Stacking the Shelves (#31)

It’s been another very strange month overall, and I think nothing captures that more than the fact that when I went onto Goodreads to see how many books I’d added, I simultaneously thought the number was much higher and much lower than I expected. This month, I added another 91 books to my TBR, which is quite a bit fewer than the 110 added in April, but much, much more than the 67 than March. I didn’t think I’d spent that much time on Goodreads this month, but somehow managed to add nearly 5 whole pages to my TBR list. I definitely went on a bit of a thriller kick this month because I’d realized I hadn’t read very many thrillers yet this year, and my solution to that was somehow to add a ton to my list instead of actually reading the ones I have. Somehow, that made perfect sense. I also stumbled upon several upcoming releases from authors I’ve already read and loved!

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

1) Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

49247137I have no memory at all of adding this book to my list, but I’m not surprised that it’s on there. It’s been compared to Gone Girl and Room, which are two of my favourites! This book is about a woman named Lena, who has managed to flee from the shack in the woods where she was imprisoned with her two children. After a hit and run accident, she is taken to the hospital accompanied by a child who seems to be her daughter, who identifies the woman as Lena, causing police to question whether she could  be the same Lena who went missing 13 years before. This book is set in Germany, which immediately sets it apart for me from other similar thrillers that I’ve read so far, and it also includes multiple perspectives including the child’s. I know a lot of people took issue with the child’s narration in Room, but it was one of the strengths of that book for me since it brought the character to life and helped to tell the story from a unique angle. I’d be very interested to try another book that is along the same lines. This one came out last February, but I hadn’t even heard of it until recently.

2) Just An Ordinary Family by Fiona Lowe

52892608. sx318 sy475 I was first drawn to this one because of the cover art, but as soon as I saw it compared to both Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult, I knew I would have to add it to my list. This one is about a woman named Alice who is suddenly single, unemployed, and forced to move back to her parents’ small town, where she is very envious of her twin sister Libby’s life. Libby is married with two young children and she is also a doctor, and she has a best friend, Jess, who is much closer to Libby than her own sister. Their mother Karen has always tried to protect her daughters, but is finding that harder to do now that they are both adults. The synopsis for this one is actually relatively vague, but it seems like one of those books that will focus on family dynamics and possibly family secrets. If it weren’t for the comparisons to two of my favourite authors, I’m not sure if I would have added it to my TBR so quickly, but it does sound interesting. I wouldn’t necessarily say this one is particularly high on my list, but I might pick it up at some point.

3) One Mistake by Rona Halsall

51060039. sy475 This is one of many books that I added this month because of the cover art, because for some reason, creepy houses is still something that really catches my attention. This book is about a woman named Sara who grew up in foster care, and had promised herself that if she ever had a family of her own, she would do whatever it took to protect them. When her husband Matt loses his job, Sara decides it’s up to her to help her family, taking an offer from her boss to get the money that she needs in exchange for a favour. Trusting her boss might save her family, but it could risk costing her everything. I’ve had one other of this author’s books on my TBR since 2018, and I didn’t even realize it was by the same person. Like many thrillers, this one has been compared to other popular ones such as My Lovely Wife and The Girl on the Train. It is one of many thrillers that I have on my TBR and it’s one that I’d love to pick up at some point.

4) My Husband’s Lie by Emma Davies

51217199. sy475 This is probably another one that drew me in because of the house on the cover! It is about a woman named Thea who is surprised to see that her childhood home is up for sale, and she decides it is the perfect place for her and her husband to raise her own children. Thea assumed that moving back to this house would bring her family closer, but her husband is growing more distant and her old friends seem to be avoiding her. While exploring the house, she finds a loose panel that she used to use as a hiding place, and soon finds a faded newspaper clipping hidden inside that she begins to realize that there are secrets she never knew about. This is another author that has been compared to Liane Moriarty, as well as Diane Chamberlain and Amanda Prowse. I wasn’t such a fan of the one Amanda Prowse book that I’ve read so far, but I really like both of those other authors so I’d be interested in giving this one a chance. This book just came out in April and has not received very much attention yet, so I’d be interested to see more reviews as more people read it.

5) Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell

50542147Lisa Jewell was at the top of my priority author’s list to try this year, and I’ve already read and loved two of her books! I was very excited to see another new release coming out last this year, and immediately added it to my TBR. It is about a man named Owen who feels like his life is falling apart, especially after being suspended from his job as a teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct. While searching for advice online, he inadvertently falls into incel forums, where he meets Bryn. Across the street from Owen lives Roan, a psychologist, and his family, who have always had a bad feeling about their neighbour and whose daughter believes he once followed her home. At the same time, Saffyre Maddox, one of Roan’s patients who has been searching for a way to stay connected to him since their sessions have ended, and has taken to following him. When Saffyre disappears, Owen is the last person to see her alive. To be honest, I added this one to my TBR before even looking at what it was about, and now that I’ve read the synopsis properly, I’m even more interested in picking it up! I love Lisa Jewell’s writing style and I’m very interested to read more of her books.

6) The Institute by Stephen King

43798285Full disclosure: I’m not really a fan of Stephen King. I’ve only read two of his books so far, and I didn’t particularly care for either of them, but that may be because they were some of  his older titles (Carrie and Misery). I’m often interested in the general plotlines, but I haven’t really enjoyed his writing that much. I’ve decided to try one or two of his more recent releases before completely writing him off as an author that’s just not for me. This book is about a boy named Luke who wakes up at The Institute after his parents are murdered in the middle of the night. The room looks like his, but outside his door are other rooms with other children who have special talents, and were all moved to The Institute in a similar way to him. The director, Mrs. Sigsby and the staff are dedicated to extracting the source of the childrens’ special abilities from them. Children who cooperate are rewarded, and those who don’t are punished and victims sometimes disappear into the Back Half, from which they never return. This book and The Outsider are the two that I’m most likely to try, since they are the ones that seem most interesting to me. I have enjoyed books with this kind of storyline in the past, so I thought it would be a good one to try.

7) All This Time by Rachel Lippincourt and Mikki Daughtry

50892133I mean to read Five Feet Apart last year but ran out of time before I could get to it, but this book immediately caught my attention because I recognized the author’s name. It also didn’t hurt that it was a very interesting cover! This book is about a boy named Kyle, whose life turns upside down the night of his graduation party. Not only did his girlfriend Kimberly break up with him, but the two of them are also involved in a car crash, leaving Kyle with a brain injury and Kimberly dies. Kyle is left believing no one will understand his loss, until he crosses paths with Marley, a girl suffering from a loss of her own and the two of them soon begin to grow closer. This book is not due out until the end of September so it will be quite a while before I get a chance to try it, but it sounds pretty interesting. I’ve read quite a few YA books that deal with grief and loss, and I’m hoping that this will be one of the stronger ones.

