Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Take Place in Another Country

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday but when I saw the prompt for this week, I jumped at it! Books set in foreign countries are some of my favourites, especially if they conjure their settings so vividly they make me want to go there for real. I mentioned in a recent post that reading is my escapism so until I can afford to take a world tour, the likes of the books on this list will have to suffice!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish, now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

So here are ten books I love that take place in other countries…

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Prague

Prague has been high on my travel wishlist for a long time but this book cemented it in first place. As soon as I have the time/money/courage, I will be jumping on a plane to the Czech Republic for some goulash at Poison Kitchen or the nearest I can find to it.

Love and Gelato – Italy

Italy is another destination I’ve been dreaming of visiting for years. This book is a super sweet contemporary and it was one of the first books I read with my bookclub so I have a real soft spot for it. It’s full of the gorgeous Tuscan countryside, cute characters and of course, amazing-sounding Italian food. What more could you want?

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The Bear and the Nightingale – Russia

Wintery books totally appeal to my aesthetic so anything set in the Russian tundra wins major points with me. Ever since seeing Anastasia when I was little, I’ve been obsessed with Russia but I don’t feel it’s likely that I’ll get there anytime soon. So I’ll have to make do with gorgeous books like this!

The Shadow of the Wind – Spain

This book is an absolute treasure. Set in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona, it is a real love letter to literature and I defy any book lover not to adore it.

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Wolf by Wolf – Europe & Asia

Wolf by Wolf is one of the most original books I’ve ever come across, mixing an alternate version of history with elements of sci-fi and high action. It centres around a motorcycle race which spans across Europe to end in Japan. It’s both brutal and brilliant.

The Tea Planter’s Wife – Sri Lanka

This was the first book I read by author Dinah Jefferies and it made her an instant favourite and auto-buy author. She stunningly evoked the setting of Sri Lanka (known by its original name of Ceylon in this book) and her attention to detail made for a wonderfully immersive reading experience.

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Even the Darkest Stars – Tibet/The Himalayas

This may be a fantasy but its setting is inspired by Tibetan culture and it’s BRILLIANTLY done. I rated this one 4 stars when I read it last month but it’s stayed with me since then and I’d consider bumping it up to 5 stars as a result.

The Snow Child – Alaska

Magical realism at its finest, this one is set in the harsh wilds of Alaska and is a perfect wintery read. The writing was beautifully lyrical and I was completely enchanted by it from start to finish.

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The Obsession – USA

While The Snow Child takes place in a very specific part of America, Nora Roberts writes books encompassing the United States more widely. I’ve only read one of her romantic thrillers so far but I have another couple on my shelf and I believe they all follow a similar formula (one I happen to love!) The thing I love most about her books is the small-town setting she often uses – she portrays these so well and they are always perfect for her stories.

The Seven Sisters series – The World!

I only recently discovered this series but it is definitely a new all-time favourite. I’ve read the first two books so far and rated both of them 5 stars. Lucinda Riley is taking her readers to all four corners of the globe and she conjures all of her settings so vividly that I almost feel as though I’m there! So far, the first two books have visited Switzerland, France, Brazil, England, Greece, Norway and Germany! Apparently the upcoming fourth book is going to be set in Australia so I’m hugely excited for that; I just know Riley is going to do an amazing job yet again. I also love that she actually relocates to write each book so as to fully immerse herself in the culture she is trying to encapsulate in her books!

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So there you have some of my favourite books that take place in other countries! Has anyone read any of these? What are some of your favourite books set in foreign countries? Do any of you happen to live in any of the places where these books are set?! 

 

 

 

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‘The Friendship Cure’ review!

As you may or may not be aware, I have a degree in psychology and I’m fascinated by the human mind. So when Duckworth Publishing offered to send me an ARC of The Friendship Cure, a new book examining aspects of relationships and the various effects they can have on humans, I was immediately intrigued!

 

What the book is about…

Friendship is like water. We need it to survive, we crave it when it’s scarce, it runs through our veins and yet we forget its value simply because it’s always available. The basic compulsion to make friends is in our DNA; we’ve evolved, chimp-like, to seek out connection with other human beings. We move through life in packs and friendship circles and yet we are stuck in the greatest loneliness epidemic of our time. It’s killing us, making us miserable and causing a public health crisis. But what if friendship is the solution, not the distraction?

