Stacking the Shelves (#39)

I think January was the first month in a while where I really strongly felt like I had added a lot of books to my TBR, although to be fair, it’s definitely not my highest total. Throughout January, I added a total of 51 books to my TBR, bringing my total up to 3910 books. As a fun fact, 16 of those books were added right on January 1! Many of the books I added this time came up because of a few lists I saw early on of upcoming anticipated releases for the year. I should probably start making note of these lists and articles when I see them, since I never remember exactly where I first saw a book by the time I post it! I feel bad because I’d love to acknowledge where I’m getting these recommendations from, but I also don’t consciously think of it at the time since I never know which books I’m going to be mentioning so many weeks ahead of time. I think the majority of the books I added were because I recognized the author’s name as someone I had either read from before or already wanted to read from.

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

1) The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison


This book is a perfect example of one that I found on a list of upcoming releases and one that I added because I recognized the author’s name. I have this author’s debut A Love Hate Thing on my TBR too, but I don’t think it quite made it into my challenge plans for this year. I added this one as an extra reminder to give this author a try, and because it was another YA romance that sounded so cute! This book is about a teenage boy named Guillermo who has moved to a new town and a new school to get a fresh start and stop his reckless behaviour, and soon meets a girl while working at the local community center. The girl, Regan, is feeling pressured to stay in her “perfect” relationship and be the perfect daughter, but soon finds herself drawn to Guillermo since he seems to understand her a lot better than she expected. This book is not due out until mid-July, but it sounds like something I might enjoy. I find I really need to be in the right mood to enjoy this kind of YA romance since I tend to want something a little more from them, but I’m very open to giving this one a try.

2) Phantom Heart by Kelly Creagh


I was drawn to this one immediately because I am absolutely obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera musical. My best friend has been obsessed with the show (as well as other musicals) since I met him in second grade, and we went to see the stage production and the 2004 movie version with some friends in high school. Since then, I have seen the show at least 3 other times, including once on Broadway! I’ve also seen Love Never Dies although I can’t remember if I ever saw it live or just as a recorded version of the stage show. As soon as I saw this book, I knew it was something I’d want to read. It is about a 17-year-odl girl named Stephanie who does not believe in ghosts, despite her younger sister’s insistence on a ghost in her closest and the rumours that their father’s latest renovation project might be haunted. When a classmate who is obsessed with the paranormal starts to take an interest in her and the renovations, the supernatural activity seems to escalate. At the same time, Stephanie also keeps dreaming of Erik, an 18-year-old British boy who seems to have something to do with the man in the mask. I’m a little worried that this book has also been compared to Twilight, since I wasn’t really a fan of that series at all, but Phantom of the Opera alone is enough for me to be willing to try it!

3) The Castle School: For Troubled Girls by Alyssa B. Sheinmel


I was very excited to add What Kind of Girl by this author to my list last year, but unfortunately I haven’t picked it up yet! I was also very surprised to realize that I already had two more books by this author on my TBR, and both had been there for years. I think I somehow assumed What Kind of Girl was her debut for some reason. This book is coming out in March, and it is about a teenage girl named Moria whose parents are sending her to an all-girls boarding school in the Maine woods. Moira is sure that her parents are punishing her for causing so much trouble since the death of her best friend, Nathan. Upon arriving at the school, she has no interest in confiding in the strange headmaster nor making new friends. Each night, strange things begin to happen and after venturing out with her roommate, they discover that they are not as isolated as they thought when they find a nearby all-boys school with students who had also been sent away by their parents. Moira soon becomes convinced that the schools and the doctors who run them are hiding something, and is forced to confront her own grief as she tries to figure out what is really happening. This book sounds like exactly the kind of creepy boarding school story that I tend to love, and I’m excited to try it.

4) Glimpsed by G.F. Miller


I think of all the books I added to my TBR this month, this is the one that I am the most on the fence about. It is about Charity, who is a fairy godmother who can glimpse the future of her fellow students at Jack London High School, and works to make sure their deepest wishes are fulfilled. When fulfilling a student’s wish to become homecoming queen ends in disaster, Charity’s wish-granting abilities are called into question and she starts to wonder where these future glimpses are even coming from, and whether they are showing her the full picture. At the same time, she also has to deal with Noah, the ex-boyfriend of one of her former clients who believes her intervention does more harm than good, and demands that she helps him get his girlfriend back instead of granting wishes. Noah soon becomes her ally as she tries to figure out where her glimpses of the future come from, and Charity begins to wish for something more, leaving her to wonder whether fairy godmothers can get their own happy endings too. Something about this book reminds me a bit of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which was one of my favourite shows. I’m on the fence because I’m not sure how easily I’ll be able to get into this one since this kind of combination of real-life and magic does not always work for me in a book, but if this does work, it could be so fun!

5) Game Changer by Neal Shusterman


I added this one to my TBR mostly because I recently read the Scythe series and I really enjoyed it. This is his upcoming release coming out February 9, and it sounded very interesting. It is about a boy named Ash who seems to have been sent into another dimension after being hit on the football field, and he keeps shifting through worlds that are similar to his own but not quite right. The changes start out small but quickly grow and spoil out of control as he finds versions of the world where he has everything, some that are stuck in the past, and even some where he sees the world from a completely different perspective. To be honest, I don’t know very much about what this book really is about since the synopsis is pretty vague, but I’ve always been drawn to Neal Shusterman’s unique concepts. I’ve had the Unwind series on my TBR for years but never bothered to pick it up, and also had Scythe in mind for quite a while before finally reading it. I don’t know why, but I’d assumed for a while that I wouldn’t really get into his writing, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Scythe, especially the first book. I wouldn’t necessarily say this book is particularly high on my list, but it’s definitely one I’d be interested in trying at some point.

6) The Charmed Wife by Olga Grushin

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I have no idea where I first saw this one, but it immediately caught my attention because of the interesting cover. I think I initially assumed that this was a thriller, but it is actually a literary Cinderella retelling, which is something I have rarely seen aside from Gregory Maguire. This book is about what happens after Cinderella marries the prince, set 13 years later when she decides she is fed up with her life, and decides to sneak out to get help from a Witch known for making love potions. As the Witch throws in the last ingredient, Cinderella decides that instead of a love spell, she wants her husband dead. I’ve seen some very mixed reviews for this one so far so I’m probably going to go into it, whenever I do end up reading it, with relatively low expectations. In theory, it sounds like it could be incredible. I love stories that take well-known fairy tales and put a bit of a twist on them, and especially the whole concept of what happens after the so-called “happily ever after.” I’m a little skeptical because the overall rating on Goodreads so far is relatively low (3.3 stars overall) but it is from very few ratings, so I’m not sure how accurate that really is.

7) Forget Me Not by Alexandra Oliva


I added this one to my TBR because I vaguely recognized the author’s name as someone who already had a book on my list. I’ve had The Last One by this author on my list since 2016 and had mostly forgotten about it until I saw this one. This book is her latest release that is coming in March, and it is about a woman named Linda who had mostly raised herself in an isolated property in rural Washington when she was a child. After witnessing something she wasn’t meant to see, Linda climbed the walls and abandoned her home, putting her straight into a world that she is not prepared for. Years later, Linda now lives in Seattle and has become immersed with technology and social media, but continues to feel isolated as it continues to bring her past back to haunt her. When a new neighbour introduces her to the escapism of virtual reality, Linda begins to hope for more from her life. After an unexplained fire prompts her to return to her childhood home, it sparks a chain of events that will challenge her understanding of her family and her past. Although the plot sounds mostly like a thriller, I’ve also noticed that this book is tagged as sci-fi too, and I’m very interested to see how those two genres work together. I haven’t seen much hype around this one considering it is coming so soon, but it sounds really interesting!

8) Lore by Alexandra Bracken


I was a little resitant to adding this one to my TBR right away because of my general aversion to books that seem overhyped, but it didn’t take too long for me to change my mind. I actually haven’t read anything by Alexandra Bracken yet, but I’m pretty sure she will end up on my priority authors list for 2022. I probably could have added her to my list for this year, but I’d already had my list pretty well established by the time I remembered that I wanted to read her series. This book is set in a world where every 7 years, a group of Greek gods are forced to live on Earth as mortals, hunted by descendants of ancient bloodlines who will seize their power if they can kill them. It focuses on a girl named Lore who fled from this brutal world after her family is murdered by rivals, and has pushed away any thought of revenge against the man responsible. As the next hunt is dawning, two participants seek Lore’s help, offering her a chance to finally leave their world behind forever and also get revenge on the man who killed her parents. I’ve always loved Greek mythology although I don’t have too much knowledge about it at this point, and this books sounds so cool! I’ve seen a lot of people raving about it already, and this may be a case where I really need to buy into the hype and try it.

