Top 10 Tuesdays: Most Anticipated Books For the Second Half of 2020

One of the things I’ve learned about myself this year, especially since the lockdown, is that I’m very good at getting excited about upcoming books, but not necessarily as good at actually following through and reading them. I literally have 8 full pages on Goodreads (20 books per page) of upcoming releases due out 2021 or later! I was very excited for this week’s topic because it was a great excuse to look again at some of the books coming out later this year, but I knew it would be a huge challenge to narrow it down. It’s a bit weird to me that I have more books on my TBR from 2021 or later than I do from November or December of this year, and I’m not entirely sure how that happened. I don’t know if there are just few book releases around that time, but I’d imagine before the holidays would be a great time to publish new releases. The list below is just a few of the books I’m most excited for, and I generally excluded any that I felt like I’d already mentioned repeatedly, just for the sake of variety.

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) Loveless by Alice Oseman (July 9)

42115981. sy475 This is one of the few, and possibly the only, book on this list that I’m actively planning to read this year if I can. I read Radio Silence late last year and immediately decided that I needed to read more of Alice Oseman’s books. This one is about a girl named Georgia who has never been in a relationship or even had a crush on anyone, and she worries that something might be wrong with her. When she moves to university, she is determined to find love, and begins to wonder why it seems to be so difficult for her when it is so easy for everyone else. As far as I know, this book is ultimately about Georgia coming to terms with being on the asexual spectrum, and I’m very excited to give it a try. I loved Alice Oseman’s writing style and characters in Radio Silence, and I’ve been looking forward to trying another of her books. This one sounds absolutely amazing, and I get the feeling I will relate quite a bit to Georgia since I never really had crushes when I was younger either.

2) The End of Her by Shari Lapena (July 23)

50482978I’ve been stocking up on Shari Lapena’s books since they all sound great! I’ve read only two of her books so far, and really enjoyed them both, although neither of them quite reached a full 5 stars for me. To be fair, An Unwanted Guest came pretty close! This book is her upcoming release about a couple, Stephanie and Patrick, who are adjusting to their new life with baby twins. When Erica, a woman from Patrick’s past who raises questions about his late first wife, suddenly shows up, Stephanie is quick to support her husband, despite Erica’s threats to go to the police. Patrick worries that his job and reputation will be on the line, but as the police start digging into Erica’s claims, Stephanie’s belief in him begins to waver and she has to decide what to do and who to believe, in order to keep her daughters safe. This is the kind of thriller storyline that I tend to love, and I’m looking forward to giving this one a try.

3) The Night Swim by Megan Goldin (August 4)

51169341I guess it’s a little silly to have this as one of my most anticipated books when I haven’t even read the first one by this author yet, but it sounds so interesting! I’m planning to read The Escape Room pretty early in July too, and I’m expecting to love it. This one is about a woman named Rachel who runs a true crime podcast that has made her a household name. She receives a mysterious note on her windshield asking for help on an unsolved case, involving the town’s golden boy who has been accused of raping the police chief’s granddaughter. Under pressure to make the new season of her podcast as successful as the first, Rachel decides to dive into the investigation, but soon realizes that someone is following her, and they want her to find out what happened to another woman, who died in an apparent drowning accident 25 years before. As Rachel starts to notice surprising connections between the two cases, she realizes solving the older mystery may change the course of the current trial too. I’m hoping to love Megan Goldin’s writing as much as I expect, because her plots always sound so good!

4) The Assignmentby Liza M. Wiemer (August 25)

43164249I’ve had this book on my list since I first heard about it in March 2019! It is about two high school seniors, Logan and Cade, who are horrified when their teacher assigns a group of students to argue in favour of the Nazi’s Final Solution. They are shocked that their teacher would expect students to work on such an assignment, and decide to take a stand to force the school and the community to face the issue. I am very interested to see how the author delves into this topic and especially the teacher’s reasons for giving the assignment. Aside from the topic of the book itself, I’m also very interested because it’s great to see a book set in high school that does not seem to be primarily focused on romance and/or getting into college. I have seen quite a few stories in the news over the past few years of people speaking out against schoolwork that seemed inappropriate or discriminatory, so it is definitely a very relevant topic. I am very intrigued by this one and if I don’t get to it this year, it will be high on my list for next year.

5) Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson (September 15)

49397758As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, Tiffany D. Jackson has quickly become one of my new favourite YA authors. I was very excited to see that she has a new book due out later this year. It is about an aspiring singer named Enchanted, who gets drawn into the professional music world by Korey Fields, a famous R&B artist, after he sees her audition. Enchanted soon realizes that her dreams are not what she expects, due to Korey’s control and rage. When Enchanted wakes up with blood on her hands and no memory of the night before, only to learn that Korey had died that night, all signs seem to indicate that she killed him. I’m not usually interested in stories about fame, but this one sounds amazing! I’ve heard that it is loosely based on R. Kelly’s case, which is very interesting. I’ve loved all of Tiffany D. Jackson’s books so far so this one was one that immediately jumped out as one of my most anticipated books of the year. It’s another one that I might not get to pick up before the end of the year, but if not, it will be right at the top of my list for 2021.

6) The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult (September 22)

50265329I was surprised to see that Jodi Picoult had a new book due out later this year! It’s been two years since A Spark of Light, which I enjoyed but it wasn’t my favourite of hers. To be honest, it took me a couple of tries to figure out what this book was really about, but when I did, it sounded really cool. It is about a woman named Dawn who is on a flight home, when the flight attendant announces that they are preparing for a crash landing. Dawn is shocked to realize that her first thoughts of Wyatt Armstrong, a man she has not seen in 15 years, instead of her own husband. Surviving the crash, Dawn begins to wonder whether she’s made the right decisions in her life, and faces the choice of going home to her husband and daughter, or returning to the archaeological site in Egypt that she left years ago, to reconnect with Wyatt and continue their research. Egyptian history and mythology has always been very interesting to me, and I’d love to see how Jodi Picoult weaves it into her book. I always look forward to her new releases.

7) The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (October 6)

50623864feel like I’ve been hearing about this book for years, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was finally coming out! This is a book that V.E. Schwab has been working on for absolutely ages. It is about a young woman named Addie LaRue who makes a deal with the devil to live forever, but she is cursed to be forgotten by everyone that she meets. After nearly 300 years of trying to leave her mark on the world, Addie meets a young man who remembers her name. V.E. Schwab is another of my favourite authors, and her books are all automatically added to my TBR. Luckily, this one comes out just before my birthday, so it’s definitely going to be at the top of my wishlist too! I have heard such incredible things about it from people who have read the ARCs so far, but I’ve also intentionally avoided looking for too much detail about it because I want it to be a surprise. I can’t wait to pick this one up!

8) Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Malloy (October 13)

40221985I loved The Perfect Mother, so I was very excited to see a new release by the same author! This one is about a newly married couple, Sam and Annie, who are excited to be starting their lives together in Sam’s hometown. Unfortunately, Annie soon realizes that her life is not what she expected, with Sam working long hours as a therapist in his office downstairs, while she is left mostly alone and jealous of his mostly female clients. Sam also doesn’t realize that his sessions can be overheard through the vent in the ceiling. Everything seems to be okay until Sam decides to go out one day and doesn’t come back. I don’t know too much more about this one, but I’ve seen a few comparisons to Stephen King’s Misery, which is very intriguing. I don’t particularly love Stephen King’s writing, but Misery was a very interesting and creepy story, so I’d love to see how this one compares.

9) One by One by Ruth Ware (November 12)

51003609. sx318 Like Shari Lapena, Ruth Ware is another author I’ve been stocking up on, although her books have also been solid 4 stars for me. This one reminded me quite a bit of Shari Lapena’s An Unwanted Guest, and I was actually a bit surprised to see another similar story so soon. This one is about a group of people who get snowed in together at a mountain chalet due to an avalanche during a company retreat. When one of the employees is found dead in their room, the others begin to suspect that they were killed, which must mean that there is still a killer among them. I’ve been really getting into these kinds of locked-door mysteries, so it’s great to have another one coming out later on this year. Ruth Ware’s books always sound so good, and I’m hoping that this will be the one to finally reach a full 5 stars!

10) The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley (December 1)

48946719I’ve only read one of Robin Talley’s books so far, but I keep meaning to read more! This is her upcoming release due out right at the end of this year, which is about a girl named Melody, who is the stage manager for her high school musical. Melody always has a plan for every possible problem on stage, but is not so successful when it comes to her love life. Every time she falls for someone during a performance, both the romance and the show go wrong, so she decides to swear off any romances until their current production of Les Mis is over. Unfortunately for her, she soon means Odile Rose, a rising star who is auditioning for the performance, and realizes she may be falling for her! This book just sounds adorable and as much as I don’t care for stories about fame, I somehow always seem to enjoy books about theatre productions. I definitely need to read more of Robin Talley’s books.

