Reader Struggles: Meme Mini-Series (#11)

I’m not really the type of person who brings a book with me absolutely everywhere I go, although sometimes I wish I was! If I know I’m going somewhere that doesn’t offer much time to read, such as when I go to work, I usually don’t bring a book at all. However, that all goes out the window when I go on vacation.

Every year, I generally go on vacation for about a week and it is a struggle every time to figure out how many books I want to bring with me. Many of my trips involve a lengthy train ride, and somehow this is the one form of public transportation where I can read without feeling sick. I end up in the constant struggle between trying to minimize how much I need to carry with me, and making sure I have “enough” books to last me the trip. Never mind the fact that anywhere I go, there is a bookstore and I can always but something new if needed.

For most week-long trips, I tend to bring 3-4 books even though I rarely end up finishing more than 2 at the most. I seem to assume that I will finish the majority of one book on the train ride, even though I know I almost inevitably fall asleep at some point during the ride. I also tend to assume that I will read a lot in the evenings, completely forgetting about the fact that I’m often very tired from the day of sightseeing or whatever I’m doing, and that I usually end up mostly just watching TV.

I think another factor is the kind of books I tend to bring with me. Partly, I base my decision on the format of the book, so I avoid too many hardcovers since they are too heavy and too big to fit multiple in my bags. I don’t like to bring YA books with me since I tend to get through them too quickly. One of the struggles for me is when it comes to books I have in mind for my challenges that I feel like I need a little push to actually pick up. On the one hand, if it’s one of the only books I have available at the time, I’ll have no choice but to give it a chance. On the other hand, I want to enjoy what I’m reading and I don’t want to to feel stuck with a book I’m not liking. I usually end up reading only half of what I bring with me on any trip, but I know that if I didn’t bring more, I would feel almost unprepared.

Advertisements

Top 5 Wednesdays: Freebie – Top 5 Sci-Fi or Fantasy Books On Your TBR

It’s been surprisingly difficult to pick topics each week, when left to choose our own! I spent a very long time browsing through all the past Top 5 Wednesday topics, including those I’ve done before, and I really had a hard time narrowing things down to pick something. In general, I find I tend to enjoy looking forward to books I have on my TBR, sometimes more than discussing the books I’ve already read. Recently, most of the additions to my TBR tend to be either contemporary or thrillers, but I also really enjoy fantasy and I’ve started to branch out a bit more often with sci-fi. For this week’s topic, I decided to repeat one that I last did in April 2017, and find some of the fantasy or sci-fi books that I’ve added to my TBR.

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

1) Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

31423196The main reason I added this to my TBR is because I found an ARC copy of the sequel, Defy the Worlds, at my library book sale and mistakenly thought it was the first in the series. I took it home and even added Defy the Stars to my TBR, and only realized this minute that it was the wrong book! I haven’t read any books by Claudia Gray although I’ve heard her Firebird trilogy is pretty good. I’ve always been on the fence about adding that series to my TBR because I wasn’t sure how much I would like it. Defy the Stars is about a soldier named Noemi who is forced to work with her enemy, Abel, an advanced robot, to stop a long-running war. Honestly, I’ve never been a huge fan of space journey books, but this one sounds pretty interesting. I tend to find robots pretty interesting characters, and although space isn’t my favourite setting, I’m willing to give this one a chance.

2) Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

25733990I added this book to my TBR after seeing it in a recommendations video by Emily Fox, and especially after seeing it compared to Illuminae! This book is about a physicist named Rose who is hired to find the metal remains of a Giant who may have been created by aliens, and whose parts are scattered around the world. Like Illuminae, it is told in the form of journals, interviews, and other kinds of documents. I’m pretty much a sucker for books told in this kind of unusual format, so that alone was enough to spark my interest. This book has been out since 2016, and although I had heard about it a couple of times before, it never really caught my attention until very recently. I think it probably helped that I loved Illuminae (and currently have the next two books waiting for me in my library pile!), so that really opened my mind to more sci-fi in general.

