Top 5 Wednesdays: TBR Benchwarmers (#12)

I think of all the Benchwarmers lists I’ve posted so far, this is one of the ones with the most books that I’ve actively remembered wanting to read. Of course, that doesn’t mean that any of them are books I’ve actually picked up yet! Most of these are books I found at the time by playing around with Goodreads’ different features, and especially the recommendations pages. I’ve always found the recommendations pages really hit-or-miss. Sometimes, the books they suggest are quite similar to the one I’ve read or at least indicated an interest in, but in other cases, the connection seems a lot more vague. There have been quite a few cases where I don’t even see how the recommended book connects at all, but the feature has still given me quite a few books that made it onto my TBR.

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) I Couldn’t Love You More by Jillian Medoff

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I bought this one from Book Outlet because I remembered that it had been on my TBR for quite a long time, and I thought owning it would give me an extra push to try it. It is about a woman named Eliot, who lives a happy life with her husband Grant, and three children including two step-daughters that Eliot thinks of as her own. When her long-lost first love suddenly returns, it triggers a chain of events that forces Eliot to make a difficult split-second decision that will affect her family forever. I don’t specifically remember finding this one on Goodreads, and while it does sound like an interesting story, I can also understand why it has taken me so long to get around to reading it. It is also a book that seems to have received very little attention on Goodreads, so it is not something that I’ve been reminded to try very often. None of my Goodreads friends or reviewers I follow have read this one, so it is not something that shows up in my newsfeed too often. Now that I own a copy though, it will hopefully be something I pick up soon.

2) What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross

25111142. sy475 I’ve always been drawn to this book because of the interesting cover, and it is another one I bought from Book Outlet. It is about a woman named Lucy who kidnaps a baby out of a shopping cart and decides to raise her as her own, keeping it a secret from the child for two decades. As Mia grows up and learns the truth about the woman she thought was her mother, she decides to reach out to her birth mother, forcing Lucy to go into hiding to avoid prosecution. Just last year, I actually was drawn to another book that had a plot along similar lines, so it definitely seems like something that would interest me. I think I didn’t read it at the time because it wasn’t easily accessible from the library, and it still isn’t. I’m glad I managed to find a copy to buy, and especially an inexpensive one so I can finally try it! I’m hoping to get to it by the end of this year, but if not, it is definitely high on my list for next year.

3) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

9969571. sy475 To be honest, I never had the strongest interest in reading this one, but I added it to my TBR anyway after several people very strongly recommended it to me. It is about a teenager named Wade Watts who has devoted his life to the virtual reality game Oasis. When the eccentric creator of the game dies, he leaves behind his fortune to the person who is able to find the Easter egg hidden somewhere within the game. I’ve heard great things about this book in general, and I have some interest in gaming myself, so it seems like something I might enjoy. It also reminds me a bit of anime like Sword Art Online or Accel World, both of which I loved. At the time that this was first recommended to me, I wasn’t particularly interested and put it off because I already had other books in mind for my reading challenge that year. Since then, I honestly think I kept putting it off partially because it felt overhyped, and I got a bit tired of hearing about it everywhere. It still seems like something I might enjoy, but I can’t say it has moved up very much on my priority list.

4) If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin

15835031This is one book that for some reason has crossed my mind several times over the years as an option for my reading challenges, but somehow never made the final cut. I found it back in 2016 while browsing for YA realistic fiction, and thought it seemed interesting, although I’m realizing now that I think I misunderstood what it was about. It is actually about Autumn and Finn, childhood friends who grew apart over the years. The story follows them through their high school years, with both of them now hanging out with different crowds, and Autumn constantly wondering what would have happened if they had never grown  apart. It seems like the kind of book that I shouldn’t put off for much longer if I’m going to read it at all, because I’m not sure how much it would really appeal to me anymore. It is getting to the point where I feel like I need to just read it already to get it off my list, which is a long time coming since it’s been over 3 years now!

5) What We Saw by Aaron Hartzler

20922826I could have sworn I bought this one from Book Outlet too, but I think I had it mixed up with another book of a similar title. It is about a girl named Kate who is having a hard time remembering what happened at a party the previous night, where she really hit it off with her crush, Ben. When a picture of another girl passed out over a boy’s shoulder appears online the next day, Kate worries that something serious may have happened, especially when the other girl presses charges against four classmates. As Kate starts to uncover more of the facts about what really happened at the party, she finds herself left with one important question: where was Ben when the crime was committed? This book is based off the real Steubenville High School rape case, which I have to admit that I don’t know very much about. I’ve seen some excellent reviews for this book, although it doesn’t seem to be very well-known, and it is a storyline that is unfortunately still relevant even this many years later.

