Top 10 Tuesdays: Bookish Resolutions/Goals

My reading year has been off to a bit of a slow start so far, but I’m already keeping pretty much on track. It probably was not the best idea to start out with 4 books in a row that were about 500 pages each in terms of balancing things out, but I’ve been enjoying them so that’s what really counts. A couple of weeks ago, the Top 5 Wednesday group led by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes asked about our Top 5 goals for the year, which I posted about here. When I first saw today’s topic, I struggled to come up with anything since I’d already mentioned my most important goals. I decided to break things down a little further to some of my less quantitative goals.

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) Read more recent releases

By recent, I mean books that were released in the past 3 or 4 years. I’ve never really kept track of the publication date of the books I read, but there have been so many newer releases that I’m very excited for and I’d love to prioritize. In part, this will be covered by my goal to finish off some of the series I have in progress, many of which had books that were released within the past couple of years. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a habit of avoiding books that seem to be overhyped although I often end up enjoying them. I’m trying to learn to stop letting the hype get in the way. I don’t have a specific number of books that I want to read, but looking ahead at what I have planned for the year, I’m definitely noticing a lot more recent books.

2) Read more books that have been on my TBR for more than 2 years

This probably seems contradictory to my first goal, but I have a lot of books that have been on my TBR since 2015 when I started my Goodreads account and that I still haven’t read. I think it’s somewhere in the range of 400 books added that year, although many of those are more long-term TBR books (ie. lengthy classics). I go through my TBR frequently, and I have yet to find any books that I’m that motivated to remove completely. I decided that since I’m still interested in reading them, it would probably be a good idea to prioritize some of them so I don’t go another year with the same books as always sitting there. To be fair, some of the books that I haven’t read yet are because my library does not have copies available. Like my first goal, I don’t have a set number that I want to read, but it is nice to see some of the books I’ve been meaning to read for ages lined up.

3) Read more thrillers

I think “more” might be an operative word here, since up until now, I have not kept track of how many books I read per genre. I enjoy thrillers, especially psychological thrillers, but for some reason I never seem to pick up very many of them. My go-to genres still tend to be YA contemporary and fantasy, but I definitely want to make an effort to read a few more thrillers in 2018. I didn’t want to attach a specific number to it because I wanted the freedom to mood-read and change my plans if needed to fit what I’d like to read, but I’d like to squeeze some in. Looking back quickly over my Goodreads pages for my last three years of challenges, it looks my number of thrillers have been quite low. In 2015, I read only about 3 thrillers. In 2016, I read about 4, and in 2017 I read about 8. I think part of the increase each year is that in general I read more books each year, but given that I’ve enjoyed all the thrillers I’ve read, I’d like to try some more.

4) Read some graphic novels

If you had asked me a few years ago, I probably would have said that I never read graphic novels and probably wouldn’t enjoy them. Through my reading challenges, I’ve discovered quite a few amazing graphic novels that I probably never would have tried otherwise. It’s really opened my mind to a new kind of reading and I now try to build a few graphic novels into every year of my challenges. Aside from pushing me outside my comfort zone a little, these books are a great way to pick up the pace when I feel like I’m falling behind since I can usually read them in a couple of hours. Last year in particular, many of the graphic novels I read ended up being my favourite books of the year. I have quite a few lined up for this year also, including finishing off a manga series that I’ve been meaning to finish for a long time. Again, I was hesitant to quantify this with an actual number to allow flexibility, but I definitely want to read at least a few this year.

5) Be less intimidated by longer books

I have a hard time getting started on longer books sometimes, and by “long” I generally mean anything over 500 pages. I think part of the problem is the whole reading challenge mentality, where I know I want to finish my books in time and it sometimes feels like these books take forever. I can generally read between 100 and 150 pages per day during the week, which is pretty good considering I have a full-time job! Sometimes just the thought of a book taking me a week to finish puts me off because I feel like it’s going to put me really far behind on my challenge, but I don’t want to let that scare me away from reading a book that I want. I think my goal to finish off the series I have in progress will help because several of the books are long and are books that I very badly want to read. I just need to time them out properly so I have the time to devote. I already kind of regret not reading Our Dark Duet over a weekend where I could have had the time to read most of it straight through.

6) Participate more actively on my Goodreads challenge groups

I used to very actively participate in my Goodreads challenge groups, especially one which seemed to really welcome participation and was set up in such a way where discussion seemed to be encouraged. Many of my other groups tend to use a thread format that just asks what we are reading for each prompt, which doesn’t seem to leave much room to discuss. This one specific group has always been a lot of fun, but I found myself not participating much last year. In part, it was because partway through the group people started complaining of an overall negative atmosphere, which led to myself (and presumably others) being essentially reprimanded by moderators and cautioned to ensure our comments were a bit more positive. I was very offended to be singled out, especially after the moderator specifically mentioned that I was not one of the worst culprits in terms of negativity. At least it was done through private messaging. It led to an atmosphere where it seemed that people were being censored, and I got tired of second-guessing every message to make sure it was positive enough for their standards. I’d like to get back into it because it was fun to discuss the books I was reading!

7) Keep blogging consistently

I’ll admit that I’m sometimes not very motivated to keep up with my blog. Up until now, I’ve loosely committed to doing Top 10 Tuesday and Top 5 Wednesday every week, plus another post of my choice sometime over the weekend. Sometimes the last thing I want to do by the time I get home from work is sit down and write a blog post. Whenever I can, I try to pre-write my posts over the weekend when I might have a little more time and I think I’ve been good about keeping up. I find that with habits like this, as soon as I start to let it slide, it is not too long before it falls apart completely (ie. using my exercise equipment). I would love to be able to keep my routine through the year. For me, blogging has never been about getting a ton of followers or becoming any kind of famous, and I want to keep doing it as long as it is fun for me and doesn’t start to feel like a chore.