Journalist Kate Leaver believes that friendship is the essential cure for the modern malaise of solitude, ignorance, ill health and angst. If we only treated camaraderie as a social priority, it could affect everything from our physical health and emotional well-being to our capacity to find a home, keep a job, get married, stay married, succeed, feed and understand ourselves.

In this witty, smart book – an appealing blend of science, pop culture and memoir – she meets scientists, speaks to old friends, finds extraordinary stories and uncovers research to look at what friendship is, how it feels, where it can survive, why we need it and what we can do to get the most from it – and how we might change the world if we value it properly.

 

What I thought of it…

Considering this is a non-fiction book (which I don’t read a lot of as I find them too dry), I really enjoyed this! Leaver’s personality shines through and she has such a likeable narrative voice that fits the subject matter perfectly and makes you instantly wish she was your friend. She includes many heart-warming stories and personal anecdotes which make the whole experience of reading this book very enjoyable. I did not expect to be laughing so much, but the pop culture references were so relevant and funny.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m really interested in all things psychology so I found the subject matter in this book fascinating. I loved all of the evolutionary psychology stuff and the scientific evidence that the author provided (hooray for backing up points with real evidence! This is so often missing in these kinds of books). She even referenced someone whom I studied heavily in my final year of university and it made me so nerdily happy!

Now for my slight negative, and it’s completely personal and nothing to do with the book. There were times I found this slightly uncomfortable reading. The author is a strong advocate of putting ourselves out there and really making the effort to keep up with our platonic relationships. As someone who struggles with anxiety, meeting up with friends can often be difficult for me (especially when I’m trying to cultivate new friendships and haven’t yet disclosed my mental health status). I did, on occasion, feel bad about myself while reading this book – however, I’m sure this was not the intention of the author and there were other passages that I found comforting, especially when she discussed her own depression, so it did ultimately balance out. Again, I will reiterate that this is an entirely personal issue and does not reflect the quality of the book (which I believe to be excellent).

Overall, I found this book to be a fascinating contribution to a topic which is really gaining ground in modern times and I hope that more people read it and find something of value in it. Apart from a few typos in the ARC which were hopefully edited out of the final publication, I really do think this is an brilliant book. Thank you to Duckworth for sending me the ARC to read!

 

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Is anyone else interested in psychology? Have you read any great books on mental health that you would recommend? 

 

The ‘Rainbow’ Book Tag!

I was tagged by LaRonda @ Flying Paperbacks for the Rainbow book tag! I’m not entirely sure what the idea is, whether it’s meant to be your favourite books that are a certain colour or what – but I decided to showcase some books that I would recommend but don’t necessarily get to talk about very often! All of the books in this post are ones that I really enjoyed and definitely think you should read – and if you already have, let me know if we share any favourites!

 

The Rules:

  • Thank the lovely person that tagged you!
  • It must be the dominant colour of the cover, not the spine!
  • It has to be a book you own or the exact copy that you read. (Eg: There are two copies of The Hate U Give, choose the cover of the copy you read)
  • If you do not own a book of the certain colour, choose one that has the colour somewhere on it.
  • Tag some people do it! Whether they are bloggers, bookstagrammers, or booktubers. Spread the love!
  • Make it a game or do the tag as originally intended.

 

Red

 

Orange

 

Yellow

 

Green

 

Blue

 

Turquoise

 

Purple

 

Pink

 

Brown

 

White

 

Black

 

I’ve rated all of these books either 4 or 5 stars! Have you read any of them?

I don’t know who has and hasn’t done this tag so if you’re reading this and you haven’t done it, consider yourself tagged! 

 

Interview with Holly Ducarte!

Hi everyone! Today, I’m wishing Holly Ducarte a happy book birthday as her debut novel The Light Over Broken Tide releases today! I had the privilege of reading an ARC of Holly’s debut and today I’m treating you to an interview with the lady herself!

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Hi Holly, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview! I loved The Light Over Broken Tide and it’s a pleasure to have you on my blog today.

Thank you so much for inviting me! I feel truly honoured you loved my book.

 

First of all, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure! I’ve lived in a small town most of my life in Alberta, Canada. I’ve got two sisters, one of which is my identical twin. I grew up around creative people and so it isn’t surprising that I am pursuing something within the creative arts. I enjoy travelling and being outside. I find my peace in nature. I’m a big family person. They’ve supported me in this endeavour to write and I really want to make them proud. I’ve been married for ten years to my best friend. I’m a mother of an amazing little girl, who is turning three soon. I collect books, antiques, and funko pops. Music and movies inspire me all the time. Coffee and tea are my writing fuel. I have a thing for birds. And last but not least, my Hogwarts House is Gryffindor.

