed to try it.

Why 5 Stars?: I’m taking a chance with this one, since I didn’t end up loving the last Anna-Marie McLemore book that I read (When the Moon Was Ours) quite as much as I’d expected. This one does sound more interesting to me though, and something about it reminds me of a fairy tale.

PopSugar 2020 Challenge

1) Saving Meghan by D.J. Palmer

40122065. sy475 Prompt: A medical thriller

What Is It About?: A mother named Becky Gerard, whose 15-year-old daughter has been in and out of hospitals her entire life with unexplained illnesses. Doctors suspect her of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, but Becky will not give up until doctors find out what is wrong with her daughter, who may be keeping secrets of her own.

Why I Chose It: Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is a bit of a buzzword for me, and I’m immediately drawn to any book where this disorder might be involved. There were several prompts involving books about health or medicine in my reading challenges this year, but this one seemed to be the one that could most clearly be called a thriller.

Why 5 Stars?: I find Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy such a fascinating topic, and it gives a lot of room for very interesting stories. It also helps that my mom read this one sometime last year, and she highly recommended it. Our tastes in thrillers tend to be quite similar, so it’s likely that I’ll enjoy this one too.

2) Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

43263680Prompt: A book published the month of your birthday

What Is It About?: A Yale freshman named Alex Stern, who is the sole survivor of a horrific and unsolved homicide. Alex was offered the chance to go to Yale on a full-ride scholarship, and soon finds herself tasked with learning more about Yale’s secret societies and especially their connections to the occult.

Why I Chose It: I was hesitant to pick up Leigh Bardugo’s books at all in the beginning, but her Six of Crows duology has become one of my favourite series of all time because of the strength of her characters. This book is her first in an adult fantasy series, and I’m very interested to see how she tackles books outside of YA.

Why 5 Stars?: While I liked the Grisha trilogy, I really fell in love with Leigh Bardugo’s writing when I read Six of Crows and she has become a new favourite author. The whole premise of the story sounds so intriguing, and I’m very excited to try something completely outside of the Grisha universe.

3) Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater

31373184Prompt: A book with a bird on the cover

What Is It About?: The first book in a new trilogy that focuses on Ronan Lynch from the Raven Cycle, as he learns to better control his abilities to pull objects from his dreams. He also encounters Jordan Hennessey, another dreamer, and Carmen Farooq-Lane, who belongs to an organization that hunts down and kills dreamers to prevent a prophesied apocalypse.

Why I Chose It: I put off even starting The Raven Cycle series for way too long, and it ended up becoming another of my all-time favourites. This book was an immediate front-runner for this prompt because it was one of my most anticipated books to read this year, and it was such an obvious fit.

Why 5 Stars?: The Raven Cycle was the first series in a long time to give me Harry Potter vibes with the writing, so that alone was a strong reason to love it. I love Maggie Stiefvater’s character dynamics and writing style in general, and given that this is essentially a continuation of a world that I already love, I’m expecting to love it just as much.

4) Loveless by Alice Oseman

42115981. sy475 Prompt: A book written by an author in their 20s (Alice Oseman is 25)

What Is It About?: A girl named Georgia who has never been in a relationship or had a crush on anyone, and worries that something might be wrong with her. Georgia moves to university where she is determined to find love, with the help of her roommate, and soon begins to come to terms with and accept herself the way she is.

Why I Chose It: Radio Silence was a surprise favourite last year, which I read mostly because of all the hype I’d seen surrounding it. It wasn’t a book that I’d initially even planned on reading in 2019, but the more I heard about it, the more I wanted to give it a try, and it was totally worth it.

Why 5 Stars?: Aside from Alice Oseman’s writing style itself, this one hits a lot of the key things that I look for in a book. It is set in university rather than high school, and features a storyline that is a bit different from anything else that I’ve read so far. I think it’s very important to have representation of aro-ace people since it still is not commonly addressed in books, and I’m interested to see how Alice Oseman presents the story, especially since it is own-voices.

ATY Top Picks & Leftovers Challenge (Part 1)

1) The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

46346381. sy475 Prompt: One of the most anticipated books of 2020

What Is It About?: The synopsis doesn’t have too much detail yet, bit this is a prequel to The Hunger Games series which is set 64 years before the events of the original series, during the Tenth Hunger Games.

Why I Chose It: This is easily my most anticipated book of the year. It just so happened that I was already planning on re-reading The Hunger Games series anyway this year, long before I even knew this one was coming out, so that just worked out perfectly. When I think of anticipated books (in general, not just ones that I’m anticipating) for the year, this one is the one that immediately jumps to mind.

Why 5 Stars?: My natural inclination is to assume that this one will be an easy 5 stars because the rest of the series was for me, so I’m hoping that I won’t be disappointed! I read The Hunger Games in general because my mom read it first and would not stop recommending it to me. The Hunger Games is up there with Harry Potter as an all-time favourite series, and I’m hoping this addition will be just as strong.

2) All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle

40545833. sy475 Prompt: A story with a curse

What Is It About?: A teenage girl named Deena, whose older sister Mandy has suddenly disappeared and is presumed dead. When letters start arriving from Mandy, claiming that the family’s troubled history is the result of a curse that has been passed down for generations that she has gone searching for, Deena decides to follow her and help  break the curse.

Why I Chose It: Moira Fowley-Doyle is one of the authors on my top priority list to try this year, and this book is one of the main reasons why. It sounds like exactly the kind of story that I tend to love, and I was also intrigued to see that it is supposed to touch on a variety of historical issues about how women were treated.

Why 5 Stars?: I have seen so many rave reviews for this book by so many of the reviewers that I follow, including several with whom I tend to have the same taste, so that’s led me to assume that I will love it too. I’m a bit hesitant about how strong of a feminist focus this will have, but I think with the premise it should be woven into the story pretty naturally and might actually work well.

Check back tomorrow for the second half of this year’s 5-star predictions!