Top 5 Wednesdays: Books You Didn’t Get To in 2017 (But I Likely Will in 2018!)

I’ll admit when I first saw this topic on the list, I was a little disappointed because it seemed to be basically the same as the Top 10 Tuesday topic this week. Not that I can really blame them, since it’s a great topic choice. Just to differentiate the posts a little, I decided to interpret this one a little differently, and mention 5 books that were released in 2017 that I did not get a chance to read during that year. I do feel like I made a bit more of an effort to read more recent releases, if not from 2017 than at least for the past couple of years. In part, it was because I felt like I was starting to get stuck putting off newer books in favour of others that I’d been meaning to read for a while. On the other hand, the new releases can be a little tough to get a copy of sometimes. Honestly, I could easily list way more than 5 books from 2017 that I’m looking forward to reading this year, but I’ll try to limit myself (and also limit myself to books I haven’t discussed to death already).

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) Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

33163378Honestly, I was not really looking forward to this book until very recently. I chose it for a prompt in my 2018 reading challenges requiring a book about feminism, and I picked this one because many people on the Goodreads board were raving about it. I’ve read Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu, and it really impressed me. I have all of her books on my TBR. This one specifically is about a girl named Vivian Carter whos is fed up with the sexist attitudes in her school, and creates a n anonymous feminist zine to distribute to her classmates. It sounds like such an interesting concept and if the writing is anything like Devoted, I’m sure I will love it. I’m slowly learning to buy into the hype sometimes when it comes to books, and with all the rave reviews I’ve seen, I’ve started to get really excited for this one.

2) Dear Martin by Nic Stone

24974996This was another book that I wasn’t so sure about since it seemed quite similar to The Hate U Give, although after I read and enjoyed that book, I started to be more interested in this one too. This book is about a young African-American man named Justyce who is involved in a confrontation where shots are fired by a white off-duty cop. One of the things that really interested me about this book was the idea that Justyce starts writing a journal addressed to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to try to help himself work through the racism he faces. Martin Luther King is a historical figure who I’ve always been very interested in, and it seems to be a relatively unique angle on this story. It was another book that I was hesitant to try at first, but it’s starting to become really exciting!

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

29283884I think this book has reached my limit on avoidance due to overhype. It always gets to a point where I finally start to look past the hype and think that maybe the book really might be as good as everyone suggests. I heard about this book literally everywhere all through 2017, and I wasn’t that interested at first because for some reason I assumed it was about pirates. I have no idea where I got that impression from at all. Once I started to see all the rave reviews come in about how funny this book is and how interesting the characters are, I started to change my mind. I think all but one or two of the reviewers I follow on Goodreads have given this at least 4 stars, so it seems like it might actually live up to all the hype. Plus it seems to fit very nicely into a challenge prompt requiring a book that involves at least one of the seven deadly sins.

4) Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

31123249It almost feels like there were so many interesting books that I wanted to read in 2017, that I couldn’t possibly be excited for all of them at once. This was a book that I added to my TBR about halfway through the year, and then essentially forgot about until recently. This book is about a Muslim Indian-American teenage girl named Janna who is trying to figure out what kind of person she wants to be. The synopsis also hints at someone in her community who has done something wrong (I’m not sure what. No spoilers, please!) and Janna needs to decide if she wants to speak up about it. This was one of the last few books that I added to my reading challenge plans for this year. As I was browsing my TBR, it seemed to all of a sudden jump out at me as something I really wanted to read so I made sure to find a place for it.

5) Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

15837671In a way, John Green has kind of become the new Nicholas Sparks for me. I always tend to read his books, although I’ve never really loved one enough to give it a full 5 stars either. I really liked The Fault in Our Stars, and I’ve read a couple of his other books which I liked but didn’t love. Yet every time John Green puts out a new book, something about it still interests me enough to want to read it. It seems to be the theme today, but this was a book that I was not necessarily super-excited for at first because the plot seemed a bit weird. The synopsis talks about 16-year-old Aza investigating a mysterious billionaire for the possibility of receiving a reward, and that plot didn’t really appeal to me much. However, I’ve since heard that the book has very good OCD and anxiety representation and I’d be interested in that aspect of it. Since I tend to usually like John Green’s books, I think I’d probably enjoy this one too.

