2018 Most Anticipated Reads – Where Are We Now?

I recently enjoyed Marie’s post about books she was anticipating in 2018 and whether or not she has read them yet. I thought it would be fun to do something similar myself and Marie very kindly said she didn’t mind! Make sure you check out her post after reading this one 😉


As last year was the first year I became fully invested in keeping up with new releases, I was certainly anticipating a lot of books this year, particularly sequels/series finales. Let’s see whether or not I read my most anticipated books of 2018!

 

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Hooray! The first book on my list is a hit! The conclusion to the Strange the Dreamer duology was my most anticipated book of the year; I had Muse of Nightmares preordered for months and there was no way I was going to let it linger on my shelf. And it was a complete masterpiece.

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Fierce like a Firestorm by Lana Popovic

Oops, I’m slipping already. Wicked like a Wildfire was one of my favourite reads of 2017 so I was eagerly awaiting this conclusion to the duology. Unfortunately, it didn’t come out until later in the year, by which point I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of books I had to get through. So this one is still waiting patiently on the shelf for me. I’m hoping to reread the first book in the new year, closely followed by this one.

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A Storm of Ice and Stars by Lisa Lueddecke

Another follow-up to one of my 2017 favourites (A Shiver of Snow and Sky), I was delighted when I found this in Waterstones a good two weeks before it was due to be released. I promptly bought it and then… didn’t read it. There’s still a chance I’ll get to it before December is over though, because I am living for those wintery vibes.

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Shadowsong by S. Jae Jones

Are you sensing a pattern here? I loved Wintersong last year so I was desperate for this sequel. However, negative reviews quickly started pouring in and some reviewers said that the Goblin King didn’t even feature prominently in the second book. So I keep putting it off. I really do want to give it a chance at some point though.

 

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

The conclusion to Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands trilogy was way up on my list of anticipated reads. However, series finales scare me and I kept procrastinating on this one for fear that my precious children would all DIE. I am not ready for the pain.

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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Ok, I am a terrible person. My bestie bought me this one for my birthday waaayyy back in February and I still haven’t got round to it. I genuinely have no reason why? So many books, so little time? I know, it’s feeble. Must. Do. Better. This one is definitely on my priority TBR.

 

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

Finally, one I’ve read! The same bestie who got me The Hazel Wood was also kind enough to send me an ARC of The City of Brass. I was fully on-board the hype train after hearing all the rave reviews about it. Of course, I completely adored it and I’m so thankful I got to read it. Book two, The Kingdom of Copper, is now one of my most anticipated reads for 2019!

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Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Yay, another one I’ve read! Caraval was definitely one of the most hyped releases of 2017 and I’m not ashamed to say that I totally rolled with it. Anything even vaguely to do with circuses/carnivals is my jam. I couldn’t wait to see where the story went next, with the release of the second book this year; I picked up Legendary this summer, fairly soon after it released.

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Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

I’m sticking to my pattern – I don’t know, I guess I struggle to get excited about debut releases? Most of my anticipated reads tend to be follow-ups. After reading Love and Gelato with my book club in 2016, I was eagerly awaiting this second book from Jenna Evans Welch. I was dismayed when the original 2017 release date got pushed back to this year! But it was worth the wait and I really enjoyed breezing through this cute contemporary on a gorgeous sunny day at the seaside.

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The Empress by S. J. Kincaid

Another sequel to a bookclub read. I actually surprised myself with how much I enjoyed The Diabolic and I was looking forward to the second book; unfortunately, I feel like the characters were all totally different people in The Empress and I didn’t like the direction the plot took. I don’t think I’ll bother reading book three.


The final score: 5 read, 5 unread

I think we can conclude that I am ridiculously bad at reading my most anticipated books. Though actually, I expected the situation to be much worse. At least I’ve managed to read half of this list; let’s just hope I can get to the others soon before the 2019 releases start piling up!

What were some of your most anticipated releases this year? Did they live up to your expectations? Did we share any anticipated books? Let me know in the comments! x

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Discussion: Reaction to the Goodreads Choice Awards

Hey everyone! I wanted to get this post out sooner but life is kicking my backside right now. However, I’d still like to talk about the Goodreads Choice Awards and some of my initial reactions!

I’m a little nervous about this as I haven’t done many discussion posts up to this point – hopefully you won’t all hate me if your opinions differ from mine!

