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!


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.


Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Halloween-ish Books on my TBR

Halloween has always been one of my favourite holidays. It was a huge disappointment the first year that I was no longer able to go trick-or-treating. Luckily for me, my friends and I looked quite young for our age, so we managed to continue most of the way through high school before finally being forced to stop. I actually don’t really like to be scared and my worst nightmare this time of year were the creepy masks that some people would wear to school, even though masks were generally banned. I love this time of year because of all the decorations, the TV specials (at least the ones that aren’t too scary), and of course, the candy!

When it comes to books and movies, I love a Halloween theme but nothing too scary. My favourite Halloween-ish movies have always been The Addams Family, but I also loved Beetlejuice, and others like that which blend the creepy with quite a bit of humour. With books, I don’t mind when they are a bit darker and scarier. I love psychological thrillers, but I’m not a huge horror fan. For this week’s topic, I decided to look ahead at my TBR and find 10 books I haven’t read yet that I think fit the Halloween theme.

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

1) We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

89724This is a very recent addition to my list, which I added after it played such a prominent role in a book I read not too long ago. I’d heard of this book quite a long time ago, but never really paid much attention to it until I saw the plot summarized in Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven. This book is about a girl named Merricat who lives on her family’s estate with her sister, Constance, who has been acquitted of murdering other family members with poison. Merricat attempts to protect her sister from the hostile villagers. It is quite a short book, but the cover art reminds me of The Addams Family. It is a book that I’m likely going to fit into next year’s reading challenges.

2) The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

13497675This book reminds me of Halloween primarily because of the cover art, but also because of the blend of horror and mental health. This book is about a 10-year-old boy named Alex whose best friend is a 9000-year old demon. Alex meets a child psychiatrist who fears for his sanity, and attempts to convince him that the demon cannot possibly exist. I think this book sounds like such a fascinating story that blends the boundary between reality and imagination. The main concept of this book seems to be whether Alex’s demon is real, or all in his head. It sounds like such a fascinating concept! This book has been on my TBR for quite a long time, and I’m looking forward to finally getting a chance to read it.

3) Nyctophobia by Christopher Fowler

21412133I was first drawn to this book because of the interesting title, which means “fear of the dark.” This book is about an architecture student, Callie, who moves into a house in Southern Spain with her husband. Callie decides to research the history of her new home, and becomes convinced that it must be haunted. These kinds of books tend to be very atmospheric and creepy. I can definitely relate to the fear of the dark angle, since I was very afraid of the dark when I was younger. This is another book that has been on my list for a couple of years already, but I keep putting it off without any real reasons.

4) Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville

18242996Fairy tales have always had a bit of a creepy element to them, especially the original Grimm’s tales which were quite dark! This book is set in Vienna, focusing on a psychoanalyst who encounters a strange case of a girl who claims not to be human. Several years later in Germany, a young girl named Krysta plays alone, obsessed with fairy tales, whose life becomes quite terrifying. The synopsis is quite vague about the details of the storyline, but I’ve always loved the idea of creepy fairy tales. As far as I understand, this book also uses the fairy tale elements as a parallel to Nazi Germany, which sounds like an interesting angle.

5) Beside Myself by Ann Morgan

25900354It is not only stories about demons and monsters that creep me out. Sometimes the scariest stories are psychological thrillers, which are that much creepier because they seem so possible. This book is about identical twins, Helen and Ellie, who decide to switch places for a day, until one of them refuses to switch back. Part of what seems so fascinating about this story is how the twins’ identities seem to be contingent on their names. Aside from the interesting concept, the book has a very creepy cover with childish stick figures. I’m curious to see how the author manages to create such a convincing switch that others don’t realize the girls have switched places. It sounds like a great thriller!

6) Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

12598982This book seems most Halloween-ish because of the cover art, with the lone slide against a dark night background. The plot itself is more of a typical mystery/thriller. The book is about a mother who rushes into a burning school building to save her teenage daughter, and tries to discover the identity of the arsonist while protecting her children. On it’s own, I wouldn’t necessarily consider it it a very Halloween-themed story, but it does seem like the perfect time of year for thrillers. The reviews on this one seemed pretty mixed, but that seems to be the case for many thrillers. It seems like it could be a creepy one, but just the cover art alone makes it perfect for the Halloween theme.

7) 99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter

35157345This is another recent addition to my TBR, and a book that just came out in August of this year. It is another case of a book that seems most Halloween-ish because of the cover art, featuring a silhouette of an empty swing, and a child with a single red balloon. This book is about an 8-year-olg girl who goes missing from a candyshop on her way home from school, and the ensuing police hunt to find her. An ageing widow sees the child’s picture in the newspaper, which reignites her obsession with another child who has gone missing. It sounds like a key plot point in this book is figuring out whether these two cases are connected in some way, and the idea of getting a perspective from the other woman watching the story unfold from a bit more of a distance seems intriguing.

8) Meddling Kids by Egdar Cantero

32905343I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Scooby-Doo. I simultaneously thought the show was so entertaining, but also found it very stupid at times. My favourite was “The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo,” mostly because of Vincent Price’s voicework for one of the main characters. I was drawn to this book because of the title, which reminded me of the classic Scooby-Doo villain line about how they would have gotten away with it “if it weren’t for you meddling kids.” This book definitely seems to be an homage to the classic Scooby-Doo cartoons, focusing a club of teen detectives who have now grown up, not seeing each other since their last case in the late 70s. I love the concept of this book, following the teen detectives into their adult lives, reuniting to face a past threat. I will definitely have to fit this one into my reading challenges next year!

9) Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

18659623I’ve been hearing about this book for well over a year now, and it’s received rave reviews from many of the reviewers I follow. Unlike the other books listed here, this one is a graphic novel, which includes five creepy stories. I’ve seen Emily Carroll’s brilliant illustrations in Baba Yaga’s Assistant (a book I would highly recommend, and another great Halloween read for people who don’t want a scary story), and I was very impressed. I’m not such a fan of short stories in general, but paired with these kinds of creepy illustrations, I think they would work quite well!

10) Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe

880062I added this book to my list not long after reading the terrifying Little Girls by Ronald Malfi, and have actively avoided it ever since due to my aversion to ghost stories. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good ghost story, it’s just that they legitimately scare me and make it really difficult for me to sleep. This book is told from the perspective of Charles, a father whose 4-year-old daughter, is murdered, who is trying to uncover what happened to his daughter as well as the strange, paranormal activity going on in their house. It definitely sounds like the kind of story that would terrify me and possibly give me nightmares, but hopefully one day I will be brave enough to give it a chance.



Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Unique Book Titles

Once again I managed to get a bit mixed up with the order of my topics, and was fully prepared to write my Halloween-themed top 10 post today. I thought it was a bit weird that the theme would show up the week before the holiday, especially with Halloween actually being on a Tuesday, so I decided to check the list, where I soon discovered that I had got them confused for the second time this month. I really need to get more organized!

This week’s topic is a bit of a tricky one for me since I don’t necessarily find titles particularly interesting since most of them seem to fit the book quite well. I can’t really say what it is that makes me classify a title as “unique.” I decided to focus on books from my TBR, especially many of the titles that I added fairly recently.

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

1) Confusion Is Nothing New by Paul Acampora

36127491Can a title qualify as unique if it is a quote from a song? I’ll admit that I added this book to my list primarily because of the title, which I can’t look at without automatically hearing Time After Time in my head. I liked this title because not only is it a classic song lyric, but it is also a pretty appropriate quote that characterizes being a teenager. This book is about a teenage girl named Ellie, who was raised by her single father and is trying to figure out who she is without having her mother around to be a role model. The synopsis is fairly vague since the book is not due out until May 2018, so I’m hoping a little more detail will become available as we get closer to the release date.

