Top 10 Tuesdays: Favourite Tropes

For some reason, I always have a hard time coming up with tropes that I either love or hate. My mind always automatically goes to the obvious few: insta-love, love triangles, the Chosen One, etc. I think part of my problem is that I don’t necessarily love or hate any trope. Although I think some of them are really overused, I can like almost any trope as long as it is really well-written. I also struggled a bit to think of tropes that weren’t heavily focused on romance. It’s only by really looking at some of the common factors among many of the books that I’ve read in the past few years that I’ve been able to figure out some of the tropes that really draw me to a book. It also reminds me of a course I took in university about children’s literature, where we talked about how stories are all variations on themes, and it’s very difficult to find any story that is completely unique. I have no problem with books using common tropes, as long as they do them well!

Please note that the examples mentioned for each item below are books that I know of that feature that trope, but are not necessarily books that I have personally read yet. Those that I haven’t read yet are on my TBR, and recommendations are always welcome!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) Found Family/band of misfits  – This is a trope that I’ve only discovered fairly recently, and it has quickly become a favourite. I love books that bring an eclectic cast of characters together to work toward a common goal, and especially when those characters come together to become each other’s family. I love seeing the characters form such strong bonds and become such a support network for each other.

Some examples: Six of Crows, The Lunar Chronicles, Aurora Rising, The Illuminae Files, A Court of Thorns and Roses

2) Fake dating – I’m not sure if this was a trope I would have picked a few years ago, but I find this trope so much fun to read now! In general, I don’t like anything to do with insta-love, and I find these kinds of relationships tend to be better developed and a lot more interesting, when they are well-done. I think part of what I love about it is that I tend to enjoy character-driven stories, and putting the characters in this kind of situation tends to give them quite a bit of development.

Some examples: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Unhoneymooners, The Wedding Date, The Hunger Games

3) Platonic relationships that stay platonic – Bonus points if the characters’ sexual orientations aren’t the determining factor in why they don’t end up dating, since that often seems to be the case. I guess in a sense most books include platonic friendships with side characters, but I’d love to see more where the typical love interest ends up being a really good friend and nothing more than that, since that is definitely something that happens in real life.

Some examples: Bang, Meg & Linus, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, Highly Illogical Behaviour, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (if I remember correctly, someone tell me if I’m wrong!)

4) Hate-to-love – I think I blame Buffy and Spike for this one, but I love to see these kinds of relationships when they are done well. I find that this is a trope that can be a bit risky since it is very easy for it to veer into potentially problematic behaviour. In most cases though, I find these kinds of books so fun to read because they have such amazing character dynamics and tend to have a lot of very witty banter

Some examples: Pride & Prejudice, The Hating Game, A Court of Mist & Fury, the Shatter Me series, Uprooted

5) Friends-to-lovers/slow-burn romances – I’m putting these two together even though they are not necessarily exactly the same thing. I love friends-to-lovers as a trope because it actually gives the time to develop the characters separately and together. I find it nearly impossible to get invested in insta-love. I think it’s very interesting to see two characters start to realize their feelings for each other over time, and that tends to happen when they are friends first.

Some examples: Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Six of Crows (slow-burn), The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue, The Raven Cycle

6) Fish out of water – I have no idea if this is actually what the trope is called, but I was thinking of something like the movie Enchanted, where there is a character who is taken from one world and struggles to adapt to the world they are thrown into. It could also be characters like Cress from the Lunar Chronicles, who spend a lot of time isolated, and have to adapt back to the real world. I’ve mostly seen this story done with fairy tale kinds of characters trying to survive our world, but there’s a lot of potential here for great stories.

Some examples: Unfortunately I don’t have many for this one because it seems to specific, so please recommend more. Cress, Off the Page

7) Pen-pal/online friendships or romances – I’m a huge sucker for any book that has to do with social media in general, but I especially love when characters get to know each other through writing or social media before they meet in real life. I know this is something that is always a bit of a risk since you can never be sure if the other person is 100% honest, but I find it so interesting to read these kinds of character interactions. I think it’s so important that books are starting to acknowledge that online friends or even romances are a real and important part of many people’s lives.

Some examples: Gena/Finn, Everything, Everything, Emergency Contact, Flat-Out Love, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Goodnight Tweetheart

8) Social media – I originally wasn’t going to include this as a separate trope, and I’m not entirely sure it really counts as a trope, but I love books where a character’s online presence plays an important role. I find this is becoming a lot more common in thrillers, where someone has to piece together a person’s life or what happened to them based on their social media accounts. I know this runs the risk of making the book come across a bit dated, but right now it is something that really catches my attention. Aside from thrillers, I also love where a character’s online presence or persona plays a role

Some examples: Reconstructing Amelia, Don’t Try to Find Me, The Status of All Things, The Takedown, Friend Request

9) Anti-heroes/morally grey characters – Essentially, I love anything that makes you question who the real heroes and villains are in a story, or who the real monster is. I was originally thinking something along the lines of many Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast or The Hunchback of Notre Dame, where the one who seems to be the monster isn’t really. Think of characters who are literally monsters or demons but don’t behave as such, or the many monstrous human characters that most would mistake for normal. I’m also thinking of characters whose actions might be heroic, but it is questionable whether the ends really justify the means.