 

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Initial Thoughts

So, my first reaction was outrage that one of my favourite books of the year, Muse of Nightmares, was not even nominated?! I’m pleased to see that plenty of readers obviously made their voices heard because now that we’re up to the semi-finals, Taylor’s masterpiece is indeed there. But initially, I could not believe that a book of such high calibre was not featured. Which leads me to…

 

What’s in a name?

It seems to me that some authors are guaranteed to be nominated for an award simply for who they are. (I’m not going to diss anyone here but I’m sure you all know which authors I’m talking about.) Sometimes I wonder at this because the books themselves are often of lesser quality (in my opinion) than ones that don’t even get nominated. Are authors guaranteed a nomination based on the number of books they’ve written or the size of their fanbase?

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Are the awards diverse enough?

Times have definitely changed and I’m delighted to see more authors of colour being nominated. However, with this being the 10th year of awards and Goodreads introducing the ‘best of the best’ category, it’s impossible to not look back and see the white-dominated group of past winners. As per my previous point, looking at these winners almost reads like a school yearbook, with the prom queens and jocks always coming out on top. And speaking of popularity contests…

 

Are we guilty of judging books by their covers?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m totally guilty of picking up books in shops because I’m drawn to their beautiful covers. But I would never vote for a book to receive an award simply because it looked pretty! Unfortunately, I usually haven’t read most of the books that are nominated in the Goodreads Choice Awards and so I abstain from voting, but I’m sure there are readers out there who (when they haven’t read all of the nominated books) might just vote for the book with the cover they like best. Surely, these awards should reflect the quality of a book’s writing or the importance of its themes, not just which cover looks nicest or which marketing campaign was most successful in building the hype?

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So those are my thoughts on the Goodreads Choice Awards! Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said? Do you think the awards are diverse enough? Is it all just a popularity contest? Leave me a comment and let’s chat! x

 

Discussion: What makes a 5-star read?

I do not give 5-star ratings easily. It takes a really special book for me to give that glowing rating – and then when I do, I get nervous! Did that book really deserve ALL THE STARS?! Are there problematic elements I missed? Am I being too lenient?

Most of the time, when I give a 5-star rating, it’s a gut feeling. If a book sweeps me along, I am prepared to overlook minor flaws. It doesn’t have to be perfect. BUT. There are definitely certain elements of books that I find time and time again are likely to lead to me giving a glowing review! (Take note authors, this is the way to win my heart…)

 

World Building

I read books primarily to escape reality so I want to feel like the world I’m escaping to is fully developed. When authors pay attention to the little details like political/historical backstory, local cuisine, religion/mythology, it makes me SO happy. Laini Taylor is my go-to example for amazing world building; her stories are so immersive because she thinks of all of these amazing details and really makes her settings come to life.

Examples of great world building…

 

 

Morally Grey Characters

I am all about the flawed characters. I cannot stand when an author makes their characters one-dimensional – a perfect female who can do literally everything, a villain with no realistic motivations who is just evil for the sake of it – no, thank you. I live for those characters who feel REAL, who have internal struggles and make mistakes just like the rest of us.

Examples of complex characters…

 

 

Food!

Yes, I am all about the tasty treats. This partially ties in with my point about the world building (because I honestly don’t understand when an author thinks their characters can go days without eating just because they’re on some magical quest. Like, give me all the snacks please.) So when a character actually eats something, I am 100% there for it. Even better if the author describes it in the most delicious way.

Some books with amazing foodie bits…

 

 

Diversity

This has become much more of a thing in recent years and I am SO pleased by it. No more all-white heterosexual casts of characters; I am living for the representation of minority groups. This is perhaps the most important point on my list which is why I’ve left it ’til last; I am far more likely to give a book 5 stars if it has represented a diverse group of characters. But it has to feel genuine; none of this adding in a token gay character or a black side character who gets killed off.

Some amazing diverse books…

 

So there you have it! If a book has one or two of these elements, it is much more likely to get a high rating from me. If it has all of them, it’s a winner! Almost all of the books I have featured in this post I gave 5 stars – and the ones I didn’t came incredibly close and would potentially get that 5-star rating from me now due to the long-term impact they’ve had on me.

What aspects of a book are essential to you in giving a 5-star rating? Do we share any required elements? And if you’ve read any of the books I featured, what did you think of them? 

 

If you liked that, try this!

