Reading Round-up - April

Spring has finally arrived and all I can say is Thank You Mother Nature!  We have had the greyest, wettest winter ever, and I am ever so grateful to finally see the sun!  April was a much quieter reading month for me.  I started the month off with two back-to-back incredible reads, and I think that put me on the verge of a reading slump, but not quite.  I read part of quite a few more books, but didn't finish any of them, so my future lists may be a little longer.

1. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
It's been weeks since I finished this book and I'm still at a loss for words to describe how I felt about it.  Can I just say that it is everything I have ever wanted in a book?

2. All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover
I have SO MUCH to say about this book, but you'll have to wait until July to find out what those thoughts are.  But I will say this: it's Colleen Hoover's best book yet and I loved it with all my heart.

3. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
I chose this for my book club's April pick, and HOLY MOLY what a book.  When I first hauled this, I received so many comments on my blog, Twitter and Instagram with people commenting that it was a favourite book.  I initially had this book on my radar because one of my best friends recommended it to me, and was surprised to see that it is so beloved around the interwebs, considering it feels like an under the radar kind of book.  It deserves all the love, and will definitely be on my list of favourite reads for 2018.

4. Renegades by Marissa Meyer
I picked this one up at the beginning of the month, but set it aside when I dove into The Golem and the Jinni.  Despite the stop and start, I absolutely adored this book.  Marissa Meyer is firmly on my favourites list; this lady can write no wrong!

5. This Girl is Different by J.J. Johnson
I decided to try something different this month, and set only one book on my monthly TBR.  I went back, way back to my earliest hauls and TBRs and found the first book that I still hadn't read.  This Girl is Different was a gift from Evie before she moved away.  Although the insta-love was a bit of a turn off, it was still a solid contemporary, and one that I would have never picked up otherwise.

6. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
I requested this one on a whim, and posted a full review last week.

7. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
My coworker, who I didn't know was a reader, came into work one day and pressed this book into my hands.  She said, "I don't read that much, but I read this book in two days because I couldn't put it down."  It took me a bit longer than two days, but that's only because I didn't have the luxury of a weekend while I was reading this -- but I DEVOURED it, and I've already ordered another of Jennifer Donnelly's books.

7. Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
I'm certain that this is the spot in the series where I stopped reading, and I think I understand how my younger self felt.  The first two books in the series were way better than this one, but I'm still looking forward to reading on in the series.

8. Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist
Stay tuned for my full thoughts later this week!

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Book Haul [33] - SO. MUCH. BETTER.

This month's book haul is SO.  MUCH.  BETTER.  I was definitely more intentional in my book purchases; however, I'm not including books that have been pre-ordered until the month that they arrive.  So, yeah, I bought some books that aren't listed on this list, but they won't be here until their release dates.  Yes, plural -- there are quite a few.

1. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
I've been on the fence about picking this one up.  I loved The Nightingale, but haven't been blown away by some of her other books.  But the rave reviews online got to me, and I had a gift card for my birthday, so .... yeah.  AND IT'S SO PRETTY.

2. Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion
My request on Edelweiss was still pending, but I saw this at Chapters and it's a month earlier than the Edelweiss release date?!?  Maybe it's just published earlier in Canada.  In any case, finding this, and seeing it was on sale, meant that I instantly had to purchase it.  I'm so excited to see how he co-writes with his wife.  And then my request on Edelweiss was approved ... five days before the publication date (according to Edelweiss?).  So now I gotta hurry up and read this book!

3. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
RBC has an annual book sale to support BC Children's Hospital.  In addition to one for my husband and a pile of books for Marko, I saw this one and I've wanted to read this for years and years.

4. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
I almost forgot to add this to my haul because I've already read it!  This was another book that I picked up at the RBC book sale, and it's my favourite of Wally Lamb's books, but I didn't own a copy. So, not bad to buy two books for myself, and one of them I've already read.

