Top 5 Wednesdays: Books With Superheroes

Yesterday was National Superhero Day in the US! I have no idea where this trend of making every day some kind of holiday started, but some of them seem like so much fun. I’ve always been interested in superhero TV shows and movies! I think one of the first superheroes I remember watching was Darkwing Duck, and I soon added things like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (if they count as superheroes), Power Rangers, Batman and many more. My all-time favourite show is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, whom I also think can count as a superhero, although maybe in a more non-traditional sense. I never really got into the comics, but I love watching superhero movies. I think my favourites would probably be The X-Men and many of the Marvel movies, especially The Avengers. Even in books, I tend to love reading stories involving superheroes, like Marissa Meyer’s Renegades series, Nimona or the Strong Female Protagonist graphic novels. I still have quite a few more superhero-themed books on my TBR, so I thought it would be a fun theme!

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas

35795943. sy475 This was actually the book I had in mind that inspired this post as soon as I saw that this week had a National Superhero Day. This one is a 2018 release about a girl named Abby Hamilton, whose older brother is a superhero known as Red Comet. When Abby is mugged, a new guy with superpowers, known as the Iron Phantom, rescues her instead, and he is soon dubbed a villain after footage turns up of him committing what appears to be a terrible attack on city hall. The Iron Phantom soon convinces Abby, who has no powers of her own, that he is not as evil as people think, and that their city is under attack, leading her to follow him to uncover some of their city’s deeper secrets. From what I can gather from the reviews of this one, the book reads more like a YA contemporary with a backdrop of superheroes and villains. Even if that is the case, it’s a pretty unique take on the typical YA romance, and it seems like it will be a lot of fun to read.

2) Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy

52272358. sx318 sy475 I almost forgot about this one! This book is due out this July (unless the release dates change, as many have been lately). It is about a high school senior named Faith Herbert, who has recently discovered that she is able to fly. When the fictional world of her favourite teen drama is brought to life after the show relocates to her hometown, Faith is surprised when the star of the show takes a romantic interest in her. At the same time, Faith starts to notice that animals and people are starting to vanish from her town, and only she seems to see the connections to a new designer drug, forcing her to use her newfound abilities to try and save her town and her friends. I’m excited to try this one because I loved Julie Murphy’s book Dumplin, and I’d love to try more of her writing. I remember there was also quite a bit of hype around this one because the main character is plus-sized, and I think she is also LGBT (not sure specifically how she identifies), which are both unusual in superhero stories.

3) Dreadnought by April Daniels

30279514I’ve had this one on my TBR for a few years now after seeing it repeatedly recommended by Cece at ProblemsOfABookNerd on Youtube. It is about a transgender character named Danny, who somehow inherits the powers of a dying superhero known as Dreadnought, which transformed her body into what she always wanted it to be. Danny soon finds that her new body brings a lot more complications than she expected, especially her father’s obsession with “curing” her, but Dreadnought’s killer is still an active threat to the city, and Danny must find a way to stop it. This is one of those books that I get excited to try every time I see it on my list, but keep forgetting about! I don’t know if I would have even heard of it if it hadn’t been for Cece’s recommendations. I love that this one comes at the superhero story from such a different angle. I have no immediate plans to read this one yet, but seeing it again has reminded me how much I wanted to try it.

4) Super Adjacent by Crystal Cestari

51192561. sx318 sy475 This is another new release that I almost forgot about! This was supposed to have come out mid-March, but I’m not sure if that date has also changed. It is about a girl named Claire who has always wanted to work with superheroes, and manages to secure an internship with the Chicago Branch of Warrior Nation and is ready to prove herself there. Her plans are complicated by Girl Power, also known as Joy, an egotistical new hero. Meanwhile, Bridgette wants to get out of Warrior Nation, until she meets Claire and decides to become her mentor. Bridgette is also tired of her hero boyfriend always putting the citizens of the city ahead of her. When Joy and Matt both go missing, it falls to Claire and Bridgette to work together and save the day. This book has so many of the elements that I tend to love! It seems like it will be a lot of fun to read and I’m definitely looking forward to giving it a chance.

5) The Extraordinaries by T.J. Klune

52380340. sx318 sy475 I’ve just realized that the majority of the books I’ve listed here are superhero stories with LGBT characters. It wasn’t even intentional, but it’s great to see more diversity in stories involving superheroes! This book is another upcoming release due out this summer, about a fanfiction writer named Nick Bell, who is obsessed with superheroes known as Extraordinaries. After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, the city’s biggest hero, and also Nick’s crush, Nick decides to make himself extraordinary too , with the reluctant help of his best friend Seth. The synopsis for this one is pretty vague right now, but I’m hoping we’ll get a bit more detail closer to the release date. The only other things that I know about it are that Nick had ADHD, and the book has been compared to a cross between Fangirl and Renegades. I loved both of those books, but can’t really imagine them blending together so I’m very curious to see how that will work.

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books I Wish I Read as a Child

I have always loved to read, and I had so many books as a child! It was actually hard for me to think of books that I hadn’t read but would have liked to. My first instinct was to go for children’s or middle grade books that have only been published when I was an adult, but I’m actually not that familiar with recent ones! I loved to read series like The Babysitter’s Club, The Bailey School Kids, Magic Treehouse, and especially the Junie B. Jones books! I also loved The Boxcar Children and I really liked The Royal Diaries. I used to collect so many books from library book sales and from Scholastic. When I was thinking of books or series that I wish I’d read, I thought of a few that I had no interest in at the time or that came out after I was outside the target age group. It’s only really in the past couple of years that I’ve really started to pick up middle grade again, and it’s been surprisingly fun to read them even as an adult.

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) Matilda and 2) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

39988232187I’m lumping these two together because there is a similar reason for them both! Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are two of my all-time favourite movies (the Gene Wilder version, not the Johnny Depp one), but I don’t remember ever reading these two books until I was an adult. There is a good chance that I actually did read them both but don’t remember. I owned three or four of Roald Dahl’s books which I read obsessively, but never had copies of these! I still enjoyed them when I read them as an adult, but I think I would have liked them even more if I had read them when I was younger! By the time I read them, the movies were so ingrained in my mind that I got thrown off by all the differences!

3) Wonder by R.J. Palacio

11387515I was already in my 20s when this book came out, and I don’t think I’d even heard of it until a few years later. This is one of the best middle grade books that I’ve read, and it has such a great message. We are currently reading this one at work with a group of adults with special needs, and they are loving it as well! This book is about a young boy named Auggie who was born with facial deformities causing others to treat him differently. Auggie was homeschooled his whole life, but now that he is ready for middle school, his parents would like him to go to public school with other kids his age. The main focus of the book is Auggie wanting to be treated like a normal kid and showing that even though he looks different, he is not really so different from others his age. When I was younger, I used to be very scared of people with disabilities who looked or sounded different. I remember my preschool teacher had a teenage daughter who was deaf, and I was scared of her voice. I’ve obviously gotten past that now since my career is working with people with developmental disabilities, but I think this book would have been very helpful when I was younger to reinforce that there was no need to be afraid.

