Top 10 Tuesdays: 10 Characters You Liked in Books You Disliked/Weren’t Favourites

I think it’s safe to say that this is one of the most difficult Top 10 Tuesday topics so far. I knew as soon as I saw it on the list that I would have a hard time with it. In general, the characters make or break the book for me. I can even tolerate a mediocre plot if the characters are very strong. Aside from that, there aren’t all that many books (that I can remember in detail at least) that I really disliked. It seems as if I’m not the only one struggling. I spent a couple of hours today looking at many of the links to various blogger’s Top 10 Tuesday post for this week, and I was a little to surprised to see just how many people had changed the topic to the opposite or created a new topic of their own. I decided to stick to the original, but with a pretty broad definition of what qualifies as a book that isn’t a favourite. Basically anything that wasn’t a 5 star read to me can be classified as not being a favourite.

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) Rose and Ruby from The Girls by Lori Lansens

47076I read this book in 2016 for a prompt requiring a book set in my home state, which was one of the prompts I was least excited for. I was intrigued by this book because of the concept. It focused on Rose and Ruby, conjoined twins who are joined at the head. The story is told in the format of an autobiography written by Rose, as she describes her life attached to her sister. What is even more unusual about these twins is the way their bodies have formed. Aside from being conjoined at the head, Rose’s body has never fully developed, so she is carried by her sister almost the way a mother carries a child, with arms and legs wrapped around her. I thought the concept of the story was fascinating and the twins were both very interesting characters, but unfortunately I did not enjoy this book very much at all. I found it slow-paced and it went into far too much detail about boring events, and glossed over other parts that would have been much more interesting to read. It’s a shame really, since the characters had so much potential.

2) Carrie White from Carrie by Stephen King

10592Unpopular opinion time, but I have never been able to get into Stephen King’s writing. To be fair, I’ve only tried two books but I wasn’t a huge fan of either of them, and definitely not enough to be particularly motivated to read any more. Carrie was the first book of his that I read, which I read already knowing the majority of the storyline. For those who don’t know, Carrie was a bullied and abused teenage girl who develops powers that she uses to unleash horror on the people who tormented her. My main issue with this book was that I was not a fan of the writing style, although the characters were interesting. I loved the idea of the story, showing an extreme reaction to years of bullying and abuse by her mother and her classmates. The problem was, because I couldn’t get into the writing style, I had a lot of trouble connecting with the story. Carrie was a great and memorable character, but the book itself didn’t live up to my expectations at all.

3) Cora Randall from The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

30555488This was another case of an interesting character in a book I just could not get into at all. I’ve mentioned before that I was never particularly interested in reading the book, but decided to pick it up because of all the hype and because it was chosen as a Book of the Month for one of my Goodreads groups. Cora is a slave living on a cotton plantation in Georgia who has the opportunity to escape using the Underground Railroad, which in this version of the story is a literal railroad that takes slaves across the country with several stops along the way. Essentially, the book used each stop to show different eras in Black history, and it unfortunately did not work well for me because it was told from such a distant and impersonal perspective. Cora seemed like a very interesting character, but I just couldn’t get engrossed in her story because of the writing style. It felt more like a textbook than a novel to me, and that was enough to put me off.

4) Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

7885658I have known the general storyline of The Scarlet Letter from the time I was in elementary school thanks to watching Wishbone, and I decided it was finally time to give this classic a try last year. This was one of the few books that I almost gave up on right away because the opening chapter was so incredibly dry. In that chapter, the narrator describes (at great length) how they “found” the story of the scarlet letter. As soon as the book moved to Hester Prynne and her story, my interest was regained. I was very surprised to learn that Hester had a daughter, and it was actually her daughter who seemed to play the biggest role in the story. I thought Hester was a very strong character and was interested in her choice to wear the scarlet A without shame, but this was another book that I had trouble connecting with because of the writing style. It took me much longer than I expected to get through the book, and I had very little motivation to actually read it, despite my interest in Hester as a character.

5) Gandalf from The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

5907Another unpopular opinion, but I have never been a big fan of The Lord of the Rings in any format. I’ve seen all the movies, but have never tried the books. I was assigned The Hobbit twice to read for school, once in eighth grade and again in a university Children’s Literature course. Both times, I found the book very boring and slow to get through, although I still ultimately rated it 4 stars. While I definitely agree that the world-building is absolutely incredible and the book writing is technically amazing, I just can’t get into it. I was not a huge fan of the movies either since I found them a little confusing, and I would theoretically love to try the books at some point, but definitely not for a while. The one thing I really did enjoy was the introduction of Gandalf, as a guide and protector of Bilbo and his friends. There is not too much to his character in this book alone, but it definitely hints at a lot more and leaves just enough to keep you interested.

6) Dante Quintana from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

12000020I did not hate this book, but it definitely did not live up to all the hype for me. I actually really want to give this one another chance because I almost feel like I rushed it when I last read it, and I think that affected my perception of the story and especially of the ending. Aristotle was a decent character, but I generally don’t like characters who are always angry and lashing out. Dante, on the other hand, was an excellent character and I wish we would have gotten more about him instead. Dante was a sweet character, and he was a real highlight of the story for me (and the main reason that I want to try it again). Another great thing about this book is that both characters had great and supportive parents, which is a real rarity in YA books. Both of the Benjamin Alire Saenz’s books always have great characters, even if the storylines don’t always quite work for me.

7) Georgette “Buffy” Meissonier from Feed by Mira Grant

7094569In general, I have no interest at all in zombie stories in any format but my mom recommended this book to me because of the unusual format. This book focuses on Georgia (George) and Shaun, two sibling bloggers who are working in the United States after “the Rising,” a zombie outbreak accidentally created by scientists. The siblings and their team are hired to follow a senator’s campaign for presidency. This book was quite lengthy and got repetitive at times, but I loved the blog segments that were interspersed throughout. I rated this book 4 stars in the end, so it definitely not was a book that I disliked and in fact, it was a book that I enjoyed a lot more than I expected. I’m counting it toward this list because it was a character I liked from a genre that I typically don’t enjoy. My favourite character was Georgette Meissonier, who goes by the nickname “Buffy” (as in the Vampire Slayer, my favourite show!). Buffy was a fiction writer and a technology expert who works with the siblings as part of their team, and she was a great character. I thought she brought great balance to the team and she was one of my favourites.