8) Ghosting: A Love Story by Tash Skilton

53050272. sx318 This is another case where I have no memory of adding this book to my list, but I’m not surprised given that it has a social media focus. This book is about a guy named MIles who was recently dumped by his fiance and no longer believes in love, who meets a woman named Zoey whose boss sends her to New York to “grow.” Neither of them know it, but they are both ghostwriting client profiles for rival online dating services. They believe they have nothing in common, but soon meet anonymously online and start to bond. I’ve seen quite a few books lately that have some variant of this kind of You’ve Got Mail scenario, and it intrigues me every time! It is such a fun concept and I tend to love books that focus on online friendships/relationships or social media generally. I’m especially intrigued by this one because both characters are ghostwriters for online dating profiles, which is a role I’ve never really heard of before. I don’t know very much about dating apps in general, but it seems a bit weird to me to rely on someone else to write your profile for you!

9) You Have a Match by Emma Lord

53138158This was another book that I added to my TBR immediately upon seeing it on my Goodreads feed, and mostly because of author recognition. Emma Lord is the author who wrote Tweet Cute, which is one of my most anticipated books to try this year! This book is not due out until next January, but it sounds so good! This one is about a girl named Abby who signs up for DNA service, and soon discovers that she has a sister she never knew about. Her sister, Savannah, is an Instagram star who is only a year and a half older than her, and was given up for adoption. Abby decides to meet up with her at summer camp to try and figure out why she was given up, and is also trying to deal with her feelings for her best friend, Leo who is also working at the camp. Given that this book is still about 6 months away, there is not too much known about it, but it sounds very interesting. I’ve seen it compared to The Parent Trap, which is one of my favourite movies (the Hayley Mills version, not the Lindsay Lohan one), and I’m very interested in giving this one a chance.

10) The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton

44525439. sy475 I’ve had Karen Hamilton’s The Perfect Girlfriend for two years now, ever since I saw it come up in my local newspaper’s book section, but I haven’t picked it up yet! This book is her upcoming release due out at the end of June, and it seems like a very interesting thriller too. This one is about best friends Nina and Marie, who were best friends. When Nina is diagnosed with a terminal illness, she asks Marie to fulfill her last wishes, but she doesn’t realize that her friend may not be someone she can trust. Marie has always wanted Nina’s life and thinks she can keep her promise on her own terms, only to realize that Nina may have been hiding some secrets of her own. I’ve read a few thrillers that deal with women trying to take over each other’s lives or families, and this one seems just as intriguing. I wouldn’t say this one is at the top of my list right now, but it is definitely one I’d be interested in trying at some point in the future.

11) Closer Than You Think by Darren O’Sullivan

53059862. sx318 sy475 I think it’s no surprise by now why this book initially caught my attention. This book is due out in July, and I’d never heard of this author before. This one is about a woman named Claire who has struggled to rebuild her life after escaping from a serial killer known as the Black-Out Killer. Since her escape, Claire became an overnight celebrity and symbol of hope, especially when the murders stop. Ten years later, Claire now has a loving and supportive family, but is still haunted by what happened to her that night. Just as things seem to be improving, there is another victim found killed in the same way as the Black-Out Killer’s previous murders, making Claire suspect that the killer might be coming back for her. This is another thriller plot that I’ve seen several times in the past, but it is one that I’ve often enjoyed before. It’s so creepy to think of a serial killer coming after someone so many years later and it’s a plot that I usually find is done very well.

12) Destination Anywhere by Sara Barnard

51203579. sy475 I recently read Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard, my first book by this author, and I really enjoyed it! I have so many of her other books on my TBR already, but was excited to see another upcoming release. This one is not due out until next spring so it will be a long time before I’ll get to try it. This one is about a girl named Peyton, who has spent most of her school years bullied and alone. When she starts sixth form, she is determined to make friends, and even finds a boyfriend. When her new friends and boyfriend let her down too, she is left back in the same boat as when she started, and decides that her only chance at happiness is to buy a one-way ticket to escape to somewhere new. To be honest, I’m not such a fan of stories that are mostly focused on travel, but this one sounds like it could be very interesting. I really enjoyed Sara Barnard’s writing style in the one book I’ve read so far, so I think there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy this one too even though it’s not a plot that I particularly care for.

Top 5 Wednesdys: YA Books With Jewish Main Characters

As promised, this week’s theme is YA books that have Jewish protagonists, in honour of Jewish Heritage Month. I have been seeing a lot more YA books by Jewish authors and/or books that feature characters who are Jewish in the past few years. I remember seeing quite a few children’s books featuring Jewish characters when I was growing up, but most of those were focused almost exclusively around the Jewish holidays or historical fiction about the Holocaust. While I still think a lot of YA featuring Jewish characters tends to focus on the Holocaust, I’ve been seeing a lot more contemporary books that focus Jewish main characters, with a lot more variety of plotlines. It’s always interesting to see how their religious/cultural traditions are incorporated.

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) In the Neighbourhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton

40591953I actually just finished this one the other day, and it was pretty good! I was excited to try it because it was a historical fiction about a Jewish main character set in a different era. This one is set in 1958, and focuses on a girl named Ruth who moves from New York to Atlanta with her family following the death of her father. Ruth pretty quickly learns that she needs to hide the fact that she is Jewish if she wants to fit in with the others her age, and begins making friends and falling in love with a boy while keeping that part of herself secret. When a hate crime occurs at her synagogue, Ruth finds herself needing to find a way to balance both sides of her life. To be honest, I didn’t quite love this book as much as I’d expected because the writing was not the strongest. I loved the overall concept and especially getting historical fiction set in a time and place that I hadn’t read about before. I kind of felt like the author tried to do a little too much at once with this book and didn’t focus on the areas that I’d expected and was looking forward to reading, but it was still an interesting concept and I really liked it.

2) It’s a Whole Spiel: Love, Latkes and Other Jewish Stories edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman

36511766. sy475 I’m not generally a huge fan of anthologies, but I keep adding them to my TBR anyway because I keep getting intrigued by the concepts! This one is a collection of short stories about Jewish teens, and features work by popular authors such as David Levithan, Hannah Moskowitz, Rachel Lynn Solomon, and Nova Ren Suma, among many others. I actually don’t know very much about the stories in this one, and chose it for a prompt requiring a book with a foreward because I saw this had one written by Mayim Bialik. I’m hoping to get the chance to read it this year, if I can get access to the library back. Many of the contributors are authors that I’ve been meaning to try or authors that I’ve already read and enjoyed. Either way, I think this is another great addition to the recent slew of YA anthologies, and I love that it has a Jewish theme because as a whole, it’s a group that still seems pretty underrepresented in YA.

