Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Books Featuring Your Paranormal Creature of Choice

If I had to pick just one paranormal creature to read about, it would probably be witches. Unfortunately for me, a recent Top 5 Wednesday topic already covered books with witches so it was a bit of a struggle to find another favourite that I had read more than one or two books about. I enjoy paranormal stories but I haven’t read too many of them because so many seem very similar to Twilight. I decided to go with books about monsters since they seem to be a kind of creature that don’t get as much attention as vampires, ghosts or werewolves. It may be a bit of a cheat in a sense, since I’ve always thought of monster as a fairly broad term covering most paranormal creatures. Here are five books about monsters that I’ve read and enjoyed.

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) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

a_monster_callsThis was the first book that came to mind when I decided to write about books about monsters. This book still resonates as one of the strongest books that I read last year, which I devoured in one sitting. It is about a young boy named Conor who has frightening nightmares about a monster while dealing with  his mother’s cancer treatments. Conor wakes up to find the monster outside his window, who visits him each night. This is an incredible, raw and emotional book, especially for something aimed toward a middle grade audience. It is one of the few books that has genuinely made me cry. The illustrations are stunning, and the story is so well-written.

2) This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

23299512I read this book earlier this year, and it quickly became a favourite. It takes place in a city where people’s cruel and violent acts create real monsters. The book focuses on Kate, the daughter of powerful man who lets monsters roam free and forces people to pay for protection from them, and August, a monster who does not want to be one. This was the first book by Victoria Schwab that I have ever read, and I was very impressed with her writing style. I thought it was really interesting how this book incorporated several different kinds of monsters, and especially the whole element of how people (and monsters) can choose whether to behave like monsters. I always tend to love characters who have these kinds of shades of grey, and I can’t wait to read the next one.

3) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

18490I couldn’t possibly make a list of monster books without including this classic. As I’m sure most people know from all the versions of this over the years, this book is about a creature cobbled together from other people’s remains by Dr. Victor Frankenstein. As soon as the creature is brought to life, Dr. Frankenstein is horrified by what he has done and abandons it, causing the creature to wander the world to find a place where he might belong, becoming more angry and vengeful the more he is rejected. I was a little hesitant to read this book after already being so familiar with the basic story. I ended up really enjoying it. The book is quite different from the many versions we see in the movies, but it is still a powerful story.

4) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

19543This is probably one of the earliest monster books most children read. I actually barely remember reading it as a child and I don’t think I was a huge fan of it, but I reread it again as an adult for my children’s literature class and I loved it. This book is about a little boy named Max who gets into trouble at home and is sent to his room. While there, a forest grows and a boat comes to take Max to a place where the “wild things” are, where he immediately decides he will be their king and starts a huge party. Unlike other monster stories, this is definitely not a scary book. It is actually a very sweet story that shows how even when children behave like wild animals, their parents still care about them. I’m glad I gave this book another chance.

5) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

missperegrinecoverMost people think of the peculiar children when they think of this series, but there are also some pretty creepy monsters involved. The book features two main kinds of monsters: wights and hollowgasts, both of which are strange creatures that attack Peculiars to consume their souls. The hollowgasts were the more obvious monsters, especially frightening because they are invisible to Peculiars, but the Wights were even more creepy in a way because they look so human and can shapeshift easily, making them very difficult to detect in what may be an even scarier way. As disturbing as invisible monsters are, the idea of monsters hiding out in plain sight as humans is just as creepy! This is not a book I would necessarily consider a monster story, but they definitely play a key role.

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Stacking the Shelves (#1)

Last month, during the Top 10 Tuesday topic hiatus, I made a post about 10 books that I had recently added to my TBR on Goodreads. My TBR list is constantly expanding and I thought it would be fun to revisit this topic periodically to give a look at some of the books I most recently decided to add. The struggle was trying to find a way to differentiate these posts from my usual weekly Top 5 and Top 10 lists — a problem I have not yet figured out how to solve. Although I do add books to my TBR pretty frequently, this is most likely something I will revisit once a month or so. This week alone, I added 14 books to my shelves, just to give a sense of how huge my shelves can get. My TBR is currently sitting at almost 1700 books!