8) Tris from The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

17383994Divergent was a tricky one for me. I read it after I absolutely adored The Hunger Games, and I was really hoping this one would be on par. I really enjoyed Divergent as a book on its own, and I thought Tris was an interesting main character, although basically the same as most other dystopian protagonists. Unfortunately, I found the series kind of fell apart in the following two books. I found myself confused by some of the explanations about what the main conflict was really about and what people were fighting for. I was especially confused by the whole “genetic purity” aspect, which was unfortunate because it was essential to the story. It is another case where I almost think I read through it too quickly since I read all three in a row, and might have rushed a bit. I’m interested in giving it another chance because I really liked Tris as a main character and thought her development through the series was very well-done.

9) Alice Cullen and 10) Rosalie Hale from The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer

41865I’m cheating a bit and including two characters from the same series since I had such a tough time with this week’s topic to begin with. This series was incredibly frustrating for me because it had so much potential to be very interesting, and it just never got there. I was not a fan of the main characters, but Alice and Rosalie were both intriguing and I would have loved to have more of their backstories. I loved finally getting to find out more about Rosalie specifically in Eclipse, and I hoped to get something similar for Alice as well. I actually checked the Wiki page for Alice’s backstory but none of it was familiar at all, so if it was mentioned in the books (and it probably was), it obviously was not that memorable. Alice was just a fun character who added a lot of personality to the book, and I thought both of these characters were very interesting and another perfect example of the potential this series had.

 

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Monthly Recommendations: Mental Health Rep

Mental health seems to have become such a popular topic to address, especially in YA books over the past few years. It is so important for books and authors to represent mental health accurately and sensitively. The problem I often find is that books that deal with mental illness fall into some common and frustrating tropes. The worst one for me is the idea that falling in love completely cures the person of their mental illness. While I can accept that being with someone who loves and supports you can help a person deal with the symptoms and feel better, I have a hard time thinking that falling in love alone could, for example, make a person with schizophrenia stop hearing voices completely (but only when their partner is with them). Luckily, it seems that many authors are becoming much better about portraying the realities of mental illness very well. Below are some of the books I’ve read that I felt portrayed mental illness well (including a couple of potentially controversial choices).

Monthly Recommendations is a Goodreads group created by Kayla Rayne and Trina from Between Chapters. Monthly topics cane be found on the Goodreads page here

1) Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

16068905I have never related to a character more strongly that I did to Cath in Fangirl. Cath is a college freshman who has social anxiety, who is a huge fan and popular fanfiction writer for a Harry Potter-type series, along with her twin sister Wren. When the twins start college, Wren decides to separate herself from the fandom and branch out away from her sister, leaving Cath on her own to deal with her first year of college. While I have never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder myself, I am fairly certain I have some kind of social anxiety (although maybe not at a clinical level). Cath’s worries about dealing with new people and new situations at school were definitely above and beyond the usual anxiety about leaving home. For example, she is afraid of eating in the dining hall because she doesn’t know how to get there, what the rules are, and worries about being in other people’s way. I could definitely relate to her preference to stay in and read or write instead of trying to immerse herself in the college’s social life, like everyone else. One of the things I especially loved about this book is that despite making friends and even falling in love, Cath’s anxiety is not magically cured. This was easily one of my favourite books that I read last year.

2) The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

30653853I read this book in the same month last year that I read Fangirl, and it was another excellent portrayal of anxiety that I very strongly related to. This book is about a girl named Molly who is overweight and deals with anxiety. At age 17, Molly has had crushes on 26 boys but has never done anything about her feelings for any of them. Her twin sister, Cassie, tries to help set Molly up with her latest crush, but Molly also might have feelings for her geeky coworker, Reid. I know some people have taken issue with the one-dimensional storyline that focuses almost exclusively on Molly’s love life, but I thought it worked very well. Becky Albertalli is an excellent author who crafts such relatable and realistic characters. One of the things that really stood out to me in this one was Molly’s anxiety in her relationship with her love interest. Like me, Molly has a tendency to overthink everything and jump to conclusions, and there were so many interactions she had that I could easily see myself having as well.

3) Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley

26109391When I first read the synopsis for this book, I was worried about the direction it might take. The book focuses on an overachieving student named Lisa who decides to take on her classmate Solomon, who has not left his house in three years after a very public panic attack, as a “project” to help get her into a psychology program in college. I was very worried that this book would take the harmful approach that someone’s mental illness is something that could be fixed by an amateur, teenage “therapist.” I was pleasantly surprised to realize that the book was actually the opposite of that. Not only was Solomon an excellent character whose agoraphobia was portrayed very well, but this book directly challenged the idea that teens are capable of curing each other. There was an especially powerful scene toward the end of the book that showed how although Lisa and her boyfriend Clark had helped Solomon to a degree, their friendship was not a cure. It was also great to see a YA book where romance was not the focus. The blurb for this one is definitely misleading, but I would highly recommend it.

4) Every Last Word by Tamara Stone Ireland

23341894The main reason I am recommending this book is because of the very positive portrayal of therapy, which is something that seems extremely rare in mental illness stories. In this book, the main character Sam has purely-obsessional OCD, which means she suffers from intrusive thoughts and worries that interfere with her daily life. Sam is also part of the popular crowd at school and has kept her diagnosis secret from her best friends for years out of fear that they might turn against her. I especially enjoyed the early chapters where Sam’s relationship with her friends is explored, and you can see their mean-girl dynamic. It seems to be pretty rare to have the character with a mental illness as part of a popular group, so that was unique in itself. I also hadn’t seen this specific form of OCD represented in other books before. As mentioned above, I also liked how the book focused quite a bit on Sam’s use of therapy and medication as a positive thing to help herself manage, since so many books tend to show these options as either unhelpful or dismissed outright.

5) All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

18460392I know that this one is a controversial choice. I have yet to see any book where a character commits suicide that has not been accused of glorifying it. This book focuses on two main character who meet at the top of their school’s bell tower, both contemplating jumping. Violet is suffering from depression after sister’s recent death, and Finch has undiagnosed bipolar disorder. I can understand some of the issues that people have raised about this book, but I thought it was a very powerful story. I loved the relationship that developed between Violet and Finch, and I especially thought Finch’s bipolar symptoms were represented well. To be clear, this book does not do a good job of showing support for the individuals. The adults around these two do not seem to notice that they are struggling, and Finch actively rejects medication and therapy. I can see where this is problematic for readers, but I also thought it was (unfortunately) very realistic since not everyone is open to the idea that they need help. Given that one of the main characters commits suicide, it is not an uplifting book but I do think it was well written. I actually really enjoyed that there was a book that was not afraid to show the darker side of mental illness since it us (again, unfortunately) a reality.

6) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

29844228Again, a very controversial choice even before the recent #MeToo allegations against Jay Asher. As I’m sure most people are aware by now, this book is about a teenage girl named Hannah Baker who has committed suicide, and who has left behind a series of cassette tapes where she talks about the people and events that led her to her decision. I first read this book about a decade ago when it came out and again last year before the Netflix series, and both times it struck me as a very powerful story. This book has been accused of glorifying Hannah’s suicide as a revenge plot or a way of blaming other people for her actions. On both occasions where I read it, I interpreted it as a book about how even seemingly small actions (or inaction) can have an impact on other people, and we can never truly know what other people are going through. It was easy to see the build-up of several events, some much worse than others, which led up to Hannah’s choice and how it got to a point where it was all just too much. Again, this is not a hopeful or inspiring book, but it is very stark and very real.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Favourite Teachers or Mentors

It really bugs me that we’ve been asked not to include any Harry Potter characters for this week’s topic! I agree that between Dumbledore, Lupin, Sirius, McGonagall, and even potentially Hagrid, it would be way too easy. These kinds of topics are always difficult for me because I don’t necessarily keep track of which characters fit into different categories, so it’s hard to think of after the fact. It was also a very tricky one since many of the options that I came up with are from TV series. The prime example would have to be Mr. Feeny, the iconic teacher from Boy Meets World who somehow manages to follow Cory Matthews and his friends throughout their school lives and acts as an incredible teacher and mentor to all of them. He teaches them countless valuable lessons. He is tough but fair, and pushes his students constantly to improve themselves. It was actually pretty difficult to find any teachers or mentors from books that measured up.

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) Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Once again, this is probably cheating because it’s primarily because of the TV series, but because there are several books about characters from the series and the continuing seasons in graphic novel format, I think Giles still counts. Giles is Buffy’s Watcher who is responsible for training her to hone her Slayer abilities and teach her demon lore, but his relationship with her quickly became much deeper than that. Throughout the series, it is clear that Giles has become more of a father figure and mentor not just to Buffy herself, but also to the rest of her group, especially Willow as she learns to control her magic powers. Giles goes above and beyond his duties as a Watcher and develops genuine affection for Buffy and her friends, and does everything in his power to protect them but also to prepare them to deal with life on their own. In the last few seasons of the TV series, Giles actually separates himself from the group and moves back to England in attempt to force Buffy to stand on her own and function as an independent adult. He is such an interesting character, and a great mentor.

2) Uncle Press Tilton from The Pendragon Series by D.J. MacHale

In the first book in this series, Bobby Pendragon is visited by his favourite Uncle Press who takes him on a strange adventure, explaining that Bobby is a Traveler who has a duty to help save all of Halla (basically every time and place that has ever existed) from calling into chaos. Press introduces Bobby to the idea of Travelers and trains him to become one himself. It has been several years since I read this series, but if I recall correctly, Bobby mentions that his Uncle has taken him on many outings over the years to a wide variety of unusual activities, and comes to realize that Press was training him to have the skills he might need to use as a Traveler. Part of what is interesting about this character is that a lot of his role as teacher and mentor actually happened before the series even began, and his part in the actual books is very limited. This is an incredibly underrated series in general, and a huge reason that it works as well as it does is because of the strength of the characters. Although Press’s role is relatively small, his impact is often felt throughout the series and he definitely helped to shape Bobby into the Traveler and person he became.

3) Miss Frizzle from The Magic School Bus Series by Joanna Cole

Again, this probably has more to do with the TV series than the books, but the episodes were adapted into a series of educational children’s books about a variety of topics, including dinosaurs, the human body, and space. Miss Frizzle is an eccentric teacher who takes her class on bizarre field trips using her magic school bus, that allows the children to change in size and transform into other things to be able to see how things work up close. Her philosophy that she quickly passes on to the children in her class is “Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy!” and it is this line that I think makes her such a great teacher. One thing that has always stuck with me from elementary school is when my first grade teacher told us “Mistakes are how you learn,” and Miss Frizzle’s entire teaching style seems to encompass that idea. She teaches her students to experiment and test out theories to discover things for themselves, and allows them to follow the topics that interest them to satisfy their curiosity. She teaches them not to be afraid of getting the answer wrong, and to work together to figure it out. Of course, the teaching methods she uses are extremely dangerous and would never be allowed in real life (ie. bringing her class face-to-face with live dinosaurs), but it’s safe to say that her class will never forget what they learn!

4) Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

In a way, this can be seen as a bit of an unconventional choice given Haymitch’s struggles with alcohol, but he is definitely a mentor to both Katniss and Peeta both during their time in the Hunger Games and long afterwards. Haymitch is a Hunger Games victor from District 12 who mentors tributes for each Hunger Games competition. It is immediately clear that Haymitch’s own experiences in the Games have deeply traumatized him and he initially seems like a poor source of support for Katniss and Peeta due to his drunken behaviour. However, once he begins to recognize that the two of them are real contenders in the competition, he offers a lot of useful and practical advice about how to survive, and helps to guide Katniss especially by finding a way to subtly communicate with her while she is in the arena. He also plays an active role in trying to protect Katniss during the rebellions against the Capitol. Katniss seeks him out for help and confides in him throughout the series, and it is clear that she trusts his advice and that they have developed a very strong bond.