2) Love and Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonslaves

31681354This is another book that is not due out until May of next year, but I thought it was an interesting title. I’ve actually always found the idea of carnivorous plants pretty interesting, and a topic that is not very common. I can’t quite figure out how the plants factor into the plot, since the synopsis says the book is about a girl struggling to find herself during her difficult freshman year at college. Aside from the title, this book appealed to me because there seem to be so few YA books that even address college beyond the stress of the application process. It has been described as “darkly funny,” and sounds like it could be a very interesting one to try.

3) The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

25650078I’m not 100% sure I can count this one as unique, since it reminds me quite a bit of another book on my TBR called The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. I decided to go with this one because it was a more recent addition to my list, but both of these would apply. I found this book while browsing options for a challenge prompt this year that requires a book about food, since I thought the book I wanted would not be available in time. This book is about a chef named Lou who meets and connects with a food critic named Al, not knowing that this was the man whose review nearly got her restaurant shut down. The book has been compared to “You’ve Got Mail,” so it sounds like it might be a lot of fun to read!

4) The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan

35604686This book appealed to me because of a combination of the unusual title and the beautiful cover art. It is a magical realism story about a teenage girl named Leigh who travels to Taiwan to meet her grandparents for the first time. Leigh is certain that when her mother committed suicide, she turned into a bird, which she is now determined to find. I like magical realism, but I sometimes find it difficult to get into depending on how well it is done. This book is supposed to be a great story about grief and finding hope, but I can also see myself having difficulty buying into the idea of Leigh being so convinced that her mother is now a bird. This book is due out in March 2018, so I’m looking forward to seeing what people think of it.

5) 36 Questions That Changed My Mind About You by Vicki Grant

34220094I almost passed right over this book while I was looking at lists of new and upcoming releases because I assumed it was a self-help book of some kind. This book is actually a YA story about Hildy and Paul, who both join a university psychology study that consists of 36 questions to determine whether falling in love can be engineered. As a former psychology major myself, I love the concept of a book set around a study of this kind. As part of my intro to psychology course, we were required to participate in studies by some of the older students, most of which were just online surveys. I think it’s a really interesting choice to have this as a key plot point in a book, and I’m looking forward to trying this one.

6) Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life by Sandra Beasley

9833965I’m really not a fan of non-fiction in general, but I thought the title to this one was pretty interesting. I have family members with severe allergies, and I work in a field where we always need to be conscious of allergies, so it is quite relevant to me. I thought the title “Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl” was appealing because of how it captures the potential dangers of severe allergies, and the book itself sounds really interesting. There is so much controversy sometimes about how to manage people’s allergies in schools, at work, etc. so it is also a topic that I think really needs to be opened up and discussed. This is one of the few non-fiction books I may actually be motivated to give a chance.

7) A Boy Made of Blocks by Keith Stuart

28220983The title of this book appealed to me because it immediately reminded me of Minecraft, a computer game I often play with my boyfriend and some friends. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book actually did focus on Minecraft as a way for the main character Alex to connect with his young son who has autism. Games are such an amazing way to connect with some children who have autism, so I thought it was pretty cool that an author out there decided to include that in his book. This book actually came out a little over a year ago, although I did not hear about it until very recently. Autism and Minecraft are two topics that really interest me, so I would love to see how the author manages to bring them together.

8) Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

28919058Honestly, when I first saw this title, I hated it. I tend to find made up words in titles pretty cringe-worthy, but the more I thought about this one, the more I thought it was kind of cute. It helped that one of my favourite Youtubers (CeCe at ProblemsOfABookNerd) was raving about this book! I also thought the cover art was very well-done, and the plot is right up my alley. This book is about a bisexual teenage boy named Tanner who is dared to take part in a prestigious writing seminar, where he must draft a book by the end of the semester. I almost took a creative writing class in my last year of high school as well, but I chickened out because I hated the idea of other people reading my writing (as ironic as that seems now), and especially of having to read what I wrote out loud. It’s also very hard for me to write on demand sometimes. I thought this book had a unique title because it was a twist on “autobiography” that seems to really capture the story. I am very excited to read this one!

