This week’s topic is about standalones that we think need a sequel, and it was a very fun one to think about! I struggled a bit more than I expected because I’ve read quite a few series in the past year or so, and not quite as many standalones. At least, not as many standalones that I would think demand a sequel. Many of the standalones I’ve read are thrillers or YA contemporaries, and not many of those are things that I’d really think need much more. I was tempted to pick Middlegame, before I realized that there is already a sequel planned! I actually went back to my post on this topic from two years ago, and I was surprised to find that several of the books I picked actually did end up getting a sequel. Three of the books from that last have another book that is already out or that is due out in the next year! I wonder if any of the books from this list will end up following that same pattern.
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 Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab – Aside from Middlegame, this was the first book that jumped to mind. Not only is it one of the few fantasy standalones that I read recently, but it is also one that I think would lend itself very well to a sequel. I don’t want to go into any detail about the ending and risk spoiling for anyone, but I’ll just say that it ends off on a very intriguing note that really left me wanting more!
2) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – I actually heard rumours a few years ago that there might be a sequel for this one following Henry and Clare’s daughter, but I guess nothing ever came of it. On the one hand, I would love to see more of these characters, but on the other, I’m worried that adding any more books to it would just ruin it. Either way, I’m long overdue for a reread of this, and I’d love more books by Audrey Niffenegger in general.
3) On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – This book was already amazing as it was, but I’d love to see more of Bri! It’s one of those cases where I’d just love a chance to check in on the characters later and see how things are going for them. I was surprised how quickly I connected with Bri considering I’m not that into rap and have no interest in becoming famous myself, and I think it would be great to see more of her and especially get an update on how her career is going, after all the work she put into it!
4) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – I may be biased on this one because I related so strongly to Cath, but I really want to know what happens next for her after college. I guess technically the Carry On series could be considered a sequel, but it’s not really since it follows a completely different character and story. I think it’s the perfect opportunity for a “new adult” book about navigating challenges such as getting your first “real” job and learning to manage on your own, outside of college. It’s a topic rarely addressed in books already, and I’d love to see it with characters I already love.
5) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Techncially, I don’t really want a sequel to this because I think it stands a very high chance of ruining it, but if it’s done well, I can also see it being absolutely amazing. I think it would be so interesting to see Nick and Amy in the next phase of their life. This is still by far one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read and I’d theoretically love to see more of these characters, but I’m also super apprehensive about how it would play out.
To be honest, I’ve been putting off making this post all day because I always have such a hard time with this kind of topic. I always have a really tough time with prompts that focus on settings because it’s really not something I tend to remember after the book is over, or when I do, it’s not really a place I’d want to live. For example, I found the world of the Nevernight series (which I’ve just finished today!) very interesting, but I wouldn’t want to live there because it sounds so brutal. On the other hand, if I do remember a setting well enough, I might have trouble separating the setting itself from the specific circumstances of the character. I’d wanted to live in Narnia, for instance, but not under the White Witch and it’s hard for me to imagine what the place might look like after she is gone. When trying to think of settings I might want to live in, I had to kind of give myself a pass to guarantee that I’d be able to live in the place safely, unlike most of the main characters. Every time this topic comes up, I struggle with it!
1) The Blackthorn residence from The Dark Artifices series by Cassandra Clare – I don’t really want to be a Shadowhunter myself, but I’d love to hang out with the Blackthorns. Julian and his family were a huge part of the reason I loved this series. It kind of gave me the same feeling I had about visiting the Weasley family – a huge, very close-knit family, who I think would be a lot of fun to spend time with.
2) Emberfall from the Cursebreakers trilogy by Brigid Kemmerer– This is very much an example of a setting I’d love to live in if I was guaranteed my safety. I love the fairy tale-like kingdom that Rhen lives in, but I don’t want the risk of being attacked by his monstrous form every season. I think his castle would be very interesting to live in, but the world itself sounds so interesting!
3) France from The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab– Technically, I was thinking of France in the 1700s, where the book begins, but given that Addie lives over 300 years, I could really include the country at almost any year from then on. I have a fear of flying so I’m always scared to travel, but I’d love to visit France at some point. I don’t know if I’d necessarily want to live there full-time, but I’d definitely love to see the country and especially to try the food.
4) MidMerica from the Arc of the Scythe series by Neal Shusterman – I’m choosing this one only if I’d be guaranteed safety from being gleaned! It might just be because we are living through a pandemic right now, but the idea of a world where there is no war or disease sounds very appealing right now. I don’t love the idea that I could be gleaned at any time, although it does make sense to balance things out, I guess.
5) London & Chicago from Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco – I’ve always wanted to go to London, and I’ve visited Chicago once before and really liked it there! I could easily see myself living in either of these places, at least in theory. This book was set during the World Fair, which sounds amazing to experience, but I think I’d prefer modern-day versions of these cities.
6) Elfhame from The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black – I don’t like the cruelty of many of the Fae, but I thought Elfhame sounded like such an interesting place! I would want to live there as a Fae though, to avoid some of the issues that Jude had because she was half mortal. This is definitely a world I’d want to join after the events of the series, when things seem a little more stable.
7) Atlanta from Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed – To be fair, I’d specifically like to visit the version of Atlanta mentioned in this book because I’d love to hang out with the main characters, and I’d especially like to visit the restaurant they visit that has an amazing chocolate cake. I actually don’t know too much about Atlanta in general nor has it ever really been on my list to visit, but I really liked the way it was described in the book.
8) Gatlon City from the Renegades trilogy by Marissa Meyer – I don’t want any part of the battle between Renegades and Anarchists in this world, but it would be pretty cool to have a superpower of some kind. I would also love to meet Nova and Adrian and their friends, since they are some of my favourite characters from any series I’ve read in the past couple of years. I think this one is a bit of a stretch for me since it seems like such a dangerous setting, but it sounds interesting anyway.
9) New England from The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern – Again, I don’t know too much about the real version of this place, but I’d love to go to the school that Zachary Ezra Rawlins goes to and meet him. I found him so relatable, and I (sometimes) like the idea of going back to school. I’d especially love to go to the amazing literary-themed party that he went to, and even find the world that he travels to fascinating, but also confusing.
