Tag Archives: Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Here are the books scheduled to be released in the second half of 2019 that I’m anticipating the most. Since the vast majority of what I read comes from my local library, I probably won’t get around to many of these titles until months after they are released.

If my library turns out to have lots of copies of all of them, I’m going to have to spend the month of September doing nothing but reading in my free time. Honestly, that sounds like a nice way to spend those weeks. I don’t know about the weather where you all live, but here in Toronto we still have plenty of hot, humid days in September. Sometimes “summer” lasts well into October, too!

Home for Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler

Expected publication date: July 30

Why I want to read it: Historical novels appeal to me, especially when they’re about groups of people who are rarely if ever discussed in traditional history classes. Two of the characters in this tale were young women who were pregnant out of wedlock a century ago when that was an incredibly shameful thing to do. I’m interested in seeing what happened to them.

When the Plums Are Ripe by Patrice Nganang, Amy Baram Reid (Translation)

Expected publication date: August 13

Why I want to read it: I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I know almost nothing about the history of Cameroon. This book talks about this country in the World War II era, and I’m hoping it might lead me to other titles that discuss other time periods there as well.

This Tender Land by William Kent Kruege

Expected publication date: September 3

Why I want to read it: There is so much going on in this tale: The Great Depression, Native American children being stolen from their parents to be raised by the state, runaways, the (mis)treatment of orphans in the 1930s, the inclusion of a mute character, and more. I want to see how it all weaves together.


Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Expected publication date: September 10

Why I want to read it: The main character of this book is a girl who befriends a monster after it emerges from one of her mother’s paintings. Given the countless hours I’ve spent staring at paintings and dreaming about what it would be like to step into them, I already adore her. She sounds like a true kindred spirit. The Goodread tags for it also indicated that either her or someone else in the storyline is part of the LGBT+ community which is very cool and yet another reason why I simply must read this at some point.

The Testaments (Handmaid’s Tale #2) by Margaret Atwood

Expected Publication Date: September 10

Why I want to read it: I’ve been a huge fan of The Handmaid’s Tale since high school and can’t wait to see this story continue on in novel form.  I will be reviewing it for this site after I read it and am virtually guaranteed to talk everyone’s ears off about this book on Twitter and in future Top Ten Tuesday posts. Consider yourselves warned.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

Expected publication date: September 17

Why I want to read it: My immigration process was a much calmer affair than what it sounds like this character is going to go through, but I’m still curious to compare notes. Moving to a new country always bring all sorts of surprises with it no matter who you are or where you’re moving to.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Expected publication date: September 24

Why I want to read it: I’ve never read a fantasy book about someone who was a slave before, much less a character living in the southern U.S. in what I assume will be the early 1800s. This sounds like it will be a wonderful read.

Marley: A Novel by Jon Clinch

Expected publication date: October 8

Why I want to read it: I’m always interested in stories that retell or branch off of the various subplots of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This happens to be a prequel that shows what Marley and Scrooge’s lives were like when they were young boys. I’m quite curious to find out more.

I’m a Gay Wizard by V.S. Santoni

Expected publication date: October 29

Why I want to read it: This sounds like it might be the 2019 version of a gay Harry Potter-esque novel, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about that!

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Expected publication date: October 29

Why I want to read it: I remember a time when all books about AIDS were about it being an automatic death sentence because that was the reality for people with this illness back then. In fact, I know someone whose life was saved by the newer and more effective drugs to treat AIDS in the mid-1990s. Now that medical care for this disease has greatly improved, I’m quite curious to see how a character who has HIV will live her life in 2019.

Top Ten Tuesday: Unpopular Bookish Opinions

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

It’s going to be interesting to see how everyone responds to this week’s prompt. I wasn’t sure if I could come up with enough responses to justify participating this week, but luckily I did.

1. Sometimes the movie is better than the book.

For example, The Hobbit was a fantastic book. Peter Jackson’s trilogy based on it was not something I’d ever watch again.

2. While I regularly seek out #OwnVoices stories, every author who is willing to do the appropriate research should feel free to create characters from any background or identity they wish.

Speaking as someone who is bisexual, it makes me so happy when mono-sexual authors write bi characters so long as they talk to people from my community about our experiences and listen to our feedback on how to create non-stereotypical characters if they have any questions about the appropriateness of their ideas.

The more representation we get, the better! I’d also love it if we could create a literary culture that expects inclusivity in every story and applauds authors who put the work in that is necessary to create fresh characters from a wide range of backgrounds.

3.Stalking and jealousy aren’t romantic.