3) You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

30339479. sy475 I’m pretty sure all of this author’s books contains characters who are Jewish, but I chose this one specifically because it is the only one that I have read so far. This book is about 18-year-old twins, Adina and Tovah, whose mother has Huntington’s disease, a genetic degenerative disease. When their own test results come in, they learn that one of them has tested positive and the other has tested negative. The book is told in alternating perspectives from both Adina and Tovah as they struggle with their results and the impact it will have on their futures. I also really liked how the book incorporated Judaism, and Adina and Tovah’s differing approaches to their faith, both of which felt very realistic. I loved that this book had such a focus on family and the relationships between the sisters, and between each of them and their parents. This was one of the stronger YA books in general that I’ve read in the past few years, and it’s definitely worth reading!

4) Playing With Matches by Suri Rosen

20578768I’ve had this one on my TBR for a few years now, but haven’t picked it up yet! This book is about a 16-year-old girl named Raina who is struggling with feeling like she doesn’t fit in, especially after being sent to live with her aunt when she is expelled from her private school. Raina soon finds that she has a talent for matchmaking in her Jewish community, and starts to anonymously set people up, including her sister Leah, who blames Raina for her broken engagement. To be honest, I’d mostly forgotten I even had this book on my list but was reminded of it very recently when I saw it mentioned on a list. I think I was also a bit put off because the book is so short (only around 250 pages) and I usually don’t find that long enough for the story to develop properly. I was also intrigued by this one because it’s been compared to Jane Austen’s Emma, and although I haven’t read that one yet, I’ve heard it’s very funny! Either way, it was great to see a YA book set in the Jewish community, since it is not a very common setting.

5) Recommended For You by Laura Silverman

50800287. sy475 This book caught my attention because Laura Silverman’s You Asked for Perfect is high on my list to read this year, and I was excited to see another upcoming release. This one is her upcoming 2020 release due out this September, and it’s been compared to a To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before mixed with You’ve Got Mail. It is about a girl named Shoshanna Greenberg who works at a bookstore, which has become her escape from problems at home as well as an opportunity to earn money to save her dying car. When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the best salesperson, she sees it as an opportunity to at least get the money for her car, but soon finds that the new salesman, Jake, could be a strong contender for the prize. As the competition intensifies, they soon grow closer and realize they may have more in common than they think. This book sounds absolutely adorable, and it has so many of the tropes that I tend to love! Both of the main characters are also Jewish, but it’s too early to know how the representation is given that it’s still several months until it is released. Either way, I’m really looking forward to trying this one!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Best/Intriguing Opening Lines

I feel like I say this about nearly every Top 10 Tuesday topic, but this was such a struggle for me! I don’t do a great job of keeping track of quotes from books, and although I might really love the opening line to something, it’s unlikely that I’ll actually make note of it! The only upside was that I’d recently been doing some research for a challenge prompt that requires a book with a great opening line, so at least I already had some books in mind. Usually, what makes an opening line stand out to me is when it’s somehow a little unusual or weird, because that draws me in to want to find out what’s going on. The only ones that I tend to find truly memorable are the most famous examples, like Pride & Prejudice or Anna Karenina, but that’s probably because those quotes come up all the time. I definitely started noticing more interesting opening lines because of the challenge prompt asking for one, so even though it was a tough one, it helped draw my attention to some great quotes!

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.

“There is a pirate in the basement. (The pirate is a metaphor but also still a person.)” – The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

“I didn’t choose the wench life. The wench life chose me.” – Well Met by Jen DeLuca

“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.” Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

“We were all villains in the beginning.”Renegades by Marissa Meyer

“Kell wore a very peculiar coat. It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.” – A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

“Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.” – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

“In my first memory, I am three years old and I’m trying to kill my sister.” My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you are better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things happen in the middle.” – The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley.” Uprooted, by Naomi Novik

Quarantine Book Hauls!

I guess it was lucky for me that I set myself a goal to prioritize reading books that I own this year, considering I’ve now gone two and a half months without access to the library! I can still use their online services for ebooks and audiobooks, and even took a one month trial for Scribd just to see if I liked it, but I’m really missing being able to go to the library and pick up my books! I’m definitely cheating on my goal a bit, since aside from reading the books that I already owned, I’ve been adding a ton to my collection! Since the quarantine started, I’ve made quite a few purchases from both my local bookstore and Book Outlet because of some amazing deals! I thought this would be a good opportunity to show off the many books that I’ve bought so far.

I bought these books from Book Outlet because I had already read and loved them, and they were available for very reasonable prices:

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I have to say, I was a tiny bit disappointed that my copy of Now I Rise arrived a bit more damaged than I would have liked. I never buy from the “Scratch and Dent” section of Book Outlet, so I expect the books to be in good condition. This one had a slash on the spine, and the edges of the dust jacket were a bit more worn out than I expected…but the book was only $5 so I can’t really complain!

This next set was also from the same Book Outlet order. About half of them are books that I’m actively planning to read this year as part of my reading challenges, and the other half are books I’ve been meaning to read and wanted to grab while I could:

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Around the same time, I also placed an order from my local bookstore, because they were offering a “3 books for $20” deal (the top 3 shown below), and the others were discounted a bit because they were new releases, all of which I was very excited to read. All of these books except maybe She Was Always the Quiet One are in my challenge plans for this year:

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This last set was my most recent order, which I also got from my local bookstore because of some great deals with their rewards points. Romance books and YA books were given a huge boost in how many points they would give you. There are three or four books here that I’ve already read and loved, and the others were all on my most anticipated list. Aside from the ones I’ve already read, all of them but Chain of Gold are in my plans for this year too! The only reason Chain of Gold isn’t is because I want to read The Dark Artifices first, and I haven’t been able to get copies of those yet.

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Has anyone else been binge-buying books since the quarantine started? What’s your most exciting purchase?

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books with Jewish Main Characters (Non-YA)

My initial intent this month was to focus only on Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, but I soon discovered that May is Jewish Heritage Month too, in both Canada and the US! I decided it would be only fair to devote a couple of weeks to books by Jewish authors or featuring Jewish protagonists. I’ve been noticing a lot more books lately that feature characters who are Jewish, especially among YA releases (which will be next week’s Top 5 Wednesday). I always find it interesting to see how authors manage to weave in a character’s religion or culture in a way that feels natural to the story. I also wanted to specifically call attention to books about Jewish characters that are not centered around the Holocaust. There are a ton of great historical fiction books about the Holocaust, but it is also good to see a lot more variety in the characters and storylines being presented.

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 Good Neighbor by Amy Sue Nathan

23848035This is one of the books that actually motivated me to think of this topic, since it is a book that I just finished the other day. The main character Izzy Lane is a divorced mother of a 5-year-old son, who moves back into her childhood home, next-door to the elderly Mrs. Feldman. Izzy is also a blogger who  has lied to her friends and her ex, claiming to have a new boyfriend, and her best friend hires her to write a dating column about their relationship. Both Izzy and Mrs. Feldman are Jewish, and although it is not necessarily a part of the main storyline, it was mentioned frequently throughout the book. There were references made to Jewish holidays, traditional foods, etc. that were all presented in such a way that it felt realistic and relevant, even when it wasn’t the main focus. This was a bit of a weird book for me because the story ended up being quite different from what I expected. I thought the  main focus was going to be on Izzy’s blog and fake boyfriend, so I was surprised to see that almost as much attention was given to Izzy and Mrs. Feldman’s friendship. I guess it shouldn’t be such a surprise given the title, but it somehow caught me off-guard!

2) Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

33590214This is another book that I read earlier this year, and it’s another that sprung immediately to mind when I thought of books with Jewish characters. It is loosely based on the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and focuses on a young woman named Aviva Grossman who has an affair with a married congressman. The story is told from the perspectives of Aviva herself, her mother, her daughter, and the congressman’s wife. This was another book that threw me off a bit initially because I expected it to jump straight into Aviva’s story, and instead, it started from her mother’s perspective, but it didn’t take me long to get fully invested in it, and I ended up loving the book! It is another example where the Jewish elements are incorporated into the story and the characters without fully taking over the focus, if that makes sense. The main focus of the book is on the aftermath of the affair and the differences in the way Aviva was treated compared to the married congressman. It just so happened that these characters were also both Jewish, and I loved the way that was incorporated throughout.

3) Invisible City by Julia Dahl

18404089I haven’t read this one yet, but it has been on my TBR for years! This book is the first in a series about Rebekah Roberts, whose mother abandoned her and her father shortly after her birth to return to her Hasidic Jewish community. After graduating from college, Rebekah moves to New York to become a reporter, but is also drawn to the idea of finding her mother again in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn. When she is called to cover the story of a murder in the Hasidic community, Rebekah is shocked to learn that the NYPD is planning to bury the woman without an autopsy, due to the influence of the victim’s husband, who is a powerful man in the community. Rebekah does not want to risk the murderer getting away with the crime, and immerses herself in the Hasidic community where her mother grew up to find out what really happened. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mystery or thriller with this kind of setting before, so it sounds like it will be a very interesting one. I’m especially intrigued because it is about a woman who has ties to this group but is still viewed as an outsider since she did not grow up there, so I’m curious to see how the author manages both sides.

4) The Marrying of Chani Kaufman by Eve Harris

18224489I added this one to my TBR because a coworker recommended it to me several years ago, but mostly forgot about it until I started researching for this post. This book is about a 19-year-old woman named Chani who lives in an ultra-orthodox Jewish community and is betrothed to someone she barely knows. As Chani prepares for her wedding, she takes lessons from the Rabbi’s wife Rivka, who is struggling with her own questions and marriage struggles. I was surprised to see that this book has such mixed reviews on Goodreads. The coworker who recommended it to me is an orthodox Jewish woman herself so I was especially surprised to see so many comments from Jewish reviewers saying that the representation is stereotypical and even very negative in places, especially toward women. Given that, I’m actually a bit hesitant to even include it here in case the representation is harmful in some way. If anyone has read this book, please let me know what you thought! According to my coworker, it was an excellent story so on that basis alone, I included it here.

5) Mother, Can You Not? by Kate Friedman-Siegel

26895155This is the only non-fiction book here, so I guess it’s not really accurate to call it a Jewish “character.” This book is based on the author’s popular Instagram account @CrazyJewishMom, and compiles many of the funny daily text conversations Kate Friedman-Siegel had with her own mother, including many embarrassing moments. I first heard of this book because it was mentioned in my local newspaper, and it sounded like it would be a lot of fun to read. I have not picked it up yet but it has managed to stay on my TBR list for several years now, even though I rarely pick up non-fiction in general. When I first saw this book, I thought it might be stereotypical, but I guess it’s hard to call it that when it is based on real-life conversations between the author and her mother. Even though it is not necessarily a book with a Jewish “character,” I thought it would still be a fun one to include anyway.

 

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Reasons Why I Love Reading Challenges

It was probably an easier option to pick a specific book or genre for this week’s prompt, but I was having trouble coming up with a full list of 10 things! Instead, I decided to back up a bit and focus on my love of reading challenges. I find one of the questions I’m asked most often about my reading habits is why I bother with challenges instead of just reading whatever books I want whenever I want. When I first attempted a reading challenge back in 2015, I decided to try it on a whim because I saw PopSugar’s list posted on Facebook, and thought it looked like fun. I didn’t actually care much at the time whether I finished it or not. Since then, I’ve started expanding it each year to take on more prompts-based challenges each year. It’s getting to the point now where I have to actively plan for the challenges I’ve taken on to take more than one year to complete, but it’s still just as much fun! I was also surprised to see that the last post I made about my reasons for taking on a reading challenge was all the way back in 2016! Each year, I also do a post toward the end of the year of a few of the things I’ve learned about myself or my reading habits by doing a challenge, but I’ve rarely talked about why I like challenges in general so I thought this would be a good opportunity to do it.

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) I love making lists and checking things off

I’m a huge completionist when it comes to crossing items off lists, so I find it very satisfying to look cross each book off as I finish it. I keep tracking of my reading by month in a Word document so I can track which books I read, how many, etc. and some notes on each, and it’s fun for me (but sometimes frustrating, on a slower month) to see how much of each challenge I’ve completed so far!

2) I have a lot of fun with the planning process

A huge part of the fun of reading challenges for me is to compile my list of plans for which books I’m going to read for each prompt. I only take on challenges that have a list of prompts, as opposed to challenges to read a specific number of books but any book counts, and I love planning my list in advance. I always leave myself room for things to change, but I love the scavenger hunt/Tetris aspect of finding books to read and shifting things around to fit in as many of the books I’m most excited for as possible.

3) It encourages me to try new books, genres, or authors

Because the challenges I take on have specific prompts, they often involve me branching out a bit to try something new and especially things that I might not have picked up otherwise. Doing these kinds of challenges helps to remind me to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit and try something new. I rarely (if ever) read something just for the sake of crossing off a prompt — I still have to have at least some interest in the book in order to choose it, but it’s definitely helped me consider more options and discover many new books.

4) It gives me some direction when choosing books

I think this goes hand-in-hand with planning my reading in advance. I generally plan for each year’s reading challenges around November/December of the previous year, so I go into the new year with ideas in mind of which books I want to prioritize. I also usually set myself specific goals, such as prioritizing specific books or authors, reading more of a certain genre, etc. I have a TBR that is approaching 4000 books on Goodreads, so challenges help me narrow things down and actually pick something instead of getting overwhelmed.

5) It reminds me to actively pick up the books that I’m really excited for

I think this one goes back to the list-making aspect a bit, because it reminds me to proactively include those books first. Even just the process of writing down my plans for the year is helpful because it gives me a visual way of seeing if my most anticipated books are there. If not, I know I need to go back and shuffle things around to make sure I fit them in! With such a huge TBR list, it’s very easy for me to forget something.

6) It gives me a community of people to discuss books with

This one can be a challenge sometimes because I often find it hard to keep up with message boards or discussion groups, but most reading challenges have a Facebook or Goodreads group where I can get recommendations for specific prompts or discuss the books that I’m reading. It’s fun to have a community of other book lovers around to share ideas with.