9) The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

29283884I don’t know why I was convinced for the longest time that this book had something to do with pirates. The title doesn’t even remotely sound like a pirate story, so I have no clue where I got that from. I thought this book had a unique title because it made it sound like such an official guidebook, but also seems to perfectly capture the story, at least from what I’ve heard about it. This book is about a boy named Henry “Monty” Montague who is expected to become a gentleman, who is sent on a year-long trip to give him one last chance for all of his vices before he must return home and take over his family’s estate. This book has received so much hype this year that it has been practically impossible to avoid. Considering the rave reviews it has received from all of the reviewers I follow on Goodreads, I may have to give it a chance pretty soon.

10) We Were on a Break by Lindsey Kelk

30813401Like the first book on my list, I can’t really decide if this qualifies as unique since it is a direct quote. I literally cannot read this title without hearing Ross Gellar (from Friends) shouting it in my head. For that reason alone, I think I have to count it as a title that is very unique because I’m not sure other authors would be brave enough to use the line due to that association. This book is about a couple named Liv and Adam who go on holiday together, where Adam plans to propose. Somehow, the couple instead ends up taking a break from each other. It sounds like a great comedy of errors story, which can be a lot of fun to read. This is another book that has been out already for about a year, but I hadn’t heard of it until very recently. Sounds like a lot of fun!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Yummy Foods in Books

This was topic that really threw me off last week. I was convinced it was last week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic and was collecting ideas. I use that term a bit loosely though, since I found it quite a stressful topic. I’m a bit of a picky eater, but I love food…I just can’t say it’s something that I really pay attention to very much in books. Unless the characters are eating something really unique, I’m not very likely to remember what they ate after finishing the book. It was difficult to try to find even 5 books with memorable food, so realizing that this was a top 10 topic instead made it that much harder! I’m having some Internet problems at the moment, so I apologize for the lack of pictures to go with my choices. I just wanted to get the post up while I could!

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

1) Wizarding World Food –  The Harry Potter Series (JK Rowling)

This book is definitely the exception what I mentioned above about food being unmemorable. There are a few items that really don’t sound appetizing (Acid Pops or Cockroach Cluster, for example) but most of it sounds delicious! I’m a huge sweet eater, so I would love a trip to Honeyduke’s or Fortescue’s ice cream shop. I also love the incredible feasts the students have at Hogwarts, and I’d also love to eat some of Molly Weasley’s home cooking.

2) Coconut Cream Cake – The Reptile Room (Lemony Snicket)

Originally, I was thinking of including pasta puttanesca, which was such a big part of the first Series of Unfortunate Events book, but once I saw a list of ingredients, I knew it was something I wouldn’t really eat. I’m not a huge fan of coconut, but the cake that Baudelaires eat when they first meet their Uncle Monty just sounds delicious! It was obviously memorable enough to them because it shows up again toward the end of the series where Sunny decides to make it again for Violet’s birthday.

3) Lots of Chocolate and Candy! – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl)

To be fair, I’m probably thinking of the movie more than the book with this one since I’ve seen the movie so many times. I’ve always loved the idea of a chocolate waterfall, although I still have no idea how it would be kept sanitary to actually eat. I also love all the different Wonka bars that came out, especially the Whipple-Scrumption Fudgemallow Delight, where Charlie finds his Golden Ticket. I love anything chocolaty!

4) Enchanted Fudge – No Such Thing as a Witch (Ruth Chew)

It’s a good thing my recent post about books involving witches reminded me of this childhood favourite. In this book, the children’s neighbour has enchanted fudge. Eating one piece makes them love animals, two makes them understand what animals are saying, three makes them act like animals, and four actually turns them into an animal! When I was younger, I thought it would be so much fun to be able to turn into an animal like the children in this book, but now I think I’d probably stop at just one or two pieces.