Since it was so hard to narrow down, here are some more of the books that I’m really looking forward to this year:

Stacking the Shelves (#32)

I spent most of this month feeling like I hadn’t really added anything new to my list, so I was surprised to realize there were 70 new books there! It’s a little irritating that a few of those books are ones that had already been on my TBR, but got added again because they came up as Goodreads giveaways. It’s frustrating that they end up adding the book to my TBR again, given that a book needs to be on your TBR in order to be notified of the giveaway in the first place! Either way, I didn’t realize I’d added quite so many books! It seems that a good chunk of them are because I’d browsed lists of upcoming releases…and by upcoming, I mean books due out in 2022 and even 2023! There probably isn’t much point in having them on my list so many years in advance, but it’s at least a reminder to check them out when they do come out. Aside from that, many of them were books that I found through recommendations on Youtube, or because they came up in my Goodreads feed.

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) Charming as a Verb by Ben Philippe

49867239I think I first saw this one mentioned on Twitter, and was immediately drawn in by the title. If I remember correctly, it came up in a list of upcoming books by Black authors which was posted toward the beginning of the current BLM movement. It is about a young man named Henri who is good at charming people, and also dreams of going to Columbia University. He is also the son of Haitian immigrants. The only person who doesn’t seem to fall for his charm is Corinne, a classmate who discovers his dog-walking business might not be so honest and blackmails him into helping her. They soon discover that their connection goes much deeper. This book is not due out until September, assuming it does not get pushed back like so many others, but it sounds so cute! This book is by the same author as The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, which came out last year. I haven’t read that one either and I’ve been on the fence about it because of some very mixed reviews, but this one sounds like something I’d really enjoy.

2) The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters

50156232I’ve been hearing about this author for a long time because of How to Be Remy Cameron, which has been highly recommended by many of the channels I follow. This book is also out in September, and I think even on the same date as the previous one above. It is about a comic book geek named Wesley who has a crush on his best friend, Nico. Nothing seems to be helping him with his crush, and his dream job at the local used bookstore is also falling apart. At the same time, Wes is also annoyed because his brother expects Wes to help plan his wedding. With all of this happening at once, Wes is finally forced to face the realities of becoming an adult, and must struggle to balance saving his job and his difficult relationship with his brother, all while trying to win over his crush. I’ve been looking for more books that deal with this kind of post-high school period, and I’m so glad to see that there have been more published lately. I’ve heard such great things about Julian Winters’ books in general, so it was an easy decision to add this one to my list.

3) Perfect On Paper by Sophie Gonzales

49204960I can’t remember how I first found this one, but I remember that it immediately caught my attention. This one is by the same author as Only Mostly Devastated, which I’m also very excited to read, but it is not due out until next March! It is about a girl named Darcy Phillips who secretly runs Locker 89, a locker in her high school where people can leave notes and $5 in exchange for relationship advice. No one knows that she is the person behind it until Brougham, a senior, catches her and promises to keep it a secret if she can help him win his ex-girlfriend back. Darcy is determined to keep her secret, especially because she once misused her anonymity to sabotage her best friend’s new relationship due to her Darcy’s own feelings for her. Something about this one reminds me a bit of the Netflix movie The Half of It, which I still need to watch! I think it’s because in both cases, I naturally assumed the main character would fall for the guy they were helping, but also have a female love interest. This sounds like something I’d really enjoy, and I’m looking forward to reading it when it comes out next year.

4) With You All the Way by Cynthia Hand

52662528. sy475 This is another book that I must have found while looking for upcoming releases from 2021 and beyond, because it is also not due out until next March. I was drawn to it because of the author because I already have so many of her books on my TBR, even though I haven’t tried any yet. This book is about a girl named Ada who catches her boyfriend cheating on her after she tells him she is not ready for sex, and she is also frustrated with her older sister’s constant attempts to give her advice. When her mother drags the family to Hawaii for an annual conference, Ada is shocked to discover that her mother is having an affair. Deciding that it seems no one can stop themselves from sleeping with people (sometimes the wrong people), she decides to just get her first time over with. I don’t think the cover for this one was revealed when I first added it to my list, but it is so beautiful! Even though the plot sounds amazing, I’m a tiny bit on the fence because it has been compared to Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han, and I find their books tend to skew a bit too young for me. This one has also been tagged as the Forever of this generation, which seems like an interesting comparison.

5) Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon

51256637. sy475 This one definitely did not have a cover last time I checked, so I was surprised to realize that one had been revealed! I have not read Frankly in Love yet, but I plan to read it in the next couple of weeks. This book is David Yoon’s next release, due out this November. It is about a nerdy boy named Sunny who meets a girl named Cirrus and he is immediately impressed by how cool she is. When Cirrus mistakes Sunny’s brother’s room for his own, he lies to impress her and says that he is in a rock band. The lie immediately spirals out of control, with Sunny recruiting his friends to form a fake band with him and he borrows his brother’s clothes to keep up the act. Sunny soon realizes that the lie is making classmates notice him in the halls and he feels more confident. As his relationship with Cirrus becomes closer, Sunny realizes he is having fun and might even become a rocker for real, but it is only a matter of time before his lies catch up to him. I’m not usually that interested in books that revolve around music or fame, but this one sounds so good!

6) When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

50173039I was surprised to realize that this book was by the same author as the Reluctant Royals series! I haven’t read those, but I’ve heard so much about them in the past few years. I believe this book is Alyssa Cole’s first thriller, and anyone who has been following my posts for a while probably won’t be surprised that it was the cover that drew me in. This book is about a woman named Sydney who lives in a neighbourhood in Brooklyn that seems to be constantly changing. Sydney decides to channel her frustrations into organizing a walking tour to highlight the area’s history, and soon connects with her new neighbour Theo, who agrees to help her. As they dive into the history, they soon begin to suspect that the neighbours who moved out to the suburbs may not have actually done that at all, and the attempts to “revitalize” the community may have something darker behind it. This one seems especially interesting because it’s an angle I don’t think I’ve seen before. I’ve read similar thrillers about creepy houses that have a dark history, but I don’t think I’ve read any that focus on an entire neighbourhood and gentrification that may have ulterior motives. It definitely sounds very interesting!

7) Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

51934838I’ve seen this one mentioned quite a few times on YouTube lately, but I’m also a bit nervous to try it because I’ve heard it is extremely confusing. I was drawn to it because it was a gothic style mystery, which I tend to love. Catherine House is a school that has a very selective admissions policy, but produces some of the world’s best figures in a variety of fields. However, accepting admission also comes with a price — all students are required to give the school three full years, including the summers, where they live completely removed from the outside world. They are not allowed to see friends or family or have access to TV or music, in exchange for an assured prestigious future. Ines, a student in the incoming class is hoping the school will become the home she has never had, and her new roommate soon becomes a good friend. However, as the strange rules begin to make it feel more like a prison and her roommate’s quest for acceptance ends in tragedy, Ines begins to suspect that the school might be hiding terrible secrets. This sounds absolutely amazing, but I’m a bit worried to see that several people have already found it so difficult to follow. I’d love to give this one a chance and see for myself.

8) Each of Us is a Desert by Mark Oshiro

41555962I’m fairly sure this one has been on my TBR for ages already, but got re-added because of a Goodreads giveaway. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before though, so I thought it was worth including here anyway even if it isn’t technically a new addition. This book is about a girl named Xochital who is destined to wander the desert alone, telling her stories the wind. Her only companions are the stars and the lines of poetry strewn across the desert sands. One night, her wish to share her heart with someone is granted when she meets Emilia, the daughter of the town’s murderous mayor, and the two set out on a journey across the desert. They soon realize that their hearts might fit together, if they can survive the terrors that happen when the sun goes down. I really enjoyed Anger is a Gift, so I was excited to see a new book by this author. This one is a completely different genre, and it sounds so intriguing. I’m looking forward to giving it a try, but it is not out until September!

9) Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas

49095574. sy475 I have so many of Claire Douglas’s books on my TBR, but haven’t tried any of them yet! This one is her upcoming 2020 release, due out this August. It is about a woman named Una whose heart is broken after her mother’s death. Looking for a place to heal, she decides to respond to an advertisement that brings her into contact with Elspeth McKenzie, whose home may not be as safe as it seems. Elspeth’s daughter Kathryn resents Una, but even more creepy than that is Una’s realization that two other girls had lived there before and both of them ended up dead. With the McKenzies refusing to talk about them, Una begins to fear that she will end up like the other two. This sounds like exactly the kind of thriller that I tend to love, and I’d be very interested in trying it. In any case, with literally all of Claire Douglas’s books on my TBR, I really should prioritize reading at least one of them!

