Top 5 Wednesdays: Nostalgic Book Crushes

I made a post on a similar topic for my Top 10 Tuesdays recently, about my top 10 book boyfriends (post here, for anyone interested). Just like I mentioned for that post, this topic is a real struggle for me because I don’t really get crushes on fictional characters. I remember in seventh grade, a close friend of mine (at the time) going on and on about the two main characters from Death Note and how “hot” they were, and I found it really strange since not only were they not real, but they were animated characters so how would she know what they actually look like?

It’s still very difficult for me to come up with characters who might have been crushes, or whatever the closest equivalent to that might be. I’m also not feeling so well, so my usual patience for searching for good options is pretty limited this time. I’ve also challenged myself to limit it to just books, since including TV or movie characters would be a little too easy.

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) Peter from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)

As I mentioned in my Book Boyfriends post, Peter was one of the first characters that I might be able to legitimately consider a crush. I read the book when I was about 8 the first time, and Peter seemed so mature, even though he was probably no more than 13. I loved his maturity and how protective he was of his siblings, and a great leader. For some reason, one of the most memorable parts of the book to me is when Peter learns to use his sword for the first time because at the time, I thought it made him seem so brave and grown-up.

2) Laurie from Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

This is another repeat from my previous post, but it’s another of the only characters that I would truly consider a potential crush. I read versions of Little Women from the time I was in third or fourth grade, until eventually reading the full version closer to high school. I loved Laurie’s interactions with Jo, but also the way he was so kind and friendly toward the whole family. I loved his passion, although his impulsivity could be frustrating at times. He was a very charming character and I loved his devotion to the people he cared about.

3) Dickon Sowerby from The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)

I was actually familiar with this character from a cartoon version of the movie long before I read the book, so it was again around the time I was 8 or 9 years old. I read the full version of the book toward the end of elementary school/early high school, but the story was the same. I liked Dickon because of his kindness to animals, since I was first exposed to the character around the same time that I was interested in becoming a vet. I loved his patience and the way animals just naturally flocked to him. I also loved the way he just seemed like such a genuinely nice and sweet person.

4) Mike Harris from The Guardian (Nicholas Sparks)

I used to be so obsessed with this book! Actually, with many of Nicholas Sparks books, and while I still enjoy them, he is not really my favourite author anymore. This book is about a woman named Julie who has begun dating again after her husband passed away. She ends up dating the sophisticated Richard, but also develops feelings for her husband’s best friend Mike. I loved Mike because he seemed like such a normal, down-to-earth kind of guy, and the type I think a lot of people could imagine settling down with. I loved how the book contrasted him to Richard, who went out of his way to impress Julie, but her relationship with Mike just flowed so naturally. He was another very sweet and realistic character, and a big part of why I liked the book so much.

5) Logan Bruno from The Babysitter’s Club (Ann M. Martin)

This is probably the most embarrassing one on this list, and one that was very short-lived. I was absolutely obsessed with this series all through elementary school, and when I first read the books when I was about 7 or 8, I thought the girls were so mature! I initially loved the storyline about shy Mary Anne, who I strongly related to, getting her first boyfriend and I thought their relationship was really cute in the beginning. My interest in Logan died out pretty quickly when his character ended up being pretty controlling, but he is another one I remember having some interest in at the time.


Top 10 Tuesdays: Ten Books You Want Your Future Children to Read

Books and reading have always been a huge part of my life, and I would hope it would be the same in the future for any children that I might have. I have no intention of having children any time soon, but it was definitely fun to look back on some of my favourite books and think about which ones that I would like to share. There are so many great children’s books with wonderful messages, and surprisingly many of them seem to have aged quite well so far. When I think of books I would want my children to read, I tend to think of those that really stuck with me long after I read them, or those that were just the most fun!

My biggest struggle with this list was coming up with only 10 books. Instead, I cheated a bit and I included a mix of 10 books and 10 authors or series that I would want to share.

Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

1) Horton Hears a Who! (and many others) by Dr. Seuss

816484There is a good reason that Dr. Seuss has become such a classic children’s author. His books are bizarre, but they are so much fun for children to read and there are many that I would love to share. In particular, the first that came to mind was Horton Hears a Who! which is the story of an elephant who discovers a tiny group of people called Whos living on a clover, and tries to protect them from the other animals who don’t believe they are real. I adored the classic line “A person’s a person, no matter how small” because I think it is such a strong message. I would also love to share Green Eggs and Ham, The Grinch, and the Cat in the Hat books.

2) Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse/Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes

82508120692I’m not sure how well-known this author is, but his books are amazing. I even re-read both of these as an adult, and loved them just as much. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is about a young Kindergarten student who gets angry at her teacher for confiscating her new purse because she was so distracted by it during class, and Chester’s Way is about two friends who have a specific way they like to do things, whose lives are changed when they meet a new friend (the same Lilly, actually) with her own new ways. I think both of these books contain great messages that are so relevant for children, and the illustration style is just adorable! I love how the books take on bigger topics such as anger management and anxiety about change in a kid-friendly way.

3) The Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain

1129297I have to admit it still bothers me to spell the name “Berenstain” after spending a lifetime convinced it was Berenstein. This series was one of my favourites when I was growing up, and I loved to collect the original picture books. This series covered such a range of topics the children may encounter in their daily lives and give strong positive messages about how to handle these situations without coming across as overly preachy or judgmental. Some of my favourite books in the series covered topics such as telling the truth, avoiding “the gimmes” (greed), healthy eating, manners, and responsbility, while also tackling realistic situations such as starting school, having a new baby in the family, and relationships with other family members. I also liked how these books were written at a bit more advanced level, so it did not feel like it was talking down to children. I would love to be able to share this series with my future children!

4) Odd Duck by Cecil Castelucci

16002008I’ve mentioned this book a few times before over several blog posts, but it is one that I think deserves to be shared. This book is about the friendship between two ducks, Chad and Theodora, who each believe they are normal and the other is a little weird. I think this book brings up a great message about how “normal” is relative and the importance of accepting our friends as they are. I loved how both ducks were comfortable enough with themselves to do things their own way, even when that way was a little different from others. It also shows the importance of standing up for our friends and not letting others bully people who are a little unusual. I didn’t discover this book until I was an adult, but it’s amazing!

5) The Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer

1342091This was another series that was such a huge part of my childhood, and I could not pick just one! Some of my favourites are Just For You, Me Too!, and I Was So Mad. This book is pretty similar to the Berenstain Bears, but geared toward a younger audience. The illustrations are just adorable, and the stories are short and easy for kids to read, but with great messages. The characters in this book are very young, and the stories are very age-appropriate. I think these would be great books to read to children when they are very young because they would relate to many of Critter’s experiences.

6) The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper

1918938Even though this was one of my favourite books as a child, I never knew who it was by until just now.  This book is about a small train who has to make its way up a huge hill. When all the bigger engines refuse to help pull the train up, it is left to make its way alone, chanting to itself “I think I can!” It is a very short book, but I love the message about the importance of believing in yourself and the power of positive thinking. I think it would be such a great message to share with children which they can draw on when faced with challenges. I also loved the cute illustrations in this book, and although it was not one that came to mind immediately, it is definitely a book I’d love to share.

7) Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

24178This was one of the first books I remember falling in love with at school, and there is a good reason that this has become such a classic. It is about a pig named Wilbur who lives on a farm where he is at risk of being killed and eaten by the farmer. Wilbur makes friends with a spider named Charlotte who devotes herself to saving Wilbur’s life by writing positive words about him on her web to show what an important friend he is. It is such an odd-sounding story if you really think about it, but it is a very strong and meaningful book to actually read. This was one of my first favourite “real” books, and it is one that I can still re-read over and over.

8) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

140212This was another of my earliest favourites, and although I haven’t completed the whole series, I think this book on its own is strong enough that I would want to share it. This book is about four children who visit a magical world called Narnia which is cursed to be eternally winter by the White Witch. This was the first real fantasy book I ever read, and I fell in love with it immediately. I would love to share this one with my own children someday because of how well it captures the characters’ sense of wonder as they discover Narnia and the unusual beings who live there. I think this book can even work well as a standalone, since I have re-read this one many times but never tried most of the rest of the series.

9) A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

65113I was considering putting a Roald Dahl book on this list for the same reasons as Lemony Snicket, but I feel like this series has aged a bit better. I first started reading this series when I was about 12, and it drew me in so quickly. Like Roald Dahl’s books, I loved how Lemony Snicket treated children as capable and mature people, and avoided talking down to them. In fact, these books use quite a bit of complex vocabulary (with helpful and often hilarious explanations), and the story can get quite dark. The series is about three siblings who are orphaned when their parents die in a large fire. Left an enormous fortune that they will inherit when the eldest comes of age, the children are shuffled from relative to relative to find a place to live, and avoid the horrible Count Olaf who is after their money. These books are the perfect balance of humour, action and interesting characters. I had a lot of fun reading them, and I would hope my future children would feel the same!

10) The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

8Of course, I have to end with the obvious choice here. I basically grew up with Harry and all of his adventures, and it still remains one of the best written series I have ever read. A huge part of the appeal of this series for me is how it naturally grows with the character, and with the reader if they are around the same age. The series seems to start out as a fairly typical fantasy book about a young boy who discovers he is a wizard, but starts to build and grow into a much darker and more complex world. The characters are incredible, the world-building is amazing, and it is a story that has something that could appeal to just about everyone. It is definitely a series I would want to share!

The End Of Year Book Tag

It’s hard to believe we’re already so close to the end of the year! It definitely means I have my work cut out for me trying to finish off my challenges in time, but things are going pretty well so far. I’ve spent quite a while today starting to really focus on putting together my list of options for next year’s challenges as well. Nothing I’m picking right now is set in stone, but since I use the library to get the vast majority of my books, it’s good to have them at least partially planned in advance. I saw this tag earlier today on Regan’s channel ThePeruseProject (video here), which inspired me to try the tag for myself. I’ve only just learned that the tag was originated by Ariel Bissett (here), and it seems like a good way to start wrapping up the year.

1) Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

7600924Not really, since I only read one book at a time. I guess technically, I’m still in the middle of Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma, but it’s not like it was a book I picked up and then abandoned. I’m actually expecting to be finished with it by the end of the day today. And I have to say, given the subject matter, I wasn’t really expecting to like it very much but it is quite well-done. The book is about a pair of siblings who have never really seen each other as just brother and sister, since they have taken over parenting their younger siblings to step in for their alcoholic mother. As teenagers, they fall in love with each other, a storyline I expected to hate. I decided to pick this book up in the first place because I’d seen so many reviews going on about how good it is despite the incest angle, so I was curious how that was possible.

2) Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

28449150I don’t have one specific book that I read ever autumn or anything like that, but over the past few years, I tend to read more creepy, Halloweenish books around the start of October. This year, the main book that I really felt like was my transition to the Halloween season was And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich, which I read toward the end of the first week of October. Last year, it was The Night Circus at the beginning of October, and The Thirteenth Tale just before Halloween. I wouldn’t necessarily consider any of these autumnal, but they definitely get me in the Halloween spirit…which is ironic, since I don’t actually do anything for Halloween anymore.

3) Is there a new release you are still waiting for?

