Top Five Books of 2021

While I’m still not entirely convinced that it’s 2022, the date at the bottom right of my computer screen says otherwise, which means it’s time for another ranking of my top five favourite books read last year. And so I’ve sat down to write this.

And so I’ve been thinking about what books I’ve read.

And so, as I’ve discovered, a lot of those books that I’ve read were rereads. However, there were at least five new ones. Without further ado:

The Girl Who Fell Out of the Sky by Victoria Forester

The Girl Who Fell Out of the Sky: Forester, Victoria: 9781250089311: Books  - Amazon.ca
https://www.amazon.ca/Girl-Who-Fell-Sky/dp/125008931X

This is the third book in a trilogy, following The Girl Who Could Fly and The Boy Who Knew Everything, which were some much enjoyed novels from my early teens. It’s about kids with superpowers, shady organizations, a hidden magical land full of weird fauna and flora and more people with superpowers, and, uh, some farm chores. In The Girl Who Fell Out of the Sky, the villain from the previous novel seeks to cause chaos by releasing giant bugs (no, you didn’t read that wrong) from beneath the earth, and in an accident during this event, our protagonist Piper McCloud loses her ability to fly.

The section for this one is going to suffer from the fact that I read this early in the year and my memory of it is worse. It was sweet, but not my favourite from the series, so I’ll consider the number five spot to include all three.

Piper hasn’t seemed to learn after three books that she can’t teach other people to fly, but hey, I admire her optimism.

The Traitor’s Blade by Kevin Sands

The Traitor's Blade | Book by Kevin Sands | Official Publisher Page | Simon  & Schuster Canada
https://www.simonandschuster.ca/books/The-Traitors-Blade/Kevin-Sands/The-Blackthorn-Key/9781534484566

It is here! With a lot of fire on the cover. A little disconcerting, you would think.

This is the fifth book in The Blackthorn Key series, in which an apothecary’s apprentice in the 1660s, Christopher Rowe, solves mysteries and tries not to get himself and his friends killed, all the while blowing stuff up. A lot. It’s a key feature of the novels, and the other characters are thoroughly exasperated about it.

In this particular instalment, Christopher and co. finally return to London after spying for the king in France in the third book and getting shipwrecked in the fourth. Those were fun adventures, but I was also happy to see them return to their original setting and doing more puzzles. Puzzles to stop the plot against the king’s life, because what else?

Like The Girl Who Fell Out of the Sky, I can’t say that this is a favourite for me out of the whole series, but I enjoyed it and look forward to seeing them encounter the Raven (the official big bad) head on. Also, “Quarantine living, as you might imagine, has very few charms” (pg. 152)? Funny. Very funny.

Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

Children of Dune: Herbert, Frank: 9780593201749: Books - Amazon.ca
https://www.amazon.ca/Children-Dune-Frank-Herbert/dp/0593201744

Since reading Dune in 2020, I have finished Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. This is another one that I read earlier in the year, and thus another one that I remember less of (I really need to read something twice for it to have a lasting impact memory-wise, it would seem). Still, I remember enough for it to have had an impression.

Warning for major spoilers in the next two paragraphs, because the new movie may have lead to more new readers: the third novel in the series follows the twins of Paul Atreides while Arrakis is being ruled by their possessed aunt, Alia. This instalment marks the return of Jessica, Paul being a super secret priest after walking off into the dessert in the previous book, many intertwining plots and deaths, and sandtrout. Many sandtrout. Almost an uncomfortable amount, in fact.

The worldbuilding continues to be interesting, and I particularly enjoyed getting to see more of the inner culture of Arrakeen in the second and third novels. The fact that Alia was the end of Baron Harkonnen only for Baron Harkonnen to ultimately be the end of her… Not upsetting at all, right?

The Truth by Terry Pratchett

The Truth (novel) - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Truth_(novel)

I’m still slowly making my way through the Discworld novels, so yes, of course there’s a Terry Pratchett work on this list.

This is the second installment in the Industrial Revolution section within Discworld. In this case, it’s the newspaper that is being brought into existence, while a plot against Vetinari unfolds. There are dwarves and a vampire and the return of Gaspode the dog (who doesn’t talk, definitely, no, you’re imagining things), and at the centre of it, William de Worde.