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The Broken Girls - Simone St. James

I've been on a serious thriller binge since I participated in Spookathon last October, so The Broken Girls caught my attention when it exploded in popularity all over Bookstagram due to the Book of the Month club.  I requested it on a whim from Netgalley, and was pleasantly surprised when my request was approved!  It was the perfect book to read during two days when I had a lot of commuting to and from a course and needed the time to unwind with a good book both before and after a day of intense learning.

In all honesty, this book might have fallen a bit short for me because of the hype.  After seeing nothing but shining reviews, I went into this book with very high expectations and the book didn't quite live up to those expectations.  The other reason why I was a bit disappointed is that the book isn't quite a traditional thriller (at least the kind that I've been reading lately), but is more of a historical fiction / ghost story.  In all honesty, I'm not super into ghost stories, and if I had known that prior to picking the book up, I may have decided to give this book a pass.

Even though it wasn't necessarily the book for me, The Broken Girls manages to pack a LOT into just over 300 pages.  There's a dual timeline, shifting between the present and the past.  Our main character, Fiona, had a sister who was murdered at Idlewild, a boarding school that was closed many years ago.  In the past, we follow four girls who are residing at Idlewild.  In both the past and present, there's the ghost of Mary Hand, who haunts the grounds of Idlewild.  There are other plot points in there as well, but I won't reveal those because they're spoilery.  My favourite part of the book is definitely the female friendships, and the feeling of grrrrl power in the book.  The love that Fiona has for her deceased sister is also beautiful and genuine.

If you enjoy a good ghost story, then The Broken Girls is the book for you.  If you're hesitant about picking up a thriller, The Broken Girls might be a good place to start because it's not gory.  It's a page-turner and is filled with so much content.  Although it won't be at the top of my favourites this year, hopefully it will be a book that works for you!

Note: An advanced copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Marko Monday [29] - PJ Mouse

Although the love for superheroes is still going strong in our household, Marko also has a new love, and that love is PJ Mouse.  My mom bought this for Marko for his second birthday (I think?), as well as the accompanying plush hero of the story, and it was way above his storytime level so we put it on his bookshelf for a later date.  When Marko received a stuffed cobra for his birthday, the plush PJ Mouse came out to play as snake food.  Soon enough, the snake went back up to the bedroom, but PJ became a constant fixture in our day-to-day life, sitting at a spare chair at the dining table, riding in my purse and ready to join in the fun whenever we were out and about.  Then, I suggested to Marko that we read PJ's book.  I explained that this book doesn't have many pictures, but that he'll have to imagine what's happening while I'm reading it because it's a big kid book.  I couldn't believe the instant success of the story!  Part of it might have been the voices that I always use when I'm reading aloud (and PJ has an exceptionally high squeaky voice!) but Marko was in stitches when PJ fell into a cravasse while hiking on a glacier.  This is his first chapter book, but he's already intrigued about what other books we can read that don't have many pictures.  So, of course, I pulled out my illustrated Harry Potter books and we had a flip through, talking about the story that we'll explore together when he's a bit older.  You guys, I am SO EXCITED that this kid is poised on the edge of learning to read (he's got most of the alphabet down and we're working on the sounds that the letters make).  His whole world is about to open in a whole new way, and The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse is just the beginning.

Here's my little reader, sharing his spider book with his new little friend...

A post shared by Melissa (@writergrrlreads) on

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Top 10 Books in 2018 Thus Far

Top Ten Tuesday is now hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl!  This week's topic is a freebie, so I thought I'd list off the ten best books that I've read so far this year.  I've read some truly amazing books and it makes me excited for all the amazing books I have yet to read!

1. Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
This book really set the stage for my reading this year, as it was the first book I read and I gave it five stars.  It was everything that I love in a good YA contemporary.

2. The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
I read this in January and I am STILL thinking about it.  A truly, truly incredible book -- perfection from beginning to end.

3. When My Heart Joins the Thousand by
It saddens me that this book isn't ALL OVER THE INTERNET.  It's amazing, heartfelt, and perfect and I wish it was one of those books that everyone in the world is talking about and has read.