4) The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

249747If I remember correctly, I first heard about this series because it was a favourite of a close friend of mine around the time that I started high school. This was around the time that I was really into Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, and I wanted to give this one a chance too. I read the first book, and may have even tried the second one, but just couldn’t get into it! I can’t remember what it was about these books, but I found the story extremely confusing at the time. I don’t remember very much of it anymore but I’ve always vaguely meant to pick it up again and give it another chance. The longer I put it off, the more I worry that I still won’t care for it when I finally do try it since I think I might have outgrown it. The only thing I remember about this series is that Artemis was a 12-year-old genius, and there were some kind of fairies involved. I don’t even know what I found confusing about it, since looking at the synopsis now, it seems pretty clear. I do have the whole series on my TBR so I may have to prioritize it at some point and give it a fair chance.

5) Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

28194I actually did read this book a few years ago, and I didn’t like it very much. This was another book that was out in the early 2000s, and I had very little interest in it at the time. I’m not even sure why because the whole premise of the book seemed like something that I would really enjoy. This series is about a young girl named Meggie whose father can bring things to life when he reads books aloud. Several villanous characters are brought out of a book called Inkheart, and they kidnap Meggie’s father in attempt to get a monster into the world as well. I was only vaguely aware of this series at the time, and seem to remember it being quite popular but it never really caught my attention. When I finally did pick it up as an adult, I found the book extremely slow-paced and difficult to get into, so I’m not sure if I would have liked it that much more when I was younger.

6) The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

119322. sx318 I know that this is an extremely popular series, but I’ve never been particularly interested! I think this one fell victim to overhype for me a bit. I got so sick of hearing about it everywhere, that it that it destroyed the little interest I might have had. I’d actually picked up a copy of this one from a library book sale at one point because I kept hearing how great it was, and even with my own copy, I was never motivated enough to pick it up. I think part of the reason I was never that interested is because I’ve never really understood what the series was about. All I knew was that it was about a girl and a giant polar bear on some kind of adventure, and that the books were banned for anti-religious themes. I kind of feel like I’ve missed my chance with this series. If it didn’t interest me very much at the time when I actually was in the target age group, I’m not sure I’ll particularly care for it now. I tend to find that I like contemporary middle grade more than middle grade fantasy, although to be fair, I’m not sure if this one is more YA than middle grade.

7) The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

28187This really goes for all of Rick Riordan’s series, but it is another one that I never had a strong interest in trying. It’s funny because I actually love learning about mythology and by all logic, I probably should have read and loved these. By the time these books came out, I was halfway through high school and didn’t care to pick them up because I assumed I was too old for them. I think I also assumed that they were a bit of a rip-off of Harry Potter, even though I had no real reason to think so other than the fact that it was a fantasy series about a young boy. Over the past few years, I’ve been hearing about Rick Riordan’s series virtually non-stop, and especially seeing a lot more comparisons to Harry Potter. It was to the point where the amount of hype around them got really irritating, to the point where it completely put me off even trying them. The longer I wait, the further away I get from the target age group, so I’m not convinced I’d even particularly like them at this point. I almost don’t want to read them by now because I think I’ll find them underwhelming, and then wonder what all the hype was about.

8) Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

77767. sx318 I tried two books in this series as an adult, and I can honestly say that I don’t understand what the appeal is. I’ve been trying to remember whether I was forced to read this during my class’s unit on pioneers in the third grade, but I don’t have any memory of actually reading it. I picked up the first two books because of challenge prompts requiring westerns, and I found both of them incredibly dry and boring! It wasn’t because it was historical, since I absolutely adored the Royal Diaries series, but I found the two of these that I read so painful to get through. I feel bad saying that because it is about the author’s real life, but I just couldn’t get into them at all. I thought the books were informative if you didn’t know much about pioneers, but it read almost like a textbook to me. I did enjoy a few of the stories, such as a character slapping a bear, and a pig getting caught on someone’s lap during a sled ride, but I find them so hard to get through. Also, even though the attitudes toward Native Americans may have been historically accurate, I found those sections so frustrating to read. I didn’t have much interest in these when I was a kid, but I guess there’s a slight chance I might have liked them a bit better.

9) Any of Raina Telgemeier‘s books

38424I don’t think graphic novels were really around very much when I was younger. Most of the ones that I can think of were more along the lines of superhero comics, or collections of comic strips like Garfield or Family Circus, or were more aimed toward adults (ie. Maus or Persepolis). I actually didn’t read a single graphic novel at all until I was in university, where I was required to read one for a Children’s Literature class. I discovered Raina Telgemeier because of her graphic novel adaptations of the Babysitters Club series, which was a fun new way to revisit one of my favourites. Since then, I’ve been interested in trying more of her graphic novels, even though they are middle grade, because I love her art style. I’ve read Drama and Ghosts, both of which were very cute, and I’m interested in reading the Smile series too. It’s harder for me to really connect with these books now since they are geared toward a much younger audience, but I think I would have really loved them when I was around that age!

10) Eragon by Christopher Paolini

113436I’m pretty sure the only reason I didn’t read this book at the time is because I was intimidated that it was so long, which seems silly because I was reading Harry Potter around the same time, and some of those were much longer! This was another book that I grabbed at a library book sale and kept on my shelves for years, but never actually bothered to pick it up. I think I was also really impressed with this book because I’d heard that Christopher Paolini was only a teenager when he wrote it, and as someone who at one time dreamed of being an author, it seemed amazing! It’s kind of funny now looking back on how many of the really popular fantasy series that I avoided at the time, especially because I considered myself a fantasy fan. It was another series where the longer I put it off, the less interested I became until I eventually just assumed that I had outgrown it. I might still pick this one up at some point, but I’m not really sure how much I’ll really enjoy it by now.

The Bookternet “All Star” Charity Challenge

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned many times before, I tend to actively avoid reading books that feel very overhyped. At least, I actively avoid them for a while before finally breaking down and reading them anyway! When I first started blogging and doing reading challenges, I started to notice a few key books and authors that kept coming up over and over again. It took me a couple of years to finally come around to picking them up. I started mostly with standalones, and over time, started reading one book per popular series at a time. Eventually, I decided it was silly to spread out the series over so many years, and finally began to binge-read them. I think at the time, my logic was that I wanted to read more variety of authors, and didn’t want to take up too many challenge prompts with the same series. I think it was only in 2018 where I really started to focus on series and read them “properly.”