10) You Lucky Dog by Julia London

49109508I found this one because I saw it recommended by Heather on her channel Bookables, in a recent video about summer reads. It is about a woman named Carly whose life is falling apart, and her sister convinces her to foster a basset hound named Baxter, who seems depressed. Coming home late from work one day, she realizes that the dog walker has accidentally switched Baxter for another basset hound, a female dog that belongs to Max. When she arrives on his doorstep to switch the dogs back, they realize that the two dogs seem to have fallen for each other. Realizing that Max’s dog Hazel may be the cure Baxter needs, the two start spending more time together for the sake of their dogs, and Carly soon realizes that opposites attract. This sounds absolutely adorable, and it reminds me quite a bit of 101 Dalmatians! The live action version of the movie was one of my favourites, and I used to love the idea of the dogs falling in love at the same time as their owners did. I was surprised to see a book with a similar concept, but it sounds so cute! This book is not out until the end of August, and I’m not sure I’ll end up reading it this year, but it may be strangely high on my list for my next set of reading challenges.

11) Theme Music by T. Marie Vandelly

42845404. sy475 I was drawn to this one because of the creepy cover, although I’ve just noticed that it is tagged as horror and that’s not a genre that I often read. It is about a woman named Dixie whose father killed her mother and brothers when she was only one year old. Dixie was left alive, and has become known as Baby Blue because of the song that was playing in the aftermath of the murder. As an adult, Dixie learns that her childhood home has gone up for sale, and, desperate for a connection to the family she has never known, she decides to buy it. Upon moving in, Dixie soon starts to think the ghosts of her family are living there too, and begins to question her own sanity. She becomes determined to unravel the truth of her past, and finds the detective who was originally on the case. The more she uncovers, the more she starts to realize that there may have been more to the murder than anyone realized. As far as horror goes, this sounds like exactly the kind of creepiness that I tend to enjoy. I have seen some warnings that it is fairly graphic in its descriptions of violence, so that’s definitely a consideration too, but it sounds interesting enough that I may give it a chance anyway.

12) Six Minutes by Petronella McGovern

44652623. sy475 I actually added both thrillers by this author to my TBR on the same day, since both sounded great! This is the one that is already out currently, having been released last July. It has been compared to Liane Moriarty, who is one of my favourite authors, and Caroline Overington, who I have not tried yet. This book is about a woman named Lexie who runs into the shop for a moment one morning, leaving her young daughter with the other mothers in the playgroup. Within the six minutes that she’s gone, her daughter has disappeared. The police and media both get involved, and locals unite to help search, but as the investigation continues, Lexie becomes the target of online hate and the community becomes engulfed by fear. I didn’t realize when I added it that this book was set in Australia, which is a bit different from other thrillers I’ve read. I’ve read quite a few similar thrillers set in the UK or USA, and this one sounds very interesting. For some reason, I always tend to love books that focus on “playground politics” and it seems like this one might be one of those. I’m also intrigued by the social media aspect, although that seems like a relatively minor part of the story. I’m very interested in giving this one a try.

 

Top 5 Wednesdays: Unexplored Genres/Tropes

My natural first instinct with this week’s prompt was to look for genres that I’d never really heard of before, but the more I thought about, the more I realized there are several genres that I like but rarely reach for. I tend to read mostly contemporary, fantasy, thrillers, and historical fiction, but there are several other genres that I enjoy and would love to read more often. Actually, my initial intent was to focus on the tropes side of the prompt, but for some reason I always have a hard time wrapping my head around how to describe tropes or even pinpoint the ones I like. Instead, I decided to go for some of the genres that I’ve really liked in the past, but haven’t really explored in much depth yet. Feel free to give me some recommendations!

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) Sci-Fi

I think sci-fi is the best example of a genre that I like but rarely reach for. I have generally enjoyed all the sci-fi books that I’ve read and I have several more on my TBR, but when I make my challenge plans for the year, they are rarely the books that I pick. I think I have a bit of a mental block for it because I assume the books are going to be very technical or harder to understand, so I decide that I need to be in the right mood to try them, and end up avoiding most of them instead. On the other hand, some of the books that are classified as sci-fi (ie. The Time Traveler’s Wife) don’t necessarily seem like sci-fi to me. I especially tend to go for books that involve robots or AI, and sometimes books set in space.

Some sci-fi I’ve read and enjoyed: The Illuminae Files, The Lunar Chronicles, Frankenstein, Never Let Me Go, Warcross

Some sci-fi still on my TBR: Master Class, On the Edge of Gone, Sleeping Giants, A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, The Humans

2) Horror

This is probably the one that I’m most apprehensive to even try because I’m a huge coward when it comes to these kinds of stories, but I was surprised to find how much I’ve enjoyed the ones that I have read. I love psychological thrillers, so I think certain kinds of horror would not be that far off. As much as ghost stories specifically tend to freak me out, I also tend to like them. I’m not really interested in anything too gory, but I do like a creepy, atmospheric book. It’s the same for me with scary movies — I don’t like to watch gory slasher movies, but I’m much more likely to watch a movie involving  ghosts or psychological horror (if I’m brave enough).

Some horror I’ve read and enjoyed: Little Girls, And the Trees Crept In, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Girl with All the Gifts

Some horror still on my TBR: Let the Right One In, The Outsider, A Head Full of Ghosts, Naomi’s Room, The Winter People

3) Magical Realism

I’ve read a handful of magical realism books or books with magical realism elements, and it is a genre that I really want to love but sometimes have trouble getting into. What I tend to love about magical realism is how the author weaves the magical elements into an otherwise realistic setting. I think part of the reason that I have trouble getting into them sometimes is because in some cases, especially if I’m not expecting a book to be magical realism, those elements can interfere with my immersion into the story. I tend to like magical realism because the books tend to be very atmospheric.

Some magical realism I’ve read and enjoyed: The Night Circus, The Astonishing Color of After, When the Moon Was Ours, The Raven Cycle

Some magical realism still on my TBR: Summer of Salt, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, A Million Junes, Black Girl Unlimited

4) Middle Grade

I guess middle grade isn’t necessarily a genre, since there can be middle grade books from many different genres. I am well outside of the target age range for these books so it’s not something that I’m inclined to pick up too often, but there have been a lot of middle grade books released in the past few years that seem very interesting. I’m especially interested in middle grade books that touch on more complex topics. In the past, I haven’t been too interested in middle grade because I assumed that I wouldn’t really relate to the characters, so I was pleasantly surprised to find several that I enjoyed!

Some middle grade books I’ve read and enjoyed: Wonder, The Graveyard Book, Inside Out and Back Again, Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, The Thing About Jellyish

Some middle grade books still on my TBR: George, City of Ghosts, Small Spaces, To Night Owl from Dogfish, Genesis Begins Again

5) Anthologies

This one isn’t really a genre either, but it’s a format that I’ve been trying to pick up a bit more often. I generally prefer to read full-length novels instead of short stories, but there have been so many anthologies released in the past couple of years, and many of them look great! One of the reasons I’m always a little hesitant is that I tend to find anthologies very hit or miss. There’s always a couple of stories that I absolutely love, and a few that I don’t really care for. Part of what got me into trying anthologies is that many of my favourite authors have been involved with them, so that tends to draw me in. I’d probably have better luck with anthologies if I spaced out the stories a bit, but I tend to only focus on one book at a time, so I always end up reading them straight through.

Some anthologies I’ve read and enjoyed: Meet Cute, Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft, A Thousand Beginning and Endings, The Assassin’s Blade

Some anthologies still on my TBR: Because You Love to Hate Me, All Out, Three Sides of a Heart, Color Outside the Lines

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Tuesday Turns 10! (Favourite Quotes)

I was surprised to see that this week is the 10th anniversary of Top Ten Tuesdays! I knew that it had been around for years, but hadn’t realized quite how many. I started this blog in the fall of 2016, and discovered Top 10 Tuesdays a few months later. I actually started out mostly with Top 5 Wednesdays and Book Tags, but I was very excited to find a whole new list of topic suggestions! My first Top 10 Tuesday post was my most anticipated books for the second half of 2017 (found here), and since then, I’ve been following the weekly topics ever since! It’s been a lot of fun to see the creativity of some of the prompts, and many are topics that I never would have come up with on my own so it’s helped me look at my books and reading habits in a different way.

For this week’s topic, I decided to revisit one I’ve done a couple of times in the past and add to my list of favourite quotes, to focus on some of the amazing quotes I’ve found in books I’ve read recently. In the recent prompt for best opening lines, I found myself wishing there was more room to talk about some of the quotes I’d saved to Goodreads that weren’t necessarily the opening lines of the book. These were all quotes that jumped out to me because they were thought-provoking, funny, or otherwise memorable.