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Top 10 Tuesdays: Favourite Tropes

For some reason, I always have a hard time coming up with tropes that I either love or hate. My mind always automatically goes to the obvious few: insta-love, love triangles, the Chosen One, etc. I think part of my problem is that I don’t necessarily love or hate any trope. Although I think some of them are really overused, I can like almost any trope as long as it is really well-written. I also struggled a bit to think of tropes that weren’t heavily focused on romance. It’s only by really looking at some of the common factors among many of the books that I’ve read in the past few years that I’ve been able to figure out some of the tropes that really draw me to a book. It also reminds me of a course I took in university about children’s literature, where we talked about how stories are all variations on themes, and it’s very difficult to find any story that is completely unique. I have no problem with books using common tropes, as long as they do them well!

Please note that the examples mentioned for each item below are books that I know of that feature that trope, but are not necessarily books that I have personally read yet. Those that I haven’t read yet are on my TBR, and recommendations are always welcome!

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) Found Family/band of misfits  – This is a trope that I’ve only discovered fairly recently, and it has quickly become a favourite. I love books that bring an eclectic cast of characters together to work toward a common goal, and especially when those characters come together to become each other’s family. I love seeing the characters form such strong bonds and become such a support network for each other.

Some examples: Six of Crows, The Lunar Chronicles, Aurora Rising, The Illuminae Files, A Court of Thorns and Roses

2) Fake dating – I’m not sure if this was a trope I would have picked a few years ago, but I find this trope so much fun to read now! In general, I don’t like anything to do with insta-love, and I find these kinds of relationships tend to be better developed and a lot more interesting, when they are well-done. I think part of what I love about it is that I tend to enjoy character-driven stories, and putting the characters in this kind of situation tends to give them quite a bit of development.

Some examples: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Unhoneymooners, The Wedding Date, The Hunger Games

3) Platonic relationships that stay platonic – Bonus points if the characters’ sexual orientations aren’t the determining factor in why they don’t end up dating, since that often seems to be the case. I guess in a sense most books include platonic friendships with side characters, but I’d love to see more where the typical love interest ends up being a really good friend and nothing more than that, since that is definitely something that happens in real life.

Some examples: Bang, Meg & Linus, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, Highly Illogical Behaviour, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (if I remember correctly, someone tell me if I’m wrong!)

4) Hate-to-love – I think I blame Buffy and Spike for this one, but I love to see these kinds of relationships when they are done well. I find that this is a trope that can be a bit risky since it is very easy for it to veer into potentially problematic behaviour. In most cases though, I find these kinds of books so fun to read because they have such amazing character dynamics and tend to have a lot of very witty banter

Some examples: Pride & Prejudice, The Hating Game, A Court of Mist & Fury, the Shatter Me series, Uprooted

5) Friends-to-lovers/slow-burn romances – I’m putting these two together even though they are not necessarily exactly the same thing. I love friends-to-lovers as a trope because it actually gives the time to develop the characters separately and together. I find it nearly impossible to get invested in insta-love. I think it’s very interesting to see two characters start to realize their feelings for each other over time, and that tends to happen when they are friends first.

Some examples: Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Six of Crows (slow-burn), The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue, The Raven Cycle

6) Fish out of water – I have no idea if this is actually what the trope is called, but I was thinking of something like the movie Enchanted, where there is a character who is taken from one world and struggles to adapt to the world they are thrown into. It could also be characters like Cress from the Lunar Chronicles, who spend a lot of time isolated, and have to adapt back to the real world. I’ve mostly seen this story done with fairy tale kinds of characters trying to survive our world, but there’s a lot of potential here for great stories.

Some examples: Unfortunately I don’t have many for this one because it seems to specific, so please recommend more. Cress, Off the Page

7) Pen-pal/online friendships or romances – I’m a huge sucker for any book that has to do with social media in general, but I especially love when characters get to know each other through writing or social media before they meet in real life. I know this is something that is always a bit of a risk since you can never be sure if the other person is 100% honest, but I find it so interesting to read these kinds of character interactions. I think it’s so important that books are starting to acknowledge that online friends or even romances are a real and important part of many people’s lives.