I’d actually been wondering lately whether I’d finally read the majority of the most popular books mentioned in the book community, so it was perfect timing to find this challenge. I found this one through Becca and the Books,  but it was created by Rachael Marie (video here), as a community challenge to raise money for COVID-19 relief. Please check out the link to her video for full details of where/how to donate! This challenge lists 18 of the most popular authors and books who have been mentioned in the book community, and the goal is for you to check how many of them you’ve read.  I thought this challenge would be a great way to check out how many of the popular authors or series I’ve caught up on over the past few years!

1) Angie Thomas – Read!

I have read and loved both of Angie Thomas’s books so far, and was very excited to see that she recently announced a new one due out early next year. I picked up The Hate U Give in the first place to see if it really lived up to all the hype (it did), and then On the Come Up because by then, I knew I loved her writing.

2) Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi – Halfway!

This was one of the first series that I incorporated into my reading challenges, but I don’t feel like I really read it properly since I read the first three books spread out over three years. I really enjoyed them all, but want to re-read the first three together to get the proper flow of the series. I intend to do that this year, and then move on to the newer additions to the trilogy.

3) Leigh Bardugo – Read (but not everything!)

Leigh Bardugo is one of my new favourite authors, and I fully credit reading challenges and the book community in general for motivating me to even try her books. I picked up the Grisha trilogy in the first place because of Sam at Thoughts On Tomes. I’d actually originally planned to just read the Six of Crows duology, but decided it was probably a good idea to read the Grisha books first. I also very recently read Ninth House, and intend to read King of Scars soon, likely in May. I have not read any of the short stories or the Wonder Woman book that she wrote as part of the DC Icons series.

4) The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black – Not yet, but soon!

I’ve only read one Holly Black book so far, and to be honest, I didn’t love it but I think this is a series that I’m much more likely to love. I bought the trilogy so I have no excuse not to pick it up, and it is one of the series on my priority list to read this year.

5) The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco – Not yet!

I’ve had the first book in this series on my TBR since 2016, but have never been that strongly motivated to pick it up even though it does seem interesting. I think every year, I’ve considered adding it into my challenge plans, but every year, I ultimately decide against it. I can’t even remember why, but I seem to remember hearing that it was a bit slow so I think that’s what put me off.

6) Victoria/V.E. Schwab – Read most!

This is another author that has become a favourite, and one that I might not have tried if it hadn’t been for the book community. The first books I read of hers were the Monsters of Verity duology, which I need to reread! I loved them both, but also read them a year apart and barely remember Our Dark Duet at all. I’ve also recently finished the Shades of Magic series (but not the graphic novels yet), and have also read the two books out so far in the Villains series. I’m also planning to read the Cassidy Blake series later this year. I haven’t read The Archived or the Near Witch but might pick those up at some point. I really have no interest in the Everyday Angel middle grade series, but I feel like most of us don’t count those.

7) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – Read!

This was the first series that convinced me to binge-read instead of spreading out all the books. I read Cinder along with several other first books in popular series toward the end of 2016, and had originally intended to just read Scarlet in 2017. I ended up enjoying the series so much that I squeezed in all the remaining books. Marissa Meyer is another author who has become a favourite, and definitely someone that I picked up solely because of the hype. I actively avoided reading this series because I was annoyed with hearing about it non-stop, but it was worth it. I have read all of Marissa Meyer’s books except for the Fairest and Stars Above short story collections.

8) Adam Silvera – Read a few!

I don’t know why, but I thought Adam Silvera had a lot more books out than he currently does, so I’m actually more caught up than I thought. The first book of his that I read was History is All You Left Me, which was incredible. I’ve also read They Both Die at the End and What If It’s Us, and loved them both. I’m intending to read both More Happy Than Not and Infinity Son this year, which would be all of his published works so far except for his short stories in a few anthologies.

9) Cassandra Clare – Read about half!

I think this is the one author that I can safely say that I put off the longest. I was completely overwhelmed by the number of Shadowhunters books, and felt like I had missed my chance by not reading them as they came out. For years, I assumed I wouldn’t like them much because I thought I’d outgrown them. Last year, I finally decided to try the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series, and ended up really enjoying both! I’ve read all of the books in those series so far, except for the short story collections or the manga/graphic novels. I’m intending to read The Dark Artifices series this year if I can get copies from the library. I’m also interested in reading The Red Scrolls of Magic and Chain of Gold, but have no immediate plans to read those yet.

10) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Read!

This was another book that I only picked up because of the hype. To be honest, the plot didn’t sound that interesting to me at first and the only reason I decided to pick it up was because I was hearing about it literally everywhere. I am so glad that I gave into the hype on this one, since it was incredible! It very quickly became one of my favourite books of the year that I read it, and it gripped me so much more than I expected.

11) Laini Taylor – Read!

I’ve read the whole Daughter of Smoke and Bones series, except for the novellas, and also read the Strange the Dreamer duology! I have not read the Faeries of Dreamdark series, but it’s also not a series that I’d ever really heard of. Laini Taylor is another new favourite author, although I definitely need to be in the right mood for her books because they are quite complex!

12) The Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman – Read!

I rarely read sci-fi, but this series got me a lot more interested in trying them! I loved the mixed media format, and especially loved the characters. I’m very excited to pick up the Aurora Cycle series by these authors too.

13) Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman – Not Yet!

I have not read any of this series yet, but it is on my priority list to pick up this year as long as I can get copies of it. I wasn’t the most interested in this one when I first heard of it, but the more I’ve been hearing about it online over the past few years, the more I’ve started to want to try it. I’ve actually never read anything by Neal Shusterman, although Unwind looks interesting.

14) Sarah J. Maas – Read!

The only Sarah J. Maas book I haven’t read yet is the new House of Blood and Earth, but I am planning to start that one this week. What better time for an 800 page giant than during a quarantine? I read the Court of Thorns and Roses series first and absolutely loved it, and I think one of my biggest accomplishments of 2019 was reading the whole Throne of Glass series (aside from Throne of Glass itself, which I read the previous year).

15) An Ember in the Ashes series by Saaba Tahir – Not yet!

To be honest, this is not necessarily a series I would have picked as one of the most hyped online. I feel like I’ve only really heard about the first book a lot, and not so much about any of the sequels. I added An Ember in the Ashes to my TBR in 2016, but have never been that strongly motivated to try it nor have I ever known very much about what it was about. Now that the series is due to wrap up, I’m strongly considering adding it to my priority list for next year.

16) Seanan McGuire – Read some!

I have read very few of Seanan McGuire’s overall backlist, but I’ve loved everything I have read. I’ve read the first four books in the Wayward Children series, and I’m intending to read Come Tumbling Down this year. I’m also planning to read Middlegame very soon. I have not read any of the October Daye or InCryptid series, nor have I read any of the comics that she has been involved in. I have not read the Ghost Roads books or the Indexing series. I’m not sure if we are meant to count the books she wrote under Mira Grant here as well, but of those, I’ve only read (and was surprised to really enjoy) Feed.

17) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han – Read!

I read this series, somewhat grudgingly since I knew going into it that I’d probably outgrown it, because of all the hype. I read the first book in 2018, and the other two last year. I thought the series was cute, but definitely don’t understand why it is so hyped. I was never interested in Jenny Han’s books when I was in the target age group, so I’m not really surprised that I didn’t love them.

18) The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang – Haven’t Read!

I keep hearing about this series, but for some reason, I haven’t had any motivation to try it whatsover, even though I keep hearing that it is great. I have no immediate plans to try this one.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books That Remind Me of Spring (In Honour of Earth Day)

Today is Earth Day, so it only seemed natural (no pun intended) to choose a theme that had something to do with the environment. I’m not such a fan of cli-fi as a genre, so I decided instead to focus on books that I have on my TBR that remind me of spring. According to the Earth Day website (www.earthday.org), the theme for Earth Day this year is climate action. I’d never even realized that Earth Day had annual themes! In school, when we spoke about Earth Day, it was in the more general sense of “reduce, reuse, recycle” and other ways to take care of the environment. Given the current (or at least pre-pandemic) global focus on climate change, it’s no surprise that it is this year’s theme. For me, however, Earth Day is more a day to focus a bit on nature and the environment, and a reminder of why it’s so important to take care of the Earth. Since it is now spring, and I can’t be outside to enjoy the weather so easily, I decided to focus this list on books that have covers that remind me of spring.

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) Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon

30340865. sy475 This was the first book that came to mind because of the dandelion fluff on the cover! I live across the street from a park, which I used to walk through daily to get to elementary school, and now walk through daily to get to work. This park always has fields absolutely full of dandelions and I love to see them, even though my seasonal allergies strongly disagree. This book is about an aspiring choreographer named Sophie whose best friend  and crush Peter is a gifted pianist who is on the list for a kidney transplant. When Sophie learns that she is a match, she can’t help wondering if Peter will finally love her back if she agrees to donate her kidney, but they both soon find their post-transplant life and friendship is not what they expected. I’ve read one book by Rachel Lynn Solomon before, which I really enjoyed, and I’m hoping to read this one before the end of the year if I can get a copy. Her plots remind me a bit of a YA version of Lisa Genova’s books, which I mean in the best way possible. I love that her books are different from the typical YA romance plots, and I’m really looking forward to trying this one.

2) If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim

34858106I’ve had this one on my TBR for a couple of years already, after a phrase of searching for a whole bunch of historical fiction set in Asia, and proceeded to never read the majority of them. This one reminds me a lot of spring because of the brightly coloured flowers on the cover. This one is about a 16-year-old Korean girl named Haemi Lee, who is forced to flee to a refugee camp with her mother and ailing brother after the communist army from the North invades. For a few hours each night, she escapes her family’s circumstances with her childhood friend Kyunghwan, whose older cousin Jisoo has set his sights on marrying Haemi before joining the war. Haemi agrees to marry him to secure a future for her family, but as she grows up, her decision to choose Jisoo over the friend she has always loved sets into motion a course of events that have effects for generations to come. I love family sagas, but I’m rarely in the mood to pick them up. I’d mostly forgotten I even had this book on my TBR, so it was great to see it again and remind myself that I wanted to give it a try.

3) Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

33158561This is another one that has been on my TBR for way too long. I have two more of Anna-Marie McLemore’s books on my list to read this year, but unfortunatley not this one.  I think of all the books I have on my TBR, this is the one that most obviously screams “spring” with its cover. To be honest, I always struggle a bit when it comes to trying to describe Anna-Marie McLemore’s books because I tend to find the synopses a bit confusing. This one is about a family of women who live in and care for a set of enchanted gardens, however if they fall in love too deeply, the person they love vanishes. When a mysterious boy appears in the gardens who seems to know nothing more about himself than his own first name, Estrella tries to help him piece together his past, which leads them to some dangerous secrets. I really want to love Anna-Marie McLemore’s books, and although I’ve really enjoyed the one I read so far, I found it a bit confusing and didn’t quite connect with it as much as I’d hoped (although it was still a solid 4 stars). I’m hoping that I end up loving the rest of them even more!

4) What You Wish For by Katherine Center

51168993This is a relatively recent addition to my TBR and ever since I saw it, I’ve become very excited to give it a try! Even though I’m pretty sure the flowers and butterfly on the cover are meant to be paper cutouts, they still reminded me of spring. I have all of Katherine Center’s books on my TBR but haven’t read any yet, although I think this is the one that I’m most excited for. This one is about a school librarian named Samantha who is surprised to find that the new principal at her school is a man named Duncan, her former unrequited crush from many years ago. However, in the years since she’s last seen him, Duncan seems to have changed a lot to become strict and obsessed with safety, and seems intent on taking away everything that Samantha loves about her school in the name of ensuring security, forcing her to find a way to stand to him and protect the school that feels like home to her. I’m really hoping that I’ll end up loving this book as much as I’m expecting to, because it sounds like something that is right up my alley!

5) The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

32570475. sy475 This is yet another book that I’ve had on my TBR for ages, but somehow the cover always reminds me of spring even though it is not quite as obvious a connection as the other books here. I think it’s a combination of the raindrops and the bright spring colours. Of all the books here, aside from Wild Beauty, it is also the one that has a plot that mostly strongly relates to spring. It is about a widowed single mother named Lillian whose husband Dan passed away three years ago in a car accident. When her boss signs her up for a gardening class to appease a new client who expects illustrations for their series about vegetable gardens, Lillian is surprised to find that the class was just the push she needed to get outside of her comfort zone and start to move forward with her life again. I read one of Abbi Waxman’s books last month and I have another that I’m intending to try this year, but I’m not sure I’ll be getting to this one specifically any time soon. It does sound very interesting, and definitely gives me lots of spring vibes.

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesday: Book Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

As much as I love music, I have absolutely no idea what would make a good band name! I’ve never been able to play any instruments or even read music, so being in a band myself was never a dream of mine. When I first started learning music on fourth grade, I had to get my best friend, who had taken piano lessons for years, to write what letter each note was in my book so I could play along.  It was also a bit of a struggle to even get him to agree to do this because we were both rule followers and hated the idea of writing in a school book, but I also wanted to be able to keep up. I can identify notes if I’m just reading them on a page, but not while trying to play the at the same time. I ended up getting through recorder by memorizing the order of the notes in the songs.