3) The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

23592175I actually intended to read this book last year for one of my reading challenges, but ended up losing interest and replacing it with something else before even giving it a chance. It is about a girl named Faith who seems to be a “proper young lady” but also knows that her family had to move because her father, a scientist, had to run away from a scandal. She also knows that when her father was soon found dead, he was actually murdered. While going through his things, Faith discovers a tree that only grows fruit when she tells it a lie, and eating the fruit delivers the truth. Faith decides to use the tree to help uncover what really happened to her father. In all honesty, I don’t think I had any idea what the book was about when I put it on my list for a previous challenge, which is why I was quick to abandon it. The plot actually sounds very interesting and I’m curious to find out more about how that tree works.

4) The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

35297394This book is a new release that just came out in early March. it is about a cursed town called Sparrow, where three sisters were sentenced to death by drowning for being witches, and they return each summer to steal the bodies of three girls as revenge by luring and drowning boys. The book focuses on a 17-year-old girl named Penny who has accepted the town’s fate, and a new boy named Bo Carter who arrives to Sparrow not knowing about the dangers he may be facing. This sounds like such an interesting storyline, and I tend to love stories involving witches (although I haven’t actually read too many of them!). This book seems like it will probably be pretty romance-heavy, but I don’t mind that as long as it is done well. So far, the reviews have generally been quite good so I’m excited to eventually give this one a chance.

5) Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

35707056I’d seen this book mentioned for a couple of months already, although it just came out last week. I overlooked it for a long time because I assumed it was about zombies, and this is not something I generally read. I finally decided to look into it after seeing some rave reviews for it on Youtube, and by several of the Goodreads reviewers that I follow. This book is about a girl named Mila, whose best friend and two other mean girls die under suspicious circumstances which is passed off as a suicide pact. Refusing to believe that her friend would do that, Mila casts a spell to bring the three girls back to life, but they have only seven days to uncover what happened before they return to their graves. I guess technically this one really is about zombie-type characters, but it sounds a lot more interesting than I expected! It sounds like such an original concept for a story, and I’m very interested to see how it plays out.

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books I Disliked but I’m Glad I Read

When I first saw this week’s topic, I initially thought I didn’t have too many books that I didn’t enjoy. As I started going through my Goodreads list, it reminded me of quite a few books that I’d read over the years that I didn’t like as much as I expected.  Or, it seemed like I had already discussed many of the books I didn’t love so much (ie. The Underground Railroad) many times in the past. In most cases, I didn’t outright hate these books and I’ve actually read very few books in general where I couldn’t find at least something I liked about it. It definitely seems like one common thread with these books are that I had to read them for school, or that I read them when I was well outside the target age range. Many of them are still books that I’m glad I tried because I’d been meaning to read them for so long, or because they are such iconic classics.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

27712I have tried to read this book at least two or three times over the years, and could never get into it! I first read it when I was in elementary school because I found it in the library and it looked amazing! The book is about a boy named Bastian Balthazar Bux who is on the run from bullies when he discovers a mysterious book that draws him into a world called Fantastica. This sets him on a quest to save the land by helping the warrior Atreyu cure the Childlike Empress. I remember finding the story pretty confusing when I first read it, and I developed such a mental block for it that I’ve never been able to get into it ever since. I’m glad I tried it because it is such a children’s classic, but I definitely didn’t love it as much as everyone else seems to. I’m a little tempted to try it again at some point, but I have so many other books on my TBR that it doesn’t seem very likely.

2) The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

96063This is a book I was expecting to absolutely love, and ended up finding it pretty mediocre, although it is another one that I think needs a second chance. This book is about a man named Lou Arrendale who has high-functioning autism, who becomes eligible for an experimental treatment that will reverse the effects of autism. This book is along the same lines of Flowers for Algernon (which I would also love to re-read because I didn’t like it as much as I expected), raising questions of what makes Lou the person that he is. I was very interested in reading this book because I work with adults who have autism, so the storyline for this one seemed especially intriguing. I definitely didn’t hate this book, but it didn’t interest me nearly as much as I hoped it would. I think part of the problem is I went into this one not quite in the mood to read it, so I think it will be worth trying again at some point.

3) Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

3685This is another book that I developed a mental block for when I was younger. I tried to read it a couple of times when I was in elementary school, but always when I was home sick. I distinctly remember trying to read this when I was lying on the couch with a bad flu, and it just made no sense to me at all at the time. I ended up putting it down, and picking it up another time when I was home sick and had no better luck. I finally forced myself to finish it my first year of university, by which point I’d decided it was ridiculous that I had never read the whole thing. I liked the overall message of the book about how animals should be treated, but I found the story a little boring. At the time I first tried to read it, I was absolutely obsessed with animal stories and I feel like I probably would have liked it a lot more if I had read it properly then. I’m glad I read it because it took so many tries!

4) Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

297I think I’ve mentioned this before, but for some reason I always have trouble getting into books that are set at sea. I’ve tried this book twice, and I couldn’t really get into it either time. One of the times I read it was for my children’s literature class in university, and I can’t remember what made me decide to revisit it. This book is a classic about a young boy named Jim Hawkins who finds a map and a logbook in a chest belonging to an old sea captain, which leads him on an adventure involving pirates and a search for buried treasure. To be fair, I went into this book not really expecting to enjoy it much since it was not really the kind of story I would be interested in, but I was required to read it for my class. I think I tried it again a second time because I knew it was such a classic and often have better luck with books when I read them on my own, and not when forced to for school. Unfortunately, I still found this one pretty boring and hard to follow. I’m glad I read it because it’s such a classic, but I didn’t enjoy it much at all!

5) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein

5907Let me just clarify upfront that I did not hate this, I just didn’t love it either. I had to read this book twice for school, once in 8th grade, and again for my children’s lit class in university. I really, really wanted to love this book, but I just found it so slow! It probably doesn’t help that my impressions of this book were completely tied up with my impressions of the LOTR movie series. My school actually took us on a field trip to see at least one of the movies, and I ultimately ended up watching all of them despite the fact that I didn’t really love them either. During one of the movies, I came down with a very bad cold so that completely ruined the experience since I was so congested and practically falling asleep. It was also really hard for me to have patience for 3 hour movies when I was 12, and by the time the others came out, I already had the idea in mind that I wasn’t so into it. One thing I really liked about The Hobbit is that it made the first movie make so much more sense to me, but I found the reading experience pretty dry. The world-building was incredible and the characters were interesting, but I got bored both times I tried it! I’m glad I read it and tried it for myself, and I will probably (eventually) try the rest of the LOTR books, but I definitely didn’t like it as much as I hoped to.

6) Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

37732I’ve pretty much just concluded that I don’t connect with Judy Blume’s writing in general. I was never very interested in her books when I was younger, and hardly picked up any of them. I think the only book of hers I really enjoyed was the picture book The Pain and the Great One. I had to read Forever for my children’s lit class, and didn’t really care for it much, and I decided to try Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret after hearing about it absolutely everywhere for years as an iconic children’s classic, especially for girls. The book is about a sixth-grade student named Margaret who is trying to explore religion because she’s grown up in an interfaith household, and at the same time she confronts issues of puberty. I’m sure a big reason I couldn’t connect with this one is because I was way too old for it at the time, but I honestly don’t think I would have liked it very much when I was a preteen either but I probably would have enjoyed it a little more. Both this book and Forever should be commended for being very realistic and not shying away from the awkwardness of being a teenager, but unfortunately for me, it was not particularly interesting or fun to read.

7) The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

5139Despite having no interest in fashion whatsoever, I absolutely loved the movie version of The Devil Wears Prada, although that may be primarily because of Meryl Streep. I decided to pick up this book because I wanted to see how it compared to the movie, and unfortunately I didn’t like it at all! The fashion component was obviously a huge part of the plot, but for me it worked a lot better on the screen than on the page. I got very bored reading the descriptions of every piece of clothing, and I found the main character a lot more irritating than I did in the movie version. Honestly, I probably would not have read this at all if it hadn’t been for the movie. It was one of a few books that I decided to bring with me to read between classes in university, and considering this is not a particularly long or difficult book, it took me an unexpectedly long time to get through because I just wasn’t motivated to pick it up at all. I’m glad I read it because it means I wouldn’t have to wonder how the book compared to the movie, but unfortunately for me it completely lacked the same appeal.

8) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

4900This one is purely about the bragging rights. I had to read this for an elective course I took about European history in my second or third year of university, which covered a wide variety of topics including art, culture, and a lot more. This book was required reading for a section about colonialism and European expansion, and I did not enjoy it at all! The book is about a sailor named Marlow, who is journeying up the Congo River to meet Kurtz, a man who seems to be both a prisoner but also a god figure to the natives. Marlow sees the native inhabitants of the land who have been forced to work for The Company, and are treated with cruelty and are dying. I didn’t understand the story very well when I read it at the time, and I have so little memory of it ever since that it’s hard to even give my impressions of it. I actually knew the overall plot from other TV series that did versions of it, but the book itself is one I’m glad I read simply for the bragging rights of being able to say I read the original.

9) In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje

5946This is another “bragging rights” case, since I did not enjoy this book at all. I was forced to read this book in my final year of high school, which was by far one of the most stressful years of my life for personal reasons as well as the fact that I had the most strict English teacher I’d ever had! This book was my first encounter with a non-linear story, and I just didn’t get it at all at the time. I’m sure a big factor was because I had so much else going on at the time, and my teacher wasn’t exactly helpful. She was obsessed with this book and very passionate about it, but I can’t remember her explaining it very well. It was one of those assignments where it was mostly left to the class to discuss the book and figure it out together, but my class were all confused and struggling with this one, so it was pretty unhelpful. I did not enjoy the experience of reading this one, and I remember so little of the story because it all completely confused me. I honestly couldn’t even describe what the book is about at all! I’m glad I read it because it meant I survived that class and for the bragging rights, but I didn’t like it at all!

10) Stolen: A Letter to my Captor by Lucy Christopher or Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

64088627600924I didn’t hate either of these books, and I ultimately ended up rating both of them 4 stars. I had been meaning to read both of these books for several years before I finally got around to them last year because they were so popular, and because they both addressed some controversial topics. Stolen is about a teenage girl who is kidnapped and held captive, but begins to develop feelings for the young man who took her, and Forbidden is about an incestuous relationship that develops between two teenage siblings who have always acted as the adults in their household due to  an alcoholic single mother. Neither of these are spoilers, since they are revealed in the synopsis for the books. In both cases, I enjoyed the book to some extent but definitely did not see why everyone was absolutely raving about them.

Library Book Sale Book Haul!

This is my first ever book haul post here (although I have posted a few on my Instagram page). Unless I’m ordering from Book Outlet, I rarely get enough books at a time to make a haul seem worthwhile. For two weekends in a row now, I happened to go to my library and picked up quite a few books at their book sale. My library is closing for renovations this summer, and are essentially doing a mass unhaul of their own to try to clear as much space as possible. I went in not expecting very much, and over the course of two visits, left with a total of about 20 new books! I used to be absolutely obsessed with library book sales and went every year, to the point where my room was packed with books that I ended up never reading. It’s really, really hard for me to part with books, especially when they are in good condition, and I always end up convincing myself that I might eventually read them, even if they have been on my shelf literally for years untouched. Here are the books that I picked up:

1) Group 1: Books that I’ve Already Read and Enjoyed

These are books that I’ve already read over the past couple of years as part of my reading challenges and that I really enjoyed. Some of them are books I would not necessarily want to spend a lot of money on, but when the sale offers a bag of books for $2, it’s too good a deal to pass up!

20180513_175227[1].jpg

2) Group 2: ARCS 

These books were technically not part of the book sale itself, but they are available in the staff room for the staff to take. My mom works at the library and I happened to be there with her one day, so she told me to take a look and grab what I wanted. They had already been sitting there for about a week, so it seemed no one else wanted them. I got these 5 books completely for free!