9) Among the Beasts and Briars by Ashley Poston


I was excited to see a new Ashley Poston book coming soon, despite the fact that I haven’t read anything by her yet either! I’ve had the Geekerella series in my challenge plans for an embarrassingly long time without ever picking them up, to the point where I’ve made the series a goal for this year as an extra push to finally read them. I was very surprised to see that this book came out last October since I’ve heard literally nothing about it, and don’t even remember seeing it on any lists of upcoming releases last year. It is a YA fantasy about a girl named Cerys who lives in a peaceful land with no draught, disease or famine for the past century, after the first king made a bargain with he Lady who rules the bordering forest. As their town prospers, the woods have become dark and cursed. As a child, Cerys narrowly survived the woods’ attack that killed her friends and her mother, leaving her with a small bit of its magic in her blood. When a new queen is crowned, things that had been hidden in the woods begin to descend on the kingdom, forcing Cerys to go on the run to find the Lady of the Wilds and find a way to save her home. I’m very surprised that no one is talking about this one because it sounds amazing!

10) From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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This is another book that I’ve been hesitant to add because it seemed overhyped, but the more I hear about it, the more it seems like something I’d like. The only other book I’ve read by this author was one of her contemporary titles. It’s been years since I’ve read it so I don’t remember it that well, but I know that I really enjoyed it. I’ve had a very mild interest in trying her Lux series and/or her Covenant series, but both of those have been on my TBR for years without ever reading a single book. This book has been out for nearly a year already and I’ve seen it highly recommended by many of the channels I watch. It is about a Maiden named Poppy who is waiting for her Ascension, where she must prove her worthiness and help protect her kingdom from a curse. Until then, she is forbidden to be touched or even seen by anyone, but she would rather be working with the guards to fight back against the evil that took her family. When she meets Hawke, a guard who makes her question everything she believes, leading her to uncover secrets about her kingdom and her role in it. To be honest, I really struggled to figure out what this book was about by the synopsis, which also may be why I’d been so hesitant to add it. I’ve heard such great things about it though, so it might be something I’d eventually try.

11) Hello, Cruel Heart by Maureen Johnson


Maureen Johnson is yet another author I’ve been meaning to try for a while, and I’m planning to pick up the entire Truly Devious series a bit later this year. I stumbled upon this book completely by accident, but was intrigued to see that it was about Cruella de Vil! One of my favourite movies was the live action version of 101 Dalmatians with Glenn Close as Cruella, and I’ve always been a bit curious about her backstory. This book follows 16-year-old Estella who dreams of becoming a fashion designer, and soon meets Jasper and Horace, amateur thieves who become her partners-in-crime. Estella wonders how she will become a renowned designer when she is busy making endless costumes and disguises for their heists. When a chance encounter with two socialites propel her into the world of the rich and famous, Estella begins to wonder if this world is really where she belongs and what the cost will be of trying to keep up with it all. To be honest, I’m not totally sold on the plot of this one because I expected a bit more to Cruella’s backstory, but I’m curious to see which direction the author takes it. This book won’t be out until April, so there is still quite a wait!

12) The People We Choose by Katelyn Detweiler


I keep adding Katelyn Detweiler’s books to my TBR even though I found the only one I’ve read so far a bit disappointing. I read Immaculate back in 2018 because I absolutely loved the premise of a modern immaculate conception, but I didn’t love the writing and found the characters a bit underdeveloped. I liked it at least enough to be willing to give the author another chance, and have since added two more of her books to my TBR. This book is about a teenage girl named Calliope who has never wanted anything more than her two best friends and her mothers, except to know who her biological father was since she was conceived by sperm donor. When a new boy, Max, moves in across the woods from her, Calliope decides to break her rule against dating as the two become closer, but soon finds out that her donor is actually Max’s father, forcing them to redefine their relationship. This sounds like such a unique angle for a YA contemporary and not a storyline I’ve ever really seen before. This book is not due out until May so there are no reviews for it yet, but I’m curious to see what others think of it before I pick it up.

13) The Girl in the Headlines by Hannah Jayne


I can’t remember where I first saw this one, but I think it was just while browsing my Goodreads feed. This one is an upcoming YA thriller due out this July, and it is only 250 pages! I don’t think I noticed that when I first added it since I tend to avoid books that short, unless they are novellas. It is about a teenage girl named Andrea who wakes up the day after her 18th birthday covered in blood and in a motel room, with no memory of what happened. The news is saying that her parents were attacked in the middle of the night and her younger brother has gone missing, and Andi is shocked to learn that she has become the prime suspect. While on the run from police, she teams up with Nate, the boy who works at the motel’s front desk, to find the real murderer. To be honest, now that I’ve seen that this book is so short, I’m a bit put off trying it because I tend to find books of that length tend not to be very well-developed. The premise sounds interesting and like something I might enjoy, but I’m definitely going to wait until closer to the release date in July and see more of the reviews as they come in before I decide whether I want to read it.

14) Anatomy of a Murderer by Tim Floreen


This is another book that I added mostly on a whim after seeing it on Goodreads, and I was immediately drawn in by the premise. It is about a teenager named Rem who had witnessed a classmate named Franklin commit a horrific crime, for which he was eventually caught and sent to a juvenile detention center. Rem is ready to move past it all until his mother selects this classmate to be a test subject for an experimental brain procedure which should “cure” him of his violence, triggering Rem’s memories of that day and doubts about whether the procedure can even work. When they are brought together afterwards, Rem is shocked that Franklin really does seem to have changed and they even start to become friends, until another classmate turns up dead, leading Rem to question whether the procedure can really change people or if there is another killer out there. This sounds like such an intriguing concept for a YA thriller, and it really sounds like something that I would love.

15) Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

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Of all the books I added this month, this is the one that I’m most excited about! I only saw this book right at the end of the month, and immediately added it to my TBR since I’ve absolutely loved both of Nicola Yoon’s other books. It is about a girl named Evie who does not believe in love anymore, especially after she sees a couple kissing and gets a vision of how their romance begins and how it will end. As Evie tries to figure out why she’s getting these visions, she finds herself at a dance studio, learning to dance with a boy named X whose philosophy is to always say yes to opportunities. Evie knows that falling for him is not what she wanted, especially after her visions show her that all relationships tend to end in heartbreak, but as they continue to get to know each other, Evie is forced to question whether love might be worth the risk. I was so excited to see a new book coming by Nicola Yoon, due out this May, because I had no idea she was releasing something new this year! I’m hoping to find a way to squeeze this one into my reading challenges for the year!

Top 5 Wednesdays: Required Reading

I could have sworn I’d already written about the books I’d been required to read before, but it seems that there has never been a post specifically devoted to it either. I’ve always been a huge reader, and one of my favourite parts of school is when we got to read and study a book together. I was one of the geeky kids who loved when we had assignments that involved reading a chapter and answering the questions. To be fair, I didn’t always love the books that the teacher picked, and often would much rather choose a book of my own. I loved visiting the school library and finding new books to read, although I hated doing presentations about them. I think one of my most embarrassing moments in elementary school was when I did a book report on Mary Higgins Clark’s Let Me Call You Sweetheart. I was super shy and hated to present, so I must have said the title too fast and/or too quietly, and she made me repeat it a few times. It was so embarrassing, especially in seventh grade when everyone is at their most self-conscious, to keep saying “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to my teacher! I’m sure we read a book as a group every single year, but there are only a few that I very strongly remember.

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 Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – This is the first book that I very strongly remember reading as a group in school, in second grade. I’m sure there was a class book in first grade, but I was reading well above grade level and was generally given my own separate work to do while the rest of the class was learning to read. I actually can’t remember specifically if we read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but I know for sure we watched the movie and discussed the story in detail. It quickly became one of my all-time favourite books!

2) Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – This was the book we read as a class in Grade 3, and it is the first book that I very distinctly remember being read to us. This is another book that quickly became an all-time favourite, and another one that I’ve read many times over the years. I’ve even led a Book Study on this one for my group at work too. I’m sure this book is a very common one that is read in schools, and I’m so glad that we read it.

3) Underground to Canada by Barbara Smucker – I remember doing this book in Grade 6, but I have absolutely no memory of any of the details. Being Canadian, a huge focus of our Social Studies program was Canadian history. This book is about the Underground Railroad, which slaves in the southern US used to escape to Canada, where they could have freedom. I’d be curious to know what people think of the book now, given all the discussions about representation and potentially problematic content in a lot of older books.