5) Miss Honey in Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda has always been one of my favourite movies, and I saw the movie many, many times before ever reading the book. I’m sure a lot of my reason for picking this character is because of the film version, but from what I remember, the book is pretty similar. Miss Honey is Matilda’s first teacher at school who quickly recognizes that Matilda has a brilliant mind, and immediately seeks to help move her up to a more advanced class to appropriately challenge her. She tries to speak to Matilda’s parents, and even braves a conversation with her abusive aunt and Headmistress of the school, Miss Trunchbull because she knows that it is in Matilda’s best interest. Miss Honey and Matilda quickly form a strong connection, bonding over their difficult family lives, and both try to help each other. Matilda begins to hone her telekinetic abilities to help scare away Miss Trunchbull and restore Miss Honey to her home and the money that is rightfully hers, and Miss Honey recognizes Matilda’s difficult home life, eventually coming to offer a home with her instead. It was great to see a teacher who was aware of her student’s abilities and needs, and did everything in her power to make sure that student was given appropriate work to actually move her forward, and not let her just stagnate in a class that was too low-level for her.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books Set in Other Countries (On My TBR)

The setting of a book can play such a huge role in how the story plays out. Although I’m not always a huge fan of overly descriptive sections about what a place looks like, I love reading about other cultures and the people who practice them. Since I am not from the US, it technically would have been way too easy to just pick 10 books set in any of the states and consider them another country. I also considered making a list of some of the excellent books that I’ve read set in other countries, such as Memoirs of a Geisha or Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. In the end, I decided that it would be more fun to look ahead at my massive TBR list and find books I hadn’t tried yet that were set around the world. Since I haven’t read these yet, I can’t necessarily comment on their representation or even how much I enjoyed them, but they are all books I’d love to read in the future.

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) The Queens’ Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile by C.W. Gortner (Spain)

12796941My interest in historical fiction was first sparked when I was about 8, when I read the Royal Diaries series beginning with a book about Queen Isabella of Castile. I had never heard of her before that book, but was quickly intrigued by her story and especially her connection with the Tudor family. Isabella’s daughter Catherine of Aragon went on to become the first wife of King Henry VIII. I recently discovered this book through Goodreads, which is set in Spain as a teenage Isabella and her brother are taken away from their parents to live with their half-brother, King Enrique, and Isabella becomes a pawn in a plot to get Enrique off the throne. This book seems to cover a lot of the same period as what I recall of the Royal Diaries version, but at a more adult level. I’m very interested to read this since it is a historical figure that I know very little about.

2) How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway (Japan)

8651016I love reading books set in Asian countries, especially both Japan and China. This book is about a Japanese woman named Shoko who marries an American soldier. Years later, Shoko’s adult daughter Sue travels to Japan in her place on a trip that reveals secrets that had been kept for years. The plot synopsis on Goodreads is pretty vague, but it seems to be a book that will focus on a Japanese woman trying to adapt to life in America, as well as her daughter’s experience as a second-generation immigrant visiting Japan. The book seems to be a cross between The Joy Luck Club for the mother-daughter relationship, and Girl in Translation for the immigrant experience, which were both books that I loved. The reviews for this one have been pretty mixed, which is a little worrying, but I think it is still worth a chance.

3) Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (Sweden)

36373463Beartown became a surprise favourite of the year so far, since I had very low expectations for a book that focused so heavily on sports. I was glad to see that a sequel was planned for later on this year, following several of the same characters. Many of the former players have now moved to a rival team in Hed, and a new team has begun to form, causing a feud between the two towns. This book brings us back to the hockey towns in Sweden, still dealing with the aftermath of the first novel. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure a sequel is necessary since Beartown was already powerful enough on its own, but I’m very interested in reading this one anyway. Fredrik Backman is a very talented writer and I’d love to read more of his books. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to squeeze this book in this year, but it is definitely one I’m interested in reading once it comes out. The English version is due out in early June of this year, so it’s still a while away.

4) Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (Singapore)

18373213To be honest, I avoided reading this book for a long time because I thought it was likely to be stereotypical and possibly insulting. However, once I found out that my sister-in-law, who is Asian loved it and did not find it offensive at all, I figured it was probably safe to try. This book is the first in a series about a woman named Rachel Chu who agrees to spend a summer in Singapore with her boyfriend Nicholas, not realizing that his family is extremely wealthy and Nick is highly sought after by other women. I have never read a book set in Singapore, so that alone sounds pretty interesting, but I think the story itself also sounds pretty intriguing. I’m not often a fan of stories that are entirely about “rich people problems,” but I’ve heard this one is very funny. I get the impression that this book is along the lines of the Gossip Girl series, which were pretty fun to read.

5) The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani (France)

36216983This is a relatively new book that I discovered while browsing lists of recently released thrillers. It is set in France, and follows a woman named Myriam who hires a nanny named Louise to take care of her children when she returns to work. Louise seems like the perfect nanny at first, but slowly starts to embed herself further and further into the family’s lives, and strange things start happening. This is another case where the Goodreads synopsis is quite vague, but given that it is a thriller, it is not so surprising. The English version of this book came out in the beginning of January, and I have seen it come up on a few Most Anticipated lists this year already. I have set myself a goal of reading more thrillers in general, and I’m especially intrigued by this one because for some reason, it seems rare to find thrillers that aren’t set in either the USA or the UK. I’m really looking forward to giving this one a try.

6) Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty (Australia)

34316345I generally have a hard time counting books set in Australia as “set in another country,” although that’s silly since it is halfway around the world from me. I think it’s because many of those books seem like they could easily be set in the US as well. In fact, I’m not 100% sure this book is set in Australia since nothing in the synopsis indicates the setting, but the author is Australian. Nicola Moriarty is the sister of Liane Moriarty, who has started to become one of my favourite authors. This one is definitely on my TBR for this year, and it is one of the books I am most looking forward to. It is about a woman named Poppy who creates a Facebook group with her friend Annalise to celebrate their freedom from having children and vent about some of the “privileges” parents tend to get at work. The group gets out of hand when frustrated non-parents start confronting mothers in real life. I think this is such an interesting story concept, and I would love to see how the author handles it.

7) The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal (India)

7815568For some reason, so many of the books I have on my TBR that focus on India involve some kind of plot about children who were adopted and return home to find their real parents. This is another book that I’m intending to read this year, which is about a woman who returns to India after receiving a letter that tells her she has an adult son living in India, a child that she had been told was stillborn. This book has been on my TBR for over a year and a half already, which surprises me since it sounds like such an intriguing storyline. Although I’m interested in India as a country and the cultures that live there, I know very little about them and would love to learn more. I’m not sure why so many of the books I find about it seem to follow this similar plotline, but this seems like as good a place as any to start.