33413929Is it bad that I’ve already started adding a bunch of upcoming 2018 releases to my TBR list? Of the books that are due out this year, the one I am most looking forward to is The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle. This book is due out right at the end of the year, on December 26. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s the most anticipated book I had for the year, but I’m definitely interested in reading it. It is about a girl named Lily who has ADHD, and a boy named Abelard who has Asperger’s Syndrome. They start chatting online after Abelard posts a quote from an ancient love letter, and soon fall for each other. It sounds like such a cute love story! Actually, now that I’ve looked at the synopsis again, it’s made me anticipate it even more all over again.

4) What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

281108628490112The book I want to read most by the end of the year is Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I’ve had a very good run this year of trying series that I thought were overhyped, and ended up loving all of them! Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the last remaining new series that I intended to try, and I’m hoping to get to it pretty soon. Another book that I’m really looking forward to is Wrecked by Maria Padian, which ironically enough, was one of the first books I’d decided I wanted to read this year, and somehow ended up being one of the last I will actually read. I don’t really have a third one that I want to read on the same level as those two, but if I had to pick one (no picture, unfortunately, since I couldn’t figure out how to make the layout work), I would say Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, because I absolutely adored the Agatha Christie book I read last year!

5) Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

28220826Possibly When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore. I like magical realism, but it is not a genre I read very often because I sometimes find the books confusing. Unless the magical elements are handled very well, I have trouble getting immersed in the story. It’s another book that I decided very early on that I wanted to try, but somehow ended up putting off until the very end. Also, the cover art on this one is just stunning! I’m expecting to like it, but I will be pleasantly surprised if it ends up becoming one of my favourites.

6) Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

Yes! I’ve committed to doing both the Around the Year challenge and the PopSugar challenge, and over this weekend I’ve started the very early stages of compiling my lists of which books I want to read. Up until now, I’ve had a bunch of books in mind that I wanted to read in, but I’ve just started the process of actually writing everything down. It really helps to see which categories I still need to fulfill, and part of the fun is always playing around with the list to see how to fit in even more books! I’d love to try the BookRiot challenge as well when it comes out, if the prompts aren’t too obnoxiously specific. It looks like that won’t be out for another month or so.

Anyone else started planning for next year yet? I’m very open to recommendations. As for the tag, I tag anyone who has not done this one  yet and would like to!

Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Problematic Favourites

I’ve written before about my issue with the term “problematic” (in a post here), and how we are sometimes very quick to label books or characters as problematic. When I first saw this week’s topic, I was a bit stuck on which books to write about. There seems to be an assumption that as soon as a book or character is labelled problematic, we should immediately write them off and feel guilty for liking them. I completely disagree with this. I don’t think there is anything wrong with reading books and being entertained by them or about liking certain characters who may be problematic, as long as we recognize and acknowledge that there might be problems with them. As readers, it is our job to be critical and think about what we are reading, not just take it all at face value.

Some of my favourite characters are the most complex and possibly problematic. For example, Loki was one of the best parts of the Thor/Avengers movies. I’ve also always been a huge fan of Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who has definitely had many problematic moments, but also shows a lot of loyalty to those he cares about. These kinds of characters are often the most interesting, and get some truly fascinating story arcs.

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) Will Traynor (Me Before You by JoJo Moyes)

me-before-you-jojo-moyes-cover-195x300Controversial opinion time: I don’t have a problem with the representation in this book. I understand that people take issue with Will’s attitude toward his new life following the accident that causes him to become quadriplegic. A central issue in this book is that Will wishes to go to an assisted suicide facility to end his life, which he no longer believes is worth living. Many people have complained that this book perpetuates a ableist view that disabled lives have no value, however my impression of it was very different. To me, this book was centered on the idea of choice and Will’s power to make his own decisions in his life, even when other kinds of independence were stripped away. Will was an arrogant jerk with a lot of anger, but he quickly became one of my favourite characters anyway because he was so powerfully written. I really struggle with the idea that this book puts forward the view that disability is and should be a death sentence, especially because I think the book did acknowledge and explore both sides of the topic.

