Wrap-Ups/TBRs

2020 Reading Wrap Up

2020 was a very mixed reading year for me, but overall I’m really happy with what I read and how much I read. I’ve had a big reading slump since the summer but these last few weeks have been a lot better and I’m hoping to continue that momentum into 2021!

In 2020 I read 92 books with 31,354 pages!
My most read genre was fantasy (26.1%) followed by science fiction (20.7%).
My most read format was ebooks with 37 books.
29.3% of the books I read were from my backlist and another 29.3% were new.
I read the most books in February with 15 books and 6368 pages.
I gave 38 books 5 stars!

I read so many amazing books, but these are my top ten favourites!

  1. Cemetery Boys – Aiden Thomas
  2. The Martian – Andy Weir
  3. All Boys Aren’t Blue – George M. Johnson
  4. The Extraordinaries – T.J. Klune
  5. Of Fire and Stars – Audrey Coulthurst
  6. The Midnight Lie – Marie Rutkoski
  7. The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Emily M. Danforth
  8. Havenfall – Sara Holland
  9. The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life – Dani Jansen
  10. The Afterlife of Holly Chase – Cynthia Hand

How was your reading in 2020? What were your favourite books?

Uncategorized

Among Us Book Tag

Like 90% of the internet, I am currently addicted to Among Us so when I saw this tag on YouTube I had to do it even though I hadn’t actually been tagged. It was originally created by theglitterybookworm_ on Instagram so make sure you check out her original post!

Without further ado, let’s get into the questions!

Lobby: Name the next book on your TBR.
The Afterlife of Holly Chase – Cynthia Hand

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

I’m not sure if it will exactly be my next book, but I’m definitely going to read it very soon as it is the buddy read pick for December for LittleBookOwl’s discord server.

Crewmate: Name an author you trust.
Victoria / V.E. Schwab

VE Schwab on international success and being censored in Russia | Fantasy  books | The Guardian

I will read anything and everything that V.E. Schwab writes. I completely trust her.

Impostor: Name of book that betrayed you.
The Bermudez Triangle – Maureen Johnson

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I REALLY wanted to like this book. It’s sapphic. It’s by one of my favourite authors at the time I read it. I spent YEARS wanting to read it. It was such a disappointment though and was so biphobic.

Tasks: Name a book that took you a while to finish.
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

I took me a long time to read Les Miserables, but I’m so proud of myself for finally finishing it and not giving in. I love the musical a lot so I wanted to read the book for a long time, it was hard at times but overall I really enjoyed it.

Sabotage: Name a book that surprised you.
Atonement – Ian McEwan

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I read Atonement for one of my university modules a few years ago and I was a little hesitant at first and didn’t think I would enjoy it, but I ended up loving it and it now happily sits on my goodreads favourites shelf.

As I took it upon myself to just do the tag, I tag anyone else who also wants to have a go!

Wrap-Ups/TBRs

Books I Want to Read in December!

Hi everyone! I’ve been in a major reading and blogging slump for the second half of this year and I don’t know whether I blame work or my animal crossing addiction more. I want to get back into it more so I’m easing myself in with a broad end of year TBR. I won’t read all of these, but I’d like to at least read 4 of them.

  1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardobe – C.S. Lewis (yearly Narnia re-read)
  2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V.E. Schwab
  3. The Afterlife of Holly Chase – Cynthia Hand
  4. Ready Player Two – Ernest Cline
  5. The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre – Robin Talley
  6. Phoenix Flame – Sara Holland
  7. The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
  8. Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo
  9. House in the Cerulean Sea – T.J. Klune

10. Bonus: Not Quite Out – Louise Willingham (hopefully… if my ARC arrives soon… *manifesting*)

What books do you want to read before the end of the year?