8) The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi (Afghanistan)

18505784This is another book that has been on my TBR for way too long. It is set in Kabul in 2007, following a girl named Rahima who lives in a family with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, leaving them with few options. They follow the custom of bacha posh, which allows Rahima to dress and act as a boy until she is of marriageable age, which allows her the freedom to go to school, go to the market, and chaperone her sisters. A century earlier, Rahima’s great-aunt did the same. This book follows the lives of both women and their destinies. I first heard of bacha posh in another book I read last year, which I’m pretty sure was When the Moon Was Ours. I thought it was a very interesting custom, but could not quite understand how it would work. I would definitely be interested in seeing what happens with this custom when the child reaches adulthood. It’s hard for me to understand how they can live their entire life with more freedom, and have it taken away later on.

9) The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone)

7784648I was surprised to see that this book has already been on my TBR for almost a year and a half since I feel like I discovered it pretty recently. It is set during a civil war in Sierra Leone, focusing on a surgeon at the hospital, and a dying man who has stories from the country’s postcolonial years. According to the Goodreads synopsis, these two men are drawn together by a British psychologist, and into the path of a woman who is at the center of their stories. I have this book tentatively on my TBR for this year for a challenge prompt requiring a book set in Africa, but I’m a little on the fence about how motivated I am to try it. I have read very few books set in Africa and while I’ve enjoyed the ones I have read, it is not something that I would reach for very often. I’m interested in giving this one a chance partly just in the interest of pushing myself out of my comfort zone a little more.

10) Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (England)

33151805This is one of my most anticipated books of the year since I am one of the (seemingly, anyway) few who actually loved The Girl on the Train. Like books set in Australia, I sometimes have a hard time thinking of British books as being set in another country since the stories are often pretty similar to American books. I often can’t even tell where it is set unless the author specifically mentions it or slips in some British mannerisms to the character’s speech. I also seem to have two categories of British books on my TBR: classics, or mystery/thrillers. I’m sure I have plenty of British YA contemporaries as well, but the setting was not always immediately obvious as I was browsing through my list. I’m really looking forward to reading this one!

 

 

Stacking the Shelves (#5)

Is it possible to be addicted to adding books to a TBR? I find sometimes that when I’m bored, I end up browsing Goodreads and finding lots of new books to add. Since my last Stacking the Shelves post about a month ago, I’ve added about 60 new books to my TBR. To be fair, many of the books I added are sequels to series that I’ve started or am very interested in starting. Some are also books that aren’t due out until next year, which I found by looking ahead at lists of upcoming releases. In most cases, those are books that are by authors I already know I enjoy so I just (very prematurely) added their newest releases to my list.

My TBR is currently up to 1967 books, although I am seriously debating weeding out a few of the books that are lower priority. For example, I had the Babysitter’s Club Friends Forever series on my list because I found my copies last year and realized I probably hadn’t ever read most of them. Since then, I’ve put them away again so they’re not so immediately accessible and therefore a lot less tempting to pick up. I’m definitely well outside the target age range for that series, but I was absolutely obsessed with the Babysitters Club when I was younger, so I’m not sure why I bought all of these but never read them. With so many other books on my list, I’m not sure these ones really interest me much anymore.

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

1) Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad

16131215I found this book just last night on a list of books that are similar to Jodi Picoult’s, although I’m a little skeptical because the average rating on Goodreads is quite low (3.15 stars). This book is about a couple named Ana and James who suddenly become legal guardians to a 2 and 1/2 year old boy after their friends are in a car accident, leaving the boy’s father dead and his mother in a coma. Ana and James had been unsuccessfully trying to have children of their own, and were just starting to come to terms with the fact that they might not be able to, when this boy is thrust into their lives. To be honest, part of the reason this book appealed to me is because based on the cover, I thought it was about a child with autism. The boy on the cover is lining up his toy cars, and lining things up is sometimes an early sign of autism. Upon reading the synopsis, I realized I was wrong but the book still seemed interesting enough to add to my list.

2) Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks

38212843Although I wouldn’t quite classify Nicholas Sparks as a favourite author anymore, he is still one whose books I tend to buy and usually enjoy. His latest book, due out this October, was very recently announced. Every Breath is about a 36-year-old woman named Hope whose father has been recently diagnosed with ALS, and decides to use her family’s cottage to prepare the house for sale and make some decisions about her future, including her boyfriend of 6 years. While there, she meets a man named Tru who is summoned to the same town by a man who claims to be his father, and Tru hopes to figure out some of the mysteries about his mother’s life. Nicholas Sparks is one of those authors whose books always tend to be solid 4 star reads for me, so I’m looking forward to seeing how this one plays out. The synopsis so far seems pretty similar to other books that he’s written, but it does tend to be a plotline he does well.

3) She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop

35297420I found this book because it was mentioned in my local newspaper’s book section yesterday, and the title intrigued me. It is about an orphaned young woman named Laila whose three wealthy cousins from New York unexpectedly show up at her mother’s funeral. Two years later, Laila has moved to New York and becomes a part of their world, and starts to uncover the truth about why her parents were estranged from the rest of the family. This is another book where reviews have been very mixed so far. It was only released at the beginning of February, but I hadn’t heard of it at all until it was in the newspaper yesterday. Many of the reviews have commented that Laila is a very unlikable protagonist and that the book is all about “rich people problems,” so I’m not entirely sure it is something I would enjoy but it seems interesting enough to be worth a chance.

4) Here So Far Away by Hadley Dyer

27177019This was another book mentioned in my local newspaper yesterday, and it was released just last week. It is about a high school senior named George Warren, whose life seems to be falling apart. She’s fighting with her closest friends, and her father, a police sergeant, is injured and might not be able to work, meaning that George many not be able to go to college as planned. George falls in love with an older man and decides to keep him a secret because of the age difference. It sounds like there are a whole bunch of topics packed into this book, and it’s a bit risky to try to fit in so much and do them all justice. I’m actually not entirely sure what it was about this book that caught my attention in the first place, but I’m interested to see how the author manages the relationship (or potential relationship, anyway) between characters with such an age gap.

5) Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

34728667This book did not interest me at all when I first saw it, but after seeing so many rave reviews for it, I’ve started to change my mind. It is a West-African inspired fantasy book set in a fictional country where magic has now disappeared, and those who practiced it were targeted and killed by the king. The main character, Zelie, has a chance to fight back and defeat the crown prince, who wants to eliminate magic forever. I have read very few books that are set in Africa, and it seems like such a fresh setting for a fantasy story. This book has been out for only three weeks so far, and it seems to be at the top of everyone’s TBR list already. I’m not sure I’ll be getting to it any time soon, but it was enough to spark my interest. I’ve previewed the first couple of pages through Goodreads, and it looks really good!