4) The Giver by Lois Lowry – This was the book that we studied in seventh grade, and probably the first dystopian book I’ve ever read. It is about a 12-year-old boy named Jonas who is given the assignment of being the Receiver of Memory, which makes him aware of the darker secrets behind his seemingly perfect world, where everything is chosen for you. I’d actually like to read this one again at some point. I vaguely remember reading it a second time at some point, but I’m curious to see if it will be a different experience now that I’ve read so many other dystopians.

5) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein – In Grade 8 , our approach to class books was a little different. We were grouped into smaller groups, which was clearly by reading level even though they refused to say so, and assigned a book. My group read The Hobbit, and to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan. I found it a bit slow and boring. I actually read it a second time in my children’s lit class in university, and didn’t really like it any better the second time, unfortunately. I actually wish I liked it more given how well-loved this book is!

Top 10 Tuesdays: New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2020

One of my goals in 2020 was to pick up some books by several new-to-me authors that I’d been meaning to try for a long time! I set myself a list of 10 YA authors and 10 non-YA authors to try, and the idea was to read at least one book by each of them before the end of the year. I was a little frustrated to realize that I only had one author remaining to read by the end of December, but ran out of time before I could get to any of her books! It’s always a bit annoying to come so close to the end of a goal and just miss out on finishing it. Luckily, the goal still accomplished it’s main purpose, which was to give me a push to finally try some of those authors who had been on my TBR absolutely forever, often with multiple books, so I can finally see whether I liked them. I definitely discovered some new favourite authors this way, and all of the books I read by these authors ended up being at least 4 stars! Since many of them are books and authors that I’ve mentioned frequently before, I won’t go into too much detail about each book, but I want to at least mention some of the authors I liked best!

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) Lisa Jewell – Lisa Jewell was the very first author from my priority list that I tried in 2020, mostly because I had received The Family Upstairs as my Secret Santa gift a few weeks before, and I’d been really looking forward to trying that one. It quickly became one of my favourites, and I also read Watching You several months later, which was another 5-star read. Since then, I bought 4 more of her books, and still have 2 unread that I already owned. I’m especially looking forward to reading Invisible Girl, probably within the next few weeks!

2) Maurene Goo – Maurene Goo was the first author I tried from my YA list, and I also read two of her books. I read I Believe in a Thing Called Love right at the end of February, and then The Way You Make Me Feel at the beginning of April. Both were a sold 4 stars for me because they were so much fun to read and they were both also very quick. I think of the two, I slightly preferred The Way You Make Me Feel because it felt a little more realistic, but in both cases, I loved the relationships the characters had with their dads. I also intended to read Somewhere Only We Know, but ran out of time for that one, but I might get to it this year instead.

3) Kasie West – I’ve always been a little on the fence about Kasie West’s books because they sound so cute, but also seem like something I’ve probably outgrown by now. By the time her first book came out, I was already in my second-last year of college and didn’t really care for this kind of story anymore. I finally decided to try at least one anyway since I kept hearing such great things about them, and I listened to the audiobook of The Fill-In Boyfriend. While I still think it skews a bit too young for me, I was surprised by how much I still ended up enjoying it, and I’m interested in trying some more of her books, especially when I want something light.

4) Karin Slaughter – Karin Slaughter is another author I’d been on the fence about, but for a very different reason. I’d heard her books could be very graphic and wasn’t sure that was something I really wanted to read, and I also had seen that many of her books were part of a series so I wasn’t really sure where to start. I finally decided to start with The Good Daughter since that was a standalone, and ended up loving it (although it was pretty graphic)! I also intended to read Pretty Girls but ran out of time before I could get to that one, so it’s high on my list for this year instead.

5) Jenn Bennett – I didn’t quite love the first Jenn Bennett book I read as much as I expected! I read Alex, Approximately since that was one that had been on my TBR longest and although I gave it 4 stars, I was a bit disappointed! I really did not like the main character at all, but there were enough elements that I did like to enjoy the book overall. Luckily, I had a much better time with Starry Eyes which came very close to 5 stars. I loved the characters in that one and the relatively unique premise of the story, and that one alone convinced me to try more of her books too.

6) Katrina Leno – I picked up two of Katrina Leno’s books mostly because I’d kept hearing her name frequently on a few of the channels I watch. I could have sworn I’d read them in the opposite order, but according to Goodreads I started with Summer of Salt, which I loved, and about a month later I also read Everything All At Once, which I liked but wasn’t completely sold on. Even though I didn’t quite love the second book as much as I’d expected, I enjoyed Katrina Leno’s writing enough to be interested in trying more.

7) Mary Kubica – I think of all the authors I had on my priority list, this was the one that I was most disappointed not to love. I read Pretty Baby and I liked it, but also found it a bit underwhelming compared to other thrillers that I’ve read. I’d really wanted to read The Other Mrs. as well but somehow kept putting it off! I’m definitely interested in trying more of Mary Kubica’s books because she’s an author I’ve had on my list for such a long time, and I’m hoping I’ll enjoy some of her more recent books even more.

8) Peter Swanson – By now, I’ve mentioned several times how much I really wanted to read The Kind Worth Killing, but didn’t get a copy until too late in the year. Instead, I read Eight Perfect Murders, which was another one that was very high on my list, and I ended up loving it! Since then, I bought all of Peter Swanson’s other books that are currently available, except for The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, and I’m planning to read at least 2 more this year.

9) Riley Sager – I think of all the authors on my list, Riley Sager was one of the ones that I wanted to try most. I became obsessed with Home Before Dark as soon as I saw the synopsis and it became a top priority for me to read. Luckily, I ended up loving it as much as I expected! A bit earlier in the year, I also read Final Girls and really enjoyed that one too. I also really wanted to read Lock Every Door but couldn’t find an affordable copy, at least not in hardcover to match my other two. I have all of the remaining Riley Sager books in my plan for this year, including his upcoming release, and I’m really looking forward to all of them.

10) Sarah Pinborough – I squeezed this book in literally right at the end of 2020, and was so glad to finally be able to say that I’d read it! I’ve been putting it in my challenge plans for years now and kept putting it off, to the point where it was getting a little ridiculous. To be fair, I didn’t quite love this one quite as much as I expected. It may have been because it was right at the end of the year and I was a little burnt out, but I found it a bit slow to get into, although I absolutely loved the ending!

7 On Sundays: Favourite Book Predictions

Technically, I’m doing this week’s topic a little out of order. This week was supposed to be the comics, manga or graphic novels that we are intending to read this year. I’m not planning on reading any manga, and I have only a handful of graphic novels in my plan, which I didn’t think would even be enough to reach 7. When I looked ahead at next week’s topic instead, I realized it was the perfect chance for me to mention some of the books that very narrowly missed out on being in my 5 Star Predictions posts (Part 1, 2 & 3). I decided to go ahead and do this topic now, since next week will be my monthly Stacking the Shelves post and I didn’t want to mess up the schedule for that one too much. When I set my 5 Star Predictions, I limited myself to only three books from each of my reading challenges for a total of 21, and it was a very difficult choice! In most cases, there were at least two or three more books that were very strong contenders. For this week, I decided to pick one more book per challenge which I’m also expecting to love, and will hopefully also be 5 star reads!

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

1) You Have A Match by Emma Lord


The only reason this book did not make my 5 Star Prediction list is because I ended up switching Sarah J. Maas’s new addition to the ACOTAR series to the same challenge, and it bumped this one off the list (although not by much!). This book is the new release by the author of Tweet Cute, which was one of my favourite books of 2020! It is about a girl named Abby who signs up for a DNA service, and she is surprised to learn that she has a secret sister named Savannah, an Instagram star who is a year and a half older than her. Abby decides to meet up with her sister at camp and figure out why their parents would have given Savannah up for adoption, but soon faces a whole host of unexpected complications. I went into Tweet Cute last year with pretty low expectations and was surprised by how much I ended up loving it! I’m hoping to enjoy this one just as much. I really liked Emma Lord’s writing and especially her characters, and I’m expecting more of the same here too. I can’t wait to read this one, although it seems like something that should be a summer read if I can wait that long!

2) For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

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To be fair, I have not read a single Samantha Downing book yet. She is very high on my list of priority authors to try this year, and I was especially excited to see the synopsis for her upcoming release this July. This was one of those books that the more I saw it, the more I wanted to try it. It is about Teddy Crutcher, an award-winning teacher at a prestigious private school, whose goal is to push his students to their full potential, and he wants the parents and his colleagues to just stay out of his way. Meanwhile, a parent of one of the students has died under circumstances that seem a lot like murder, and a student is starting to dig a little too deeply into Teddy’s personal life. The synopsis is pretty vague, but something about this book caught my attention right from the start and it jumped straight to the top of my list to read this year. Dark academia definitely seems to be a trend lately, and I’m loving it! I’m also planning to read My Lovely Wife and He Started It this year too, if I can find affordable copies.

