6.29.2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY | BEST BOOKS READ SO FAR IN 2015


This week's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish is: Top Ten Books I've Read So Far in 2015. So far this year my reading has been pretty up and down, with some amazing books and some disappointing ones. Here are the ten that stand out as having been the most memorable and impressive so far:


If I Fall, If I Die - Michael Christie
Zeitoun - Dave Eggers
One More Thing - B.J. Novak


Black Dove, White Raven - Elizabeth Wein
A Little Life - Hanya Yanagihara (Not yet reviewed)
God Help the Child - Toni Morrison


Life After Life - Kate Atkinson


We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Girl With All the Gifts - M.R. Carey (Not yet reviewed)

It's been a pretty great year so far, not only in terms of the quality of books I've read, but the range of them. Here's hoping the next six months are as fabulous! What were your favourite books so far this year?

6.28.2015

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | THE FEVER - MEGAN ABBOTT


The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire, The Fever affirms Megan Abbot's reputation as "one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation" (Laura Lippman).
- Goodreads



------

This is going to be a short review. Not because I'm lazy or because my faculties have suddenly failed me, but because the less you know about this book going into it, the better.

When I started this book, I didn't even really know what genre it fit into. Mystery? Horror? Paranormal? Conspiracy theory? All of the above? By the time I was three quarters of the way through, I still wasn't sure.

The book starts with a girl having a seizure in class and ending up in a coma. Terrified, her classmates begin circulating information and rumours, trying to figure out what happened. Before anyone even has a chance to figure out what happened to her, another girl has had a seizure. Soon, three, then four girls are experiencing symptoms. The town is in a panic. Parents are demanding answers and placing blame, the CDC and law enforcement are conducting interviews, and every teenaged girl is wondering if she's next.

As the book continues, theories get wilder and wilder, progressing from suspicions about an HPV vaccine to the supernatural. And as a reader, I came up with plenty of wild theories myself.

I liked that this book kept me guessing - that every time I thought the book had finally showed its hand, the narrative shifted. And though the characters made me uncomfortable, they were consistently developed and fit into this odd plot arc flawlessly.

I read this book with another blogger and good friend of mine, Julianne from Outlandish Lit. This was a great book for a buddy read. The chapters are a manageable length, and the plot moves along fast enough to provide talking points at every chapter break.

I'd definitely recommend this book for anyone who enjoys twists and turns in their plot, and if you're looking for a buddy or YA book club selection, give this some consideration.

------

Book Title: The Fever
Author: Megan Abbott
Series: No
Edition: Hardback
Published By: Little Brown & Company
Released: June 17, 2014
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Young Adult, Suspense
Pages: 303
Date Read: February 27-March 17, 2015
Rating: 6/10

Buy the book:

6.27.2015

STACKING THE SHELVES | #78


Time to look at the books I added to my shelves this week with Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews! Not necessarily books I bought - also includes books I borrowed, was given or otherwise ended up with. Weeks I don't buy any books I'll scramble around my shelves and find some I haven't shared in an StS post yet!


Dear Committee Members - Jule Schumacher
Emmy & Oliver - Robin Benway

And my wonderful friend Katrin sent me a birthday package with not one but TWO wonderful books in it! Excited for both of these:


The Shadow of the Wind - CArlos Ruiz Zafon

That's it for my week in books! Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think? Which books did you add to your shelves? Share in the comments!

6.25.2015

BOOK THOUGHTS ON THURSDAY | WHAT'S IN A NAME?


The world of books is never boring. Every week (well, most weeks) I'll discuss a different topic related to books, often inspired by or in response to what's going on in the online book community (or something I've seen another blogger talk about). I call this Book Thoughts on Thursday. Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, or even write your own post on the topic and share the link with me! 

***
I've got something to talk about this week that isn't exactly to do with books - it's to do with my blog. More specifically, it's to do with the name of my blog. Let me start at the beginning.

When I first started this blog, it was because I had been reviewing books for an arts and entertainment website. I loved the review process - taking notes as I read, engaging with the text on a deeper level and sharing my thoughts with other readers. I loved it so much, in fact, that I wanted to do it for all the books I was reading, not just the new releases I was officially reading for the site.

I started this blog as a place to share all my bookish thoughts, primarily those about older, or "backlist," books. Hence the naming of my blog - Backlist Books. At the time, it was perfect.

But it's now been six years of on-and-off blogging, and two years of regular, consistent blogging. Over that time, my focus has shifted. I still review backlist books, but more and more I'm wanting to review new releases, the books everyone is talking about, so that I can join in the discussion with other bloggers. I also don't feel the need to create features based on backlist books, though I feel like I should, just to justify the name. I also feel like it might lead to some inaccurate perceptions of the blog - and even discourage readers who are more interested in new releases.