20180513_175414[1].jpg

Group 3: Random Others

I found the rest of these just by browsing the shelves, and was lucky enough to come across quite a few that were on my TBR. I think the best find I had would have to be My Best Friend’s Exorcism, which seems to be brand new! To be honest, most of these books are pretty low priority, and I think a couple of them weren’t even on my TBR at all yet, but seemed very interesting. It will probably help to have a stack of books as backup for when my library is closed, especially since I still have a few challenge prompts left that I have nothing chosen yet.

20180513_175715[1].jpg

Top 5 Wednesdays: Freebie – 5 More Books I Bought Recently From Book Outlet

Earlier this year, Top 5 Wednesdays gave some room for a Freebie topic, which I used to discuss some of the books (found here) I’d recently bought in a Book Outlet haul. This month, Top 5 Wednesdays has opened up to a full month of free choice topics. Ideally, I was planning on picking from the backlog of topics that had been used before I started blogging, but there was an absolutely overwhelming amount to choose from! Instead, I decided that since I recently had a huge Book Outlet haul, it was a good time to mentioned a few of the books that I picked up. This was my third (and biggest yet!) order from Book Outlet and I was again impressed with the general quality of the books I received. There were one or two books that were a tiny bit more banged up than I would have liked, especially considering I purposely pick from the “Bargain Books” section, where damage is less likely. Despite some minor wear and tear, the books all arrived in great condition and I’m so excited to have my own copies of many of these! One small complaint — this is the second time in a row now that I’ve forgotten the same book from my order! Below are just 5 of the 20 or so books that I got.

Once again, I would like to give a disclaimer that this post is in no way sponsored by or associated with Book Outlet. I am merely commenting on my own experiences with them.

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) Confessions by Kanae Minato

19161835I bought this one almost completely on a whim because it was only about $4. Although this book has been on my TBR since 2016, it was pretty low on my priority list. I noticed that while going through my wishlist to pick what I wanted to order, I kept coming back to this one and ended up deciding just to throw it in. This book is set in Japan, focusing on a middle school teacher whose 4-year-old was killed in an accident involving some of her students, causing her to take revenge. This is definitely a book that is outside my comfort zone. Although I love thrillers, this one seems to go a bit beyond the typical thriller, especially since the main character is targeting schoolchildren. This book has received excellent ratings on Goodreads so far, and it just sounds really creepy!

2) Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

8922184This was by far the most expensive of the books I picked this time, at almost $9! Normally, I try to spend no more than $5 per book on Book Outlet, but I made an exception for this one since I’d wanted to read it for a long time and it was hard to find otherwise. Plus, with the deal that was on, I essentially got this one for free. This book is about a high school student named Abby who has been chatting online with a guy named Luke, who is not what he says he is, and Abby goes missing after meeting up with him. I’m always a little wary with these kinds of storylines by now because I almost feel like we have generally moved past this to a much wider range of stories about online friendships. This book is from 2011 though, so it’s not too surprising that it is still part of the “online predator” trend. As I’ve mentioned before, I think online safety is absolutely essential and it is all too easy for people to fall into the trap of thinking they know someone when they really don’t. I read another book with a similar storyline earlier this year, and may fit this one into my reading challenges as well, so it will be interesting to see how the two compare.

3) The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

37653503I’m realizing now that this order seemed to be a bit thriller-heavy, or at least darker plots, but I did add in a couple of other genres to balance things out. The Knockoff is another book that is kind of outside my comfort zone since I have zero interest in fashion or the fashion industry, but this book just seemed like so much fun! It is about a woman named Imogen who works for a magazine called Glossy, who returns to work after 6 months away to find her younger former assistant now in charge, and eager to update the company for the digital age. This book has been compared to The Devil Wears Prada. I loved that movie but hated the book, so I’m hoping I have better luck with this one. It seems like this book will focus more on the generation gap and technology instead of fashion, so it sounds like something I would like better.