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.

“Words disappear without a trace. That’s what makes them so powerful. That’s what makes them so important. That’s what makes them hurt so much.” — Seanan McGuire, Middlegame

“We are never more ourselves than when we think people aren’t watching” — Stuart Turton, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

“Anyone can kill you, but it takes someone you know to really hurt you.” — Brian K. Vaughan, Saga Vol. 9

“You’re the person I don’t need to explain myself to – not when it matters. You see everything I am. and you don’t run away from it” — Sarah J. Maas, House of Earth and Blood

“I have never known what to make of you. Not since the day we met. And it terrifies me. You terrify me. And the idea of you walking away again, vanishing from my life, that terrifies me most of all” — V.E. Schwab, A Conjuring of Light

“…the library is both the bookstore’s enemy and out friend. They have everything here — why would anyone ever need to buy a book? On the other hand, there is nothing like the library to awaken a reader to the endless possibilities of the written word” — Cynthia Swanson, The Bookseller

“These things happened. Sometimes it might sound weird but sometimes life is like that. Sometimes life gets weird. You can try to ignore it or you can see where the weird takes you” — Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea

“I want to survive this world that keeps trying to destroy me” — Leigh Bardugo, Ninth House

“There are many dangerous people in this world, but there are also many good people. Brave people. No matter how bad things get, we have to remember that. So long as there are heroes in this world, there’s hope that tomorrow night might be better.” — Marissa Meyer, Renegades

“Sometimes the most beautiful moments in our lives are things that hurt badly at the time. We only see them for what they really were when we stand at the very end and look back” — Emily Henry, The Love that Split the World 

The Kids Are Alright? – 13 Reasons Why (Netflix Series) Season 4 Review

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

Like last year, this season caught me completely off-guard when I saw it come up on Netflix. I knew that a new season was coming, but thought it was still a few weeks away. I really enjoyed the first two seasons of the show, and even ended up liking Season 3 (review here) more than I expected, but I couldn’t help shaking off the feeling that the last two seasons weren’t really necessary. Season 3 was controversial on its own for its attempts to humanize Bryce, and to a lesser extent Monty, and also for the introduction of a new narrator, Ani, whose role seemed to be to sweep in and fix everything. With this new season, I really had no idea what to expect going into it.

Plot 

This season picks up with the aftermath of the cover-up surrounding Bryce’s death, with Monty framed for the crime shortly after his own death, with the hopes that pinning the case on a dead man will be the end of it.  This season follows much of the main cast through the end of their senior year of high school, as they all struggle to cope with the many traumatic experiences they’ve faced. They attempt to go through many of the “normal” high school experiences, such as applying for and touring colleges, going to prom, and even graduation with everything hanging over their heads. It’s immediately apparent that none of the group are doing well, as expected given what they’ve been through. At the same time, Winston, a character who was just introduced in Season 3 and knows that Monty couldn’t have killed Bryce has made it his mission to find out what really happened, as has Officer Diaz, a policeman who harbours some suspicions about the way the investigation was handled.

A running theme throughout the season is the stress and anxiety surrounding the cover-up of Bryce’s murder. A huge chunk of the season, especially in the first half, focuses on the football team’s attempts to scare and intimidate Clay and his friends into revealing what really happened to Bryce and Monty. Suspecting that Clay specifically knows more than he is saying, the team especially targets him with pranks in an attempt to get him to reveal what he knows. Clay and Ani are also facing increasing pressure from their friends to take care of everything, and even though the group is all in it together, suspicions still run high. Any time someone begins to act strangely, it’s seen as a sign that they might crack and reveal the truth.

At the same time, this season also touches on a variety of bigger topics, including safety measures in schools, racial profiling by police, anxiety/PTSD, and even AIDS. Unfortunately, unlike previous seasons of the show, it seemed that this season bit off a lot more than it could chew by taking on so many topics, and although some were handled very well, others felt like they were thrown in just for the sake of addressing the topic, without nearly enough attention. To start with the good: I thought the commentary about safety in schools, especially in relation to lockdown procedures and school shootings, was well done. The episode focuses on Code Red at the high school, which the students are led to believe was a real active shooter. This follows several weeks of increasing security measures, including metal detectors and increased police presence on campus. This episode was definitely one of the standouts of the season, even leading up the dramatic final meltdown by Clay, ranting about how all of these measures are meant to make people feel safe but they are never really safe.

On the other hand, several other issues that could have been very interesting are not really given the attention they deserve. For instance, the AIDS storyline is shoehorned into the last episode or two, and although there were some small hints prior to that, it easily could have been incorporated a bit throughout the season, and probably would have been even more impactful than it already was if it didn’t feel so rushed. Similarly, this season touched quite a bit on racial profiling without fully delving into the issue. There were several occasions where a security officer in the school pulled Tony aside while leaving other students alone, and even more tellingly, when a fight ensues between Diego, a new character who is Dominican, and Justin, only Diego is targeted by the security officers while Justin is mostly ignored. Diego is shoved against the lockers and the officer ultimately pulls his gun on both boys, but only targets Diego for arrest, leading to a school-wide walkout that escalates into a riot against the police presence in the school. This issue is especially relevant given everything that is going on currently, and I was surprised that show that normally does not shy away from such difficult topics seemed to gloss over this one.

Instead of focusing on the race issue, the riot focuses on the students’ perception of the school becoming an “oppressive police state” due to increased security measures, as well as parents being offered apps to monitor their children. This is also a very valid and interesting topic, especially given Clay’s earlier panic about how all the safety measures do is make everyone live in fear without offering any real protection. However, like many of the other subplots in the season, this one happened very quickly, with minimal lead-up and even less follow-through. In fact, that was where the overall plot of this season fell short for me — there were a lot of potentially very interesting things happening, but none of them seemed to get the attention they deserved.

Characters & Casting

As usual, the strength of this show for me is the characters and the amazing casting choices. Each season, I comment that it’s easy to forget that these aren’t real teenagers, and the same was definitely true here. Even with all of the characters going through so much trauma and struggling with so much, they felt very realistic. I especially have to mention Miles Heizer, who played Alex Standall, because this was the first season where I really felt strongly connected to his character. Although he’s been a main character right from the start, and has played a key role in many of the events over the course of the show, this was the first season where I really felt like Alex became a fully fleshed out character. This season focused a lot on Alex’s struggle to figure out his sexuality, as well as dealing with the long-term effects of his traumatic brain injury from Season 1. I was glad to get a bit more of his character this time around, and it really gave this actor a chance to shine. I also really loved the increased role for Charlie, who, to be honest, I’d completely forgotten about. Charlie (played by Tyler Barnhardt) was only introduced in Season 3, where he wasn’t such a major player, but in this season he was just adorable.

This season also introduced several new characters, including Diego (played by Jan Luis Castellanos), a football player who is struggling with Monty’s death, and Estela (played by Inde Navarrette), Monty’s younger sister. I thought that Estela was such a missed opportunity throughout the season. When she was first introduced, I assumed there was going to be some kind of storyline about her relationship with her brother, and coming to terms with his actions. Instead, she seemed to mostly fade into the background, until a particularly poignant scene with Tyler during the lockdown drill. Unfortunately, I was left feeling that Estela didn’t really do much of anything, aside from occasionally reiterating that she is not there to defend her brother. Similarly, the show also very briefly introduced Valerie Diaz (played by Yadira Guevara-Prip), the daughter of the police officer who is trying to dig further into Bryce’s death, and ultimately does nothing with that character either. She is brought in just to have a one-time encounter with Clay at a party, which served very little purpose. Again, it seemed like a missed opportunity to have Clay getting closer to Valerie, while her father tries to unravel the case.

Luckily, the show does a bit more Diego, who at least took on a major role in the season. He actually kind of fulfilled the role that I expected for either Estela or Valerie, growing closer to Jessica while simultaneously trying to learn what really happened to Monty. Diego leads the charge of the football team’s attempts to go after Clay, and grows increasingly suspicious after Clay’s huge reaction to their pranks. Diego was a very interesting character, and although I couldn’t quite get invested in his relationship with Jessica, I thought he was a great addition to the cast. Similarly, I really liked Winston (Deaken Bluman), who transfers to the school with the specific intent of finding out what really happened to Bryce, having been with Monty the night of Bryce’s death so he knows that Monty could not have done it. I thought Winston was a great character, and I almost wish they hadn’t given both him and Diego such similar roles. Both characters had almost identical storylines — getting closer to the main cast in an attempt to find out what happened, and both making a similar choice about what to do with the information they discover. It makes sense in a way to show how people were closing in on the group from all sides, but also could be a bit repetitive.