Some examples: Gena/Finn, Everything, Everything, Emergency Contact, Flat-Out Love, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Goodnight Tweetheart

8) Social media – I originally wasn’t going to include this as a separate trope, and I’m not entirely sure it really counts as a trope, but I love books where a character’s online presence plays an important role. I find this is becoming a lot more common in thrillers, where someone has to piece together a person’s life or what happened to them based on their social media accounts. I know this runs the risk of making the book come across a bit dated, but right now it is something that really catches my attention. Aside from thrillers, I also love where a character’s online presence or persona plays a role

Some examples: Reconstructing Amelia, Don’t Try to Find Me, The Status of All Things, The Takedown, Friend Request

9) Anti-heroes/morally grey characters – Essentially, I love anything that makes you question who the real heroes and villains are in a story, or who the real monster is. I was originally thinking something along the lines of many Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast or The Hunchback of Notre Dame, where the one who seems to be the monster isn’t really. Think of characters who are literally monsters or demons but don’t behave as such, or the many monstrous human characters that most would mistake for normal. I’m also thinking of characters whose actions might be heroic, but it is questionable whether the ends really justify the means.

Some examples: Vicious, The Conqueror’s Saga, Six of Crows, This Savage Song, Gone Girl, Nimona

10) Superheroes – Bonus points on this one if the heart of the story is the hero grappling with what it means to be a hero and how to try and live their lives with the weight of their responsibilities. Think anything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Incredibles, or even some of the more recent Marvel and DC movies. This is also not one that I thought of right away, but soon realized that it was a story that I always tend to love when I do read or watch it. It tends to be a very character-driven story with a lot of interesting ethical questions, and something that definitely intrigues me.

Some examples: Strong Female Protagonist, Not Your Sidekick, Renegades, Vicious

Library Struggles

I am very lucky to live close to one of the biggest branches in my library’s system. It is literally a 15 minute walk from my house, and generally very well-stocked. It also helped a lot that my mom used to work at that branch, so it has always been very easy for me to get library books. As much as I’d like to think I know how the library system works pretty well, there are still things that don’t quite work the way I would expect.

One of my goals for the year was to try and balance out reading books from the library with reading books that I own. I’ve cheated the system a bit by buying some of the books I had on hold from the library from Book Outlet, so they become owned books instead. To be honest, I haven’t been doing a great job with this goal since I always end up prioritizing library books over the books I have. That’s not to say that I don’t want to read the books I have, because I definitely do, but but there is something a bit more fun and exciting about releasing library holds and getting the notification that the books are ready to pick up.

This leads me to my first struggle — when I take out too many books at once, and then struggle to finish them all on time. This happened to me this month. I had decided that I wanted to finish off the last two Throne of Glass books, and requested about 20 books from the library while I read those. I expected that these books would come staggered over the next couple of weeks — so I was shocked to find about half of them ready to pick up within a few days, just as I was starting Kingdom of Ash! By the time I had finished Kingdom of Ash about a week later, I had another 10 books arrive! Keep in mind, this is before I had even picked up a single one of my library books that I’d taken out so far. Oh, and I should also mention that when I went to pick up my first batch, I ended up spending about half an hour just wandering the shelves, and grabbed a few more books that I knew were on my list just because I saw them on the shelves.

My library allows us to take out books for 3 weeks at a time, with up to 10 renewals (3 more weeks each time). And we are allowed to take out up to 150 items at a time. I have never reached anywhere close to that many, which is probably a good thing because I’m having enough trouble managing the 30 or so I have out now! We can’t renew anything if there are other people who have it on hold, but otherwise you can end up keeping the books you have out for quite long time. The issue I ran into was not only did most of my books unexpectedly show up at once, but some of them also showed up in the “wrong” order. I had decided that this month I would finally read the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, and intentionally released my holds on all three at the same time in the hopes of getting them all together. Of course, with my luck, Clockwork Princess (third in the series) showed up first, and I took it out while I was still reading Kingdom of Ash. I knew I didn’t want to read two fantasy series in a row, so I read a couple of other books in between.

The issue arose when I went to renew the book. I had to wait at least a week for the first two Infernal Devices books to be in, and by the time they arrived, Clockwork Princess had another request on it, meaning I wouldn’t be able to renew it. No problem, I thought, there are a few other copies from the library so one of those is sure to come back and fulfill that request. I soon realized that this was not the case. With all three copies of Clockwork Princess out, including the one I have and two people requesting copies, there was no chance to renew it. This wouldn’t necessarily have been a big deal if it had been the first book in the series, but this was the third book and I hadn’t even started the first one yet! Even though mine was the copy due back first by a day or two, I found myself hoping that both of the others would return theirs on time, or even early, so they would fulfill the requests and I’d be able to renew.

