My favourite books of 2019 and some end-of-year stats!

Hello lovely bookish people! Can you believe it’s the end of not only another year, but a decade?! I’m rounding of 2019 in the classic way by sharing my favourite books of the year and a few stats 😀

As usual, these are not ranked but merely listed in the order I read them. And there’s a mix of 2019 releases and backlist titles 🙂


Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

tell the wolves im home

What I loved about it

  • Lovely writing style
  • Excellent characterisation and character development
  • Raw beauty
  • Gentle and poignant

The Binding by Bridget Collins

the binding

What I loved about it

  • Beautiful prose
  • Immersive storytelling
  • Fully realised characters
  • Great romance

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

radio silence

What I loved about it

  • Wonderfully relatable characters
  • Made me feel SEEN
  • Realistic portrayal of teenage life in Britain
  • Fantastic platonic relationship
  • Great message

Let’s Call It A Doomsday by Katie Henry

let's call it a doomsday

What I loved about it

  • Incredible anxiety rep
  • Wonderful protagonist
  • Realistic dialogue
  • Nice, easy flow to the writing

The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James

quiet at the end of the world

What I loved about it

  • Vividly imagined ‘soft apocalypse’
  • Likeable characters
  • Casual diversity
  • Jaw-dropping twists

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

nevernight

What I loved about it

  • Intelligently written
  • Awesome world building
  • Fantastic story
  • Funny!

Foxfire, Wolfskin by Sharon Blackie

foxfire wolfskin

What I loved about it

  • Not a single weak story
  • Phenomenal writing
  • Stunning illustrations
  • Great folklore underlying each story

We Are Lost And Found by Helene Dunbar

we are lost and found

What I loved about it

  • Cinnamon roll characters
  • Wonderful friendship dynamics
  • Raw and heart-wrenching
  • An interesting historical period
  • Respectful storytelling

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

ten thousand doors of january

What I loved about it

  • Gorgeous, magical writing
  • Effortless word choice and sentence structure
  • Book-within-a-book
  • Plucky heroine
  • Wonderful imagery

I feel like I didn’t find as many new favourites this year as I did in 2018 but I’m still thankful for all the wonderful stories I had the privilege of reading and I can’t wait to see what the new year/decade brings!

And finally, some 2019 bookish stats for you because we all love them 😉

2019 Stats!

Total books read: 112

Total page count: 40,621

Average page count per day: 111.3

Shortest book: Joe Quinn’s Poltergeist (80 pages)

Longest book: Vanity Fair (912 pages)

Average book length: 360 pages

Average Goodreads rating: 4.0

Female authors: 81!

Male authors: 26

Multiple authors: 5

Audiobooks: 36

Books from my backlist: 28 (must do better!)

Rereads: 11


And that’s 2019 done! Here’s wishing you all a safe, healthy and happy new year ❤

2019 Smashing & Dashing Character Awards!

Last year, I posted my choices for the smashing and dashing character awards (created by Cait @ Paper Fury) so I couldn’t let 2019 end without doing it again with this year’s books!

(Images in this post link to my reviews if I wrote one!)


Most Relatable Character

you asked for perfect

Ariel, my poor soft bean. I related so much to this anxious boy pushing himself to his limit that I shed actual tears for us both. I found this book very triggering but it made me feel so seen and I’ll be forever grateful to Laura Silverman for that. Self-care is important, friends!


Most Pure Animal Companion

Solovey, Vasya’s faithful steed. I’ve never been much of a horse person but I love Solovey; he is just so pure. Every hero needs a companion like him ❤


Fiercest Fighter

nevernight

It has to be Mia Corvere from The Nevernight Chronicle. I finally binged this trilogy this year and fell headfirst into the Jay Kristoff fandom. This is one of the best revenge stories I’ve ever read.


Am Surprised That I Loved You??

the forgotten girl

The Forgotten Girl by Rio Youers. I took a chance on this book in a genre that is way out of my comfort zone and ended up rating it extremely highly and recommending it to numerous people! Youers is definitely an author I’ll be watching out for.


Best Sass-Master

in bloom

Definitely Rhiannon from In Bloom. This was a brilliant sequel to Sweet Pea and Rhiannon’s cutting sarcasm on every page gave me LIFE.


Best Antihero

finale

Literally any character from Stephanie Garber’s series could be considered an antihero! Even though I was slightly disappointed by this series conclusion, I still appreciate the abundance of Slytherin characters and their questionable moral choices throughout the trilogy.


The Best Friends Of All

deepest roots

I loved the themes of friendship and sisterhood in The Deepest Roots and really appreciated its story of female empowerment and magic. Rome, Lux and Mercy were such a close-knit trio.