Reviews

ARC Review: Dear Hero – Hope Bolinger & Alyssa Roat

Thank you to one of the authors, Hope Bolinger, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️Press
Release Date: 28 September 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Science Fiction
TW: manipulative relationships

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Cortex and V need a new nemesis. Cortex’s last villain dumped him, and V got a little overeager and took out her hero prematurely. They meet on Meta-Match, a nemesis pairing site for heroes and villains. After throwing punches at each other behind coffee shops and hiring henchman to do their bidding (mostly just getting them coffee), they realize they have a lot more in common than meets the eye. And they may have a lot more hero and villain inside than they realize. ~ Goodreads

The description of this book completely drew me in and I had absolutely no doubts about accepting a review copy. I love the whole trope of heroes and villains and I thought a match maker for heroes and villains to find a nemesis was really clever. I also love that this entire book is written as text messages! I’m always looking for books with interesting formats and Dear Hero definitely checked that box.

The main characters, Cortex and Vortex, meet through Meta-Match and begin a professional nemesis relationship. I liked both of these characters, but I feel like we don’t learn much about them and a lot of their personality rests on their identity as a hero or a villain, even though these lines are often blurry. They also do things sometimes that I felt were really unrealistic and they often seemed to lack emotion in situations that I feel should warrant more. I don’t know if this is just the nuance of text messages and how hard it can be to show emotion through it, but Cortex in particular seemed really dismissive of things and didn’t even react as you would expect when his loved ones were in danger.

I really liked the format of the book, but I did find it to be a bit confusing at times, especially during group chats or when they were using “speech-to-text” in action moments. I got lost sometimes in what was happening and being able to imagine the scenarios from these texts alone. I think it is really clever though and the authors did find some really creative ways around the restraints of text messages.

Overall, this book was okay and I definitely enjoyed parts of it and appreciate the creativity, but there were also a few things that I wish had been a bit different or developed more.

Get it on Amazon!

Blog Tours · Reviews

Blog Tour: The Year Shakespeare Ruined my Life by Dani Jansen

Alison Green, desperate valedictorian – wannabe, agrees to produce her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her first big mistake. The second is accidentally saying Yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte. Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.” Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Indigo

The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life | CBC Books

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Release Date: 22 September 2020
Genres: Young Adult, LGBT+, Contemporary

I knew I was going to fall in love with this book the moment that I read the title and it absolutely blew me away. I loved everything from the characters, to the atmosphere, to the plot. Every aspect of this book came together to form this wonderful book that I wish I had read as a teenager and that I think will be really important to many teenagers today.

The characters are all really well rounded and individual, but they have some great dynamics and friendships. They are not perfect, they make mistakes and have to deal with the consequences of their actions, and they really show that this is okay and that the world won’t end because they did something that they regret now, like accidentally agreeing to a date. Alison, the protagonist, in particular shows this with her dating misadventures and the hurdles that she constantly has to overcome with the production of the play.

This book is all about a group of misfits putting on a school play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream while dealing with all the drama of school life behind the scenes. The cover and title really holds true to the comedy and the atmosphere that Shakespeare’s comedic plays possess and it was so easy to get lost in the world. I found myself constantly rooting for the play to go well, for the relationships to happen, for the characters themselves to learn and grow.

The main and side characters all give a really diverse look at teenagers and people in general. There are several LGBT+ and POC characters who contribute so much to the story. Their sexuality and/or race are important to them, but there are never reduced to this characteristic alone. The characters also show how diverse people can be in their interests, styles, priorities etc., but how people can still come together on common ground for common goals.

I read the whole book in one day, almost in one sitting with just a few breaks in between, and it gave me everything I wanted. Sapphic romance. Great friendships. Shakespearean comedy. Appreciation for the arts. I honestly cannot recommend it enough.

To get a closer look at the characters and their personalities, I matched the main characters in the book to the Shakespeare play that I think would best suit them. If you’ve read the book, do you agree? If you haven’t read it, which character does this make you think you would like most?

cast list

Book Tour| The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life - Dani Jansen - The Book  DutchessesAbout the Author:
Dani Jansen is a teacher and writer who lives in Montreal. She should probably be embarrassed to admit that she has performed as part of her school’s Glee Club for eight years. She should probably also be ashamed to tell people that she named her cats after punctuation symbols (Ampersand and Em-Dash, in case you’re curious).
Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

If you live in the US or Canada you can also enter a giveaway to win one of two finished copies up for grabs! Make sure you enter soon because the giveaway ends on September 15th. Good luck!