5) Capitol Food/Mellark Bakery – The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

I know most people will probably pick the delicious meals that Katniss eats in the Capitol. The food she eats during her training and with all of the people helping her prepare for the games (ie. Cinna) sounds amazing, but I also was very tempted by Peeta’s bakery. I’m a huge sucker for freshly baked bread, and other baked treats. The books mentioned raisin bread, iced cakes, and cinnamon bread, all of which are favourites of mine.

6) Edible Cookie Dough – The Upside of Unrequited (Becky Albertalli)

I love cookie dough in my ice cream, and I would quite happily eat it on it’s own if it was safe to do so. When I was reading the book, I think I naturally assumed it was regular chocolate chip cookie dough, but I’m sure there are plenty of varieties that we could make. I can’t remember if the recipe was actually included with the book, although I’m pretty sure it was not. I’m really not into the whole mason jar food trend, but edible cookie dough just sounds awesome.

7) Gelato – Love and Gelato (Jenna Evans Welch)

I actually wasn’t a huge fan of this book, which was a shame since I waited quite a while for the library to find me a copy. It was a fairly generic YA contemporary story, but I didn’t really like the characters. However, I have never tried gelato and this book made me really interested in tasting some! I love ice cream and frozen yogurt, and I honestly don’t understand how gelato is any different, but the flavours described throughout this book sounded delicious.

8) Chocolate, Chabela Wedding Cake and Three Kings’ Day Bread –  Like Water for Chocolate (Laura Esquival)

I’m only about halfway through this book right now, so I haven’t even reached the chapters about some of these foods yet. Honestly, everything sounds delicious but these are the three recipes that I think I’d be most likely to actually eat. I’m not really a big fan of the way the recipe steps are mixed in with the story, but the food all sounds so good. Even the recipes that I probably would never try in real life sound pretty tempting.

9) Many Foods – Relish: My Life in the Kitchen (Lucy Knisley)

I read this book late last year and I don’t own a copy, so I can’t remember specifically which foods were mentioned, but there were so many that sounded great. This book is a graphic novel in which Lucy Knisley describes the key role food and cooking have played in her life. I went into this book not really expecting much and I ended up really enjoying it, especially because I loved the attitude Lucy Knisley had toward food and eating, including a section about how we should not dismiss foods that people enjoy just because they are cheap or less healthy. I fully understand the importance of healthy eating, but I also very strongly believe that people need to enjoy what they are eating in order to make good food choices.

10) Our Daily Bread Bakery –  The Storyteller (Jodi Picoult)

This may seem like a bit of an odd choice for a list of books with great food, considering that it is primarily a Holocaust story. However, one of the main characters is a baker, and one of the things I really enjoyed about this book were the descriptions of how Sage made her baked goods. As I said above, I’m a huge sucker when it comes to freshly baked food and I would love to be able to visit a bakery every day if I could. Nearly every item at a bakery sounds good to me!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Ten Books with Fall Themed Covers

Fall has always been my favourite season, and I’m sure a big part of that is the fact that my birthday is just before Halloween. It meant that when I was younger, I would go from having birthday cake directly to having Halloween candy immediately after. I also love Fall because of the beautiful colours of all the leaves, the fact that most bugs (especially bees!) finally start to go away, and because it is generally the perfect temperature. I don’t do very well with very hot weather since I overheat very easily, to the point where I feel nauseated. I like spring weather, but hate that my seasonal allergies always act up because of everything growing, which almost inevitably turns into a cold. I actually don’t really mind winter, even when it’s cold, except for having to walk in the deep snow/ice because the city apparently assumes that no one walks through public parks in the winter, even though it is connected to an elementary school and a community center. Fall is the perfect balance for me, so I was happy to see this week’s theme. I associate fall with both Halloween, and colourful trees, so that’s what I looked for when choosing covers. I haven’t read many of these books yet, but their covers just screamed fall to me.