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week. It is hosted by TyngaReviews and ReadingReality

1) The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

29417325If I remember correctly, I found this book because it was suggested to me based on another book I’d already read, although I can’t remember exactly which one. I also thought the cover art was very interesting. This book is about Ruby and Ethan, a couple who has split up and meet again 10 years later at Ruby’s sister’s wedding. For a while, I avoided these kinds of contemporary romance stories but after reading The Hating Game this year, I realized how much fun they could be. This book is also supposed to be a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which I haven’t read but I love Jane Austen so I think it could be good.

2) Crossed and 3) Reached by Allie Condie

1581281413125947I finished reading Matched earlier this week, one of several series that I’d been meaning to try for a while. While I do agree with a lot of online reviews I’d seen which commented that it was not the most original dystopian, I still really enjoyed the book and I’m interested enough to find out what happens next. I went through a phase for a while where I actively avoided reading any more YA dystopians because after The Hunger Games (which I loved) and Divergent (which I liked), they all started to feel pretty similar. I thought Matched was generally well written, although a little rushed in places. It will be interesting to see how the story and characters develop in the rest of the series.

4) Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break-Up Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence

32768516Aside from the ridiculously long title, this book just seems like such a cool concept! This book consists of a series of letters addressed to various books that Annie Spence has read. I love the idea of this because it seems like such a unique format for writing reviews and sharing your opinions on books. I enjoy reading book reviews online, but I’ve never really thought about reading a book that consists of reviews. I especially love the creativity of how this book is set up, and also just the idea that our attachment to books can sometimes feel pretty similar to relationships with people. This is a new release that will be out on September 26, so it is definitely something to look forward to!

5) The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt

31247109I discovered this book a couple of days ago when I went to the library to pick up a couple of my requested book that had come in. This book was on a display near the door featuring some of the new and popular books, and the cover art caught my attention. This book was released in February of this year, and focuses on a woman named Dahlia Waller who is trying to distance herself from her childhood with her eccentric mother, and years later she returns home to confront her mother and try to piece together the secrets of her past. I’m a little worried about this one because the Goodreads reviews so far have generally been pretty mixed, with many quite negative comments about the book being slow and confusing. Although I often look at reviews, I don’t necessarily let them put me off a book, so I’ll have to wait and see when I read it myself.

6) Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato

29939185This was another book that I discovered on the same shelf in the library as The Good Daughter, and another that was released earlier this year. This book is about a young boy named Edgar whose father died in an accident that he can barely remember, and now lives with his mother, Lucy.  The plot synopsis was actually fairly vague, but the book received excellent reviews on Goodreads, described as both a page-turner and a masterpiece. To be honest, I’m always a little wary of such high praise but the book seems very intriguing. I was also interested since a prompt requiring a literary fiction book had recently been voted into one of my reading challenges for next year, and this one seems to be a good fit.

7) Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

29983711Although I’d heard about this book earlier this year, it didn’t interest me much at the time because I didn’t properly understand what it was about. I thought this book was another one along the lines of Windfall, which is about a character who suddenly wins the lottery and the way all that money affects their lives. It wasn’t until a couple of days ago where I actually really looked at the synopsis and realized that I had it completely mixed up with other books. This book is a family saga about a Korean family exiled from their homeland and seeking a better life in Japan. Although I’ve always been very interested in Asian history, I know very little about Korea and I don’t think I’ve ever read any books about it. This is another book that has received excellent reviews on Goodreads, so it seems like it could be a great one to start with.

8) Fowl Language: Welcome to Parenting and 9) Fowl Language: The Struggle is Real by Brian Gordon

2811169234536960I’m not even a parent, but I love Brian Gordon’s cartoons! I first encountered them on Facebook, where many of my friends who are parents started sharing them and I found them adorable and hilarious! I discovered the comics had been collected into books earlier this week after reading Adulthood is a Myth, another comic series that I follow on Facebook. The slight downside with these collections is that fans of the series probably already follow the page on Facebook, and the cartoons in the collection tend to be the same ones we’ve already seen. I still think it would be fun to read a book that has several of them together though! I especially love the Fowl Language comics because they have the perfect blend of humour and sarcasm, and give (what I imagine anyway) is a very accurate look at what it is to be a parent.