It has the same amount of humour and strangeness as his other stories, and keeps with the trend of finding entertainment in what we would consider mundane that comes with the Industrial Revolution novels. The characters also go to increasingly extreme lengths to be able to get the scoop, because sure, William, going to stand at the edge of a tall building when a man is about to jump off of it is entirely reasonable.

The Truth also gets a point for having what I found to be the most disturbing scene so far in the series. I’ll never look at a potato the same way again.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency : Adams, Douglas: Amazon.ca: Books
https://www.amazon.ca/Dirk-Gentlys-Holistic-Detective-Agency/dp/1529034582

So, technically speaking I didn’t finish reading this novel until 2022, but technically speaking I did start it last year. By “I did start it last year” I mean that I started it about a week before New Year’s, HOWEVER, if I remember correctly I got most of it done in that week. I think.

Whatever. It’s going in the 2021 list.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, mainly because the holistic detective agency and Dirk himself doesn’t show up until you’re a fair portion into the book. Otherwise, it held the same wacky humour that I was used to from Hitchhiker’s Guide, although interspersed with some genuine existential dread. The experiences the reader gets to see from Gordon Way as a ghost are quite sad, all things considered, and the same goes for the situation with the aliens.

This is a fascinating ride, what with the plot taking you from one seemingly inconsequential detail to another, except that within the rules of this “holistic” universe, nothing is truly inconsequential.

And with that, 2021’s top five must come to an end. I definitely won’t continue the trend of uploading these later and later into the year, promise.

Top Five Books of 2020

If anything can be said of the COVID-19 lockdown from last year, it’s that it certainly gave a lot of time to read. Admittedly, I could have read much more than I did as it stands, but I still read well over enough to complete my top five list of the year.

I also haven’t posted anything since April 2020, but we don’t need to talk about that. Moving right along.

Smek for President! by Adam Rex

Smek for President! (Smek, #2)
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20706799-smek-for-president

Although the first book in this duology, The True Meaning of Smekday, is my favourite of the two, Smek for President was the only one I read this year because I had needed something quick to read. In the first book, Gratuity “Tip” Tucci and J. Lo (the alien one, not the one you might be thinking of) take a hectic road trip in a Boov invaded Earth and ultimately save it with the power of cat hair. In the second, they go to visit one of Jupiter’s moons which the Boov have since inhabited and things continue to be weird.

Smek for President, like its predecessor, is full of humour and added “comics”: such as the several versions of J. Lo interacting after a time travel incident (again, the alien, not the real person). I’d read this book before, but it had been a while and so some parts of it did feel new to me.

This is a very fun book, although without nearly as many cats as the first.

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

Image result for archnemesis marissa meyer
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35425827-archenemies

This one is technically the second book in a trilogy. I read it and the last book, Supernova, last year, but some of the events have since blurred together in my mind, making it difficult to remember which I had liked the most, so to speak. I have decided on Archenemies based on what I can gauge from my own original reactions.

The Renegades trilogy takes place in a world of superheroes and villains, where the Renegades are the main organization for the former. Nova, a member of the villain team the Anarchists, joins the Renegades as a double agent and plenty of problems ensue from there. Archenemies takes place some time down the line from when Nova first began her infiltration, and follows her as she tries to take down the Renegades from the inside with varying amounts of luck.

What can I say? There’s nothing like a cast of characters with cool superpowers.

Dune by Frank Herbert

Image result for dune novel
https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/ace-books-cover-dune-new-edition

I’ll start off by saying that this was a long book.

A very long book.

So long that it was hard to hold it open when I was too close to the beginning or the end.

That being said, I obviously enjoyed it if it made it on to the top of the list. Dune follows the Atreides family on the desert planet Arrakis as a plot to bring down their house is put into place. It has had influence on plenty of modern sci-fi media, such as Star Wars and Star Trek, and the world/universe building is very intricate.

I did find the characters to be flat, and the pacing could be weird at times. Still, it was interesting as a science fiction novel. Frank Herbert obviously put a lot of work into it: roughly five years of research and another five of actually writing. I can’t imagine doing that much prep.