8) Get more variety in my blog content

I know most bloggers tend to feature a lot of reviews, but I tend to find them very difficult and annoying to write. I’ve tried out a few features over the past year, including Stacking the Shelves, Book Tags, and my Reader Struggles series. Some of these posts have been the most fun for me, and I’d love to branch out and come up with some new ideas to keep the blog fun for myself, as well as for everyone else. Strangely enough, I find it more fun sometimes to write about the books that I haven’t read yet than about books that I’ve already read. I’m always looking for ways to talk about different books and avoid repeating the same ones I’ve already discussed to death. Suggestions are always welcome!

9) Buy some books!

I know most people tend to put themselves on a book-buying ban, but I’m the opposite. Up until recently, it had been quite a long time since I had bought myself more than a book or two. I’ve complained before about the cost of new books, and that’s definitely a factor! Another big issue for me is my complete lack of shelf space, but I still want to own copies of the books that I love. I’ve recently made my first order from BookOutlet during their Boxing Week sale, and I was quite impressed by the quality of the books I received. I would love to try them again next time they have a deal going on. I’m quite picky about the quality my books when I spend hard-earned money on them, so it was a bit of a leap for me to even being open to BookOutlet. I’d still like to buy some of the books I’m most excited for brand new, but I think BookOutlet could be a good compromise to buy some of the books I want at a more reasonable price.

10) Enjoy what I’m reading!

This one seems straightforward but it may not always be so easy. I’m generally pretty good at picking books that I’m going to enjoy, and I’ve had a pretty good streak over the past three years of challenges, with most of my books earning at least 4 stars. There are very few prompts this year that I’m dreading, and even fewer books that I’m not at least a little excited for. Of course, there’s always the chance that a book I’m expecting to love will completely fall flat, but I’m not too worried! My main goal is to make sure reading stays fun and relaxing for me. I spent so many years while in school where I had no time to read what I wanted, so it’s great to have the chance to get back into it now!

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Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 New-To-Me Authors that I Read in 2017

Part of the fun of reading challenges for me is to discover new authors, and finally get to try books by authors that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. I usually add a self-imposed rule to my challenges to try to avoid reading multiple books by the same author to try to encourage myself to read more variety. That went out the window a little this year when I decided I just had to finish The Lunar Chronicles, and it is definitely not a rule for 2018 where I am prioritizing series I have in-progress. I’ve found in the past that without reading challenges, I tend to stick to the same few authors who I know I’m going to like and I don’t branch out past that very much. After three years of participating in challenges, I’ve definitely learned to experiment a bit more and I’ve discovered so many great new authors.

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

1) Celeste Ng

18693763I feel like I really overlooked Celeste Ng in my recent End of Year survey, considering her book was one of my favourites. I read Everything I Never Told You in mid-February after hearing so many rave reviews about it over the past couple of years, and I connected immediately with her writing style. This book was about a Chinese American family living in Ohio in the 1970s, whose teenager daughter is found dead. The book gives such a great look into the lives of the family members and their relationships, and especially their experiences with racism and sexism. I was very interested by how Celeste Ng showed the long-lasting impact of societal attitudes that the parents experienced on their children. It was a beautifully written book, and I’m looking forward to reading her next one.

2) Yaa Gyasi

27071490I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of literary fiction, and I was especially worried about reading Homegoing because I had it linked in my mind with The Underground Railroad, which I didn’t like. I went into this book expecting that I would find it pretty boring, and was surprised to find that it quickly became one of my favourites of the year. This book follows two branches of an African family over multiple generations. One side of the family remains in Africa, and the other moves to America. The story is told in a series of chapters that each focus on one family member and their experiences before moving on to the next person. It takes a lot of talent to be able to create so many distinctive characters who each have their own unique voice. The style took a bit of getting used to, since I sometimes did not want to leave that character’s story, but it was a very powerful book.

3) Victoria Aveyard

22328546It still completely baffles me how much hatred the Red Queen series has amassed online. I was both looking forward to reading it because I saw so many blogs and vlogs discussing it, and nervous to try it because of all the negativity surrounding it. I do see where the book is similar to other dystopian series, although I would also argue that the tropes it uses that people complain are too common are exactly what make it fit into the genre. In any case, I absolutely loved this book and I was drawn into the story right from the start. The plot might not be the most original, but it was very well-executed and I thought the characters were very well-written. I never knew who to trust, and I did not see the ending coming at all. I am very interested in finding out what happens next.

4) Sharon Guskin

255279081The only thing I knew about The Forgetting Time before I picked it up is that I had seen the cover on Goodreads, and the artwork alone was enough to interest me. The main reason I decided to pick it up this year was because I discovered it was recommended by Jodi Picoult, my favourite author, which fulfilled a particularly tricky prompt for one of my reading challenges. As soon as I started reading this, I could see why she recommended it. This book reminded me so strongly of Jodi Picoult’s work, both in terms of the writing style and the subject matter. The book focuses on children who claim to remember past lives, which is a very interesting topic that I had never read about before. I could not put this book down!

5) Diane Chamberlain

23847950Technically, I should have discovered this author two years ago. I had one of her books requested from the library for my first ever reading challenge, but they never had it. After over a year of waiting, they finally told me they couldn’t get it because it was out of print! I have no idea why it took them that long to figure it out. I chose another one of her books this year (one that I had personally seen on the library shelves, so I knew they had it!), and I really enjoyed it. The book I picked, Pretending to Dance, is about a woman who wants to adopt a baby with her husband, but they worry that her past will interfere with the adoption process. The book alternates between her present-day life, and her life as a teenager in 1990, living with a father who has MS. I thought the past storyline was very strong, but the modern-day sections were not as compelling. Even with that said, I really enjoyed the book because of the well-developed characters, and I look forward to reading more of her books.

6) Adam Silvera

25014114This is another author that I’d been hearing a lot about, but kept putting off trying for no real reason. I finally decided to give one of his books a chance when I started planning my list for 2017, and History is All You Left Me kept jumping out at me every time I looked through my TBR list. The book is about a teenage boy named Griffin who is grieving the loss of his ex-boyfriend, Theo, and the only person who seems to understand how he feels is Theo’s current boyfriend, Jackson. This book was such a powerful portrayal of grief and guilt, and the characters really leapt off the page. The story alternates between the history of their relationship and the present, where Griffin is left to cope with the loss as well as his feelings for Theo. It was a very emotional story, and had a lot more impact than I expected.

