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!

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)

Down The TBR Hole [#2]

Hello lovelies! Thank you for giving me such a positive response when I decided to join in with the ‘Down the TBR Hole’ meme 😀 Let’s dive straight into round two, shall we?

down the tbr hole.png

‘Down The TBR Hole’ is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story, though she now blogs @ Sunflowers and Wonder!

Here are the rules:-

  1. Go to your Goodreads want-to-read shelf.
  2. Order on ascending date added.
  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. 
  4. Read the synopses of the books
  5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
  6. Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time!

Rasputin: The Untold Story by Joseph T. Fuhrmann

rasputin

A century after his death, Grigory Rasputin remains fascinating: the Russian peasant with hypnotic eyes who befriended Tsar Nicholas II and helped destroy the Russian Empire, but the truth about his strange life has never fully been told. Written by the world’s leading authority on Rasputin, this new biography draws on previously closed Soviet archives to offer new information on Rasputin’s relationship with Empress Alexandra, sensational revelations about his sexual conquests, a re-examination of his murder, and more.

– Based on long-closed Soviet archives and the author’s decades of research, encompassing sources ranging from baptismal records and forgotten police reports to notes written by Rasputin and personal letters
– Reveals new information on Rasputin’s family history and strange early life, religious beliefs, and multitudinous sexual adventures as well as his relationship with Empress Alexandra, ability to heal the haemophiliac tsarevich, and more
– Includes many previously unpublished photos, including contemporary studio photographs of Rasputin and samples of his handwriting
– Written by historian Joesph T. Fuhrmann, a Rasputin expert whose 1990 biography Rasputin: A Life was widely praised as the best on the subject
– Synthesizing archival sources with published documents, memoirs, and other studies of Rasputin into a single, comprehensive work, Rasputin: The Untold Story will correct a century’s worth of misconception and error about the life and death of the famous Siberian mystic and healer and the decline and fall of Imperial Russia.

I think I added this one due to my love of all things Russian and particularly, my childhood love of Anastasia. However, I tend to struggle with non-fiction. Unless someone was to buy this for me, I’m unlikely to ever get to it.

Verdict: Remove


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ready player one

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

I’ve owned this book for FAR too long. I’m determined to read it. I think I’ll make it one of my must-reads for 2020.

Verdict: Keep

[Related post: 12 Books I MUST Read in 2019!]


Matched by Ally Condie

matched

In the Society, officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It’s hardly any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one…until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path no one else has ever dared follow—between perfection and passion.

Matched is a story for right now and storytelling with the resonance of a classic.

I’m hoping this is a judgement-free zone! I added this one in my very early Goodreads days, back when I was behind on years’ worth of books. Books like this were all the rage back then and I wanted to see what I was missing. I think the time has definitely passed.

Verdict: Remove


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

a monster calls.jpg

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.

From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd – whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself – Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

Patrick Ness is one of my auto-buy authors so of course, I already own a copy of this. But to this day, I have not had the courage to pick it up. Having lost my own mum to cancer when I was young, I know that this one is going to be very close to the bone for me. I’d like to read it one day but I need to make sure I’m in a mentally strong place.

Verdict: Keep


The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

kavalier and clay.jpg

Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America – the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men. With exhilarating style and grace, Michael Chabon tells an unforgettable story about American romance and possibility.

I think I found this on a Pinterest list waaay back in the day. I’ve never really heard much about it since. But it sounds like it could be interesting.

Verdict: Keep


The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

water knife

In the American Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, and California skirmish for dwindling shares of the Colorado River. Into the fray steps Angel Velasquez, leg-breaker, assassin, and spy. A Las Vegas water knife, Angel “cuts” water for his boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her luxurious developments can bloom in the desert, so the rich can stay wet while the poor get dust. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in drought-ravaged Phoenix, it seems California is making a play to monopolize the life-giving flow of the river, and Angel is sent to investigate. There, he encounters Lucy Monroe, a drought-hardened journalist, and Maria Villarosa, a young refugee who survives by her wits in a city that despises everything she represents. For Angel, Lucy, and Maria, time is running out and their only hope for survival rests in each other’s hands. But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only thing for certain is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.