I don’t currently have the energy to really delve into all the themes and ideas explored in Dune, because it can be dense in that respect. So instead I’ll say that the sandworms are awesome. The Fremen riding them around the desert? Awesome.

Hogfather by Terry Pratchett

Image result for hogfather book cover
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogfather

Would it really be one of my top five of the year posts without a Terry Pratchett book? Last year I finally got around to reading the Death series of Discworld just in time to be reading Hogfather during the Christmas/”Hogswatch” season.

This particular Discworld novel takes place during, as you probably would have guessed, its version of Christmas. The Hogfather (kind of like Santa Claus but with boars instead of reindeer) has gone missing due to a mysterious group of hooded figures contacting Ankh-Morpork’s Assassin’s Guild to kill him. Death, who is clearly the logical choice for the job, steps in to do the Hogfather’s job on Hogswatch eve. Meanwhile, his granddaughter Susan tries to figure out why and how, exactly, her immortal-skeleton-grandfather is going around in a sleigh and beard saying “ho ho ho” an awful lot.

Pratchett’s work is, as always, comedic and strange in the best of ways. I enjoyed Hogfather very much and it was a great book for December.

Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

Image result for return of the thief
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11503920-return-of-the-thief

Another author that has fairly consistently appeared in my top five posts is Megan Whalen Turner, and with the final book in the Queen’s Thief series being released last year, it’s probably a given that I would choose Return of the Thief for this spot. It still seems strange that the series is over, but I of course enjoyed the final installment. I had to limit myself to fifty pages a day once it arrived to avoid having it gone all in one go.

The sixth book is written from the point of view of Pheris Erondites, a member of the house Eugenides (the main character of the first book and somewhat the focus of the others) was in the process of bringing down in the previous installments. Pheris is sent to the court of Attolia to be the attendant of Eugenides, the king. Baron Erondites believes that Pheris’ cerebral palsy will mean that he will be sent back, but Eugenides does the exact opposite, and Return of the Thief follows Pheris’ new life at the palace as well as the approaching invasion of the Mede.

Turner’s writing is wonderful and the world feels fully fleshed-out. I do wish that we could have heard more from certain characters, but given the breadth of the cast and how the storyline goes it could have been difficult. Needless to say, as one of my favourite series, I enjoyed Return of the Thief thoroughly – and it also made me have to go back and read King of Attolia. Of course.

And that’s it for my fifth ever five books of the year post. There will never be another perfect number like that again, so appreciate it while it lasts.

Time to Judge a Book by its Cover

The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” can be an important one when it comes to humans, and the same when it literally comes to books, but this is a bit difficult. The cover of a book is probably going to give you a vibe of some sort of what the story is going to be like – and then again those impressions can turn out to be completely wrong. I’ve seen a novel and thought of an entirely different premise from what it is truly about, and then had the description surprise me. Judging a book by its cover is certainly something I do, even if it’s just for the first second or two, and I doubt I’m the only one.

It’s the illustrators job to create art that they think fits the story. Oftentimes this can turn out as gorgeous work, and other times there are things included that don’t necessarily add up to the content of the book (in that case it is even more likely that one’s initial impression might be different from the story itself, but that’s not my main point). Either way, a cover is designed to give you an idea of what the book is about. However, just as everyone has a different picture in their head when they read a story itself, everyone is likely going to get a slightly different “vibe” from a book cover.

Take The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands as an example. It’s a good book, historical fiction, and follows the apprentice of an apothecary after said apothecary is found dead. Here is the original cover that I saw:

The floating runes, the glowing door, Eoin Colfer mentioning the magic of the story, it all led me to be convinced that this was a fantasy novel. Even the summary on the back didn’t completely reveal to me what it was actually about. It took me a while to purchase the novel, so I had a lot of time to picture in my head what the story was for myself. I don’t quite remember what I thought it would be like, and I know I wasn’t disappointed when I ended up reading it, but it was interesting that I still made up what I assumed the story would be.

That’s what brains appear to do when it comes to books. A few pieces of writing advice mention that it isn’t necessary to have huge descriptions unless it is important to the plot or if it is something the reader would definitely be unfamiliar with. Which isn’t to say that you can’t write long descriptions; I’ve heard J.R.R. Tolkien was notorious for this. However, the point is that the reader will fill in the blanks themselves. The imagination can be quite powerful when it comes to writing. Why shouldn’t it be the same when it comes to pictures, or art?