Make sure you check out all the other stops on the tour too!

Wrap-Ups/TBRs

August Reading Wrap Up

I had high hopes for doing lots of reading in August and put a lot of pressure on myself. I struggled to read for a lot of it and also got overwhelmed with ARCs, but I’m happy with what I read in the end and am really grateful for audiobooks.

booksread

  1. Armada – Ernest Cline
  2. Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman
  3. Cherrington Academy – Rebecca J. Caffery
  4. The Extraordinaries – T.J. Klune
  5. Body Talk – Kelly Jensen
  6. Cinderella is Dead – Kalynn Bayron
  7. Dear Hero – Hope Bolinger & Alyssa Roat
  8. The Secret of You and Me – Melissa Lenhardt
  9. The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1 – Kieron Gillen
  10. The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life – Dani Jansen

My favourite was probably The Extraordinaries, but The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life comes in very close too! I loved the characters and the dynamics in The Extraordinaries so much and I’m so excited that it is the first in a series. I can’t wait to read more books by T.J. Klune.

currently reading

  1. The First Sister – Linden A. Lewis
  2. The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

bookhaul

  1. Armada – Ernest Cline (audiobook)
  2. Dear Martin – Nic Stone (ebook)
  3. An Enchantment of Ravens – Margaret Rogerson (ebook)
  4. Nick and Charlie – Alice Oseman (paperback)
  5. Midnight Sun – Stephanie Meyer (hardback)
  6. The Henna Wars – Abida Jaigirdar (hardback)
  7. The Black Veins – Aishia Monet (hardback)
  8. The Extraordinaries – T.J. Klune (audiobook)
  9. All Rights Reserved – Gregory Scott Katsoulis (hardback)
  10. The Poppy War – R.F. Kuang (ebook)

monthlystats

Books Read: 10
Pages Read: 5537
Book Haul: 10

yearlystats

Books: 80
Pages: 28119
TBR status: Unread books – 229 (33.4%), Read books – 457 (66.6%)

How was your reading this month?✨

Reviews

ARC Review: The Secret of You and Me – Melissa Lenhardt

Thank you Mills & Boon and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️Press
Release Date: 4th August 2020
Genres: Adult, Romance, LGBT+
TW: homophobia, substance abuse

Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she left home, and her broken heart, far behind her. But now tragedy calls her back, where she must finally come face to face with ex-boyfriend Charlie, and best friend Sophie. Only now will she be able to confront her past―and reconcile her future. Sophie seems to have everything. Married to Charlie, with a wonderful daughter and a successful career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. A secret that ripped through their town and destroyed her friendship with Nora. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it. But first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites and old feelings resurface. As the forces that once tore them apart begin to re-emerge, both Nora and Sophie must accept that true love is something worth fighting for.  ~ Goodreads

I can’t tell you how many times I sorted, checked out, and checked in Mills & Boon books when I worked at a library and wished that there was queer books in the collection. I think it is so important to have queer mainstream romance books and I hope lots of people have access to books like this.

I really wanted to like this, but I think the only reason I wanted to read this was because it was sapphic and the rest of the story is not the type of story that I usually read. It’s about two women from a small town who fall in love and struggle with their feelings and with dealing with their sexuality when surrounded by so much homophobia. There was a lot of homophobia from almost everyone around them, something I think is important to write about, but it was a lot. For most of the book, it almost felt like they were portraying that the characters had no hope and that they would never be able to safely come out.

I also didn’t like how cheating was such a core aspect of the story and all the central relationships. The relationships were all so unhealthy and the two main characters seemed to disregard others feelings. I understand that Sophie was struggling a lot with her sexuality and not feeling like she could come out at all, but even Nora who had supposedly moved away and moved on with someone else behaved the same.

Overall, it was an okay book and I think it is incredibly powerful and will be so important for people who can see themselves in the characters and find hope. It deals with a lot of darkness, but Nora and Sophie’s relationship itself is definitely a beacon of light amidst it.