10) Red London from the Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab – To be honest, it’s been about a year since I’ve read this series so I’m only pretty sure that I’ve picked the right version of London. In general, I find the idea of having multiple parallel versions of a city very interesting, but I’d definitely want to stay out of White London with the Dane siblings in charge. I remember Red London being a decent place to live, at least compared to the others.
I think this is the first time I’ve actually been able to mention every single book that I’ve added in a month in one my Stacking the Shelves posts! For some reason, I hardly added anything at all to my Goodreads list this month. Even though I knew I hadn’t added much, I was still very surprised to realize just how few books it was! In total, I added only 13 books to my TBR, and at least one or two of those were books that I already had but they got added again because of Giveaways! I’m skipping over This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron, even though it’s my most anticipated of the books I added this month because I’d already added it two months ago. It’s so rare for me to add so few books to my list in a whole month. I suspect a large part of that is because I’ve already put many new and upcoming releases for the year on my TBR, but I also haven’t been spending quite as much time on Goodreads or other book blogs lately, so I just haven’t been hearing about as many new books. Given that my TBR is already close to 4000 books (3934 to be exact), that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
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.
I can’t remember where I first saw this one or why I added it to my TBR in the first place, but I’ve only just realized that this is by the same author as The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly, which is a book I really want to try! This book is a YA contemporary about a 17-year-old girl named Fortuna Jane who has just won the lotto jackpot, but has yet to claim her prize of millions of dollars. Jane is still a minor and does not anyone to know that she bought her ticket underage, and she also worries that her mother, who is a hoarder, might cash the cheque and buy more stuff. She also struggles with keeping the secret from her best friend, who is an aspiring journalist intent on finding out who won, and her ex-boyfriend Holden has also come back into her life with big ideas about what he might do with the prize money. With so much on the line if she cashes it in, Jane begins to wonder if winning so much money might actually be a bad thing. I think part of the reason that I added this one to my TBR is because it’s such a unique concept. I’ve seen a couple of other YA books over the past few years that involve people winning large sums of money, although I haven’t tried any yet. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure this one was added to my TBR because I’d signed up for the Goodreads giveaway, although I wouldn’t say it’s particularly high on my priority list right now.
I found this one by browsing my Goodreads feed and recognized the author’s name since I already have several of her books on my list, although I haven’t tried any yet. This book is about a woman named Sarah who notices that her young son Ollie’s favourite teddy bear has been replaced by a new toy from her ex’s new girlfriend, Laura. Upon asking her son, he tells her that Laura told her a big secret and he’s not allowed to tell, except when she tries to raise any of her concerns, she’s written off as just the jealous ex-wife. She had always been suspicious of Laura, and that only heightens when Ollie begins to distance himself after spending more time with his father. While out in the garden one day, Ollie disappears which only seems to confirm her worst fears. I have quite a few thrillers like this one on my TBR, which also makes it hard to narrow down which ones to choose next! I have a total of five thrillers by this author alone on my list already, so I’ll probably have to prioritize trying at least one at some point soon. This is likely an author that I’ll wait to try until I get library access back, but I’m very interested in trying them.
I added this one to my TBR because I was reading The Exit by this author at the time, but unfortunately, I didn’t love that one quite as much as I’d expected. It ended up being a 3 star read for me, mostly due to the writing style. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to giving this author another chance, but it did make me question whether I wanted to keep this one on my list. This book is the author’s 2019 release about a probation officer named Mary whose job is currently on the line. When an alleged murderer named Liam is released into her care, Mary soon finds herself obsessed with him and her son and his daughter also quickly develop a relationship. Although Liam had been accused of murdering his wife and the book of letters he published afterwards made him a leading figure in the Men’s’ Rights movement, Mary decides that she will stop at nothing to get her own brand of justice. I am very intrigued by the premise of this one, and especially by the focus on the Men’s Rights movement, since that is not something that I’ve read much about. I’m hoping I’ll have better luck with this one than I did with The Exit. I loved the premise of that one too, but had a hard time getting into the writing, which was too bad since it could have been an incredible thriller. I’m hoping that a more recent book might be a little stronger!
I kept hearing about this one because it was a Book of the Month selection in March, and practically all of the Youtube channels I watch from the book community work with BOTM. I’ve often wanted to join BOTM, but it’s not available in Canada yet! This book sounds like exactly the kind of thriller that I tend to enjoy. It is about a woman named Skye who is thrilled when her boyfriend Burke proposes to her. Skye believes she now has it all, but Burke is not who she thinks and in fact, he is already married. Thirty years earlier, a teenage girl named Heather is determined to end things with Burke and find a better life for herself, but he may find a way into her future. As Skye begins to plan her wedding, Burke’s schemes grow even more twisted. I was immediately intrigued by this one the first time I saw it mentioned in someone’s video. I love domestic thrillers in general, and I have so many of them on my TBR already. I even have several on my reading challenge plans for this year alone, and I’m really looking forward to reading as many of them as I can! It took me a little while to remember to actually add this one to my list, but after seeing the repeated reminders in so many videos, I finally remembered to make note of the name.
This is another one that was added to my list this month mostly because of Goodreads giveaways. I’m pretty sure I already had this one on my list previously, but can’t find it now because I went through my duplicates and deleted some the other day. I’m so happy to have found that Goodreads feature! This book is a YA urban fantasy set in Toronto and involving Fae. To be honest, as a Canadian, I’m generally not very interested in reading books that are set in Canada. For some reason, I find they tend to hit you over the head with the fact that they are Canadian. However, this one has been compared to the Mortal Instruments and The Cruel Prince, both of which I loved. The book follows four queer teenagers who each have part of the truth about a series of ritualistic murders that have been taking place throughout the city. They decide to from an alliance to track down the killer, but their failure could mean the end of both the faerie and the human world. At the same time, a war is also brewing between the Mortal and Immortal Realms, and one of these teens may be the one to tip the scales. It took me a few tries to fully understand the synopsis, but it sounds so good! I’ve been getting a lot more into both urban fantasy and fae in the past few years, and I’d love to try this one at some point.