Colours, art style, the font of the title, an expansive background or a minimalist take, and every little detail that goes into these illustrations, does cause quite a bit of assumptions about the novel itself. Even the expressions of a certain character will give a reader hints of what their personality will be. That’s simply what people’s minds seem to do instinctively.

Of course, reading the description is important in making a final decision, and it is possible you won’t know whether you like the story or not until you actually sit down to read it. I have, several times, picked up a book at first simply because I thought it looked cool, or I liked the sound of the title. The illustrators do have an important job in the publishing process, because it is their art that will first draw the reader in.

It is quite interesting how we interpret things, and what it is that makes different people invested in different books from the get-go. Perhaps judging the book by the cover won’t be the most correct judgment, but it’s the one readers may go off of due to their own minds nonetheless.

Top Five Books of 2019

It is, once again, time for the Top Five Books of the year list. This one has been especially difficult to figure out, since many of the books I have read over the course of 2019 were in a set of series and I don’t particularly feel like putting in more than one book for each.

However, I have managed to make a list I’m satisfied with, and I’m sure I will have my fair share of fun in discussing the novels in question.

5: Cress by Marissa Meyer

After reading Meyer’s Renegades last year, I was curious to see what her other series was like. I ended up getting the boxed set for The Lunar Chronicles that Christmas, so early on I had the whole series read (except for the spin-off and the set of short stories, which are still on my currently very long reading list).

Cress is the third book in the series, but I have put it here because, as far as I can recall, it was my favourite out of the four. Although, Scarlet is a strong contender. Maybe it had something to do with the titular character, or the rising stakes, or the period where Cress and Thorne were stumbling around in a dessert. Whatever the case, I found it to be an enjoyable read.

Fractured fairy tales have been popular for a while now, and Meyer hits the mark on that. The science fiction take is extremely interesting, and I liked the world building involved, even if it felt a little heavy in the first book since she was getting the setting established.

I think I enjoyed Renegades more than these books, but I can’t say whether that is because of personal preference, Meyer developing as an author, or it simply being the first novel by her that I read. Overall, though, The Lunar Chronicles is quite an entertaining series, even if the characters go through a fair amount of torture. Then again, how many books have you read where the characters didn’t have to go through a fair amount of torture?

4: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Here is the sequel to last year’s first place book-and it definitely did not disappoint. This addition to the Six of Crows duology is full of the same fascinating world building, witty banter, and intriguing characters as its predecessor. I’m not a fan of Jan Van Eck, but if you have read the books then you know that it’s probably for the best.

While Bardugo’s work didn’t rank as high on the list as last year, I still found Crooked Kingdom to be a great read. It was much more centered in Ketterdam, the fictional city of Kerch, and in turn the readers get to see even more gang operation and scheming. Which isn’t to say that many of those schemes didn’t go horribly wrong, because for the sake of plot they certainly did.

Not all of the characters receive a wonderful ending, but this doesn’t make it a downer, depending on the parts you emphasize. The protagonist by the name of Inej Ghafa had a rather nice one, in fact, and even before that the part where she was reunited with the rest of the “crows” got a smile out of me.

Unfortunately, because I hadn’t read the original Grishaverse series at that point, I was at least a little confused when characters from said series appeared. During the summer season, however, I got around to reading the Siege and Storm trilogy, which were also a good set of books. It could be the same case as Marissa Meyer and I like Six of Crows better because I read that one first, but it does seem like Bardugo has improved as a writer from when she wrote that first novel. I’m only a little bitter that a line calling the protagonist of the trilogy a martyr in this book made me convinced that she was going to die at the end.

This duology reads like a bit of a rougher fantasy, with criminals and heists and a good amount of morally questionable characters, and it makes it overall very entertaining. Now all I have to do is get through rereading it so I can actually read King of Scars which has been sitting on my desk for months.

3: Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Is it really a top five list if I don’t include Terry Pratchett? I also reread Going Postal in the past year, but I ranked that as the top spot in 2017 and I should maybe give other books a chance. That isn’t to say that Reaper Man does not deserve its place on the list.