Instead, I’d become one of those people who I’d always kind of resented — someone who returns a book late, knowing that others are waiting for it. As much as it has always bothered me when I was waiting for a book that was returned late, I ultimately decided to keep Clockwork Princess and finish it off first. I realized that by the day it was due, I would already be partway through the book and if I gave it back, I’d be waiting 3-6 weeks minimum to get a copy again, possibly even longer. And let me tell you, it was a huge struggle to make this decision! I had to get over my natural rule-following tendencies to justify to myself that a) I’d only be a day or two late, and b) at least one of the other copies would likely come back first to fulfill at least one of the requests. I also have to say our library’s fine policy really is not a strong incentive to give things back quickly — they only charge about 30 cents per day late, which really isn’t very much. If I hadn’t already started the book by the time it was due, I would have given it back if I couldn’t renew it.

I’m still kind of holding out hope that the other two people who have copies will be able to do what I didn’t, and give theirs back early. In theory, that would let me renew mine so I can have the last couple of days needed to finish it off and give it back, but it doesn’t seem very likely that it will happen. What I probably should have learned from this is not to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to taking out library books, or at least not to take out so many while I’m already reading the lengthy conclusion to another series, but somehow I doubt it will change my approach. I do hope not to be in a position again where I choose to keep a book late, but it’s hard to predict. Sometimes, I end up having to play the game of “Do I renew this now, and lose out on some days on the original checkout time, or wait and hope there are no requests by the time it’s closer to the due date?” Literally as I was writing this post, I went onto my library account to check on my current holds and realized I had 6 day remaining on several of them, and had to decide whether to renew now or wait a couple more days. Maybe I did learn something from this though, since I decided to err on the side of caution a bit and just renew them now.

If nothing else, this situation has given me an extra level of motivation to read so I can finish off Clockwork Princess as quickly as possible so it’s not too late. It’s also made me think that maybe I should not release holds on later books in a series until I have the first few in my possession first, but that can be just as tricky to manage since I don’t usually want to wait too long between books in a series. Maybe my library just needs to keep more copies of popular books! I know this series is a little older now, but my mom is sure that there used to be around 15 copies of the book instead of the 3 they currently kept. I  know libraries can’t keep everything and always need to make room for new things, but ours seems to be going on quite the purge lately and getting rid of a lot to make the shelves “look less crowded.” It seems totally counterproductive to me, but another reason to heavily use my library to try and keep books on the shelves!

Top 5 Wednesdays: TBR Benchwarmers (#11)

If I’m completely honest, as fun as this series has been, I’m ready for the regular Top 5 Wednesdays to resume! As much as I struggled sometimes with the topics that were chosen, it was a great variety and a lot of fun. I love taking this opportunity to look back at my TBR and remind myself of all the books I’ve been waiting ages to try, but I’m starting to really want something new again. I hope Top 5 Wednesday comes back in September, or I may need to rethink how to handle my posts. The books mentioned here are from mid-January 2016, and several of them are books that I’ve considered reading a few times already but never managed to pick up.

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

1) When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi

23447506Not only have I considered reading this one a few times, but I’ve also strongly considered buying it from Book Outlet to give myself an extra push to pick it up. I haven’t bought it yet though because there have always been other books that I wanted more at the time. This  book is about a woman named Fereiba, who is a schoolteacher in Kabul, whose life is shaken up by a brutal act by the Taliban, causing her to lose her husband. Forced to flee with her children, Fereiba begin the dangerous journey as undocumented refugees, hoping to find safety with relatives in London. Their journey becomes even more dangerous when her eldest son, Saleem, is separated from the family and exposed to the world of human trafficking, and Fereiba must decide whether to stay and search for him, or move forward to ensure the safety of the rest of her family. This sounds like such an interesting story and I think it’s about time that I finally give it a chance!

2) My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

23604559. sy475 This was another Fredrik Backman book that I added to my TBR long before I ever read anything of his. It is about a young girl named Elsa, whose grandmother is her best friend, and she takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories. When her grandmother dies, she leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, and Elsa embarks on a journey that will challenge her perceptions of her grandmother and her world. I feel like this is one of the Fredrik Backman books that I hear the least about, and I have also seen quite mixed reviews for it. I have now read both of his Beartown books and loved them, so I’m very interested in reading more of his work. I’m not entirely sure which of his books I’m going to prioritize to read next, but this one is definitely a possibility. It sounds like a very interesting story, and very different from the two of his that I’ve read so far, so I’d love to try it.