If I remember correctly, this one was also a Book of the Month pick for March. It is a historical ficiton book about a community in North Carolina that is outraged about attempts to integrate their schools. Students from the largely Black east side of the town are given the opportunity to attend predominantly white high schools on the west. For two of these students, Gee and Noelle, the integration sets off a long-lasting chain of events that ties their families together for the next two decades. Gee’s mother Jade is determined to give her son the tools he needs to survive as a Black man in America. Noelle’s mother, Lacey May, is a white woman who denies the fact that her daughters are half-Latina, and strives to protect them from their unreliable father. When Gee and Noelle both join the school play that is meant to bridge the gaps between the students, their paths collide and it brings their families together in ways that cause both mothers to make choices that might haunt them for years to come. This sounds like such an interesting book and I’d love to give it a try. I haven’t read very much about integration in schools, and I don’t think I’ve read anything aside from YA on that topic. This is another book that very quickly caught my attention when vloggers mentioned it, and I’m looking forward to picking it up.
This book follows my usual pattern of being drawn to thrillers that have a house on the cover! I can’t remember whether I first saw it on a list of upcoming thrillers, since it’s due out this September, or just on my Goodreads feed. It is about a girl named Mary who thought her scholarship to an Ivy League school was her ticket out of her town in Minnesota. Three years later, she returns after being kicked out of the school at the beginning of her senior year, although no one knows why. When a rising social media star named Olivia goes missing, Mary becomes obsessed. Olivia had been her childhood best friend, but the two hadn’t spoken in years, and Mary knows that behind her sweet online persona, Olivia was manipulative. Mary also believes that her disappearance is tied to another missing teenager whose absence has gone under the radar, and soon delves into the lives of the two of them to figure out what really happened. Aside from the cover art, this one caught my attention because of the focus on social media, which is something that I tend to look for in thrillers. This book has also been compared to Megan Miranda’s All the Missing Girls and Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive, which are both also on my TBR. Given that it’s months until this one is released, it will be quite a while before I can get to it, but I’m looking forward to it!
I’ve only recently added The House on the Cerulean Sea to my TBR after hearing about it endlessly, so when I saw a new book coming by the same author, I decided to add it to my list right away. This is another book that won’t be out until this September, so it’s still quite a long way off. This book is about a man named Wallace Price, who is collected by a reaper at his own funeral. Instead of taking him to the afterlife, Wallace is led to a small village, with a tea shop on its outskirts run by Hugo, who is the ferryman to souls who need to cross over. Wallace isn’t ready to abandon his life just yet, and with Hugo’s help, he starts to learn about all the things he’s been missing. When a powerful being known as The Manager arrives at the teahouse and gives Wallace only one week to cross over, he sets out to spend his last week living an entire lifetime. I’m still kicking myself a bit for neglecting to add The House on the Cerulean Sea to my TBR for so long! Somehow I’d assumed it was middle grade and didn’t think I’d be that interested, but the more I’ve heard about it, the higher it’s jumped up on my list. This book sounds like an absolutely incredible concept too, and I’m already excited to try it. I’m hoping to love this author’s writing as much as I expect!
This is the third book in the Friend Zone series of companion novels. I have all three on my TBR although I haven’t read any of them yet. This book is about a woman named Vanessa who likes to live every day to the fullest, and is not interested in wasting any time because she may share a fatal genetic condition with her mother. Vanessa wants to travel the world and show her Youtube followers the joy she finds in seizing every moment. When her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in charge of her young daughter, she finds herself stuck at home for the forseeable future. The last person she expects to help is Adrian, the lawyer who lives next door, but as they grow closer, Vanessa soon realizes that her lifestyle clashes with his need for structure and doubts that they would be compatible long-term. I’ve really been getting into these kinds of adult romances in the past couple of years, and this one sounds like the kind that I tend to love. I guess it’s a bit of a stretch to have added this one to my list when I haven’t read anything else by the author yet, but I’m expecting to really enjoy them all. This one is due out in just two weeks, but it will be a while before I get to it since I’d want to read the other two first. Even though it’s often not necessary in these kinds of romance series, I still like to read them in order.
Several books by this author were available as Goodreads giveaways this month, and I signed up for several of them because they seemed like the kinds of thrillers I tend to like. I’ve had Fractured by this author on my TBR for years now, but I’m not sure I even realized it was by the same author when I added it. I won a giveaway for another of Catherine McKenzie’s books and I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive. This one is her 2019 release about a the MacAllister family. Twenty years ago, a woman named Amanda Holmes was found bludgeoned in a rowboat at the family’s Camp Macaw ,but no one was ever charged for the crime. Now, after their parents’ deaths, the MacAllister siblings return to the camp to decide what to do with the land, only to learn that the will specifies that nothing can be done until they unravel the mystery of what happened to Amanda. Any one of the siblings could have been responsible for her death, and each one holds a piece of the truth. I tend to love thrillers that involve family secrets and people who may not get along forced to work together to figure out the truth. This book is not necessarily at the top of my list currently, but it sounds like something I’d like to try.
This is yet another book that I discovered through mentions of Book of the Month picks, and it’s one that for some reason, I was very hesitant to add to my TBR despite it sounding like something I’d love. This book is about a young woman named Lex who grew up with her siblings in a House of Horrors. She was known as Girl A, the oldest girl in the family who helped to free her older brother and four younger siblings. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t avoid her past any longer. Along with her sister, she decides to turn the house into a force for good, but in order to do that, she needs to come to terms with her siblings and what happened to them all. This book has been compared to Room, which is one of the best books I’ve read in the past few years, as well as Sharp Objects, which I haven’t read yet, although I’ve loved both of the Gillian Flynn books that I have tried. After looking at some of the reviews, it looks like this is more of a character study than a true thriller, but I tend to love character-driven books. I’m a little nervous because I’ve seen very mixed reviews for this one, but it sounds so interesting. I’m definitely interested in trying this one for myself.