Pratchett is talented in taking well known tropes (or something seemingly mundane, as seen in the Moist von Lipwig series) and twisting them to his liking. You don’t generally think of the personification of death in overalls as pictured above. This is the kind of thing that really gives the novel its flavour-that and, of course, the sentient shopping mall karts.

To summarize it in a way that doesn’t make it sound entirely outrageous: Death goes “missing” and this means that no one on the Discworld is actually dying. So, you have people like Windle Poons who tries to throw himself into the River Ankh to get the bloody job done already (it doesn’t work), wizards investigating snow globes, and Death learning the ins and outs of agriculture.

I suppose I failed in making any of that sound sensible. There probably wasn’t a good chance of that in the first place.

Nevertheless, Reaper Man continues to showcase Pratchett’s unique sense of humour and ability to write some of the oddest lines. He and Douglas Adams throw me for a loop, but in a good way. If you can get past the giant mall that tries to take over the city, it is a thoroughly enjoyable book.

2: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett

Technically speaking, this is another book that includes Terry Pratchett, but I couldn’t very well leave it out and Neil Gaiman contributed just as much. The mini series for this novel came out last year, and I had to read the book before we could watch it, which has resulted in it coming up very high on the list.

Good Omens features an angel and a demon who must work together to locate the antichrist and prevent the oncoming apocalypse. There was a minor problem with this plan, however, because due to an elaborate switcheroo during his birth, they had the wrong kid for eleven years. It may have been a little embarrassing.

Gaiman and Pratchett have an intriguing plot, a myriad of characters with hilarious dynamics, and of course the novel will fight tooth and nail to make you laugh. There was the thing with the maggots, however. It could definitely use less maggots.

This story is delightfully weird and fairly fast paced, and I enjoyed reading it a lot. The TV show was also very good (although it, too, could prosper from a little less maggots).

1: The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

Last, but far from least, is Megan Whalen Turner’s The King of Attolia. Funnily enough, I originally found this series while trying to figure out a title for one of my stories, Thief. I was curious as to whether any published books shared that name (given that it’s quite simple), and The Queen’s Thief series was the result. I’m glad that small moment of serendipity led me to her books.

This is the third novel in the series, and it introduces Costis, a poor guard who will forever have readers’ sympathy for having to deal with Eugenides the way he does. It is difficult to really explain the plot, however, without the background of the previous two books. More so without huge spoilers.

I can say this, though: these books are credited for their political machinations, world building, and twists. Rightfully so, because it reads like one huge puzzle. Turner makes it highly descriptive and immersive, and the novels keep you on your toes since they can be a bit tricky. Throw in the fantasy setting and a bit of good old fashioned Costis exasperation, and The King of Attolia makes for a great book.

I do truly like this series a lot, and I think it deserves its ranking for 2019. I’m looking forward to the final addition to the series, which you can probably assume will make it onto the next list by the end of the year.


Honourable mentions: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, Siege and Storm trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood, The Stranger by Albert Camus, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, the rest of The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, and the rest of The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner.

Top Five Books of 2018

2019 has rolled around, and you must know what that means. It is officially time for me to rant about all the books I read in the past twelve months.

Despite the fact that I haven’t read as many books this year, I went through well over five, and obviously liked each of them a lot. So saying that the following are the top five out of all of them isn’t completely truthful on my part, but if I were to go into depth about why I liked every book I read in 2018 we would be here a while.

I have picked a handful of the books read to be featured in this post. The order isn’t quite exact, but I tried my best to choose my “favourites.” First up, we have a (surprise, surprise) fantasy and fractured fairy tale novel.

5: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

This one I read early on in the year, so forgive me if I’ve forgotten a few things. Or, more likely, if I’ve forgotten the majority of the book. Long story short, The Goose Girl follows the princess Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee. A mouthful, yes, however she goes by Ani/Isi for most of the novel. She is forced to work as a goose girl in a foreign country when her lady in waiting convinces half of the guards to kill her on their way to have Ani married to the Crown Prince of Bayern. The lady in waiting, Selia, plans and succeeds in taking Ani’s place once they arrive in Bayern, while Ani flees.