10) The Pocket Wife by Susan H. Crawford

22635867I think this was a book that came up on my recommendations pages, and I was intrigued by the unusual title. This book has been compared to Before I Go to Sleep, which I read earlier this year and loved. It is about a woman suffering from bipolar disorder, who may have murdered her friend during a breakdown. This book has been out for a couple of years already, but I’d never heard of it before. I tend to love stories with unreliable narrators trying to piece together what really happened. I’m especially intrigued to find out what “pocket wife” even means, since it seems like such an odd phrase.

11) The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase

22716454It’s a little funny that I added two contemporary romance books with the exact same name to my list in the same week. This book is about a woman named Sarina whose ex-boyfriend Eamon returns to town while her soon-to-be fiancee is away. Eamon approaches Sarina, who has an architecture practice, so renovate his new house, and their time together causes her to remember all of the reasons she fell in love with him in the first place. As I said earlier, this is not necessarily the kind of book I pick up very often but I’m starting to realize how interesting they can be, and how fun. I go into books like this expecting something light and entertaining, and usually they tend to deliver.

12) The Party by Elizabeth Day

33229392I found this book the other day on a list of thrillers that rival Gone Girl, which I haven’t read yet but will be reading soon. This was one of a couple books on that list that I hadn’t already added to my TBR. It is about a man named Martin who makes friends with the wealthy Ben Fitzmaurice, giving him access to an exclusive upper-class world and forming a close friendship that lasts several decades. The plot summary reminded me a bit of a more fleshed-out Great Gatsby-type story, although since it is a thriller, the details are quite vague. This is another book that was only recently released, in mid-July of this year, so it will be interesting to see more reviews as they come in.

Top 5 Wednesday: Top Fictional Bromances

When I first saw this topic, there were two pairs of characters that immediately came to mind.boy-meets-world-reunion-2 It was a lot more difficult for me to find characters from books that fit the theme as well as these two. Cory and Shawn (Boy Meets World) were my first ever example of a bromance, and probably the strongest I’ve ever seen. They were childhood best friends who remained best friends all through their lives, despite going in separate directions as they got older and all of their differences. Cory was a pretty average kid from a middle-class, very supportive family, and Shawn grew up in a trailer park with a strange and broken family and struggled his whole life with figuring out where he fit in. The boys were such strong friends who supported each other above all else, and it was incredible to see how close they remained through everything.

a-house-bromanceHouse and Wilson were another solid example. For those who don’t know, House is an eccentric genius doctor, and Wilson is the best friend who tries to keep him somewhat under control. Before watching this show, I’d never been a huge fan of medical procedural shows, but it was the interactions between the characters, including between House and Wilson that really made it work. There’s no denying that House is incredibly difficult to put up with, but Wilson sticks by him and does his best to keep House out of trouble, and House in his own bizarre way is just as protective of Wilson. It was actually very hard for me to find examples from books that were bromances anywhere near on the level of these.

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) Sirius and Lupin (Harry Potter series)

hqdefaultThis is probably the most obvious choice, although a case could also be made for Harry and Ron. I’ve always been very interested in the Marauder’s and wanted to know more about their time at Hogwarts. It may be because they were the last remaining (and not Dark) Marauders remaining, but these two seem particularly close, to the point where there is a huge non-canon following that ships these two. While I don’t necessarily agree that it goes that far, the friendship between them as well as James Potter was very strong and definitely seems to fall into the bromance category.

2) George and Lennie (Of Mice and Men)

890This one may be a little more questionable because of how it ended, but I would say George and Lennie qualify because of how they stick together and look out for each other. George and Lennie are two field workers who travel together, work together, and help each other. Their friendship is complicated a bit by George’s need to take care of Lennie who has a cognitive disability but is also very physically strong. Although he frequently seems frustrated with Lennie, George stays with him and does everything he can to protect Lennie, make sure he finds work, and keeps him from getting into trouble. The ending of this story was so upsetting precisely because of the powerful friendship between the two men, and given how short the book is, it is very well-developed.