4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
One of my 2018 goals is to read the entire Anne series, and I loved the first book so, so, so much during my re-read!  I only read the first two (or maybe three) books when I was young and now I'm so excited to finish this classic Canadian series.

5. The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian
This book will probably win the best surprise of the year.  I thought I'd like it, but I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did.

6. The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby
My review is coming in August, but I've come to understand that Jessi is now a favourite contemporary author of mine.

7. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
I only read this one this month and I'm still processing it.  To say I loved it doesn't feel like it would do it justice.  An incredible book from cover to cover and one that will be resonating with me for some time to come.

8. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
I'll have to refrain from reading any more of John's books this year, otherwise all of my favourites of 2018 will be his books.

9. Wild Is She by Wilder Poetry
This volume of poetry is just as incredible as her Instagram feed.

10. All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover
I've reviewed a few of Colleen's books on Netgalley and borrowed the rest from the library.  For me, her books aren't ones that I would reread, so I've never purchased one of her books.  I read an egalley of All Your Perfects and have pre-ordered a copy of this incredible book.  Truly Colleen's BEST book to date.

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My Reading Journey [1] - Elementary School

I've had this post sitting in my drafts since March, but have finally decided to write it.  I've been doing a lot of thinking about how my reading tastes have changed since I started blogging, but also how they have changed since I was a child!  I haven't decided how many parts this series will be, but I'd like to take you all on a journey, my reading journey.

I have always been a reader.  Whether it was reading the coloured comics on the weekend (pictured above) or taking weekly trips at the library to borrow stacks of books, my nose was constantly buried in some type of reading material.

I loved unending series, from Sweet Valley to Babysitter's Club to the Thoroughbred series.  I loved the predictability of coming back to the same characters over and over again, as they faced new challenges and adversity.  Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield were my all-time favourites, as I identified so profoundly with Elizabeth, but secretly wished that I was a little bit more like Jessica.

Although my mother was happy that I was such a devoted bookworm, she definitely wasn't quite as happy about my reading choices.  She picked up a Sweet Valley High book one summer, and then made it her mission to have me read better quality books.  I appeased her by gobbling up Black Beauty, the Black Stallion series, Little Women and anything else that she recommended, while also covertly borrowing stacks of my favourites as well.  At the time, I wished that she would simply let me read what I wanted to read, but now I'm glad that I can say that I've read all of those classics.  Fortunately, we agreed on Nancy Drew and I had her blessing to read as many mysteries as I wanted.

In Grade 7, amidst being bullied by my former best friend, a girl in my Pathfinder group introduced me to Piers Anthony and I fell head over heels.  I'd always liked books featuring unicorns as a little girl, but this was adult fantasy and I devoured the entire Xanth series, as well as the Adept series.  At 13, this was my first foray into adult literature, and it wouldn't be my last.

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April TBR - This Girl is Different

I've decided to do something a little different for my monthly TBR posts, inspired partly by Books and Lala's Closet Unhaul posts last year and partly by my commitment to #theunreadshelfproject2018.  Last year, Lala looked back at old hauls and committed to reading the unread books featured in that month's haul or unhauling them.  I thought it would be fun to go back to my earliest hauls (or IMMs as they were in that day!) and TBR posts and finish or unhaul the books featured there!

My very first TBR post was the list of books that I wanted to read in winter 2011-2012.  Amazingly enough, I've either read (or in one case DNFed) all of them!

Next up was my first first In My Mailbox post, where I shared a list of books (mostly ARCs) gifted by me Evie @ Bookish before she moved away.  I've also either read, DNFed or just plain unhauled all but one of these books (most of them ended up in my husband's classroom library).  The one remaining book is This Girl Is Different by J.J. Johnson.  So in addition to my incredibly ambitious spring TBR pile, I'm also promising to read This Girl Is Different by the end of April, or it'll hit the donate pile.

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