7) Laini Taylor

8490112As I mentioned in my End of Year Survey post the other day, I feel like I haven’t given anywhere near enough attention to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. For whatever reason, it always seems to get overlooked in favour of the other series I started this year, even though I enjoyed it just as much. This book is so beautifully written and descriptive, and I loved the world that was built. I loved how Laini Taylor took common tropes and presented them in a way that was very fresh. Karou is a fascinating main character, and I loved how we got some of Akiva’s backstory that helped show how the characters connected. I also loved the amazing cast of side characters! I’m definitely looking forward to finding out what happens next, and since I don’t say it nearly enough, I would highly recommend this book!

8) Dawn Kurtagich

28449150I feel like I have to include Dawn Kurtagich because she made me enjoy a book in a genre that is completely outside of my comfort zone. I read And the Trees Crept In, which is a very creepy YA horror story about two sisters who are living in their aunt’s house which seems to be haunted. I’m a huge coward when it comes to horror stories of any kind, and this one really creeped me out but also kept me reading! I devoured the whole thing in just two days, and the only time I could put it down was to purposely give myself time to get it off my mind before bed. I know it may seem silly to find a book aimed toward teenagers so scary, but it was so well-written. Dawn Kurtagich created such an unnerving atmosphere, and even though the ending was a little weird, I thought it worked well.

9) Maggie Stiefvater

17675462To be honest, I think I stereotyped Maggie Stiefvater’s books before I ever gave them a fair chance. I knew of her from the Shiver series, which I had never read but lumped in with Twilight and other similar paranormal romances because it dealt with werewolves. After hearing non-stop rave reviews for The Raven Boys for over a year, I finally broke down and decided to give it a fair chance…and I’m so glad that I did! This book hooked me from the first page, and quickly became one of my favourites of the year. I absolutely adored the characters in this book, and I loved the writing style even though I found the plot a little confusing at times. The style actually reminded me a bit of Harry Potter although the story is very different, and I am very interested in reading the rest of the books in 2018!

10) Victoria Schwab

23299512This was another author that I’d been hearing a lot about but never really cared to try. Eventually, I decided that This Savage Song was a book I just had to read this year, and it ended up being another of my favourites. I thought her characters were very unique and compelling, and I loved the interactions between them. I especially appreciate how Victoria Schwab did not go the typical YA fantasy route and have the two main characters automatically fall in love by the end of the first book. I haven’t read the second one yet, so I don’t know if that changes (no spoilers, please!). I loved the world-building, especially toward the middle of the book where we got a more detailed description of how the monsters came to be. It was a little confusing at first to be thrown in to the world with no backstory, but once it was all explained, it was amazing! The sequel is definitely going to be among the first books I read this year!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2018

This topic couldn’t have come at a better time! I spent most of my day yesterday trying to finalize my lists of books for the challenges I’m taking on next year, and ordering them from the library. I think this is the most exciting overall list I’ve ever had! It is also definitely the most ambitious, because there were just so many books that I really wanted to read. I might go into more detail about my plans in a future post, but I’ve decided to take on 5 prompts-based challenges, although with extended timelines on at least 2 of them. I also decided to ease up on some of the rules I normally set for myself. For example, I usually try to limit myself to only one book per author to try to encourage more variety, but with so many series in progress, I decided to scrap that rule.

I spent quite a long time yesterday on my library’s website placing holds on the books I want, a process that was simultaneously very exciting and a bit disappointing. I was surprised to find that the library didn’t have quite a few of the books I was most excited for. I’ve put in requests for a bunch of them to see if the library will purchase them for me, but I’m not sure how likely they are to do it. There are still quite a few more that I would like them to order, but I didn’t want to ask for too many all at once. I guess I’ll have to start looking for backup options, either for other ways to get the books or to replace them with something else.

This week’s topic asks for the 10 books you are most excited for next year, which is a tough one to narrow down. There are so many books that I’m really looking forward to reading! I decided to limit this post to stand-alones only, since the entire list might otherwise be taken up by series. If anyone is interested, I can make a post another time about the series I have in progress.

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

1) Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

28919058I first heard about this book on CeCe’s Youtube channel, ProblemsOfaBookNerd, and as soon as she mentioned it, I knew I wanted to read it. The book is about a boy named Tanner who is taking a creative writing seminar where he has to draft a book in the four-month span of the class. I’ve always been interested in creative writing myself, although I’ve never been able to follow through on any of my ideas. Another thing that interested me about this book is that one of the major characters is Mormon, which is a religion that I know very little about. I was also drawn to this book because of the beautiful cover artwork!

2) Crosstalk by Connie Willis

25430566I’ve wanted to read this book for about a year now, but couldn’t fit it in this year. I’ve never read anything by Connie Willis before, but my mom has read Doomsday Book and highly recommends it. This book is about a couple who undergoes a medical procedure to increase empathy between partners, before they get engaged. Something goes wrong with the procedure causing Briddey to connect to someone other than her fiance. I tend to love books that are very social media-focused, and this one takes it to an extreme and warns about the dangers of being too connected. Sci-fi is not a genre I reach for very often, but this book seems right up my alley.

3) Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

31931941This was another book that I really wanted to read this year but couldn’t squeeze in. It is about a teenage girl named Eliza who is the creator of a very popular webcomic, a life she attempts to keep secret, until one of the biggest fanfiction writers for her comic transfers to her school. Eliza seems like such a relatable character, especially because many of the reviews I’ve read seem to indicate that she has some kind of social anxiety. I read Made You Up by the same author this year, and I really enjoyed it, although it was not quite as strong as I had hoped. This book has received such rave reviews from the reviewers I follow on Goodreads, and I can’t wait to try it for myself!