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Top 10 Tuesdays: 10 Books We Meant to Read in 2017 but Didn’t

Toward the end of each year, when I start looking at the prompt lists for different reading challenges, I make myself a semi-tentative list of the books I want to use for each category. Part of the reason I plan in advance is to make sure I can fit in all the books I’m most excited for, and part of it is also the practicality of depending on the library. Although I’m generally pretty good at picking books that I’m excited for, it’s inevitable that there will be at least a few that I change my mind about. Often toward the end of the year, I end up switching things out when I know I don’t have enough time to enjoy the book properly, or when I’m just not excited at all for it anymore. I try to avoid switching too much because it sometimes feels like a bit of a cheat to me, even though I know it isn’t. Here are ten books that I planned to read this year, that I didn’t get to, for a variety of reasons.

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

1) One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

320Let’s get the big one out of the way upfront. Every year, there is at least one book that I plan on reading that I just keep putting off and putting off until eventually I scrap it from the list. A couple of years ago, it was The Goldfinch, and last year it was One Hundred Years of Solitude. It chose it for a difficult prompt requiring a book  set in South or Central America, by a South or Central American author. To be fair, I wasn’t super excited to read this book in the first place, and as a result I kept procrastinating on it. It didn’t help that it was a lengthy book that I just didn’t think I would have time for as I got closer to the end of the year. It didn’t help that I saw very mixed reviews. I’ve learned in the past that if I go into a book expecting that I won’t like it much, it’s almost guaranteed that I won’t be into it. I consider this book more of a long-term goal.

2) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

14935I’ve been meaning to read more Jane Austen for a while, and I think I’ve had this book in mind every year so far that I’ve done a reading challenge. I kind of burnt myself out on classics over the past couple of years, so I ended up being pretty unmotivated. I love Pride and Prejudice, and I liked Northanger Abbey, and I would love to read the rest of her books at some point. I’ve decided to take a break from classics for this year, but this is one of the only exceptions I’m considering. The main reason I didn’t read this book last year was because I ran out of time and didn’t have the patience for the more old-fashioned language. I know Jane Austen is usually a little more accessible than other classics, so I would still like to give it a chance.

3) Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

30002998I think this was the first year in a long time that I didn’t read the new Nicholas Sparks book within a few months of it coming out. Nicholas Sparks used to be my favorite author, and although I still enjoy his books, most of them only reach the 4-star mark for me. I kept putting this one off because I wanted to buy my own copy, but the hardcover was so expensive! I ended up buying the paperback version, and continued putting it off because the book was close to 500 pages and the plot synopsis didn’t grab me that much. This book is a pretty big departure from Nicholas Sparks’ other work, focusing on the breakdown of a marriage and the husband’s bond with his young daughter instead of on a the romance. It ended up being the first book I read in 2018 because I didn’t want to put it off anymore, and as expected, it was 4 stars.

4) Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

1472878This was another book that I really wanted to read, but I kept putting it off because of a combination of the nearly 500 page length, and because it was a book I owned and I was prioritizing my library books. By the time I got to it, I only had a few days left of the year and didn’t think I’d be able to finish in time, so I decided to switch it out for something shorter, and prioritize it this year instead. This ended up being the second book I read (although two 500 page contemporary books in a row might not be the wisest start). This book is about two best friends, Tully and Kate, over the decades of their friendship. This ended up being one of those frustrating books that was exactly between two star ratings, and Goodreads does not allow half-stars!

5) Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

32075662I think this is the one book that I am genuinely shocked that I did not get to. Immediately after reading This Savage Song, I just knew I had to go out and buy the duology. I bought them both not long after, but put off reading this one so I could work through my library books first. It was one of the books I was most excited for, and I just ran out of time. I originally planned to make this my first book of 2018, but I ended up picking the Nicholas Sparks book instead because I had a day off work and figured I would need to the time to devote to it. I am currently in the middle of this one, and looking forward to reading the rest of it! This Savage Song was easily one of my favourite books last year, and so far, this one is just as good!

6) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

5659This was a book that I put off for strategic reasons. I had it in mind for a prompt last year requiring a book from the BBC’s Top 200. As my Goodreads group started voting for prompts for this year’s challenge, I was disappointed to find a prompt that required a book from Amazon’s Top 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime. Looking through the list, I realized that I’d already read all the books that interested me most, and the remaining books that were on my TBR tended to be lengthy classics or books that I just was not in the mood for. When I saw The Wind in the Willows on the list, I decided it was the best available option and since it was pretty easy to replace for the 2017 prompt, it seemed logical to switch. I know very little about this classic, although a version of it was performed at my elementary school. I can’t say I really remember enjoying it much, but I think it’s worth trying again.

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

9833965I’m generally not a fan of non-fiction, but this book sounded very interesting. I had a prompt for one of my reading challenges last year that required a book about food, and I had another book lined up for. I had to request the library to purchase that one and it seemed that it would not be available in time. When that book actually showed up, I decided to put this one off and use it toward a different prompt for 2018 instead. This book is about a woman who grew up with severe food allergies as well as other allergies to mold, dust, etc. I have a family member who has severe allergies, and I also work with participants in my day program who have a variety of allergies. It sounds like this book would give a very interesting look at the topic, and I’d love to give it a try.

8) This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee, and 9) Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

2281180719223830I had a lot of trouble finding options that interested me for my challenge prompt requiring a steampunk book. These two books appealed to me most, but they were both books that I had to ask the library to buy. They didn’t end up getting copies in the system until it was much too late in the year for me to get them in time, so I had to find something else. I’ve managed to work This Monstrous Thing into my plan for 2018, and I’m thinking of trying to squeeze Ticker in as well. They are both very interesting, although I wouldn’t really consider steampunk (or even sci-fi) a genre I really reach for.

10) The Princess Bride by William Goldman

21787I think I must be the only person in the world who has never seen this movie. I wanted to read the book for a tricky prompt requiring a story within a story, and I’d heard great things about how funny it was. Every time I went to release holds from the library, I found myself putting this one off in favour of other books that appealed to me more. As I got to November and December, I realized that I’d pretty much lost any interest in reading it and decided to switch it out for something else. I’m sure I would have been more driven to try it if I had seen and loved the movie like everyone else, and I would still like to give it a chance at some point, but as of right now, it doesn’t appeal to me much.

2017 End of Year Book Survey

Best books of 2017

Number Of Books You Read:  158 for my challenges, plus about 15 or  so side-reads
Number of Re-Reads: 8
Genre You Read The Most From: Probably YA fantasy or YA contemporary

best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

It’s hard to pick just one! I can at least narrow it down to one per genre (and even that was a struggle):

Best YA Contemporary – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Best YA Fantasy – This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab
Best Graphic Novel – Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Best Fiction – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Best Horror or Thriller – And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
Best Non-fiction – Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Best Classic – Lolita, but probably only because it was narrated by Jeremy Irons

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai. I read her first book last year and absolutely loved it, but this one was a complete disappointment. It felt like it took me forever to read (even though it was only 2 days) and it was boring.

Also, Gena/Finn. It was one of the books I was most excited to read, but it was nowhere near as good as I expected. I still gave it 4 stars, but I thought this one would be an easy 5-star book. It just veered off in such a strange direction toward the end, that it seemed like an entirely separate book.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

Definitely a toss-up between The Hating Game and The Status of All Things. I didn’t expect much from either of them, and they both ended up being favourites.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I have no idea if anyone has actually read it based on my recommendation, but I’ve been encouraging people to give Red Queen a fair chance. I feel like it’s a book that gets a lot of hate because it is similar to other dystopians, but I really loved it.

 5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Best series started – The Raven Boys
Best sequel – Cress
Best series ender –  Winter

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

I think any of the authors of the series I started this year: Maggie Stiefvater, Sarah J. Maas, Laini Taylor and Victoria Schwab.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I read a lot of really great graphic novels this year, which is a genre I’ve been trying to read more of. Aside from Nimona which I already mentioned, I also absolutely loved Strong Female Protagonist.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Illuminae! I was hoping for a place on this list to add this one in, since it was by far one of my favourites.