3) Amir and Hassan (The Kite Runner)

77203This is another bromance that might be debatable. Amir is the son of a wealthy merchant and a member of the ruling class, and Hassan is his servant but also his best friend. The main reason I think this one is questionable is because of this power discrepancy between the two of them. The boys grew up together as best friends, and in the beginning it seems that neither of them care that they are from different social statuses. It is not until later that this becomes an issue for Amir, leading to an act that separates the boys and for decades. Even though they are no longer speaking, the bond between the two boys is still a running theme as Amir spends most of his life trying to make up for his mistakes and repair the damage done to his relationship with Hassan. It is definitely one that is a bit more controversial, but I think you can make a case for it.

4) Augustus and Isaac (The Fault in Our Stars)

11870085This was one of the friendships on the list that was a little less memorable to me, but at the time I read the book, I remember that I really enjoyed the friendship between Augustus and his best friend Isaac, both of whom have cancer. The boys have a close friendship, and seem to have a lot of inside jokes. It’s been a long time since I read this book, but if I remember correctly, a lot of their friendship history seems to be left off the page. I was a little hesitant to include this one because I could not remember it as clearly, but I thought the two boys were very supportive of each other and helped each other through some very difficult situations, including both normal teenage experiences and much more complex emotions due to their medical problems. This is another book that may be due for a re-read at some point.

5) Sherlock Holmes and Watson

8921Although this was one of the most immediate examples that came to mind, I was reluctant to include it because I have only read one Sherlock Holmes book so far (The Hound of the Baskervilles). I’ve never quite been certain of how much of the bromance angle was really in the books, and how much is just from the huge cultural phenomenon surrounding these two. Holmes and Watson are typically cited as one of the strongest friendships in literature, although it seems to be along the lines of House and Wilson due to the eccentricity of the main character. I will have to read more of these books to find out how much of it is from the books, but it is definitely one of the most well-known!

Reader Struggles: Meme Mini-Series

One of the advantages of having Goodreads, reading fanpages, and several of the blogs I follow on Facebook is I get to see a whole bunch of reading and book-related memes. Not too long ago, I stumbled upon a list of “Internal Struggles Only Bookworms Will Understand” (link here for anyone interested), which inspired me to create this new Meme Mini-Series.  I love “Reader Struggles” memes because I find so many of them so relatable, and some of them are really funny! I thought it would be fun to share some of the reader struggles I’ve found, with my response to them. I will be starting with the memes on the website above, but if anyone has any other memes they would like me to comment on, please feel free to send me a link!

be-quiet

It’s a little ironic that this first meme is one that has been especially relevant for me over the past few weeks. One of the biggest issues I’ve always had as a reader is trying to prioritize everything that I need or want to do, and still finding enough time to read. It can especially be tricky because so many of my books come from the library, so I need to make sure to get them returned on time! Just the other day, I told a friend that I wouldn’t play Minecraft with her until I’d finished my book since it was due back to the library soon.

Especially since I’ve started doing reading challenges, I’ve really made reading a priority. When I come home from work or have free time on the weekends, most of it is spent reading. The struggle, like in the meme, comes when there are other things i need or want to do instead. There have been so many days where I tell myself I’m going to put down the book for a bit and play one of my computer games, watch Netflix, etc. and then I end up continuing to read anyway. Usually, it depends on the book. If I’m very engrossed in it, I will happily prioritize reading over just about anything else, but if it’s a book that I’m not so into, I’m more likely to switch to something else.

I think what this meme essentially comes down to is the struggle sometimes with dividing our time. For me, reading is a way to relax after a stressful day and a way to entertain myself. People often ask me how I find the time to read so many books in a year, but the answer is always the same: I make the time. I choose to read instead of doing other things. That is not to say that I avoid other obligations, avoid seeing friends, or skip work to read — but when it comes to my free time, reading is often my first choice. There have been times where I’ve told myself to put down the book and do something else, and there have definitely been times where I respond to myself with “be quiet” and keep reading. If I’m really not in the mood to read, I’ll know pretty quickly and I will put the book down, but otherwise I see nothing wrong with the amount of my time I devote to it!

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Character’s Fitness Routines You Want

I have to be honest — I cringed when I saw this topic on the list for Top 5 Wednesdays. Fitness routines are not something that interest me much, and definitely not something that I pay much attention to while reading. I am not an athletic or coordinated person at all, and I tend not to enjoy fitness routines. I hate going to the gym or doing exercise for the sake of exercise. I prefer activities like soccer, yoga or swimming that are fun but active at the same time…not that I do any of these consistently. It was hard for me to think of characters whose routines I might want without putting myself in their shoes, and thinking about what they need those routines for.