7) It encourages & motivates me to read more in general

I’ve definitely started to read a lot more books each year as a direct result of doing reading challenges. I don’t necessarily like to get too hung up on the number of books, but knowing that I have an on-going reading challenge reminds me to make more time to read in my daily life. I think part of this comes back to the whole “crossing things off a list” aspect because it helps me feel like reading is productive in addition to being a fun hobby.

8) It’s helped me discover many of my favourite books and authors

There are so many books and authors that I doubt I would have encountered if it hadn’t been for reading challenges! Many of them are books that I picked up because I saw a lot of hype online while researching options for different prompts, and I ended up loving them. Since the reading challenges push me outside of my comfort zone a bit and encourage me to read more in general, it’s no surprise that they’ve helped me discover a lot more books and authors to try, and many that I’ve ended up really loving! It’s possible I would have eventually read these books anyway, but I think reading challenges have pushed me to discover them a bit sooner.

9) It’s helped me get better at choosing books that I’m going to enjoy

I find this is especially true in the past couple of years. When I look back at the books that I picked in 2015 and 2016, I saw a lot more books that I picked up even though I wasn’t the most interested because I had few options for a prompt. Over the years, I’ve become a lot better at picking books that I genuinely expect to love. Sometimes I’m wrong, but I rarely have books on my list anymore that I’m reading just for the sake of fulfilling a prompt. My average Goodreads ratings for books I’ve read each year has gone up too!

10) It’s fun!

Ultimately, I do reading challenges each year because I still find them fun! There are some elements of it that can get a bit frustrating at times, such as people bickering over prompts/interpretations of prompts, or struggling to finish all my books “in time,” but I wouldn’t continue to do these challenges if I wasn’t enjoying them! I’ve always found reading a lot of fun, and I love that these challenges have really pushed me to focus on it a bit more again.

Recent Reads #5

This quarantine is going on for much longer than I expected! I’ve been off work for a full two months now, and we’ve just learned that my workplace will remain closed until the end of June at least. Even though I’m still working from home and essentially putting in full days using Zoom, I’ve finally managed to get into a routine and do a lot of reading! I’m really taking advantage of this time off to read some of the longer books that I probably wouldn’t be able to read so easily if I was working, or books that I think would need a bit more concentration. I think the past month alone has been one of my most successful in terms of making that happen! I’ve also been treating myself to a ton of new books, since luckily our local bookstore is still delivering, so I’ve been able to grab many of my most anticipated books to read soon. I’d still much rather be able to go out and have a normal work day, or be able to grab a lunch at the food court and pick up some library books, but that still seems to be a long way off.

25667118One of my goals for the year was to finally read V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy! I’ve had them on my TBR since 2016, but somehow kept putting them off. I think I assumed they would be a lot denser than I expected, since I don’t read a ton of adult fantasy. I’m actually not entirely sure if this series counts as adult or YA. It didn’t feel too different from other YA series that I’ve read, but I know that V.E. Schwab publishes under that name for her adult titles. I was excited to read this one after absolutely adoring every other book of hers that I’ve read, and this series was no exception. I’d often seen it compared to an adult version of Harry Potter, and I can definitely see some resemblances, especially the Element Games which reminded me a lot of the Triwizard Tournament. It took me about a week and a half total to read all three, but they were definitely worth it! I think of all of them, the middle book was my least favourite although not by much (I still gave it 5 stars!). What I loved most about this series were the incredible characters, which is actually what I always tend to love about V.E. Schwab’s books. I especially loved several of the side characters. I’m so glad I finally had the chance to get to this series!

31373184Another book that I was really looking forward to was Call Down the Hawk, given how much I loved The Raven Cycle! I think I hit a tiny bit of a reading slump toward the end of April, which unfortunately did have a bit of an impact on this book for me. I still ended up loving it and I ultimately rated it 4.5 stars rounded up to a 5, although I’m strongly considering changing my rating just to a straight-up 5 stars. I found it a little hard to get into this book at first, because we were thrown straight in with brand new characters, and I was very confused. I did a bit of an experiment with this book since I had a free month of Scribd, and decided to try listening to the audiobook while following along in my own copy. It definitely helped me stay focused and pulled me out of the slump, but I kind of regret reading the book this way! I usually don’t listen to audiobooks unless that is the only format available or if I’m really having trouble getting through a book physically, and neither was the case here. Lucky for me, I ended up loving it anyway and I’m definitely planning to re-read it again at some point physically.

44778083Last month, I thought my biggest accomplishment of the quarantine would be reading The Starless Sea, but I think I’ve topped that now by reading House of Earth and Blood! I was on the fence about whether I’d even end up reading it this year because it is such a long book, but I ended up buying a copy around the time the quarantine started and decided that there was no better time for an 800 page book than when I’m stuck at home anyway. It took me a full week to read, so I can only imagine how long it would have taken if I was trying to pick it up while still working full days, including a couple of days where I didn’t read that much. I am so glad that I read this one when I had the time to focus on it, because it was so good! I absolutely loved the romance and there were so many adorable interactions between them, even as friends. I think my favourite part of the book was the characters, including side characters, and I was a lot more invested in them than I was in the mystery aspect of the plot, although that was very good too. I was very disappointed to see that the next isn’t due out until November 2021!!

Top 5 Wednesdays: Asian-Inspired Fantasy Books (In Honour of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month)

Carrying on with my theme of books for Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I decided to focus this time on some of the many Asian-inspired fantasy books that have come out in the past little while! I was actually surprised to discover that none of these books are actually on my TBR yet, but I’ve strongly considered adding them all. If anyone has any specific recommendations for those or for others, please let me know! I’ve definitely noticed a lot more Asian-inspired fantasy books in the past couple of years, and it’s been so great to see a lot more variety in the characters and settings. I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy so far this year and I’ve been finding myself looking for something a little different. I’m not sure if I’ll be reading any of these soon, but I’ll probably be adding them all to my TBR for the future.

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) Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

34433755This book came out in 2018, and I’ve been hearing about it nonstop for the past year! It is the first book in a fantasy series written by Natasha Ngan, a Malaysian-Chinese author, and set in a world inspired by these cultures. It is about a girl named Lei who is part of the Paper caste, which is the lowest in her world called Ikhara, where each year 8 girls from the Paper caste are chosen to become consorts to the king. When she was younger, her mother was taken away by the royal family, and this year, the king has sent for Lei because her beauty has caught his attention. While training at the palace with the other girls, Lei falls in love and her forbidden romance leads to a plot that could threaten the entire way of the world. The second book in the series just came out last November, and I’m actually surprised that I haven’t heard as much about it as I have about this one. This one sounds very intriguing and I’m definitely adding it to my TBR.

2) Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

36672988. sy475 This book is the first in a Japanese-inspired fantasy series, with the third book just recently released in March. It is about a girl named Yumeko who has been trained her whole life to hide her yokai (demon) side. Yumeko grew up in the isolated Silent Winds temple, but when the temple is burnt down and her family killed, she is forced to run for her life with a part of an ancient scroll. This scroll fragment is part of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, which is thought to summon the great Kami Dragon to grant one wish to whoever holds all the pieces. While on the run, Yumeko meets Kage Tatsumi, a samurai in the Shadow Clan who is under orders to retrieve the scroll at any cost, but the two soon form an unlikely alliance that offers Yumeko her best chance at surival. To be honest, I don’t remember hearing that much about this series although the title does seem familiar. I’m on the fence about adding this one to my TBR because I’ve seen some very mixed reviews from the reviewers I follow, so if anyone has read it, please let me know what you think!

3) Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

42815556This book came out last summer and although it has an excellent average rating on Goodreads, I feel like I haven’t heard very much about it. I was intrigued because I saw it pitched as Mulan, which I love, mixed with Project Runway. It is about a girl named Maia Tamarin who dreams of becoming a tailor, and must disguise herself as a boy to take her father’s place at the royal court. Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job, which includes a seemingly impossible task to prepare three gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be using the sun, the moon and the stars. At the same time, she must keep her true identity hidden, which becomes more complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan. To be honest, I never paid that much attention to this one before but now that I’ve actually read the synopsis properly, it sounds so good! I’ve also seen comparisons to both Renee Ahdieh and Sarah J. Maas, and I’ve really enjoyed books by both of them. The second book in this series is due out this July.

4) The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

38205303This book is another 2019 release, and it seems to have mostly flown under the radar. This is the first book in a debut trilogy that is inspired by Hindu mythology and ancient India, which is a setting that I’ve rarely seen before! It is about a girl named Esha who moonlights as a highly skilled assassin known as The Viper, and she has been given the task of taking out General Hotha. Kuna, a trained soldier and the General’s nephew, has been raised since childhood to uphold the power of the King, even though Kuna would rather be a part of the outside world. When Esha and Kuna’s paths cross, they both think they are the ones in charge and they are both forced to make difficult choices as their homeland becomes more volatile. This is another series that I really have not heard very much about, but it sounds like it could be interesting. I’m most intrigued by the setting, especially since it is one that I have not seem very often.

5) Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

42133479. sx318 I think of all the books here, aside from Girls of Paper and Fire, this is the one that I’ve heard of most often. Somehow I initially thought this one was based on Japanese folklore, but it is actually Korean. It is about an 18-year-old named Gu Miyoung, who is secretly a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox that devours the energy of men to survive. After feeding one night, she encounters a human boy named Jihoon and decides to rescue him, losing her gumiho soul in the process. Jihoon knows that Miyoung is a gumiho and that she could be dangerous, but he is drawn to her anyway and the two of them soon forge a strong bond. When a young shaman tries to restore Miyoung’s soul, she is forced to make the choice between her imortal life and Jihoon’s. I’m intrigued by this one because I know very little about Korean mythology, so that aspect of it alone sounds very interesting. It’s another case where I’ve seen pretty mixed reviews so far, so if anyone has read it, please let me know what you think!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books I’ve Abandoned (For Now)

I had to adapt this week’s topic a bit because I generally don’t abandon books! There has only been one book that I DNF’d since I started doing reading challenges, and that was a book that wasn’t even for a challenge. It was a random YA choose-your-own adventure book that I read at the library while there with one of the clients I was supporting at work, and it was just terrible. The only other books that I’ve ever DNF’d were classics that I tried to read long before I was actually ready to try them, such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which I expected to be exactly like the Disney movie (I was about 8). Instead, I decided to focus on some of the books that I’ve temporarily abandoned from my challenge plans, either because I didn’t get to them by the end of the year I’d intended to read them, or because I switched them out in favour of something else. They are books I technically “abandoned” at the time, but not forever!

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) Puddin’ by Julie Murphy

28269171. sy475 I’ve had this one down as a tentative option for a “rejects challenge” prompt for two years now, but I recently decided to switch it out. I read Dumplin’ back in 2018 and I loved it, and I’ve been meaning to read this follow-up ever since. This one follows Millie, one of the side characters from Dumplin, who has decided to pursue her dream of becoming a broadcast journalist, and wants to go to a summer camp for that instead of being sent back to fat camp. It also follows Callie, one of the school’s mean girls who is forced to volunteer at the gym where Millie works, and the two of them develop an unexpected friendship. The only reason that I ultimately “abandoned” this one is because I had another book that I really wanted to read that couldn’t find a place to fit it in. I had this one down for a prompt requiring a book set in the Southern USA, which was a fit for the other book as well, so I ultimately decided to switch it out. I’m still planning to read this one at some point!

2) The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

47021I had this play down for a prompt asking for a classic that I’d always meant to read, but I ended up going with The War of the Worlds instead because I had a Scribd trial and wanted to listen to the audiobook. Somehow, I think I assumed that the audiobook was going to be like the infamous radio broadcast, but it wasn’t. I put this one down as an option because I first heard of it when I was at day camp, around age 10 or so. I had another camper in my group who went to a Performing Arts school, and she had been cast in her school’s production of this play. I’ve been meaning to read it ever since, but somehow never got around to it. It was not one of the Shakespeare plays that I studied in school and it’s been hard for me to motivate myself to read any Shakespeare since then, even though I still want to try it. I’ve been considering listening to this one as an audiobook because I find it much easier to understand Shakespeare if I hear it, so it’s definitely not abandoned forever.

3) The Wicked & The Divine series by Kieron Gillen

23093359I intended to have this entire series on my priority list to read this year, but ultimately abandoned it for now because I was having trouble fitting all of the books in. Technically, I could have made it work, but it would have meant sacrificing other books that I wanted to read more to squeeze all of these in. I read the first one back in 2017 and I liked it, but also found it a bit confusing. I would definitely need to restart before I moved on to the rest. This series is about a group of gods that have been reincarnated as humans and if I remember correctly, they are some kind of celebrities. I’ve already made a note to myself to try again to prioritize this series next year instead, and hopefully it will be a bit easier to fit them all in. It came down to a choice between these books or the Saga series, and I decided that I wanted to read Saga more. This feels like one of those graphic novel series that I “should” read at some point because I’ve seen so much hype for it.

4) The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle

15655. sy475 I’m actually a bit upset that I’ve abandoned this one again! It’s one of those books that I’ve had on my TBR forever and even specifically bought from Book Outlet with the intent of reading it sooner, but have now put off for two years. It’s not even for any specific issue with the book because it does sound very interesting! It is about a young widow named Sarah who is raising two boys: her own son, Danny, and a troubled classmate named Jordan, whom she also agrees to take in as a foster child. I’ve put this book into my challenge plans for at least two years now, and I always seem to find myself putting it off. This year, I kept switching it to several different prompts to make room for other books, and ultimately ended up removing it completely because there was a newer release that I wanted to fit in instead. If I don’t end up reading this one before the end of the year, I think I’m going to have to put it straight to the top of my priority list for 2021. I’ve been putting it off for so long that it’s getting ridiculous!