Best Villain To HATE

one flew over the cuckoo's nest

This year, I re-read One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest for the first time in many years and no villain can beat Nurse Ratched. She is vile.


Award For Best vs Worst YA Parents

radio silence

Frances’ mum in Radio Silence is an absolute gem. I love her. As for the worst parent, this is the only time I’ll repeat an answer in this post and it’s We Are Lost And Found. Michael’s father had the most disgusting attitude towards his children and it was painful to read.


Ship Of All Ships In 2019

the binding

I adore the romance in this book and I will not hear a bad word said against it.


Most Precious Must Be Protected

we are lost and found

Literally everybody in We Are Lost And Found but especially Michael, my soft cinnamon roll. This story is so full of heart and I defy anyone to read it and not be moved.


Honestly Surprised You’re Still Alive

dry

This book was so stressful! I mean, I enjoyed it for how gripping it was but jeez, these characters and their choices gave me anxiety. I never want to find myself in this kind of post-apocalyptic situation!


Award For Making The Worst Decisions

the twisted tree

Aside from the aforementioned characters in Dry, I feel like Martha made some rather questionable decisions in The Twisted Tree.


Most In Need Of A Nap

let's call it a doomsday

I read about a lot of anxious characters this year. Ellis was another one I related to strongly. My heart ached for her and I definitely think she deserves a nap after everything she went through in this book!


Want To Read More About You

dead voices

Dead Voices was a fantastic follow-up to last year’s Small Spaces. I can’t wait to read more of Ollie, Coco and Brian’s escapades in the next instalment and I’m looking forward to seeing what Katherine Arden does with the Spring setting!


Well, those are my picks for the 2019 character awards! Do you agree with any of my choices? Who were you shipping in 2019? Which characters did you relate to the most? Let me know in the comments! x

My Life in Books [2019]

I’ve seen this tag on a few blogs recently, though it was Callum who first alerted me to it. I thought it would be a fun way to look back on my year’s reading!

The rules are simple: Using only books you have read this year, answer the questions. Try not to repeat a book title.


In high school I was On The Come Up (Angie Thomas)

People might be surprised by The Secrets We Kept (Lara Prescott)

I will never be Perfect (Cecilia Ahern)

My fantasy job is The Story Keeper (Anna Mazzola)

At the end of a long day I need The Den (Abi Maxwell)

I hate Radio Silence (Alice Oseman)

I Wish I had Somebody To Love (Matt Richards & Mark Langthorne) – Get the violins out lol

My family reunions are The Devouring Gray (Christine Lynn Herman)

At a party you’d find me with The Girl in Red (Christina Henry)/ Pumpkinheads (Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks) – I couldn’t choose between these two!

I’ve never been to The Museum of Extraordinary Things (Alice Hoffman)

A happy day includes Bloodlust and Bonnets (Emily McGovern)

Motto I live by: Tell the Wolves I’m Home (Carol Rifka Brunt)

On my bucket list is The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater)

In my next life, I want to have The Quiet at the End of the World (Lauren James)


This was fun! There were a few answers I could have given for some of the prompts so I hope you like the ones I picked 😀

Let me know if you’ve done this tag, if I haven’t already checked it out!

‘The Ten Thousand Doors of January’ spoiler-free review!

Hello my dears 🙂 Time for another review! I can’t believe the speed with which this year (and decade) is coming to an end!

Today, I’m reviewing The Ten Thousand Doors of January which I recently buddy read with the lovely Jenna @ Bookmark Your Thoughts. I’m fairly certain this book is going to make my best of the year list! Read on to find out why…

ten thousand doors of january.png


synopsis

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.


my thoughts

The first thing that captured me about The Ten Thousand Doors of January was the writing. Every word feels expertly chosen to convey that gorgeous, magical feel. This book easily stands alongside some of my all-time favourites and it’s easy to see why readers are comparing Alix E. Harrow to the likes of Laini Taylor and Erin Morgenstern.

No matter what the author was writing about, I am sure I would have loved it; the word choice and sentence structure all had that effortless feel to them. However, I loved this book even more for its concept. The idea of magical doors to other worlds is one that will surely capture the imagination of any book lover and I was no exception. This is the kind of story I have always loved but one that was also incredibly unique and special in its own right.

I also loved the book-within-a-book device which was used (although I must admit to being slightly confused when it was first introduced because I was being incredibly slow on the uptake). There was never a chapter where I didn’t feel 100% invested in what was happening.