I loved how Sam, in her video explaining this topic, specified that we are not limited to characters who are athletes. It can also incorporate characters who are good at a variety of skills, or even foodies! Personally, I think it is important for everyone to find a routine that works for them. Ideally, I would love to be able to eat whatever I want and not worry about burning off the calories, so it would be great to find some characters who can do that! The characters I’m choosing here, for the most part, are all ideal goals and definitely not realistic for me. I apologize for the lack of pictures this time!

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) Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This was the first character who immediately came to mind when I saw this topic, but also one that I almost didn’t choose because of what Buffy’s fitness routine really means. It may actually be a bit of a cheat since Buffy, as a Slayer, is gifted with supernatural strength, speed and healing abilities, but she still goes through a lot of training to keep developing her skills with weapons, agility, and a variety of other abilities. I definitely would not want to be a Slayer with all the responsibilities that go along with that, but I would love to be able to handle Buffy’s fitness routine. I actually did a kickboxing class for a short time in high school, which seemed fairly similar to what Buffy was doing, and I loved it!

2) Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games

One of the things I enjoyed most about the Hunger Games was learning about how Tris and the other tributes got to train and hone their skills before being thrown into the arena. Katniss is a talented archer, but also got to learn a whole bunch of other survival skills that I think would be great to know. Actually, even if I could just have her archery abilities, I’d be pretty happy. Like Buffy, Katniss seems to be a character who is pretty well-rounded in terms of her abilities but in a way she is more impressive because she does not have the supernatural powers to help boost her. This is another case where I would love to have the skills, but not to be in Katniss’s situation!

3) Tris Pryor from The Divergent Series

I almost didn’t include this one because I was so strongly opposed to the idea of being in the Dauntless faction, but I think it would be really interesting to be trained to control fears the way Dauntless members are. Most of the rest of their lifestyle is much too intense for me and I actually would really hate to go through the training that they require in order to master your fears, but the ideal of being able to control them to that extent is pretty tempting. In theory, I think it would be very valuable to learn how to control your emotions in the most frightening situations, but I’m too much of a coward to actually go through with it.

4) Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter Series

This one probably seems like an unusual choice, but I think mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness. Hermione is definitely a character who keeps her mind active by reading and absorbing as much information as she possibly can. She also challenges herself to play chess, even though it is a game that she consistently loses at. Not only is chess a great mental exercise, but it is also good to push ourselves to do activities that are difficult for us and not win every time. Plus I’m sure Hermione gets some kind of a workout by lugging all those books around all the time!

5) Sunny Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events

Again, probably a bit of a weird choice but I picked Sunny because of her talent for cooking that develops at a ridiculously young age. For me, diet is an important part of a fitness routine and I especially think it is important to really enjoy what you’re eating. I don’t care how healthy a food is — if I don’t like the taste, I’m not eating it. Sunny develops amazing abilities to cook simple foods for herself and her siblings, eventually branching out to try new and more complex dishes. I would love to be able to cook simple, healthy and delicious food for myself (although I don’t think there is anything wrong with having treats sometimes!).

A Thriller That Still Thrills: The Girl on the Train Movie Review

I seem to be in the minority of people who actually thoroughly enjoyed reading The Girl on the Train. When I picked up the book two years ago, it was receiving rave reviews. After reading it and loving it, I was very surprised to see that many reviewers on Goodreads couldn’t stand the book! It may have been because this book was one of the first of its kind that I’d read, but I thought it was very well-written and I was completely caught off-guard by the ending. I was excited to see the movie version when it came out the following year, but somehow managed to miss it until today, when I finally got a copy from the library to watch. I think it actually really helped that I watched the movie so long after reading the book, because the experience was pretty fresh and almost prevented me from comparing the two.

Plot

The basic premise of The Girl on the Train is that a woman named Rachel, taking the same commuter train every day, becomes obsessed with a couple she sees through the train window every day. She imagines a perfect life for this couple, until one morning where she sees something that completely destroys this image. After a night of drinking, Rachel wakes up injured and with no memory of what happened the night before only to learn that the woman she has been watching has gone missing. Rachel becomes convinced that what she saw is relevant to the case and goes to the police, and becomes heavily involved in trying to piece together her memories of that night and what might have happened.