3) My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell


When I first mentioned this book last year, it was as a new release that I had been on the fence about reading. Even at the time, I had no idea what it was that had put me off since it actually sounds like something I’d find so interesting. I think I chalked it up to it being too overhyped, and that triggered my inclination to avoid it. The more I heard about it over the course of the year, the more I changed my mind and decided that I really did want to try it. I ended up buying a copy but somehow never got around to reading it. This book is about a young woman named Vanessa, who had an affair with her English teacher when she was only 15. As an adult, that same teacher is facing allegations of abuse by another former student, causing Vanessa to question everything she thought about her relationship with him, especially since she had considered him her first love. I’m glad I changed my mind about this one because it sounds like such a fascinating topic and a very different angle from the few other student-teacher stories that I’ve read before. I’m hoping I’ll love it after how long it took me to finally decide to try it.

4) The Whisper Man by Alex North


I feel like I mentioned this book so many times last year, and I’m very upset that I didn’t get to it! I’d originally planned to read it around Halloween, but I had too many other books I wanted to read around that time to get to them all. Instead of waiting for this fall, I’m planning to pick this one up within the next few weeks. It is a thriller about a father named Tom who has moved to a new town with his young son so they can get a fresh start after the sudden death of his wife. The town used to be home to a serial killer known as The Whisper Man, who abducted and killed five people 20 years ago, before finally being caught. As Tom and his son start to settle into their new home, another boy vanishes and his disappearance bears a shocking resemblance to the Whisper Man cases, reigniting rumours that the killer had an accomplice, leading detectives to start investigating all over again, especially when Tom’s own son starts hearing whispers at his window — a tell-tale sign of the killer. This sounds so creepy and I can’t wait to finally pick it up!

5) Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy


It was between this one and Every Last Fear for another book I’d considered adding to my 5-star predictions. I gave this one the slight edge just because I’d already read and loved another book by this author, whereas Every Last Fear is a debut so I’m not as sure if I’ll like that author’s writing. This is another book that I feel like I mentioned a ton last year, especially because it came out shortly before my birthday and I’d been hoping to get it as a gift. It is about a newly married couple, Sam and Annie, who are excited to be moving back to Sam’s hometown to start their lives together. Unfortunately, Annie soon finds herself alone most of the time, with Sam working long hours as a therapist in his office downstairs. Sam does not realize that Annie can hear his sessions through the vent in the ceiling. One day, after one of Sam’s female patients shows up, he leaves his office and never comes home. I absolutely loved The Perfect Mother by this author and I’ve been really looking forward to reading more of her books. I didn’t end up getting this one for my birthday, but I’m hoping to be able to buy a copy myself soon so I can finally read it.

6) Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson


Again, this was a tough choice to narrow down — it was between this book and Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid, both of which I expect to be favourites. I’ve only read one of Peter Swanson’s books so far, and I really enjoyed it. I have several more of his books in mind to read this year, especially The Kind Worth Killing, and I was excited to see a new one coming out in March too. This book is about a woman named Abigail who is about to be married, but has a one-night stand during her bachelorette weekend. She soon decides to put the whole thing behind her and go ahead with her wedding, only for the man she slept with to suddenly turn up and insist that their night together was the start of something special. Abigail is left to figure out whether to tell her husband the truth about what happened, or try to handle the situation all on her own, a decision that is made much more difficult as strange things start to happen at the resort where they are staying, and no one seems to believe her. This sounds like exactly the kind of thriller that I tend to love and I’m excited to try it.

7) The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J. Harris


Of all the books mentioned here, this one has technically been on my TBR the longest, but even this one was only added in 201, about a year after it was published. This book is about a 13-year-old boy named Jasper who has synestheisa, causing him to see colours when he hears sounds. Jasper becomes convinced that he must be responsible for the terrible thing that happened to his neighbour, and revisits the events of the last few months to figure out what really happened to her. I’m mostly expecting to love this one because it has been compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is one of my favourite books. I’ve also seen comparisons to both Fredrik Backman and Graeme Simsion, and I’ve loved both of their books as well. Synesthesia is something that I know very little about but it seems like a very interesting and unique premise for this kind of story. I bought this book last year during the first round of lockdowns, and I’m hoping to pick it up pretty soon!

Top 5 Wednesdays: Rise of the Rebels

When I first saw this week’s topic, my instinct was to go to dystopians since so many of those focus on rebellious characters. Once I realized it was tough for me to find series that I hadn’t already repeated several times, I decided to go in a bit of a different direction and pick contemporary books about characters who are rebelling against real-life injustices. It is something that I’m not sure many people would necessarily think of when they first think of rebellious characters, but it is definitely something that seems to have become more of a trend in the past few years. I guess that’s no surprise given the strong focus on social justice, especially recently. I have quite a few books on my TBR that focus on rebellious characters who are standing up for themselves or others, usually at school but sometimes within their communities. These are all books that I’m planning to read sometime this year, and I’m hoping to love 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) Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno

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I bought this book late last year, but haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet. This one is about a high school student named Marin who is hoping to get into Brown University and her prospects seem great, until her English teacher takes things too far and comes onto her. When Marin finally works up the courage to speak to the administration about it, no one believes her and she is forced to continue seeing her teacher in class every day. Marin decides to take matters into her own hands and use the school newspaper to fight back, as well as starting a feminist book club at school and soon finds herself teaming up with some unlikely allies. This book is exactly the kind of contemporary rebellion story that I tend to love, let alone the fact that it involves a book club. I have only read one book by Katie Cotugno so far, and nothing by Candace Bushnell, although I know she is very famous for writing Sex and the City. I think it’s great to see such realistic rebellion stories like this, as opposed to just dystopian worlds, since it shows how these kinds of actions are sometimes necessary even in real life.

2) Internment by Samira Ahmed

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This book borders on the dystopian a bit more, but still strikes me as more realistic than not. It is set in a near-future version of the United States, where a 17-year-old girl named Layla and her parents have been forced into an internment camp because they are Muslim. With the help of some friends that she makes at the camp as well as her boyfriend outside, Layla leads a revolution against the camp’s director for their freedom. I think what’s the most scary about this one is that even though it’s technically set in the future, it doesn’t seem all that different from something like ICE. I’m a little worried about reading this one because I’ve seen some very mixed reviews for it, and I also didn’t love the other book I read by this author quite as much as I expected either. It sounds like a very interesting and important concept though, and I’m very interested in at least giving it a try. It definitely seems a bit more along the lines of a Hunger Games-style revolution than a typical “teens fight back against their high school’s unfair rules”

3) One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite


I feel like I didn’t know too much about this book until very recently, and when I did, it suddenly jumped straight to the top of my TBR. I even bought a copy which just arrived earlier this week! This book is about a teenage activist named Kezi who is killed under mysterious circumstances while attending a rally. Kezi’s sister Happi soon begins to question the way her sister has been idealized after her death, as she is held up as another victim in the fight against police brutality. Happi begins to question how we treat victims of such cases and why only certain people are considered worthy of being missed. Along with her other sister Genny, Happi sets out to honour Kezi in their own way, and soon discover that there was something that no one knew about Kezi, which may change things all over again. Part of what’s interesting about this book as one about rebel characters is that it seems to have a double rebellion — Kezi was an activist who was participating in a rally for social change, which is a kind of rebellion in itself, and her sisters rebel against society’s approach to her death by finding their own way to honour her. This book is very high on my list and I hope to get to it very soon, especially now that I have my copy.

4) Off the Record by Camryn Garrett


This book is another one that is very high on my list to read this year. Like Camryn Garrett’s debut, I wasn’t paying too much attention to it at first, but the more I saw it, the more I wanted to add it to my list. This one is about a 17-year-old girl named Josie who wins a contest to profile a celebrity for a magazine. She loves the opportunity to head out on a multi-city tour, meet celebrities, and even starts to develop feelings for the young man she is profiling. However, a young actress soon decides to let Josie in on a terrible secret, and as more women begin to come forward, Josie is faced with the difficult decision of whether to speak up. She wants the man responsible to be exposed, but isn’t sure it is her story to tell, and she worries about doing these women’s stories justice but also the impact it could have on her own hopes for a writing career. I think this book focuses on rebellion in a bit of a different way than the others mentioned above. This one seems to be more on an individual level, with Josie challenging her own ideas while also fighting the system. It is not necessarily the first book that might come to mind when thinking of a rebellious character, but it is about someone learning how and when to stand up for others, so I think it still fits.