Ani spends her time in Bayern trying to find a way to prove that she is the true princess and get out of her predicament. Oh right, and there’s a lot of communicating with animals.

I used to read the Ever After High books written by Shannon Hale, and I had been meaning to one day get around to reading some of her other works. Armed with an Indigo gift card, I bought this book (along with two others) in January, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

It’s no secret by this point that I love fantasy. The Goose Girl did a great job at exploiting that love, with world building and strange powers and the classic royal turned pauper. I haven’t read any of the other books in The Books of Bayern series as of yet, but here’s another great thing about this novel: it can be read as a stand alone. Most of the plot is tied up at the end, even when several books come after it.

Again, I can’t put my finger on why I liked this book since I don’t remember it all that well. Still, it doesn’t stop me from knowing that it was a good read and I would pick it up again, if only to recall what the heck happened.

4: The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

Technically speaking, I’ve been reading this series since around when it first came out. The only book that was new out of my read through this year was the fourth edition, Call of the Wraith. I’m just calling it by its first book because I wouldn’t know which one to choose, and the first is usually the best.

Christopher Rowe is the main character and narrator, telling us of his adventures in Europe during the 1660s. It’s full of codes, apothecaries, murders, and fun little friendship moments. Honestly. His best friend Tom should get a medal for not fainting every five minutes because of Christopher’s schemes.

Coming from someone who doesn’t usually go for historical fiction, The Blackthorn Key is a must read. Kevin Sands obviously does his research (not a surprise, considering he was literally a researcher and a teacher), and there’s a bunch of interesting information that I had never heard about. The stories make for good mystery books and good laughs.

A little word of advice, though; if you decide to read this series, avoid eating at the same time, mainly in the first and second books. Burnt dismembered limbs, loosing eyes and the side of one’s face, and the plague itself aren’t fun images to go with your meal.

3: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams


I wasn’t really sure where to put this one on the list, mostly because I’m still not completely sure how I feel about it. Douglas Adams was a good author, and was amazing at wording things. It was a funny collection. It was enjoyable. It was also possibly the weirdest thing I have ever read.

This one counts as all five books, because I did read them all in one book. Over eight hundred pages, and it was mind twisting for the whole experience. Between the nature of the Hitchhiker universe, the way some of the events/things/characters are explained, and the random information given at different times, it was the epitome of a wild ride. Don’t even get me started on the chapter with the Improbability Drive in book one.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy of five-don’t ask, I don’t have an answer-is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, but that’s part of what makes it so great. This universe is strange, confusing, multidimensional, and still makes sure that you have a fun time along the way.

Despite the ending, it’s fair to say that I enjoyed the trilogy. I did when I finally began to get used to it halfway through Life, the Universe, and Everything, at least. Similar to the first book I wrote about on this list, I’ll definitely have to read this one again, in this case so I can understand it a bit better than the first time through.

(42.)

2: Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t read a single Terry Pratchett book for a whole year before I picked this one up. I went on about how great the Discworld books I read were in my last list, and then never read another one until the end of 2018. That’s just me for you.

Terry Pratchett’s works are fairly weird, but after Douglas Adams, coming back to it is strangely comforting. I don’t know if I found this book less odd than the others ones because I had just finished the Hitchhiker’s trilogy or because it’s genuinely less odd than most of the series. Either way, as shown by the fact that it came in second place, you can tell that I think highly of it.

Spoilers ahead, Monstrous Regiment takes place in a small country on the Disc which is at war and recruiting soldiers. The main character, Polly Perks, cuts off her hair and dresses as a boy so that she can join up and find her missing brother.

The thing is, everyone that signs up after that turns out to be a girl too. Even some of the people up high in the military are women. It was like Mulan times a hundred (of course, historically this has happened in our own world).

What can I say, though? Terry Pratchett was a wonderful writer, and I enjoyed this installment as much as the others. The story was great, the character dynamics were fun, and of course the humour was present and accounted for. Even though I read it closer to the 2019 area, Monstrous Regiment deserves its place on the list.

1: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

This book, guys…Oh, this book.

Like with Heroes of Olympus to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I hadn’t realized that there was a series set in this universe that came before the Six of Crows duology. Unlike Percy Jackson, however, order didn’t matter as much and I was mostly safe.