Some examples: Vicious, The Conqueror’s Saga, Six of Crows, This Savage Song, Gone Girl, Nimona

10) Superheroes – Bonus points on this one if the heart of the story is the hero grappling with what it means to be a hero and how to try and live their lives with the weight of their responsibilities. Think anything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Incredibles, or even some of the more recent Marvel and DC movies. This is also not one that I thought of right away, but soon realized that it was a story that I always tend to love when I do read or watch it. It tends to be a very character-driven story with a lot of interesting ethical questions, and something that definitely intrigues me.

Some examples: Strong Female Protagonist, Not Your Sidekick, Renegades, Vicious

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Library Struggles

I am very lucky to live close to one of the biggest branches in my library’s system. It is literally a 15 minute walk from my house, and generally very well-stocked. It also helped a lot that my mom used to work at that branch, so it has always been very easy for me to get library books. As much as I’d like to think I know how the library system works pretty well, there are still things that don’t quite work the way I would expect.

One of my goals for the year was to try and balance out reading books from the library with reading books that I own. I’ve cheated the system a bit by buying some of the books I had on hold from the library from Book Outlet, so they become owned books instead. To be honest, I haven’t been doing a great job with this goal since I always end up prioritizing library books over the books I have. That’s not to say that I don’t want to read the books I have, because I definitely do, but but there is something a bit more fun and exciting about releasing library holds and getting the notification that the books are ready to pick up.

This leads me to my first struggle — when I take out too many books at once, and then struggle to finish them all on time. This happened to me this month. I had decided that I wanted to finish off the last two Throne of Glass books, and requested about 20 books from the library while I read those. I expected that these books would come staggered over the next couple of weeks — so I was shocked to find about half of them ready to pick up within a few days, just as I was starting Kingdom of Ash! By the time I had finished Kingdom of Ash about a week later, I had another 10 books arrive! Keep in mind, this is before I had even picked up a single one of my library books that I’d taken out so far. Oh, and I should also mention that when I went to pick up my first batch, I ended up spending about half an hour just wandering the shelves, and grabbed a few more books that I knew were on my list just because I saw them on the shelves.

My library allows us to take out books for 3 weeks at a time, with up to 10 renewals (3 more weeks each time). And we are allowed to take out up to 150 items at a time. I have never reached anywhere close to that many, which is probably a good thing because I’m having enough trouble managing the 30 or so I have out now! We can’t renew anything if there are other people who have it on hold, but otherwise you can end up keeping the books you have out for quite long time. The issue I ran into was not only did most of my books unexpectedly show up at once, but some of them also showed up in the “wrong” order. I had decided that this month I would finally read the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, and intentionally released my holds on all three at the same time in the hopes of getting them all together. Of course, with my luck, Clockwork Princess (third in the series) showed up first, and I took it out while I was still reading Kingdom of Ash. I knew I didn’t want to read two fantasy series in a row, so I read a couple of other books in between.

The issue arose when I went to renew the book. I had to wait at least a week for the first two Infernal Devices books to be in, and by the time they arrived, Clockwork Princess had another request on it, meaning I wouldn’t be able to renew it. No problem, I thought, there are a few other copies from the library so one of those is sure to come back and fulfill that request. I soon realized that this was not the case. With all three copies of Clockwork Princess out, including the one I have and two people requesting copies, there was no chance to renew it. This wouldn’t necessarily have been a big deal if it had been the first book in the series, but this was the third book and I hadn’t even started the first one yet! Even though mine was the copy due back first by a day or two, I found myself hoping that both of the others would return theirs on time, or even early, so they would fulfill the requests and I’d be able to renew.

Instead, I’d become one of those people who I’d always kind of resented — someone who returns a book late, knowing that others are waiting for it. As much as it has always bothered me when I was waiting for a book that was returned late, I ultimately decided to keep Clockwork Princess and finish it off first. I realized that by the day it was due, I would already be partway through the book and if I gave it back, I’d be waiting 3-6 weeks minimum to get a copy again, possibly even longer. And let me tell you, it was a huge struggle to make this decision! I had to get over my natural rule-following tendencies to justify to myself that a) I’d only be a day or two late, and b) at least one of the other copies would likely come back first to fulfill at least one of the requests. I also have to say our library’s fine policy really is not a strong incentive to give things back quickly — they only charge about 30 cents per day late, which really isn’t very much. If I hadn’t already started the book by the time it was due, I would have given it back if I couldn’t renew it.