I added this one to my TBR just today after seeing it come up on my feed. I have many of Nicole Trope’s books on my TBR already, but haven’t tried any of them yet, which seems to be a pattern I have with many thriller authors. This book is about a woman named Megan whose six-year-old son Daniel disappears from the schoolyard. According to his teacher, he was picked up by his father Greg, but Megan and Greg are no longer together after she escaped from his cruelty and finally divorced him. Six years later, Megan is feeding her new baby daughter when she gets a call from the police saying that Daniel has just arrived at the police station. Megan is thrilled to have her son back, but he is no longer the boy that she remembers. Daniel is grieving the death of his father and blames Megan for the loss. She also soon realizes that Daniel is harbouring a secret that could put them both in danger. I’m especially intrigued by this one because I love the concept of Megan’s son returning after so long away from her. It’s an angle that I rarely see addressed but it has such great potential. I have at least 5 other books by this author on my TBR, most of which have been there since 2018, so she’s another one that I’ll likely have to prioritize soon!
This week’s prompt was an interesting one because I always find I have a few books each year that really feel like they dragged on for too long. Either the book itself is a bit slow, or reading it takes much longer than I expect. I think the worst thing for me is when I end up reading a book in a very fragmented way over several days, because it makes it very difficult for me to really get invested in the story. That usually happens when I try to read a book that I’m not particularly in the mood for, or when I don’t actually have enough time to devote to it properly. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll end up not liking the book, but if often means that I enjoy it less than I would have otherwise. In many cases, I’ll leave the book feeling like I didn’t give it a fair chance and want to go back to it another time and read it “properly” instead. In other cases, I sometimes find that a book feels like it takes forever even when it takes a completely reasonable amount of time. I tend to average about 100 pages per day during the work week, so I tend to expect a 400 page book to take me 3-5 days to finish. I was actually a bit shocked to find that none of the longer books that I read in 2020 really took me an inordinate amount of time to finish, although I’m sure being at home for the majority of the year helped with that. I had to do a bit of digging to find books that I felt had really dragged!
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) Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik – I made the mistake of reading this one during the week after work because I needed to get my copy back to the library, so I read it in an extremely fragmented way over several days. It took me almost a whole week to finish it, which was especially disappointing since I’d loved and absolutely devoured Uprooted, although looking back on my Goodreads it seems that one also took 4 days to read so maybe “devoured” is a strong word. Either way, I had a lot of trouble getting into Spinning Silver, especially because there was no indication of who was narrating any time the perspective changed. It wasn’t that hard to figure it out but it was irritating. I just remember feeling like the book was taking forever the entire time I was reading it, and it pulled me out of the story. I’d love to go back to this one and try it again some time.
2) The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson – It may be a little unfair to include this one because it’s non-fiction, and I generally tend to find non-fiction very slow to read. I was intrigued by this one because I’ve always found the Lizze Borden case very interesting but unfortunately, the book didn’t really capture that intrigue. There is such a tiny amount of evidence available in this case that it made the process of reading about it repetitive and a bit dry. The author went into a lot of detail and intentionally left out her own personal viewpoints, but I actually think adding those in would have made the book overall a bit more engaging.
3) Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater – I actually feel bad including this one on the list because it was definitely me, and not the book that was the problem! I read it about a month into the start of the lockdowns, but wasn’t particularly in the mood for it when I picked it up. I tried it anyway because I’d decided that having the time off was a good opportunity to focus on it, even though I was in a bit of a slump. I ended up having such a hard time paying attention to it, and listened to a lot of it as an audiobook instead. I did end up really enjoying it, and finished in 4 days but I feel like it would have dragged much longer if I had stuck to reading it only physically. This is the prime example of a book I’d really like to give another chance because I honestly don’t believe I’d have such a hard time with it again.
4) The Toll by Neal Shusterman – Again, I actually read this one in a completely reasonable amount of time (5 days for a book that was 625 pages), but I couldn’t help feeling like it was dragging a bit. Although I still really enjoyed it, I didn’t find that it grabbed me quite as easily as the previous two in the series. Actually, Thunderhead took me the exact same number of days to read as this one, so I’m not entirely sure why I thought this one dragged but Thunderhead didn’t. I think I made a bit of a mistake by leaving such a lengthy series for so late in the year, since I read it right at the end of November. At that point of the year, I was very focused on trying to finish off my reading goals and kind of felt like this slowed me down too much. I also found it a bit more confusing than the rest of the series, which didn’t help either.
5) Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky – I’m not at all surprised that I found this one dragged a bit considering it’s huge! This book is 705 pages and the font is tiny, but I managed to finish it in only 4 days because I relied pretty heavily on the audiobook. If I hadn’t done that, I’m sure it would have taken me double that amount. I loved the beginning of the book and found a lot of it really creepy, but lost interest when it started to have heavier religious themes that became a huge focus as the book went on. At that point, I found it more difficult to get into and it made the rest of the book feel like it was really dragging. I loved the whole concept of the book and still ended up giving it a solid 4 stars, but definitely think it would have been stronger for me if it had been a little shorter.
I always dread Top 10 Tuesday prompts that are focused on the titles! I have such a hard time figuring out what might fit, especially when it comes to funny titles. I guess I don’t have that much of a sense of humour when it comes to book titles, because I don’t find very many of them funny. I’m sure a part of that is because my TBR has a ton of thrillers, and most of those have pretty generic names (often involving “The Woman” or “The Girl”). I definitely had a lot more luck finding funny titles from my YA books and romances. With nearly 4000 books currently on my Goodreads TBR, I thought it would be relatively easy to skim through and find some titles that seemed funny, so I was surprised to realize how hard it was. I think part of the problem is that I tend to only find them mildly funny at best, so when I go back and read through my list again, I already don’t care for most of them anymore. I don’t even know if I can really quantify what I look for in a funny title. I’m not a huge fan of puns, but I do tend to look for titles that are a bit strange or unusual. I also seem to find longer titles funnier for some reason, although I didn’t notice that until after I’d made my whole list. I should probably also put a disclaimer that when I was choosing books for this list, I was exclusively looking at the titles only, and not the content. I do not mean to make light and/or make fun of any books that have more serious topics. I hope I haven’t inadvertently done that, and if I have then I apologize in advance!