Reviews

ARC Review: The Extraordinaries – T.J. Klune

Thank you Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Press
Release Date: 14 July 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, LGBT+
TW: Anxiety, Panic Attacks

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right? After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life). ~ Goodreads

I’m really disappointed in myself for taking so long to get to this book because it was AMAZING! It has the perfect recipe for a good book: great characters with brilliant dynamics between them, an exciting storyline, mystery, plot twists, superheroes, and it’s all very queer.

I haven’t read a lot of superhero books, but every single time I do I wonder why I haven’t read more. I loved the twist on the trope in this book with the superheroes being known as Extraordinaries who are people with powers. I especially liked that I thought I had the plot twist figured out really obviously from the beginning (and I loved it anyway) but it still ending up surprising me. It does a great job of subverting tropes and putting new and unexpected angles on the things that we are used to throughout. I don’t want to say too much about the plot and spoil it, but believe me, it was great.

I loved the protagonist, Nick, so much and I think he is a much needed character in young adult books that a lot of people will see themselves in. He writes queer self-insert fanfiction about the Extraordinaries and dreams of being like them himself. He’s also still dealing with his mothers death and the anxiety it’s caused, coming to terms with his ADHD and the medication he takes, as well as battling with his growing feelings for his best friend, Seth. Representation in books is constantly getting better and I think it’s so important for young people to have access to books with characters who have ADHD, autism, dyslexia, etc. as these are still drastically underrepresented.

The queer representation in this book is also astounding. The main cast of characters are all queer, as is often the case with friendship groups, and their queerness isn’t made a big deal out of and is really diverse in itself. There are characters who are gay and bi and characters who don’t worry about labels and it’s all really refreshing. They are a great friendship group, who are always there for each other, but who also aren’t afraid to tell each other when they’re being ridiculous.

I’m finding it really hard to put into words just how much I loved this book and just how important I think it is, which I think is a mark for how good it was. It’s beyond words. I definitely recommend it and I will definitely be reading more books by T.J. Klune in the future!

 

Reviews

ARC Review: Cherrington Academy – Rebecca J. Caffery

Thank you to the author, Rebecca J. Caffery, and SRL Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Press
Release Date: 25 August 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, LGBT+
TWs: Homophobia, Terminal Illness

Cherrington Academy by [Rebecca J Caffery]

Logan’s the new boy at Cherrington Academy, a boarding school that’s promised to provide him with a safe haven away from homophobic bullies and neglectful parents. He’s left all that 2000 miles away. What he doesn’t expect Cherrington to provide is; a bunch of friends who want to adopt him, a mysterious roommate who’s never home and a gorgeous guy with a secret crush on him. His perfect new life begins to unravel when he discovers a web of secrets amongst his friends. Plus his roommate? Partial to blackmail. That gorgeous guy? Well, he’s taken by one of Logan’s now closest friends. Can Logan shut off his feelings to protect his new friendships and the happiness he’s found at Cherrington Academy? Or is love really just all-consuming? ~ Goodreads

I’ve been in a reading slump this month, but this was such a quick and easy read and getting lost in the world of these characters definitely helped to pull me out. It’s a great YA LGBT+ contemporary romance, that also has a very distinctive vibe and style that I think fans of books like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green will really enjoy.

One of the best aspects of this book is the characters. They all felt very well developed and distinctive, each with their own dreams, hopes, fears, problems, likes, dislikes, and so much more. I think sometimes it can be really easy for books with fairly big casts to neglect characters and have them appear very flat, but this was not the case for Cherrington Academy. I wish we had more time with the girls as they were often more on the periphery, but I still feel like we learn a lot about them.

I also liked that the characters felt like very realistic teenagers. I often got annoyed with their actions as they constantly made situations worse for themselves (especially Logan and Isaac), but adult hindsight is 20/20 and these characters really felt like they were still learning about their themselves and the world. They made mistakes, they said things they shouldn’t have said, they were dramatic, and much more. I think the young audience this is aimed at will really be able to relate to the characters and the sticky situations that they get themselves tangled in. Things constantly were falling apart then being pulled back together before falling apart again because of their actions which I think people will really enjoy if they like fast-paced contemporaries with a lot of action.