Hey guys! The idea for this post came to me whilst I was lying awake on a recent overnight shift at work so I thought I’d give it a shot and see what you think of it! Basically, I love when someone reviews a book and then offers recommendations on similar things to read. It’s something I’d like to start doing but I’m not sure I can yet as I haven’t read hundreds and hundreds of books! So I thought I could do a post like this every now and then, offering some recommendations.

Without further ado, let’s recommend some books!

 

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If you liked…

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Try…

 

These books are all full of small-town charm, and are utterly delightful reads. They might look like ‘chick-lit’ but they are so much more than that; they have meaningful stories at their centres and make for heart-warming reads. The magical realism in all of them (excluding Slightly South of Simple) is one of my favourite aspects.

 

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If you liked…

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Try…

 

Norse Mythology is a natural progression from American Gods, though it is perhaps not quite so deep. If you’re intimidated by the size of American Gods, think of Norse Mythology as its easier-to-handle little brother. Pyramids is Terry Pratchett’s take on the gods and it features his trademark wit and satire. The Bone Clocks is similarly weird and wonderful to American Gods; it can be hard to get your head around at first but it’s so worth it.

 

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If you liked…

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Try…

 

Lush world-building and fantastic magic systems abound in these books about djinni and chimaera. I found the writing in The City of Brass particularly reminiscent of Laini Taylor’s books.

 

So there you have it! What do you guys think of my recommendations? Is this the kind of post you would like to see more often? I have a few more ideas in mind but didn’t want to overload you guys! Let me know your thoughts in the comments! x

 

‘The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter’ blog tour!

Hi everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Cherry Radford – read on to find out what the book is about!

 

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After the break-up of her marriage, Imogen escapes to her aunt’s converted lighthouse on Beachy Head. Writing for a tedious online magazine but hoping to starting a novel, she wants to be alone – until she finds an entrancing flamenco CD in her borrowed car and contacts the artist via Twitter. It turns out that actor-musician Santiago needs help with English and is soon calling her profesora.

Through her window, the other lighthouse winks at her across the sea. The one where her father was a keeper, until he mysteriously drowned there in 1982. Her aunt is sending extracts from his diary, and Imogen is intrigued to learn that, like her and Santi, her father had a penfriend.

Meanwhile, despite their differences – Imogen is surrounded by emotional and geographical barriers, Santi surrounded by family and land-locked Madrid – their friendship develops. So, she reads, did her father’s – but shocking revelations cause Imogen to question whether she ever really knew him.

Two stories of communication: the hilarious mistakes, the painful misunderstandings, and the miracle – or tragedy – of finding someone out there with whom you have an unforeseen, irresistible connection.

 

This book has an average rating of 4.26 on Goodreads and some great reviews, so definitely check it out if you’re interested!

Thank you to Urbane Publishers and the Love Books Group for sending me a copy of this book and inviting me to be part of the blog tour! Make sure you check out the other stops!

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‘In for the Kill’ spoiler-free review!

Hey everyone! I was delighted to receive an ARC recently of In for the Kill, the fourth book in the DI Fenchurch series by Ed James. Today is it’s release day and I’m thrilled to be taking part in the promotional blog tour!

 

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What the book is about…

A university student is found strangled to death in her bedroom, but when the embattled DI Simon Fenchurch is called in to investigate, the case strikes dangerously close to home.

On the surface, the victim was a popular, high-performing student. But as secret grudges against her emerge, so too does evidence that she was living a double life, working on explicit webcam sites for a seedy London ganglord. Everyone Fenchurch talks to knows a lot more than they’re willing to tell, and before long he’s making new enemies of his own—threatening to push him and his family past breaking point.

With too many suspects and not enough facts, Fenchurch knows his new superiors are just waiting for him to fail—they want him off the case, and off the force for good. His family is in more danger than ever before. So how deep is he willing to dig in order to unearth the truth?

 

What I thought of it…

I struggle to jump into the middle of book series like this because there is invariably something I’ve missed (even when the books can be read as standalones, there are usually running threads). However, I didn’t find it to be too much of an issue on this occasion as the author did a good job of setting things out clearly and recapping things that had happened earlier in the series. Obviously, there are still some things that probably didn’t mean as much to me as someone who has read the series from the start but even without those nuances, I found this to be an enjoyable read.