Finally, I can’t really address the characters without at least mentioning both Clay (Dylan Minette) and Justin (Brandon Flynn). Both actors were absolutely brilliant in these roles, especially Dylan Minette’s portrayal of Clay’s rapidly deteriorating mental health. I found his spiral a lot more compelling than other characters’ (ie. Zach Dempsey’s drunken state throughout the majority of the season), and although I can’t say that the mental health aspect was handled particularly well, it was interesting to watch. Justin, on the other hand, has probably come the longest way of all the characters on the show. He was someone that I didn’t particularly care for in previous seasons, but I really enjoy the overall story arc that he had, even if his ending seemed a bit rushed. I was also intrigued to see how the show brought back both Bryce and Monty several times throughout the season to show how they and their actions are still haunting many of the people whose lives they affected. It didn’t quite have the same impact for me as “ghost” Hannah’s interactions with Clay in earlier seasons, but it was an interesting idea.

Visuals/Music

As usual, this is the hardest part of me to comment on, especially in terms of the music. I don’t necessarily pay a ton of attention to the background music, but I did have a stronger impression of some of the visuals this time around. This season was a bit of a strange one, since so much of what happened was in Clay’s head. There were many scenes where we first see it through Clay’s perspective, and only afterwards see what really happened. A clear example of this is when Clay follows a girl upstairs during the college tour, believing the guy she was with was planning to assault her, only to realize he’s actually alone in the room with her. Another one is the football team’s prank, where Clay is led to believe the body on the field is Monty’s. These kinds of scenes really helped get into Clay’s head, but also sometimes felt a bit jarring (although I suspect that was the intent). As with Season 3, I found there were fewer specific scenes that really stood out for me, aside from a couple of Clay’s breakdowns and one especially adorable montage of Charlie’s attempts to ask someone special to prom.

Overall Impressions

This was a very hard season to comment on overall. Last year, I’d commented that I felt a bit disconnected from Season 3 in general, and I think that was even more the case here. While I still enjoyed the show for the brilliant cast and interesting characters, I left the season feeling it was a bit directionless and tried to do too much too fast. I can understand why they wanted to add an other season to at least bring the main cast to graduation and finally let them get out of high school, but I couldn’t help feeling that the season didn’t really accomplish that much. I think for those who already enjoy the show and are invested in the characters, it is worthwhile just to see how their stories end, but the earliest seasons of the show were still by far the strongest.

Plot – 7/10
Characters/Casting – 9/10
Visuals/Music – 8/10
Overall – 8/10

 

Top 5 Wednesdays: Writing Styles

I was a bit confused at first by this week’s prompt because I wasn’t sure if the intent was to talk about the books themselves, or just the authors. I decided to lean more toward authors, and choose some of my favourites who easily draw me in with their writing style. In general, I think writing style is an incredibly subjective part of a book because a lot of it comes down to what you personally connect with. For a lot of people, I think “beautifully written” tends to be reserved for books that use a specific kind of lyrical or flowery language, but that can also be really difficult to follow. For me, loving an author’s writing style usually comes down to how easily I’m able to get immersed in their story or how vividly I can imagine what they are describing. I don’t necessarily need long or elaborate descriptions of scenery, clothing, etc. I love character-driven books, so I also tend to love a writing style where the author manages to capture something the character thinks or does in a really impactful way.

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) Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult was one of the first authors, and especially one of the first adult contemporary authors, whose writing I very strongly connected with. I can never remember if the first book of hers that I read was Mercy or My Sister’s Keeper, because I somehow have very strong memories of both of them being first. Either way, I was immediately drawn in by her writing style and loved how she crafted such complex characters. I also love how she manages to tackle such a variety of important and timely topics. Of course, some of her books are stronger for me than others, but she is still one of my auto-buy authors because of her writing style.

2) Erin Morgenstern

Erin Morgenstern was one of the first authors that came to mind when I thought of books that were beautifully written, but also a perfect example of an author whose writing also seems to put some people off. I’ve read both The Night Circus and The Starless Sea, and thought both were so atmospheric and that really helped me get fully immersed into the stories. At the same time, I can see where some people might find it difficult to connect since her books tend to be a bit slower-paced and the writing can be dense. For me, the pacing and the language really helped bring the stories to life, and it was easy for me to get into the style. They are not the kinds of books you can easily read without giving your full attention, but they are totally worth it if you can.

3) V.E. Schwab

When most people think of books that are beautifully written, I think the assumption is often something along the lines of writing that tends to be dense or poetic, but I think there are many different  reasons to love an author’s style. For me, V.E. Schwab is the perfect example of that. Her books always have such unique and creative concepts, but what really stands out for me are her characters. Her characters always feel so realistic, even when they are in unusual circumstances (ie. parallel worlds, like in the Shades of Magic series, or a world overrun by monsters, like This Savage Song). I also really love the creativity of her plotlines and how they are written in such a way that still feel completely plausible.

4) Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor was another author who immediately jumped out to me, and her writing is more along the lines of Erin Morgenstern’s, where it tends to be a bit more dense and poetic. Hers are also books that I’d say you really need to focus on properly while reading, but they are also worth it! I’ve read her Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, and also the Strange the Dreamer duology, and both of them were so beautifully written! Her books are also a bit on the longer side, so her writing really helps get fully immersed into the world and the characters.

5) Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire’s writing stands out to me especially because of her world-building. To be honest, I haven’t read a ton of her books yet. I’ve read most of the Wayward Children series, and recently also read Middlegame. I’ve also read Feed, which she’s published under Mira Grant. Seanan McGuire’s characters are also very interesting, but I especially love the way she builds such intriguing worlds. I think this is especially the case in the Wayward Children series, where she created a whole variety of different worlds for her characters to visit.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books On My Summer TBR

This is the first year where I’ve really started dividing my books seasonally, so this list ended up being much easier than I expected. In the past, the only really seasonal list I would make would be earmarking certain books to read toward Halloween, which was usually anything paranormal, horror, or especially creepy thrillers. This year, I noticed that I had a whole bunch of books that would be a great fit for the summer. I guess in a sense, summer was the other season that I kind of had a pattern for. In the summer, I tend to read a lot of YA contemporary, thrillers, and romances because they are generally fast-paced and quick to read. I usually also go on a vacation over the summer so I often have one or two longer books (often historical fiction) that will keep me busy on the train, but that’s obviously not happening this year. Instead, I have a bunch of books that are set over the summer or otherwise give me summer vibes.

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) Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

35230420Katrina Leno is one of my priority authors to try this year, and I’ve just received my copy of this one! It was an obvious choice for a summer book because of the title and the cover art, which shows two people at the beach. This book is about a girl named Georgina, who travels to an island town called By-the-Sea with her family during her last summer before college. The women in her family have a gift for magic, but Georgina’s has not begun yet, even though her twin sister Mary has started to show signs of her abilities. As their 18th birthday draws closer, Georgina worries that she might never develop the gift herself. The island that they visit has all kinds of strange occurrences, such as a 300-year-old-bird that appears annually, which draws tons of birdwatchers and tourists ever year, and is also rumoured to have connections to Georgina’s ancestors. When the bird doesn’t show up during their last summer before college, the town’s suspicion falls to Georgina’s sister. One of the main reasons I’ve put off this book for so long, despite often seeing it highly recommended, is because I had trouble figuring out what it was really about, which is often the case for me with magical realism kinds of stories. However, I’ve heard such great things about this one that I decided it’s finally time to give it a try.

2) The Last Guest House by Megan Miranda

42190273. sy475 I’m hoping to read this one over the summer if I can get a copy. I saw it on Book Outlet not that long ago, but it went out of stock before I could buy it. Megan Miranda is another author on my priority list this year. I love to read thrillers in the summer, and I specifically chose this one because it is set over the summer. It is about a small vacation town called Littleport, Maine. Avery Greer and Sadie Loman become best friends, despite the fact that friendships between locals and visitors are very rare. They are inseparable for a decade, until Sadie is found dead. Avery can’t help but feel that there are some in the community who suspect her, and sets out to clear her name. This sounds like such a great thriller for the summer, especially because of the setting. I’ve recently got a copy of another Megan Miranda book so I will at least be able to read one of them soon, but I’m hoping to get a copy of this one specifically.

3) If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

51213487. sx318 sy475 This is another author on my priority authors to try this year, and I usually find that romances are a great choice for the summer. This is another book that I purchased recently that just arrived, so I’m excited to give it a try. It is about a woman named Laurie who was recently dumped by her boyfriend, who also works with her at the law firm so she is stuck seeing him every day. When she learns that her ex’s new girlfriend is pregnant, she decides to take the opportunity to team up with Jamie, the office playboy who needs a steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Their fake relationship play out on social media with pre-planned photos and an end date already in mind, but soon Laurie finds herself falling for Jamie for real. This book has so many of the tropes that I love, with the social media focus as well as fake dating. It sounds like it will be so much fun, and I can’t wait to pick it up.