6) A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

30097276I actually have not read any of Brigid Kemmerer’s books yet, but Letters to the Lost is on my list for this year, and I’m also very interested in More Than We Can Tell. I found this book on Goodreads in a list of upcoming releases, and it is not due out until January of next year! I was intrigued by the title and I also really loved the cover art. This book is about a girl named Harper who is sucked into a world called Emberfall, which is cursed to repeat the autumn of Prince Rhen’s 18th year unless he can get a girl to fall in love with him. This book seems to be a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and part of what appeals to me is that the synposis mentions that Harper is underestimated by her family because she has cerebral palsy. I’m very interested to see what role that plays in the story, but I also love the whole concept of the book. I’m definitely looking forward to this one.

7) The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

36967019I’ve always been a bit on the fence about reading Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive. I’ve heard very mixed reviews of it, but not quite enough to completely put me off. I added this book to my list without even realizing that it was by the same author. The Favorite Sister is about five successful women who agree to appear on a reality TV series which somehow turns murderous. I’m not a huge fan of reality TV in general, although I used to follow Survivor and American Idol, and still watch Hell’s Kitchen. However, there have been a few books lately that seem to be using reality shows as a setting and it sounds very interesting. I love character-driven books, and reality TV is a great way to explore all kinds of unusual characters and dynamics between them. This book is due out in May of this year, so I’m interested to see if the reviews will be less mixed than for Luckiest Girl Alive.

8) The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

31113934If I remember correctly, this was another book that came up in my newspaper’s books section a few weeks ago. It is about a woman named Juliette who decides to become a flight attendant to keep a closer watch over Nate, the man she loves. The problem is, Nate broke up with her 6 months ago and Juliette has decided that no one will get in the way of her winning him back. I love a good thriller, and I’ve started adding more of them to my TBR as part of an overall goal of reading this genre more often. Part of the appeal of this book was the airline setting, which is something I’ve never read before. This book has been recommended for fans of Friend Request, which is on my list for this year, and The Girl Before which is on my TBR for sometime in the future. It seems exactly like the kind of thriller that I tend to enjoy, and I’m very interested in reading this one.

9) When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer

37508834I was drawn to this book because of both the title and the cover art, which shows a staircase curled like an elephant’s trunk. The book is about a high school senior named Lily who worries that she might develop schizophrenia since her mother has it. Lily plans to live a very careful life until she’s 30 with the hopes of avoiding triggering the condition during the ages when it is most commonly manifested. While working as a newspaper intern, Lily sees a mother elephant try to kill her own calf and embarks on a road trip to save it. I’m honestly not too keen on road trip stories usually, but I think the storyline about Lily worrying about her mental health due to the family history is an important one. I’m also interested to see how the baby elephant plays into the story. This book won’t be released until early September of this year, so I still have quite a while to wait.

10) Your Own Worst Enemy by Gordon Jack

38563620This was another book that I discovered on a list of upcoming releases for this year, due out in November. It is set during a high school election, with three very different candidates running for president. I’ve never really understood why high school elections are always made into such a big deal in TV shows and movies. At my school, the elections happened but they were not really all that important nor were people that competitive over them. I think it was generally pretty well understood that the student council really can’t do very much. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before where an election is so central to the plot. It just seems like this book could be a lot of fun to try. The synopsis also suggests that this campaign is not just the usual popularity contest, but the candidates all sink to new lows to try to defeat each other. I’m curious to see how this plays out.

11) If You Only Knew by Zanna Mackenzie and 12) You’re The One That I Want by Giovanna Fletcher

2064706820877628Romance is not a genre I reach for very often at all, but I recently added quite a few to my TBR. It’s a little embarrassing maybe, but these are just two of a few books I added after browsing a Goodreads list of books with silhouettes on the cover. If You about a woman named Faith who owns a coffee shop in the outdoor adventure sports area of her town. Faith soon starts dating Zane, a man who co-owns the new Adventure Sports Centre with Matt, Faith’s ex who broke her heart several years ago. You’re The One That I Want is about a woman named Maddy who is all set to marry Rob, but also knows that if it wasn’t Rob at the altar, it would be their best friend (and best man) Ben, who has always kept his feelings to himself. These are both the kinds of books that I would really need to be in the mood for in order to give a fair chance, but I also might really enjoy them.

13) I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother by Allison Pearson

39045I think this was another book that came up on the “covers with silhouettes” list that I was browsing, but it is definitely different from the other romances. This book is about Kate Reddy, a hedge fund manager and mother of two, who is trying to figure out how to balance all of her priorities. I am not a parent myself, but this book reminds me of conversations I’ve had with coworkers who have kids and especially one who is now off on maternity leave with her second child. It also reminds me a bit of the movie Bad Moms, which also showed some of the pressures mothers are under to do it all. This book sounds like it will be really funny but also shed some good insight into how difficult it really might be for some women. This book has actually been out since 2002, with a sequel due later this year. I’m looking forward to trying both of them.

14) Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

17657649I actually can’t remember how I found this book exactly, but I know that it was through Goodreads. This book is about a grad student named Samantha who survived a childhood in the foster system by reading. Samantha receives an opportunity through a mysterious man known only as “Mr. Knightley” who offers her a full scholarship for her graduate degree, on the condition that she writes to him regularly to update him on her progress. Honestly, the premise of this one is a bit weird. It seems a bit too convenient that someone would offer Samantha a full scholarship with nothing but some letters in exchange, but it intrigued me enough to want to know how exactly that works. Although the average Goodreads rating on this one is relatively high (3.94 stars), I’ve also seen some very negative reviews about how naive Samantha is. I’m also a little on the fence because I’ve just noticed the book has also been tagged as “Christian fiction” although I’m not sure why. I’ve read a few books in this genre in the past but I haven’t really enjoyed them that much because the religious elements were too much for me. Still, I’m interested in giving this one a chance.

15) Check Me Out by Becca Wilhite

34525568Obviously I was going through some kind of romance novel stage when I added books to my TBR this month. This book is about a woman named Greta who is an assistant librarian, and loves her job. She meets a man named Mac in the poetry section of the library and takes an interest in him, but soon realizes that he seems like a different person in his text messages than he does in person. While organizing a Battle of the Bands competition to save the local library, Greta soon realizes that it is her best friend Will that she is turning to instead of Mac, and has to figure out which one she wants to be with. This book is a retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac, and it seems like such a cute (but predictable) romance! It’s another book that I’m not necessarily expecting to be a 5 star read, but I could also see myself really enjoying.