I really liked the scene-setting in this book and thought that the author created a perfect gloomy atmosphere to match his gritty story. This was a very modern thriller with lots of relevant cultural references which really added to my reading experience and gave an element of realism to the story.

I did find it hard to distinguish between characters at times as there were SO many to keep track of, but I found the protagonist Fenchurch very interesting. I also liked that the author included a transgender character, again making this very relevant to issues that are gaining more awareness in society of late.

I have mixed feelings about the ending of this book: some aspects were satisfying but other things were left open and will require the reader to continue with the series to get answers. At this point, I’d be more than happy to continue and find out what happens!

It did take me a little while to get used to the writing style of this book as the author seemed to want his sentences to be as short as possible; it seemed as though any little words or personal pronouns were dropped constantly!? But once I got used to this quirk, I found that it worked really well for the style of the book and the story the author was telling.

Overall, this was a fast and entertaining read that I would recommend to fans of police procedurals!

 

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In for the Kill released in the UK today (April 19th). Be sure to check out the other stops on the tour – and thanks for reading! 

 

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‘The Skincare Bible’ Blog Tour!

Hey everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Skincare Bible: Your No-Nonsense Guide to Great Skin by Dr Anjali Mahto. As someone who struggles with various skin issues, I was thrilled to be offered this book by Penguin Life and I hope to learn a lot from it.

 

What the book is about…

We all know that taking good care of our skin is the key to any effective health and beauty regime. But with so much conflicting information out there, the path to healthy skin can seem far from clear.

Dr Anjali Mahto is one of the UK’s leading consultant dermatologists. Equipped with years of expertise and the most up-to-date evidence, she sets out to cut through the noise and distinguish the nuggets from the nonsense. Chia seeds won’t make your skin glow and lilac water is never going to reduce acne scarring. And, when it comes to the best products, high price doesn’t necessarily mean high quality.

Tackling common complaints such as acne and dryness, rosacea and aging, The Skincare Bible is your definitive companion to your body’s biggest organ. Clear, concise and packed full of tips on the best products and routines, it will help you discover what works for you and find confidence in your own skin. This is your expert guide to great skin – pure and simple.

 

The book is split into sections covering a range of topics, including:-

  • A crash course in skin and its composition
  • The importance of a regular skincare routine
  • What different products and their ingredients can do for the skin
  • Suggested skincare routines for different types of skin
  • The effects of hormones on the skin
  • A range of skin complaints including acne, rosacea and dark eyes circles
  • The impact of lifestyle on our skin
  • Anti-ageing treatments
  • Skin cancer
  • How to find a dermatologist

 

What I’m thinking of it…

I’m currently reading this book and finding it very helpful. At the moment (I’m ashamed to say it), my skincare routine is virtually non-existent. There are so many products available that I just don’t know where to start, not to mention finding it hard to make time for my skin. Working 21-hour shifts doesn’t leave a lot of time for pampering.

But that’s what this book is teaching me. Looking after my skin is NOT indulgent. It’s a necessary part of life. I’m hoping that this book will arm me with the tools I need to be able to choose the right types of skincare products for me.

I love that Dr Mahto talks about her own skin struggles in this book; it’s nice to not be patronised by someone who has always had beautiful glowing skin and never had a spot in their life. The book is packed with scientific evidence and I think it will prove to be an invaluable resource as I work on developing my new skincare routine.

 

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Along with the book, I also received some products to try from Vichy and La Roche Posay. These are not sponsored by myself or Dr Mahto but she does recommend them, so I can’t wait to give them a try!

Thank you Penguin Life for sending these my way!

The Skincare Bible came out in the UK on April 5th.

Why Reading Is Good For Our Mental Health (As if we needed an excuse to read more)

Hello everyone! I have a slightly different kind of post for you today and I really hope you’ll take the time to read it as I believe it to be important. Having struggled with depression and anxiety for a large portion of my life, I have a number of things I do to try and keep my head above water. One of those things is reading. I have long been a believer in the healing power of books so today I wanted to share a list of ways that reading is beneficial to my mental health. I hope that some of you may also find this helpful.

 

Escapism

The main way that reading helps my mental health is that it allows me to escape the harsh realities of life. No matter what is worrying me, be it bigger concerns such as family, health, my job, or smaller niggling things like a phone call I have to make or an errand I need to run, reading allows me to switch off from all of that and forget for a while. This is why world-building in books is so important to me. I want a richly developed world that will transport me away from my cares, get me out of my own head, and let me lose myself for a few hours. Books are a refuge.

