Top 5 Wednesdays: Nostalgic Book Crushes

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

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

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

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

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

2) Laurie from Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)

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

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

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

4) Mike Harris from The Guardian (Nicholas Sparks)

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

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

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

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Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Problematic Favourites

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

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

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

1) Will Traynor (Me Before You by JoJo Moyes)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Genre-Bending Books

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

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

1) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

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

2) Monstress: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu

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

3) The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

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

4) The Pendragon Series by DJ MacHale

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

5) Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

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

 

Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Non-Horror Books That Scared You

I’m a coward when it comes to true horror stories, but I really love a good thriller. It can be fun to read books that are a little bit scary or creepy, although I find they tend to haunt me for way too long afterwards. One of the things I found interesting about this week’s prompt is that there are so many ways to interpret it. My first instinct was to choose books that I found scary or chilling, but I’ve also seen several responses where the blogger chose to include books that they were afraid to try, or with a dystopian world that seems a little too realistic. It was a bit tricky to think of books that really scared me!

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

1) Defending Jacob by William Landay

11367726I feel like I talk about this book all the time, but it is a book that I read two years ago that still sticks with me. This book is a thriller about a lawyer named Andy Barber whose teenage son, Jacob, is accused of murdering a classmate. Andy is convinced that this son must be innocent and wants to do everything in his power to protect him, but his wife is less certain. This book scared me because it really did a great job of leaving you guessing where you stand on Jacob’s involvement in the other boy’s death. Some of the scenes were particularly chilling, especially the shocking ending. It is a book that I never would have heard of without my reading challenge, but I’m so glad I gave it a chance.

2) We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

91aufmu8jtlThis is another very chilling thriller that focuses on a teenage boy. In this book, a young man named Kevin went on a rampage at his school, killing several other students and staff. The book is written in the form of letters from Kevin’s mother, Eva, to her estranged husband as she tries to come to terms with her son’s actions. I thought the book was a very powerful nature vs. nurture story, and like Defending Jacob, it really kept you questioning where you stand. Eva was such an unlikeable character, but for me that only contributed to the power of the story about whether Kevin really was a monster, or just an unfortunate case of a neglected child. This is another book that has really stuck with me.

3) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

12232938To be fair, I did not love this book anywhere near as much as everyone else seems to. This book is told from the perspective of a teenager named Susie Salmon who was raped and murdered on her way home from school, following her in the after-life as she watches over her friends and family as they try to cope with her loss. The book itself wasn’t that creepy for me, although it easily could have been since I tend to find stories about ghosts very scary. The main reason this one scared me was because while reading a specific scene about Susie rushing past someone as a ghost, where she seemed to be only a fast-moving white light, I thought I saw a flash of light in my hallway and it startled me. It really creeped me out!

4) The Ghost at Dawn’s House by Ann M. Martin

371125This may seem like a silly one to add, but while I was thinking about books that scared me over the years, this was one of the earliest I could remember. This book is part of the Babysitter’s Club series, where the girls discover that there is a secret passage in Dawn’s house which she believes is haunted by a ghost. Dawn soon discovers an old book of her grandmother’s that talks about a man who used to live in the house who mysteriously disappeared, and assumes that this must be the ghost. It seems silly now to be so creeped out by this book, but I was so scared of it that I couldn’t even stand to have it in my room! After reading it the first time, I was so scared that I hid it away in the basement so I wouldn’t have to see it.

5) A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer

60748This book is scary on a completely different level, although I have to say that I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing itself. This book is an autobiographical account of Dave Pelzer’s childhood with a severely abusive mother. Dave was brutally beaten, starved, and tortured by a parent who, for some reason, considered him an “it” instead of a person. This was one of the first books about abuse that I’d ever read, and I was truly horrified to learn that people could behave so cruelly toward others, especially toward a child. While I knew that abuse existed, it was shocking to read a first-hand account of what it was actually like to live in that situation. I know that since then the veracity of the book has been called into question, but even if it were fictional, it is still horrifying to read!