4) The Lido by Libby Page

34709995. sx318 I meant to read this book last year, but somehow didn’t get around to it. It was one of the first books that I earmarked for the summer because it seemed like the perfect seasonal pick. This book is about a 26-year-old woman named Kate, who works for a local newspaper in London, where she is assigned to write about the closing of the local lido. While there to do research, she meets an 86-year-old woman named Rosemary, who swims at the lido daily. Rosemary fell in love with her husband there, and has continued to find comfort in visiting there since he passed away. As Kate dives deeper into the history of the lido, she starts to discover more about Rosemary, and her article evolves into an unexpected friendship for them both. I was first drawn to this book after reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, because of the whole idea of a younger journalist profiling an older woman, but I’m not sure if these books really have that much in common. I’ve also seen it compared to Fredrik Backman, so that sounds pretty intriguing too.

5) The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

42201431This is another one that I’m hoping to read this summer if I can get a copy, and it was also one of the first books that immediately screamed summer to me. This one is about a woman named Olive, whose twin sister is getting married with a wedding that was financed entirely by winning a series of Internet contests. Olive is also forced to spend the day with her enemy, Ethan, who happens to be the couple’s best man, and she can’t wait for the whole thing to be over. When the entire wedding party comes down with food poisoning from bad shellfish, Olive and Ethan are the only ones left. With the couple’s already-paid-for honeymoon up for grabs, Olive and Ethan decide to put their hatred aside to take the trip, but soon find themselves having to pretend they are really newlyweds. This is another romance that has a lot of the tropes I love, and it just sounds like it will be a lot of fun to read. I’ve only read a couple of Christina Lauren books so far, but I really like their writing style.

6) Bloom by Kevin Panetta

39073387I think this is the last book here that I don’t own, so I’m planning to read it as long as I can get a copy. It seems that my local libraries are starting to reopen soon, so hopefully I’ll be able to grab a few books. This one is a graphic novel about a high school graduate named Ari, who wants to move to the big city with his band if he can convince his father to let him quit his job at the family bakery. Ari used to love working at the bakery, but doesn’t want it to become his whole life. While interviewing to find a replacement for himself, he meets a guy named Hector who loves to make, and they soon start to grow close and fall for each other. I’ve heard so many great things about this book in the past year or so since it came out, and it looks absolutely adorable. I chose it for the summer because of the cover art, which reminded me of a beach or island, but I’d assume it’s also set over the summer since it takes place just after Ari graduates. It seems like it will be so cute, and I’m hoping to be able to read it soon.

7) Beach Read by Emily Henry

52867387. sy475 To be honest, I’m not 100% sure I’m going to be able to fit this book in at all. I’m currently looking for a way to fit it into my reading challenge plans, because it sounds so good! It is about two bestselling authors who have neighbouring beach houses, and both are struggling with writer’s block. Augustus only writes literary fiction, and January writes romance. The two of them decide on a summer-long challenge, where each will have to finish a book in the other one’s genre in an attempt to break out of their writer’s block. In the process, they also take each other on a series of field trips to research and find material for their books. I love books about authors and the writing process, and I also love this kind of opposites-attract (potentially hate-to-love?) romance. The only Emily Henry book that I’ve read so far is The Love That Split the World, which I didn’t love as much as I expected, but this one sounds a lot more up my alley. It is also her first book outside of YA, so I’m curious to see if I’d like it any better.

8) Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

35297469This was another book that immediately screamed summer to me because it is set on a camping trip. It is about Zorie and Lennon, two former best friends who have become enemies and avoided each other since last year’s homecoming dance. When the group camping trip goes wrong, they find themselves stranded together in the wilderness and have no choice but to find a way to get along until they can reach safety. As their secrets and hidden feelings resurface, the two are left to wonder whether their rekindled connection will carry over into their “real” lives, or if it’s just the result of being stuck together in the woods. I have no interest whatsoever in camping and generally don’t really care to read about wilderness settings, but this one just sounds so cute. Jenn Bennett is another author that I’ve been meaning to try for a long time, and this seems like it could be a good place to start.

9) American Street by Ibi Zoboi

30256109There is nothing particularly summer-y about this book, but it is one that I really want to prioritize reading soon. I meant to pick it up last year but ran out of time before I could get to it. It is about a teenage girl named Fabiola whose mother is detained by immigration when they arrive in America, leaving her to move on to Detroit alone, where she will live with her cousins and attend a new school. Fabiola soon realizes that America isn’t really what she thought it would be, and has trouble adapting to her new life. I actually don’t know very much more about this one, but I’ve heard such great things about it over the past few years. Even though it is not specifically a “summer” book, I still included it on my list because I wanted to push myself not to put it off again. I have a bad habit of putting off books that I really want to read for way too long. I think it also is a fit for a summer TBR though, since I tend to read a lot of YA in the summer. Fabiola and her mother are from Haiti, which is a country I know very little about, so I’m curious to see if that’s mentioned at all through the story.

10) With The Fire On High and Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

3873956243892137. sy475 I couldn’t decide which of these books to include, so I’m picking both! Both are books that were very high on my list for this year, and I’m planning to read them both over the summer. I don’t have a copy of Clap When You Land yet, but I’m hoping to get it soon! With the Fire On High is about a high school senior named Emoni who is an aspiring chef and single mother to her daughter, while also helping to support her abuela. When her school introduces a new culinary arts program, she sees it as the chance she needs to finally reach her dreams. Clap When You Land is about two teenage girls who discover they have the same father when he dies in a plane crash, and are forced to face the reality that he was living a double life, bringing them each a sister they never knew they had. Both books sound so good, and I’m really looking forward to trying them. The Poet X was one of my favourites that I read last year, and I can’t wait to read more by this author.

 

 

You’re Not Good Enough Book Tag (2020)

I always seem to revisit this tag because it’s so much fun to do, when I’ve read enough books with memorable characters to make it worthwhile. I could have sworn I’ve also seen another tag that uses a similar concept, but with different questions, but I have no idea what that one was called! The last time I did this tag was in March 2019, but I decided it was time to revisit it again anyway, with new characters. I specifically chose characters from books I’ve read mostly this year, but also a handful from 2019 as well.

This tag was created by ReadLikeWildfire and Beccathebookreviewer. To participate, you have to make a list of 30 character names, and choose two at random for every question. After you have picked your two names, you decide which character is a better fit for that question, and which one is “not good enough.” As always, I’ve limited myself to just one character from each book or series, and an equal number of male and female characters. Since this tag has been out for a while now, anyone who wants to give it a try, consider yourself tagged!

1) You have only one more spot on your spelling bee team. Who would you pick to complete your team?

My options are: Sweetie Nair (There’s Something About Sweetie) or Percy (The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue)

Already this would be a tough choice! I think Percy would be a great teammate in general, but Sweetie has a bit more of a competitive edge. I’m also a bit worried that Percy would have trouble because he’s from the 18th century, and the spelling of some words may have changed a bit over time or there may be words he is not so familiar with. Even though I’m not sure if Sweetie is a particularly strong speller, I think I’d have to choose her, as much as I’d love to work with Percy.

2) Both characters want to kill you. Which one do you kill first so you have a better chance of surviving?

My options are: Leon Twomey (The Flatshare) or Ginny Moon (Ginny Moon)

Well, the random number generator has given me the two people on my list who are least likely to kill anyone. Leon is a nurse, and Ginny is literally a child. I guess in terms of brute strength alone, I’d have to kill Leon first because he’s an adult and much more likely to be able to kill me than Ginny would.

3) You’re on The Bachelor/Bachelorette and you’re down to these two characters. Which one are you going to give your rose to?

My options are: Chaol Westfall (Throne of Glass) or Marko (Saga)

Both would be great choices. Chaol was one of my favourite characters in the Throne of Glass series, but I also really liked Marko. I think if I had to choose, I’d pick Chaol.

4) You’ve been chosen for The Hunger Games. Who would most likely volunteer in your place?

My options are: Alucard Emery (The Shades of Magic trilogy) or Adam (Love From A-Z)

I think Alucard would fare much better in the Hunger Games, but I’m not entirely sure whether he would be willing to volunteer. On the other hand, I can easily see Adam volunteering to be protective, but I don’t think he would be the best competitor. Alucard did enjoy the Element Games though, so he might like another chance to test his abilities. I’ll go with Alucard.

5) You’re stranded on an island. Which character would you sacrifice to engage in cannibalism?

My options are: Dodger (Middlegame) or President Snow (The Hunger Games series)

I’d sacrifice President Snow, no question. Dodger may actually be helpful in figuring out a way to get off the island, and President Snow would just be looking out for himself.

