musings, top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Written Before I Was Born

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

The rules are simple:

  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other blogger’s lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

Whoever thinks that only new books are better for recommendations, I sorely think we need to have a good conversation. I grew up reading as a child (maybe that’s why I have glasses), and most of the books I had access to at that age were well-loved novels well beyond my years.

For today’s TTT, I will endeavour to share with you beloved series that made me fall in love with reading, and the heroines and heroes who ruled these pages. In no particular order, let’s dig in!

1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908)

I can’t be a proud Canadian girl if I didn’t grow up reading one of our most beloved stories preserved through time. While I haven’t grown up in the PEI, reading this series helped me almost imagine what it would’ve been like, especially in the early 1900s.

If you too love Anne, the spunkiest redhead of her time, then you should also definitely check out the TV series Anne with an E! I highly recommend it, and it’s not just because I absolutely ADORE this girl, but because this series actually did a good job bringing her to life while discussing some great modern issues.

2. Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene (The Secret of the Old Clock – 1930)

I can trace my love of mysteries as an adult to all the Nancy Drew books I read. I was obsessive in reading all 56 yellow-spined novels which I considered canon in my childhood years. You should’ve seen my surprise when I learned that Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym used by multiple writers. Young Andge was not the most impressed by that.

There is also a new Nancy Drew TV series out and I’m super hesitant to watch it. I thought the movie starring Emma Roberts some years ago was okay but I don’t have super high hopes for these modern adaptations. What do you think?

3. Redwall by Brian Jacques (1986)

Does anyone remember this series? I grew up watching the children’s television program and fell in love with the elaborate storytelling and world these talking creatures lived in. I wanted to be brave like Martin the Warrior, and go on adventures with the hares and badgers. It was one of the longer, tiny printed books I’ve read in my young life, and for sure affected my eyesight but I have absolutely no regrets.

4. Trixie Belden series by Julie Campbell/Kathryn Kenny (The Secret of the Mansion – 1948)

While she may be the lesser known 20th century amateur sleuth, Trixie was brave, adventurous and everything I wished I could be like as a young girl. I loved the family dynamic with her older brothers and the new neighbours next door that eventually formed their Bobwhites crew on multiple adventures. She felt like someone I could actually be like whereas Nancy sometimes felt so much older and more worldly than I’d ever be.

Later books in the series were also written under a pseudonym, Kathryn Kenny, with different authors contributing to their adventures. At this point, young Andge was starting to think all amateur sleuth stories were written in such a fashion.

5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)

This post wouldn’t be great if I didn’t mention its name and inspiration. I loved reading this crazy, one-of-a-kind book and its sequel when I was little. While I read most of the classics, this one stuck out, especially the wacky nonsensical words Lewis Carroll created and was eventually added into the English dictionary (just take a look at the Jabberwocky poem). Are you much of a fan for this classic? (I won’t take offence if you don’t haha)

6. Night World by L.J. Smith (Secret Vampire – 1996)

I loved this series as a pre-teen heading into high school, especially in the wake of Twilight and the renewed interest in vampires, werewolves and other mystical creatures. While L.J. Smith is known for her Vampire Diaries series, I thought this lesser known series of hers was way better. Each story is contained within itself but the current 9 books all connect together, especially books 7-9.

The unfortunate matter is she never finished the series, but that’s something that would take a whole blog post to rant about so I will cut it there (though feel free to rant if you need to in the comments below).

7. The Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – 1950)

If you’ve watched the film, that’s great and all but the book is SUCH a classic that should be on any classic reader’s shelves. While some of the books are more hit or miss for people, C.S. Lewis’ first published book in these chronicles was full of adventure and a deep moral lesson of sacrifice and familial love. If you haven’t read it yet, I very much recommend at least The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to you.

8. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring – 1954)

I’m sure Peter Jackson’s films in the last two decades have left very few people unfamiliar with the creations of Tolkien. I loved his work, but I also am a fan of the man himself. Both him and C.S. Lewis were brilliant creative minds and men of faith and I admire the balance they had as fictional fantasy writers. While these books are ridiculously long at times, it’s worth the read if you loved the world brought to life by the big screen.

9. Mandie series by Lois Gladys Leppard (Mandie and the Secret Tunnel – 1983)

The last of the young amateur sleuth series I read as a child – you can totally tell why I love mysteries as an adult – was this wholesome series following a girl named Mandie as she finds mysteries in her every day life. From boarding school to her travels in Europe to her life at home, I loved the lessons it taught on family, faith and love. It also spurred my love of historical fiction as it isn’t as boring as one may think. The last of the series ended with Mandie in college but unfortunately it is left open ended as Lois passed away after its release.

10. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (A Study in Scarlet – 1887)

Last but not least, I devoured the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and other stories and it is no secret it is a standard for detective portrayals and crime solving, even in modern times. The legacy left behind by a fictional detective and his friend/sidekick from London has changed the world, and it definitely blessed me with the love of mysteries beyond young girl sleuths.

Wow, what a nostalgia trip! Some of these series I haven’t thought of in ages but they each shaped me in some way into the person I am and the books I look to read even now.

I hope you enjoyed some of these, and were maybe even introduced to a series or two. Let me know if you like these choices! See you next week for Top Ten Tuesday.

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2020

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

The rules are simple:

  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other blogger’s lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

In no particular order, here are the top ten new authors I read last year and the books I was introduced to them. And in actuality, almost all the new authors I read last year since it oddly seems I read a lot of books by old and loved authors.

  1. Ben Philippe

Although this isn’t Ben’s debut, I yearned to diversify my reading selections and read more books by POC authors as a new ongoing goal. I loved the protagonists and the experience Ben brings to this particular story I read in 2020 (including a little trip across the border to good ol’ Canada!). I plan on checking out his debut at some point this year.

2. Jordyn Taylor

Jordyn’s debut novel was one of my absolute favourites of 2020, a book I raved about to many friends online and off. A mixture of history and contemporary storytelling, she’s become an author I look out for in future works.

As a matter of fact, keep an eye out for her second book, Don’t Breathe a Word, when it comes out in May! I will be posting an ARC review for it nearer to that date.

3. Cameron Lund

2020 was a year of good romantic contemporaries for me, and that brought Cameron’s book into my sphere. I love a good best-friends-to-lovers trope and this one didn’t disappoint, especially the second half! It was cute and didn’t judge whether one was a virgin or not because that’s not all there is to a person.

4. Emma Lord

Emma Lord is a sheer delight and her cute Twittersphere story was as fun and romantic as the title suggests. It also made its way to one of my favourite reads of 2020. Definitely churned out a lot of great debuts that hit all the right spots.

Her next book, You Have a Match, came out this month! Be sure to check back for a review on this novel soon! 🙂

5. Amelie Wen Zhao

I can’t be a champion of POC authors without supporting my fellow Asian writers. While there was a lot of controversy surrounding the debut release by Amelie, I personally enjoyed the book and didn’t understand some of the issues prompted by initial reviewers. Anyhoo, I’m glad she’s getting the happier recognition she deserves, and this fantasy reads like any other old-timer authors out there you may love and enjoy.

6. Suzanne Park

Another Asian writer! Both books featuring kinda nerdy and quirky characters, I absolutely adored the first premise while the second one fell flat for me. The Perfect Escape was her YA debut while Loathe at First Sight was technically classified in adult romance but it’s no simple rom-com as the description may mislead you to believe. I think I will stick to Suzanne’s zombie butt kicking, escape-room/escapist YA novels as it’s more up my alley. Also, representation!

7. Roseanne A. Brown

I loved the different fantasy take this debut brought! You can really see the African cultural influences throughout this crafted world, but it was explained in a way that helped us learn if we were not familiar with such mythologies. Either way, I look forward to book #2 when it releases later this year.

8. Jasmine Guillory

While Jasmine’s been around for a bit before 2020, I was really into rom-coms last year (see the majority of above list) and I just couldn’t stop reading all of hers. She’s one major romance author who stands for POC and I’m all for that. Definitely put a lot of her own experiences as a Black woman into each of her protagonists and I learned so much from just seeing the world through their eyes.

9. Jessica Goodman

The only debut that wasn’t a rom-com or fantasy, this book mostly lived up to its mysterious allure from its synopsis and gave me a harrowing experience as the protagonist solved the real mystery behind her former best friend’s death. Soon to be a TV series in the future named The Player’s Table, I’m looking forward to seeing this story brought to the (slightly bigger) screen!

10. Zoraida Cordova

Last but surely not least, Zoraida’s debut was, well, mostly on fire! (See what I did there?) While I struggled with its pacing a lot, the story set some good foundation in an Inquisition Spain-esque world and a protagonist that can steal people’s memories. I am excited to see what the sequel brings.

And that’s a wrap! Did you read any of these debuts? This Top Ten Tuesday should’ve been relabelled as top 10 debuts but I guess it makes sense most of my new authors would be those putting out new books last year.