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books with Creepy Settings

So this is a first — I got completely mixed up about what this week’s topic was. I had today’s topic confused with next week’s Top 10 Tuesday theme (Top 10 Foods Mentioned in Books), which I’ve been stressing about since it is not something I pay attention to at all. I was surprised to go online today to see Sam’s video about books with creepy settings. I have no idea how that happened! Luckily for me, this topic is much easier and there were several books that immediately stood out. I’m scared of true horror books, but I love books that have a creepy or chilling atmosphere. There are so many examples of books where the atmosphere completely makes the story, and it is the creepy ones that tend to really stay with me.

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

1) Aunt Cath’s House from And the Trees Crept In (Dawn Kurtagich)

28449150Due to the poor planning on my part, this is my second time this week talking about this book, but it is a book that is definitely worth mentioning. This book is set in a blood-red manor house, surrounded by a creepy woods that seems to be coming closer and closer each day. The main character, Silla, and her sister Nori are trapped in the house due to their fear of the “Creeper Man,” a demonic creature who lives in the woods, and who Aunt Cath tells the girls might hurt them if they go in the woods. Aunt Cath’s manor is full of strange noises and the haunting atmosphere takes a toll on the sanity of the people living there. It was a very creepy book, and well-worth reading!

2) Laurie’s House from Little Girls (Ronald Malfi)

little_girlsI know we were not limited to horror stories for this week’s topic, but this was one of the first that came to mind. This is one of the only true horror stories I ever read and I loved it, although I’m still a bit scared of it. In this book, a woman named Laurie returns to her childhood home to settle her father’s estate after his apparent suicide, and soon realizes that the girl next door remarkably resembles the cruel neighbour and “friend” who lived next-door and who died when they were children. The house in this book almost feels like a character of its own given the elaborate descriptions and the huge presence it has throughout the story. This is by far one of the scariest books I have ever read, and the setting was a huge part of it.

3) The Peculiars’ Home from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)

missperegrinecoverI know a lot of people felt that the eerie pictures in this series were a gimmick, but for me, they worked. The Peculiars are a group of children who live on a remote island off the coast of Wales. In this book, the main character Jacob has always loved his grandfather’s stories of the unusual home where he lived with other strange children, guarded by a bird. After his grandfather’s brutal death by what appears to be a monster, Jacob convinces his parents to let him follow his grandfather’s stories to a remote island near Wales, where he explores the abandoned remains of the home his grandfather claimed to live in, and eventually comes to meet the peculiar children he has always heard so much about. This book was not scary at all, like many people were expecting, but I thought the Peculiars’ home was quite creepy, even when we got to see it fully-functioning and inhabited.

4) Elspeth’s Apartment from Her Fearful Symmetry (Audrey Niffenegger)

7106736It’s been quite a while since I read this book, but I remember the atmosphere being very creepy. This book focuses on Julia and Valentina, twins who move to an apartment in London beside the cemetery, after their aunt Elspeth dies of cancer. Elspeth is their mother’s estranged twin sister, who promises her apartment to the girls on the condition that their parents never enter it. The twins eventually come to realize that their aunt may never have left the apartment, and get to know the eccentric neighbours. This was another brilliant story by Audrey Niffenegger, and I think any home that is right beside a cemetery is bound to be pretty creepy! I also thought the book was a little creepy because of the twins and their relationship. I know that in real life, twins are not really creepy but they often are in books and in this case, it is a little creepy how entwined the girls are toward the beginning.