I’m still kind of holding out hope that the other two people who have copies will be able to do what I didn’t, and give theirs back early. In theory, that would let me renew mine so I can have the last couple of days needed to finish it off and give it back, but it doesn’t seem very likely that it will happen. What I probably should have learned from this is not to bite off more than I can chew when it comes to taking out library books, or at least not to take out so many while I’m already reading the lengthy conclusion to another series, but somehow I doubt it will change my approach. I do hope not to be in a position again where I choose to keep a book late, but it’s hard to predict. Sometimes, I end up having to play the game of “Do I renew this now, and lose out on some days on the original checkout time, or wait and hope there are no requests by the time it’s closer to the due date?” Literally as I was writing this post, I went onto my library account to check on my current holds and realized I had 6 day remaining on several of them, and had to decide whether to renew now or wait a couple more days. Maybe I did learn something from this though, since I decided to err on the side of caution a bit and just renew them now.

If nothing else, this situation has given me an extra level of motivation to read so I can finish off Clockwork Princess as quickly as possible so it’s not too late. It’s also made me think that maybe I should not release holds on later books in a series until I have the first few in my possession first, but that can be just as tricky to manage since I don’t usually want to wait too long between books in a series. Maybe my library just needs to keep more copies of popular books! I know this series is a little older now, but my mom is sure that there used to be around 15 copies of the book instead of the 3 they currently kept. I  know libraries can’t keep everything and always need to make room for new things, but ours seems to be going on quite the purge lately and getting rid of a lot to make the shelves “look less crowded.” It seems totally counterproductive to me, but another reason to heavily use my library to try and keep books on the shelves!

Top 5 Wednesday: TBR Benchwarmers (#6)

I’ve realized today that my TBR has hit the 3000 book mark, which is a little intimidating! Aside from a few classics that I’d theoretically like to read but not sure if I’ll ever actually get around to, I’ve yet to see anything that I’m sure I’d like to remove either. As I’ve probably mentioned in this series alone, there are some books that I’ve been a little on the fence about reading, hence why I kept putting them off, but every time I look at the synopsis again, it reminds me why I was interested in the first place. This set of books is the last group from December 2015. In total, I have about 17 and a half pages of books on my TBR since 2015 (20 books per page) on Goodreads!

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) Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany

15802442I keep mixing up Amy Hatvany and Amy Harmon, and it confuses me every time. What makes it even funnier is that I have all of Amy Hatvany’s books on my TBR, but only two by Amy Harmon. This book is about a woman named Grace who never wanted children, but decides she could be a stepmother for the right man. When she meets Victor, divorced father of two, she thinks she will be fine, especially since the children live with their mother, Kelli. Unfortunately, days after Grace and Victor get engaged, the children’s mother dies under mysterious circumstances, causing Grace and her new stepdaughter, Ava, to discover long-hidden secrets that Kelli was hiding. The story is told from the perspectives of Grace and 13-year-old Ava, who has essentially taken on the role of a parent to her younger brother since her parents’ divorce. I’ve been especially interested in trying some of Amy Hatvany’s books since seeing them compared to Jodi Picoult, so I’d love to give this one a try at some point.

2) Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas

17262187The main reason I’ve never picked this one up is because it wasn’t accessible through my library! I’ve even just checked my library’s two online systems for ebooks or even audiobooks, and it is not available through those either. It is about a woman named Josephine, who is determined to maintain the perfect life she has established for herself and her family. When her oldest daughter Rose runs off with a boyfriend, Josephine tightens her control, causing the rest of the family to spin out of control. Her husband Douglas turns to alcohol, and their other daughter, Violet, turns to eastern philosophy, drugs and extreme fasting. Her son Will is on the autism spectrum and also has epilepsy, and is homeschooled for his own safety. A visit from Child Protective Services sparks the breakdown of their carefully maintained public image, threatening to reveal the truth about the family. I’ve seen very mixed reviews for this book, which often seems to be the case for thrillers and especially those with unlikable characters, but it still sounds very interesting to me. I hope I can find a copy of this one so I can try it for myself.

3) Forget Me Not by Luana Lewis

27069126. sy475 This is another book that I haven’t been able to read because it is isn’t accessible! It is about a woman named Rose, whose daughter Vivien is found dead in a suspected suicide. As the police begin to investigate, it raises the question of whether Vivien would have really killed herself or if something else happened to her. Rose is left to piece together what she can about her daughter’s life to find out what really happened to her. This is exactly the kind of thriller that I tend to enjoy, so it’s too bad that I can’t find a copy of it. I’m not even sure if it was available at the time when I added it to my TBR. I usually don’t check whether a book is available at my library until I decide I’m ready to read it, but I add them on Goodreads anyway so I remember that I was interested. This one drew me in with the very interesting cover and I’ve also recently noticed that the author is a clinical psychologist, which could be great for a psychological thriller. Even though I can’t find this book anywhere, I’m hesitant to remove it from my list because it it something I’d really love to read.

4) Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

7948230Finally, a book on this list that is easily accessible! I first heard about this book when I saw it listed as an example for a prompt in the Goodreads Around the Year challenge a few years ago. The prompt asked for a book with a repetitive word or phrase in the title, and this book was offered as the primary example. It is about two friends, Larry and Silas, who grew up together in the 1970s. Larry was the son of a lower-middle-class white family, and Silas of a poor, single black mother. After a girl that Larry took on a date disappears, everyone suspects him as the culprit, shaking the town in general, and especially Silas’s view of his friend. Twenty years later, Silas returns to town as a constable with no reason to seek Larry out again, until another girl disappears and Larry is once again blamed. I vaguely remember seeing this book compared to John Grisham’s A Time to Kill, which I’ve also been meaning to read for quite a while, but I can’t remember where I saw that. It sounds like it could be a very interesting, character-driven story and I was a bit surprised to realize that it was only around 300 pages. For some reason, I had assumed it was quite a long book. It is also a book that has received many awards and nominations, so it definitely seems like it will be worth a try.

5) The Man I Love by Suanne Laqueur

22515690. sy475 I always thought this was a mystery/thriller, but apparently it is actually a New Adult Romance. That just goes to show how much I look in detail at the books that have been on my TBR for so long. It is about a man named Erik “Fish” Fiskare, who witnessed his girlfriend get caught in the line of fire when a gunman walks into the campus theatre his junior year. The story spans 15 years, showing how that single act has long-lasting effects through a group of friends, including Fish and his girlfriend Daisy, especially after the incident brings out the worst in both of them. This is one of those books that can be a standalone, but is also listed on Goodreads as part of a series. I think the fact that I saw it was part of a series put me off initially because it was already not the highest priority for me at the time, and I didn’t want to commit to reading the series. It is another book that is now not accessible to me, so I’d imagine it will continue to be on my TBR for quite a while. New Adult Romance is not a genre that I read very often, but there is enough about this story that interests me, if I can ever find a copy.

In Honour of Father’s Day: Books About Fathers

I was a bit surprised to realize that Top 10 Tuesday didn’t have any Father’s Day-themed topics this year, and with Top 5 Wednesdays on hiatus for the summer, it looked like no prompts would be available. In the past, Father’s Day prompts usually center on the best fictional fathers, and I’ve always struggled a bit with this topic. It’s not that there aren’t some amazing fictional fathers, because there definitely are, but I somehow find it so much easier to find books that focus on mothers instead. It might just be the kinds of books that I end up reading. I’m sure if I looked through my TBR, I would find multiple books that focus on fathers, but I just haven’t read them yet. I decided to go in a bit of a different direction with this one — instead of exclusively talking about great fathers (or terrible ones), I wanted to broaden it a bit and talk about books that focus on the father in general. These are a few of the books that I’ve read that have a focus on the father.

1) The With the Light manga series by Keiko Tobe

withthelight_1I’ve mentioned this series many times in the past, usually in relation to its autism representation, but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about the father, Masato. This series is about a Japanese family whose son, Hikaru, is diagnosed with autism. The story is mostly told from the perspective of Hikaru’s mother, Sachiko, as she attempts to navigate the system to find services and people who will support her son and help him learn, however her husband Masato is also a very interesting character. In the beginning of the series, Masato has a lot of difficulty understanding his son’s disability and is frequently frustrated by Hikaru’s misbehaviour and his wife’s inability to cope. He is embarrassed that his son isn’t “normal” and won’t accept how difficult it is for his wife to manage the day-to-day tasks involved in Hikaru’s care. He comes across as very harsh and unsympathetic at times, but over the course of the series he eventually wakes up to the reality of the family that he has, and not only becomes actively involved in Hikaru’s life and care, but also an advocate for individuals with autism in general. Masato was not a likable character at all in the beginning, but as the series goes on, you really get to understand his perspective better and see how difficult it was for him to come to terms with his son’s autism.

2) The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

23492671Like most readers, I did prefer The Rosie Project over this one, but I also enjoyed The Rosie Effect a lot. I think it’s been long enough now that a synopsis wouldn’t be considered spoilers, considering this book has been out for almost 5 years now. This book follows Don and Rosie, now married and expecting their first child. For anyone who hasn’t read the series, Don is a Sheldon Cooper-type character who is highly intelligent, but struggles significantly with social skills. He is one of my favourite characters from a book in the past few years, and I’m really looking forward to reading the third book in this series later this year. In The Rosie Effect, Don is trying to prepare himself to be a father using “The Baby Project” where he conducts research about child-rearing, pregnancy, etc. and tries to get his wife on board with his findings, much to Rosie’s frustration. A lot of reviewers have complained that Rosie seems out of character in this book, but I didn’t think so when I read it. I thought this book was a great look into the anxiety of becoming a father, especially for a character whose abilities to relate to others have always been questioned.