3) Now You See Me by Sharon J. Bolton

9783200. sy475 To be honest, I forgot about this book completely.  I think it put me off a bit when I saw that it was listed as part of a series, but it seems to be one of those mystery series where the stories have the same detective, but are otherwise mostly independent. I think seeing that it was part of a series made me think that I’d have to commit to reading them all, and so far, this is the only one that has made it to my TBR (but that’s mostly because I haven’t really looked into the rest). This book is about a young detective named Lacey Flint who stumbles upon a woman stabbed to death in a parking lot of an apartment complex. Within 24 hours, a reporter receives an anonymous letter that calls out Lacey by name, and also makes note of the many similarities between the murder and Jack the Ripper’s first kill. It seems that the killer is re-creating his crimes, and is targeting Lacey specifically, although the case threatens to dig up parts of her past that she meant to keep hidden. I think the Jack the Ripper connection is fascinating and was probably the main draw of this book for me in the first place, although I tend to prefer thrillers over detective stories. This is still pretty low on my priority list, but intrigues me enough to keep it in mind.

4) Invisible by Carla Buckley

13414537I have literally all of Carla Buckley’s books on my TBR, but I have not read a single one yet! This was actually the first one that I added, with most of the rest of them added about 6 months later. This one is about Dana Carlson, who was always close with her older sister, Julie, until a devastating secret forces her to flee and not contact her sister for 16 years. When she hears that Julie is seriously ill, she must return home to try and save her, yet she discovers that she is too late and her town has changed a lot since she’s been gone. Dana begins to suspect that the same thing that killed Julie may be killing others too, but no one will believe her, not even Julie’s daughter Peyton who can’t forgive Dana for her long absence. Part of what drew me to this book is that the Goodreads synopsis compared it to Jodi Picoult, which immediately makes it sound like the kind of book that I would enjoy. This is another book that I tend to forget about, and even when thinking of Carla Buckley’s books in general, this is not the one that comes to mind. It is still something I’m interested in reading, but it’s not too high on my priority list. It also is not available through my library, so that’s another factor as well.

5) We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

24041443. sy475 This is another one that I’ve strongly considered buying from Book Outlet multiple times, but never ended up getting it. It is about a woman named Letty who has worked three jobs to try to support her family, while her own mother raises her two children. With Letty’s parents now moving back to Mexico, she is forced to become a mother herself for the first time, and both of her children struggle to accept her in this role. Letty also comes up with a plan to help the family get out of their dangerous neighbourhood. I honestly didn’t remember anything at all about this book until I looked at the synopsis again just now, other than the fact that it was one that I wanted to try. It does sound like a very interesting and character-driven story. I’m especially intrigued by the unique family dynamics here, with Letty having her parents raise her children for most of their lives so far. That is not something I’ve seen much of in books, and I think it would be a very interesting perspective. Now that I’ve seen the plot summary again, I might be a bit more motivated to include it with my next Book Outlet order.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Characters You’d Want to Be Best Friends With

I could have sworn I did a post on this, or at least a similar topic, very recently but I can’t seem to find it. I really need to start keeping better track of what posts I’ve already made. For some reason, I’ve never been the type to think of fictional characters as real enough to want to be friends with them. I think it’s the same as me never getting crushes on fictional characters. It’s just never made sense to me. That’s not to judge anyone who does, because I think it’s really amazing to have such a strong connection to a fictional character. When I was thinking about characters I’d want to be friends with, I mostly tried to think of characters that I had something in common with, or a personality that seemed compatible enough with mine that I could actually imagine hanging out with them.

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) Bri from On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – This was the first character who came to mind, especially among the books that I’ve read recently. I don’t think I necessarily have much in common with Bri in terms of our interests, but I can definitely see us getting along and I love the way she stands up for what she believes in, and how strongly she values her family.

2) Nina from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – While it’s hard to pick just one favourite character from this amazing series, I think if I had to choose, I would pick Nina. She was the first character in this series that I really connected with, and she was so funny! She also seems like she would be so much fun to hang out with, and I definitely share her love of cake and waffles.

3) Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – I have to say that I didn’t pay too much attention to Neville the first few times I read the series, but the more I’ve read it, the more I’ve come to love him as a character. He is definitely loyal and seems like he would be a great friend. I also think his passion for Herbology could be something very interesting to talk and learn about.

4) Violet Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket – Given how much I love this series, I definitely don’t mention it or its characters enough. Violet has always been one of my favourite characters from any series, and I think she’d be so interesting to be friends with. I definitely relate to all the Baudelaires’ interest in reading and learning, but I’m especially interested in Violet’s talent for inventing since that is something that I have no skill in whatsoever, and I think it could be fun to just hang out and watch her work.

5) Yrene from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas – I may be biased because I finished this series very recently, so the characters are still fresh in my head. Of the many characters in this series, I think the one I’d most want to be friends with is Yrene. I’m not even sure if I can pinpoint exactly why, but I feel like we would really get along and I also love that she is not afraid to stand up for herself and the people she cares about.

6) Blue from The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – Again, this is a series where I probably could have chosen any character, but I decided Blue was the one I’d probably get along with best. I love her loyalty to her friends and her family, and actually think her family in general would be a lot of fun to hang out with. I also love her snarky sense of humour.

7) Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – I picked Simon mostly on the grounds of common interests. Simon is obsessed with Harry Potter, which I love, and he’s also really into musical theatre. I’m not interested in performing at all, but I love to go to the theatre and watch plays and musicals. He seems like the kind of friend that might be fun to go to shows with.

8) Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Cath is probably the single most relatable fictional character for me, and I can easily see hanging out with her even though we are both socially anxious in all the same ways. I would love to hang out with her and read her Simon Snow stories or maybe even help write some. I also like that she’d likely be up for staying in and reading or maybe watching movies, which are some of my favourite things to do.

9) Agnieszka from Uprooted by Naomi Novik – Judging by her friendship with Kasia, Agnieszka is a great friend to have. She is incredibly loyal and will go to any lengths to protect her closest friends. I’m also very interested by her affinity for magic and would love to learn from her, even though I don’t think it could come as easily to me as it did for her.

10) Henry from Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley – Henry is probably one of my favourite YA contemporary characters that I’ve read in the past few years. Although I didn’t love the way he was pining after a girl who treated him so badly, I did love his devotion to his family’s bookstore, which sounds like an amazing place to hang out, especially because of the Letter Library. I don’t just want to be friends with him to access the store though, he actually seemed like someone I’d really get along with.

The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag (2019)

Recently, there was a Top 10 Tuesday topic asking for our unpopular opinions, and it made me realize that is has been a very long time since I last did the Unpopular Opinions Book Tag! I last did this one in 2017, so I thought it was about time for an update to take into account many of the books I’ve read since then. This has always been one of my favourite tags to read/watch because I find it so interesting to see people’s “controversial” opinions. Although I don’t think we should ever have to clarify that anything expressed in an opinions tag are just our own opinions and not meant to offend, that statement still tends to be necessary. People can be so defensive about their favourite books, which I understand, but everyone is free to like or dislike what they want.

This tag was started by TheBookArcher, and her video can be found here.

 1. A popular book or series that you didn’t like

I’m not sure how popular this series still is, but I found the Little House on the Prairie books so boring! I’ve only read the first two books in the series because of challenge prompts requiring westerns, but I really struggled with them. I never read this series when I was younger and I’d heard so many great things about it, but it was so dry! It read more like a textbook to me.

I also really couldn’t get into The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I think it’s popularity seems to have dropped off a bit since it first came out, but at the time that I read it, this book was literally everywhere and I couldn’t avoid it. The only reason I read it in the first place was because of all the hype, and although it was technically well-written, I found it incredibly slow and it is told from such a distant perspective, that I couldn’t connect with the main character at all.

I also didn’t love We Were Liars! I picked it up in the first place because of all the hype, and though I ultimately gave it 4 stars, I was very underwhelmed. I predicted the main twist fairly early on, and thought that one of the major events that happened (which I can’t mention in detail) made very little logical sense.

2. A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love

The Girl on the Train! There was a lot of hype and positive reviews for this one when I first read it, but pretty soon after the popular opinion seemed to shift. I absolutely loved this book and devoured it in a couple of days, so I was surprised to see so many people complain that it was generic and predictable. I find a lot of thrillers seem to have very mixed reviews in general. I also really enjoyed Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers. It was weird and not at all what I expected, but I really liked it.