6) You’re the next DC/Marvel superhero (with your own TV show of course). Who is your sidekick?

My options are: Hunt Athalar (House of Earth and Blood) or Katharine (The Three Dark Crowns series)

I’m impressed that I actually got two options who could be viable sidekicks. Both are very powerful, but I also can’t trust Katharine to use her abilities for good. I would have to choose Hunt. He seems a lot more fun to work with anyway.

7) You’re a manager at the Avocado Admiring Company. Who would you fire for lack of communication skills?

My options: Aiden (The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle) or Leni (The Great Alone)

This is a surprisingly a tough choice, since neither of them have terrible communication skills. Both are people who might try to take it upon themselves to solve problems in their own, but I have a little more faith in Aiden’s communication skills because in the book, he had to figure out how to get the information he needed from everyone else with a variety of obstacles in his way. So I guess I would fire Leni.

8) You’ve just finished a book in which your favourite character dies. Which character is most likely to comfort you?

My options are: Adrian (the Renegades series) or Declan Lynch (Call Down the Hawk)

I’m going to go with my gut instinct here, and pick Adrian. I think both characters have the potential to be comforting, but I see it coming a bit more naturally from Adrian than from Declan.

9) Ugh, it’s high school. Who would most likely be part of the popular clique?

My options are: Sadie (Sadie) or Mariko (Flame in the Mist)

It’s a bit hard to say because we don’t really know what Sadie was like before the events of the book, but I don’t really see her as someone who cared at all about popularity. I don’t think Mariko really does either, but she does have more experience adapting herself to try and fit in with a group, so I think that’s a bit more conducive to getting into the popular clique, so I’ll choose her.

10) The day has arrived: You’re finally one year older! Who would have the nerve to forget your birthday?

My options are: Nina (Slayer) or Xiomara Batista (The Poet X)

Probably Nina, although I think it would be completely by accident. Both of these characters have a lot going on, so I can easily see them forgetting a birthday, but I also think Xiomara might be able to pull it together, even at the last minute if needed, with a poem whereas Nina would likely just forget.

11) You’ve just found an upcoming Booktube star. Who would it most likely be?

My options are: Zachary Ezra Rawlins (The Starless Sea) or Jem Carstairs (The Infernal Devices)

I would very happily watch both of their channels, but I think the obvious choice here would be Zachary Ezra Rawlins because he’s already a reader.

12) Sleepover time! Unfortunately, you can only invite one person. Who would you invite?

My options are: Erin Delilio (The Nowhere Girls) or Mina (Girls Made of Snow and Glass)

I would invite Erin. Mina was a very interesting character but gets very jealous, and it wouldn’t be much fun if she was getting jealous of the other guests.

13) Bam, you’re pregnant. Who is the father or mother?

My options are: Eden McKinley (Goodbye, Perfect) or Bri (On the Come Up)

Did it have to give me teenagers for both options?! Both characters have some qualities that would make them great mothers, but I think I would have to go with Bri because of her drive and loyalty to her family. Eden is loyal too, but also left her friend in a potentially very dangerous situation by insisting on keeping her secret.

14) You’ve just written a super important text. Who would see it but not reply?

My options: Frances Janvier (Radio Silence) or Lazslo Strange (Strange the Dreamer)

Probably Lazslo. I can see him getting so absorbed in his own projects that he would completely forget to reply.

15) You’ve just woken up for breakfast. Your mom has been replaced by…?

My options: Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows) or Alex Stern (Ninth House)

What are the odds I get my two Leigh Bardugo characters? They are two of my favourite characters, but neither would be great people to find in my kitchen since they are both so guarded and probably wouldn’t want to interact. I think I’d pick Kaz, by a very slight margin, because he’d probably just leave me alone as long as I didn’t fit into his plans somehow, and Alex has literal ghosts around her sometimes and I don’t really want that in my house.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books With an LGBTQ Element by Black Authors

In honour of Pride Month, this week’s topic was books with an LGBTQ element, which could be the characters, the author, etc. In light of everything that’s been happening in the past couple of weeks, I’ve decided to give a focus this week to books with an LGBTQ element that are by Black authors. I have seen so many of these authors and their books mentioned lately and they are all books and authors that  I have heard such great things about! The books that I have chosen are all books that are on my TBR, and I’m looking forward to trying them all.

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 Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

36412998This was the first book that immediately sprung to mind for this week’s prompt! I added it to my TBR in the first place because I loved the cover art and the title, and I’ve been hearing nothing but great things about it ever since. This book just came out in September 2019, and it is about a 16-year-old girl named Audre who is being sent to live in America with her father after her strictly religious mother catches her with her girlfriend. She is sent to Minneapolis, where she meets Mabel, the daughter of her father’s best friend. Mabel quickly falls for Audre and is determined to help her navigate her new American school, but when Mabel gets test results back that explain why she has been feeling sick all summer, it is suddenly Audre who needs to take care of her. Both of the main characters are Black and both are also LGBT, although I’m not 100% sure on what they identify as since I have not read it yet.

2) This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story by Kacen Callender

36203673I’ve had this book on my TBR for such a long time, but never noticed that it was by Kacen Callender! This is an author who I’ve heard so much about lately because of Felix Ever After and King and the Dragonflies, both of which would also fit this list. This book has been compared to Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Boy Meets Boy, and it is about a film buff named Nathan who wants to become a screenwriter, and he does not believe that happy endings really exist. Nathan worries about getting hurt, and tends to sabotage the relationship before anything bad can happen. When his childhood best friend Oliver returns to town, it throws off his plans to avoid getting too close to anyone. I was a little hesitant to include this book because I noticed that the reviews were not that strong, at least compared to Kacen Callender’s more recent books. I added this one to my TBR in the first place after learning that Oliver has a hearing impairment and uses ASL, and I was very interested to see how sign language would be utilized. Both main characters are also queer men, and Nate is Black and Oliver is Hispanic.

3) The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

36952571This is a very recent addition to my TBR, although it’s been on my radar for a while. I added it after hearing BooksAndLala talking about it recently. It is a YA sci-fi book about a girl named Ryann who dreams of a career in space, but it seems impossible for her because she’s from the wrong side of town. She meets Alexandria, whose mother is an astronaut who volunteered abandoned her family for a one-way trip to the edge of the solar system. each night, Alexandria waits on the roof to catch her mother’s radio signals, but after breaking her arm in an accident, it is up to Ryann to help her get up and down safely. As much as Alexandria tries to push her away, the two of them start to connect. The main characters in this one are both lesbians, and I believe that at least one of them is Black. I was trying to check in the Goodreads reviews, but got a little confused if it was one or both of them. I’m very excited to try this one, but I’ve also heard that you should (but don’t necessarily half to) read The Wicker King first because there is some carry-over of characters.

4) How To Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters

43459392. sy475 Julian Winters is one of those authors who has been on my radar for a while, but I somehow haven’t picked up yet! This book is definitely the one I’ve heard the most about, although I somehow thought it had been out much longer than just last fall. I think I first heard if it because of CeCe at ProblemsOfABookNerd on Youtube. It is about a boy named Remy Cameron, who is Black and also gay and was adopted, but struggles to describe himself beyond these labels. When he is assigned to write an essay, he ends up going on a journey to reconcile the labels that have been attached to him with who he really is. I think part of the reason I haven’t been particularly motivated to pick this one up so far is because the Goodreads synopsis was pretty short and pretty vague, so I didn’t get a strong sense of what the book was really about. After seeing CeCe raving about it in her videos, I’m definitely a lot more motivated to give it a try, and I’m also looking forward to Julian Winters’ upcoming release The Summer of Everything.

5) Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

38897636This book has been at the top of my list to read this year, and I very recently got a copy, but I didn’t even realize it was LGBT. This book is about a teenage girl named Simone who is HIV-positive, and is trying to keep that a secret when she gets the chance to start over at a new school, especially when she starts going out with Miles. As they start to grow closer, Simone knows that she should tell him about her HIV status, but she is worried about how he will react. Soon after they start dating, Simone finds an anonymous note in her locker that threatens to reveal to everyone that she has HIV, unless she stops seeing Miles, forcing her to figure out whether to keep it a secret or face the person who wrote the note head-on. From what I understand from the Goodreads reviews, Simone has two best friends, one of whom is a lesbian and the other is bisexual. I am not sure what Simone herself identifies as. I was very excited to receive my copy of this one last week, and I’m looking forward to reading it very soon.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books I Added to My TBR But Forgot Why

Last summer, I did a whole series of TBR Benchwarmers posts, which were about many of the books that had been on my list for way too long. I’ve had my Goodreads account for about 5 years now, and my list has close to 3700 books on it! It’s no surprise that many of those are books that I can’t remember adding at this point. For this week’s topic, I went back through where I left off with my Benchwarmers series, and started looking through my pages of books and see which ones I had no memory of adding. Many of them are books that I found randomly while browsing Goodreads, and couldn’t remember adding, although once I saw the synopses again, I could usually figure out why.