January is a plucky heroine and a new favourite character of mine. I loved how she faced the challenges presented to her with courage and dignity and how she never gave up despite being faced with numerous obstacles.

I want to give further praise to the author for writing one of the best depictions of grief I have ever read. There are passages near the beginning of the novel that feature some wonderfully powerful imagery and I felt genuinely moved.

I could sing this novel’s praises all day. It is slow-burning and magical and suffused with a real sense of hope. I love it when a book makes me feel that way. The Ten Thousand Doors of January hits so many of my buzzwords with its stunning execution and I can see myself returning to it many more times in the future. I will definitely be watching out for more from this author.

ten thousand doors of january.jpg


Have you read this one? I’d love to discuss it with you! Or is it on your TBR list? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

‘Dead Voices’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I am back from my travels in Prague and ready to get down to some blogging once again 😀

Some of you may remember that Small Spaces was one of my favourite reads of 2018. So when I heard that Katherine Arden was writing not just one but THREE sequels, one for each season, I was delighted. And while Small Spaces still has my heart, Dead Voices was a fun follow-up!

dead voices.png


synopsis

Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.

Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie’s watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.

With Mr. Voland’s help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help–or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted…


my thoughts

Dead Voices was another fun middle grade read that continued to develop the characters I loved from Small Spaces. It was lovely to see Coco being given a bit more of the spotlight this time, though of course I’ll always be rooting for my girl Ollie having related to her so much in the first book. I enjoyed seeing Coco grow and the friendship between the three main characters strengthening. I look forward to more of the same in the next two instalments. Furthermore, I stand by the opinion that Ollie’s dad is one of the best fictional parents ever. 

It’s no secret that I love books with wintery settings and this one was no different. The isolated hotel reminded me majorly of The Shining and I loved the creepy-cosy vibes of being shut up inside while the wind howls and the snow builds up outside. I could 100% picture everyone huddling up next to the fire and eating all the yummy foods that Ollie’s dad made.

Arden once again delivered on the thrills and chills, creating some excellent spooky moments (which I always find surprising in middle grade for some reason – maybe I expect less? I don’t know.) I certainly wouldn’t want to be caught up in one of these stories!

I will say that I found things just the tiniest bit more predictable this time round; however, this in no way spoiled my enjoyment. I rated this one lower than Small Spaces simply because Autumn has my heart and because the first book surprised me with how much I related to it emotionally. But this is a wonderful continuation to the series and I can’t wait for the next book, set in the spring! Katherine Arden has definitely cemented herself as one of my favourite authors.

dead voices.jpg


Any other Katherine Arden fans out there? Have you read this one yet? Also, would any of you be interested in a post about my adventures in Prague? 😀 Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

 

‘We Are Lost & Found’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I recently read We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar and it became a new favourite! In fact, I’ve been in a major book hangover ever since. It’s taken me forever to get this review written. But I’ve finally managed to put something together, whatever quality it may be! Read on to find out what I loved about this story…

we are lost and found.png


synopsis

Michael is content to live in the shadow of his best friends, James, an enigmatic teen performance artist who everyone wants and no one can have and Becky, who calls things as she sees them, while doing all she can to protect those she loves. His brother, Connor, has already been kicked out of the house for being gay and laying low seems to be his only chance to avoid the same fate.

To pass the time before graduation, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can dance and forget about his father’s angry words, the pressures of school, and the looming threat of AIDS, a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands.

Then he meets Gabriel, a boy who actually sees him. A boy who, unlike seemingly everyone else in New York City, is interested in him and not James. And Michael has to decide what he’s willing to risk to be himself.


my thoughts

This book, you guys. I was almost in tears just at the epigraph. I knew instantly that this story was going to worm its way into my heart and set up camp there permanently.

I want to talk first about the characters, because they are definitely what make the book. The trio gave me major The Perks of Being a Wallflower vibes and that was no bad thing because I adore that book. Michael is the softest cinnamon roll and I wanted to wrap him up and protect him. His best friends James and Becky were fabulous and there was a really great dynamic within their group.

The book also has one of the most awful villains I’ve come across in a book. I found it really painful to read how Michael’s father behaved towards him and his brother because of their sexuality. However, I did appreciate that the author took her story in that direction because I’m sure so many members of the LGBTQ+ community have that exact experience and it added a real level of believability to the book. It was raw and heart-wrenching.

I loved reading about a time in history that I wasn’t too familiar with. Obviously, I had some notions of how the AIDs epidemic started but this story really brought it home for me. It was exquisitely painful but it also made me want to read more about the topic; I’m always glad when an author can inspire me to go on and research more.