5) John Comestor’s Apartment in Lost (Gregory Maguire)

24929This is another case of a book with a creepy, haunted apartment. In this book, Winifred travels to London to work on her latest novel about a woman who is haunted by the ghost of Jack the Ripper. She gets to the apartment to find that her step-cousin and friend John Comestor has disappeared and his place seems to be haunted. There is a strange knocking noise on the wall, and other creepy events that lead Winnie to try to figure out if there really is a ghost. This is another book that it’s been quite a while since I picked up, so I can’t remember all of the details, but I remember finding a lot of it quite creepy. Any book where the walls make strange noises will pretty much creep me out, but I have a pretty low tolerance threshold for creepy things.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Books Featuring Witches

I have always been very interested in stories about witches. My Halloween costume for about ten years straight was a witch. Well, technically a witch or a vampire — I had a black robe, and worse similar makeup for both. It was pretty much up to the people passing out candy to decide which one they thought I was, once I’d lost my witch hat. I think part of my interest is that witches are just unusual enough to appeal to my interest in fantasy, but also almost realistic enough that they seem possible to exist in the real world. They also tend to be a lot less scary than other supernatural beings, so some books involving witches were creepy enough without haunting me like most horror books do.

I was surprised to find how few books involving witches I’d actually read considering they are some of my favourite characters. Actually, one of my earliest favourite books was No Such Thing as a Witch by Ruth Chew, a book about two children who believe their next-door neighbour might be a witch. I loved this book and read it so many times, and I especially loved how the magic in it revolved around animals. Maggie, the witch in this story, gave the children enchanted fudge which let them understand animal language and even turn into animals themselves. I used to think it would be so much fun to have those abilities!

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

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

8I think this is completely a cliched and obvious choice for this week’s topic, but I just couldn’t write about my favourite books involving witches without including my true favourite. Aside from the absolute wonder of the wizarding world and how intricately that was created, the witches in this series are incredible. Aside from Hermione, you have amazing characters like Professor McGonagall, Molly Weasley, and even the horrific Dolores Umbridge, easily one of the scariest villains I’ve ever read. The witches in this series are powerful women, and this series is also a prime example of how easy it can be to believe that these people might really live among us.

2) Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

37442I actually like the stage version of this story better than the book, but it is still a very interesting retelling/prequel of the Wizard of Oz, focus on Elphaba, a green-skinned child who will grow up to become the Wicked Witch of the West. This book backtracks to her early childhood to show us how she became so “wicked.” The book consists of quite a bit of political and social commentary, and it is very different from the stage version. I was actually very hesitant to see the musical in the first place. A friend once had an extra ticket and invited me along, and I very reluctantly accepted. At the time, I knew very little about the story and had no interest in seeing it. I’m so glad I decided to go, since it is now one of my all-time favourite musicals! The book is a lot slower-paced and a lot more intense to get through, but still a very interesting story.

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

140212This was another of the earliest witch stories I’ve ever read, and one of my first favourite books. The White Witch was such an intimidating villain when I first read the book. I’m sure most of us are familiar with the story, but on the off-chance anyone is not, this book is about a group of four siblings who discover a world called Narnia through their wardrobe. This world is currently stuck in a permanent winter due to The White Witch, and one where Christmas is never celebrated. She establishes a cruel reign over her subjects, turning them into stone when they disobey, and banned humans from Narnia due to a prophecy that she would be overthrown by two girls and two boys. I thought The White Witch was such an interesting villain, and especially how she tried to use her influence to capture the children. I still really love this book!

4) Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

10915I wanted to include this book because it covers a different kind of witch story, more along the lines of the Salem Witch Trials. While there are no “true” witches in this book, there are teenage girls who have an interest in the occult and consider themselves witches, experimenting with Wicca. The book is about a teacher named Jack who has been falsely accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student, and who moves to Salem Falls for a fresh start after serving his sentence. His past quickly becomes public knowledge, and the girls take an interest in him, eventually accusing him of sexually assaulting one, Gillian, during a Beltane celebration. This book was interesting because it was a modern take on the Salem Witch Trials, a period in history I’ve always found fascinating.