5) Suggested Reading by David Connis

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I really wanted to fit this one into my reading challenge plans last year but struggled to find a place for it, so I knew it would end up high on my list for this year instead. This book is another one that focuses on a character fighting back using books. The main character Clara is a high school student who discovers that her principal has a list of “prohibited media,” which have all been pulled from the library and are not allowed on school grounds. Knowing how much of an impact these books had on her own life, Clara decides that her principal is abusing his power, and starts an underground library from her locker to make sure the other students still have access to the banned books. When one of her favourite books is connected to an unexpected tragedy, she is forced to face up to her own potential role in the incident and starts to feel conflicted about her decision to start the library. As someone who always read above my grade level at school, I’m very interested in the whole concept of banning or restricting access to books and under what circumstances (if any) it might make sense to ban a book. This one definitely fits the mold of a rebellious character since Clara is directly going against her principal’s rules, and it’s another one that I’m really excited to finally read!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books I Meant to Read in 2020 But Didn’t

This week’s prompt was actually pretty well-timed, since it comes very shortly after I posted my list of goals for the year. One of my goals was to read some of the books that I seem to keep putting off. Now that I’m designing my reading challenges as a two-year process, it’s inevitable there will be quite a few books that I won’t be able to get to, but there are also several that I’ve put off more than once by now. When I posted my goals, I decided I didn’t want to set a specific list of books I’d been putting off because I already had quite a few lists for other goals, and didn’t want to be overwhelmed. I did have a handful of books in mind that I’d had in my challenge plans (sometimes more than once!) but didn’t get to. With several of these books, it’s getting to the point where it is ridiculous that I haven’t read them yet considering how many times I’ve included them on my lists, and I want to make sure to prioritize them this year.

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 Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson


Of all the books that I didn’t get to last year, this was the one that I was most upset about. It’s a book that I’ve been meaning to read since 2015 and assumed that I’d easily be able to find a copy to buy. I guess it’s really my own fault since I decided I specifically wanted the hardcover version, and that one was either out of stock or too expensive for the majority of the year. By the time I finally received a copy for my birthday, I had too many other books remaining for my main challenges to get to this one, which I’d had down for a lower priority challenge. This book is about a man who jokes to a stranger on his flight about wanting to kill his wife, and he is shocked when she offers to help. I have purposely avoided looking into the synopsis of this one in too much detail, but I’ve heard that it is amazing. I’ve only read one other Peter Swanson book so far, which I loved, so I’m really looking forward to reading this one too. Now that I finally have a copy (and in the version that I want!), I have no excuse not to get to it, especially considering how much I’ve been anticipating it.

2) Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon


This is definitely one of those books where it feels like it’s absolutely ridiculous that I haven’t read it by now. It has also been on my TBR since 2015, and I’ve included it in challenge plans several times before. I had it on my Spring TBR for 2020, and also mentioned it as a book that I’d be likely to read soon….in June 2019, when I did a TBR Benchwarmers post. I even picked this book as a 5 star prediction for this year as an extra push to read it, and I’ll be pretty annoyed if I don’t end up reading it this year either! It is about a father who realizes his son Jake is the only student missing after a school shooting, and begins to question how well he really knows his son. I’ve loved several other books that have a similar kind of premise, and I’ve been very excited to read this one ever since I first saw it on Goodreads. I don’t know why I keep putting it off, but I’m especially motivated to finally pick it up this year, and ideally within the first quarter of the year! It’s not a particularly long book either, so there is really no reason not to finally pick it up.

3) Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown


Fun fact: I added this one to my TBR originally one day after Finding Jake, and both of these were added about two weeks after The Kind Worth Killing. It’s safe to say that they have all been on my TBR for way too long, considering how interested I am in reading them! It was another book I brought up in my aforementioned Spring TBR post, with the comment that being stuck at home with no library access due to the pandemic would be the perfect chance to finally pick this one up, but somehow I didn’t end up following through. It is about a young teenage girl who has run away from home, leaving her parents a note telling them not to try to find her. Frustrated with the lack of help from the police, her parents turn to social media to help find her, and find themselves under scrutiny after an interview that goes badly. This book sounds like exactly the kind of thriller that I tend to love, and has been compared to several other thrillers that I’ve also really enjoyed. I remember adding it to my challenge plans for 2020 as a specific push to finally pick it up, yet I still somehow managed to miss it. I hope that’s not the case again this year!

4) Geekerella by Ashley Poston


Actually, I would count the first two books in this series as books that I really need to read soon. Both were on my list for 2019, and were even mentioned specifically as books that were on my summer TBR for 2019. I have been hearing about these books for so long, and they sound like so much fun! I don’t think there was any specific reason that I put them off aside from there just being other books that I was more interested in trying first. This book is about a girl named Elle who is a huge fan of the sci-fi series Starfield, and enters a cosplay contest for the upcoming movie in hopes of winning a chance to meet the actor slated to play the Federation Prince. It kind of worked to my advantage to wait to read these two books in the end, since I can now read all three in the series in a row, or at least within the same year. I’ve even set these as one of my priority series for the year in hopes that it will force me to remember to pick them up, although as I’ve learned from previous challenges, my goal lists are no guarantee!

5) The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

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I added this book to my TBR as soon as I saw it on Goodreads back in 2018, and I’ve had it on my challenge plan lists every year since then. Hopefully, this year will finally be the year that I read it! This book is about a teenage girl named Essie whose family are part of a reality TV series along the lines of 19 Kids and Counting. When her mother discovers that Essie is pregnant, she is forced to consult the show’s producers to figure out what to do next. Meanwhile, Essie has paired herself off with a classmate and enlists the help of a reporter to cover their relationship so they can both hide their secrets. While I’m not usually that interested in books that deal with fame, this one sounds very interesting. I’ve really enjoyed other books I’ve read about characters trying to come to terms with growing up in highly religious households when they are questioning whether they really agree with their family’s beliefs. If nothing else, I want to finally read this one because I’ve been actively meaning to pick it up for 3 years already, and it would be a bit ridiculous not to pick it up for a fourth time in a row.

6) The Exit by Helen Fitzgerald


I bought this book from Book Outlet toward the end of 2018, and haven’t picked it up yet! I put it onto my plans for my reading challenges in both 2019 and 2020, and somehow managed not to read it either time. To be fair, I had a reason why I didn’t pick it up in 2020. The book is about a young woman named Catherine who takes a job at a care home after her mother forces her to get a job. While there, she notices that one of the elderly residents seems convinced that there is something sinister happening, but no one will believe her fears that her life is in danger because she has dementia. As Catherine starts to dig a bit deeper into the woman’s claims, she starts to uncover more about what’s really happening at the care home. Given how hard most seniors residences were, and still are, hit during the pandemic, I somehow got it into my head that it would be a bit inappropriate to read or post about this one given that it deals with seniors and potentially death, even though the circumstances are presumably completely different. I still really want to try this book though, and I’m hoping to pick it up very soon.

7) The Game of Love & Death by Martha Brockenbrough


I think this is the first book mentioned here that was not specifically on my challenge plans for two years in a row, aside from The Kind Worth Killing. I’ve had this book on my TBR since 2016 and had mostly forgotten about it until last year, while I was looking for books to fit a specific challenge prompt. I didn’t end up getting to it, but it’s another book that I’ve owned for quite a while and decided it was about time to actually read it. To be honest, part of the reason I’ve never been the most motivated to pick this one up is because I’ve always been a little confused about what it’s actually about. From what I can gather, it is about Love and Death, who select people to be “players” in their game, where they either end up together or else one of them will die. I’m definitely intrigued by the creativity of the premise, and I’d love to finally be able to say that I tried it, after having it on my TBR for nearly 5 years.

8) Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner


I don’t have much of an excuse for why I haven’t picked this one up yet — it’s quite short (under 300 pages) and it’s a topic that I’m pretty confident I will love. It’s another book that is now on my challenge plans for the third year in a row because I somehow never end up reading it. This book is about a mother named Alicia whose daughter Chloe is born with Down syndrome. At 25, Chloe comes home from her day program announcing to her mother that she has met a boy, Thomas, and they are in love. Alicia never expected this for her daughter, and has to work to see past her own misgivings and figure out what is best for Chloe. As someone who works in a day program for adults with disabilities, including some who have Down syndrome, I’m very interested in this one. Navigating relationships and possibilities such as marriage or children is a very complex topic, and one that is often a worry for the families who are caregivers for an individual with Down syndrome or other disabilities. I’m very interested to see which direction the author goes with this one.