3) The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

6400090Despite my giving it a 4 star rating like every other Nicholas Sparks book I’ve read, this one is one of my favourites. It is about a 17-year-old girl named Ronnie who is angry with both of her parents, who got divorced three years ago. She hasn’t spoken to her father since he left, until her mother forces Ronnie and her younger brother to spend a summer with him. Ronnie’s father is a former concert pianist, and Ronnie shares his love of music. While this book does have the typical Nicholas Sparks focus on romance, at it’s heart it is also a story about Ronnie and her father. I was apprehensive going into this one because I’d heard it was written specifically with the intent of it becoming a movie for Miley Cyrus (which it did), but it was a very powerful book. I read this one at a time where I was starting to get a little tired of Nicholas Sparks’ books because they were all starting to feel similar, so this one was refreshing. It’s hard to go into any more specifics about Ronnie and her father without veering toward spoilers, but this was a great book, and one of the few that I’ve read that focused on a father.

4) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

1618There somehow seems to be a pattern here of books about fathers also involving characters who have autism. I’m actually a bit surprised I never thought of Christopher’s father when I came up with lists of interesting father figures in books. This book is about a boy named Christopher who seems to be on the autism spectrum (although it is never stated outright in the book), and lives with his father. While the majority of the book focuses on Christopher’s attempts to solve the mystery of who killed his neighbour’s dog, his relationship with his father is another very interesting part of the story. Like Masato in With the Light, I thought this book struck a great balance of showing his father’s frustration and his father’s love and care. It was clear that even when his father was annoyed by some of his behaviours, he deeply cared for Christopher and did everything he could to keep him safe and happy.  I’ve recommended it before, but it’s worth saying it again — if anyone has the opportunity to see the stage production of this show, it is definitely worth seeing!

5) The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

10909Even among Jodi Picoult’s books, I had a much easier time finding books that focus on mothers than fathers. It’s been quite a long time since I read this one and I’m very interesting in re-reading it at some point, so I don’t necessarily remember specific details. I chose to include it here anyway because it is a book where the father-daughter relationship is central to the story. It is about a 14-year-old girl named Trixie, who has accused her boyfriend, who also happens to be the star hockey player, of rape. Her father, Daniel, is a comic book artist who is hiding his own secrets from his past, and who is naturally outraged by what happened to his daughter. While I wouldn’t necessarily say this was my favourite Jodi Picoult book, I did really enjoy it and it fit well with her usual themes of how far a parent would go to protect their child. I also considered including Lone Wolf on this list as well, since it is another of Jodi’s books that focus on a father’s relationships with his teenage/adult children, but it was also not a book that I remembered in great detail other than the fact that I enjoyed it. I think both are great stories with interesting family dynamics, and both are worth a try.

Library Book Sale Haul

This weekend was my local library’s annual book sale! It was on both yesterday and today, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how crowded it was when I went yesterday morning. I even considered going back again this morning but the staff there had advised going right when it opened to get the best selection, and I woke up too late for that. It’s probably for the better anyway since I’m not sure I have room for any more books. I was a little disappointed that I hardly found anything good in the fiction section. I had a lot of luck with YA books, but I was hoping to grab a few more adult contemporary or thrillers. The struggle with sales like this is that the books are so cheap that it’s hard not to go a little overboard, and buy things that I wouldn’t necessarily want to own a copy of otherwise. I ended up taking home a total of 22 books for just $5, and that was after I put back another 7 or so that I had strongly considered taking. Here are the books that I picked up:

Group 1: Books I’ve Already Read and Enjoyed
These are books that I was thinking about buying from BookOutlet anyway, so I was glad to see them at the sale. I want to give Aristotle and Dante and Me, Earl and the Dying Girl another chance since I liked them, but didn’t love them as much as everyone else seemed to. The two Louise Rennison books are right at the end of the series, and I don’t own the rest of them, but they were in such great condition that I just couldn’t pass them up. This series is a lot of fun, so I wouldn’t mind owning copies if I could find them for a very low price.

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Group 2: Books I Was Very Excited to Find
The second group are all books that I’ve been looking forward to reading, so I was pleasantly surprised to see them on the sales tables. I’m not sure any of these books are in my immediate plans to read, but they are all ones that I’ve been waiting to read for quite a while. I was a bit disappointed that I only found the second book in Victoria Schwab’s Archived series, and almost decided against it since it was a sequel, but I’m glad I decided to take it after all.

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Group 3: Books On my TBR For a Long Time
This third group is books that I’ve had on my TBR for several years, mostly from 2015 and 2016. I was a bit hesitant to take them because I wasn’t sure I wanted to actually own a copy of them, but at about 20 cents per book, it was kind of like “Why not?” My library is good about taking donated books, so if I decide I don’t want them or if I don’t like them after I read them, I can always give them back. I’m planning on reading Wintergirls and maybe The Name of the Star this year.