I was surprised to realize that it had been so long since I had done a Recent Reads post! I’m pretty sure I had another one in mind for 2020, but ended up pushing it aside because of all the end-of-year wrap-ups. On the other hand, it leaves open the perfect opportunity to mention the three series I’ve read so far this year! I set myself a pretty lofty goal of 19 series to finish before the end of the year, although it is partly contingent on whether some of those series have their final books published this year. To tackle this goal, I’ve loosely set myself a schedule of reading at least one series per month to make sure I actually prioritize them, and I’ve been doing very well on that so far. I also wanted to purposely prioritize a few of my longer series upfront to avoid procrastinating on them again. I know that if I save a really long series for late in the year, I often end up talking myself out of picking it up because I decide it’s better to wait and read it when I have more time. Considering I’ve already pushed off some of these series for a while, I didn’t want to leave myself any excuse not to pick them up again!
I very quickly decided to start with my longest series of the year, which was the Dark Artifices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. I decided to intentionally pick this up right at the start of January because the shortest book in the series is around 650 pages! Even though I really enjoy Cassandra Clare’s writing, I was a bit intimidated by this series just because of the length. Luckily, I ended up really enjoying all three of the books. To be fair, I ended up using a combo of audiobooks and my physical copies to read them, which helped me move through them at a good pace and not feel too bogged down. This series is set 5 years after the Mortal Instruments, and follows Emma Carstairs and her parabatai Julian Blackthorn as they investigate the true reason that Emma’s parents were murdered, given that their resemblance to recent deaths suggest that the suspected killer could not have been the person responsible. I did find this series a tiny bit slower to get into than other Shadowhunters books I’ve read before, but the real strength of this series for me was the incredible characters. They were all so well-developed, and I loved how even some of the more minor characters (ie. Drusilla) got some time to shine as the series progressed. The Blackthorn family are some of my favourite characters from any book I’ve read recently, and I also really loved the angsty romance between Emma and Julian, and their fight to find a way to either ignore their feelings or to be together despite the prohibition on parabatai falling in love. I did find the sheer number of characters a little overwhelming at times, especially because nearly every character from the previous series were brought in, but once I got used to it, I ended up loving the dynamics between everyone. I also especially loved Kit and Ty, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming series that focuses on them. I did find the series, specifically the last book, a little too long in places, but overall, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected and absolutely loved the new cast of characters.
The next series I picked up was the Shatter Me series. I first read Shatter Me back in 2016 and was blown away by how much I enjoyed it at the time. While I did read the next two books, I made the stupid decision to space them out and read only one a year even though the series was already published because I’d implemented a poorly thought-out rule for my reading challenges at the time to limit myself to just one book per author per year. It resulted in me barely remembering anything from any of the books by the time I picked up the next one, and nothing at all by now, so I knew I’d have to start over if I wanted to catch up and read the three newer additions. This series follows a young woman named Juliette who has been kept in isolation for most of her life because her touch can hurt or even kill people. One of the things that hit a little differently for me this time when reading the series was the whole idea of the Reestablishment, a group that swept in to “fix” society by taking control and eliminating any kind of problem. When I first read the series, it felt like typical dystopian fare, but given the pandemic and all the talk about government control in the past year, it felt a little different and more creepy this time. I liked the first three books about as much as I had the first time around, although I have to say that I wasn’t quite as much a fan of the romance between Juliette and Adam this time. I was very interested to see how the series would continue after such a gap between books, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed it overall. I especially loved Restore Me and the focus on how unprepared Juliette was to take command, which seemed like a very realistic follow-up to the end of the previous trilogy. I also absolutely loved getting Warner’s perspective in Defy Me and was very disappointed that it didn’t continue into the final book. To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed by the ending of the series after such great build-up in the previous books. I found Imagine Me disjointed compared to the rest of the series, and there was one important moment that was never even explained! I did enjoy Imagine Me overall but was surprised to find it so confusing, given how easy the rest of the series had been to follow.
The third series that I’ve read so far this year was the Cursebreakers trilogy by Brigid Kemmerer, which is another one that I’ve been putting off for a while! I had the first book down as a 5-star prediction for 2020, but when I saw that the third book was coming in January, I decided to wait and read them all in a row. I absolutely loved the first book and thought it was a great Beauty & the Beast retelling. It reminded me a bit of the Cruel Prince series with the blend of the real world and a fairy tale-like world, and I especially loved the characters. I was a little surprised to find there was a bit of a bait-and-switch with the main characters as the series progressed, which is a pet peeve of mine. Luckily, I thought Grey was a very interesting character and was happy to follow him as well as the new character Lia Mara who was introduced in A Heart So Fierce and Broken. The main reason this kind of switch is a pet peeve is because I often find it frustrating to get attached to a character only to have someone else take over the series, so I was glad to see that it worked so well this time. I did want more of Rhen and Harper, especially in the third book, and was a bit surprised to see that Grey took so much precedence. I was a little disappointed to find the ending a bit anticlimactic, although I did enjoy the conclusion overall. Of the three, I think I liked the first book the best but I was very happy to have finally read this series!
If it wasn’t for the sudden influx of advertisements for green milkshakes and mint ice cream, I don’t think I would have even realized it was St. Patrick’s Day. It’s not a holiday that I really celebrate in any way (although I wouldn’t say no to a mint Oreo blizzard from Dairy Queen if I could get one!), so it’s not something I pay much attention to. Not too long ago, there was a Top 10 Tuesday topic that asked for books that had purple, green or yellow covers and I had such a hard time finding anything green. This week, the prompt specified shamrock green and to be honest, I had no idea what that meant! I ended up looking it up and trying my best to match the book covers to the image, but I’m sure most of these aren’t technically the right shade. When I started to find myself really nitpicking about how green was “green enough,” I decided it was time to stop and just go ahead with what I had! It’s a difficult enough colour to find anyway without worrying too much about the specific shades. Like always, I have no idea how to adjust the sizes for a gallery for some reason, at least not since WordPress changed last year, so apologies in advance for any awkward sizing of the pictures.