4) Bang by Barry Lyga

31420736This book came out in April 2017, but it seems to have been one of the more overlooked releases of the year. It is about a boy who accidentally shot and killed his infant sister when he was only 4 years old, and has lived with the guilt ever since. I’ve always been horrified by news reports of children who have access to their parents’ weapons (even legal ones) and the accidents that follow. It is a topic that I have never seen addressed in books before, so I’m very excited to see how it is handled. I think it is so important to have a story like this which shows the aftermath of this kind of incident for the surviving child, so people can understand the depth of the impact this kind of event would have.

5) Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

32905343I was first drawn to this book because the title alone reminded me of the famous line from Scooby Doo, where the villain says “I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.” I checked out the book on Goodreads, only to realize that it was based on that very idea, following a crew of former teen detectives who are now adults who have not seen each other since their last case 13 years ago. I loved watching Scooby Doo cartoons, and I thought the idea of a book about similar kinds of characters sounded so interesting. The book’s actually been out since July, but I didn’t hear about it at all until closer to Halloween. It definitely seems like another of the underrated, or at least underexposed, books of the year.

6) Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley

25894060This book at first seemed like the opposite of all the social media books I’m interested in reading. It is about two sisters who decide to keep in touch using handwritten letters to improve their relationship, which seems to be working at first until the letters end up on the Internet. I have never been that interested in “chick lit” books (and I really hate the term “chick lit”), but after reading a couple this year that really surprised me, I’ve opened my mind and added a whole bunch to my TBR. This book seems like a great one to start with because it fits my interest in social media stories, and just seems like it might be a lot of fun to read.

7) Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

25707621I really hope I’ll be able to read this one within the year. It is one of the books that my library didn’t have. It’s been out for two years already, but I hadn’t heard of it until it came up as a recommendation after I read When Dimple Met Rishi. This book is about a Muslim woman named Sofia Khan whose boss persuades her to write an expose about the Muslim dating scene. If I’m honest, I have not read very many books with Muslim protagonists because I have not come across very many that interested me…or very many in general, for that matter. According to the reviews I’ve seen, this book tackles racism and Islamophobia, and it seems like a great read. I really hope I can get a copy of this one before the end of 2018!

8) Almost Like Being In Love by Steve Kluger

239092This is another book that I’m not sure I’ll be able to get. I added it to my list this year because every time I browsed by Goodreads TBR, this book jumped out at me. I didn’t check whether the library had it until after I’d already made up my mind that I really wanted to read it. This book is about two men, Travis and Craig, who fell in love in high school, and when their separate ways. Twenty years later, Travis realizes that he is still in love with Craig and sets out to win him back. Aside from the storyline, part of what appealed to me about this book is the fact that is told in such a unique format. The book is told through news clippings, letters, lists, and regular narrative. I’m a huge sucker for books that are told in such unusual ways, so I’m looking forward to this one (if I can get a copy).

9) Copycat by Alex Lake

33026842I have this book down as one of two options for a prompt, but I’m starting to think I want to read both of them. This book is a thriller about a woman who discovers that there are two Facebook profiles with her name. Not only does the account that isn’t hers have accurate details, but it also has recent photos of her with friends and family, including some taken from inside her own house! This book seems incredibly creepy. I love psychological thrillers, even though they tend to really scare me. It definitely seems to play into everyone’s worst nightmares about the dangers of posting information about ourselves online. This is definitely not the kind of book that I would read at night or if I’m home alone!

10) Keep You Safe by Melissa Hill

33198765I found this book while looking through recommendations on Goodreads, and was immediately interested by the synopsis. This book is about the controversy about parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. In this book, a child who cannot be vaccinated due to a medical condition becomes critically ill after a classmate’s parents make a choice not to vaccinate their child. I remember seeing an episode of Law and Order several years ago on a similar topic and I thought it was a very interesting ethical question. I was glad to find a book on the same topic since it seems like very interesting premise, along the lines of a book Jodi Picoult might have written.

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Ten Books I Hope to Receive as a Gift

Unfortunately for my book-buying habits, I don’t celebrate any winter holidays that involve much gift-giving. If I’m lucky, I’ll receive a couple of gift cards, and with the costs of books lately, they don’t go very far. Actually, for some reason I’ve received a ton of Starbucks gift cards this year, even though I don’t drink coffee! I love their frappucinos and some of their food though, so it’s still a great gift. I think this year was the first time I actually thought to put books on my wishlist for my birthday a couple of months ago, and I received quite a few of the books I was most looking forward to. It’s been quite a while since I bought any books for myself, so it wasn’t too hard to think of books that I’d love to receive as a gift.

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

1) Uprooted by Naomi Novik

22544764One of the challenges I faced when trying to put together my birthday wishlist was whether to ask for new books that I was looking forward to trying (but might not like), or ask for a copy of favourites from the year. The list I came up with was a mix of both, and this one was one of the first books that came to mind once I decided to pick a couple of books that I’d already read and loved. This is a book that I can definitely see myself coming back to in the future and re-reading more than once. I generally tend to enjoy books that have this kind of fairy-tale atmosphere, and I’m so glad this one lived up to all the hype.

2) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

9361589I read this book last October and I absolutely loved it! I have to say that it was not exactly what I expected based on the synopsis, but I adored the writing style and the story overall. It always feels a bit weird to me to buy books that I’ve read not too long ago since it will be a while before I revisit them, but I would love to have a copy of this one on my shelves. It’s another book that I can see myself re-reading repeatedly. I was hesitant to add this to my birthday wishlist since I wasn’t sure how much preference I had about whether to get the hardcover or paperback. Sometimes I’m very picky about which version I want. Since this one ended up on my wishlist but I did not get one yet, it’s an easy pick as a book I’d still love to receive.

3) The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

220px-thirteenthtaleThis is yet another book that I’ve already read and thoroughly enjoyed, and I would love to have a copy of my own. This is by far one of the best books I’ve read in the past couple of years, which is saying something since I’ve read somewhere in the range of 350 books in the past three years alone. I went into this book not expecting very much, and ended up absolutely blown away! It was one of the rare books that really exceeded my expectations, and I would love to have a copy. I actually didn’t even think of adding this one to my wishlist until just now, and that’s something that needs to be changed right away!

4) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

a_monster_callsThis is a tricky one to have on my wishlist because there’s a very specific edition of it that I want, but it does not seem to exist anymore. When I first read this book, I had a hardcover edition that included the illustrations, and (for lack of a better word) was a normal-sized book. Since then, I’ve only ever seen two versions in stores: a paperback edition with no pictures, or a (very expensive) hardcover with pictures but that is a weird shape/size. This is one of the few books that legitimately made me cry and I really want my own copy, but I’m adamant about having a copy with the illustrations since I think they add a lot to the impact of the story. I’ll settle for the awkwardly sized one if I have to.

5) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

rebeccaI spent years collecting different classics, yet for some reason, this one was never on my radar at all. I finally read it toward the beginning of 2016, and it quickly became one of my favourite classics, on part with Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre. It is one of the few classics (or at least ones that interest me) that I don’t own yet, and I would love to add it to my collection. My problem with buying classics is finding a decent edition. I originally collected the Wordsworth editions, which were available when I was a kid for about $3 each, and once those stopped existing, I switched over to Penguin. I’ve been looking for Rebecca, but haven’t found a good version yet. I’m kind of surprised I hadn’t read this one much earlier, since it was similar to many of the others that I enjoyed.

6) Heartless by Marissa Meyer

18584855When I put together my birthday list, I wanted a mix of books that I’d already tried, and newer books that I was looking forward to. I finished the Lunar Chronicles series this year and absolutely loved it, so I’m really looking forward to trying more of Marissa Meyer’s books. I enjoy retellings, and especially those that tell familiar stories from different perspectives. The Queen of Hearts is such a weird character and I think her backstory could be really interesting. Given how well Marissa Meyer did with all of the fairy tales in the Lunar Chronicles, I’m expecting this one to be just as good. It was a Book of the Month for one of my Goodreads groups this year, but I couldn’t fit it in. It’s definitely top of my list for next year.

7) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

32768522In a way, I have mixed feelings about this one. When I read Fangirl, I loved the snippets of Cath’s fanfiction that were interspersed throughout, and like many fans, I would love to read the full version. The only reason I’m hesitant about this one is because this one picks up essentially mid-series in the fictional Simon Snow series. It seems a bit weird to just jump straight into it midway through, although I would assume that Rainbow Rowell provided enough backstory in it to make it easy to follow. Plus, it’s similar to Harry Potter, and that’s enough of a selling point for me on its own!

8) The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater

35669466One of my goals this year was to start several of the highly talked about fantasy series that I’d been hearing about all over blogs and vlog channels. I was so glad to find that all of these series really did live up to the hype! I’ve only read the first book so far, and it quickly became one of my favourites of the year. The characters were so compelling and seemed so real, and I fell in love right way with Maggie Stiefvater’s writing style. I’ve avoided her books for a while since I’d only heard of her Shiver series, which involves werewolves. It seemed too Twilight-esque, but given when I know now about her writing, I might be willing to try that one too. The Raven Boys grabbed my attention right away, I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

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

34488733This is another series that I actively avoided for a long time because I didn’t think it would interest me much. The more reviews I heard for it, the more it seemed like I was missing out on something. I’ll admit that when I first started the book, I wasn’t quite convinced that it lived up to all the hype, but the further in I got (as in, closer to where Rhysand became a major player), the more I got into it. By the end of the first book, I was hooked and looking forward to reading the rest. I’d love to receive this series as a gift to see if the other two books hold up to all the hype surrounding it. I’d especially love to find out more about Rhysand and the other Courts.

10) Red Queen collection by Victora Aveyard

26072627This may have been the series that I was most worried to try since the reviews for it have been so mixed. I was nervous to try it after seeing so many people complaining that it was nothing unique, and came across as a mix of other dystopian series. While I can see where these complaints might come from, I was drawn in by the writing style and I thought the story was great even if it was not the most unique. Ideally, I would love to receive a set of the entire series as a collection, but the version pictured here that has the first two books and the two “between-the-number” books would be a great start as well. I’m looking forward to reading more of this one.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Your 10 Favourite Books of 2017

I don’t mean to nitpick, but it bothers me a bit that this week’s topic asks for the top 10 books of the year when there is still just over two weeks left. I don’t know about everyone else, but I still have about 10 more books that I’m trying to squeeze in before New Year’s, and it seems a bit premature to list my favourites. I don’t want to miss out on mentioning a favourite just because I read it in the last two weeks.

For this week’s topic, I decided to focus on the second half of the year. At the end of June, I posted my top 10 for the first half (found here), so I decided to limit my choices to books I read from July onward to avoid repetition. Looking back at the year as a whole, there are many amazing books that I could easily pick as my favourites so it was very hard to narrow it down! There were so many other books that I wanted to include, but after going through my TBR, these were the ones that stood out the most.

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

1) The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

25527908Honestly, I was first drawn to this book because of the beautiful cover, which I saw while browsing Goodreads. I read it for a prompt requiring a book that was recommended by one of my favourite authors, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Jodi Picoult highly recommended this one. Upon reading the book, it was easy to see why she had chosen it, since I found the style quite similar to hers. This book is about a mother named Janie whose young son, Noah, is exhibiting strange behaviours and claims to remember things that have never happened to him. Janie contacts Jerome Anderson, a researcher who specializes in children who claim to remember past lives, to help understand Noah’s behaviour. I thought this book was very compelling and I loved the way it handled the storyline.

2) Uprooted by Naomi Novik

22544764I’d been hearing about this book for quite a long time before finally deciding to pick it up. This book is about a young woman named Agnieszka who lives in a village that is surrounded by a creepy Wood. Her village relies on the help of a wizard known as The Dragon to help keep them safe, and in exchange, he takes a young woman to serve him for ten years. I’m not even sure why I was so hesitant to try this book since I really loved it! I loved the fairy tale-like atmosphere, and the medieval-style world in which it was set. The book captured my attention right from the start, and I was especially interested by the magic system that was used. I also loved the interactions between Agnieszka and The Dragon. I’m so glad I decided to give this one a try.