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

1) And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

28449150I just finished this book the other day, so it was the first to come to mind for me when it came to fall covers. This is definitely a cover that I think is perfect for Halloween, with the creepy skeletal trees. I’m actually not a big fan of the girl in the white dress falling through the middle. I didn’t even notice it when I first saw the book, and I actually think it detracts a bit from the cover. It just doesn’t seem necessary, nor does it it fit the story that well. This book is about two sisters who move into their aunt’s creepy manor, which they quickly realize must be haunted or cursed. Silla, the older sister, tries to unlock the mysteries of the house while protecting Nori, her younger sister, from all the horrors, including the woods that seem to be getting closer every day. I really enjoyed this book, and it is perfect for getting into the Halloween spirit.

2) The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty

1282954I haven’t read this book yet, but Liane Moriarty has become one of my favourite authors over the past few years. I have read four of her books so far and enjoyed them all, although Big Little Lies is still my favourite. I chose this cover because of the bright orange and red leaves on the tree, which definitely looked like a tree at the start of the fall. This book is about a woman named Sophie who has unexpectedly inherited her ex-boyfriend’s aunt’s house, bringing her ex who she considers the one who got away back into her life. The home that Sophie inherits was also the home of a famously unsolved mystery, so it’s possible there could be some creepy/Halloween-ish elements here as well.

3) Things I Want My Daughters To Know by Elizabeth Noble

1152201I haven’t read this book yet either, although it has been on my TBR for a ridiculously long time. I chose this book because the colour scheme of the cover was very heavy on oranges and yellows, which seemed very appropriate for fall, and also because of the leaves the person is holding. This book is about a mother named Barbara who passes away, leaving behind letters and a journal to her daughters about things she wants them to know. The book follows Barbara’s daughters during their first year without their mother as they learn to come to terms with her loss and move forward. It sounds like it could be a very interesting family story, but also could be quite depressing.

4) A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks

3473This is one of the few on the list that I actually have read, and I chose it because the  non-movie cover features beautifully coloured fall trees. To be fair, I actually enjoyed the movie version quite a bit more than the book, but that may just be because I saw the movie first. This book is set in the late 1950s, and focuses on a bad boy named Landon Carter who falls in love with Jamie Sullivan, the minister’s daughter. I generally enjoy Nicholas Sparks’ books, but I remember being a little disappointed with this one although the movie is one of my favourites. I just couldn’t help comparing the two versions, which is a problem I have any time there are adaptations. Whatever version I read or watch first is the version I tend to like best. I think I’m long overdue for a re-read though.

5) The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller

12224817This is another book that I think I’ve had on my TBR for quite a while, but it seemed like a perfect fit for a fall-themed list. I chose it because of the yellow and orange leaves on the cover, but also because this book focuses on school. In this book, a secret society threatens to expose students and teachers’ discretions at the highly competitive Mariana Academy. The book focuses on Iris Dupont, a student who wants to become an investigative journalist and who sets out to uncover who is behind this secret society. I thought a school setting was perfect for fall since it is back-to-school season, and the cover artwork is definitely fall-themed.

6) The Next Time You See Me by Joyce Maynard

15802753Compiling this list has made me realize how many books have been on it for way too long. I chose this book because the of the bed of leaves on the cover, including the single bright red leaf on the swing. I also thought the empty swing gave it a kind of creepy atmosphere, that might be in the Halloween spirit. This book is about a 13-year-old girl who finds a dead body while playing in the woods and decides not to tell anyone about it. The synopsis also describes a woman named Susanna, whose older sister has gone missing and no one else in the city seems to care to find out what happened to her. It sounds like a very interesting mystery/thriller, and the perfect fall read.