See you next week on Top Ten Tuesday!

book tag, musings

Never Have I Ever Book Tag

Hello lovelies! I thought it would be a good time to do another book tag and introduce different sides of ourselves that don’t always come through our other blog posts.

I have seen this one floating around and wanted to give it a try for fun. Let me know if you agree with any of these or are supremely flabbergasted in the comments below!

The Rules:

  • Link back to original creator: Madame Writer.
  • Link back to the person who tagged you or the blog where you first saw this tag.
  • Answer all prompts.
  • Add one more prompt of your own.
  • Tag at least 5 people.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Have fun!

Never have I ever … read a later book in a series before reading the first book

Andge: the…the…later book? Of course not (but mostly because I have no idea what the heck is happening in book 2 or later when book 1 normally sets the foundation of the world/setting).

*After a moment of intense thinking*

Oh wait, now I remember I did when I was super SUPER young. Does everyone remember Meg Cabot? Oh, for The Princess Diaries you say?

Well, I’m talking about one of her OTHER series. Does anyone recall The Mediator? Yeah I was a young preteen child and couldn’t get my hands on book 1 yet so I started in book 2 and then jumped to book 4? What the heck were you thinking, oh little one?

I ended up buying all of them but only so I could re-read everything in order so all those tidbits I ruined for myself now made sense

Fives: I have never done it – on purpose at least! Some books feel very sneaky about whether they’re in a series or not though! If I think about it really hard, I believe that I actually did pick up a random book off the shelf in the library and start reading it. I thiiink it was called the Children of the Red King (Charlie Bones…anyone?). I can no longer remember which book I picked up, but I can safely say it was unlikely to have been book #1!

In my defense, it wasn’t clear! It wasn’t like “SERIES BOOK #4”, as far as my young, young mind could tell hahaha. So I guess my answer is yes I have read a book out of order in a series….but unintentionally, promise. For the record, that series didn’t even really need to be read in order for the main plot, just the background plots.

Never have I ever … burned a book

Andge: who burns books?! Can I get their name and number so I can legitimately ask why you would do this?

(I have been guilty of throwing a book across the room, but that’s not as serious of a crime. Right?)

Fives: I’m with Andge on this one. You’re kidding me right?! I’ve thought about burning my thesis papers….(LOL), but never a book that someone else authored! It doesn’t seem right to destroy someone else’s work. My own homework or writing though….I’ve been tempted.

Never have I ever … read a book I knew I would hate

Andge: Not intentionally I don’t think. Like, it wasn’t with 100% certainty I would hate it. Though if you ask me for an example right now, I’m not sure I can think of a book at the top of my head.

Fives: I judge books by their cover pretty hard (don’t judge me too hard though!), so I don’t think I would ever intentionally read a book I knew I would hate …. but mostly because I figure I won’t even finish if I hate it that much. I usually look at the cover, but of course, also read the brief synopsis to get a feel for whether I’d enjoy the premise – these two are the main things I base my judgments on (before anyone thinks I actually only judge a book by its cover art haha).

Never have I ever … wrote a fan fiction about my favourite books

Andge: Err…does writing a fan fiction about the TV series adaptation of the book series I loved as a child count as a yes? I mean, the TV series was quite different from the source material…

But if anyone has to know, the book series stars a certain redhead whom I admired as a young child. Also, that source material was mighty long reading for a seven-year-old.

(If anyone’s interested, I will be posting that story at some point in time for public consumption.)

Fives: As much as I want to be the next great writer, I really haven’t found myself motivated to put in the due diligence for writing, let alone a fan fiction. That being said, I do often enjoy reading fan fictions, as it is like an extension of a world you want to exist outside of just their own book canons!

Never have I ever … loved a book when I was young and hated it when I got older

Andge: This has been a big fear of mine but I have yet to find my childhood loves have gotten worse with time. I definitely was pickier with the word “love” for books when I was a child so maybe that really solidified those that I found worthy for such a descriptor.

Fives: Hmm, contrary to Andge here I’d say I was never afraid of that, but I always expected to enjoy the books the same when I am older as when I was young. That being said, books that I had massively enjoyed as a child often paled in comparison to my expectation of the emotional pay off when I re-read it as an adult (Deltora Quest, anyone?).

I’d say that two things contribute to my feelings changing: firstly, I enjoy different genres now – obviously thrillers and mysteries are my main jam as opposed to young adult fantasy (how’s that for the loss of innocence archetype?), and secondly, the style of writing geared towards young readers no longer appeals as much to me as an adult. That being said, if you ask me if I still love series such as Deltora Quest and Harry Potter, I would happily tell you that I still love them.