How to describe it? It was a fantasy heist. That’s literally what it says on the cover: heist. You have this ragtag team of teenagers in the fantasy world of the Grishaverse that break into the highest security prison. No one has ever done it, but they have been promised a whole lot of money if they can bring back a valuable prisoner.

I loved the world building Leigh Bardugo has. Ketterdam is in no way a city that you would want to go to in real life, but you grow fond of it. Fjerda was certainly cool as well, along with the snippets of other areas in the Grishaverse we hear about during the book.

The characters and their interactions are amazing to read, too. You learn bits about them as you go along, and alternate between their POVs several times. Not to mention the heist itself. That was a good one.

I got the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, for Christmas, and I was thrilled because I had loved the first one so much. I’ll probably end up reading the original series when I find the time.

All in all, I found it to be a great book and would definitely recommend it. Looking at you, Mom.

Honourable mentions: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan, Renegades by Marissa Meyer, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (reread), The Unwanteds Quests: Dragon Bones by Lisa McMann (I liked the original series better, but still), and The Lost Property Office by James R. Hannibal (also a reread).

Things Writers/Readers Need on Hand at All Times

From personal experience, I would say that this is pretty accurate. And I’m as much of a writer and a bookworm as you can find. So, here we are: Things we all need on hand, all the time. Do try not to fall asleep.

1. Pencil

That, or a pen, marker, etc. Literally anything that can be used to write with, although a pencil or pen is easier than using a marker or a crayon. I think you understand what I mean.

When I write, I write everywhere. At home. School. Restaurants. Appointments. Other houses, on a bus, you name it. Obviously, I’m going to need something to write with, leading to the conclusion that-guess what-I’m gonna need a pencil.

I get that there are people who prefer to digitally write their books, whether on a laptop, a tablet, a phone, or some other form of technology. Obviously I don’t write on paper to make this blog. However, writing isn’t exactly the only thing I use a pencil for.

I’m not sure if I’m the only person that this works for, maybe I’m not, or maybe I’m just weird. Anyways, when I’m nervous in any situation it helps me to have a pencil in my hand. For reasons not quite clear for me holding a pencil calms me down. It’s probably because writing is how I unwind or something like that, but I’m not about to delve into my own psychology.

Just trust me; pencils are good things to have.

2. Paper

With pencils you need paper. I don’t know what else you want me to say.

3. YOU NEED A NEARBY BOOKSTORE

No one is going to disagree with me on this, right? If you love books, you need a bookstore. Sure, you can order books online, but there’s nothing like walking into the store, smelling the scent of the paper pages, and buying your very own solid copy…

Okay then. Um. Bookstores are great, alright? I shop for books the same way some teens shop for clothes. If I didn’t have a bookstore (or library) close to where I live I swear I’d go insane.

It doesn’t matter which one you have, I know there’s a bunch of different bookstores out there, they’re all usually amazing and one of my favourite places in the world. I could spend hours in a bookstore without even buying anything.

4. Bookmark

Naturally. Whether it’s your traditional bookmark, a piece of paper, or some random scrap of cardboard, it’s good to have a marking place in the book you’re either reading or writing.

Unless you enjoy trying to memorize the page you’re at and attempting to flip through the book and find it the next time. I know I don’t.

(Note: You need to keep a close eye on your bookmark, too. They always go missing over the course of time you’re reading.)

5. A Book

Well…Duh. This should be a given. If you like to read books, you’re going to have books. If you’re anything like me, you bring books pretty much everywhere when you have the chance.

6. Another Book

I’m just saying, you never know when you’re going to need a backup.

I mean, if you finish the first one, what do you do? You don’t have anything else to read. If I’m going on a trip or if I think I’m going to finish reading the book I’m on at any point in the day, I bring a second book around with me. Just in case.

The extra weight is often worth it, truthfully.

And Finally, 7. A Gift Card or a Library Card

In the situation that you come across one of the aforementioned libraries and/or bookstores.

 

Top Five Books of 2017

Exactly what the title says. I don’t think I really need to elaborate, but I will. Note that I basically loved all the books (the number of which are far over five) that I read last year so I can’t accurately “rank” them. I figured, though, enough about my books; I’ll talk about books by other authors that I obsess over.