I see this a lot in young adult novels especially, but it bothers me when a young girl is harassed by a guy who knows she’s completely uninterested in him. It’s even more concerning when he continues to pursue her no matter how often she turns him down or tries to avoid him. Sometimes these “love interests” will also start telling her to stop talking to certain people, insist she dress a certain way, or make other big changes to who she is as a human being without her consent.

The thing is, this isn’t romance. It’s abuse. This is a totally unacceptable way for anyone to behave and should never be part of any romantic storyline…especially when it’s written for teenagers who might not have enough life experience yet to catch these red flags if or when they pop up in real life.

4.  Characters who die must stay dead.

I’m looking at you, super heroes and other inhabitants of graphic novels.

Exceptions to this rule include ghosts, zombies, and vampires, but  character can only be one of them. If they take this path, they should be exactly as dangerous as all of the other ghosts, zombies, or vampires out there.

I have no interest in the “true love makes it safe to kiss a creature that wants to eat me” trope. If a character is a monster, let them be a proper monster.

5. Short books are better than long ones.

There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but in general I believe it’s better to leave the audience wanting more than to turn what could have been a tightly-written 200 page novel into a 400+ page monstrosity.

I do not need dozens of pages of descriptions of the flora and fauna of a universe in the vast majority of cases. Give me the basic rundown of how that world is different from the one I live in and let my imagination fill in the gaps. It’s so much nicer to get straight to the plot than it is to wade through what I think of as unnecessary descriptions.

6. Proselytizing books are unhelpful.

No, this isn’t about any particular religion, ethical stance, or philosophical belief. I don’t care what point the author is trying to make or even if I happen to agree with them. Books should never be used as an excuse to sermonize.

They should be used to, you know, tell a story and entertain their audience. By all means introduce a sympathetic character who happens to be on your side of issue X if it happens to genuinely fit the storyline, but always stay focused on developing the plot and characters instead of pressuring the audience to join you in your love of big, purple hats or personal vendetta against cilantro.

7. Hype is like a drug

I tend to be cautious about books that are heavily hyped up. If they’re still receiving glowing reviews six months or a year after they are published, I will start to take the overwhelmingly positive response to them more seriously.

This isn’t to say that I avoid reading books that have overwhelmingly positive reviews, only that I try to temper my expectations if the response to them feels too good to be true.

8. Excessive slang makes novels feel dated before their time.

In no way do I expect characters to speak formal English all the time, but will we remember what TBF or honey wagon means 20 years from now? If every single scene in a book is filled with slang terms that are only a few months or years old, it makes me wonder if people will still find it readable in the future.

9. Some love triangles should have unconventional endings.

Love triangles would be rare if I had my way. In my opinion, they’re overused and often take up space that would be better allotted to resolving the main conflict. If they’re going to keep existing, why not wrap them up by:

  • Everyone turning out to be polyamorous
  • The main character choosing to keep dating around instead of picking from their first two options
  • The two love interests deciding to date while the main character ends up happily alone
  • All three characters finding partners who are better matches for themselves elsewhere
  • Everyone ending up happily single for now (or forever)
  • The main character picking one person for a romantic, committed, asexual happily ever after

I believe we need much more diversity in what is counted as a happy ending in tales that decide to make love a conflict.

10. Most stories should not have romantic subplots at all.

This might be my most unpopular bookish opinion of all, but I’ve grown weary of how often characters in non-romance genres suddenly end up in relationships when they have more pressing concerns in their lives like running from a hoard of zombies or figuring out who the killer really is before they become his next victim.

Look, I’ve been happily married for years. Romance and love are incredible experiences…but there are many other equally thrilling things to explore in fiction and in real life.

I dislike the cultural pressure that is placed on folks to be married or in a longterm romantic relationship regardless of whether that’s something they actually desire in the short term or long term.  I feel like making every character have a love interest only makes this pressure more intense.

Despite the occasionally critical things I’ve had to say about romantic plots today, I am in no way opposed to them in general. I simply wish it were as common for characters to be asexual, demisexual, polyamorous, or even simply too focused on building a career, dating around, or fighting the undead to settle down right now as it is for everyone to pair off by the final scene in so many of the books out there.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ghost Stories

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

My favourite genre is science fiction and fantasy. Since that’s an impossibly broad answer to this week’s prompt, Books From My Favorite Genre, I decided to narrow it down to something specific: ghost stories.

I adore ghost stories, especially the ones that rely on psychological horror instead of jump scares or anything gory! They’re one of the micro-genres under the speculative fiction umbrella that will always grab my attention.