9) The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan


I could have sworn I had this one on my challenge plans twice in a row already, but looking back at my 2019 plans, it seems like it wasn’t included there. Maybe I’d strongly considered it as an option but never ended up writing it down or switched it out for something else that I wanted to read more. This book is about a teenage girl named Rukhsana whose conservative Muslim parents send her away to Bangladesh for an arranged marriage after they catch her kissing her girlfriend. While in Bangladesh, she also discovers her grandmother’s old diary, which helps her gain a bit more perspective on her family and their views. I’ve seen some very mixed reviews for this book, which has made me a bit more hesitant to pick it up, but it still generally seems like something that would interest me. I’ve also seen several reviews warning that this book is a lot darker than it seems to be advertised, so it’s probably good to go into it forewarned. I don’t know why I feel like this book has been on my TBR for much longer than it actually has been, but that’s probably a good indication that I should pick it up sooner rather than later.

10) The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti


I’ve had this book on my challenge plans for two years in a row too, but always for lower-priority challenges so I’m not that surprised that I never got around to it. I found it while randomly browsing Book Outlet back in 2018, and decided to add it to my TBR. At the time, I mentioned it in a Stacking the Shelves post (all the way back in July 2018!) where I commented that I had three books by this author on my TBR so it was about time I finally tried one. Three years later, and I still haven’t read any. I’d planned to read this one last year around Halloween, but got a bit overwhelmed by how many Halloween-themed books I had in mind to read, and this one went on the backburner. This book is about a town where thousands of dead birds fall onto a high school baseball field, setting off a strange chain of events. A reporter covering the story of the fallen birds sees the baseball coach hugging a student in front of a motel, and the student soon claims that they are having an affair. Shortly after making this claim, the student disappears and it falls to her teacher to figure out what really happened to her. The synopsis does seem a bit confusing, but it also sounds very interesting and I’m hoping this year will finally be when I give this book a try.

My 5 Star Predictions for 2021 (Part 3)

Check out Part 1 and Part 2!

52 Book Club (Part 2)

3) Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas


Prompt: A coming of age story

What Is It About?: A prequel to The Hate U Give, focusing on Maverick Carter at age 17, when he first learns that he is a father and is determined to change his life for his young son. Maverick soon learns that the world he had been part of is not so easy to leave, and is forced to figure out what it really means to be a man.

Why I Chose It: I knew this was one of my most anticipated books to read this year, but I had trouble settling on a prompt for it, for some reason. I’ve loved both of Angie Thomas’s other books so far, so I was immediately interested in reading this one too.

Why 5 Stars?: Angie Thomas’s writing is always so impactful, and I’ve loved all the Garden Heights characters so far. Although I’m not usually the most interested in prequels, but these are characters that I’d love to see again and I’m especially interested because it is from a perspective that I don’t read very often. I’d be very surprised if this one didn’t end up being 5 stars.

Flourish & Blotts: Magic in the Books

1) The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James


Prompt: A book that includes a haunting

What Is It About?: Two women, Viv and her niece Carly, both work the night shift at a creepy and possibly haunted motel, 30 years apart. Viv disappeared while working there in the 1980s, and Carly is determined to find out what happened to her aunt all those years ago.

Why I Chose It: I’ve only read one book by Simone St. James so far, and it very quickly became one of my favourites of the year that I read it, so I’ve been looking forward to trying more of her books. It took me a surprisingly long time to decide I wanted to read this one given how much I loved The Broken Girls, but once I finally looked at the synopsis, I knew it was something I really wanted to try.

Why 5 Stars?: One of the things I loved best about The Broken Girls was the writing style, which drew me in immediately. I also loved how that one utilized its dual timeline and incorporated the paranormal elements to build such a creepy atmosphere. This book contains many of the same elements that I loved in that one. I’m always hesitant to pick up ghost stories because I worry they will scare me too much, but I often end up loving them.

2) The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

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Prompt: A book that features an uprising

What Is It About?: A young woman named Nami wakes up in an afterlife called Infinity after being murdered, only to learn that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used on Earth has taken over and installed herself as queen, with the intent of enslaving and eventually eradicating all humans. Nami teams up with a group of rebels to overthrow her and save humans from Ophelia’s control.

Why I Chose It: I was definitely drawn in by the amazing cover art, but also because Akemi Dawn Bowman is easily one of my favourite YA authors. Her books have consistently been my favourites each year. I struggled quite a bit with this prompt, even though uprisings are fairly common in dystopians because I had trouble finding one whose synopsis specifically mentioned one, but this one seemed to fit best.

Why 5 Stars?: I usually love Akemi Dawn Bowman’s books because they are so beautifully written and have very compelling and realistic characters. This one is a bit of a departure from her usual style since it is her first sci-fi/fantasy and also the start of a series, so I’m a little nervous that I won’t love it quite as much. On the other hand, the premise sounds incredible and I’m very interested to see how she tackles such a different genre.

3) Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell


Prompt: A book with a flower on the cover

What Is It About?: A 30-year-old man named Owen is inadvertently drawn into the incel community online after losing his job as a teacher over accusations of sexual misconduct. He lives across the street from a therapist named Roan and his family, who are suspicious of him, especially after he is the last person to see a young woman, a former patient of Roan’s, alive before she disappears.

Why I Chose It: Lisa Jewell was one of my top priority authors to try last year, and I absolutely loved the two books of hers that I read. I was very excited to see a new release from he due late in 2020. I chose it for this prompt because I specifically wanted to find a book that fit the prompt very literally — with only one flower on the cover.

Why 5 Stars?: I’m basing this prediction on the fact that I loved both of the Lisa Jewell books that I read last year, especially The Family Upstairs. I was immediately drawn in by her writing and especially her compelling characters. This book intrigued me because of the very timely focus on the incel community and the impact of allegations of misconduct, and it sounds like a very interesting and complex mystery/thriller.

Booklist Queen 2021

1) Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson


Prompt: A book about a pressing social issue

What Is It About?: A teenage aspiring singer named Enchanted is finally noticed by legendary R&B artist Korey Fields, and believes she’s finally getting her chance to live her dreams but soon learns that Korey is not who she thinks. When she wakes up one day with Korey’s blood on her hands and no memory of what happened, she finds herself a main suspect in his death.

Why I Chose It: This was literally my most anticipated book in 2020, and I purposely held off reading it until this year instead so I didn’t rush it at the end of the year. Tiffany D. Jackson is one of my favourite YA authors and I’ve loved absolutely everything she has written so far.

Why 5 Stars?: If her previous books are any indication, this will be a very powerful book with memorable characters. I love how Tiffany D. Jackson chooses such interesting topics for all of her books, and they have consistently been my favourite books each year that I read them. She has a real talent for writing hard-hitting contemporaries.

2) The Project by Courtney Summers


Prompt: A highly anticipated book

What Is It About?: A teenage girl named Lo sets out to prove that the Unity Project, a seemingly charitable organization, is not what it seems, and takes the opportunity to expose them to also find her sister, Bea, who joined it after their parents’ death several years ago.

Why I Chose It: Cults are a huge buzzword for me when it comes to mystery-thrillers, so that immediately drew me to this one when I saw it mentioned in the synopsis. I find it such a fascinating topic, and I’d already been looking forward to reading more by Courtney Summers, so this jumped very quickly to the top of my most anticipated list for 2021.

Why 5 Stars?: I was absolutely blown away by Sadie, which I read back in 2019. This book seems to have some of the same elements that I loved, given the focus on a girl searching for the truth about what happened to her sister. It sounds like such an intriguing topic and if Sadie is any indication, which I hope it is, this will be a very impactful book.

3) People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry


Prompt: A summer read

What Is It About?: After two years of not speaking to each other, a young woman named Poppy decides to invite her former best friend Alex on one last summer vacation together, which had been their annual tradition, and she wants to take this opportunity to finally make things right between them.

Why I Chose It: I completely bought into the hype around Beach Read last year and it very quickly ended up becoming a favourite of the entire year, so I was looking forward to trying more by this author. I’ve also been branching out into a bit more adult romance in general, and this seemed like something I’d enjoy.

Why 5 Stars?: I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved Beach Read and especially how quickly I connected with both of the main characters in that one, so I’m expecting more of the same here. This sounds like exactly the kind of rom-com mixed with the potential for some more serious topics that I tend to enjoy.

My 5 Star Predictions For 2021 (Part 2)

Check out yesterday’s post here for part 1, and come back tomorrow for part 3!

ATY Top Picks Challenge (Part 2)

2) The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris


Prompt: A book by an author with 14 or greater letters in their name

What Is It About?: A 16-year-old boy named Alex who has the ability to see the future of any object or person that he touches. He is trying his best to live a normal life as much as possible, until he touches a photo that gives him a vision of his younger brother’s imminent death, putting him into a race against time to protect his brother and spend as much time with him as possible, even though he has never been able to prevent a vision from coming true.