5) The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

13056159. sy475 I had this book tentatively down for a prompt requiring a book set in the 1920s, but I’m likely to switch it out for another book that I already own. Given the pandemic, I’m trying to use the books I own as much as possible, and even though this book has been on my TBR since 2016, I wasn’t 100% sold on it even when I chose it. At the time, it was one of the only books that I could find that fit the prompt. This one is set in 1922, and it follows a 15-year-old girl named Louise who is on her way to a prestigious dance school in New York, accompanied by her 36-year-old chaperone, Cora, who has her own reasons for wanting to travel to the city. Cora is hoping to find answers to some of her questions about her own past, while also watching over Louise in her quest to become a Hollywood star. I’ve heard some great things about this one, but I’ve been having trouble motivating myself to pick up historical fiction in general, especially about eras that I’m not the most familiar with. I haven’t completely ruled out reading this one for my challenge this year yet, but I’m leaning toward picking the book I own just to be safe.

6) Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

5231173I think of all the books listed here, this is the one that I am least likely to pick up any time soon. I was only mildly interested in it to begin with, and chose it mostly because it was the only book I could think of to fit a challenge prompt requiring the number 20 in the title. I have a few of Sarah Ockler’s books on my TBR but keep putting them off because I feel like I’ve likely outgrown them, but I haven’t been willing to take them off my list either because they do sound interesting. This one is about a girl named Anna who is spending 20 days in Zanzibar Bay with her best friend Frankie, who decides that if they meet one boy every day, there is a good chance Anna will find a summer romance. Anna is also hiding the fact that she already had a romance with Frankie’s older brother before his death one year before. This is not the kind of book that I pick up often at this point because I’ve read similar storylines many times, so I tend to look for something with a bit more of a unique angle. This one feels more along the lines of Sarah Dessen or Jenny Han, which were authors that I’d mostly skipped over when I was in the target age group, and now suspect I’ve outgrown.

7) Delicates by Brenna Thummler

42969318. sy475 This is definitely a book that I’ve only temporarily abandoned, and the only reason I did so was because I wasn’t sure it would actually end up coming out this year as scheduled. This book is supposed to be out in August, but there is no firm release date yet, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get a copy in time to read it for my reading challenges. Switching it out also helped me solve a mix-up with my plans for the Saga graphic novels, so it actually worked out. This book is the sequel to the graphic novel Sheets, which is about a young girl named Marjorie who is running her family’s laundromat, and makes friends with a ghost of a boy around her age named Wendell. I read Sheets last year and I really liked it so I was looking forward to the next part of the story, but I’m very skeptical that it will actually be released this year. There is so little information available about it right now, so it doesn’t seem very promising. This is definitely one that I will pick up once it finally comes out and I hope we get some more information soon, but I’ve had to abandon it from my plans for now.

8) Second House From the Corner by Sadeqa Johnson

25663819. sy475 I bought this one completely on a whim from Book Outlet last year, and tried to fit it into my reading challenge plans for both 2019 and 2020, but ultimately ended up switching it out both times. It is about a stay-at-home mother named Felicia, who receives an unexpected phone call that threatens to upend her life. She is forced to return to her childhood home where she must deal with her ex and some long-buried secrets that could threaten her home and her family. It probably didn’t help my motivation that there were some very mixed reviews for this one on Goodreads. I very briefly had this book down as an option for a challenge prompt this year, but switched it out for something else pretty quickly and didn’t bother finding a different place for it. I will definitely have to prioritize it at some point, along with my many other unread books from Book Outlet, but for now, I’m considering it an abandoned book.

9) The New Neighbour by Leah Stewart

27276331. sy475 I’m a little upset about abandoning this one because I really wanted to read it last year, but I just ran out of time! I tried my best to fit it in this year instead but somehow couldn’t find a place for it. It is about a 90-year-old woman named Margaret who rarely leaves home and loves to read mystery novels. She soon takes an interest in Jennifer, the woman who moved into the house across the pond with her 4-year-old son named Milo to escape their past. Margaret sees her new neighbour as both a potential new friend and also a mystery, and she hopes to be able to get Jennifer to open up to her, but Jennifer refuses to say anything about her family or her past, forcing Margaret to cross more and more boundaries to find the truth, putting the new life Jennifer is attempting to create as stake. I was intrigued by this one because it’s been compared to Zoe Heller’s What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal, which I also really enjoyed. This is another one that I’ll have to prioritize for next year if I can’t find a place for it.

10) Suggested Reading by David Connis

34449411. sy475 This is another book that I’ve had to abandon just for now, not forever, because I couldn’t fit it into my reading challenges without sacrificing something else that I really wanted to read too. It is about a girl named Clara who discovers that her principal has a list of books to be removed from the library and banned from the school’s premises. Clara decides to fight back by starting an underground library in her locker to make sure her classmates have access to many of the same books that she thinks have changed her life. However, when one of her favourite books is connected with an unexpected tragedy, Clara is forced to consider whether she may have had a role in what happened, and rethink her principal’s stance on these books. I’ve seen a few books out in the past couple of years that deal with students fighting back against banned books, and it seems like such an interesting premise. I live in Canada, where book banning is not very common, so it’s interesting to me to read about students taking a stand about it.

 

7 On Sunday: Favourite Fictional Mother Figures

It’s too bad that I didn’t plan my reading out a bit better, because I have several books on my TBR this month that focus on mothers! I’m still very confused by the fact that I can’t seem to find a post I could have sworn I’d made about favourite fictional mothers. I decided to focus on fictional mothers or mother figures in general and not limit myself to just books. I actually do read a lot of books that focus on mothers and their relationships with their families, but many of these are thrillers or books where the mother might not be the best. In YA, I tend to find a lot of books have mothers who have left or died, or who do not get along very well with the main character. Instead, I wanted to mention a few of my favourite fictional mothers from TV and movies since they are a lot more memorable to me.

7 on Sunday is a new weekly project that was started by Grace of G-Swizzel Books, with a weekly topic for videos and/or blog posts! The official Goodreads group with topics can be found here.

1) Molly Weasley from The Harry Potter series

13. Molly Weasley | Who's the most magic of them all? All Harry ...I’m sure Molly Weasley is at the top of many people’s lists of favourite fictional mothers, and I think in this case, it applies equally to both the book and movie versions. Not only was Molly a great mother to her own children, but she also essentially took in Hermione and especially Harry. I think one of my favourite fan-made posts I’ve ever seen is an explanation of Molly “forgetting” how to get onto the Platform in the first book. As a Hogwarts graduate herself and with so many children who had already gone through, there is no way she would have just forgotten. Instead, this fan proposed that Molly noticed that Harry was trying to figure it out and, not wanting to embarrass him, made a point of walking past him talking loudly about it so he would know that he could follow them. It’s such a brilliant re-writing of the scene, and honestly, I think it sums up Molly’s character perfectly. While Harry and especially Ron might find her a bit smothering at times, mostly when she won’t let them do something potentially dangerous, she does her best to make sure the entire family has everything they need, even with their limited finances and is also generous enough to share what they do have with Harry and Hermione. Plus she is incredibly protective and everything she does is to look out for her family’s best interests.