 9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I generally don’t re-read the same books year after year, but if I had to choose one that I’d probably pick Hyperbole and a Half because as soon as I finished, I wanted to re-read it!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Probably Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

Daughter of Smoke and Bone. For some reason, compared to the other series I started this year, I feel like I tend to overlook this one a lot, even though I liked it just as much as all the others. I definitely don’t give it as much attention as it deserves.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

Homegoing was definitely thought-provoking.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 

Gone Girl! I’ve been meaning to read this for 3 years and kept putting it off.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

This is a hard one because I don’t keep very good track of quotes that I like. I usually just notice them as they come up, and then move on. I actually went back to Goodreads and looked at the quote pages for some of my favourite books to pick:

“Your soul sings to mine. My soul is yours, and it always will be, in any world. No matter what happens. I need you to remember that I love you.”
― Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke & Bone

“Peace is more than the absence of war. Peace is accord. Harmony.”
― Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke & Bone

“The act of reading is a partnership. The author builds a house, but the reader makes it a home.”
― Jodi PicoultBetween the Lines

“There’s no kindness in offering false hope.”
― Naomi NovikUprooted

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Shortest – Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus
Longest – Winter

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

And the Trees Crept In. I did not expect that ending at all.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Cress and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles! Also, Levi and Cath from Fangirl.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Nimona and Ballister Blackheart from Nimona. The interactions between them were amazing. The friendship between the Raven boys was also great!

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

I’m purposely excluding books from a series for this one, so I would have to go with Fangirl.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Raven Boys. I’ve heard about this book literally non-stop for the past year.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

Levi from Fangirl and Reid from The Upside of Unrequited.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

The Hate U Give

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

There are quite a few good contenders for this one, but I really loved the worlds in Uprooted and This Savage Song.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Adulthood is a Myth

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

History is All You Left Me and Goodbye Days (even though I still take issue with one of the key plot points in this one).

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Might be a bit of a weird choice, but Baba Yaga’s Assistant. It was a very fast read, but I really enjoyed it! I think Wrecked is another hidden gem, since it is a late-2016 release that was very much overlooked, yet an excellent story.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

I’m not entirely sure what this means, if I’m honest. I would assume it means a book that is very upsetting, so I’d have to say History is All You Left Me

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

Ella Minnow Pea, which was a lot of fun to read!

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Goodbye Days. As I mentioned above, there was a key plot point that really annoyed me because it didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Even though I tried to overlook it as I progressed through the book, it kept coming up and every time, it bothered me!

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

I can’t actually remember if I started following these people in 2016 or 2017, but some of my more recent favourites are Anushka @GoingThroughBooks, Destiny @HowlingLibraries and C.G. Drews @PaperFury. These last two were actually people I followed on Goodreads, and discovered that they had blogs of their own.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

So I guess I’m a weird kind of a blogger since I don’t actually write a lot of reviews. I find them very time-consuming, and hard to write without repeating myself (and I’m wordy enough as it is!). Instead of reviewing books, I often ended up reviewing adaptations instead. I think my favourite would have to be my review of the movie version of The Girl on the Train (found here) or of the Emma Watson version of Beauty and the Beast (here).

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I’m not sure if anyone actually read it, but I really liked my post about diversity using the TV show Degrassi as an example of how to do diversity properly. This post can be found here.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Nothing that I can think of. I don’t really go to these kinds of events.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

Finally winning a Goodreads giveaway! I’ve entered so many of them and never really expected to win anything, so I was very surprised to get an e-mail last week saying I’d won a book.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Keeping up with my posts during the week! I have a full-time job, and I always intend to pre-write my posts for the week over the weekend, but I rarely actually do that. In general, I participate in Top 10 Tuesdays, Top 5 Wednesdays, and then I post at least one more time during the week doing something of my choice. It’s hard for me to sit down and write during weekdays after work.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Apparently my post about my 10 favourite books from 2017 got over 100 views, and I didn’t even know it!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

The Problem with “Problematic” because it took me such a long time to figure out how to put what I wanted to say into words!

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I recently tried ordering from BookOutlet for the first time. My books haven’t arrived yet, so I’m hoping they will be in good condition, but I was very impressed with the Boxing Week deal they were offering, which let me get close to 20 books for about $2 each, including some I want for next year’s reading challenge and couldn’t find otherwise.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Yes, I surprisingly managed to complete all of my reading challenges by December 30, with one day to spare!

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

Our Dark Duet. This may literally be the first book that I read.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Folded Notes from High School by Matt Boren. I only heard about this one recently, but it sounds really cute!