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Group 4: Random Others
The last group is books that I picked up completely on a whim by seeing them on the table. I wasn’t sure if some of them were on my TBR (turns out that they were, so they technically could have gone into Group 3 instead), and some were just books that I’d heard of before and decided to try. The Mary Higgins Clark book, for example, was a bit of a debate because I’ve enjoyed some of her books in the past and the synopses always seem interesting, but I rarely end up reading them. Also, the last few books of hers that I read weren’t the best, but this one seemed very interesting anyway.

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TBR Throwback Follow-Up (#1)

I was struggling quite a bit to come up with an idea of what kind of post to make this week. Anything that I had in mind already seems to be an upcoming Top 10 Tuesday topic. While looking back at my blog to get some ideas, I came across posts I had made whenever it was a “freebie” topic in the past — a look back at the books that have been on my TBR for the longest that I hadn’t read yet. I started a TBR in 2015 when I first made my Goodreads account. At first, I pretty much added any book I had even the slightest interest in reading (mostly classics) just to see how the list worked, but since then, it has grown into a genuine and massive list of all the books I would like to read at some point. I know a lot of people end up splitting their Goodreads lists into different “shelves” such as long-term and short-term TBRs, by genre, etc. but I actually find it more confusing to have to look in several different places to find a book.

I find it strangely fun to look back at my TBR and see all the books that I had marked as something I want to read. It’s still extremely rare for me to actually remove anything from the shelves, even though some have been there for about 4 years now. When I go back and read the synopsis again, it reminds me of why I wanted to read it in the first place, and ends up staying. I think the hope of making previous posts about the books that had been on my shelves the longest was to give myself a bit of a push to remember to read them. To be fair, when I make those posts, I don’t do it very methodically. I don’t write about every single book that I added, but instead I pick a few highlights. In a sense, this is similar to the “TBR Shame” tag, but I really didn’t want to go through the process of listing all of the nearly 3000 books on my TBR, or even compiling a list of the unread books that I own. For now, I will just look back at my first two posts (July 2017 and September 2017) and see whether I’ve actually followed through and read them. Since in most cases I’ve already given a synopsis and/or explanation of why I added it, feel free to check out the original posts to see more specifics about the books!

From my July 2017 Post

1) Looking for Alaska by John Green
Date Added: March 9, 2015
Read: Yes! Almost exactly three years late, on March 26 & 27, 2018
Why/Why Not?: I had a reading challenge prompt that required reading a book from the first 10 added to my TBR, and this was one of the only books in my first ten that was not a lengthy classic.

2) Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
Date Added: March 9. 2015
Read: No
Why/Why Not?: This was a gift from my brother’s girlfriend at the time (now wife), so I feel a bit bad that I haven’t read it yet! I just haven’t been in the right mood to pick it up.

3) The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Date Added: March 9, 2015
Read: No, and I’m not sure I will to be honest. I might take it off my TBR.
Why/Why Not?: I added it to my list in the first place because I had it in mind for a reading challenge prompt during my first year of challenges, but ended up replacing it and haven’t been that interested ever since. I was never super interested in it, and I’m a little over dystopians in general right now.

4) Before the Storm by Diane Chamberlain
Date Added: March 14, 2015
Read: No
Why/Why Not?: I had this one in mind for a 2015 challenge prompt as well, but couldn’t read it because my library’s only copy went missing, and I was told it was out of print so they couldn’t get another one. A few years later, I found a copy at a library book sale, so I now own it! I just haven’t read it yet.

5) The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
Date Added: July 22, 2015
Read: No
Why/Why Not?: I have a ton of YA realistic fiction on my TBR in general, so I just never got around to it. I have a copy from Book Outlet now, but no immediate plans to read it yet, even though I’ve heard great things about this author.

6) The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle
Date Added:
May 22, 2015
Read: No
Why/Why Not?: I had trouble getting a copy of it from the library, and it wasn’t the highest priority for me at the time. I now own a copy of this one too from Book Outlet, and might read it this year as part of my reading challenge.

7) Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly
Date Added: April 21, 2015
Read: Yes! I read it on February 27 & 28, 2018
Why/Why Not?: I hadn’t read it up until then because I couldn’t find a copy from the library, so I was pretty excited to find it at a library book sale. As soon as I got it, I incorporated it into my challenge plans right away.

8) Creepy and Maud by Dianne Touchell
Date Added: July 29, 2015
Read: Not yet, but I will soon!
Why/Why Not?: It was completely inaccessible. Even asking the library to buy a copy didn’t work since they said it was out of print. I was lucky enough to notice it on our library’s online ebook system earlier this year, and immediately worked it into this year’s challenge plans.

9) #scandal by Sarah Ockler
Date Added: August 20, 2015
Read: No
Why/Why Not?: I own a copy of it from Book Outlet now, which I picked up in the first place because I knew it had been on my TBR for so long. I haven’t read it yet because I need to be in the right mood for this kind of YA story, especially one that involves some kind of celebrity.

10) Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble
Date Added: June 5, 2015
Read: No
Why/Why Not?: It wasn’t the highest priority when I added it, but interests me enough to keep it on my TBR. I keep putting it aside in favour of other books that I wanted to read first.

From my September 2017 post

1) Songs of the Humpback Whale by Jodi Picoult
Date Added: March 9, 2015
Read: No, and this is probably the most embarrassing one considering she is my favourite author.
Why/Why Not?: I’ve owned this one for years, but kept putting it off because I’m always a little hesitant about very early books by favourite authors, where their style is likely to be pretty different.

2) A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Date Added: March 13, 2015
Read: No, and I’m on the fence about whether I want to.
Why/Why Not?: I added it to my TBR in the first place because I own a copy that I got many years ago through a library book sale. I’ve heard some great things about this series and especially about Libba Bray as an author, but I’m not sure how interested I am in trying this one anymore.

3) When Lightning Strikes by Kristin Hannah
Date Added: March 14, 2015
Read: No, and I’m on the fence
Why/Why Not?: I’ve really enjoyed the few Kristin Hannah books that I’ve read so far, but this is one of her much earlier works and I’m not sure how much the story really interests me. I haven’t even been able to find an online preview to read a couple of pages and see.

4) While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky
Date Added: March 14, 2015
Read: No
Why/Why Not?: There’s no specific reason, I just haven’t been able to fit it into my reading challenges yet since there are always other books that I want to prioritize more. I’ve enjoyed the two other Barbara Delinsky books that I’ve read so I’m sure I’ll like this one too.

5) Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock
Date Added: March 14, 2015
Read: No
Why/Why Not?: My library doesn’t have it and it’s not something that I want to read strongly enough that I’d consider buying although I do still want to read it eventually.

6) The Lies We Told by Diane Chamberlain
Date Added: March 14, 2015
Read: No
Why/Why Not?: No specific reason. I’m slowly making my way through Diane Chamberlain’s books in general, but in no particular order. There have just been others that have interested me more, so I’ve read those first.

7) The Good Sister by Drusilla Campbell
Date Added: March 14, 2015
Read: No
Why/Why Not?: Honestly, I forgot about it completely. I see it whenever I look through my TBR list and remember that it seemed interesting, but it’s not really something that I think of when choosing books for my challenges. It’s also not available at my library so it would be hard to get a copy.

8) Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Date Added: March 28. 2015
Read: No, but there’s a (slim) possibility that I’ll read it this year.
Why/Why Not?: I think this is the only John Green book I still have left to read, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet because I prioritized his other books first. I will definitely read this at some point, but I’m not sure if it will end up being this year.

9) Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
Date Added: April 8, 2015
Read: No
Why/Why Not?: Technically, this has been on my TBR from before I even started on Goodreads. I saw it one day while browsing Amazon and it interested me, but I never actually picked it up. I keep putting it off now because I’ve probably outgrown it a bit, but I kind of still want to read it on principle since I’ve been meaning to for so long.

10) No One You Know by Michelle Richmond
Date Added: April 25, 2015
Read: No
Why/Why Not?: I have many other similar books on my TBR, so this one ended up being lower priority. For some reason, I also thought it would be hard to find a copy but it is actually available at my library so I don’t know why I thought that.

Wrap-Up

Of the 20 books that I listed over the course of those two posts, I’ve only read a grand total of 2! There are another 2 or 3 that I might end up removing from my list, but also at least 2 that I plan on reading this year. A huge factor in why I haven’t read some of these books seems to be a matter of accessibility. Especially in the cases of Creepy & Maud and Before the Storm, I really wanted to read them and planned to read them several years ago — I just couldn’t find a copy! I was also a bit surprised to realize that I hadn’t made nearly as many blog posts on this topic as I had thought, so if anyone is interested in seeing more of my backlist books, please let me know! Looking ahead at my other backlist posts, my track record with the books listed there really isn’t any better, but it still might be a fun way to motivate myself a bit, or at least discuss some of the books that probably wouldn’t come up much otherwise.

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: From Page to Screen Freebie

I struggle a bit when it comes to adaptations, in the sense that whichever version that I see or read first is the version that I generally end up most attached to. As much as I can appreciate filmmakers taking some creative liberties with the material, it always tends to bother me a bit when the movie or TV series does not stay true to the book, at least if I’ve read the book first. On the other hand, if I see the movie or show first, I almost always find the book a bit underwhelming. I think a big part of my issue is because I grow attached to the story one way, and it really throws me off when things are radically changed, especially when the movie changes the ending (My Sister’s Keeper!). I understand that it’s impossible to include absolutely everything in an adaptation, and sometimes they decide to add new things too, in order to move the story forward at a better pace or possibly to cover up plot holes. I just always find myself comparing the two versions. With that said though, there are still many adaptations that I’ve loved over the years and it’s something I don’t necessarily discuss very often.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) A Series of Unfortunate Events (Netflix series)

I was in the minority who really enjoyed the first Series of Unfortunate Events movie with Jim Carrey, although it frustrated me that they condensed so many books into barely an hour and a half. I thought the Netflix series did an amazing job of bringing the books to life while mostly staying true to the original stories. The cast was brilliant, and in general I thought this series was one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen of any series.