As always, diversity and representation are really important to me and I loved how there were several LGBT+ characters in this book and that they were friends. However, I do think there were some aspects of the LGBT+ representation that could have been improved, for example, there was a lot of homophobia or biphobia from other characters that is never fully addressed.

It also touched on the topic of mental health a few times which I wish had been explored a bit more. It shows the importance of seeking help and taking care of your mental health which is a really important message for a young adult audience. However, there were a few moments that I feel needed further developing otherwise they have the opposite effect, for example, Logan makes a throwaway remark about OCD that didn’t hit right to me and I think would have worked better if his mental health had been framed more and he had been portrayed with OCD.

Overall, this was a great fast-paced and easy to read contemporary with some fantastic characters. I know there’s a sequel already in the works for next year so I really hope some of the things that were only beginning to be touched on in this book will be touched on more in this sequel, such as the topic of mental health. It will be great to see how the characters navigate the fall out of the events in this first book and to see where they will go next as they mature and grow.

Amazon| Waterstones | Barnes & Noble | Other

Blog Tours · Reviews

Blog Tour: Body Talk by Kelly Jenson

Thank you to the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Press
Release Date: 18th August 2020
Genres: Non-Fiction, Anthology, Essays
TW: It discusses a lot of sensitive topics due to the nature of the book, such as body dysmorphia, mental illness, discrimination, and more.

Jensen_BodyTalk_rgb_HR

We all experience the world in a body, but we don’t usually take the time to explore what it really means to have and live within one. Just as every person has a unique personality, every person has a unique body, and every body tells its own story. In Body Talk, thirty-seven writers, models, actors, musicians, and artists share essays, lists, comics, and illustrations—about everything from size and shape to scoliosis, from eating disorders to cancer, from sexuality and gender identity to the use of makeup as armor. Together, they contribute a broad variety of perspectives on what it’s like to live in their particular bodies—and how their bodies have helped to inform who they are and how they move through the world. ~ Goodreads

As someone who doesn’t read a lot of non-fiction or anthologies, this book was a beautiful surprise and I absolutely loved it. The contributions throughout vary as much in topic as they do in format which made it a really easy and interesting reading. There will be stories that you relate to, stories that open your eyes to experiences you haven’t shared, stories that make you feel less alone, stories that make you smile, make you laugh, make you cry. It encourages you to embrace the body that you were given as well as to celebrate each body’s uniqueness and wonder in the most perfect way.

One of the things that I like most about anthologies is that you get to read from so many different perspectives and hear so many different voices all in one book. In Body Talk there are contributions from people you will probably know, such as Tyra Banks, but it also introduces you to many more people from many different backgrounds and all contributors are given a voice and a chance to share their experiences in the way that they wish to do it, whether that be an essay, a letter, a list, an illustration, or something else. It also has FAQ sections dotted throughout with important information related to the entries which I really loved.

In just the first few entries, there are already discussions and mentions of disability, sexuality, gender, race, mental illness, and this is just the start of the diversity that follows throughout the whole book. Diversity is something that is really important to me and that I always seek out in the books I read and this is one of the best books I’ve ever read for that. I really appreciate how Kelly Jensen made this such a focus point rather than missing any of these important communities out.

Finally, a great thing about an anthology is the many different ways you can read it and access it. You can read it cover to cover, you can dip in and out of it, you can pick out essays and stories to read as they interest you, you can easily go back and re-read the ones that have stuck with you the most and so much more. Reading an anthology is a reading experience like no other and I love it.

This is such an important book that I think will help many people, especially young people, learn to accept the body that they have been given and to love themselves for who they are. It helps show that you are not alone, that everyone struggles in some way with their image, but that it is possible to embrace it and to see the positives. I hope many people get the opportunity to read it.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository | Waterstones | Barnes & Noble