7) The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

17934519This is another book that I chose for a blend of the cover artwork and the school setting. The cover features a leafy ground, and a lot of orange leaves. The book is set in a New England boarding school, where the Headmaster Arthur Winthrop is found wandering naked by the police, leading to his story of his marriage and family. The plot synopsis on Goodreads is relatively vague and none of the reviewers I follow seem to have read this one yet so I don’t know too much about it. If I recall correctly, I added it to my list because it sounded like an interesting and unusual storyline, and because the cover art was very appealing when I first saw it.

8) The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle

15655This was actually one of the first books I had in mind when I saw this week’s topic, since I had a distinct memory of having a book on my TBR for a very long time with a prominent yellow leaf on the cover. This book is about a young widow named Sarah who is raising two boys, and soon takes on another troubled child after a “shocking revelation rips apart the family of her closest friend” (according to the Goodreads summary). It is another book that does not seem to be very well-known, although it has an average rating just over 4 stars so it sounds like it could be a good one. Just browsing through the reviews, it seems that the majority of readers really enjoyed it so it may be one that I will have to get to soon.

9) The Memory Trees by Kali Wallace

33830397This is a cover that was more on the Halloween side of fall-themed, and it may be the only book here that is a very recent release, just coming out today! This book is a magical realism story about a girl named Sorrow who belongs to an eccentric family, and leaves them for eight years after her sister dies and her mother has a mental breakdown. When she is 16, Sorrow returns to her family’s orchard one summer to learn more about the past she barely remembers and her family.  I chose this book because of the dark and almost creepy trees on the cover that seem to have lost most of their leaves. It seemed like it could have a darker side to the story, and it might be one that is good to read around Halloween.

10) After Her by Joyce Maynard

17349250This one is another book that was more on the Halloween-inspired side, with skeletal trees and a bed of leaves on the ground on the cover. This book is about two sisters who live near a mountain in northern California where young women keep turning up dead. The girls’ father, a detective, is working on finding the man responsible for these crimes and after seeing his struggles to do so, one of the daughters decides to use herself as bait to catch the killer. Reviews for this one have been pretty mixed, and none of the reviewers that I follow have read it yet, so I’m not sure how this one will be. However, I would definitely say it has a very creepy fall-themed cover!

Top 10 Tuesdays: Top 10 Book Boyfriends

I’ll admit that I cringed when I first saw this topic on the list since I have never been one to get crushes on fictional characters. I used to find it so weird when my friends would obsess over celebrities they would never meet (let alone the age difference), or fictional characters. It just seemed pointless to me to have a crush on someone who doesn’t exist. The more I started to think about it though, the more I realized there were some characters that I might be able to classify as a crush. I interpreted the topic more as fictional crushes rather than “book boyfriend” since I would not necessarily want to date some (or most, actually) of these people.

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

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

I think this character might have been my first ever fictional “crush.” I remember Peter being one of my favourite characters when I first read the series because he seemed so brave and smart.  I was probably about 8 when I first read the book, so to me Peter at whatever age he was  (I would guess around 13 or 14?) seemed so grown-up. I really admired his maturity and the way he looked after his siblings. I thought he was a great older brother to Lucy, although maybe not to Edmund. I also thought Peter was a strong leader. He’s the first fictional character from a book I can really remember feeling some kind of connection to.

2) Gomez Addams from The Addams Family cartoons  (Charles Addams)

To be fair, these are not really book characters although their comics have been collected into books, so I’m counting it anyway. Honestly, most of my crush on Gomez has to do with Raul Julia’s performance in The Addams Family and The Addams Family Values. It’s so hard for me to pick a favourite portrayal of Gomez because each actor brings something very different to the role, but if I had to pick just one I would probably go with his. Even in the comics, Gomez is such a fascinating character. I would not necessarily want him as a boyfriend because of all the eccentricities, but I’ve always loved his devotion to his wife and family and the way Gomez and Morticia have kept such a passionate relationship for so long.

3) Laurie from Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

The first time I read Little Women, I was absolutely devastated when Jo rejected Laurie, although it does make a lot of sense. This is another case where my initial interest in the character probably started because of the movie, but I loved Laurie in the book as well. He was such a charming character and although he always came across as a bit of a player, he was also very kind and generous and very devoted to those he cared about.

4) Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Joss Whedon)

Again, this one is cheating because my crush on Spike is because of the TV series, not the comics, but since there are lots of Buffy-related books and the graphic novel series, I am counting it anyway. While most people seem to prefer Angel, I’ve always been a lot more fascinated by Spike. He was one of the most compelling characters on the show, because for a character who always went on about how “evil” he was, his actions quite often proved otherwise. When Spike loved someone, he loved them wholeheartedly and would quite literally go to the ends of the Earth for them. He was a passionate and devoted partner, and I’ve also always enjoyed his sarcastic humour.

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

I know a lot of people would probably go for Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice instead, and I thought about including him as well but his arrogance was really irritating. Jane Eyre was a book that I very strongly connected with as soon as I read it, and I loved the relationship that developed between Jane and Mr. Rochester. I really loved their banter and the way Jane would not let him get away with treating people badly. I thought he was such a compelling character, and I loved the way he treated Jane as an intellectual equal. This is another character that I would not want to date necessarily, but I was very interested in him as a character.

6) Reid from The Upside of Unrequited (Becky Albertalli)

This one is mostly because I’m always a sucker for the geeky, overlooked character in these kinds of stories. It was actually nice that for once Molly’s popular love interest wasn’t a complete jerk, but I always thought Reid was the more interesting character. I thought he was just such an adorable, nerdy character, and probably the type that I would have been friends with in real life. I would say someone I’d have a crush on, but I’ve honestly never really been the crush type. Plus, the guy goes to Renaissance Faires, which just sound awesome. I’m not really into convention-type events because of the crowds, but that’s one I would probably try.

7) Levi from Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell)

While I didn’t necessarily agree with all of Levi’s behaviour in this book, I thought he was another adorable character. I loved his interactions with Cath, and especially thought all the scenes of her reading her fanfiction out loud to him were very sweet. Levi is a smart and charming character with a great sense of humour. He also seemed to be a very loyal boyfriend and I loved how he put so much effort into trying to get to know Cath and break through the social anxiety a little. At the risk of being offensive, I am pretty certain I have social anxiety myself although I have never been properly assessed or diagnosed. In that sense, I think Levi would be a great book boyfriend because he is willing to work through that and try to get to know the person beyond the anxiety.

8) Jacin from Winter (Marissa Meyer) 

Honestly, I probably could have picked any of the male leads from The Lunar Chronicles since I thought all of them were amazing characters. I picked Jacin by a small margin because I loved how protective he was and how he took care of Winter through everything, although in terms of dating prospects, I would not like how he purposely distances himself from the people in cares about to try to protect them. Thinking about it now, I also think Captain Thorne would be on the same level. I don’t necessarily like how much of a player he was, but I can’t get over his interactions with Cress!

9) Sirius Black from Harry Potter (JK Rowling)

I think this might be one of the weirder choices on my list since it probably would have made sense to choose one of the characters who was closer to my age, but I’ve always had some kind of connection with Sirius Black as a character. I think in a sense I don’t really see him as that much older, at least at this point in my life. In terms of a boyfriend, I think Sirius would be much too impulsive and reckless for me, but I also really love his devotion to his friends and to Harry. It’s actually kind of tough to get an accurate read on what Sirius would be like in a normal context since his freedom is limited pretty much the entire time he is in the series, but he’s always been a character that fascinated me.

10) Klaus Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events (Lemony Snicket)

This is one of the few characters that in a way, I could have pictured myself dating when I was his age. Like Klaus, I was always very interested in reading and collecting obscure facts, so I could easily imagine having library dates where we find books to share with each other. I also always loved the old-fashioned style of the Baudelaire siblings, and have never been able to figure out when exactly this series was supposed to be set. Klaus always seemed like a polite, respectful and intelligent young man and exactly the type I would have imagined dating at that age.