#5: Worlds Collide by Chris Colfer

This was the sixth and final book in The Land of Stories series. Even though it wasn’t my favourite, I still loved it.

Chris Colfer (you probably know him from Glee) is a great author. Seriously. The fairy-tale world in his books is so well put together, I mean, he combines all of the fairy tales so well.  He makes the stories tie into each other, he recreates the characters in an entirely different way, and the series is just pretty good overall. Yes, it’s a nine to twelve year old book, but still very good.

Let’s talk about Worlds Collide, though. I laughed so much. Not because it was horrible, but because I loved the humour and story in it. Colfer handles all of the many characters he brought onto the scene well and ties up the books while technically leaving it open. No stories really end, though.

If you’re into fairy tale books, I highly suggest reading The Land of Stories series as a whole. (Also, I thought you’d like to know that this site wanted me to change “Colfer” to “Golfer.”)

#4: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

Yes, yes, here comes another Percy Jackson universe rant on the internet. But, come on, can you blame me? Rick Riordan’s books are really engaging, so much so that I’ve read through all of his series.

Except for Magnus Chase. I was waiting for it to be over so I didn’t have to go through another set of cliffhangers on top of all the other ones I have to deal with, however I just got the first two books at Chapters today.

We’re not talking about Magnus Chase, though. We’re talking about Trials of Apollo here. I have to say I liked this one more than the first, The Hidden Oracle. I don’t know why. I’ll neither confirm or deny that Leo being back had something to do with it.

No, it’s not just because of Leo. I have to say that even though Apollo can be extremely annoying in this, he’s gotten a bit better and I have been enjoying his narrative. Rick Riordan is as hilarious as ever with his writing.

Go read it. Shoo. Go on.

#3: Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

Recently, meaning a little over a year ago, my mom got me into reading Terry Pratchett. He was just an amazing writer all around and if you’re considering checking his books out I’d say go for it. Only, prepare to not understand a thing.

Discworld is so out there and it doesn’t help that Terry Pratchett didn’t give much explanation of the world. You just fall in headfirst. It’s likely that you won’t comprehend the first book you read and you’ll forget it, like I did. Once you get into it, though, they are some of the funniest books out there.

Onto Night Watch-I’ve been told this one is very good and it really was very good. Like…Ugh. I’m not sure how to describe it, it has no words. Another time travel book, where Commander Sam Vimes goes back in time and teaches himself everything he knows.

I loved this book. This is another one people should read. The writing was awesome in this and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

#2: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Another Terry Pratchett book. Yay. Seriously, though, it was awesome.

There’s letters, patricians, golems, postmen, golden suits, and…Well, you’d have to read it. I can’t really explain it exactly. Again, Terry Pratchett’s writing was amazing in this, and Moist’s character is great. Also, the book is obviously hilarious, so I’d suggest checking it out.

The book takes the post office, which most people wouldn’t think would be an interesting thing to read about, and makes it extremely entertaining. Very weird, admittedly, but entertaining. For the life of me I can’t get over the fact that one of the character’s was raised by peas. (You heard me.)

#1: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

The title is probably enough to turn most people off. It shouldn’t, though. Considering this book ended up in first should be enough to prove that I thought pretty highly of it.

It was beautiful, it was amazing. The writing was amazing. The world, the plot, the characters were amazing. Like, you’ll obviously try to not get attached to the characters, but you will fail. They’re so well written and so real. I’m sure I cried at some point over this book.

Basically it’s set in a world where a thing called “Death Cast” calls you and tells you that you’re going to die in the next twenty four hours, and there’s a Last Friend app so you can spend your final day with them.

It was sooooooo good. Don’t let the title stop you from reading it. Yes, it’s definitely a sad story, but coming from someone who usually doesn’t go for the sad stories it was amazing. Did I say that already? Probably.

Congratulations, Adam Silvera. I really enjoyed (and at some times hated) this book.

 

There’s my list. Like I said, I could go on and on about every book I read last year, but I won’t. I don’t have the time or energy. Go and check out these books for yourself; maybe you’ll like them just as much as I did.