2) You (Netflix series)

I was so hesitant to watch this one at first because I’d just finished watching Gossip Girl for the first time, so I was stuck with the idea of Penn Badgley as Dan in my head. It was hard for me to envision him playing a character like Joe Goldberg, but he ended up being a perfect casting choice. I saw this series so long after I read the book that I couldn’t remember it well enough to compare like usual, but I know there were some key differences. I really enjoyed this series and I’m very interested in seeing Season 2.

3) Bones (TV series)

I’m not sure this trailer really does the show justice, but this show was one of my favourites! I started watching it before I even realized that it was a book series, and unfortunately, I didn’t really like the one book I read from the series this was based on. By the time I finally tried one of the books, I had such a distinct impression in mind of what the characters were supposed to be like that I couldn’t help but be disappointed that they weren’t written that way. I loved the series for the amazing character dynamics, and there were many very interesting forensic cases.

4) The Devil Wears Prada (Movie)

I adored this movie, but couldn’t get into the book at all! I only read it in the first place because of how much I had enjoyed the movie, even though I have no interest in the fashion world. Meryl Streep is just amazing in general, and I also like many of the other actors involved in this one (Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, etc.). I found it so interesting to see how Anne Hathaway’s character tries to navigate an unfamiliar field and an impossible boss, and it’s too bad that I couldn’t connect with the book.

5) The DUFF (Movie)

This was another book that I only read because of how much I enjoyed the movie, and unfortunately I did not like the book much either. To be honest, I went into this movie in the first place not really expecting very much and ended up loving it! I thought Mae Whitman was a great choice for the main character, and made her a lot more likable and interesting for me than in the book. I was surprised to see that the movie had changed quite a bit from the book. I didn’t really love the writing style, and I found the story repetitive, but luckily the movie was much easier for me to get into.

6) Matilda (Movie)

This movie is such a childhood classic for me. I related so strongly to Matilda’s love of reading and interest in learning, although luckily my family was much better than hers. I watched this movie so many times and it is still one of my favourites. It wasn’t until much, much later that I finally decided to pick up the book and although it was decent, it didn’t capture the magic of the story for me the same way that the movie had. I don’t even remember if anything was terribly different in the two versions, but I thought the movie had already brought the characters to life so well for me that the book was bound to be a bit disappointing.

7) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Movie)

I’m referring specifically to the Gene Wilder version of this story, not the later Johnny Depp version, which I didn’t really like that much. This was another childhood classic for me, and it is one that I watched over and over. It was so much fun to watch children getting to explore a chocolate factory, even if it is one as bizarre as Wonka’s. I also thought the characters were generally a lot of fun to watch, and seemed a bit less like the caricatures of different vices that they were meant to be. I read the book many years later and thought it was decent but again, it didn’t have the same magic for me as this movie.

8) The Wizard of Oz (Movie)

I don’t think I even really understood that this movie was based on a book when I initially watched it. I have the entire series on my TBR as a very long-term goal, but I read the first one as part of a children’s literature class in university. I may even have read it once before that too, but I’m not 100% sure. Compared to the movie, I found the book a little boring and it is definitely a story that works well when you have the amazing visuals to go along with it. There’s good reason that this movie has become such a classic.

9) The Phantom of the Opera (Movie & Play)

I know a lot of people weren’t particularly impressed with the 2004 movie version of The Phantom of the Opera, but I’ve always been attached to it because it was the first version of the show I’d ever seen. My best friend has always been absolutely obsessed with this musical, and a group of us went to watch the movie soon after it first came out. I was immediately blown away by the music and the story, and since then, I’ve seen the stage version at least three times, including once on Broadway. I tried to read the book once when I was a teenager and couldn’t really get into it. I think I finished it but was completely thrown by the fact that it was different from the musical, even though I knew going into it that this was the case. I’ve since read it again and absolutely loved it (although I still think I prefer the stage version!).

10) Wicked (Play)

Obviously there isn’t a great trailer for this one since it has not yet become a movie, but I am absolutely obsessed with this show! This was another one that I can thank my best friend for. He had an extra ticket and offered it to me as an early birthday present one year, when I knew literally nothing about the show and had very little interest in seeing it. I went anyway because it was such a generous offer, and completely fell in love with this story! It is almost completely different from the book, which I’ve read twice and enjoyed. For anyone curious, the clip above is Shoshana Bean as Elphaba and Megan Hilty as Glinda, which were the cast I first saw (and so far, still my favourites!). I guess I’m cheating a bit by including this one since it isn’t  a screen adaptation, but I keep hearing rumours that one is eventually coming.