I also stand by my previous answer of Me Before You. I absolutely adored this book, and even enjoyed it’s (mostly unnecessary) sequels. I do understand why people disliked this one, but I thought the ending was very fitting for the character and the story in general opened up a very interesting ethical dilemma.

Also, I have to add Emergency Contact. There was a ton of hype around this one at first, especially before it was released, but once people started to read it the general opinion seemed to change. I loved this book, and I’m still debating whether to up my rating to a 5. I gave it 4.5 and rounded it down for Goodreads, but have questioned ever since whether to up it. There were a few moments that felt a bit sudden/disjointed, but I loved the interactions between the two main characters.

3. A Love Triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with (warn ppl for spoilers) OR an OTP that you don’t like

I don’t think either of these are spoilers by now because the series are both so popular, but I’m not a huge fan of Jace and Clary from The Mortal Instruments. I’ve only read the first three books so far, so it’s possible my opinion will change, but I wasn’t that invested in them. I actually didn’t mind Simon as a character. I don’t want him with Clary because I didn’t like the way she handled their relationship, but I definitely don’t hate the character as much as everyone else seemed to.

4.  A popular book genre that you hardly reach for

I know it’s hard to classify non-fiction as a single genre, but I rarely read non-fiction. When I do read it, it tends to be very specific books about favourite topics, and even then, I strongly prefer fiction. I have tried multiple different sub-genres, and haven’t been a huge fan of any of them, so I think it’s safe to say I don’t really enjoy non-fiction. I also rarely read horror because I’m too much of a coward for a lot of it, and although I have enjoyed the sci-fi books that I’ve read, it’s not a genre that I pick up very often.

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of Peter Kavinsky from the To All the Boys I Loved Before series. He was fine in the first book, but I didn’t like him as much in either of the sequels. To be fair, I also thought the sequels were a bit unnecessary in general. It also didn’t help that I listened to the second one as an audiobook, and I really hated the way the narrator voiced Peter. I liked him a tiny bit more again in the third book, but definitely not as much as everyone else seems to.

6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into

I have to stick with my original answer for this one, and go with Stephen King. Horror is not my genre anyway, so it may not be such a surprise that I don’t like his books that much. I’ve only read Carrie and Misery, and I wasn’t a huge fan of either of them. Maybe I’d be better off trying one of his more recent books just to see if that makes any difference, but honestly none of them really interest me enough to want to pick them up.

7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. (examples “lost princess”, corrupt ruler, love triangles, etc.)

I don’t really mind any trope, as long as they are done well. I also tend to vary my reading enough that I avoid overdoing any specific tropes in a row. However, I am getting a bit tired of every single YA character having a parent who has either died or run off. I get that it can make a more interesting backstory for the character, but it is starting to feel a bit overdone to me. It might just be the specific books that I’ve been picking, but it was the one thing I found myself getting a little tired of.

I’m also starting to get a bit tired of thrillers where the main, usually female, character is an alcoholic. I’m definitely not as sick of this as a lot of other people seem to be, but it is becoming very common and I would love to see a little more variety.

8. A popular book or series you have no interest in reading

Anna and the French Kiss! I’ve probably outgrown these books anyway, but I had no interest in them when they first came out and nothing that I’ve heard about them ever since have motivated me to pick them up either. I might eventually end up trying them just to see what the hype is about, but I’m really not expecting to enjoy it at all.

Last time I did this tag, I picked all of Rick Riordan‘s series, and I think that is still the case now. I don’t even know what it is, since I used to love mythology and I generally enjoy fantasy, so by all logic, I should have read these a long time ago. But I wasn’t interested when they were first published, and there are now so many that it’s becoming a bit overwhelming.

9. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”, but what movie or TV show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

Last time I mentioned Devil Wears Prada and The DUFF, but I definitely need to add The Princess Diaries to that list. That was one of my favourite movies, but I didn’t really care for the book. I also really liked the Netflix movie version of To All the Boys I Loved Before, probably more than the book.

Top 5 Wednesdays: TBR Benchwarmers (#10)

Part of the fun of looking back at all these books that I added a few years ago is seeing how many of them are by authors who I’ve added repeatedly, despite never trying one of their books. Since last week’s Benchwarmers post, I’ve started to seriously consider making myself a list of a few top priority authors that I need to try next year. I’m a bit hesitant because I also have a priority series list, and planned to also have a list of priority standalones, so I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with too many goals. To be fair though, those lists are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I also tend to buy books that I know have been on my TBR for a long time on Book Outlet to try to push myself to read them sooner, with mixed success. These books are still from early January 2016, and hopefully I will get to at least some of them soon!