As with most thrillers, it is difficult to describe too much of the plot without giving anything away. The movie version stays incredibly true to the novel, which is a rarity for adaptations. When I first read the book, I was completely absorbed in the storyline and trying to figure out what happened. Being two years after reading it, I did not remember too much of the details, and especially barely remembered the ending. I actually was sure they had changed the ending until I went online afterwards and double-checked how the book had ended, discovering that it was the same. I was impressed by how well the movie managed to recapture the same experience I had when first reading the book. I was completely absorbed and invested in the plot, and still thought that it was a well-crafted story with a genuine twist at the end. I was surprised by how many reviewers of the book complained that the ending was predictable. Maybe it was my own inexperience with thrillers at the time, but I had no idea what to expect.

Characters/Casting

One of the major criticisms I’ve found about this book is how unlikable all of the characters were. Personally, I found the characters all very compelling and more troubled than unlikable. Both versions of the story quickly established Rachel as an unreliable narrator due to alcoholism, and it is her unreliability that really drives the story along. The film does a great job of showing Rachel as a depressed, lonely woman who drinks to the point of blacking out. The flashbacks and memory fragments used to show how Rachel understands what happens in her life kept me trying to piece things together alongside her. I did not find her unlikable at all. Emily Blunt, one of my favourite actresses, did a brilliant job of portraying Rachel perfectly. I was a little worried when she was cast because she did not seem to fit the character, but she really brought Rachel to life.

The cast also consisted of Justin Theroux as Tom, Rachel’s ex-husband, and Rebecca Ferguson as Anna, Tom’s new wife and mother of his child. Aside from her fixation on the couple she watches from the train, Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett), Rachel also is struggling to move on from the dissolution of her marriage to Tom and especially resents his new family. I was not very familiar with any of these actors before this movie, except for Luke Evans who recently played Gaston in the live-action Beauty and the Beast remake, but I thought they all were strong choices for their characters. All of the characters in this movie have several layers, and I thought the actors were all very convincing and made their characters seem very real and human. They all brought a depth to their characters which brought them out of the “unlikable” label, and instead made them complex, fully-developed individuals. To be fair, I thought that was true in the novel as well, despite it receiving so many complaints about how all of the characters seemed to be horrible people. Without revealing too much, I will just say that I think the story works better because of how the characters are written, and it may not have been so effective if they were more “likable.”

Visuals/Music

Once again, this is the most difficult aspect for me to review because it is always the part that is least memorable for me. While watching the movie, I thought the cinematography and music both worked well to create a creepy atmosphere, and I especially liked how Rachel’s flashbacks were captured to leave the audience doubting her just as much as the other characters did. During flashbacks, images were often blurred or fragmented to show how Rachel saw things. The cinematography was also used very effectively to maintain the mystery/thriller aspects, letting the twist come as a true surprise. I thought it was very well-done.

Overall Impressions

I was very impressed with this adaptation, and it is quite rare for me to see a book-to-movie adaptation where I am not left constantly comparing the two. Even if the movie did stray away from the strict text, it definitely captured the spirit of the story very effectively. I went into the movie expecting a mediocre adaptation, and instead I got a well put together thriller that was just as engaging as the original novel. The cast did a brilliant job capturing the characters, and this really helped to make the movie so compelling. I would definitely recommend it, although those who already did not enjoy the novel probably won’t enjoy this either.

Plot – 10/10
Characters/Casting – 9/10
Visuals/Music – 9/10
Overall – 9.5/10

The Reading Slump Paradox

I know this title sounds suspiciously like an episode of The Big Bang Theory, but I also think it really fits my current situation. I’ve always associated a “reading slump” with boredom, difficulty finding a good book, or otherwise just not enjoying what you’re reading. One of my earliest posts on this blog actually talked about different kinds of reading slumps (here, for anyone interested) and some suggestions on how to overcome them.