The interesting thing about this list is how many classics it contains. I hadn’t realized that so many top-notch authors have written about ghosts, but they have.

1. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

This is one of my all-time favourite ghost stories because the spirit had a completely valid reason for haunting and hating the living. I won’t give it away to those of you who haven’t read it. Just know that you might end up sympathizing with the ghost more than you do with her victims. I sure did.

2. A Sincere Warning About the Entity In Your Home by Jason Arnopp

Since this is a short story, I can’t tell you much about the plot other than it was written in the form of a letter from a former tenant to the current tenant of a very dangerous home. It’s delightfully scary and quite well done, though.

3. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

We need to talk about the fact that season two of the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House is going to be based on this story. I’m sure they’ll make as many changes to the plot as they did with Shirley Jackon’s novel, but I’m super excited to see how the screenwriters interpret something that wasn’t as blatantly paranormal as The Haunting of Hill House.

My best guess is that they’re going to amp up the hauntings by a thousand to make it work for the small screen.

4. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Someday I need to write full reviews of the other Sarah Waters’ novels that have enough speculative fiction content to fit into my Science Fiction & Fantasy tag on this site. Here is my review of the amazing film version of The Little Stranger, so all I’ll say about it in this post is that it’s about a crumbling mansion that may be haunted by the angry spirit of a child who once lived there. Both the book and the film were deliciously spooky, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

5. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

No, this has no connection to the first book on this list, although it would be quite interesting to see what the Woman in White would think of the Woman in Black. One of them is a ghost, and the identity and corporealness of the other one can’t be shared here without giving away spoilers. (If corporealness wasn’t an official word before, it is now!)

6. Beloved by Toni Morrison

My mom was so freaked out by the film version of this book that she almost walked out of the theatre. I wasn’t with her for that viewing, but I loved seeing this tale about an ex-slave named Sethe who was haunted by what might have been the spirit of her dead child twenty years after she purposefully killed that child to prevent her from being taken back into slavery.

The best ghost stories in my opinion are the ones that explore parts of a culture that many people try to forget or downplay. The multi-generational horrors of slavery were laid bare in this tale, and that made it one of the most genuinely frightening things I’ve ever read.

7. The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

This is a library book I’m currently reading, so I won’t say much about it other than the fact that it’s about a ghost hunter who ended up being targeted by one of the spirits she was supposed to be vanquishing.

How spooky is that? It’s definitely not the kind of attention I’d ever want.

8. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

I wish Edgar Allen Poe’s work was talked about more than it currently is. (Maybe I should start reviewing it?) He wrote some incredibly frightening poems and stories that are as relevant now as they were in the 1800s when he first came up with them. I especially love “The Raven” because of how many different ways it can be interpreted. Was the speaker really being haunted, or was he imagining the interference of the raven and other strange occurrences as a way to deal with his guilt over murdering someone?

9. The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill

While I don’t normally mention the same author twice in the same Top Ten Tuesday post, Susan Hill deserves a second mention. She really has the haunted house formula perfected. All of her books that I’ve read are perfectly frightening without being gory. The Mist in the Mirror is an especially good one to pick up after The Woman in Black because of how gothic it was.

There’s something about the gothic style of ghost story, crumbling mansion and all, that I find quite appealing.

10. The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

All of the other options on this list are serious and frightening, so I thought I’d top it off with a classic parody of this genre.

Oscar Wilde is one of those famous authors that I’ve always been sorry I couldn’t meet. He had a wonderful sense of humour that somehow feels just as fresh in 2019 as it did in the 1880s and 1890s.

His take on ghosts and haunted houses really should be read by anyone who enjoys these topics. I believe in finding the humorous side of whatever genre(s) you enjoy. There is definitely something to be said for being able to poke fun at what you like, and this is a fabulous example of how to do exactly that.

Also, it’s satirical! I’ll leave it up to you to figure out who or what Mr. Wilde was talking about here, but I found his insights to be pretty darn accurate.

How many of these books have all of you read? Who else in the Top Ten Tuesday community loves ghost stories? I’ll happily accept your recommendations of similar tales if anyone has any!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books Released in the Last Ten Years

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

I wasn’t sure how to organize these, so I’m going to start in 2010 and end this year.

2010  – Room by Emma Donoghue

What made this stand out from the typical thriller for me was that it was narrated by a five-year-old boy who really didn’t know how unusual his childhood was because he’d been born into captivity. I loved the film that was made about this story. It really captured his innocence and the mother’s horror well.