2) Sirius Black (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling)

5I don’t know what it was about Sirius Black, but he became one of my favourite characters almost from the moment he was mentioned. Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite Harry Potter book, followed closely by Order of the Phoenix, both of which were very Sirius Black-heavy. When we are first introduced to Sirius, he has recently escaped Azkaban and seems to be on a mission to attack Harry. We soon learn that there is a lot more to him than we realized, and he becomes an essential part of the series.  Sirius is reckless and impulsive, but also a loyal and devoted friend. He takes his role as Harry’s godfather very seriously, but struggles not to confuse his relationship with Harry for his past friendship with James Potter. He is devoted to Dumbledore, but frustrated with being kept hidden away at home. Sirius is a very complex and interesting character, and definitely not without his problems.

3) Rhysand (A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas)

16096824I feel like I’ve been bringing this one up a lot lately, but that might just be because I read it fairly recently. While I liked the book well enough in the beginning, it really took off for me as soon as Rhysand was introduced. I have only read the first book, so I don’t know his full story arc or how his character develops later on. In the first book, Rhysand is arrogant and manipulative, but also protective of Feyre and thinks quickly to make sure she is kept safe. There is definitely a lot of problematic behaviour on his part throughout the book, including violence, lies and manipulation to get what he wants. Rhysand is by far the most interesting character in the series so far, and his horrible behaviour is only further complicated by all his work to help Feyre. I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

4) Erik (The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LeRoux)

480204This is a story that I’ve known quite well for most of my life, in a variety of versions. Even back in second grade, my best friend was absolutely obsessed with the musical and told me all about the general storyline. I had the opportunity to see the show (first the movie, and then the stage version not long after) for myself in high school and I was absolutely blown away! I soon decided to try the book, and immediately discovered that it was quite different from the musical so it threw me off. I tried it again last year, and I loved it! Erik, also known as the Phantom, is such a fascinating character but definitely a favourite. His obsession with Christine leads to a lot of violent and terrifying behaviour on his part, even going so far as to capture Christine to keep her as his bride. Despite this, especially in the movie and the play, you almost can’t help but feel sympathy for him and the difficult life he had…not that it excuses violence and kidnapping, but it is hard to hate him.

5) Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)

10210I’ve mentioned a few times that Jane Eyre is one of my favourite classics, and one that I adored almost as soon as I started reading it. Mr. Rochester was a great character and I loved his relationship with Jane, but he is definitely problematic! He comes across as very harsh and rude, and it really shouldn’t be so easy to overlook the whole ex-wife in the attic issue, yet somehow it works well enough in this book that you still root for him and Jane to get together. Mr. Rochester seems like he’s always on the border of violence and he treats Jane quite harshly at first, but the power dynamic and banter between them is so interesting to read. I think this is a book that I will need to re-read at some point soon!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders

I seem to remember writing about a similar topic back in high school. If I remember correctly, we had to pick a character and decide whether they would make a good leader based on traits we decided a good leader should have. When I first saw this week’s topic, my immediate reaction was “a great leader of what?” It’s tough for me sometimes when the topics are left this vague because my mind tends to go off in so many different directions, making it hard to tie everything together into a single post. One of the main challenges I had this time was thinking of characters who aren’t already leaders in their books, although a few of those did make it onto the list.

I also think I tend to have a different definition of leadership than most people. I’m naturally a very introverted and shy person, and I’ve spent my entire life being told that only people who are extroverted can be great leaders. I whole-heartedly disagree! Different roles require different kinds of leadership, and I think there is just as much room for people of all personality types to take the lead. For me, leadership can mean the person at the front of the room who is loud, out-going and energetic, but it can also mean a quieter person who takes control of things behind the scenes to make sure things run smoothly. Unfortunately, these kinds of leaders are often overlooked, and I think that’s an attitude that needs to change. I understand why extroversion is so easily mistaken for leadership, but I would love it people would recognize that it is one route, but not the only route.