After a lot of thought, I've come to the conclusion that it's time for a change. I want a blog name that represents more accurately what I do here, and who I am. I want to acknowledge the community I live in and I want to open up the focus of the blog.

I'm not quite ready to announce the new name yet, but I'm hoping to do so sometime in the next couple of weeks, and I have to admit, I'm very nervous! As much as I'm sure of my decision to make a change, I'm still attached to Backlist Books, and it's not going to be easy to make such a drastic change!

In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you guys on this topic - whether you've got ideas or thoughts to share about my current name, or tips on changing the name of an established blog, please share!

6.24.2015

MY WEEK ON WEDNESDAY | #16


My Week On Wednesday is a weekly link-up post in which I share with you what I've been reading, what I'm reading next, and any other bookish stuff I enjoyed in the past week! (Click on book images to view Goodreads page.)

Just shelved:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17235026-the-girl-with-all-the-gifts

So I finally got into this book - not only that, but I got to a certain point and just could not put it down! I was unsure of it at first, and I nearly gave up on it. But it was worth sticking with it, and I can't wait to discuss it with Katie and Shaina, who read it with me!

Currently reading:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23278537-the-little-paris-bookshop?ac=1https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23899174-in-the-unlikely-event

I'm part way through a few books right now, but these are the main ones. Both are good, but haven't gripped me by the throat quite yet. There's definite stay-up-all-night-reading potential here, though!

Up next:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23209939-free-days-with-george?ac=1https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23287159-love-may-fail?ac=1

I'm super excited to meet George, and it's been a while since I've read any Matthew Quick, so I'm interested to see what his new book is all about.

That's about it for my week! What have you guys been up to? Share in the comments!

6.22.2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY | MY FAVOURITE TOPICS


This week's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish is: Ten Favourite Top Ten Tuesday Topics. I've been doing this link-up for a whiiiiiiiile now, and I honestly couldn't even list ten topics off the top of my head, but here are a few that jumped out from as far back as I could handle looking:

  • Deliciously Tragic Books - You know those books you read that tear your guts out yet leave you feeling grateful for the experience? This is a list of the ones that made me bleed the most but that I recommend without hesitation.
  • Favourite Authors - This was a really tough one, because I love all the authors! But these are the ones that, after a lot of agonizing, made the cut.
  • Books for Readers Who Like Books About Reading - I feel like this particular sub-genre is one that I always find satisfying. Books about reading let me enjoy the process of reading while reading about the very thing I'm enjoying. Confused yet? Doesn't matter, these books are worth it.
  • Favourite Literary Heroines - Everyone loves a heroine, and there are so many excellent ones to choose from.
  • Book Problems - There are some common issues we, as readers, have to deal with. These are the most common.
  • Books I'd Love To Read If I Had A Book Club - So far I haven't found a book club to join where I live, but that doesn't stop me making lists of the books I wish I could discuss and reading other people's lists of great book club reads.
  • Books That Weren't What I Expected - Every once in a while I go into a book with a preconception that turns out to be entirely wrong - sometimes in the most wonderful way.
  • Supporting Characters I Wish Would Get Their Own Books - I'm sure this is a common frustration you've all experienced - you're reading a fantastic book, and the main characters are fantastic, but there's that one supporting character you just wish you could spend some more time with.
  • Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit - I love literary travel. I love the vicarious thrill of stepping into a new city or country and experiencing the foreign smells, sights and sounds. I can't travel to all the places I want to see, but I can read about them! And let's face it, sometimes that's almost better because while it can be entertaining to read about horrendous hotels and missed plane connections, actually dealing with everything that goes wrong while traveling is another thing entirely.
  • Books For Readers Who Like Character-Driven Novels - I love a good thriller, but sometimes you need a book that really gets down and dirty in the lives of its characters so you feel, by the end of the novel, that you're a part of their lives.
  • Books For Adults New To the Young Adult Genre - There's a lot of judgment out there surrounding adults who read Young Adult books. I get it, and I definitely couldn't handle reading them exclusively, but I've found so many in the past two years that I've thoroughly enjoyed and found contained plenty of depth and texture in spite of the intended audience. Here are the YA books I'd recommend to an adult reader willing to give them a shot.
  • Characters I'd Want With Me On A Desert Island - Some of these are fairly obvious (anyone with magic is a pretty safe choice for any kind of desperate situation), but others are just for fun.
  • Book Covers I'd Frame As Pieces of Art - I am guilty (though I don't feel guilty about it at all) of picking books based nearly entirely on their covers quite frequently. Rules are made to be broken.

So there you be, my favourite Top Ten Tuesday topics from the past year or so. Hopefully there are a few in there that are new to you and that you get a giggle (or, better yet, a new book rec) from! Which topics did you like the most? Share in the comments!