2) Morticia Addams from The Addams Family

Can We Talk About...? Anjelica Huston's Iconically Campy Morticia ...The Addams Family pretty much always shows up on my lists of favourite fictional families, so Morticia is no exception. I’ve always been obsessed with every incarnation of the series, beginning with the movies and the 1998 New Addams Family TV show. I vaguely remember watching the cartoons in the early 90s too, but I was too young at the time to remember very much of them. Morticia makes my list because she is a strong mother figure in her eccentric family. She always keeps calm and collected, even when there are problems, and she is completely devoted to her husband and children. Morticia is an interesting character because every actress plays her a tiny bit differently, but the the one thing that is always consistent is her focus on the family. Even in the TV series where Morticia tried her hand a multiple different jobs, her family was always what was most important. I even remember an episode in The New Addams Family where Morticia got so invested in one of her jobs that she completely neglected the family, only to eventually come back to the conclusion that her family was most important. It may not necessarily be the most progressive message, but it is still Morticia making a personal choice about what is best for herself and her family.

3) Marge Simpson from The Simpsons

Matt Groening's Mother, Inspiration For Marge Simpson, Dies ...Marge was one of the first mothers who came to mind, and for a pretty similar reason to Morticia. Marge has also tried her hand at a ton of different jobs and hobbies over the many years that the show has been on, but her family always comes first. Marge very strongly believes the best of her family, especially Homer and Bart, and is willing to fight for them when needed. She is definitely not a perfect person, and there have been many times where her decisions might not have been the best, but it is obvious that she loves her husband and her children very much. Marge also tends to spend a lot of time with all of her children (too much sometimes, by their standards) and makes sure they all get her attention. It’s a bit tough since Marge’s characterization does vary a bit over the years and the wide variety of plotlines, many of which are one-off episodes that are never mentioned again, but I really think she tries her best to be a great mom. She tends to be very levelheaded in most situations and always tries to steer the family toward the right path, but is also not afraid to admit when she makes mistakes.

4) Amy Matthews from Boy Meets World

The Mom From 'Boy Meets World' Prepared Me To Be Invisible One Day ...Boy Meets World is still one of my all-time favourite shows, so I grew up watching the Matthews family. To be fair, I’ve always found Amy a little on the annoying side, and that hasn’t changed even now when I’m rewatching the show for the millionth time as an adult. To be fair, I rarely enjoyed the parent characters on any of the shows I watched as a kid. Amy and her husband Alan were both great parents, and were always there for their children. She gave great advice and always seemed to know what was going on with her kids, and even sometimes helped to reign Alan in from being too strict. In most cases, she was willing to let her children make their own mistakes and learn from them, such as allowing Eric to fall for what seems to be a modeling scam at the mall so he might learn now to waste his money. It always frustrated me a bit when she came down so hard on Cory and Topanga (mostly Topanga) for choosing to plan their futures together from a young age. She had always seemed so supportive of them, so it felt a bit out of character, especially given that she and Alan had also married young and made it work. I can understand her worrying about Cory, but it seems a bit strange to tell them that those kinds of relationships rarely work out when hers did. Either way, she was generally a great mom and such a strong support for her children.

5) Joyce Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

buffy joyce – Persephone MagazineThis is another character that I didn’t really care for the first few times I watched Buffy, but I grew to appreciate her more as I got older. Even before she knew that Buffy was a Slayer, Joyce did everything in her power to try and make things work. Unaware of the supernatural reasons for a lot of Buffy’s odd behaviour, she believed her daughter was just a troublemaker and wanted her to get a fresh start where she could move on. Without knowing what Buffy was doing, she was originally a bit of an obstacle by trying to punish or ground her for doing her Slayer duties, and even ultimately kicks Buffy out at first upon learning what her daughter is. Eventually, she is able to come to some kind of acceptance and even acknowledges her own mistake in pushing Buffy away. From then on, she shifts her focus to concern for Buffy’s future, but eventually they come to a strong adult relationship after Buffy leaves for college. Joyce is another great example of a mother who, while not perfect, only wanted what was best for her daughter and did whatever she could to secure that for her. There is a good reason why the episode The Body is so powerful, and that’s a testament to the strength of the character and the role she played not just for Buffy, but for her friends too, even for Spike!

6) Lorelai Gilmore from The Gilmore Girls

What Makes Up The Diet Of A Gilmore Girl? Lorelai & Rory Have Very ...Full disclosure: I actively avoided this series when it first came out because I found Lorelai really annoying from the brief clips that I’d seen! I finally decided to watch it around the time I first got Netflix and was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it, a lot more than I’d expected. I’m not sure I can honestly say that Lorelai is a great mother in terms of her parenting decisions, but I can’t deny the bond she has with Rory. She raised her daughter mostly alone after getting pregnant at only 16, rejecting her parents’ plan for her to marry her boyfriend because she knew she just wasn’t ready. I do think Lorelai made a lot of very questionable parenting decisions and I’m not sure their best friends dynamic was always the healthiest for their relationship, but there were a lot of things that Lorelai did right. She gave Rory a lot of room to be independent, pursue her own interests and develop her own relationship with her grandparents separate from Lorelai’s issues with them. I actually also really enjoyed the moments where Lorelai did play the “mom card” such as confronting Rory about her affair with Dean, because it showed that as relaxed as she is about most of it all, she was very invested in Rory’s life and choices.

7) Grams from Dawson’s Creek

Mary Beth Peil on Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise, Chris Noth, and How ...This one was a last-minute addition to my list! When I was thinking of the shows I love, I thought of Dawson’s Creek but pretty quickly dismissed it but I wasn’t a huge fan of Dawson’s mother, Gail. I can’t believe I almost forgot about Evelyn Ryan, better known as Jen’s Grams! I wasn’t such a fan of Grams when I first saw the show because she was a bit too religious for me, but this was another character that I came to appreciate a lot more when I rewatched the show as an adult. Grams took Jen in after she was kicked out by her parents, and quickly became the levelheaded voice of reason for Jen and her friends. She seemed quite stuck in her own ways in the beginning, but actually grew quite a bit as the series progressed. I think her acceptance of Jack and standing up for him when another religious young man expressed negativity about him for his sexuality. She is tough on Jen, and really on all of them, but even when she is pushing them, it is for their own good. She develops such a strong relationship with Jen despite a rocky start, and was a fantastic mother figure to her.