I have seen some reviewers complaining that this is not an #ownvoices novel and that it wasn’t Dunbar’s story to tell, but I feel that she handled the subject respectfully. And I very much appreciated the two afterwords which were #ownvoices.

It’s difficult to know what more to say on this one. It really is an oxymoron of a book; it is completely lovely but will shatter your heart at the same time. 100% recommend to anyone interested in the start of the AIDs crisis or just looking for a gorgeous story full of heart and friendship and learning to love yourself for who you are.

we are lost and found.jpg


Have you read this one? Or any other books about the AIDs epidemic? I have a weird fascination with the subject and would love some recommendations (fiction or non-fiction)! xsignature (2)

 

Music Monday: Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)

It’s that time again 😀 This one really needs no explanation – it’s a fantastic song that has been covered by hundreds of artists, so this is just my little version of it!

I’d love to hear any feedback you have or requests for future songs – though let’s not comment on the stupid roll my jumper is doing in this video, shall we?! 😉

Enjoy your week, everyone! ❤

 

 

 

November 2019 Wrap-Up!

Hey everyone! Can you believe it’s time for another wrap-up already? Where did November go?! I’m so excited that it’s December though, I love this time of year seeing everyone’s favourites of the year! You can expect mine soon, by the way 😉

November was one of my slowest reading months this year, mainly because my brain decided to just check out halfway through the month and wouldn’t let me pick up a book. I’ve got a couple of reads on the go that I’ve been working through for weeks and it’s giving me anxiety. Hopefully I can get them finished soon!

But without further ado, here’s what I read in November!

november 2019 wrapup


Review Books

Violet by S. J. I. Holliday

I was offered this one to review after reading The Lingering last year. And I’m pleased to say I enjoyed this one even more! It’s about two women who meet randomly while travelling and one of them is not who she seems… It makes for a very entertaining read!

 

Through The Wall by Caroline Corcoran

Another thriller about two women – which is possibly why I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I could have? It felt a bit dull after the craziness of Violet! But I appreciated the exploration of society’s expectations of women.

 

Wonderland: An Anthology of Stories inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland edited by Marie O’Regan & Paul Kane

This anthology was quite a mixed bag but I enjoyed it overall! My favourite story was Laura Mauro’s Japanese version of Alice, The Night Parade.


Books from my TBR

We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar

This was the book that broke my brain. And my heart. And every other bit of me. But I truly loved it. I’ve been genuinely struggling to write my review because I just can’t form coherent sentences. But I hope to have it posted soon!

 

Dead Voices by Katherine Arden

Small Spaces was one of my favourite books of 2018 so I was very excited about this sequel. While I didn’t love it quite as much, it was still a fantastic story and it was lovely to get more of Coco’s perspective this time around. I’m so happy there are going to be Spring and Summer instalments in this series!


Rereads

scorpio

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Do I even need to explain this? November is Scorpio season. I listened to the audiobook this time round and, while the voices didn’t quite match what I imagined in my head, loved the story yet again.


Non-Fiction

I had such high hopes for non-fiction November but thanks to the aforementioned brain mush, I didn’t pick anything up. I’ve got my eye on a couple to read soon though.


Stats

Total pages: 2102

Average pages per day: 70

Longest book: The Scorpio Races (482 pages)

Shortest book: Dead Voices (256 pages)

Favourite read of the month: We Are Lost and Found

Biggest disappointment of the month: Through The Wall

Male authors: 0

Female authors: 5

Multiple authors: 1

november 2019 wrapup


How many books did you get through in November? Which one did you enjoy the most? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

‘Wonderland: An Anthology’ spoiler-free review!

Hello lovelies! I’ve been in the weirdest book hangover/reading slump thing and I’m trying desperately to get my mojo back. I think I’ve just been so busy for so long and now that things have relaxed a bit, my brain has just ground to a halt, you know?! Also, how is there only a month left of this year? This decade?! Having a slight existential crisis over here haha.

Anyway, I have a review for you today! The lovely people at Titan Books sent me this anthology of stories inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and (even though it took me a while to get through due to life circumstances) I really enjoyed reading it! As with most anthologies, it was quite a mixed bag but taking the collection as a whole, it was a fun reading experience. I’m going to break down my thoughts on each story below.

wonderland.png


synopsis

Join Alice as she is thrown into the whirlwind of Wonderland, in an anthology that bends the traditional notions of Lewis Carroll’s classic novel. Contributors include the bestselling M.R. Carey, Genevieve Cogman, Catriona Ward, Rio Youers and L.L. McKinney.