6.21.2015

THE SUNDAY REVIEW | FINDING AUDREY - SOPHIE KINSELLA


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Shopaholic series comes a terrific blend of comedy, romance, and psychological recovery in a contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and entertain.

An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.
- Goodreads


------

This is the new novel by Sophie Kinsella (aka Madeleine Wickham), who you will probably know for her "chick-lit" novels, in particular the Shopaholic series which follows the preposterous and hilarious mis-steps of one Becky Bloomwood. Finding Audrey is Kinsella's first foray into the young adult genre, and though it echoes the feel of her other work, it takes on more serious issues. 

Our main character, as we slowly learn, is dealing with (and forgive me if I get this terminology wrong) a severe anxiety disorder following a traumatic event. Her symptoms include social anxiety (she finds it hard to be touched by, in the same room as or make eye contact with people outside her family and wears dark sunglasses at all times) and panic attacks.

When we meet her she isn't able to leave the house alone and can't handle talking to strangers or being in public places. She's in therapy, which is helping her cope, and she is learning how to mitigate her debilitating and frightening panic attacks.

Enter Linus, a friend of her brother's who comes over to play video games. He winds up being the first new person Audrey has wanted to talk to (let alone be in a room with) in months. But it's not easy to get to know someone when you have an anxiety disorder. You can't control your physical reaction to the situations that cause anxiety, even when you really, really want to.

This is Audrey's story, but it's also the story of her family, and how they attempt to help her while dealing with their own issues - both related to Audrey's condition and not. Each, in their own way, tries to understand and help Audrey.

I found exactly what I expected in this book - an entertaining read that, sure, didn't have a whole ton of depth, but was a fun counterpoint to the more weighty novels I've been reading recently. The tone and feel were reminiscent of her other work, so if you are a Kinsella fan, this will likely be the perfect summer read for you. 

I was also pleased that it had a bit less of the Shopaholic series' more irritating character flaws (I had trouble with Becky's vapidness and Luke's condescension). It did still have some troublesome characters - I had a particularly hard time with the mother, who was too over-the-top for me. I found it hard to stick with any sections focusing on her or take her remotely seriously. I wished she'd been toned down a bit because her character had the potential for such depth - it was hinted at towards the end and I wanted more of that conflicted character.

The other aspect of this book which needs to be addressed is actually one I come to second-hand. I don't suffer from an anxiety disorder, nor have I been close enough to someone who does to have an accurate understanding of the common symptoms or treatment. However I have seen and heard mixed responses to Kinsella's portrayal of a character suffering from an anxiety disorder. I've seen criticism of both the description of her symptoms (as being inaccurate) and how Linus' influence affects her. I had a few moments in the story that didn't quite ring true for me, but because my knowledge is so peripheral, it wasn't a deal-breaker. However, I do think this is one area where your response will very much depend on your own experience and knowledge of the underlying condition.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. It was both easy to get into and a quick read. It'll definitely scratch that Kinsella itch! Finding Audrey is the perfect book if you're looking for something light and entertaining, with characters who are charismatic and easy to get to know.

------


**Thanks to Random House Canada for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!**

Book Title: Finding Audrey
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Series: No
Edition: Hardback
Published By: Doubleday Canada
Released: June 4, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Family
Pages: 288
Date Read: June 4-9, 2015
Rating: 6/10

Buy the book:

6.20.2015

STACKING THE SHELVES | #77


Time to look at the books I added to my shelves this week with Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga's Reviews! Not necessarily books I bought - also includes books I borrowed, was given or otherwise ended up with. Weeks I don't buy any books I'll scramble around my shelves and find some I haven't shared in an StS post yet!


The Dud Avocado - Elaine Dundy
Love May Fail - Matthew Quick

And I'm excited to get to know George, thanks to Random House of Canada:


Free Days with George - Colin Campbell

As you guys know, I re-discovered the library this week. I may have gotten a little carried away, but I suppose that's to be expected! Here's what I got.

Physical books:


The Marriage Plot - Jeffrey Eugenides
Malarky - Anakana Schofield


The Vintage Caper - Peter Mayle
The Corsican Caper - Peter Mayle

Ebooks:


Eight Hundred Grapes - Laura Dave
My Paris Dream - Kate Betts
Saint Anything - Sarah Dessen


Saint Mazie - Jami Attenberg
Oh! You Pretty Things - Shanna Mahin

So I basically made out like a bandit this week and there's NO way I'm going to be able to read all of them before they're due back, but I had so much fun!What did you guys pick up this week? Have you read any of these books, and if so what did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!