Top 10 Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

1) Albus Dumbledore and 2) Professor McGonagall (Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling)

I kept going back and forth about which character to include, but in the end I just couldn’t decide so I made the rare decision to count two from one book series! Dumbledore is a powerful leader who perfectly fits that more introverted style that I mentioned above. Dumbledore’s leadership can mostly be seen through the genuine loyalty he has from so many supporters, and his approach is very interesting. He is quite hands-off and lets people decide for themselves as much as possible, but is willing to step in and provide guidance when needed. He is a clear authority figure without coming across as bossy or controlling. I think McGonagall also fits quite a similar role. She commands respect, and shows it in return to those who earn it from her. Most of the students at Hogwarts highly value McGonagall’s approval, and do their best to impress her.

3) Violet Baudelaire (A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket)

Although Violet is only 14 through most of the series, she shows some great leadership qualities. She is a skilled inventor, who constantly shows creativity and resourcefulness to solve problems. I don’t know of anyone else her age who could just look around at her surroundings and throw together random items to make the perfect thing to help herself and her siblings. Violet is loyal and protective of those she cares about and puts others ahead of herself whenever possible. She is not afraid to take calculated risks to meet her goals (ie. eating mints, which she is allergic to, in The Wide Window to buy her and her siblings more time), and is not afraid to ask for help. I can only imagine her leadership developing even further as she grows up.

4) Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

Katniss is essentially already a leader, but unlike other YA dystopians, she is not left completely on her own to take down a whole government. Like Violet, Katniss is loyal and protective, and will do whatever it takes to take care of the people she cares about. She has great survival skills, and is also very resourceful and quick-thinking when it comes to dealing with problems. I also really admire the way Katniss genuinely cares for the people she is taking care of. For example, she bonds quickly with Rue and comes to view her as another younger sister, but also is genuinely disturbed by all the destruction caused by the Capitol. Although she’s thrown into a difficult position where she is forced to take the lead, she grows into her role and proves over and over again how strong she is, physically and emotionally.

5) Rhysand (A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas)

To be fair, I’ve only read the first book in this series so I don’t necessarily know if Rhysand stays the same kind of character throughout the whole series. In the first book, Rhysand is charismatic and able to think quickly under pressure to get out of tough situations, but also can be quite manipulative. He is protective of Feyre and does whatever he cane to keep her safe, even though it seemed that he was set up to be a potential villain. Although he comes across as cold and arrogant, he strikes me as a much more complex character and I’m interested to see how he develops in the rest of the series.

6) Starr Carter (The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas)

I feel like this is a character who might show up on quite a few people’s lists, but Starr is a great advocate and a very strong character for someone her age. It takes a lot of courage for Starr to stand up for what she believes in and speak out against the injustice she witnesses. Not only does she speak out publicly, but she also confronts problematic attitudes among her peers, including her close friends and her own boyfriend. Even though she often knows that the person does not mean to be offensive, she does not let them get away with problematic comments or jokes. It takes a great leader to be brave enough to speak out without fear, and especially to confront those closest to us without worrying about the risk of losing them. What’s great about Starr as a leader is that she seems so real and possible, unlike other characters who are leaders in fantasy worlds.

7) Linh Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)

Like Katniss, Cinder is another character who is already a leader who grew into her role out of necessity. Linh Cinder is a talented mechanic, but also a witty and intelligent teenager who grew up under difficult circumstances and grew into a strong and loyal leader. Cinder is another character who is able to think quickly and effectively solve problems, even under pressure. She is not afraid to ask for help and makes effective use of her closest team of supporters. She is well-aware of her friends’ strengths and limitations, and knows how to delegate roles that allow everyone to be at their best. Cinder stands up for what she believes in and bravely faces down her opponents.