Within these pages you’ll find myriad approaches to Alice, from horror to historical. There’s even a Wild West tale from Angela Slatter, poetry, and a story by Laura Mauro which presents us with a Japanese folklore-inspired Wonderland.

Alison Littlewood, Cavan Scott and Catriona Ward make the more outlandish elements their own, while James Lovegrove instead draws on the supernatural. Cat Rambo takes us to a part of Wonderland we haven’t seen before and Lilith Saintcrow gives the legend a science-fiction spin. The nightmarish reaches of the imagination are the breeding ground for M.R. Carey’s visions, while Robert Shearman, George Mann, Rio Youers and Mark Chadbourn’s tales have a deep-seated emotional core which will shock, surprise and tug on the heart-strings.

So, it’s time now to go down the rabbit hole, or through the looking-glass or… But no, wait. By picking up this book and starting to read it you’re already there, can’t you see?


my thoughts

Wonders Never Cease by Robert Shearman

This was an interesting opening story that initially felt quite true to the spirit of the original Alice story. I liked the dry wit but there were some genuinely awful images that I wasn’t sure how to take. I guess this story is quite open to interpretation which I appreciate but ultimately it was a bit too weird for my taste.

 

There Were No Birds To Fly by M. R. Carey

This story was slightly confusing at first as it kind of just throws you into the middle of the action. I found it to be an interesting horror concept but I didn’t really connect with it and the Alice connection was very tenuous.

 

The White Queen’s Pawn by Genevieve Cogman

Hooray, this was the first story in the collection that I really liked! It was creepy and unsettling, and the perfect length. I’m interested in reading more of Cogman’s work now.

 

Dream Girl by Cavan Scott

This was another excellent offering. The story was ticking along quite nicely, I didn’t really have any strong feelings or think it was anything special and then BAM – plot twist! The ending definitely made this one.

 

Good Dog, Alice! by Juliet Marillier

I enjoyed Marillier’s writing style and would be interested in reading more from her. This was a horror story of a much more human nature; I found the resolution incredibly satisfying.

 

The Hunting of the Jabberwock by Jonathan Green

I liked that this story focused on a different angle than those previously but something about the writing style didn’t click for me. The second half was mildly better but it never felt very high-stakes; I found it fairly dull and unoriginal in the end.

 

About Time by George Mann

This was a surprisingly sweet story about monsters and magic. I really enjoyed it, though it felt a bit jarring in comparison to those that had come before. Maybe just because I wasn’t expecting it?

 

Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em by Angela Slatter

I didn’t completely love the Western vibe of this one but the horror spin was interesting. I don’t know, it felt a little incomplete?

 

Vanished Summer Glory by Rio Youers

After being introduced to Youers’ writing earlier in the year, I was excited to see what he would do here. And I wasn’t disappointed. This was one of the most unique stories in the anthology. I loved the psychiatry angle.

 

Black Kitty by Catriona Ward

I don’t have a lot to say on this one, other than that it was weird and I didn’t like it very much. Oops.

 

The Night Parade by Laura Mauro

This was one of my favourite stories in the anthology. I really liked the writing and thought the whole thing was so atmospheric. I would happily read more stories or a longer novel set in this world!

 

What Makes A Monster by L. L. McKinney

I liked the opening of this one; it reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I also liked the Jack the Ripper connection that was made. However, the time jumps between paragraphs were sometimes confusing and the Alice link was almost non-existent. I’m not sure it was a good idea to include a story set in an already-existing literary world.

 

The White Queen’s Dictum by James Lovegrove

This story had more of an Alice connection than the previous one which I appreciated. It was decent! Though I did guess VERY quickly where it was going.

 

Temp Work by Lilith Saintcrow

This was the only story in the anthology that I couldn’t finish. I wasn’t a fan of the sci-fi concept (the genre is hit and miss for me anyway) and I found the writing convoluted.

 

Eat Me, Drink Me by Alison Littlewood

Honestly? I pretty much forgot this one as soon as it finished. I have no real thoughts to share; it just didn’t make much of an impact on me.

 

How I Comes To Be The Treacle Queen by Cat Rambo

This was another slightly weird story and sadly, another one I didn’t connect much with due to the style.

 

Six Impossible Things by Mark Chadbourn

Thankfully, this was a stronger story to end the anthology. I enjoyed the ones which took this darker emotional slant.

 

The anthology was also book-ended by two poems by author Jane Yolen, both of which were very good.

I feel like the thoughts I’ve shared on these stories come across as quite negative but I really did have fun reading this anthology and would happily recommend it to fans of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale!

wonderland.jpg


Have any of you read this one? Are you a fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Let me know in the comments! x signature (2)