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.
It’s so weird to think that it is already spring! I think part of the reason for that, at least for me, is because we had an unusually mild winter. I live in Canada and I expect a lot of snow or ice over the winter, but this year there were only a couple of snowstorms, and hardly anything in between. When it comes to seasonal TBRs, I find spring tends to be the most difficult since there isn’t really a specific kind of book that I associate with spring. On the other hand, spring does tend to be a time where I can get a lot of reading in. I tend to have at least a few days off work each spring. I have no idea how things are going to play out this year give the pandemic. I’d expected to be on lockdown for at least part of the winter, but my workplace was able to manage with an schedule of half groups on alternating days. Most of us have now been vaccinated with one dose, and should be getting our next one toward the end of the month, which I imagine would mean a much lower chance of us needing to close even if numbers start to rise again, although you never know. When looking for books that I was planning to read this spring, I tended to gravitate toward ones that have obvious spring-themed covers (ie. lots of flowers) or lighter, fluffy reads in general. I haven’t read a ton of YA yet this year, and that’s definitely something I’d like to do more since I have so many on my list!
This one kind of has a double reason for making my spring TBR list. I tend to associate any kind of plant word in the title with spring, and this book has been on my reading challenge plans for two years already, so it’s getting to the point where it’s ridiculous that I haven’t tried it yet. This book is about a woman named Susan Green, a 45-year-old woman who is very set in her ways, until her well-ordered life begins to fall apart after the death of her mother and her discovery that she is about to become a mother herself. To be honest, I’m a little confused about this one because there are a couple of different synopses for it on Goodreads, depending which version you look at. I was drawn to it in the first place because it seemed to be along the same lines as Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, which I loved, and I’ve been looking forward to trying more of this kind of book. Either way, I would like to get this one soon so I can finally cross it off my TBR, and hopefully I enjoy it as much as I expect!
This was an obvious choice for spring because of the cover art, but it’s also a book that I’ve been loosely meaning to try for a while. I’m always a little intimidated to pick up Anna-Marie McLemore’s books because I don’t always understand magical realism very well, depending how it is done. When it works for me, the book often becomes a favourite, but when it doesn’t, I end up spending the entire time confused. When I read When the Moon Was Ours, I enjoyed it but was mostly confused, but luckily my next book by this author was much easier for me to get into. I actually would like to revisit When the Moon Was Ours again at some point now that I’m a little more used to the genre. In the meantime, I’ve added many of Anna-Marie McLemore’s books to my TBR for this year, including this one, which is about the Nomeolvides family whose love interests tend to disappear if they fall in love too deeply. After generations of such disappearances, a strange boy suddenly appears in their gardens who knows nothing about himself except his own first name. Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who first finds him, tries to help him piece together his past, and the two of them are soon led to unexpected secrets. Part of the reason I kept putting this off is because I found the synopsis a little confusing at first, but looking at it again, I’m not sure why. I think I was just generally intimidated by the fact that it was magical realism, and scared myself out of trying it.
This is another one that I picked for spring mostly because of the cover, since dandelions are absolutely everywhere in my area during the spring! This one is about an aspiring choreographer named Sophie who would do anything for her best friend and crush Peter, a talented pianist who is waiting for a kidney transplant. When she learns that she is a match, Sophie hopes that donating her kidney will finally get Peter to love her back, but he instead finds himself drawn to Chase, a guitarist in a band who is looking for someone to play keyboard. Sophie begins to grow increasingly more bitter at the distance between her and Peter, and he fears that he will forever be in her debt due to the kidney donation. I’ve only read one of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s books so far but I absolutely loved it and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of them, possibly even this year. This one seems especially interesting because of the focus on the friendship dynamics, and I love how her plots tend to offer something a little different from the typical YA contemporary storylines. I’m really looking forward to trying this one soon.
This was another obvious choice for spring because of the focus on gardening. It is about a single mother named Lillian, whose boss has signed her up for a gardening class to prepare her for the series of vegetable guides that she will be illustrating. Lillian is surprised to find that this class gives her the push she needed to get out of her comfort zone and start to move forward with her life again. I’m not actually that interested in gardening in general, but I’ve already read and really enjoyed one book by this author so I’ve been looking forward to trying more. This one seems like the perfect choice for spring, or maybe summer. I’m realizing now that I’ve actually chosen most of the same books that I had down for last year’s Earth Day post of books that remind me of spring, but given that I haven’t read any of them yet, I think it’s still a fair choice. At least by adding them to my TBR directly, I have a bit more of a push to finally pick them up. One of the things I liked best about the last Abbi Waxman book that I read was the characters, and I’m hoping it will be the same in this one as well.
I’m using this one as a stand-in for any of the three Katherine Center books on my list. To be honest, I had What You Wish For down originally, but decided to switch because that one had also been in my Earth Day post last year and I wanted at least some variety. This is also the book of hers that I feel like I mention the least. This book is about a woman named Margaret whose life seems perfect until everything is suddenly taken away in a brief moment. Margaret is left in the hospital and facing the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, while dealing with heartbreak, long-held family secrets and the possibility of a new love finding her when she least expects it. I think one of the reasons that I bring up this book less often than the others by this author is because its synopsis is the most vague of the three. It definitely gives me spring vibes though because of the flowers on the cover and the focus on fresh starts. I’ve had this one on my TBR for such a long time already, it’s about time I finally try it!