4) The Good Neighbour by Amy Sue Nathan

23848035I only discovered this book at the end of 2017, although it has been out since 2015 already. This book is about a newly single mom named Izzy who moves back to her childhood neighbourhood with her 5-year-old son, and makes friends with the elderly Mrs. Feldman next door. When her ex shows up with his new girlfriend, Izzy decides to invent a boyfriend and blog about him, which becomes complicated when her blog suddenly becomes popular and she has the chance to become an online dating expert. Izzy soon realizes that telling the truth now can ruin everything, and Mrs. Feldman decides to step in and show her just how much of a problem lies can be. I’ve mentioned before how much I tend to love stories that focus on social media, but in my experience, most of these tend to be YA books. I think it would be really interesting to read this from an adult perspective, although I’m still a little confused about how Mrs. Feldman fits in. It sounds like another one that will be fun.

5) Violent Ends by multiple authors

23341259This book is unique in the sense that it is co-written by 17 different YA authors, as an anthology of short stories that all work together to tell one story. The book is about a student named Kirby Matheson who perpetrated a school shooting, with each chapter by a different author giving the perspective of a different character. If I’m completely honest, I had no idea that this was how the book was set up when I added it to my TBR or when I bought it. I’m sure at some point in between I’d noticed the list of author names, but clearly it wasn’t memorable enough at the time to leave an impression. I’m not usually a fan of anthologies, but this one is very interesting because of how all of the stories should come together to show who the shooter was and how he got to that point. I’m a little worried that this book will be a case of “too many cooks in the kitchen” but it has received excellent reviews so far from most of the reviewers I follow and on Goodreads in general. It definitely seems like a unique approach to the story and I’m interested to see how it works.

 

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books with Your Favourite Colour on the Cover

I was a little surprised by this week’s topic since I think this is the first Top 10 Tuesday so far where I really felt that only pictures of the books were necessary. I know some bloggers usually just include the cover and maybe a synopsis each time, but I generally prefer to comment a little about the books I’m picking, especially if it’s a book I’ve read since I don’t write reviews otherwise. This week’s topic was a nice change because it was one where it really seemed that the cover art alone should be front and center. My favourite colours are purple and blue, but I decided to go with purple because that seemed a tiny bit less common than books with blue covers.  I chose books just by browsing through my Goodreads list and finding the most interesting covers possible! These are all books that are on my TBR, and are in no particular order.

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.

 

From top to bottom, left to right:

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
Because You Love To Hate Me edited by Ameriie
Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
If I Could Turn Back Time by Nicola Doherty
Questions I Want to Ask You by Michelle Falkoff
The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
When Light Left Us by Leah Thomas

 

Monthly Recommendations: Books the Internet Made Me Read

Technically, this month’s topic is supposed to be books that you picked up because of BookTube, but I found many of these books through blogs and Goodreads groups as well. Also, I have a completely irrational hatred of the word “Booktube,” and I have no idea why. Honestly, it was a bit of a struggle to come up with this list because many of the books that immediately came to mind were books that I’ve already recommended many times before. In fact, the majority of them were part of my first every Monthly Recommendations post (here) and it was tough to think of others. Many of the channels I follow are much more up-to-date than I am with new releases, so I would have a much easier time with “books I added to my TBR because of the internet” than books I actually read! Here are just a few of the books I discovered online, and I’m so glad I gave them the chance.

Monthly Recommendations is a Goodreads group created by Kayla Rayne and Trina from Between Chapters. Monthly topics cane be found on the Goodreads page here

1) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

29995315This was a series that the internet initially put me off, but eventually persuaded me to read. This series was absolutely everywhere, and every channel I watched or blog I read was raving about how amazing it was. I first heard about it when I was in a phase where I was still pretty burnt out on dystopians, and this one was definitely more sci-fi than I usually read. It finally got to the point where I broke down and just had to see what all the hype was about, and I’m so glad I did! The series features retellings of classic fairy tales with a sci-fi/fantasy twist. I found Cinder a tiny bit predictable but it still managed to get me hooked and this was one of the first series that I really prioritized finishing. I haven’t read any of the “between the numbers” stories from this one yet, but I would highly recommend the main series at least.

2) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

11870085I have yet to find a John Green book that I loved enough to give a full 5 stars, but this one definitely came the closest. I started hearing about this book a lot around the time that the movie came out, and I think I actually ended up seeing the movie version first. For those who don’t know, this book is about two teenagers, Hazel and Augustus, who meet at a support group for teens who have cancer, and the relationship that develops between them. It’s a pretty sappy story, and it is one I might not have picked up without all the hype. Like most John Green books, the characters do not really seem like typical teenagers, but in this case I think it worked. It wouldn’t surprise me for people going through a major medical condition like cancer to grow up quickly and come across more mature than would be expected for their age. I enjoyed this book a lot more than I expected to.

3) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

a_monster_callsWhile the Fault in Our Stars was sad, this book genuinely made me cry! I was literally in tears by the end of this book, and it is one of the books that has stuck with me the most out of everything I’ve read for my reading challenges so far. This book is about a 13-year-old boy named Conor who wakes up every night to find a monster outside his window, who will tell Conor three stories in exchange for the one secret that Conor refuses to tell anyone. This book is absolutely heartbreaking, and much too intense for children! The original copy that I read had amazingly dark and creepy illustrations that added so much to the story, and I was shocked to find that not all editions of the book have them! I have yet to buy a copy of my own because I can’t find the right edition anywhere. This is by far one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read, and I devoured the entire thing in one sitting.

4) I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

20820994This is another book that I might have overlooked if it wasn’t for all the online hype. It is about Jude and Noah, fraternal twins who are now barely speaking to each other after an event that has changed them both. The story is told from the perspectives of both twins, with Jude narrating the present and Noah narrating the past. I went into this one not necessarily expecting very much, and I ended up loving it. The writing style does take a bit of getting used to, especially in Noah’s sections since  he tends to use a lot of odd metaphors (ie. “Jude barfs bright blue fluorescent barf all over the table, but I’m the only one who notices”) which can be a little off-putting. The book definitely felt a lot more complex and deeper than your average YA story, and there was also quite a focus on art since both twins are artist. It’s been just over 2 years since I read this so it’s hard to discuss it in detail, but I remember loving it a lot more than I expected and I wouldn’t have even picked it up if it wasn’t for the online hype.

5) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

17675462I have only read the first book in this series so far, but I was absolutely blown away by it! This was one of several series that seemed to be absolutely everywhere, and that I avoided for a long time because I thought it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype. I was very impressed to find that when I finally did give it a chance, it drew me in almost the same way that Harry Potter did. More than anything, it was the character dynamics that drew me in. The plot is a little complicated to explain without going into too much detail, and although it was a tiny bit confusing at first, the writing style and the characters immediately won me over. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the rest of this series, which I’m currently saving for the upcoming months when my library is closing for renovations! Along with the Lunar Chronicles, this was the book that convinced me that I might need to start listening to the online hype a little more.

6) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

16096824This is another series that I avoided for a long time but finally decided to try because of all the online hype. I’ve only read the first book so far, but I’m looking forward to reading the rest. This series is a loose Beauty and the Beast retelling, about a girl named Feyre who is taken away to live in a magical kingdom as punishment for accidentally killing a faerie. Honestly, when I first started this book I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy it. I liked the writing style but I found it a little slow to get started, but once it took off (especially after Rhysand was introduced) it was amazing! This quickly became one of my favourite books of the year, and I thought it was a very interesting story with some great characters. Once the book took off in the second half, I knew I had to continue with the series! I’m so glad I decided to listen to the hype and give this a fair chance.

7) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

32075671I was absolutely convinced that this book could not possibly live up to all the hype, and I was worried that most of the attention had to do with the subject matter than the story itself. As soon as I picked it up, I was drawn into the story. This book is about a 16-year-old girl named Starr Carter whose childhood best friend, Khalil, is killed at the hands of a police officer. What was most interesting for me about this book was how it explored how Khalil was treated after his death, including attempts to blame him for what happened. Starr is one of the strongest YA protagonists I’ve read in the past few years, and this is such a powerful story. I was very impressed with the writing style and the depth of the characters, and I really think this book deserved the hype that it got!