Friday Fun: Working My TBR With The Random Number Generator! (#1)

As I constantly get on my case about buying books, I decided that I need to try and come up with a system to read more books on my TBR. I’m really good (mostly) at reading new books I buy, or books bought in the previous year, but when it comes to older books I procrastinate. I had a few ways of finding new books to read, but all of them involved books that I didn’t own, which would be fine since there’s this great place called the library, but recently I was reshelving books on my TBR bookcase and realized how jam packed it is.

Thanks to the Random Number Generator, I found my next 5 reads! Since I currently have 394 books on my TBR, I plugged in the numbers and here’s what the numbers told me to read:

48The Bear by Claire Cameron

57More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

172Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

273The Old Nurse’s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell

326The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest (Millennium, #3) by Stieg Larsson

I’m think I’m happy with this selection! There’s one Canadian author, a classic, a young adult, a translation … though there are two really big books! I think the reason I haven’t read Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is because of its size, so hopefully it doesn’t intimidate me again! I haven’t actually read the first in the Millennium series, so instead of the third I’ll be reading the first book. The first three in this list I’ve owned FOREVER, so it’ll be good to knock those off, and I still haven’t read any Elizabeth Gaskell, so it’ll be nice to start with a little black classic.

When I finish these ones, I’ll write an update and pick 5 more!

How do you pick your next book to read? Do you have issues when it comes to reading older books on your TBR? Have you read any of my picks?

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[Book Thoughts] Two Thrillers: Let Me Lie & In A Cabin In A Wood

Last year I started to really get into thrillers more. I think it all started when I started to read more Stephen King and liking that creepiness vibe to his stories, but wanting the same thing in a shorter book (seriously, King’s books can be massive). I had read two other Clare Mackintosh books prior to picking up Let Me Lie and I loved both of them – I Let You Go was a book that I just could not put down, it was so intense, and I See You really got to me when I started thinking about the amount of cameras that are out there in the world and how our routines are just that: routine. Let Me Lie, however, just didn’t seem up to par with either of those books. It didn’t have the same drive that those books had, with me literally wanting to do nothing but read.

Here’s what it’s about:

The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.

Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to question her parents’ deaths. But by digging up their past, she’ll put her future in danger. Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie…

The stunning, twisty new psychological thriller from number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh, author of I Let You Go and I See You.

This book did have so much potential but it felt too unrealistic – and just plain silly – to me. Anna, our main character, drove me absolutely nuts as I read this. She did so many idiotic things and just didn’t use her brain at all. We don’t really get to know anyone throughout the whole book, which made it really hard to connect with anything. AND it was a very boring story. I was used to the last two books by Mackintosh that had me on the edge of my seat, but this one I would lazily read before bed, knowing that there would be SOME BIG TWIST but it felt like everything – the plot and the characters – were there for the sake of this twist. I felt like Anna should’ve paid more attention to what was in front of her and maybe none of this would’ve happened.

While I really disliked Anna’s part of the story, I did really enjoy Murray’s story – he’s a retired cop who still kind of works for the police, and he comes across Anna’s story and wants to relive his glory days and try to solve her mystery. I really loved his character and his relationship with his wife, Sarah, and this relationship touched me more than anything in Anna’s life.

As it is, a lot of this book was predictable, it wasn’t overly thrilling, and since it took quite a boring turn, it won’t be ranked up there with my favourites.

I wish I could continue on and share a book that I loved in comparison, but the next thriller I read was In A Cottage In A Wood by Cass Green. This was a new-to-me author and I first saw her book when I was at the local drug store. I was pulled in by the cover, a picture of a creepy cabin in the woods and the tagline that went “her dream home will become her worst nightmare.” I didn’t buy it initially, but it was one of those books that was staying with me and so when I was back at the same drug store one day, I decided to pick it up since I needed a bit of a thriller fix. I was also interested because this was one of those titles that I hadn’t heard a lot about and I always like diving into thrillers that aren’t overly hyped everywhere I look.

Here’s what this book was about:

A strange encounter
Neve comes across a troubled woman called Isabelle on Waterloo Bridge late one night. Isabelle forces a parcel into Neve’s hands and jumps to her death in the icy Thames below.

An unexpected gift
Two weeks later, as Neve’s wreck of a life in London collapses, an unexpected lifeline falls into her lap – a charming cottage in Cornwall left to her by Isabelle, the woman on the bridge. The solution to all her problems.