8) Kady Grant (Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman)

Kady is another one that’s a little tough to include because she is quite young. Having just broken up with her boyfriend, Kady finds herself forced to fight her way onto a ship that is being evacuated, pursued by enemy warships, with only her very recent ex-boyfriend for support. Kady is a very interesting character, who is quite determined (or stubborn, depending how you want to interpret it) and has a lot of confidence in her own abilities. Kady is a skilled hacker who knows how to use her abilities to access the information she needs, and get communication through without being detected. It takes a lot of knowledge and skill to know what to do and especially to accomplish everything under pressure. I definitely think Kady has potential to be a strong leader, and she showed a lot of leadership in this book alone. Once again, I’ve only read the first book in the series so I can’t comment about how it develops (or doesn’t) in later books.

9) Juliet Moreau (The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd)

I almost missed out reading this series because I kept putting off the first book last year, but as soon as I tried it, I was hooked! Juliet is a fascinating character. She is the daughter of the infamous Dr. Moreau, whose scandalous experiments involving animals have ruined Juliet’s social standing. While some reviewers have complained about the love triangle elements, I think Juliet is a very strong character with great leadership potential. She defies social convention with her strong interest and knowledge about science, and also shows a lot of courage when it comes to how others approach her. Unlike other females at the time, she stands up for herself against a man’s unwanted interest, and actively pursues her curiosity about her father’s experiments. Her independence and strong will would make her a great leader.

10) Aibileen (The Help by Kathryn Stockett)

It took me quite a while to think of Aibileen as a leader, but she is definitely a strong one. Aibileen is devoted to the family she works for, despite her anger about the way African Americans are treated. It takes a lot of strength and self-control to make sure she does not take her anger out on others inappropriately, which leads to Aibileen bravely deciding to take part in  Skeeter’s project to share maids’ experiences, both good and bad. Although the book is written anonymously, it still takes courage to offer honest stories about her experiences to raise awareness and change people’s attitudes. This is a perfect example of the kind quiet leadership that I mentioned above, since Aibileen’s role is not necessarily obvious immediately, but it is quite powerful and inspires others to take action as well.


A Quick Reading Challenge Update

I know that the beginning of November is probably a bit of a weird time to post a check-in for this year’s reading challenges, but the PopSugar list for next year has just come out so it somehow also seems like a very fitting time. Back in July, I posted a Mid-Year Challenge Check-In where I was just about on-track with each of my challenges, and the details of what that challenge involved.

October was a particularly productive month in terms of how much I managed to read, partly because I had some time off work, and partly because I started to realize that I was falling behind and wanted to catch up a bit more. As of the end of October, here is where I stood on each challenge:

  • Around the Year – 40/53 (75%)
  • PopSugar – 43/52 (82%)
  • PopSugar Summer 2016 – 23/29 (79%)
  • BookRiot – 20/24 (83%)

By the end of October, we were about 83% of the way through the year, so it seems that I was just about on-track with where I should be for each of the challenges. Ironically enough, I was furthest behind on Around the Year, which I tend to view as my “main” challenge for the year, since I was so far ahead on it initially that it took kind of a backseat. It’s a little ironic that BookRiot is closest to completion since it is one of the challenges I prioritize least, but it also makes sense since it’s about half the size of the others. The Summer challenge is also very, very close to being done even though the percentage is a bit awkward.

In total, according to Goodreads, I am currently finished 81% of my total goal for the year, including the two books I have completed since the start of November. That puts me just a bit behind where I should be for this time of year. I have a total of 30 books left to complete before the end of the year, which is making me a little nervous! I know there’s no set in stone rule that you have to finish the challenge within the year, but I also don’t want a snowball effect of carrying over too much from year to year either. I’m actually doing reasonably well on each challenge individually, but it’s the overall total that’s a bit worrying. I’ve found that on average, I need to read 13 books per month to stay on track, and in the early parts of the year, I was pretty consistently below that. It’s left me in a bit of a tight spot for the last two months!