3) This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

23299512I have been hearing rave reviews about Victoria (or V.E.) Schwab almost non-stop for the past year or so, and I finally decided to give one her books a chance. I chose this one for a fairly generic prompt that called for a fantasy novel, and I was very impressed by the world that was built. This book is set in a world inhabited by monsters that are created by people’s sins. I thought the book had two incredible main characters who were both so compelling to read about. Essentially, the book focuses on a monster who wants to be human, and humans who behave like monsters. I really loved the writing style, and immediately added both this book and its sequel to my wishlist of books to buy as soon as I had finished it. I can’t wait to read the next one!

4) Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

23395680This was another book that seemed very overhyped, and I was not sure how much I wanted to read it at first. I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, and I rarely read books that are set in space, but this one received so many great reviews that I couldn’t resist. I’m also a pretty big sucker for any book that is told in an unusual format, including e-mails, instant messages, and other document fragments. This book is set on a spaceship infected with a deadly plague, which is being pursued by an enemy warship, and to top it all off, their AI may actually be working against them. The main characters are a teenage couple who have very recently broken up, forced to work together to survive. I loved the way the authors used the unique style to tell the story and introduce us to the characters and their relationship. Especially considering this is a genre outside my comfort zone, I was very impressed by this book and surprised that I enjoyed it so much.

5) History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

25014114Adam Silvera is another one of those authors that I’d heard the name of, but had never tried. It wasn’t even my first choice for its prompt (a YA or middle grade book by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+), but while browsing my TBR, it was a book that jumped out at me as one I needed to read. This book is about a teenage boy named Griffin who is grieving the death of his ex-boyfriend, Theo, and the only person who seems to understand him is Jackson, Theo’s current boyfriend at the time of his death. I thought this book was brilliantly written and the characters seemed to really leap off the page. It was one of the most powerfully written portrayals of grief, and I love the way Adam Silvera handled the relationships between characters. This book definitely got me interested in reading everything else he has written.

6) Winter by Marissa Meyer

13206900This series was the start of my change to my approach to challenges. In the past, I tried to avoid reading multiple books by the same author during my reading challenges to try and encourage myself to read a wider variety. In this case, it was a matter of enjoying the series so much and also a tricky prompt. One of my reading challenges required a book over 800 pages, and I quickly realized that this was the only one in mind that really interested me. Cress very narrowly missed out on my best books of the first half of the year since I finished it a coupe of days after my post, but it would definitely qualify. This book was such a great ending to the series, and I loved how well the book worked so it did not really “feel” like it was so long. I adore the characters in this series, and I love how Marissa Meyer mixed and matched pairs in this one so we got to see a lot of different dynamics. It was an amazing ending to what has quickly became a favourite series.

7) A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

160968248490112I’m cheating a bit with this one, but I just couldn’t choose between these two series. Both were series that came highly recommended through Goodreads and vloggers, but they fell into that overhype trap that makes me avoid them initially. Eventually, I came around to decide that if so many people were raving about them, there must be a reason. I am so glad I decided to give these a fair chance! Both were incredible stories that drew me in and left me wanting more. I thought both books were very well-written and captured my attention, and both had an incredible cast of characters. I’m looking forward to continuing both of these series next year.

8) And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

28449150This was a book that was definitely outside my comfort zone, which I chose for a prompt requiring a book with a chilling atmosphere. I very rarely read horror because I’m such a coward about it, although I love psychological thrillers. This book was a very creepy blend of both, focusing on two young sisters who arrive at their aunt’s house which seems to be cursed. The older sister, Silla, tries to uncover what is happening while protecting herself and her mute sister Nori from all the horrors, especially the creepy woods which seem to be closing in on them each day. For me, this book was the perfect balance of a chilly atmosphere which creeped me out without being too scary. I really loved the writing style and I found it so compelling to read. I thought the characters were interesting, and I especially liked how the author left us guessing about what was real and what wasn’t. The ending was not at all what I expected, but I thought it was very well done.

9) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

17675462I avoided reading this series for quite a while too because of all the hype surrounding it, and it became another one that I very quickly fell in love with. I’ve never been a huge fan of paranormal YA as a genre, but a few of the books that I’ve read this year may be changing my mind. This book is about a teenage girl named Blue, who has spent her entire life being told that she will cause her true love to die. While out with her clairvoyant mother to see the spirits of people who will soon die, Blue is approached by the spirit of a boy her age, who she soon discovers is from the wealthy Aglionby private school. The boy, Gansey, is on a quest of his own with his three closest friends to search for ley lines and find the Welsh King Glendower. I found the plot a little confusing at first, but the characters in this book were just so amazing that they drew me right in. It’s books like this that make me wonder why I avoid the overhyped ones for so long.

10) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

19288043Speaking of overhyped books that I avoided, I have to mention Gone Girl. I finished this book just last night, after meaning to read it for two years without ever trying to pick it up. I love psychological thrillers, but this one had so much hype surrounding it that I assumed it couldn’t possibly be that good. I’m actually very impressed that in the 5 years since this has been released, and despite all the hype, I never heard any spoilers for it. I was lucky enough to go into it completely fresh, and I ended up loving it! I was a bit worried to give it a chance because I thought after all this time, and after reading other thrillers that have been compared to it, it just wouldn’t seem as impressive anymore, but I was wrong. This book is about a man named Nick Dunne whose wife, Amy, has gone missing on the morning of their fifth anniversary, with all the evidence suggesting that Nick must be responsible. I thought the characters were very compelling (although definitely unlikeable), and I loved how the author let us get into their heads. I had no idea what the twist would be, and it really caught me off-guard!

