Heyyyyyyyyyyy, cupcakes!!! Welcome back to the FFF! I’m so thrilled to be here!! In case you’re new here, this week is a blog party where bloggers come together and share their favourite books in specific genres, along with freebies and giveaways and general fun. This is the second time I join officially, the third time if you count the year I did it unofficially, and the fourth or fifth since I found out about it. It’s become quite the tradition, and I’m sooo excited that Kate was able to keep it alive! 😁
So, welcome one and welcome all, whether you’re regulars or newcomers, and let’s dive into this madness of bookish autumn love. To start off, let’s say
Our theme today is introducing myself + the top 5 books that made me, me! Some of y’all already know me, but let’s do something fun and try have an intro sharing stuff that no one knows all of! Queue up for some secrets, pals… but first, the obligatory about me.
So, I’m Katja Labonté—my first name is Scandinavian and is a huge struggle for people to spell or pronounce. I’m 21, but I keep forgetting and say I’m 22, which isn’t fun. I’m a Christian author who loves exploring the world of storytelling, and has a couple short stories out with a book series on the verge of release. I’m a freelance editor with an official copyediting certificate from the University of California, San Diego, and I’m passionate about providing Indies with the best possible editorial service to help them reach the full potential of their books.
I’ve been participating in FFF since 2021, but I did an unofficial participation in 2019. To make things harder (and funner) for myself, I challenged myself this year to 1. only mention books I’ve read this year (as much as possible) and 2. not mention books I’ve already mentioned in past FFF. Once I decided that, I had to scratch a couple gems off my list, so I decided to compile a list of my recommendations so far for you all to browse, because I still stand by these recommendations
and y’all need more books to add to your TBRs. Click here for the PDF!
And now, let’s dive into the books that made me, me + peek into the past!
(Note: the titles all link back to Goodreads for easy additions to your TBR!
Because the whole point of this week is to collapse it over onto you.)
This volume sets out the history of Britain in chronological order, taking its reader through from the Romans to the death of Queen Victoria.
This was my first schoolbook but also one of my earliest storybooks. I was basically raised on this. My passion for history and my love for Britain was planted here. I poured over these pages and crafted my own stories with bits and pieces taken from various stories. Although this isn’t the “very bestest” British history book, it’s one of the best and it’s definitely the best kids’ history book I ever read in my life (and you bet I’ve read like a hundred). To this day, Britain is my favourite nation, and I am so happy my own Canada has such a strong and beautiful tie to the Old Country. This books means so much to me, and every revisit is like meeting my childhood self. To this day it still inspires and makes me happy… It’s a part of me no one can remove.
About Me #1: I used to have a swing (quite the saga there, because I used it so much I kept breaking it and we eventually bought actual swings for real parks and installed them) and that was the place I went almost daily, often several times a day, and spun stories. Back then, they were almost all historical and either medieval or WWII. My favourite tropes, among others, were the communications girl + the airplane pilots, and the clever civilian girl performing heroic acts of spying and such to pass on to soldiers; and the brave lady who could defend herself but did need a knight in shining armour to help her out… also the dramatic innocent child and battle-worn veteran… Now, I write mostly contemporary because I’m lazy and a perfectionist, which is a deadly combination. But I still love those tropes!
Madeleine de Verchères’s story is based on a true account of colonial French Canada of the 1690’s. Harassed by Iroquois, the Verchères family’s fort must keep a continual guard. 14-year-old Madeleine is left alone with two younger brothers and few others when the Indians attack. We follow the brave and determined stratagems of Madeleine and her small circle. Madeleine’s youthful leadership, especially of her brothers, will win the reader’s admiration.
It would be more accurate to nominate My First History of Canada by Donalda Dickie, but I haven’t written a review for that yet, so we move on. After Our Island Story, I moved on to Canadian history and once more fell in love. As a French-Canadian, I am surrounded by New France. Our oldest buildings here in Québec date back to the 1600s. The names of our founders are everywhere, their stories and lives are never far away, and their language and manners still prevail. New France greatly shaped this province and that influence is yet strong. I love the history of New France—it never ceases to inspire and motivate me, and thrill me with its drama and strength. My heart is Québécois, and I will never be silent when it comes to my people and our story. This book was acted out so many times by me and my siblings, and I can still quote parts from memory. It is a deep part of myself.
About Me #2: I used to consider being a tour guide for Québec’s historical parts as an actual career I might do. I still think of it every once in a while. It’s something I would totally love doing. 😆 I adore telling the old stories and dwelling on the humanity of the characters, and reminding my people of their past, or teaching other Canadians (or foreigners!) about why we are as we are. It gives me such a sense of purpose and national pride!