Years later, when it was time to choose an instrument for the last couple of years of elementary school, I picked the flute because I assumed it would be easy. It really wasn’t! As much as I’d love to be able to play an instrument, I’ve never truly been invested enough to putting in the work to actually practice or learn one. I haven’t really been in a position to imagine what to name a band, so instead I had to search through my Goodreads list and find book titles that jumped out at me as something that sounds like it could be a band. It definitely seems like fantasy books make some of the best names!

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) Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

2) Girl, Serpent, Thorne by Melissa Bashardoust

3) Aurora Burning by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

4) Infinity Reaper by Adam Silvera

5) Wilder Girls by Rory Power

6) Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

7) Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller

8) Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich

9) Star-Crossed by Minnie Darke

10) Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton

Stay At Home Book Tag

It was such perfect timing that I came across this book tag the other day! I’d already been planning to do a book tag of some kind this weekend since I realized it had been such a long time since my last one. Luckily, I came across this one because it was posted by Heather (Bookables, video here). This seemed like the perfect tag to fit this weekend since it has now been over a full month at home for me. It’s been really interesting for me to see how many different approaches people have taken to being stuck at home. Some people are very into productivity and are taking this opportunity to learn new things, master skills, etc. and others are using it as a way to really focus on themselves and do many of the things they’d love to do if they didn’t have to work. For me, it’s been a bit of both. I have no choice but to be productive since I’m still working from home, and in some ways, it’s been harder to set boundaries around work hours since messages and even meetings happen at all hours. On the other hand, it’s given me extra time to read, watch movies, and trying out some of my computer games.

This tag, which was created by the channel Princess of Paperback (video here), focuses on a variety of the main activities people have been doing while staying home. To be honest, I had never heard of her before, but this tag was fun so I’d love to check out more of her videos!

Laying in Bed – A book you could/have read in a day

It’s rare that I have the time to read a book in a day, at least under normal circumstances. The only books that I can really guarantee that I’ll finish in a day are graphic novels, since those only take me an hour or two. I think if there is one non-graphic novel on my list that I think I’ll be able to finish in a day, it’s Twenty-One Truths About Love, which is written entirely in list format. Even though it’s 350 pages, I think the format will make it pretty quick!

Snacking – A guilty pleasure book

I have trouble thinking of books as guilty pleasures. I don’t really feel bad about liking what I like, but I do have a challenge prompt for a “guilty pleasure” this year. The book I have in mind for that is the new Wayside School book due out later this year. It was one of my favourite series as a kid, and although I’m definitely not the target age range for this one anymore, I’m hoping it will be as fun as they were when I was younger.

Netflix – A series you want to start

There are so many! I have an entire list of series that I have as goals for this year. Actually, one series that I left off that list but would love to start anyway is Jay Kristoff’s Lifelike series. I own both of the books that are out already, but haven’t read either of them yet!

Deep Clean – A book that has been on your TBR for ages

Sense & Sensibility! Every time I make a reading challenge plan, I consider including this book, and every time, I end up leaving it out because I’m just not in the mood for classics. Pride & Prejudice is one of my favourites, and I’ve only ever read one other Jane Austen book so far. I’d love to read more, but keep putting them all off.

Animal Crossing – A book you recently bought because of hype

I’ve never played Animal Crossing, but all the hype around it lately kind of makes me want to try it. I’m not even sure why because it seems kind of boring to me, from the small parts that I’ve seen. The most recent hyped book that I bought is definitely House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas, which I bought mostly because she is a favourite author but definitely bought it sooner than I thought I would because of the hype.

Productivity – A book you learnt or had an impact on you

I’m not really sure what “A book you learnt” means, so I’ll go with a book that had an impact on me instead. I think the best example of this is A Monster Calls. It’s been four years since I’ve read this one, and it is still one of the most memorable books I’ve read in years.

Facetime – A book you were gifted

I haven’t received any books as gifts since my birthday in October, but one of the ones I was really excited to get was Ninth House, which I’ve since read and absolutely loved.

Self Care – What is one thing you have done recently to look after yourself

Does reading count? Other than that, I recently took out a subscription to Disney+ so I could watch many of my old favourite TV shows and movies. I own a ton of Disney movies on DVD and Blu-Ray, and was debating getting a subscription because I wasn’t sure it was worth the cost. However, once I saw that they put Frozen II and Onward on it, I knew I wanted to give it a try! (Both excellent movies, for the record)

BONUS – Name a book coming out soon

My most anticipated book that is coming out soon is definitely The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, but I’m also really looking forward to Clap When You Land and Aurora Burning.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books Dealing With Sexual Assault (In Honour of RAINN Day)

While looking at the national holidays that took place this month, I discovered that April in general is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. More specifically, today is RAINN Day, which is an annual day of action for college students to demonstrate that they are an ally against sexual violence. Full disclosure: I had never heard of RAINN Day at all until I started to research for this month’s national days. I suspect it is because I live in Canada, and this one seems to have originated in the US, but I think it is a very important day to recognize a very serious topic. I decided to acknowledge it by looking for some books on my TBR that deal with sexual assault. Given that these are books that are still on my TBR, I have not read them yet and cannot really comment on how well they address the issue. I also found it strangely difficult to find recent YA books on this topic, even though I could have sworn there have been many (certainly many about rape culture) published in the past couple of 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) My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

44890081. sy475 I was initially on the fence about reading this book at all, but the more I hear about it, the more it intrigues me. This book is about a woman named Vanessa who had an affair with her English teacher when she was 15, and she thought of him as her first love. As an adult, Vanessa learns that another former student has come forward with allegations of abuse against this teacher, forcing her to question everything she had believed about this man, whom she had always considered her first love. This sounds like such a fascinating and unique approach to this story, and I’m very interested to see how the author handles it. I have read a few books in the past that deal with student-teacher relationships, but few of them have really addressed it from the angle that I think this one is going to take. I think this one could be a really important book because of the focus on Vanessa’s views on their relationship over time, and highlights the fact that someone might not recognize the imbalances in their relationship.

2) Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry by Mary Higgins Clark

41745605Mary Higgins Clark was one of my first introductions to adult mysteries. I think I read my first of her books in seventh grade, and I absolutely loved the first two I read. Unfortunately, I haven’t loved any of them as much ever since but so many of them still end up on my TBR because they sound so interesting. This one is a 2019 release, and I believe the last book she’d written before she passed away, about a journalist named Gina Kane who receives an email from someone reporting a “terrible experience” while working at a high-profile TV news network, and decides to pursue the story only to learn that the woman has suddenly died in what appears to be an accident. At the same time, Michael Carter, counsel for the network, approaches the CEO with an offer to persuade victims to accept settlements in exchange for their silence. As Gina tries to uncover the truth before it can all be covered it, another accuser turns up dead forcing her to realize just how far some will go to keep the story quiet. The reviews for this one have been extremely mixed, but I thought it was worth mentioning anyway given the subject matter.