5) Uprooted by Naomi Novik

22544764I debated for a while whether to classify Agnieszka as a witch, but I think she could qualify. This book takes place in a village surrounded by a corrupted Wood, which is protected by a wizard known as the Dragon. Every 10 years, the Dragon demands a young woman to be handed over to serve him in exchange for protection from the Wood. Agnieszka was such an amazing character and I thought the magic system in this world was really creative and well-done. I love stories about characters who are learning to use magic and finding out about how their spells work. This has definitely been one of my favourite books of the year so far.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Books I Read Because of Online Communities

I have no idea why, but I really don’t like the word “Booktube” (Youtube channels devoted to talking about books), although I do watch quite a few channels. I love watching people share the books they love, and I enjoy reading book blogs. It’s only really been in the past two or three years that I really got involved with online book-related communities, especially since starting my Goodreads account. Because of these bloggers and vloggers, I have discovered quite a few books that interest me and many that I have already tried.

In most cases, these are books that I picked up because I saw them continuously on nearly every channel that I watched or every blog that I read. Because of my aversion to overhype, I avoided most of these books for a while before finally cracking and deciding to give them a chance. After all, if so many people are talking about them, there must be a reason for it.

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

1) I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

20820994This was one of a few YA contemporary books that seemed to be all over every video I watched. The book is about a girl named Jude and her twin brother Noah who have grown apart over the years. The story is told from the perspectives of both twins but on different timelines. Noah’s perspective focuses on the past when they were 13, and Jude’s is set in the present when the twins are 16.  It took me a little while to get into the book, but I ultimately really enjoyed it. I thought it had a great storyline and very interesting characters. The style was quite different from other YA books, not only because of the shifting timeline, but also because the chapters were relatively long and Noah’s perspective specifically used a lot of odd metaphors. It was a great book, and one I probably would not have known about otherwise.

2) The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

29995315I literally could not avoid this series! There were several series that came up repeatedly in nearly everyone’s videos and blog posts, and this was one of the most prevalent. This is a series of fairy tale retellings which also blend sci-fi and dsytopian elements. The main character of the series is Linh Cinder, a cyborg and mechanic, living in New Beijing where a deadly plague has affected the population. The world is also in trouble due to the Lunar people, who live on the moon and are led by the villainous Queen Levana. Each book in the series introduces new characters who are versions of several classic fairy tale favourites, and develops an excellent story about Cinder and her allies’ rebellion to overthrow Levana. The characters in this series are amazing! This was a series that I actively avoided for a long time because it seemed so overhyped and not something I would necessarily enjoy, but I’m so glad I gave it a chance!

3) Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

12000020Honestly, I feel like I’m missing something a bit with this book because I didn’t love it nearly as much as everyone else seems to. This book is about two teenage boys who meet over the summer at the pool, and develop a special friendship that helps them learn more about themselves. I picked this book up because it was one of several YA books that every channel seemed to talk about, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t quite love it either. I thought the characters were interesting and the book was well-written, but I thought the ending felt a little forced. I actually feel like I need to give this book another chance at some point because there were some aspects of it that I really loved.

4) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

32075671I’m cheating a bit with this one because I haven’t quite finished it yet, but hopefully I will today. I actually can’t remember where I first heard of this book, but it has been absolutely everywhere online. It was another book that I actively avoided for a while because it seemed very overhyped, and I was worried that it couldn’t possibly live up to it. I’m a little more than halfway through now, and I’m very impressed to find that it really is that good! This book is about a teenage girl named Starr whose childhood best friend is shot by a police officer right in front of her, and how her life is affected by the event. This book was all over the internet and widely praised for being such a powerful and meaningful story. I’m so glad I decided to try it.

5) All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

18460392I can’t remember this book being talked about quite as much as the others mentioned here, but I do remember hearing about it on several vlogs. The book is about two teenagers who meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, both contemplating suicide. They end up working together on a school project to discover some of the “wonders” of their home state, during which they develop a bond. I understand that a lot of people have taken issue with this book because of the potentially problematic portrayal of mental illness and suicide. I honestly did not have the same impression when I read the book, and I really enjoyed the story.