Eleven-year-old orphan Anne Shirley has just arrived at Green Gables, and already her guardians want to send her back. First, she’s not the boy the Cuthberts expected. Second, she talks too much. And even with her generous spirit, the redhead’s a trouble magnet. She gets the neighbour drunk and nearly poisons the pastor!
Still, despite a rocky start, the fiery Anne wins over her guardians and her new community. She enjoys life at Green Gables, excels in school, and earns a coveted scholarship. But when tragedy hits, Anne must choose between her dreams and the only home she’s ever known.
In this beloved coming-of-age story, Lucy Maud Montgomery drew from her own experiences growing up in Canada during the nineteenth century to introduce generations of readers to one of literature’s most original and inspiring characters.
I discovered Anne in my preteens and I have never lost my love for this series, which has molded me extensively. The love for the world and for people, and the optimistic worldview; the old-fashioned customs and language and perspective… Montgomery is my favourite author, and I relate to so many of her books and characters. She also helped foster my broad view of Canada, as a nation instead of just a province, and inspires me to do my part to unite this country and keep strong ties with the Motherland. All of Anne books are a part of me, but Anne of Green Gables, Anne’s House of Dreams, and Rilla of Ingleside are the ones that are my favourites and the most influential.
About Me #3: Growing up surrounded almost exclusively by French, I only heard English through talking to family members and listening to audio books and a few select movies. Therefore, my English vocabulary is 85% based off of books, and of course, half of the words I never heard and don’t know how the crazy English pronunciation works. It’s annoying, because I have a good vocabulary but am afraid of using it for fear of mispronouncing. Fortunately, everyone except my family is very understanding and lays all the blame at the door of my bilingualism. My family just enjoys the fun when I get caught saying things wrong, after all my unmerciful grilling of their grammar. 😝
Valcos is a peaceful little Norwegian fishing village—that is, until the Nazis quarter themselves in the local families’ homes. The Nazis hope to secure Captain Engeland’s help and the village’s valuable ships, so something must be done to stop them. Fourteen-year-old Petra Engeland, her brother, and others in the village unite to oppose the enemy through daring rescues, ingenious plans, and life-or-death missions. Filled with suspenseful action and beautiful description, On the Edge of the Fjord tenderly illustrates devotion to family and country, comradery between young and old, and courage in the face of adversity.
Those of you who know me well are probably surprised I didn’t mention Enemy Brothers, mhm?
look at me sneaking it in B)
Well, much as I love it, it didn’t exactly “make me me” because it only discovered it in my twenties. As a child, it didn’t take me long to discover WWII fiction, and to this day it’s my favourite specific historical era to read about. It’s also where my love of mystery was born, as well as my love for Norway and Holland… specifically Norway… and pilots. *cough, cough* This book represents all the fantastic WWII fiction I loved and dreamed over and conjured during my teen years, something that really shaped my views on peace and war, and my respect for different cultures and nationalities.
About Me #4: As a child, almost the only books I ever got from the library were history books or encyclopedias of specific eras (usually medieval and Viking, but sometimes New France, Egyptian, and WWII). I became known as the teenage girl who consistently took out the same Middle Grade Nonfiction books and was evidently stuck in the Middle Ages. (Nothing much has changed… I’m still obsessed with those specific eras). I wonder what my librarians thought of me. Did I ever tell them I was a writer and used those books for research, making minuscule notes of half-an-inch-big letters to save paper? Probably not.
You just knew it was coming, huh? But seriously, just listen to me for a minute. ;P I stumbled across this book in my mid-teens while while poking through a pile of old books my father was throwing away. The vintage cover appealed to me, so I peeked inside and started leafing through. A specific sentence stood out to me and I laughed my head off, then begged my father to let me keep the book, which he did. And thus a legend was born. This book most definitely shaped me and changed my life. I reread it every year and relearn all the amazing principles that fill it—principles for life and character, not just writing and speaking. It made me a better person and continues to encourage and inspire me every time I look through it. I recommend it whole-heartedly to 100% everyone and really wish I could just dump copies around to all leaders in power.
About Me #5: I’ll never forget the reaction when I was getting my flu shot one year and the nurse discovered I was homeschooled. He was very curious and asked me what I liked to do. I said reading and mentioned I loved Ivanhoe, and he was struck with slack-jawed amazement. Then he asked what my ambition was and I said I wanted to be a writer. That stunned him into silence. I never saw him again but I will never forget his kindness—he was one of the first people to whom I confessed my career ideas as a teenager and he was so encouraging. That was entirely random, but I wanted to give him a shoutout. 🙂
Don’t forget to head over to Kate’s to get to know a wonderful person + find more recs and fun (pssst—such as a free book!!) and everyone else’s posts. Because commenting is important in the
So, that’s the end of my rambles for today. Have you read any or heard of these books, or added any to your TBR? What book or books have made you you? I’d love to know!!!