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Hope

This is another important one. Reading as vociferously as I do, I find a lot of books that really speak to me. I don’t know if it’s just a case of impeccable timing but often, a book can tell me exactly what I need to hear at a particular time. Certain writers in particular have an uncanny ability to speak to my soul and I am forever noting down quotes I find relatable. Then, if I’m having a low moment but not able to actually pick up a book (say I’m having a difficult shift at work), I can read a quick quote to give myself a little boost.

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Constancy

Books are ALWAYS there for me. No matter what else is going on in my life, I can take comfort in reading. There’s a reason I take a book everywhere with me. They are almost like a comfort blanket. Any situation where I feel uncomfortable, I can just whip out my book and lose myself instead of spiralling into a panic attack. Waiting rooms? Airports, train stations? Books have got me covered.

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Relaxation

Reading often goes hand-in-hand with other activities designed for relaxation. Whether it’s taking a bath, snuggling with a cup of tea on a lazy Sunday morning or just winding down for bed, you will find me reading. In fact, I am physically unable to fall asleep without reading at least a few pages. One of the most fun aspects of having anxiety (heavy sarcasm here people) is the tendency to ruminate for hours after climbing into bed. That joke you made at work today? No-one thought it was funny, they all just think you’re weird. That random pain you felt today? You’re clearly suffering from some fatal illness. The anxious brain is awful at dredging up the worst it has to offer when you’re trying to fall asleep. So my solution is just to read until I literally can’t keep my eyes open anymore and therefore I don’t give my brain the chance to torture me.

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Perspective

Now, I don’t agree with comparing your situation to others because that diminishes what each individual is going through. Everyone’s suffering is valid. JUST SAYING. However, if the ‘someone always has it worse’ viewpoint works for you, then books can help you along! You are definitely better off than that heroine who is being persecuted by an evil king/queen/government leader. You are not being eaten by a dragon/zombie/rabid dog. Count your blessings.

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I am often judged for the amount of reading I do but people simply don’t realise that, during my most extreme lows, reading is actually KEEPING ME ALIVE. Now thankfully, it rarely reaches that point. But I am still convinced that reading is a useful part of my anxiety toolbox and when I don’t utilise it, my mood definitely dips. So my message to you is this: don’t let people judge you for doing something that is necessary to your survival! Reading is a wonderful form of self-care and the benefits to our mental health are overwhelmingly clear.

 

I hope some of you found this post helpful and please do get in touch if you would like to chat further! Are these types of posts something you would like to see more of?

A Year of Book Club!

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In April 2016, a call went out on Instagram looking for people who were interested in a buddy read of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I was one of 5 people who responded and we began a journey together that is continuing to this day! We lost one of our members after the initial buddy read but the other 5 of us formed a book club, calling ourselves ‘The Story Voyagers’ since we are spread throughout the UK and USA. Since we have now been reading together for a year, I thought I’d look back on the books we’ve enjoyed together!

 

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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

This was the very first book we read together and what a great way to start! I had wanted to read Little Women for YEARS and just never made the time for it or always found an excuse to put it off because, if I’m honest, I found it a little intimidating. I’m so glad I joined the buddy read because it greatly enhanced my enjoyment of this classic and I think I got more out of it than I would have reading it on my own.

The book is less action-heavy and more of a character study, and I found myself invested in their lives despite the book being set in a time and place that I could not relate to hugely. It’s a very human book. I enjoyed seeing the girls’ transition to young women with families of their own. There were some lovely little humorous touches here and there, as well as more serious issues, and I thought the balance was just right. And of course, as a bookworm, my favourite character was Jo!

 

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Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Our second book choice was Love and Gelato, which sounded so cute and perfect for summer! I have always wanted to travel to Italy and this book only intensified those feelings! It took me a few chapters to get ‘invested’ and the plot twist was a little predictable, but it was lovely to read something non-taxing after finishing my final year of university! If you like contemporaries, I would definitely recommend this. Apparently, there is a spin-off in the works so I have no doubt that we will read that as a book club when it comes out!

 

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

In August of 2016, we took a slightly different turn and chose an historical fantasy set in an alternate Europe where Hitler was still in power. This may be my personal favourite that we’ve read as a group. I have never come across such a unique concept! This book had everything: romance, action, supernatural elements; it was so interesting! The pacing was great and the characters and plot were well-developed. Flashback scenes added a nice emotional depth. I have no words for the ending other than WOW. I could NOT put it down.