3) All the Rage by Courtney Summers

21853636Sadie was by far one of the best books I read last year, and I’ve been meaning to try more of Courtney Summers’ backlist. I’ve had this one on my TBR for years and might pick it up for a challenge prompt this year. This one is about a girl named Romy who accuses the sheriff’s son Kellan of rape, turning everyone in her small town against her. When a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing, she must decide whether to speak up again, after no one believed her the first time, or what the cost of her silence might be. I originally added this one to my TBR among a slew of other YA realistic fiction, most of which I have not picked up yet, and always meant to get back to it. I was completely blown away by Sadie, which I picked up mostly because of the hype, and have since been hesitant to try this one because it seems so similar. I do find that there’s been a bit of a shift in how these kinds of stories have been handled over the years, so given that this was published in 2015, it’s likely to take a very different direction.

4) Something Happened to Ali Greenleaf by Hayley Krischer

42281607. sy475 This one is an upcoming release due out this fall, assuming it does not get pushed back like so many other books so far this year. This one is about a girl named Ali who decides to finally make a move on her longtime crush, Sean, who ends up pushing it further than she wanted.  Blythe, a popular classmate, sees Ali running away from the party and knows that something must have happened with Sean, who happens to be Blythe’s best friend. She knows how he treats girls, but when Sean begs for Blythe’s help, she can’t resist. In an attempt to make things right, Blythe decides to befriend Ali, bringing her into a group of friends with secrets of their own. This sounds like such an interesting and unique angle on a frequently-used opening premise. I’m very intrigued by the whole idea of Blythe trying to smooth things over with Ali, even knowing what Sean is like. I’ve read a few other books where a major character is someone close to the person who is accused (ie. Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake), and it’s an generally such an interesting approach. I haven’t heard too much buzz around this book yet, which makes sense since it is still nearly 6 months away at least, but it sounds very good.

5) All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

26114146. sy475 I’ve heard so much about Wendy Walker in the past couple of years, but haven’t read any of her books yet. I think I actually have a copy of this one somewhere, but I’m not even sure where it is. This is Wendy Walker’s 2016 release, which is about a young woman named Jenny Kramer who is attacked at a local party in a small town in Connecticut. Afterwards, she is treated with a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the events, which leaves her unable to remember the attack, but still struggling with the physical and emotional effects. Her father becomes obsessed with trying to get justice, while her mother prefers to pretend that the whole thing never happened. As the two parents seek help for their daughter, the cracks start to show both in their marriage and in their seemingly close community. This is another one that seems to be coming at the topic from a relatively unique angle because of the experimental drug treatment, and it seems like it could raise so many interesting questions about what it takes to heal and/or seek justice.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books I Enjoyed But Rarely Talk About

I could have sworn I’ve posted about a similar topic at some point before, but I can’t find it anywhere! I really wish these blogs had a better search feature. One of the advantages of doing reading challenges for so many years now is that I’ve become very good at picking books that I’m sure I’m going to enjoy. The vast majority of the books I read each year end up rated 4 stars or higher. The downside to that is that there are many books that I really enjoyed that somehow don’t seem to get mentioned as much. I tend to find myself bringing up the same few standouts over and over, and rarely bring up some of the others. It’s a bit ironic since you’d think with so many books I love it would be easy to talk about them all, but somehow a few of them just don’t seem to come up as often.

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 Strange the Dreamer duology by Laini Taylor

28449207. sy475 I had the same issue with The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series actually. I loved that series as much as ACOTAR and The Raven Boys, which I read the same year, but somehow I find those two come up much more often. I think it might be because I find her books a bit complicated to explain, so it makes it harder to bring them up. This was the first series I read this year, and I intentionally made a point of reading it early because I didn’t want to intimidate myself out of picking it up. This duology is so beautifully written with incredible characters, and I was so glad that it engaged me a lot more easily than I expected. It’s weird to me that this series doesn’t immediately come to mind as a favourite, even though it easily up there along with many of my other favourites. Given how much I’ve loved all of Laini Taylor’s books so far, I’m really looking forward to seeing what she comes out with next.

2) Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

40597810. sy475 I went into this book not necessarily expecting much, but then again, I said the exact same thing about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and I loved that one too. This was one of my favourite books that I read last year and I feel like I hardly ever mentioned it. I had no interest in 70s rock music, nor do I usually care about books involving celebrities, but this was so good! I loved the interview format and found it really drew me in. I read the physical book, but I’ve heard that this one is just incredible as an audiobook too. I was especially impressed with how Taylor Jenkins Reid managed to create such interesting characters in such a limited format. I loved that it was such a character-driven story. To be honest, I didn’t love this one quite as much as Evelyn Hugo, and was a bit disappointed to see some minor commonalities in the plots, especially toward the end, but it was such a strong book overall!

3) Just What Kind of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly

16071790This was the first book that I read this year, after putting it off for way too long. In general, I tend to find that the books that I read right at the beginning of the year tend to get overlooked a bit when it comes to mentioning books that I loved. I think it’s because they tend to get overshadowed a bit by others that I read later on. I found myself immediately drawn in by the writing style of this one and it very easily kept my attention throughout. I really liked the way the story developed and how the author tied in so many of the different character threads. I thought the characters were very interesting and realistic, and I enjoyed the perspectives of both of the main characters. I also really enjoyed the twists toward the end because I did not predict them at all. I’ve read quite a few thrillers and often have some idea of which way they might go, but just when I thought this one was going in a very predictable direction, it went somewhere much more interesting. It was a great book to be my first of the year!

4) The Winters by Lisa Gabriele

38525524I was really looking forward to this one because it was a retelling of one of my favourite classics, Rebecca, and I was glad to see that it mostly lived up to my expectations! To be honest, it took a little while for this one to hook me in, mostly because I just couldn’t buy into how quickly the main character fell in love, but once the setting moved to the Winter family’s estate, it became a lot more interesting. I was especially intrigued once Dani, Mr. Winter’s daughter, was introduced to the story since that was really where it diverged from the original Rebecca. I was fascinated by the dynamics between the unnamed narrator and Dani, and how the author managed to really keep me guessing about whether she was plotting something or just being a normal angry teen. I loved all the references to the original Rebecca, and found the revelations toward the end very interesting. I was a tiny bit disappointed in the very last chapter since it wrapped up a bit too neatly after such a strong reveal, but it was a great book overall.

5) Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

40864790I feel like this is a book that I never really acknowledged that I read last year, but it ended up being a surprise favourite. This was one of those books that I didn’t even know I really cared to read until I actually had the chance to grab it, and I’m so glad that I did. It was an absolutely adorable graphic novel about two friends working together at a pumpkin patch during the Halloween season. I loved the art style and thought it was such a great fit for this story, and especially loved all the visual gags in the background like the funny signs. I also loved the very realistic way the crush storyline was handled, and especially loved the dynamic between Josiah and Deja. It was so much fun to see some of the small subplots, like Deja’s mission to try every snack, or the rampaging goat that escaped the petting zoo. I definitely did not expect very much from this book, which is strange because I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read by Rainbow Rowell so far, but I’m so glad I picked it up.

6) The Favourite Sister by Jessica Knoll

38201267. sy475 For some reason, I was drawn to this book from the moment I saw the cover at the bookstore. I have no idea why, but luckily, it completely exceeded all my expectations, which admittedly had been pretty low. I read this one back toward the beginning of 2019 and although I don’t remember too much detail of the plot by now, I remember absolutely devouring it. It had such strong writing and the characters were a so realistic, and compelling even when they were unlikeable. My expectations were lower for this one because it focused on women who were stars of a reality show, and I generally don’t care for books about celebrities of any kind, but it needed up having a lot more depth to it than I expected. I actually loved it so much that I recently bought myself a copy from Book Outlet so I could have my own. This was one of a handful of books I read in the past couple of years that focused on dynamics and competition between women, and I just remember being blown away by how much I ended up enjoying it.

7) The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

34912895. sy475 The Nightingale has yet to be unseated as my favourite Kristin Hannah book so far, but this one was another one that really surprised me. I don’t really care to read about Alaska at all, but when I had a challenge prompt for a rural or sparsely populated setting, this book immediately sprung to mind. I did find the pacing a bit inconsistent at times, but often found that just when I was starting to get bored or find things repetitive, it picked back up again. I especially liked the side characters, especially Large Marge and Tom. I thought Leni was an interesting main character and was very intrigued by the growing paranoia and anger toward society that her father struggled with. I especially loved how Kristin Hannah tied his mental state into the Alaskan weather and thought her portrayal of how the family had to tiptoe around him seemed very realistic. There were some moments that I found a bit too sappy or rushed, but overall I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected, and it’s one that I hardly ever think to mention.

8) Confessions by Kanae Minato

19161835I think of all the books here, this is probably the one that I’ve mentioned the most so far. I read this one toward the end of last year and was so excited about it that I felt the need to bring it up often at first, but it is one that I’m not sure will come up much since it’s not very well-known. This book is a translated thriller from Japan, and it is easily one of the best and creepiest thrillers that I’ve read. I’d had it on my TBR for a few years but mostly forgotten about it until I found it on Book Outlet, and was immediately compelled to buy it. This book is about a teacher who is taking revenge on two students in her class whom she blames for the death of her young daughter. The story is told in a series of chapters from a variety of perspectives, including the two students, the teacher herself, and several others who were close to the case. All of the chapters were so well-written, and I loved how the author differentiated them all with different styles. The ending was so strong and unexpected, and the book had so many twists that really kept me guessing. This was easily one of my favourite books last year, and I think more people should read it!

9) Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

35716237I think the only reason that I don’t mention this book as much is because it got a bit overshadowed by another similar YA book that I read a few months later. I read this book in April, and then read The Astonishing Color of After over the summer, and while I loved both, I find the latter tends to come up more, possibly because it is better known. I picked this book up because I loved Starfish by this author and was looking forward to reading more of her books. Akemi Dawn Bowman has easily become one of my new favourite YA authors, and this book was a huge part of the reason why! Like The Astonishing Color of After, it is about a teenage girl who visits relatives while dealing with grief over the loss of a family member. In this book, Rumi travels to Hawaii to stay with her aunt and mourns the loss of her sister. This book is one of the strongest and most realistic portrayals of grief that I’ve ever read, and I loved the main character’s entire story arc. It’s such a powerful and underrated book.

10) The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

43822820This is another one that I feel like I’ve mentioned quite a bit lately because I read it at the beginning of the year, but it’s one that I might not think to mention as the year goes on. Lisa Jewell was one of my top priority authors to try this year and I was so excited to get a copy of this book as my Secret Santa gift from a coworker! It was the first book I’d ever read by this author, and really made me look forward to trying more. I loved that the plot was a bit different from the kinds of thrillers that I usually read, and I was especially interested by the whole cult aspect. I found the book so engaging and flew through the majority of it in one day. I loved all the twists that came up and the writing style had me hooked from the first pages. I loved the use of the alternating perspectives and thought that it added so much more to this story. I’m really looking forward to trying more of Lisa Jewell’s books!

Recent Reads #4

I guess the one advantage of this quarantine/self-isolation (I’m still not sure what to call it) period is that it’s given me some extra time for some of the books that I really wanted to get to this year. Strangely enough, I don’t necessarily think that I’ve been reading more than I would have during a regular work week since I am still working from home, but I’ve intentionally used some of this time to really focus on some of the longer or denser books that I’ve been a bit worried about squeezing in. At the beginning of the year, I set myself an extremely tentative monthly TBR which has now mostly fallen apart given my lack of access to the library. The goal of that was mostly to make sure I get to the series that I’ve prioritized, loosely planned for one or sometimes two per month, and although I haven’t stuck to it 100%, it has been helpful. I’ve been working from home for a full month now and it’s been a great extra push to read some of the books that I’ve really been meaning to get to.

28421168One of my first thoughts when I learned that my workplace was shutting down was, “Well, at least now I’ll have time to focus on the Renegades trilogy!” which is a series that I’d mean to start late last year! I ended up putting it off because I wanted to wait for Supernova, and I’m glad that I waited so I could binge-read all three. I wouldn’t necessarily say that this is a particularly dense series, but it is quite lengthy since each of the three books is around 500 pages. Normally, I can read about 100 pages per day during a regular work week, since I really only have the evenings. I picked these up last year the day that we shut down, and each book took me about 4 days, so it wasn’t necessarily much faster but I do feel like it would have taken me much longer if I tried to read them after working full days. In any case, I ended up absolutely loving this series! I loved all of the characters, and even though some of the plot was predictable, it was so much fun to read. I really loved all the social and political commentary about the role of heroes vs. regular citizens, and how their society had been shaped by having the heroes take over. This series reminds me so much of The Incredibles, and I mean that in a good way.

43263680Another book that I was very excited to pick up was Ninth House, which I devoured in the span of three days at the end of March. This was by far one of my most anticipated books to try this year, and I regret not putting it in my Top 20 To Read in 2020 list! The only reason it didn’t end up there was because I made it a 5-star prediction, and didn’t want too much overlap in those lists. This was another book that I was a bit nervous to manage if I only had the evenings to read after work, since I’d heard it was very slow paced and hard to get into. Luckily for me, that was not my experience with it at all! I can definitely see where people might find it slow at first, since it does take some time for the main action to really take off, and there was a lot of background information given about Yale’s secret societies, but I found it completely fascinating. The book reminded me quite a bit of a darker version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, especially with the whole idea of a hidden supernatural side to the university. The characters were definitely a highlight for me, and I loved Alex’s interactions with all of the other characters. I can’t wait for the next book in this series to come out!