I’m sure the statistics are hardly the most interesting part of the challenge, but I’m going to wait until closer to the end of the year to post about some of the best books I’ve read for my challenges this year. I’m also in the very, very early stages of planning books and strategizing a bit for next year’s Around the Year and PopSugar challenges. I’m planning on attempting BookRiot again as well, depending on how much the prompts appeal to me whenever that list finally comes out. For now, the goal is to just keep reading and try to complete as many of my challenges as possible this year!


Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Genre-Bending Books

I really wish the topics for the new month would be released a little earlier so I’d have some time to plan the out a bit! As soon as I saw this week’s topic, I knew I would struggle with it. I had no idea how to tell if a book was “genre-bending” or even what exactly that means. To me, genre-bending means a book that contains elements of multiple different genres and can’t easily be classified into just one. Based on the other posts I’ve seen for this week’s topic, it seems like this is on the right track. Even with that definition in mind, it was still pretty tough to find books that fit.

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 Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

29995315This series was one of the only clear examples I could think of, blending fantasy, sci-fi, and a bit of romance with these fairy tale retellings. These books are futuristic versions of popular fairy tales set in a dystopian world featuring cyborgs and androids, a race of people living on the moon who have special powers, and a plot to overthrow the evil Queen who wants even more control. I first heard about this series through multiple vlog channels, and avoided it for quite a while because I thought it was overhyped. I finally decided to give it a chance, and I was so glad that I did! It is a bit predictable in places, but a thoroughly enjoyable read.

2) Monstress: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu

29396738I have to say this was one of the most complicated and confusing graphic novels I have ever read. This book is a graphic novel set in an alternate Asia, focusing on a girl named Maika, who is linked to a powerful monster, and who wants to uncover the truth about her mother and her past. The artwork features steampunk elements, which are not so obvious in the story itself. The book contains some very complex world-building that seems very dystopian, and is also quite unique since the vast majority of the characters are women. I found the book a little hard to follow because it throws you straight into its world without much context, but it is definitely beautifully illustrated and the pieces I managed to grasp from the story seemed great.

3) The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

25812109I’m not sure if this one is really genre-bending, but it is definitely much darker than your typical YA contemporary book. For some reason, Goodreads has it tagged as a mystery and a thriller, although I’m not sure it can qualify as either. Possibly a thriller, but even that I think is a bit of a stretch. This book focuses on a teenage girl named Alex, who has taken revenge on the man who murdered her older sister, and gets away with it. Alex attempts to keep her dark side under control during her senior year of high school. Alex was an interesting character, but I also found her unrealistic and it kind of ruined my immersion in the story. The ending was powerful and the book in general does a great job of challenging attitudes toward rape, sexual aggression, and how women treat each other. It’s quite an ambitious YA book.

4) The Pendragon Series by DJ MacHale

833710It seems like fantasy and sci-fi are the two most common genres that get blended together, and it is especially evident in this series. The Pendragon series is primarily a fantasy series about a young boy named Bobby Pendragon who is a Traveler, expected to travel across various alternate worlds which are each reaching a “turning point.” In each of these worlds, Pendragon battles the villainous Saint Dane, who wants to push each world into chaos. Across all the worlds, Pendragon encounters a variety of ethical issues that contain elements of fantasy, sci-fi, or sometimes both. It is a very underrated series and it blends the two genres together so seamlessly that I originally did not even think of it as a mix.

5) Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

714902This series is not necessarily advertised as anything other than a dystopian, but I would classify it as a blend of romance, dystopian and even historical fiction. Many of the scenes in this book are ripped straight from the history books, with the races reversed. This book is set in an alternate world where the dark-skinned Crosses are the ruling class, and the light-skinned Noughts who were once their slaves. The book focuses on Sephy, a Cross, who falls in love with her childhood best friend, Callum, a Nought. It’s tough to consider a book that uses real historical events as a true dystopian, but it definitely has some of those elements. The first book in the series was excellent, and the second was strong but not quite as interesting as the first. I would still love to see how the trilogy ends.