This one could probably work for spring or summer thematically, but I’ve just received my copy and I’m very excited to pick it up! Marissa Meyer is one of my favourite authors, and this book is her first contemporary. It is about an overachieving teenager named Prudence who wakes up one day with the ability to cast instant karma on the people around her. Prudence is excited to test out these new powers, but soon discovers that they don’t seem to work on her lab partner Quint, whom she sees as her enemy. Over the course of the summer, she begins to learn how to put herself in other people’s shoes and in the process, also learns more about Quint and about herself. I guess since it’s set over the summer, it would technically make more sense as a summer read, but I think it could work well as a late spring/early summer book, if I can wait that long. I have absolutely loved everything Marissa Meyer has written so far and I’m very intrigued to try something that is so different from her usual style. I was very happy to finally be able to buy a copy because the price dropped a bit for a few days, and I’m really looking forward to trying this one!
There’s nothing specifically spring-themed about this one, but I planned to read it toward the end of this month when I knew I’d have some time off. Unfortunately, my plan may fail because it’s around the same time that I’m getting my second vaccine and there’s a good chance there will be some side effects, given other people’s experiences. This book is the latest addition to the ACOTAR series, one of my all-time favourites, and it follows Nesta and Cassian, who were also two of my favourite characters. I’m really hoping to be able to read this book as planned toward the end of this month because it’s quite long, and I’d rather be able to pick it up when I have a few days off work to really focus on it. It’s by far one of my most anticipated books of the year and one of several that I pre-ordered to make sure I’d get a copy quickly (and while it was a more reasonable price). I have loved every Sarah J. Maas book I’ve read so far and I’m really looking forward to getting back into this world and seeing what happens next for some of my favourite characters.
I have no idea why I associate this book with spring, but for some reason it’s been stuck in my head as something to read soon. I suspect it has something to do with the bright colours of the cover somehow. this book is about two teeangers, Ellis and Hannah, who meet in their therapist’s waiting room. Ellis is very anxious about the many ways the world can end and has prepared herself for all of them, and Hannah is sure that she knows when the end will come. Hannah enlists Ellis’s help to decipher her visions, but as their friendship grows, Ellis learns there are secrets Hannah isn’t telling her. After looking at some of the Goodreads reviews, I also discovered the Ellis is Mormon, which is a religion that I know very little about, so I’m curious to see how that plays out with this kind of story, although I’m a little apprehensive since I don’t always love books that have a heavy focus on religion. I really enjoyed Heretics Anonymous by this author, although not quite as much as I expected, and I’ve been looking forward to trying more of her books.
The Flatshare was one of the best books I read last year, so I’ve been very excited to try more by this author. It’s not necessarily specifically a spring book, but it’s another one that seems to fit because of the idea of getting a fresh start. This book is about Eileen, a newly single senior who would like a second chance at love but has few prospects in her small town. She decides to switch places with her granddaughter Leena, who has been forced to take a two-month sabbatical after messing up a big presentation at work. The switch gives Eileen the chance to live in London and meet some new people, while Leena can rest and regroup in Yorkshire. I have seen quite a few reviews saying that this book isn’t really a romance, even though it is often tagged as such, so it’s good to know that going into it so I can set my expectations accordingly. It’s not necessarily the kind of storyline I would typically gravitate toward, but I loved Beth O’Leary’s writing in The Flatshare and I’m hoping to love this one as much.
This is another case where I have no idea why this book became a spring read for me, but for some reason, I’ve come to strongly associate it with spring. I think it might be because I was trying to look ahead at some of my priority books and authors for the year and have a loose plan of when to read them. Since I have three books by this author on my list, it made sense to space them out a bit so I think by default, at least one of them ended up as a spring book. I have been hearing so much about Monica Hesse’s books in the past year or so, and finally decided it was about time that I try them. This book specifically is set in 1944, and focuses on two girls, Margot and Haruko, who were booth uprooted to Texas because their families are from Germany and Japan respectively. The two of them meet at a family internment camp and quickly become friends despite their many differences. I like the idea that this book deals with a part of the war that is not often mentioned and I’ve been really starting to get back into historical fiction lately, so this may be a good time to pick it up.
With any luck, the list of authors that I still haven’t read yet will get a little shorter each year. Over the past couple of years, I’ve set myself a goal of reading some of the authors that I’d been meaning to try for a long time but haven’t read yet. I came so close to finishing my whole list last year — I finished 19 out of the 20 authors that I’d picked! This year, I decided to try this goal again with a brand new set of authors, and picked a total of 21 for 2021. Each year, I divided my list between YA authors and adult authors to make sure I had a good balance. To be honest, it was a challenge to come up with my list for this year at least compared to 2020. There were a few author names that really jumped out at me immediately, especially for thrillers, but my YA list was a little more difficult. I ended up picking quite a few authors who only debuted recently, but it’s a great chance for me to stay up to date with some more recent releases!
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) Samantha Downing – I’ve actively avoided My Lovely Wife for a while because it felt a bit overhyped, and when I finally decided to read it, it was out of stock everywhere! Lucky for me, I managed to find a copy just this week on Book Outlet so that should be coming soon. I’m also very excited to pick up He Started It and especially her upcoming book For Your Own Good this year too! She is one of the few very popular thriller authors that I haven’t tried yet, and I’ve heard such great things about all of her books.
2) Alice Feeney – This is a very similar case, where I avoided reading Sometimes I Lie because of all the hype, but later changed my mind! I’ve been stocking up on all of her books, and have all three of her current releases in my reading challenge plans for the year. I just noticed she has another book called Rock Paper Scissors due out this fall too, so I’m sure that’s something I’ll be picking up eventually too. I might not have a chance to pick it up this year, but if not, it’ll likely make it into my plans for 2022.
3) Rory Power – I was on the fence about Wilder Girls when I first heard about it because I’m generally not such a fan of horror or books that take place in the wilderness, and this one is both. The main reason I added her to my list was actually because of Burn Our Bodies Down, which sounds much more up my alley. I’ve heard really great reviews for both, and decided to give them both a chance this year if I can.