 

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The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

After the action of Wolf by Wolf, we decided to slow down again with another classic. I tried to read The Secret Garden as a child but found it too slow; where were the dragons?! I appreciated it so much more coming back to it as an adult. It is utterly heart-warming and features some of the best character development I have come across in any book. Yes, it wasn’t action-packed; however, it was compelling in a different way and made for a lovely group reading experience. As with Little Women, I feel that my appreciation for this classic was enhanced by reading it with friends.

 

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The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

For October, we wanted a darker read and voted for The Lie Tree, which had been on many of our TBR lists. As predicted, it was wonderfully slow-burning and atmospheric, with delicious Gothic undertones. It wasn’t too dark because it’s a young adult book after all, but it was a very well-executed novel. Hardinge clearly did her research, creating a realistic portrait of the lives of women in the Victorian era. There were so many subtle nuances in this book. I loved the balance between the fantastical and the logical, and Faith was a fabulous protagonist. I definitely want to read more from this author!

 

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

When the sequel for Wolf by Wolf came out, of course we had to read it! This turned out to be our last read of 2017 and what a way to end the year! It was every bit as thrilling as its predecessor, full of crazy twists and turns, and, like the first book, I could not put it down. Graudin’s writing is both exhilarating and beautiful, and there were some great one-liners in this book. The duology was among my favourite reads of 2016. And yeah, apparently I never took a picture of this one?!

 

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The Muse by Jessie Burton

Our first group read of 2017 was a 2016 bestseller! Both this and Burton’s other novel, The Miniaturist, had been sitting on my shelf and it was a case of not knowing which to read first. Book club decided it for me! I found this to be very slow at first and struggled to get into it, but in the end I found it so rewarding! Burton is a master story-teller, able to weave together two stories into an accomplished whole. The book is full of rich, evocative imagery in a beautifully realistic Spanish setting. On top of her powers of description, Burton writes dialogue extremely well. The characters all felt fleshed out and the story was believable and highly compelling. This is the kind of book that has you coming up with all kinds of crazy theories! The whole thing felt very well-researched and I would highly recommend it.

 

Replica by Lauren Oliver

This was our first experience with sci-fi as a book club! I don’t know about the other ladies but I’m not a massive reader of science fiction, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this! Replica is a very unique book in that it is written from two different perspectives; you read a chapter from one perspective, then you flip the book over and read from the other side. I think we all experienced some funny looks when people saw us reading this one ‘upside down’! The book has a great opening hook and a break-neck pace, so it was a very absorbing read. The moral questions raised were both interesting and relevant, and I appreciated that there were no huge info dumps, rather a steady trickle of information.

I was initially disappointed with the ending of this because it didn’t wrap up at all; then I discovered it’s the first in a duology (oops). Undoubtedly, we will read the sequel as a book club too. And I’ll take a picture of it when we do! *hangs head in shame*

 

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The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser

Out of all the books we’ve read together over the year, this is the only one to have disappointed us so far! The concept for this book is so unique and exciting that I think we all had super high expectations; and the book just couldn’t live up to them. I mean, this book is literally a bookworm’s dream come true; who wouldn’t want to dive into the book world and meet their favourite characters?! Sadly, it just wasn’t executed well. The writing felt very young in tone, leading me to believe that the book should have been marketed as Middle Grade rather than YA.

I had many issues with this book, mainly the overuse of exclamation marks and the amount of telling rather than showing. I don’t know how much was lost in translation as this book was initially written in German, but I just felt like something was lacking. The concept is still fantastic and the book is a complete love letter to literature; it just didn’t meet our enormous group expectations.

 

18380833_296576720802340_7873109352071036928_n.jpgWell, there you have it! A year of book club reads! I bet you feel like you’ve been on the year-long journey with us after the length of this blog post, oops. Sorry, not sorry. I’m enriching your life with great book recommendations!

We didn’t read a book every month because sometimes life gets in the way, but I’m pretty sure we’re all in this for the long run, and we have already chosen The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid as our next read. Here’s to another great reading year!

 

Is anyone else a member of a book club? Online or otherwise? What have been some of your favourite books that you’ve read together? Let me know in the comments!