Over the past couple of weeks, I found myself in a strange kind of paradoxical reading slump. I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve been reading, but I also feel like I’ve been reading very slowly and struggling to motivate myself to continue reading. In fact, of the past 5 books that I’ve read, 4 of them were either 4-star or 5-star reads so it’s safe to say that I’ve been enjoying them. I first noticed the feeling of a slump when reading Uprooted, which was a book I adored but found myself struggling to push through. The odd thing is, while it felt like it was taking me absolutely forever to finish it, it only took me 4 days, which is completely reasonable for a book of that size given the amount of time I had to read.

I was looking forward to my two weeks off from work because I thought I would get a lot of reading done, and I was excited to read and make progress on my challenges. I squeezed in In Real Life on my last day of work, but was quite disappointed with it. I also read Allegedly during my first couple of days off before I left, although I came down with an extremely annoying summer cold which might have also contributed to the slump.

I think in a way I felt the slump a bit more because I seriously overestimated how much time I would have to read while on vacation. I was away for a week, and decided to bring 4 books with me thinking I would have lots of time to read at the airport, on the train, and at the hotel. The four books I brought with me were: Purple Hibiscus, The Forgetting Time, Uprooted, and The Translation of Love. My plan was to do most of my reading on the train rides, and in the evenings but I ended up having much busier days than I expected, leaving me without too much time to read. I finished the first two books above while away, although they each took me a day or two longer than expected, and finished Uprooted the day after I got back home. I’ve decided to put off The Translation of Love for now to switch things up and read a couple of shorter/lighter books in between. To be fair, I don’t think I ever really thought I’d finish all four within the week but I always end up bringing more books than I could possibly finish.

What confused me about this slump is how much I was enjoying what I was reading. Normally when I feel like I’m forcing myself through a book, it’s because I’m really not enjoying the book very much. When I started reading Uprooted, I fell in love with the world that was created and the writing style, so I was surprised to find that by the middle, I felt like I was slogging through it and kept getting easily distracted to do anything but read. It was weird, since I still came out of the book loving it and I rated it 5 stars because I’m not sure it was the book’s fault that I was in the slump.

Actually, I think one reason is because of the pesky “you are x books behind schedule” on Goodreads, which has me a little worried about my challenge progress. As much as I’ve said I would prioritize certain challenges to finish within the year, I still would ideally love to finish them all, but I am currently just under halfway.

The other main reason for the slump is this other kind of odd paradox, where a book I haven’t even read yet is causing the slump. As part of my BookRiot challenge this year, I have the task of reading a book set in South or Central America that is written by an author from South or Central America. I intended to read One Hundred Years of Solitude which has become my Goldfinch/Dracula of the year. To put that in context, each year there always seems to be one book I have in mind to read for the challenge that I end up putting off over and over, until eventually deciding not to read it at all. Two years ago, it was The Goldfinch which I actually never had that much interest in, but chose because it fit a challenge which I believe called for a long book. Last year, it was Dracula, a book that I’d been meaning to read for a long time but never seemed to be in the mood for. I kept putting it off hoping that eventually I would really feel like reading it, but as I got closer to the end of the year, it started to seem more and more unrealistic to be able to squeeze it in and finish the challenge in time. I ended up putting it off and reading it this year instead, and I loved it!

Unfortunately, I now seem to be in the same boat with One Hundred Years of Solitude. It is one of those classics that I feel like I should read at some point but didn’t have a super strong interest in trying. I chose it mostly because I found a real lack of options for the prompt it covers, and a co-worker has told me in the past that they really think I’ll love it. Although I still waver a bit about wanting to read it, every time I pick it up just to flip through and try to motivate myself, I find myself completely not interested. I’ve learned over the past few years that the worst thing I can do is try to force myself to read something when I don’t really want to, because that practically guarantees that I won’t enjoy it at all. It might end up being a book that I scrap and replace, and try to fit in again next year. I actually intended to read it during my time off since it seemed like a longer/more dense book than most of the others I’ve been reading, but when it came down to the time to pick books to bring with me, I just wasn’t in the mood for it.

I don’t think I’ve really come out of the slump yet, but I’ve just released a whole bunch of my holds from the library including a few books that I’m very excited for. I’m hoping that will be enough to get my motivation back on track. I still find it very strange to lack motivation to read, while at the same time enjoy everything I’m reading. Has anyone else ever had this?