6.18.2015

BOOK THOUGHTS ON THURSDAY | HAPPINESS IS YOUR OWN LIBRARY CARD


The world of books is never boring. Every week (well, most weeks) I'll discuss a different topic related to books, often inspired by or in response to what's going on in the online book community (or something I've seen another blogger talk about). I call this Book Thoughts on Thursday. Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, or even write your own post on the topic and share the link with me! 

***

So I had some bad news this week. I went to the dentist on Monday, and despite liking my new dentist, the news was less pleasant - it's looking like I might have to give up at least one of my wisdom teeth, which I'm not excited about.

Needless to say, I wasn't in the best of moods following that visit. So to cheer myself up, I made a bee-line for the nearest building full of books, which happened to be the snazzy new library. I hadn't gotten around to visiting or getting a card, partly because I've got so much to read already, and partly because with the amount of books I own, I've got a deathly fear of bedbugs. I know, I know, bedbug outbreaks in libraries are rare, and the one in a downtown library was years ago now. But still, I've been a little squeamish.

However, walking in the doors, seeing the books lined up on the shelves, the kids poring over the picture books, the smiling faces of the library staff... well, it felt pretty much like coming home. Before I knew it I had a library card, an armful of books to take home and several more on hold. 

I'd forgotten how great libraries are. It's like being in a bookstore except you can take as many books home as you want, without spending any money, and if you don't like them there's no buyer's remorse cos you can just return them!

http://kathrynwhiteauthor.blogspot.ca/2013/05/happiness-is-having-your-own-library.html

I've been thinking a lot since my library visit about the vital role libraries play in communities - not only as an introduction to books for many children, but as a way for adults to continue expanding their horizons, as a vehicle for facilitating community engagement - and even helping job hunters. Even though I've been fortunate enough to be able to read voraciously without needing a library in recent years, that hasn't always been the case - and isn't the case for many people.

I know that as bloggers we are lucky to get books sent to us for review, which eases our need to purchase or borrow books. We also, I think, tend to prioritize book buying in our budgets because we want access to new releases sooner than we could get them from the library. And because we see books as a valid decorating choice. But I also know a lot of us use the library - even do library reading challenges.

For myself, I know I'll utilize ebook lending more than physical books simply because I've got a terrible memory and forget to return books, and with ebooks they return themselves. It also saves me a bus token. But now that I've re-discovered my love of the library I will head up to spend some time there, just to see what's new, find some books on the shelves I never would have stumbled across otherwise, and remind myself what a magical place it is. 

So what I'm wondering is this: Do you all use libraries? Why or why not? Do you still borrow physical books, or have you switched to ebooks for the most part? And, come to that, do all your libraries have ebook lending? I'd love to hear your thoughts - and any other comments you might have to share about what your libraries mean to you, how they've changed and why you think they are or aren't as important as always.

6.17.2015

MY WEEK ON WEDNESDAY | #15


My Week On Wednesday is a weekly link-up post in which I share with you what I've been reading, what I'm reading next, and any other bookish stuff I enjoyed in the past week! (Click on book images to view Goodreads page.)

Just shelved:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23305614-finding-audrey

Well, I have to admit, I haven't finished much in the way of books lately. In my defense, I am actively reading three books at the moment...

Currently reading:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17235026-the-girl-with-all-the-giftshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4457297-shakespeare-wrote-for-moneyhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23899174-in-the-unlikely-event

These three, to be precise. I'm reading The Girl With All the Gifts with Shaina and Katie, and though it was a little slow to get started, it's now got me staying up way too late because I need to know what happens next! I'm still rationing out my Hornby, partly because reading his thoughts on books is making my TBR grow at a truly alarming rate. And, of course, I'm reading Judy Blume's newest adult novel, which, true to form, is full of complex characters and emotions.

Up next:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23278537-the-little-paris-bookshop?ac=1https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23209939-free-days-with-george?ac=1

I'm actually really looking forward to both of these. I've been dreaming of France lately, so The Little Paris Bookshop is shaping up to be the perfect summer read. And I'm looking forward to getting to know Colin and George - I'm a huge animal person (and have been assured that this is a happy dog story, because I'm also a big wuss when it comes to anything sad happening to an animal!), so I think this one will be right up my alley.

Recently added to the TBR:



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12358.The_Partly_Cloudy_Patriothttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24001092-this-is-your-life-harriet-chance

I've discovered so many books I want to read recently, but the upcoming releases from Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), Rainbow Rowell and Jenny Lawson are definitely top of the list! I also discovered Sarah Vowell because she wrote the introduction to Nick Hornby's collection of articles I'm currently reading and decided I needed to read her work immediately. And This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance sounds like a heartwarming and possibly quirky book which is just the kind of story I love.

That's it for my couple of weeks - what have you guys been up to? Read anything wonderful lately? Any fantastic books on your TBR? Share in the comments!

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