Book Collections

Hey everyone! My name is Alex and I’m new to book blogging! After discovering the ‘bookstagram’ community on Instagram last year, I became an active member, combining my loves of reading and photography. I have always wanted a blog and, with a little persuasion from a friend, I have finally taken the plunge!

Anyone who is part of Bookstagram will undoubtedly have seen the beautiful bookish collections that some readers possess. It’s pretty hard not to be envious. I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t even aware of most of the amazing collections available to us as readers before I joined! So there have definitely been many occasions over the last year where #bookstagrammademebuyit.

Therefore, for my first post (eek!), I thought I’d show you some of the collections I’ve started to accumulate. No regrets.

Word Cloud/Canterbury Classics

IMG_20161129_155752The first collection I started as a result of Instagram was the Word Cloud Classics series published by Canterbury Classics. Little Women was my very first, after responding to a call for buddy readers (which I’m delighted to say blossomed into a bookclub that continues to this day). These books are wonderfully tactile and the engraved quotes on the front covers make them very visually striking. Plus the colour palette is beautiful. Every time I get a new one of these, I am heart eyes all over it. I hope to own the majority, if not all, of them someday.

Mr Boddington Penguin Classics

Next up are t13398882_1027864083975179_419168864_nhe elusive ‘Mr Boddingtons’. Anyone attempting to collect these will understand my pain at not being able to find the other three in the set but also my joy at owning the ones I do! This collection started completely by accident. While sitting my final exams of my undergraduate degree, I decided to treat myself after a particularly difficult exam and stopped by the university bookshop on my way home. A Mr Boddington edition of Pride and Prejudice was sitting all alone on a shelf, and immediately caught my eye. I had never read Pride and Prejudice but had been wanting to for some time, so I decided to get the book since it was one of the prettiest copies I’d seen. Only later did I come to realise what a gem I’d discovered! Now, if only something similar could happen and I could walk into a bookshop to find Jane Eyre…

Scholastic Classics

Confession time: I neve16122380_1078864595572527_87459582984585216_nr intended to collect these books. I told myself that the Word Clouds were the classic editions I was collecting, and that was that. Then one day, the Scholastic book fair appeared in the school where I work. I was a goner. I just loved the minimalistic ink splat covers and I’m a sucker for rainbow spines. I bought The Jungle Book and Anne of Green Gables for a whole £2 each and from there, it spiralled. I managed to find loads of these editions going really cheap on Ebay and knew then that another collection had been born. I will say that I’ve managed to be good and, so far, I don’t have any duplicates between this set and the Word Cloud Classics. This will probably change as I’m the kind of person who needs to complete a collection but, for now at least, I don’t feel as guilty!

White’s Fine Editions

This is another col18095679_304201230002024_4826439696101933056_nlection I never intended to start. (Seriously, the bookstagram community are a bad influence!) I was looking for a pretty edition of Jane Eyre for my personal library since the only one I had was my tatty old copy from school. When I saw the White’s Fine edition, I knew it was the one. I fully intended to stop there. But then a lovely friend sent me a copy of Emma for my birthday (which is one of the rarer members of the collection) and I thought to myself, “well, I might as well get them all now!” I found the other two on Amazon UK and Amazon France, meaning I’m halfway to a complete collection!

WHSmith Yellowbacks

17586978_778410758982878_1616672247659888640_n My most recent acquisitions are these gorgeous yellowbacks published by WHSmith in association with Vintage. These have been released in celebration of the 225th anniversary of the yellowback, convenient pocket-sized books that were sold in train stations around the country so that travellers had access to quality reading material on their journeys. I love the titles that were chosen for this collection, as they do not duplicate the same ones that always seem to be featured in classic collections. They have delightfully retro covers and gorgeous black-stained pages (another thing I didn’t know existed before my Instagram conversion!) Thankfully, there are only the 7 titles in this collection and I was able to get them when they were on special offer, so I’m a happy little bunny with at least one collection complete. Who knows how long it will take me to finish the others?!

Well, there you have it. My very first blog post. I’d love to know your thoughts on how I did – did I ramble on too long? Are book collections something you’d be interested in seeing more of? (You know this isn’t all I have, right?) I’d love to chat books with you so feel free to get in touch here, or on Twitter, Goodreads or (my favourite!) Instagram. You can find me @ paperbackpiano on all platforms. Thanks so much for reading!