Honourable Mentions:

And since I forgot to include honourable mentions on my post for favourites from the first half of the year, here they are now:

Top 10 Tuesdays: 10 Settings You Would Love to Visit

For some reason, I was sure I’d done a similar topic before but I couldn’t find the post anywhere. This topic is a struggle for me since when I think of settings I want to visit, I tend to think of fictional places. The problem with that is many of the fantasy books I read are dystopians, set in worlds that would not exactly be fun to visit. I love The Hunger Games, for example, but I would not want to visit Panem! The more I thought about it, the more I realized that “visit” could be taken a lot more loosely to count places that I’d stop by but not necessarily stay at long term. That made it much easier!

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

1) Hogwarts and Hogsmeade (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)

I’m sure this one will be on many people’s lists, but it was the first place that came to mind. I would love to go to school in a building as fascinating as Hogwarts, although maybe after Harry Potter and friends left, and the world has stabilized a bit more. I would also really love to visit Hogsmeade, and especially try some of the treats at Honeyduke’s! I can see why the Hogwarts students were always so excited to visit Hogsmeade on the weekends. Come to think of it, Diagon Alley also sounds like a lot of fun — Fortescue’s Ice Cream, the bookshop, and especially Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes!

2) Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis)

This is another of the easiest places to choose. I’m sure Narnia under the White Witch’s control is not the best place to visit, although a winter world might be fun for a short visit. I may be a little biased with this one since as of right now, I’ve only really read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe so I don’t have a full picture of what Narnia is like. As soon as I read the book as a child, I wanted to go there, and re-reading it again hasn’t changed that.

3) Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl)

To be fair, this one appealed to me a lot more in the movie where I could actually see all the chocolate and candy, but it still sounds like a fun place to visit. It is definitely not a place I’d want to stay for a long time considering how weird (and kind of creepy) Wonka is, but it sounds like a great place for a tour. When I was younger, I used to love visiting the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory in the US and see how the ice cream was made, and I’m sure Wonka’s factory would be a similar experience.

4) Prythian (A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas)

Again, I’ve only read the first book in this series so I don’t have a full picture of what the various Courts are like, but I would love to be able to visit them. I’ve always been very interested in court life, especially the Tudor family court, but they’ve always seemed so dramatic that I wouldn’t want to actually go there. Prythian is divided into several different courts, and it sounds like it could be quite the experience to visit each of them.

5) Le Cirque des Reves (The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern)

I absolutely loved this book when I read it last year! Le Cirque des Reves sounds like such an amazing experience to see, especially as a normal audience member. As described in the book, it features amazing acts and exhibits, including an ice garden, acrobats, and a cloud maze. It is a very mysterious place that seems to come and go almost at random, so it would be a tough place to try to visit. I also really love how it is set in a Victorian kind of world, which is something I’ve always loved.

6) Prague (Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor)

This seems like a weird one to pick because it is the one place on this list that really does exist, although not in the way it is described in this book. I would especially love to visit the morbid Poison Kitchen restaurant. It sounds very creepy, but it really does stick to its theme. Lyceum also sounds like an incredible school, although I would be completely out of place there since I have no talent for art whatsoever. Plus the whole existence of chimera sounds really interesting.

7) Luna (The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer)

I’ll qualify this one, and say Luna as it is as the end of the series. To be fair, it would be an interesting place to visit even at the beginning but Queen Levana is terrifying! New Beijing also sounds fascinating, especially with all the advanced technology, but I’d be worried about the letumosis virus. This is definitely one of those dystopian worlds that I was originally talking about, which seem too scary to live in but to go there for a short (safe) visit would be great. I’d also love to see Emperor Kai’s palace.

8) Neverland (Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie)

I think this is another one that appealed to me more because of the movie than the book itself, but a world full of fairies, mermaids and plenty of other unusual things. I probably would not want to run into any pirates, but I would love to have the chance to visit Neverland and explore a bit. It’s definitely another place where I wouldn’t want to stay long-term, but a quick visit sounds like a lot of fun.

9) Oz (The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum or Wicked by Gregory Maguire)

I couldn’t decide which version of Oz would be most interesting to visit, since both have their problems. The original Oz stories feature a world that is being controlled by a Wicked Witch. Once again, I have only read the one book and not the entire series, so it’s possible that Oz is very different in the later books. In Wicked, Oz is a lot darker and very political, but still fascinating. I think it would be great to have the chance to visit either of these versions of Oz because they are both so interesting and imaginative.

10) Wonderland (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)

Honestly, I’m on the fence about this one but it was the once place that kept coming back to mind. On the one hand, this world is so creative and just so bizarre that I think it could be a lot of fun to visit, but on the other hand it also seems extremely frustrated. In the movie, everyone seems so silly and weird but in the book, many of the characters are quite rude and frustrating to interact with. It seems like a good place where it would be fun to drop in for a day, have a tea party with the Mad Hatter, watch a croquet game (at a safe distance), etc. and then quickly go back home.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Books on Your Winter TBR

When I first saw this week’s topic, I thought it was a bit strange since there is only one month left of the year. For some reason, I naturally interpreted “winter” as “December” since I’m so used to thinking of my TBR in terms of my reading challenges. To be fair, it’s a bit harder to think about which books I’m planning on reading for the rest of the winter because I haven’t decided which books from next year’s challenges I will be starting with. The best I could think of is a few books which I would like to read early on next year, but I can’t know for sure yet.

Throughout the year, I tried my best to spread out some of the books I was most excited for so I didn’t read them all at once at the beginning and leave myself stuck with prompts that I was dreading. I’m a little worried about the sheer number of books I have to read if I want to complete my challenges by the end of the year. Actually, it’s not so much the number but the average length of the books, since I seem to have left myself with a few longer books instead of my usual pattern of mostly YA by this time of year. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s really not such a big deal if I can’t. There’s no “challenge police” who are keeping track of what I read, but I would still love to reach my goal.