A Twisted secret
But when Neve arrives, alone in the dark woods late one night, she finds a sinister-looking bungalow with bars across its windows. And her dream home quickly becomes her worst nightmare – a house hiding a twisted secret that will change her life forever…

Let me start by saying that this book could’ve been so much better than it was! It started off super creepy, with Neve encountering a mysterious woman who jumps off a bridge after asking Neve her name. I read this late at night and was definitely creeped out by the description of Isabel, the woman Neve meets, and their interaction altogether. I was also creeped out by the cottage when Neve first goes to it.

However, when it comes to characters, Neve was the most annoying character in a thriller that I had ever read about. She must’ve been just over 30, living with her sister, and not being an adult in any way. She works as a receptionist and goes out partying all the time, not having respect for her sister or her sister’s family, stumbling home late at night. She moves to this cabin with barely any money and proceeds to make loads of idiotic decisions (like, really, if you have NO JOB and NO MONEY please proceed to buy wine and fancy coffees and tons of things you don’t need!). I expected her to maybe learn something by the end of the book but she really doesn’t change her ways. Don’t get me wrong – I did enjoy Neve’s character in the beginning and found her to be different from a lot of the heroines we see in thrillers, but her story got old really fast and she just started to become annoying.

There are other characters that she meets, but we really don’t get to know anyone too deeply, and there are some characters who just seemed cliched and like the characters you would expect in a story like this. Ultimately, there wasn’t really anything new introduced.

This story could’ve been something amazing and spooky, but the twists and turns it took were predictable and kind of eye-rolling. There was just one instance where I was really shocked, but the final “surprise” was a majorly laughable disappointment. This story read like chick-lit meets thriller and while it had a few creepy instances, it definitely was not a favourite.

Have you read either of these books? What were your thoughts on them? Do you have any thrillers you could recommend? 

Favourite Canadian Books I Read Between January & March 2018

This year I had a goal to read 50 Canadian books – or more – over the course of the whole year. I didn’t have this plan set out until I was wondering if I should do the 50 Book Pledge through the Savvy Reader (sign up here). In the past years I’ve done the pledge but have tracked all the books read during the year, but for this year I wanted to do something different and track just the Canadian books I read for the year. It’s been a great way to keep myself motivated and I love that it tells me what number of books I’m on track for reading in the year.

At the end of March, I read 17 Canadian books!

Of those 17, I had:

  • six 5-star reads
  • five 4-star reads
  • four 3-star reads
  • two 2-star reads

11 of these books were by women and 6 were by men, with two of these being by indigenous voices. I didn’t read anything by local authors and need to change that in the next quarter!

I also wrote up a few posts and reviews about Canadian books, including some of books I read at the end of 2017:

And here are my FAVOURITE Canadian reads of the first quarter of 2018:

  
 

Looking at my favourites, I’m very pleased with how different all of these books are – 2 non-fiction, 1 poetry, 1 fiction, 1 short story collection.

Malagash by Joey Comeau is a heartbreaking read that deals with the impending loss of Sunday’s – our main character – father. This is a quiet but very impactful novel that will have you in tears by the end. Very emotional, uplifting, and full of love.

On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood by Richard Harrison is a collection of poetry that deals with the author’s loss of his father. This book won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry and was just gorgeous. The poems cover a few topics, but always come back to Harrison’s father. I found these poems to be the most powerful.

Feeding My Mother: Comfort and Laughter in the Kitchen As My Mom Lives With Memory Loss by Jann Arden is not only gorgeous on the outside, but full of wonderful stories, photos, and recipes on the inside. This book is similar to the first two, but it’s about Jann slowly losing her mother to Alzheimer’s. This book is about love and strength and was just beautiful.

Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look At The Lives of Women and Girls by Elizabeth Renzetti is something completely different and is a book full of feminist essays. I was immediately sucked into this book and it felt like I was having coffee with a friend as Renzetti talks about her family and brought to light feminist issues with a relatable and humorous voice.

Revenge of the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart MacLean is again something different, and is full of more short stories surrounding the fictional lives of Morley, Dave, and their family, and is just hilarious. I’ve read just one other Vinyl Cafe book and this one had a spooky, Halloween vibe at times, but was still just so funny. It’s the perfect kind of book to read when you need something light, but full of heart.

What have been some of your favourite Canadian reads of the year so far? Anything you can recommend to me to read later in the year? Have you read any of the books on my list?