 

Gryffindors unite! Great to find out more about you 🙂 When did you decide to start writing The Light Over Broken Tide? Was it a natural progression from your poetry?

I began writing it five and a half years ago. But writing, in general, has been a part of my life since I knew how to do it. Poetry seems to come to me immediately when inspiration hits. It’s concise, and yet one can say a lot with so few words. Novel writing is more complex in that it isn’t concise, and an idea doesn’t just fully form. You’ve got to plot-plan, do character sketches, research etc. I’m not sure it was a natural progression so much as poetry fused with my novel-writing style. It’s just a part of me. I hope that answers your question.

 

That fusion was something about your novel that I loved. How would you describe your writing process?

In a word: sporadic. I’m not one to hunker down and write every day. It’s not feasible. Besides, I have to feel the muse in the room. When it comes, though, I’m all in. I can stay at the computer for hours and write scene after scene. I’m quite the night owl, working best late. The house is quiet then and I can think and plan better. Sometimes I have music playing, depending on where I’m at with the novel. Lately, I’ve been at my kitchen table typing away on my laptop.

 

The setting in The Light Over Broken Tide was one of my favourite aspects of the book. Was it inspired by a real place?

Yes. Lunenburg, Nova Scotia exists, and a lot of the names of the stores and shops within the book aren’t fictional. It’s truly a gorgeous town with that quintessential sea-side appeal. I recommend looking it up online and viewing the pictures. It’ll be like stepping into my novel, I’m sure of it.

(I took the liberty of doing a Google search and Holly is not wrong. Look at the pretty!)

 

The Peter Pan connections in the novel were also lovely. Did you always intend to include these or did they sneak in as you were writing?

As Shawn developed as a character, they kind of snuck in. Peter Pan is one of my favourite classics, and while writing, I just felt the two shared similarities. Both had big dreams and weren’t in a hurry to grow up. When you consider “doesn’t want to grow up”, Peter Pan automatically springs to mind.

 

That’s true. So, who are some authors that inspire you?

I always find this a tough one to answer, because I’m an eclectic reader and there are so many great authors that I love for different reasons. The ones that I thought of first, and in no particular order, are JK Rowling, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, JM Barrie, William Shakespeare, Gaston Leroux, Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Mitch Albom, Harper Lee, Kim Edwards, Erin Morgenstern, Jeannette Walls, Emma Donoghue, and recently Leigh Bardugo, Lang Leav, and John Green. Honestly…I could go on and on.

 

That’s a fantastic list! We share a lot of favourites. Do you have any hobbies (besides writing) that help you to unwind?

Probably too many to be honest. Is reading books considered a hobby? I do lots of that. I also like to write music, sing, and strum a guitar. It’s very meditative. I paint or draw from time to time. I do crafts here and there, like rustic, wooden sign boards or sewing. I recently purchased a paddle-board and am looking forward to using it a lot this later Spring and in Summer. I’m not one to sit idle for too long.

 

Do you have any current projects in the works? Can you give us any teasers?!

I do. It’s quite the jump from contemporary fiction, which is The LOBT. I am working on a historical suspense. I don’t want to give away too much, but I can say it takes place during the Victorian Era. The main character is a precocious young woman of eighteen named Deidre Pryor who becomes a woman scorned by her fiancé. She seeks out the spirits in the woods the children around town are calling Di Inferi, and she means to request their counsel on the perfect revenge.

It’s riddled with drama, suspicion, and thrill. Its theme is: “Vengeance is like a rose. Appealing until we are pricked by its thorn.” It also has another theme underlying about “the masks we wear”.

I will share the excerpt I’ve put on Instagram, but of course in the process of editing, it is subject to change: “Miss Pryor, we cannot simply allow you to leave and take your word alone that you will not tell a soul about us. As I said, assurance must be made. Now, do not become too alarmed at this…but I am going to cut you. Nothing big, mind, about Twopence in size. It is a sharp knife and I am very skilled.”

 

Well, that sounds amazing! I’m looking forward to it already. How can readers find out more about you and your work?

All of my social media links can be found on my website www.hollyducarte.com under the Contact section, and they can read further info on me, my work, author visits, and press.

 

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview!

It’s me who is thankful for your support.