4) Cynthia Hand – Cynthia Hand was one of the last authors added to my list. She’s been vaguely on my radar for several years now, but never strongly enough to motivate me to pick anything up. I decided to add her to my list because I’ve had The Last Time We Say Goodbye on my TBR since 2015 and even own a copy, so I thought it was about time to give it a chance. I also have The How and the Why and The Afterlife of Holly Chase down as options for prompts this year too. I’d loosely considered prioritizing the Lady Janies series but decided I had too many other series that I wanted to read more to make it a goal this time.
5) JP Delaney – JP Delaney is another author that has loosely been on my radar for a long time, especially because I got their first two books, The Girl Before and Believe Me, for free as library discards. For years, I kept putting them off because I always prioritized the books I was borrowing from the library over the ones I owned, but because of the pandemic, that has now changed. I have both of those books in my plans for the year as well as The Perfect Wife and Playing Nice. My goal is to try at least one, but hopefully I can read them all!
6) CJ Tudor – Like JP Delaney, I’ve had this author on my radar for a while because I had a copy of The Chalk Man, which might have also been a library discard too. I’ve been hesitant to pick any of her books up because I’ve seen some very mixed reviews, but finally decided that I needed to try them. I have The Chalk Man, The Other People and The Hiding Place all planned for this year, and even went ahead and bought a copy of her newest book The Burning Girls despite the fact that I haven’t read any of them yet, so hopefully I like her books!
7) David Bell – This author was one of the main reasons why I thought of making myself a list of priority authors to try. I’ve added all of his books to my TBR and even bought several from Book Outlet without ever trying a single one. I finally decided that I needed to pick up at least one, preferably more this year, and so far have included Bring Her Home, The Forgotten Girl, and Somebody I Used to Know in my plans. That still leaves about 7 more of his books on my TBR, but there’s no way to fit them all in this year!
I was a little surprised to realize that the last review for any adaptation that I did was back in July 2020, when the first season of the Netflix Babysitter’s Club series. To be honest, I’ve kind of lost interest in writing reviews in general. As with book reviews, I find that I can really only write them when I have strong enough feelings about the book, movie or show to really feel like I have something to say. When it comes to adaptations, I tend to struggle with commenting on the more technical aspects. I really don’t know anything about music, cinematography, etc. so that part is always a challenge. Usually, my reviews tend to focus mostly on the differences between the book and the adaptation since this is often what stands out to me the most. It really bothers me when TV or movie producers decide they like a story enough to want to adapt it, but not enough to actually keep it as is — especially when they completely change the ending! I have no problem with minor changes being made to fit the format better, but I personally find that it really pulls me out of the story to notice a huge change from the storyline or characters I remember, if I remember them clearly enough. One of the main reasons I haven’t reviewed anything I’ve watched recently is because it’s been such a long time since I’ve read the books that I just don’t remember them that clearly, but I have watched quite a few adaptations on Netflix, both shows and movies!
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) All the Bright Places – I could have sworn I did a full review for this movie when I watched it last year, but apparently I never actually wrote it. I watched this movie around the time that the lockdowns first hit for me, which was mid-March 2020, shortly after it first came out on Netflix. I hadn’t read the book since 2016 and I really loved it at the time, although I’ve seen a ton of controversy about it ever since. I thought Elle Fanning and Justice Smith did a great job bringing the two main characters to life, but I found the movie itself a little underwhelming. It was fine, but I thought it lacked a lot of the impact that the book had. I’d actually really like to reread this one and see if my opinion on it has changed since I first read it. I think it says a lot that I can still remember the book so many years after reading it, but can barely remember the movie from only one year ago.
2) To All the Boys I Loved Before series – Again, I thought I’d reviewed at least one of these movies but apparently I’ve never commented on any of them. I’ve seen the entire series and thought these were an amazing adaptation! To be honest, I think I had outgrown the books by the time I read them — I liked them, but definitely didn’t love them as much as most other people, and especially didn’t care that much for the middle book. That may have been impacted a bit by the fact that I’d listened to the audiobook for that one, and really didn’t like the way the narrator read Peter. The Netflix movie versions were such a strong adaptation that mostly stayed true to the series, although I would have liked more of John Ambrose. The movies even succeeded in making me like Peter Kavinsky a lot more than I had in the books!
3) Firefly Lane – It’s been three years since I read this book, and while I really enjoyed it, I didn’t remember anything about it other than a few of the main plot points. I’m not a big fan of Katherine Heigl, and I didn’t particularly care for Sarah Chalke either because I somehow found her a bit annoying. On the other hand, I thought the young actresses playing the teenage versions of Tully and Kate were perfect choices and I especially loved watching any of their scenes. Even though I didn’t remember much of the book, there was enough that I recognized as different to pull me out of the story, including a few brand-new characters or big changes to existing ones, such as Kate’s husband. In general, I found the teenage storylines much more interesting, and sometimes found myself getting a little bored with the rest. I’d still be interested in watching another season if there is one, but wouldn’t necessarily be in a rush to watch either.
4) Behind Her Eyes – This is the only adaptation on this list for a book that I read very recently! I read it in December of last year, and I was excited to see a Netflix adaptation and especially how they would handle the twists at the end. I was pleasantly surprised by how well this series did at capturing the creepy atmosphere, and how closely it aligned with book in general. I especially thought Eve Hewson, the actress playing Adele was perfectly cast. Up until this moment, I thought there was a different actress for the teenage version of the character, but as far as I can tell Eve Hewson played them both! Simona Brown as Louise, Tom Bateman as David and Robert Aramayo as Rob were all great in their roles as well. This was definitely one of the strongest adaptations I’d seen in a long time.
5) Moxie – I ended up watching this one on its release date, and really enjoyed it! It’s another book that I haven’t read since 2018, and I gave it 4 stars at the time because the writing wasn’t quite as strong as I’d expected, which made the characters seem younger than they were. I also had some trouble buying into just how bad their school was when it came to the male students’ behaviour because it just seemed too much to be believable, but I thought the movie did a great job at striking a balance. I especially enjoyed the scenes of the girls trying to complain to their completely ineffective principal, which really brought some of the issues to life. I also thought the cast did a great job at bringing the characters and the issues to life in a very realistic way, especially Hadley Robinson as lead character Vivian.