Never have I ever … dressed up as one of my favourite literary characters

Andge: Funny that this is one of the prompts.

The answer is of course! Would anyone not expect me to have cosplayed as Alice in Wonderland before?

Not sure I would want to be posting that particular outfit online for everyone though. Will need a lot of encouragement.

Fives: I have some Harry Potter-like robes…but costumes have never really been my thing.

Never have I ever … hated a book by an author I love

Andge: Unfortunately, yes. I love Julie Kagawa and I’ve read almost every series she has put out. Except for the one with the vampires in it whose name slips my memory most of the time. I adored her debut book, The Iron King, even reached out to her when it first came out, but I just couldn’t stand that first book in her newer series.

Also, stay tuned for an ARC review for her upcoming book revisiting the world of the Iron Fey in The Iron Raven.

Fives: Hated is such a strong word! I feel like I have a decent amount of brand (author) loyalty. I would say I have never hated any book by an author I loved, but of course, certain pieces do fall short of my expectations – can I really blame the author for my high expectations though? I’d like to think that everyone can have their high point and less good points – something that is kind of noticeable in my recent reviews of Ruth Ware thrillers, I’m sure. That being said, I will still continue to be excited to read all the books she pumps out!

Never have I ever … gone into a bookstore to buy one book and come out with many more

Andge: This is a funny prompt. I worked at a bookstore for a period of time, and that definitely meant being surrounded by books all the time brought more books into my home than I initially wanted to. Though this also happened when I didn’t work at a bookstore so I guess it’s also in my nature.

Fives: You mean this isn’t normal behaviour? Hahahaha. Honestly I rarely go into a bookstore to buy one book anyway, but I can assure you I can leave with as many as my arms (or wallet) will allow, at any one time. I can’t help it. Are we not all bookworms here?

Never have I ever … read the end of a book before reading the beginning

Andge: Is this a big faux pas ‘cause it seems a lot of people do it? I’m glad because I’m definitely in this club, though maybe not for mysteries since I don’t want to ruin the surprise for myself. Definitely for rom-coms.

Need. To. Know. What. Happened. To. My. Ships.

Fives: Actually, I never do this with books, not that I judge people that do. To be honest, it wouldn’t really matter even if I did, since I often forget what I have read during the reading process anyway. Or even if I accidentally glanced at a spoiler, I will have fun seeing how the book can lead up to that point. To answer the prompt though, I have never intentionally read the ending of the book before the beginning.

Never have I ever … read a book without the dust jacket cover

Andge: Yep, though not often because I do like the cover designs and feel I wreck books more when the dust jacket is off (ie. I put my mug of something hot on top of my books when I’m not reading because there’s no room…sometimes the bottom of the mug isn’t super dry?)

Fives: I heard you’re supposed to read with it off…? Is this true? (Someone please let me know, I get conflicting answers). I generally read with it off, if I can, because it tends to get annoying when I open the spine of the hardcover and it just kinda flops about. I’ve done both, reading with it, or without it. That being said, for ease of transportation and reading, I actually prefer paperbacks (is this a blasphemous sentiment?!), so dust jackets aren’t often a thing anyway.

Never have I ever … skim read nearly half a book

Andge: Ohhh, yeah younger Andge would be affronted by this but I have definitely done this too. With rom-coms as well (what is with me and ruining rom-coms?). But sometimes I’m just wayyyy too impatient for the author to just get to the point with things.

Fives: I guess most people wouldn’t know this (though Andge does!), but I’m on average a very quick reader. I think I still manage to absorb all of the information present in the book though! So I’m not sure I would call it skimming. I generally don’t do it though, because if me reading at my normal pace isn’t even interesting me enough, I would never make it to half the book anyway!

Never have I ever … spoiled a book for someone

Andge: Oh no! This is a big bad one for me. Can’t let the joy be ruined for someone else. Even if it’s a book I hated, maybe it’s something someone else will like so why spoil things?

Fives: Only if they ask for it. I myself don’t mind spoilers, because sometimes that helps me determine whether I want to read it or not (am I just weird?). That being said, I assume the normal protocol is not to spoil a book! I only ever spoil a book when the individual asks me to (and mostly when they aren’t going to be reading it anyway).

And that’s it from us! 🙂 Agree? Disagree? Or were there surprising tidbits in there?

I will be tagging no one in here, but if you see this and want to try it, I look forward to seeing your answers for the above!