Why I Chose It: This is a book that I just kept coming back to while I was planning my lists for the year, even though it was only mildly on my radar. Every time I skimmed through my Goodreads shelves, I’d stop on this book and finally decided that I needed to read it. I also read Slay by this author last year and it was one of my favourites of the year, so I’m looking forward to trying more by this author.

Why 5 Stars?: I’m expecting this book to be very impactful and, like I mentioned for Early Departures yesterday, I’m intrigued because it is such a different premise than the majority of the other YA books that I read. Part of what I loved about Slay was how strong and memorable the characters were, and I’m expecting more of the same with this book too.

3) Survive the Night by Riley Sager

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Prompt: A book where characters are trapped together

What Is It About?: Set in 1991, a college student named Charlie Jordan hitches a ride from Josh Baxter, whom she meets at the campus ride board. Charlie is dealing with guilt and grief over the death of her best friend, who was murdered by the Campus Killer. She soon becomes suspicious of Josh’s claims about his reasons for going home, and worries that he might actually be the killer.

Why I Chose It: Riley Sager was one of my top priority authors to try last year, and I soon realized that I really enjoyed his writing style. I’m looking forward to trying more of his thrillers, and since I’ve been having trouble finding affordable copies of his middle two books, this one seems like a great place to start.

Why 5 Stars?: While I don’t typically love road trip books, I do enjoy the character dynamics in books where characters are stuck together. I love how Riley Sager builds such creepy atmospheres in his books, and I can only imagine how that will play out with both characters together in one car. This one seems especially creepy because it feels so realistic, and I tend to find those kinds of thrillers the most scary of all.

Leftovers Challenge

This was the hardest challenge to pick 5 star predictions for! It consists of the books and/or prompts that I wanted to read last year and didn’t get to, so I had the additional challenge of trying to pick books to mention that hadn’t been 5 star predictions before!

1) The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine


Prompt: A book involving a betrayal

What Is It About?: A woman named Joanna is determined to find evidence to use against her husband’s new girlfriend after he leaves her for Piper, but struggles to get anyone to believe the secrets that she has uncovered.

Why I Chose It: I’ve been meaning to read more of Liv Constantine’s books for a couple of years now, but somehow kept forgetting to incorporate them into my challenges. I wanted to make a point of finding a place for both of their books that I had not yet read since I loved their writing, and chose it for this prompt because of the betrayal involved in Leo choosing to leave his wife for another woman.

Why 5 Stars?: To be honest, I’m a little on the fence with this one because the plot sounded so similar to The Last Mrs. Parrish, which I rated 4.5 stars (rounded up to 5 on Goodreads). While I like that premise, I wasn’t sure I’d want another book so similar from the same authors. I’m predicting it will be a 5-star read mostly on the grounds that I do tend to enjoy this kind of plot in thrillers generally, and I enjoyed their writing the first time around.

2) Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson


Prompt: A book containing poetry

What Is It About?: Two high school students decide to start a Women’s Rights Club to combat the way women are treated at their high school, and post a series of online essays, poems, and videos that soon go viral. As the club gains more support, they also begin to be the target of online trolls, forcing the principal to try and shut them down.

Why I Chose It: I’m not that interested in poetry generally, so I knew that I wanted to pick either a novel told in verse or one that contained poems as only part of the story, and this one seemed to fit the bill. I chose this book because it seemed like one that would include poetry without it being the sole focus, so it seemed like a good balance.

Why 5 Stars?: Piecing Me Together, the previous book I read by Renee Watson, became a surprise favourite when I read it in 2019 after loving it a lot more than I expected. I’ve also really enjoyed other books that focus on teen activism within their schools to challenge or change things, and I’m especially interested in this one because of the addition of the viral social media element, which is a huge buzzword for me.

3) Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon


Prompt: A book with an “-ing” word in the title

What Is It About?: A father is called to his children’s high school after receiving the news that there has been a shooting. When he realizes that his son Jake is the only child missing, he begins to obsess over his past and figure out whether he really knew his son as well as he thought.

Why I Chose It: This book has been on my TBR since 2015 and it’s one that I keep tentatively adding into my challenge plans but passing over in favour of newer releases. I picked it as a 5 star prediction specifically as an extra push to read it, but also chose this book because the premise sounds so interesting.

Why 5 Stars?: This book has been widely compared to Defending Jacob and We Need to Talk About Kevin, which were two books I found absolutely fascinating. I love the whole concept of these kinds of thrillers, which focus on how well a parent can really know their child. If it’s done well, these kinds of stories tend to be very chilling and memorable, which is exactly what I’m expecting from this one.

52 Book Club

1) Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce


Prompt: A book featuring the legal profession

What Is It About?: A struggling lawyer is assigned her first murder case to defend, and can’t help feeling that something isn’t right when her client decides to plead guilty. She sees this case as her chance to save her client as well as herself, as her own life seems to be falling apart due to her drinking and neglect of her family.

Why I Chose It: This was another book that I kept inexplicably coming back to as I was skimming through my Goodreads shelves. It was one of the few thrillers that I could find that focused specifically on the legal profession, and I tend to love a good courtroom story, although I’m not quite sure how much of a role the case will play in this one.

Why 5 Stars?: I’m not even sure I can specifically pinpoint what it was about this one that keeps drawing me back to it. It generally sounds like the kind of thriller that I tend to enjoy and I like the potential focus on the case that the main character is working on. Even if the focus is more on the lawyer herself, it’s been quite a while since I read a thriller focused on this kind of alcoholic, unreliable main character and although the trend got annoying, I do tend to like these books.

2) A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

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Prompt: A book related to the word “fire”

What Is It About?: A young woman is seen leaving the scene of a horrific murder on a London canal boat with blood on her clothes, making her seem like the most likely suspect. The book follows three women who are each connected to the victim, and all of them have secrets and hidden resentments of their own.

Why I Chose It: I added this one to my plans mostly because of author name alone, especially given how little is known about the plot so far. I’ve read and loved both of Paula Hawkins’ books so far, and had no idea that she was due to release a new one this year. As soon as I saw it announced, I knew it would be something I’d want to read as soon as possible.

Why 5 Stars?: I love Paula Hawkins’ writing style in general and I’ve rated both of her previous books 5 stars, which is usually a pretty good indicator that I’ll like the next one too. I’m a little skeptical of my own prediction in this case just because there is so little known about the book yet, since it won’t be out until the very end of August. It doesn’t give me much information to go on, but I have a good feeling about it anyway.

My 5 Star Predictions for 2021 (Part 1)

For the past two years, I’ve had a lot of fun trying to predict some of the books that I really thought I was going to love. For two years in a row now, my average rating on Goodreads for everything that I read was a solid 4.5 stars, which I think is proof enough that I’m getting pretty good at choosing books that I’m sure to enjoy. My biggest challenge with setting up my 5 star predictions for this year was that there were too many books that I wanted to include! Given that I have a total of 7 challenges this year, I decided to set myself a structure of choosing only 3 books per challenge, giving me a total of 21 for 2021. I’ve made an effort to avoid picking things that were already on my 21 Books to Read in 2021 list, although most of those could easily have been 5 star predictions as well. So far, I have never finished reading all the books on my 5 star predictions list for any year, but I’m hoping this will be the year I break that pattern and read them all. In the interest of keeping the posts to a reasonable length, I’m splitting it into three parts. It does make it a little awkward to split predictions from the same challenge, but at least it prevents everything from being grouped into one massive page.

Goodreads Around the Year Challenge

1) The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult


Prompt: A book to celebrate The Grand Egyptian Museum

What Is It About?: A woman named Dawn miraculously survives a plane crash, but the emergency causes her to question the direction her life has taken, and especially the job as an archaeologist in Egypt that she’d had to give up. When she’s offered transportation to wherever she needs to go after the crash, Dawn must decide whether to go home to her husband and daughter, or travel to Egypt instead to complete her research and reconnect with Wyatt, whom she once worked with and now has the job she always wanted.

Why I Chose It: I was dreading this prompt when it was first suggested because it seemed so limiting, so I was very excited to see that Jodi Picoult’s newest book would easily fit! Jodi Picoult is my favourite author and I always look forward to her new books. This one seems especially interesting because I’ve always loved learning about archaeology and ancient cultures.

Why 5 Stars?: It is very rare for me to give anything by Jodi Picoult less than 5 stars. I love her writing style and the way she builds such complex and interesting characters. This one does seem a bit different from her typical topics, since it does not seem to be focused on a specific social issue, but I’m very interested in the focus on Egypt.