 

 

 

Top 5 Wednesdays: Sci-Fi and Fantasy in Other Media

Fantasy may be one of my favourite genres, but sci-fi tends to be more of a mixed bag for me. It is not a genre I reach for very often, usually because I don’t tend to find the storylines so appealing, but when I finally do give them a chance, I usually really enjoy them. I love stories that involve rich world-building, although not necessarily those that are very heavy on physical descriptions. I love when the author or creator crafts a fully developed world with its own systems (ie. the Harry Potter universe), and I also tend to love stories that are a bit of a blend of fantasy and reality. When it comes to sci-fi, I tend to associate it with either outer space or robots, although I know that these are far from the only kinds of sci-fi. I thought it was pretty interesting that this week’s topic strays away from books a bit, and my intent was to stay away from adaptations of books, but many of these series are actually based off of comics or manga.

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

1) Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This was the immediate TV series that came to mind when I saw this week’s prompt. When Buffy first came out, I avoided it because I assumed it would be very scary and I hated scary shows. For some reason, I am convinced that both Season 3 and Season 5 were the first season I watched, but I’m pretty sure it was actually Season 3. This series was an excellent blend of complex and interesting characters, intricate world-building and snarky humour. This series is set in the fictional town of Sunnydale, California which is located on a “Hellmouth,” which is an area where the barriers between dimensions is especially weak, which attracts demons and other creatures. In each generation, a young woman is “chosen” as the Slayer, who is responsible for protecting people from vampires and other monsters. I fell in love with this series as soon as I started watching it because I loved the characters. I was also fascinated by the complex demon lore that made up the world, which added so much history and context to the creatures that Buffy and her friends were facing. I also loved how the series tackled a lot of moral gray areas. I’m currently re-watching it on Netflix and finally watching the entire Angel series for the first time, and I’m loving it all over again!

2) The X-Men

I remember watching the X-Men cartoon series from the early 90s, and although it wasn’t necessarily a favourite at the time, I loved the idea of all those people with special powers. What really sparked my interest in the series was the X-Men movie series starring Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, and many more big-name actors. I loved the original trilogy, although like most people, I thought The Last Stand was pretty weak in comparison. I also really enjoyed the First Class series, and even watched the Wolverine spin-off movie series, although I prefer the X-Men movies. I thought these films were brilliantly cast, and it’s hard for me to imagine the characters any other way now. I’ve always loved stories that are sent in some kind of special school for people with abilities who are learning to manage themselves, and I think part of the appeal of series for me is the dynamics between all these people. I liked how the First Class series offered a bit of backstory to some of the characters. I’m definitely looking forward to the new movie coming out later this year.

3) The Avengers series 

When I think of the Avengers, I tend to think of all the movies were made focusing on those characters, including the Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America series. I remember when The Avengers movie first came out, and I realized I needed to go back and watch four separate film franchises to get up-to-date on all the characters. To be fair, I have never managed to see a full Hulk movie because the versions I got from the library were always damaged, and I don’t think I ever saw the first Captain America movie. In any case, this is another superhero series that blends a bit of both fantasy and sci-fi, and that quickly captured my interest. Of all the individual movies, I would have to say the Iron Man series were my favourite, followed by Thor although I’m not completely sure yet about the most recent Thor movie. It had such a different feel than the previous ones. I guess it’s become a bit of a recurring theme now, but what I love about the Avengers movies especially is the dynamics between the heroes. I’m not necessarily a huge fan of action movies, but these ones are so much fun to watch!

4) Sword Art Online

Over the years, my boyfriend has slowly been trying to introduce me to anime and he’s found several series that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with. Sword Art Online has become one of my favourites, featuring a boy named Kirito who, among others, has become trapped in an MMORPG that they can only escape by beating the game. However, if a character dies in the game, they will also die in real life. I thought the story was fascinating and I loved the art style. I especially loved the bond that developed between Kirito and Asuna, a female player, and it was so much fun to see how they managed to work their way through the game. It’s actually been so long since I watched this series (in 2013!) and its sequel (in 2014), so it’s definitely one that is due for a re-watch. I actually think this was among the first anime I’d ever watched all the way through, and it is still one of the best I’ve ever seen.

5) Chobits

This was another anime series that became a favourite, and one that I very nearly stopped watching after the first episode. I’m so glad I decided to stick with it! This series is about a boy named Hideki Motosuwa who has failed to get into university, and discovers a robot girl he calls Chii, who seems to have been discarded in the trash. It is set in a world were many people are turning to these robots, known as “persocoms” for company, and some even fall in love with them. If I’m honest, the first episode really put me off since it seemed like the show would be really stupid and full of annoying sexual humour. I don’t mind these kinds of jokes if they are done well, but in this particular case, I found them irritating. However, the further I got into the series, the more I started to really like it. What started out as what seemed to be a very light comedy about a boy who might fall for his robot quickly became a much more serious show the differences between humans and robots, and about discovering Chii’s past. It ended up becoming another favourite, and it is another series I would love to watch again.

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books on My Spring TBR

I have so many books that I’m excited to read that it’s become tough to try and prioritize which ones to read next! Oddly enough, I would have a much easier time picking books for my summer TBR than for spring. My local library is shutting down for renovations this summer, so I’ve been purposely saving some of the books that I’m very excited for and that I already own for those months. I’m not really the type to have “seasonal” reads, although I often end up reading more thrillers or creepy books in October. I can’t really say I have any specific kind of book that really says “spring” to me. Instead, I’m most likely going to prioritize some of the books I’m most excited for to get them off my library list before the renovations, just to be safe in case anything goes wrong with the computer system. I’m defining spring from late March to late May, since my Winter TBR only covered until February, but this month is already half over.

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) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

15749186I’m a little on the fence about this book if I’m honest, although I’m definitely going to read it anyway. I avoided it for many years because it just didn’t seem like the kind of storyline that I’d really like, but I’ve heard so many great reviews for it that it seems impossible to avoid. This book is about a girl named Lara Jean who has written love letters to all five of the boys that she’s had crushes on, which somehow get sent out. I’m a little curious to find out how exactly these letters get mailed out, or more importantly, why someone would do that. I don’t expect I will be able to relate to Lara Jean very well, but it’s getting harder to ignore all the hype around the series. I kind of have the feeling that this is one of those books that I might have enjoyed a lot more if I had read it when I was younger, but I still think it is worth a chance.

2) Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

18304322This is another book that I wasn’t sure I wanted to read at first because of the focus on beauty pageants, which is something that I have absolutely no interest in. It won me over because it’s so rare to see plus-size protagonists in YA books, and I think it will be interesting to see how Willowdean manages that world. I’ve heard that part of the appeal of this book is that Willowdean is comfortable in her own body, and I think it would be great to see a plus-size character whose weight isn’t necessarily treated as a problem. I definitely think we need more variety in books to represent people of all shapes and sizes, and in ways that don’t judge them for their shape or size. I know there are some people who might complain that it’s not healthy to promote the idea that it is good to be overweight, but I think judging people for their weight can be very damaging as well and it really shouldn’t be anyone else’s business.

3) Meg and Linus by Hanna Nowinski

26176756I’ve been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it last year on a list of upcoming releases. This book is about two friends, Meg and Linus, who are both geeky and both gay. When Meg’s long-term girlfriend breaks up with her, she decides to try and set Linus up with a new boy to try and distract herself from her breakup, even though she doesn’t know whether this new guy is gay.  This sounds like it could be a very cute story, and I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book where more than one of the main characters was LGBT. This book is published by a young adult imprint called Swoon Reads, which is a crowdsourced publisher where people can submit their stories, and they get published if there is enough interest from readers. It’s such a different approach to publishing, and I have so many books from this publisher on my TBR. I would definitely love to see how this story plays out.

4) Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

31952703I picked this book for a challenge prompt requiring a book involving a bookstore or library for the PopSugar challenge, and this prompt is the theme of the month for April. This book is about a teenager named Rachel who has always been in love with Henry. Several years ago, she left him a love letter in one of his favourite books at his family’s bookshop before moving away. Now, years later, she has moved back and is working at the bookshop with Henry, as a distraction to help her after her brother’s death. This book sounds like it could be very cute and fun to read, although I am getting a little sick of the “dead sibling” trope. It seems like many YA protagonists are struggling to deal with the death of a family member, and while I think it’s important to have those experiences represented, it shouldn’t be in every book! However, in this case, I think the bookshop setting and the whole plotline about the love letter and whether Henry ever saw it sounds like a lot of fun.

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

13497675This book has been on my TBR for way too long! It was one of the first books that I added to my TBR when I started my Goodreads account that I hadn’t heard of at all before using the website.  I chose this book for a prompt requiring a book about mental health, which is the prompt of the month for May for PopSugar. This book is about a 10-year-old boy named Alex whose best friend is a 9000-year-old demon. After his mother attempts suicide, Alex is sent to a psychiatrist who believes that the demon is a sign that Alex has schizophrenia, and tries to convince him that it can’t be real. The main reason I kept putting this book off is because it was not available through my library, so I’ve had to request for them to buy a copy. It currently says it is “on order” so hopefully it will come through in time to read it by May. It also seems really interesting because the synopsis seems to imply the possibility that Alex’s demon friend might actually be real. It will be very interesting to see how that is handled.

6) Landline by Rainbow Rowell

This is another book that has been on my TBR for close to three years by now! Since then, I’ve read three of her other books and enjoyed all of them. This one seems a bit different. It is about a woman named Georgie whose marriage is struggling, especially after Georgie decides she can’t go with him and the kids to visit Neal’s parents for Christmas because something has come up at work. That night, Georgie discovers she can communicate with Neal in the past, and thinks she has the opportunity to fix her marriage. This kind of pseudo-time travel trope (try saying that 5 times fast!) is something I used to avoid, but I’ve read a few books with it over the past couple of years and it’s usually a lot of fun. I love character-driven books, and these kinds of stories tend to focus on characters reflecting on their lives and what they could do differently. Plus, I’ve liked every Rainbow Rowell book I’ve tried so far.

7) Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

36082326This book is just coming out this week, so I’m hoping the library will get a copy of it soon. Still Alice is one of the most memorable books that I’ve read in the past few years, and I love Lisa Genova’s writing style. This book is about a concert pianist named Richard who is diagnosed with ALS, paralyzing his entire arm and eventually most of his body. His ex-wife Karina becomes his reluctant caregiver, which seems like a very interesting angle that I don’t think I’ve ever seen explored before. Lisa Genova is an excellent character author, and I’m very interested in seeing the dynamics between the divorced couple. Although there is some risk of the books feeling too similar, I think it’s great that Lisa Genova, a neuroscientist herself, is shedding some light on neurological conditions through character-driven stories that make the condition really come to life. I’m especially interested by her books because they show the effects on the others around the individual, as well as the individuals themselves. I’m definitely expecting to enjoy this one.

8) The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

5191Another one that has been on my TBR for almost three years! I definitely need to get better about actually reading the books that I’m interested in, and not just leaving them on my list forever. This book is about a woman named Kathryn, whose husband Jack dies when the plane he was piloting explodes near the coast of Ireland. When public rumours start to suggest that Jack had a secret life, Kathryn decides to try to uncover who her husband really was. The “I didn’t really know the person close to me” trope is also a very common one, but one that I tend to enjoy (although it may be getting a little overdone). I chose this book for a challenge prompt requiring a book from Oprah’s Book Club, which I was dreading since my last Oprah’s Book Club pick was a huge disappointment. I’ve only read one other of Anita Shreve’s books but I really liked it, and I have many of hers still on my TBR. I’m a little worried about this one because reviews have been pretty mixed, but I’m willing to give it a fair chance.

9) Gemina and 10) Obsidio by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

2923629924909347It may be a bit of a cheat to include these two together instead of two standalones, but these are two books that I am definitely looking forward to reading this spring! Illuminae quickly became one of my favourite books last year, and I immediately wanted to read the rest of the series. Obsidio only came out a week ago, so I’m sure the waitlist for it will be huge. Honestly, I think the first book in this series will be pretty hard to top, but I love the unique formatting and the characters were amazing. I’ve never been a huge sci-fi fan or a fan of books set in space in general, so it’s actually really saying something that I got so engrossed in Illuminae in the first place.  I can’t wait to read the rest of this series!