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

War Storm and Obsidio.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

Just to read as much as I can, and hopefully finish the reading challenges I’ve taken on.

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

I haven’t read any yet!

Top 5 Wednesdays: Top 5 Authors You’d Want to Write Like

I spent at least half of my childhood convinced I was going to grow up to be a professional author. In fourth grade, my best friend and I decided that we were going to start our own series of children’s books. He would draw the illustrations, and I would write (although neither of us were particularly talented). This led to many recesses and lunch breaks working on our first “book,” a bizarre story involving talking animals that have special powers and go on small adventures. Growing up, I always tried to write stories of my own and although I had many ideas, I never had the ability to follow through on them and often abandoned them midway.

When I saw this week’s topic, it brought me back to my childhood wish of being a professional writer. Although writing is one of my strengths, I’m not really sure that extends to creative writing. I definitely wish I had the abilities of some of my favourite authors!

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) Jodi Picoult

It’s no secret by now that Jodi Picoult is my favourite author. I would love to have her ability to tackle complex topics from a variety of viewpoints. Jodi Picoult takes controversial issues, and crafts a story that includes such a range of characters that it is nearly impossible for me to tell her own personal biases. I also have a lot of respect for the amount of research she puts into each book to make sure they are as accurate as possible. Her characters feel so real that I sometimes forget that they are not real people. Like all authors, some books are better than others, but even my least favourites tend to be very strong. I would love to have J.K. Rowling’s ability to to manage difficult topics so sensitively and realistically, while avoiding her own biases.

2) J.K. Rowling

I really admire J.K. Rowling’s ability to create such an intricate and detailed world, and especially how she manages to tie together seemingly insignificant details and characters from previous books. A character who is mentioned in passing in the first Harry Potter book, who seems like no more than just a random name, often later becomes an important figure. It takes a lot of forethought and planning to pull that off, and I love how J.K. Rowling was able to bring it all together so smoothly. In my own attempts to write stories, I tend to get stuck on specifics and stop writing until I can sort things out, which sometimes means abandoning things if I can’t find a good solution. I would love to have J.K. Rowling’s ability to plan ahead and make such strong connections, as well as to build such a fascinating world.

3) Daniel Handler

For those who don’t know, Daniel Handler is the real author behind the Lemony Snicket character who wrote A Series of Unfortunate Events. I think it takes a lot of talent to create this whole persona of a mysterious author who is a character himself in the books, and I love the series for the blend of intelligent writing, interesting (and strange) characters, and humour. Aside from the series, Daniel Handler has also written several books under his own name which are great as well. I love how he wrote a children’s series which treated the children who read it as well as the younger characters as competent and intelligent people who were able to understand the story and the jokes. I would love to have Daniel Handler’s ability to play with language and create a story that is so funny and so serious at the same time.

4) Audrey Niffenegger

Audrey Niffenegger hasn’t written very many books yet, but I love her writing style! I fell in love with The Time Traveler’s Wife as soon as I read it, partly because of the intriguing concept but mostly because of the beautiful writing. I love how Audrey Niffenegger takes on storylines that are kind of complex and weird, but presents them in a way where the story does not seem so impossible. Even when the events that are happening are strange, they are written so well that they seem completely real and plausible. I’m not even sure I can put into words exactly what it is about her writing style that I love (and maybe that’s why I would love to write like her), but it is so easy for me to get absorbed into her stories. I would love to have Audrey Niffenegger’s general ability to write so beautifully.

5) Suzanne Collins

I’ve only just realized that Suzanne Collins had another series before The Hunger Games. It was a middle grade series called the Underland Chronicles, which I’d never heard of and never read (and to be fair, probably won’t read at this point). I avoided The Hunger Games for a long time because it was so overhyped, even though my mom, who rarely reads YA but loves fantasy, kept highly recommending it. It wasn’t until after I saw the first movie that I decided to give it a chance, and all three books quickly became favourites. I loved how Suzanne Collins struck a perfect balance between action and character development, in a completely believable world. Her characters were all so well-written, especially Katniss. I thought this was by far one of the strongest YA dystopian series I’ve ever read, possibly because it was the first, but the writing style really made it stand out. I would love to have Suzanne Collins’ ability to balance action and emotion/character development.

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.

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!