 

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Well, I hope you all enjoyed that! It was a pleasure to interview Holly; I find her so inspiring. If you’re interested in reading my review of The Light Over Broken Tide, you can find it here. And the book is available now! 

The ‘Listicle’ Tag! Five female authors I can’t wait to try

Hey guys! It’s shocking how long ago I was tagged for this but better late than never, right?! I was tagged by Callum who wanted to know 5 authors I haven’t read yet but think I’m going to love. The tag was originally created by Not So Modern Girl.

Since I’m still doing #readforwomen (reading only female authors for the months of February and March), I thought I’d pick five female authors this time round. Then I can do a male version at a later date!

Read on to find out five female authors I haven’t read yet but think I’m going to love…

 

Margaret Atwood

I’m hoping to knock Atwood off this list reasonably soon as I’m planning to read The Handmaid’s Tale this month! I’ve had Atwood recommended to me by so many people and her most famous work seems like the perfect place to start. I’ve been meaning to read it for years and I’m going to finally make a point of getting round to it!

 

Daphne du Maurier

I’m also hoping this will be the year I read my first du Maurier. I own a couple of her books but will probably save them for nearer the end of the year when the weather gets a bit gloomier again – they seem like the perfect reads for dark, rainy nights!

 

Sarah Addison Allen

Sarah Addison Allen has been on my radar for a few years now but her books always seem to be really expensive?! I do own one though and I’m thinking of reading it in the summer. Allen’s books all sound completely magical and I can’t wait to try one of them!

 

Catherynne M. Valente

From what I can tell, Catherynne M. Valente writes slightly twisted fairytale stories. I really like the sound of Deathless, which is about a mythological Russian character similar to the devil.

 

Karen Maitland

Karen Maitland writes historical fantasy and her books sound awesome! I own The Raven’s Head and The Plague Charmer, and I really must make a point of reading them soon. Hopefully, tackling my TBR this year will mean I get to at least one of these!

 

(All book covers taken from Goodreads)

 

Have you read any of these authors? Am I right to think I will love them? Which of their books do you recommend I start with?

‘Hold My Hand’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! Today I’m taking part in the Instagram tour for Hold My Hand by M. J. Ford. The book was released a couple of days ago and I managed to read it in time to post a review today! Thank you to Avon Books for sending me a copy.

 

What the book is about…

When a young Josie Masters sees a boy wearing a red football shirt, Dylan Jones, being taken by a clown at a carnival, she tries to alert the crowds. But it’s too late. Dylan has disappeared…

Thirty years later, Josie is working as a police officer in Bath. The remains of the body of a child have been found – complete with tatters of a torn red football shirt. Is it the boy she saw vanish in the clutches of the clown? Or is it someone else altogether?

And then another child disappears…

 

What I thought of it…

Ok, I’ll get my complaint out of the way first so I can move on to the positives! This book was not what I was expecting. I don’t know if I’ve maybe read too many thrillers lately but this one just didn’t seem to stand up to other books in the genre that I’ve read in recent weeks. It wasn’t really as creepy as I expected it to be and I was able to guess one of the twists very early on.

HOWEVER! For a debut thriller, this is still very good! Although I guessed one twist, the main one still came as a shock for me. The ending actually turned the whole book around and improved my rating of the book as a whole.

While at first, I didn’t feel much of a connection with the main character, she did grow on me; I began to understand her motivations and I liked that she was a product of everything she’d experienced, flaws and all. I was a little confused that she would have been allowed to work on a case in which she had such a personal interest – but then I’m not familiar with how things like that work. Maybe I’m just nit-picking!

I really liked the circus connections (surprise surprise), though I would have liked it if more had been made of this. The setting seemed to be one of convenience and wasn’t utilised to its full extent, in my opinion. However, the unadorned writing style worked really well for the story and, towards the end, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!

So, a mixed bag of a book but one that, thanks to its strong ending, I enjoyed overall!

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Has anyone else read this one? What are some books you’ve read where the ending has made the whole book for you?

 

‘The City of Brass’ spoiler-free review!

“Often the mightiest things have the humblest beginnings…”

– S.A. Chakraborty, The City of Brass

 

Hey guys! Today is release day for S. A. Chakraborty’s debut novel The City of Brass! My lovely bestie sent me an ARC of this book for my birthday recently and I absolutely loved it.