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 Book of You by Claire Kendal

24516182I have no memory of this book at all, but I can easily see why I added it to my list. This book is a thriller, that has been compared to Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep. It is about a woman named Clarissa who is afraid of her colleague Rafe, who won’t leave her alone. When Clarissa is selected for jury duty, she is happy to get a break but as she listens to the kidnapping case that she is assigned to, she starts to notice disturbing parallels to her own situation and the story that the witness is telling. I have no idea how I first came across this book, but I would guess it was from browsing for more thrillers. Even back in 2016, I had a habit of searching for thrillers, adding them to my list, and then never reading them. I’m expecting to like this one though because Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep are two of my favourite thrillers, and this one has been compared to both. I suspect one of the reasons I haven’t read this is because I thought it wasn’t available from the library, but I’ve just checked and they have it, so there’s really no excuse.

2) The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

17987215I also went through a phase of adding a ton of YA realistic fiction to my list, including a bunch of books that I chose based on some buzzwords, even though I knew little about them. I think this book first drew me in because of the cover, and especially once I saw the mention of autism in the synopsis. It is about a 16-year-old girl named Daisy, whose brother has autism and she has always helped out with him. When her parents suddenly announce that they will be sending her brother to an institution, Daisy is angry and decides to rebel by slacking in school, quitting the jazz band and orchestra, and falling for a bad boy. The only person who won’t let her forget who she was is an exchange student Cal, who is also a brilliant musician, and soon finds herself torn between the two boys, as well as trying to figure out what is best for her brother. I work with adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, so I’m always interested in reading books on the topic. I’m especially interested in stories from the perspective of their siblings, since it is still a relatively underrepresented point of view. I know why I added this one to my list, but I’d completely forgotten it was there.

3) All I Love and Know by Judith Frank

18730156I have no memory of this book whatsoever. I have no idea where or how I found it, but it’s been on my list for years now. It is about a couple, Matthew and Daniel, who are living a quiet life together until they learn that Daniel’s twin brother and sister-in-law have been killed in a bombing in Israel. When the decision comes up about who will raise the couple’s two children, both Matthew and Daniel are left questioning themselves and their family. Matthew wonders what his place is in a family that has never completely accepted him or his relationship with Daniel, and Daniel questions how to reconcile the fact that he is Jewish and gay. When the family learns that the deceased couple’s intent was for their children to be raised by Matthew and Daniel, it forces them to redefine themselves and their family. After reading the synopsis again, I’m not surprised that I added this one to my list since it does sound pretty interesting, but I’m also not particularly surprised that I put it off this long either.

4) Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel

16248194I suspect I must have been browsing the recommendations pages for contemporary or family stories, since this one was added to my list around the same time as the previous book, and it’s also one that I’m not sure how else I would have found. This book is about a woman named Georgia, who has moved back to Miami with her husband and toddler, hoping for a fresh start. Her husband’s sleep disorder cost him his job, Georgia’s business has failed, and their three-year-old has become mute. Georgia’s father and stepmother offer them a second chance, including a position studying extreme weather patterns for her husband, Graham, while Georgia takes a job as an errand runner for a man living as a hermit. When Graham leaves for a give-week trip to study Hurricane Alley, the secret behind their son’s mutism seems to be revealed, but Georgia is faced with the realization that her choices may have put her son in danger. To be honest, it took me a couple of tries to really understand what this book was about, which is probably why I’ve been putting it off so long. The title and cover also don’t really give much indication of what it’s about, so I’m not surprised that I’d forgotten about it.

5) The Dead Wife’s Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

18623494I think of all the books here, this is the one that I remember best, although it’s still been on my TBR for four years without me ever thinking to pick it up. This book is about a woman named Rachel, who seemed to have a perfect life with her husband Max and their daughter Ellie, until the day Rachel dies unexpectedly. Rachel finds herself caught in some kind of limbo, where she can’t let go of her family and watches as they begin to move forward with their lives without her. When Max is eventually persuaded to start dating again, Rachel starts to grieve for the life she’s lost. I added this one to my TBR because it seemed like such an interesting premise, and it reminds me a tiny bit of The Lovely Bones, at least in terms of the idea of the person who died being able to watch their family. I’ve seen some pretty mixed reviews for this one, but it’s definitely one that I’d love to give a chance at some point because it seems like such a different spin on the typical contemporary story.

6) You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

25679559This was another book that I added in a slew of YA realistic fiction books, and then forgot about. This one is about a girl named Jaycee, whose brother has passed away. On the anniversary of his death, she decides to break into one of his favourite places, the ruins of an asylum, along with four of her classmates. While there, she discovers her brother’s map and a list of unfinished dares that he left behind, and decides to complete the list as a tribute to him along with her eccentric group of friends. I’m not surprised that I added this one to my list since it sounds like an interesting plot, but also not surprised that I’d forgotten about it. I have a ton of YA books dealing with grief and loss of a sibling on my TBR, to the point where I burnt myself out a bit on reading that kind of storyline. It does sound like this one has an interesting setting and I’d still be willing to give it a chance at some point, but I’m not that surprised it’s sat on my list for 4 years already unread.

7) The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

21469095This is probably the other book here that I remember best, mostly because I saw it again not too long ago on Book Outlet. This book is about a teenage girl named Ella, who has always lived in her twin sister Maddy’s shadow, but has chosen to focus on her art instead of competing for attention. After a heated argument, the sisters get into an accident, and only Ella survives. However, when she wakes up in the hospital, she is surrounded by people who assume she is Maddy, and Ella decides to go along with it, and soon learns that her sister’s life was full of secrets. I think of all the books here, this is also the one that I’m most likely to pick up first. I always forget about it, but every time I see the synopsis, it sounds so good! It reminds me a bit of a YA verison of Beside Myself, which I read a couple of years ago and absolutely loved. Like a lot of YA books, this one has also received very mixed reviews, which may be why I haven’t picked it up yet, but it does sound very interesting.

8) The Word for Yes by Claire Needell

25613939. sy475 The only thing I could remember about this book is that it had one of the lowest average ratings on my TBR! In fact, I only have 4 books currently on my TBR that are already published that have a lower rating overall. This book is about siblings, Jan, Erika and Melanie, whose parents have divorced, and the sisters have a strained relationship with each other. When Melanie is sexually assaulted at a party, the sisters all have to deal with the aftermath. I’ve seen a wide variety of criticisms of this one, including everything from the author trying to take on too much in the span of such a short book, to the characters being one-dimensional and unlikeable. I’ve left it on my TBR anyway because the plot did sound like it had potential, but it does put me off a bit to see so many negative reviews. I don’t generally let the reviews sway me, but when the majority are bringing up the same concerns, it’s a bit harder to put them aside. I’m still mildly interested in trying this one, but I doubt I’ll be getting to it any time soon.

9) God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo

248103I’m pretty sure I added this one to my list mostly because the title was interesting, because I can’t remember anything else about it. It is about a woman named Trixie who replies to a personal ad that is asking for “a friend for the end of the world,” which connects her with Jacob, free-spirited writer. Together, the two of them try to come to terms with the fact that both of their fathers have left them, in different ways. Even after reading the synopsis again, I’m still not too sure what it was about the book that interested me, and I’m not surprised that I’d forgotten about it. The Goodreads synopsis seems pretty vague, but it somehow has received very good reviews, with an average rating over 4 stars. I can’t really see myself picking this one up yet, but I’m intrigued enough to at least leave it sitting on my TBR. It’s another book where I can’t even remember where I found it, but I would assume by browsing Goodreads recommendations at the time.

10) The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

25639296I vaguely remember adding this one to my list, but I’m not that surprised I forgot about it since I tend to gravitate toward adult thrillers more than YA thrillers. It is about two friends, Tessa and Callie, who both were witnesses to a murder when they were only 7 years old, and were responsible for sending a man to death row for the crime. Although they were friends, the girls never talked to each other about what they saw. Ten years later, Tessa is returning to their town for the first time to say goodbye to her father, who is dying, and Callie, who has been stuck there all along escapes the past by drinking and partying. Soon after Tessa returns, another body is found that seems to fit the serial killer’s pattern, causing her to question whether the killer could still be out there, and she decides that she needs to find out what Callie saw. After looking at the synopsis again, I can easily see why I added this one to my TBR since it is a storyline that I always tend to find intriguing, although I don’t think I’ve read it as a YA thriller before. I’m also not surprised that I forgot about it because I have so many other similar books, so this one kind of got lost in the shuffle.