2) Anxious People by Fredrik Backman


Prompt: A book posted in one of the ATY Best Book of the Month threads

What Is It About?: A group of very different people are trapped together at an apartment open house when a failed bank robber runs in and takes everyone hostage. When police storm the apartment, they find it empty and are left to figure out how the robber managed to escape. It is told as a series of testimonies by the different hostages, each telling their own version of what happened.

Why I Chose It: There were several great options that were mentioned in the Best Book of the Month threads, but I chose this one because it was one of the books that I saw mentioned most often. It was also something that was already very high on my list to read, so this was just an extra push to pick it up.

Why 5 Stars?: I loved Fredrik Backman’s amazing writing in both of the Beartown novels and I have been meaning to try more of his work because of that. This one seemed like the best place to start since it is a locked-door mystery and seems to be very character-driven, which are two things I tend to love.

3) A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas


Prompt: A long book

What Is It About?: Following the events of A Court of Wings and Ruin, Nesta is struggling to move on from the war and especially with being forced to become High Fae against her will. As the returning human queens threaten the new peace that seems to have formed, Nesta is forced to work with Cassian, whom she is drawn to but also seems to hate, in order to stop them.

Why I Chose It: I was so hesitant to read the ACOTAR series at all, but once I finally gave in and tried it, it became a favourite. I was very excited to see new books coming out featuring these characters, and specifically chose it for this prompt because it is supposed to be around 650 pages, one of the longest books I have planned for this year.

Why 5 Stars?: I have loved Sarah J. Maas’s writing ever since I finally read the ACOTAR series, and that was only cemented further by House of Earth and Blood, which easily became one of my favourite books of 2020. What I tend to like best about her series are the complex and compelling characters, and given that Nesta and Cassian were already two of my favourites, I’m expecting to love a book where they are the focus.

Popsugar 2021 Challenge

1) The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton


Prompt: A genre hybrid

What Is It About?: Set in 1634, where a detective named Samuel Pipps is being sent to Amsterdam where he will be executed for a crime he may not have committed, along with his loyal guard Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his innocence. Not longer after the ship sets sail, strange things begin to happen and three passengers, including Samuel, are marked for death. With Samuel imprisoned, it is down to Arent to solve the mystery

Why I Chose It: It took me a ridiculously long time to figure out this book would fit for this prompt, even thought it should have been an obvious fit. It’s a historical mystery, and I believe it may have some fantasy elements as well, although I’m not 100% sure on that.

Why 5 Stars?: To be honest, I’m a little on the fence about this one because I tend to get bored very easily by books that are set on boats, but I’m expecting the rest of the mystery to be strong enough to get me past that If The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle was any indication, this will be an intricate mystery and one that I’m hoping to find just as fascinating.

2) The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab


Prompt: A book about forgetting

What Is It About?: A young woman named Addie LaRue who makes a deal with a demon to live forever, and in return, she is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. After nearly 300 years living like this, Addie meets a young man in a hidden bookstore who remembers her.

Why I Chose It: V.E. Schwab is one of my all-time favourite authors and I’ve absolutely loved everything I’ve read of hers so far, so this was one of the first books added to my list for the year. It took some time for me to settle on which prompt to use it for, but decided to pick this one because Addie being forgotten is such a main part of the premise.

Why 5 Stars?: I naturally assumed I would love this one because I’ve given every book I’ve read by V.E. Schwab 5 stars so far. This one is especially exciting because I know that it’s one that she has been working on forever, and I can only imagine how much she’s poured into it. I love V.E. Schwab’s writing and characters, and I’m so intrigued by the premise of this one. It just sounds incredible.

3) The Maidens by Alex Michaelides


Prompt: A dark academia book

What Is It About?: A Cambridge University alum named Mariana becomes convinced that the charismatic Greek Tragedy professor Edward Fosca must be a murderer and becomes fixated on proving it after two young women are killed, including Mariana’s own niece. Her investigations lead her to The Maidens, a secret society of female students who are obsessed with the professor, and soon finds both her reputation and life on the line.

Why I Chose It: This was a very last-minute addition to my reading challenges for the year because the title, cover and synopsis only just came out within the past week or so. I’ve been really looking forward to another book by this author after loving The Silent Patient, and it seems like exactly the kind of thriller that I tend to love.

Why 5 Stars?: I tend to love dark academia books in general so this was already a prompt I was inclined to be interested in. I devoured The Silent Patient when I read it in 2019, literally reading 3/4 of it in a single day and I loved the writing and the twists, which I didn’t see coming at all (although I know others did). This book also has so many elements that I tend to love, including secret societies and Greek mythology, so it seems like something right up my alley.

ATY Top Picks Challenge

1) Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds

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Prompt: A book that deals with second chances

What Is It About?: A teenage boy named Jamal gets a second chance to say goodbye to his best friend Q, thanks to a new technology that reanimates him for a short time following his death. Q does not know he died and does not understand why Jamal suddenly wants to be friends again, after two years of a strained friendship after the deaths of Jamal’s parents in an accident. Jamal is left to figure out how to fix things with Q before he dies again forever, and without letting him know the truth about what happened to him.

Why I Chose It: This was one of my favourite prompt suggestions that came up in the voting process, and I was so disappointed it didn’t make the final list. This was the first book that jumped to mind for it, so it was a very easy choice, especially since this was already a book that I was very much looking forward to trying.

Why 5 Stars?: I thought the premise of this one seemed so interesting, and makes such a welcome change from the typical YA contemporaries or romances that I usually read. If it is done well, I can easily see this one being so impactful. I’ve heard such great things about this author in general, and I’m really looking forward to trying both of his books this year, although this is the one that I’m expecting to like best.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Part 2 and Sunday for Part 3!

Top 5 Wednesday: Furry Friends

This week’s prompt came at a pretty good time for me, since I’ve recently read a few books that could fit. Unless a character’s pet plays a huge role in the story, it is not something that I’m very likely to remember long after the fact. When I was younger, I was absolutely obsessed with any stories that involved animals. My favourite movies were The Lion King, Homeward Bound and Shiloh. I distinctly remember reading a book sometime around second grade, which involved a boy who had a dog and wanted to adopt another dog which had only three legs. His parents ultimately decided that he could only keep one, and I remember being so upset when he had to make his decision. I thought it was so unfair that he would give up the dog he had for a while for a new one, but also understood that it made sense since the three-legged dog would have a much harder time finding a home. I also collected any book I could find that told stories about animals, real or fake. I wouldn’t say animals are really something I look for in a book anymore. In fact, I tend to get pretty nervous when animals are mentioned in most of my books because I’m always nervous they might die! Luckily, I had a few books that I’ve read recently where characters had a pet, so that was a good fit for this week’s prompt!

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 Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider – This was the first book I read in 2021, and it was great timing since the main character’s dog, Cooper, is mentioned so frequently. The main character Ezra has recently read The Great Gatsby and sometimes imagines his dog responding to him like a character from the book. The dog also played a key role toward the end in getting Ezra and his girlfriend to actually communicate with each other, and I loved seeing Ezra’s bond with Cooper.

2) A Game for All the Family by Sophie Hannah – This was definitely a case of me being very nervous for the dog as soon as it was mentioned! In this book, Justine has recently moved to a new home with her family, where strange things begin to happen. Her daughter starts writing a very creepy story about a murder that took place in her room, and also seems to have befriended a boy that her school insists doesn’t exist. To be honest, I didn’t quite love this book as much as I’d expected, but the dog was one of the most memorable parts because of the way it was used to help build the creepy atmosphere.

3) The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne – Again, this was a book where I was nervous about the dog. This one is about a woman named Helena whose father, an expert survivalist, has recently escaped from prison and disappeared into the marsh. Helena was trained in these skills by her father and believes she is the only person who might stand a chance of catching him. Her dog, Rambo, played a surprisingly big role in the story as well. If I remember correctly, Helena actually had two dogs over the course of the story.

4) The Shadowhunters Chronicles by Cassandra Clare – I couldn’t figure out which series made the most sense for this one, since the cat makes an appearance in nearly every book. I’m currently reading The Dark Artifices, and it didn’t take long before Church was mentioned. I specifically remembered Church from the Infernal Devices series, but upon looking it up, I saw that he was involved in every series. I tend to think of Church as Jem’s cat, probably because Jem is the only person he seems to tolerate, but he’s been around for all of the action at some point.

5) The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – This is the only series here that I haven’t read recently, although I did read Call Down the Hawk early last year. I chose this series because of Chainsaw, Ronan’s pet raven. I liked this one because she was such a unique pet, different from the usual dogs and cats seen in most other books, and also loved her loyalty to Ronan and her intelligence. She has such a presence throughout the series, although I can’t remember by now if she played any specific role. I definitely need to re-read this series.