2011 – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The trick pictures that sparked the creation of this book were wonderful. I highly recommend checking them out before reading it.

2012  – Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

I’m a city person through and through, but this memoir made me want to go tramping through the woods for a long hike.

2013  – I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

If you haven’t read this yet, you really should. The things Malala went through just to get an education are unbelievable. I’m so glad she survived and is currently in university.

2014 – The Martian by Andy Weir

I’ve gushed about this book so many times here that I’m not quite sure what else to say about it other than the fact that it made me want to go to Mars…but not until there are other people living there full-time first.

2015 – Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade

This was a hard read because the fictional events in this plot were inspired by what really happened to orphans who were medically experimented upon without consent a century ago. I believe it’s important to acknowledge these ugly parts of our collective past and work to ensure they never happen again, though.

2016 – Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

While the writing honestly wasn’t as strong as some of the other books I read that came out in 2016, the premise of this one refused to be ignored.

A racist white couple forbade a black nurse from touching their newborn son. When the baby went into cardiac arrest, the nurse hesitated before giving him CPR because she wasn’t sure whether the parents would be more angry that their irrational request was ignored or that their son didn’t receive medical attention ASAP.

The baby had a poor outcome, so the parents sued the nurse and hospital.

I had a pretty strong opinion about what the right thing to do in this case was, but I’ll leave it up to all of you to come to your own conclusions about that.

2017 – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Something tells me that many of us will be picking T.H.U.G. for their 2017 book of the year! How many of you have seen the film? I really need to check it out sometime.

2018 – Becoming by Michelle Obama

I’m actually still reading this one, but I’m counting it as the 2018 Book of the Year since that’s when it was released. It’s so interesting to see the world through Mrs. Obama’s eyes.

2019 – Slayer by Kiersten White

I just started reading this one, too. It’s fantastic so far, and it’s making me wish that they’d hurry up and film that Buffy the Vampire Slayer remake that’s supposed to come out sometime.

The thought of a teenage girl protecting the world is just as relevant now as it was in the 90s.



Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Places to Read

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This week’s prompt was “Books That I Refuse to Let Anyone Touch.” I was hopelessly stumped by it, so I decided to do one of the first Top Ten Tuesday prompts instead. This one is from almost a decade ago, long before I had any clue that Top Ten Tuesday even existed.

Favourite Places to Read

Underneath Trees

My family lived near a forest when I was in middle school.  Sometimes I’d ride my bike to the edge of the forest and read underneath one of the big trees just off of the official bike path. It was incredibly peaceful.

I still occasionally go to the park for this purpose today. There’s nothing like hearing leaves rustling and squirrels or other small animals chattering while you read.

On an Airplane

Flying makes me nervous, so it’s quite helpful to have a good book to distract me once the flight attendants have finished sharing the safety information they must discuss at the beginning of every flight.

I’ve actually been known to buy e-books that really catch my eye and then not read them until months later when I’m flying somewhere. It gives me something positive to look forward to during that time, and that’s always handy.

While Waiting 

I could be waiting for anything:

  • A doctor’s appointment
  • Dental treatments
  • Food at a restaurant
  • The chance to update my driver’s license

Books are a lovely and deeply-appreciated distraction in these moments…especially if the thing I’m waiting for carries the possibility of bad news!

When I Can’t Sleep

Occasionally, my brain decides to wake me up in the middle of the night for no reason. I’m simply wide awake at a time when I should be fast asleep on those nights.

It’s been my experience that the quickest way to get back to sleep is to read for a little while. Preferably, it should be something soothing, not exciting.

What are your favourite places to read? Did anyone else struggle with the original prompt for this week?


Top Ten Tuesday: Characters That Remind Me of Myself

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl My answers this week will be a mixed bag of books, TV shows, and films. This topic was a little challenging for me, but I enjoyed brainstorming for it. Let’s see if I can come up with the full ten answers! 1. Karana from Scott Odell’s Island of the… Read More

Top Ten Tuesday: Rainy Day Reads

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl There are two things I really like to read on rainy days: poetry about stormy weather and humorous books. Why does my brain work this way? I have no idea, but it has strong opinions on this topic that I’m going to honour. This week I’m going to be… Read More

Top Ten Tuesday: Outrageous Things I’ve Done for the Love of Books

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl You’re all about to hear some funny stories about the outrageous, silly, and memorable things I’ve done for the love of books. For anyone who didn’t already know, I was a preacher’s kid growing up, so the church’s building was basically my family’s second home.  We were there two… Read More