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

1) When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

28220826I’m actually a little surprised I put this book off for so long since it was one of the first books I decided I wanted to try this year. This book is a magical realism story, which is a genre I like but don’t reach for very often. It is about a girl named Miel who grows roses out of her wrist, who befriends Sam, whose life before moving to the town in which they live is mysterious. The Bonner sisters, rumoured to be witches, decide they want Miel’s roses and will do anything to make sure they get them. It’s a tricky plot to explain, especially when I have not read the book yet, but the cover art is stunning and I’ve seen such rave reviews for this one. I’m currently waiting for this one to come from the library, so hopefully it will be here soon!

2) Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino

23492533I read one of Renee Carlino’s books last year and I really enjoyed it, so I immediately went online and looked at what else she had written. I was most intrigued by this book, which is about a writing instructor at a San Diego college who realizes that the plot of a bestselling novel from a mysterious new writer seems suspiciously similar to her own life, meaning that the writer must be the childhood friend she has not seen in more than 10 years. It sounded like such an interesting concept, and I tend to love books that have to do with writing and mysterious authors. This book sounds like it has a lot of potential. It is very unusual for me to pick up any “new adult” books, but this one sounded so interesting that I couldn’t resist giving it a chance.

3) It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Suigura

29073707This book was not part of my original plan for the year, but I started to hear more about it as the year went on. Oddly enough, I remember hearing a lot of criticism for this book being extremely problematic, although when I search for those reviews now, I can’t find anything on the subject. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? This book is about a 16-year-old Japanese-American girl who starts to have feelings for her new female best friend after moving to California. If I’m honest, a big part of why this book caught my attention enough to prioritize it for this year was all the controversy surrounding it. I just couldn’t understand what could be that problematic about it, to the point where people were demanding a rewrite. I’m curious to try it for myself and see what all the hype was about.

4) The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper

3148095This book has been a bit of a strange one for me all year. Every time I look at the synopsis, I think it sounds so interesting and I want to read it, but it has never been the book I reach for either. This book is about a man named Patrick who joins a creative writing group in Toronto, where a serial killer has been murdering people and taunting the police with notes. Patrick discovers that one woman in his group seems to be writing stories that bear a strong resemblance to the real attacks. It sounds like a very interesting story, and as I mentioned above, I tend to like stories that deal with writing in some capacity. I’m hoping it will be as much of a fast-paced read as many of the reviews seem to say it is. I generally really enjoy thrillers, and this one sounds good!

5) The Widow by Fiona Barton

25734248This is another thriller that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. This one is about a woman named Jean, whose husband has recently died. Jean’s husband was suspected of committing a crime, and now that he is gone, people want to hear her story and know the truth about her husband. Like many good thrillers, the synopsis offered by Goodreads is quite vague but it has been compared to The Girl on the Train, which I loved. I’m a little skeptical about this one because the reviews seem to be quite mixed, but that often seems to the be the case for many thrillers. I tend to like books that are very character-driven, and it seems like this one is a good candidate for that. I’ve also had a copy of this book at home for quite a long time and never picked it up, so it seems like it’s about time!

6) Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

1472878When I read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah last year, it quickly became one of my favourites of the year. I loved Kristin Hannah’s writing style and I immediately went on to Goodreads to see what else she had written. I managed to get copies of several of Kristin Hannah’s books for free over the past year, so there are a few that have been sitting on my shelf for quite a while. I kept putting this one off because I was prioritizing books from the library over the ones I had at home, and because I wanted to make sure I had the time to devote to it since it was a longer book. This book is about two girls who meet and become best friends in eighth grade, following their friendship over the next three decades. Given how much I enjoyed Kristin Hannah’s writing style, I’m hoping to really love this one as well.

7) Our Dark Duet by V.E. Schwab

32075662I read This Savage Song earlier this year, and immediately fell in love with the story and the writing style. I’d been hearing rave reviews about V.E. Schwab for well over a year but never managed to pick up any of her work. I have not yet decided if I’m going to try and squeeze this book in this year or pick it up early next year. Immediately after finishing This Savage Song, I knew that this was a series that I had to buy (and it’s very rare for me to actually buy books anymore).  This book is about a world where monsters created by people’s sins have taken control, picking up several months after the previous book left off. I am very excited to find out what happens to Kate and August next. I can’t wait to read this one!

8) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

19288043I don’t know what it is about this book, but I just keep putting it off. I’ve had this book in mind for at least two years now, to the point where it’s just getting ridiculous that I haven’t read it yet. Each year, I include it as an option for my reading challenges, and each year I decide to pick up something else instead. I finally decided that enough is enough, and I will read this one by the end of the winter (if not the end of this year). The weirdest part is I actually do want to read this one, so it’s not like I’m putting it off because it lost my interest. It just always comes down to a lack of time or too many other books that I want to read first. It’s received such great reviews from the majority of the reviewers I follow, and it’s just getting silly now that I keep delaying it when I actually do want to give it a try.

9) The Snowman by Jo Nesbo

9572203Aside from the fact that the title seems very appropriate for winter, the “Nordic noir” prompt was chosen as the theme of the month in my PopSugar 2018 challenge group. This book was one of the contenders for the book of the month for us to read as a group, but it ultimately lost out to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I want to read that one also, but I have so many other lengthy books on my list for next year that I decided to go for something a bit shorter to balance things out. This book is part of Nesbo’s Harry Hole series (which I haven’t read, hopefully that won’t matter too much) about a police investigator who is working on a case of a young boy whose mother has gone missing, and instead sees a snowman wearing his mother’s scarf in his front yard.It sounds very creepy!

10) Beartown by Fredrik Backman

33413128If I’m honest, I’m not sure how much I’m looking forward to this one. I’ve always been a bit on the fence about it because although it’s received exceptional reviews, I’m not very interested in books that focus on sports. Unluckily for me, PopSugar decided to include that as a prompt for next year’s challenge, and this book was chosen as the book of the month for February in the Goodreads group. I’ve never been interested in sports and tend to find books that focus heavily on them hard to relate to, but this one seems like it might interest me. I’m glad the group chose a book I was considering anyway as the book of the month since it could be a good motivator to read it along with everyone else. I guess if nothing else, it means knocking out a prompt I’m not excited for early on in the year, which I’ve also found to be a pretty helpful challenge strategy.