 

What the book is about…

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep, past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass, a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for…

 

What I thought of it…

I don’t even know where to start with this review. This is one of the most fantastic debuts of recent years! I adored the Egyptian-inspired fantasy setting; Chakraborty’s attention to detail was superb, resulting in a stunningly realised world with complex religious and political history. The whole thing felt so cinematic and I’d be amazed if the movie rights weren’t snapped up before too long. I mean, it was full of djinn and ghouls and all sorts of funky creatures and magic. Ugh. Amazing.

There were moments when this book felt reminiscent of Laini Taylor’s writing, in that the author completely sweeps you off your feet and captivates you; even though the chapters were fairly long, I couldn’t put it down! I absolutely raced through it. The pacing was perfect, with a super fast start and crazy action-packed ending (which omg I cannot deal with and I need the next book immediately).

Other things about this book that I loved:-

  • Slow-burning romance – no insta-love here sir, not today
  • Some amazingly delicious foody descriptions
  • Morally grey characters! Nahri is great but fully admits that she is not perfect. Quite frankly, I’ve been getting so tired of all these badass females in YA books that have no personality but can kill anything that moves and ride horses/dragons and cook delicious meals. That’s just not realistic. Nahri is a breath of fresh air.
  • The dialogue! The conversations are all so easy to read and part of the reason I flew through the book so quickly.

To sum up, I am completely in awe of this own voices Muslim fantasy! It’s so brilliantly written and absolutely blew me away. Definitely recommend!

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Is anyone else planning on picking this one up? Or was anyone else lucky enough to get an ARC? I’d love to discuss it with you! 

 

‘The Light Over Broken Tide’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! I recently had the privilege of receiving an ARC of Holly Ducarte’s debut novel The Light Over Broken Tide! I already knew of Holly through the bookstagram community, where she often posts beautiful snippets of her writing, so I was thrilled when she reached out and asked me to be a member of her ARC tribe! Before I start reviewing, here’s the blurb from Goodreads…

 

What the book is about…

Out of the blue, Rebecca Stafford’s Father arrives to parent her after years of absence. He then extracts her last bit of normalcy by moving them to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The shocking news plunges Rebecca into a despair that brings about an otherworldly encounter; she begins to have visions of her deceased Mom.

Uncertain whether what she sees is reality or the product of a troubled mind, Rebecca searches for an anchor to keep her from drifting in the new coastal town. She clings to Shawn, the eccentric, spritely boy-next-door promising adventures…with surprises of his own, involving an Irish legend and a hidden lighthouse. This brings on a whole new dimension to Rebecca’s visions, and sparks feverish romance between her and Shawn. A bond eventually threatened by forces beyond her control, sending her spiralling into dark, stormy places, leaving her to wonder how broken a mind can get…

 

What I thought of it…

I was immediately intrigued by this blurb and, let me tell you: this books reads SO well for a debut novel. Obviously, I already knew that Holly Ducarte could write; her Instagram poetry is stunning and I fangirl over it often. I was delighted to find that Holly’s first novel embodies the same raw beauty as her poetry and I was captivated for the duration. The opening imagery of paper dolls hooked me straight in and I felt gripped until the very end of the book.

I loved the small-town Canadian setting of the book and thought that Ducarte used pathetic fallacy perfectly to enhance her story. Small-town settings are often some of my very favourites and this book was no exception to the rule. I could picture the island so vividly and thought it was almost like a character in itself. The Peter Pan connections were abundant and were another element of the book that I really liked.

The protagonist, Rebecca, is a bit of a difficult character to rate. I found her quite tempestuous and not necessarily very likeable, a little like Cathy from the classic Wuthering Heights, but then that’s what made her so interesting! I also think it’s a realistic portrayal of a teenager dealing with the loss of her mother and all the grief that goes along with that (and I have firsthand experience so I can definitely relate).

The book is quite heavy on the insta-love but, again, it does make a degree of sense given what the protagonist is dealing with. Rebecca’s life has been turned upside down so she clings on to the only anchor she can find – and who wouldn’t want to cling to the dreamy Shawn?!

I genuinely didn’t expect the plot to go in the direction it did; Ducarte kept me guessing right to the end! I was completely shocked. I love that this book defies categorisation; it is so much more than a standard contemporary, with great supernatural elements and a thriller-y tone at times. I also really love the final message that Ducarte leaves the reader with – but you’ll have to read the book yourself to find out what that is!

 

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Thank you again to Holly for sending me an ARC! The Light Over Broken Tide releases on March 20th and I’ll be treating you to an interview with the lovely lady herself very soon!