43575115. sy475 Possibly the biggest accomplishment in the past month was reading The Starless Sea, which I was very excited for, but also very intimidated by it. I loved The Night Circus but it has been about four years since I read it, so I really didn’t remember it well. I just remembered that Erin Morgenstern’s writing is beautiful but also can be incredibly dense. I think of all the books on my list, this was the one I was most nervous to pick up in general. I found the synopsis confusing and went into it really understanding very little of what it was supposed to be about, so I was worried I wouldn’t get it at all. I also tend to find that for a book like this, or really most books, I often like them better if I can read larger sections of them straight through, instead of just a few pages each day. I’d been considering reading this book around the start of April anyway since I was already supposed to have a few days off, but this just gave me the chance to pick it up a few days sooner. It took me 5 days to read, although two of those were days where I barely had time, so it might have even been possible to read it in 3 or 4 days, which is great time for a book like this! More importantly, I ended up really loving it. I was drawn in immediately by the main character Zachary and his love of books, and especially loved the literary-themed party he attended. The book reminded me of what a long-form version of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series might look like, and although I did get a tiny bit confused toward the end, I found this book so much easier to get into than I’d expected. I’m so glad I had the chance to pick this one up and actually devote the time and attention to it that I probably wouldn’t have been able to do so easily in a regular year.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Spring Releases on my TBR

I think it’s safe to say that I have a ton of spring releases on my TBR. With a Goodreads TBR that is quickly approaching 4000 books, and a bad habit of adding books to my list long before (as in, sometimes a year or two before) they are released, the amount of upcoming releases on my list has skyrocketed. I’ve already included many of my most anticipated spring releases into my challenges for this year, so it was actually a bit of a challenge to find a few that I didn’t feel like I had already mentioned to death. I intentionally left off my four most anticipated books: Aurora Burning, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Clap When You Land, and Harley in the Sky. Those are all books that I’m intending to read this year (assuming I can get copies), but I wanted to give some attention to a few of the upcoming releases that I haven’t mentioned as much.

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) When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk (March 10)

45144784I think I included this book in my challenge plans for the year, but I’m not 100% sure. My library currently does not have it even purchased, so it seems unlikely I’ll be able to get a copy unless I decide to buy it. This is one of a few books that I’ve seen lately that focus on the break-up of a close friendship instead of a romantic relationship, and it’s something that I really think needs to be mentioned more in books! This book is about two former best friends, Cleo and Layla, who are forced to work together again when Cleo is assigned to be Layla’s tutor. The story alternates between “Then” and “Now” to detail the girls’ friendship and what caused it to break down. I’m very excited to see more books lately with a focus on friendships and especially about difficult situations with friends, since that is something very relatable. In general, I love to see more YA books where the focus is on something other than romance, and I’m very excited to try this one.

2) Something She’s Not Telling Us by Darcey Bell (April 7)

44594911This is one of the many new thrillers that I have on my TBR. I have not read Darcey Bell’s first book yet either, but I’ve had it on my list for a few years already. This book just came out yesterday, and it is about a woman named Charlotte, who is cautiously optimistic that her brother’s new girlfriend Ruth might finally be the one. Charlotte’s young daughter Daisy seems to love Ruth too, but Charlotte is suspicious that Ruth seems a little too obsessed with her daughter. When Daisy is kidnapped, Charlotte is convinced that Ruth must have taken her. Meanwhile, Ruth is excited to finally have a stable job and a chance at a happy family with her new boyfriend, but sees Charlotte as an obstacle since Ruth thinks that Charlotte has been hostile toward her and creepily overprotective of her daughter. Ruth also knows that Charlotte is hiding a deep secret, and thinks that an outing with Daisy may be the only way to find out what it is. I love these kinds of family drama/domestic thrillers, and this one sounds very intriguing.

3) Time of Our Lives by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (April 21)

40076537I’ve only read one YA book by this author duo so far, but I have all the rest of them on my TBR. I believe their previous two books were both Shakespeare retellings, but I’m not so sure about this one. This book is about a boy named Fitz who has vowed to stay close to home for college to care for his mother who has early-onset Alzheimer’s. While on a college tour, he meets a girl named Juniper, who is counting down the days until she can move out to college and away from her tight-knit but huge family. Their paths keep crossing as they tour the colleges, and they soon develop a deep connection. I’m loving this trend toward more YA books that focus on characters who are college-aged or preparing for college. To be honest, it’s not something that I strongly relate to because I lived at home through both university and college, and had a strong idea in mind of where to go, so I never really toured a bunch of different schools. In any case, I think it’s great to add a bit more variety to the YA genre, and it’s nice to see settings outside of the usual high school.

4) He Started It by Samantha Downing (April 28)

51373979It seems like I’ve really missed out so far by not reading Samantha Downing’s debut My Lovely Wife yet, but that didn’t stop me from immediately adding her sophomore thriller to my TBR. It is about three siblings, Beth, Portia and Eddie, who are brought back together when their grandfather passes away, leaving a cryptic final message that brings the siblings and their partners together for a cross-country road trip to secure their inheritance. From what I can gather from the synopsis, it is a cast of very unlikable characters, and all of the siblings are hiding secrets from each other. I’ve never been a huge fan of road trip stories in general, but I think this one puts a pretty interesting spin on it. I’m especially intrigued by the whole angle of the siblings essentially being stuck together in such a confined space. I’ve actually been seeing a bit of  trend toward more “locked door” kind of mysteries and although I’m not quite sure this qualifies, it definitely seems to be along the same lines. I kind of feel like I need to read My Lovely Wife first, even though these books are completely unrelated.

5) His & Hers by Alice Feeney (May 28)

45885495I’m a little confused about this one since it now seems to be listed on Goodreads as being out in July, but I’ve also seen the release date listed as May 28. Alice Feeney is another thriller author who will probably end up on my priority list for next year since I have all of her books on my TBR too, but haven’t read anything yet. This one is about a woman named Anna Andrews who has worked hard to become a newscaster for the BBC’s lunchtime news. When she is asked to cover a murder in her hometown, she is reluctant to go but upon finding out the victim was her childhood friend, she decides she must stay. DCI Jack Harper is the detective working on this case, and decides not to tell anyone that he knew the victim, until he begins to realize that he has become a suspect in his own case. I’ve read quite a few mysteries and thrillers that are based around a character reluctantly returning to a hometown or uncovering some kind of dark secret from their past, and it’s a storyline I often tend to enjoy.