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) Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin

40582070. sy475 I have another one of Julia Heaberlin’s books on my list for this year, and I’m really hoping that I will get to it soon! This is her debut, about a woman named Tommie who receives a strange letter from a stranger days after her father’s death. The stranger writes that Tommie is her daughter, kidnapped over 30 years ago. Although she wants to believe it is just a joke, Tommie soon finds herself linked to a complicated and horrifying past, with someone determined to keep her from uncovering the truth. I tend to love mystery/thrillers about people trying to figure out secrets from their own pasts, so this one sounds very interesting. I don’t think I even realized that it was by the same author as Black-Eyed Susans, the book of hers that I’m planning to read this year. It’s a little discouraging to see quite a few negative reviews on its first page on Goodreads, but the plot still sounds interesting enough that I’d like to try it. I was also surprised to see that it is easily available from the library, so there really isn’t much excuse to put it off much longer.

2) Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline

17934416I have yet to find a Lisa Scottoline book that I truly love, to be honest. They all have such interesting premises, but  there is something about her writing style that I just haven’t connected with. It is about a man named Jake who has a difficult relationship with his teenage son, Ryan. When Ryan asks for a chance to drive home one day while on a deserted road, Jake takes the opportunity to bond with his son until an accident occurs. Jake makes a quick decision in attempt to protect his son, forcing them both to struggle to live with the consequences. Compared to other Lisa Scottoline books, this one is a bit less intriguing because I’ve already read other books that have a similar premise, and considering I don’t always love her writing style, it’s not so surprising that I keep putting this one off. I have found this particular plotline tends to be a bit more on the predictable side, but it still interests me enough to keep it on my list. I would still like to give it a chance at some point, but it’s definitely not a high priority.

3) The One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne

15791131I have this one on my Book Outlet wishlist and have almost bought it two separate times already, but kept dropping it from my cart because I didn’t want to exceed a certain price and it was lower priority than some others. This book is about a woman named Halley, whose husband Nathan carries a handful of stones in his pocket to represent acts of kindness that he does each day. When Nathan is killed by a hydroplaning car, Halley and her children are surprised to find a Facebook page sharing countless stories of Nathan’s kindness, including one from a woman who claims that Nathan saved her life. Strangely enough, she notices that her husband has been corresponding with this woman by email for years, and several messages refer to “our little girl,” causing her to question how well she really knew her husband. I hope this is not taken the wrong way, but part of the reason I haven’t picked this up yet is because I recently noticed it was tagged as “Christian fiction” on Goodreads, and that is not a genre I tend to enjoy if there are very heavy religious themes. I’m not sure about this book specifically, but seeing that tag made me a bit unsure whether this book was really for me, although the plot still sounds very interesting.

4) The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

25663807I did end up buying a copy of this book, although obviously I have not read it yet since it has made it to this list. This book is about a woman in her late 30s named Anna who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and is sent to an assisted living facility where she meets another resident close to her age whom she soon develops feelings for. Eve, an employee of the residence, is moved by the bond she sees between Anna and Luke, and must question what she will risk to help them when an incident leads to their families choosing to separate them. I think I put off reading this one for a while because I’d recently read Still Alice around the time that I added this one to my TBR, and didn’t want to read another book centering on early-onset Alzheimer’s so soon. I have since added nearly all of Sally Hepworth’s books to my TBR (without reading any of them) and even have one planned for later this year. Looking at the synopsis for this one again reminded me of why I wanted to try it in the first place, so it may be one that I end up prioritizing in the near future.

5) Peony In Love by Lisa See

24472. sx318 I added this book to my TBR because I loved Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, and also really enjoyed Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. One of my favourite kinds of historical fiction to read is books about China or Japan and their history. There was actually an Asian history class that I really wanted to take in university that I missed out on because I couldn’t fit it into my schedule, but it’s a topic that really intrigues me.  I keep putting off reading more of Lisa See’s books because I’m so rarely in the mood for historical fiction lately, but I love her writing style and would love to read more of her stories. This one is about a young woman named Peony who is betrothed to a man she’s never met, and though she is raised to be obedient, she has her own dreams.When she is given the opportunity to attend a public opera performance, she soon falls in love with a man she sees there. The only reason I haven’t read this yet is because I’ve been putting off a lot of  historical fiction in general, but I do tend to enjoy it when I read it so it might be about time to give some of the books I’ve been delaying a chance.