I think this came from the same Pinterest list as the previous book. This cli-fi sounds to me a lot like Neal and Jarrod Shusterman’s Dry. So I feel like I’ve kind of been there, done that? And I don’t know if I’d like the gangster slant in this one.

Verdict: Remove


The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

buried giant

The extraordinary new novel from the author of Never Let Me Go and the Booker Prize winning The Remains of the Day. The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased. The Buried Giant begins as a couple, Axl and Beatrice, set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen for years. They expect to face many hazards – some strange and other-worldly – but they cannot yet foresee how their journey will reveal to them dark and forgotten corners of their love for one another. Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.

I’ve never read anything by Ishiguro but I like the sound of this one. Plus I already own it so I have no excuse not to read it.

Verdict: Keep


Last Night in Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel

last night in montreal.jpg

Lilia has been leaving people behind her entire life. Haunted by her inability to remember her early childhood, and by a mysterious shadow that seems to dog her wherever she goes, Lilia moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers and friends along the way. But then she meets Eli, and he’s not ready to let her go, not without a fight.

Gorgeously written, charged with tension and foreboding, Emily St. John Mandel’s Last Night in Montreal is the story of a life spent at the centre of a criminal investigation. It is a novel about identity, love and amnesia, the depths and limits of family bonds and – ultimately – about the nature of obsession.

Station Eleven is one of my all-time favourites so I definitely want to read more from this author.

Verdict: Keep


The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

lola quartet.jpg

The Lola Quartet: Jack, Daniel, Sasha and Gavin, four talented musicians at the end of their high school careers. On the dream-like night of their last concert, Gavin’s girlfriend Anna disappears. Ten years later Gavin sees a photograph of a little girl who looks uncannily like him and who shares Anna’s surname, and suddenly he finds himself catapulted back to a secretive past he didn’t realise he’d left behind.

But that photo has set off a cascade of dangerous consequences and, as one by one the members of the Lola Quartet are reunited, a terrifying story emerges: of innocent mistakes, of secrecy and of a life lived on the run.

Filled with love, music and thwarted dreams, Emily St. John Mandel’s The Lola Quartet is a thrilling novel about how the errors of the past can threaten the future.

As above. Plus I find these book covers really striking, so I want to see them all lined up on my shelves!

Verdict: Keep


The Singer’s Gun by Emily St. John Mandel

singer's gun

After shaking off an increasingly dangerous venture with his cousin, Anton Waker has spent years constructing an honest life for himself. But then a routine security check brings his past crashing back towards him. His marriage and career in ruins, Anton finds himself in Italy with one last job from his cousin. But there is someone on his tail and they are getting closer . . .

The Singer’s Gun follows Anton, Alex Broden – a detective on the trail of a people trafficker, and Elena, caught up in the investigation against her will. Taut and thrilling, it is a novel about identity and loyalty, and the things we are willing to sacrifice for love.

Yeah, I feel like a broken record now. They’re all staying.

Verdict: Keep


Landline by Rainbow Rowell

landline

 

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

Wow, that’s a long synopsis. This is another one that I own and want to read at some point. I didn’t actually realise that it was set near Christmas so maybe I’ll read it before the year is over.

Verdict: Keep


Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

attachments.jpg

It’s 1999 and the internet is still a novelty. At a newspaper office, two colleagues, Beth and Jennifer, e-mail back and forth, discussing their lives in hilarious details, from love troubles to family dramas. And Lincoln, a shy IT guy responsible for monitoring e-mails, spends his hours reading every exchange.

At first their e-mails offer a welcome diversion, but the more he reads, the more he finds himself falling for one of them. By the time Lincoln realises just how head-over-heels he is, it’s too late to introduce himself.

After a series of close encounters, Lincoln eventually decides he must follow his heart… and find out if there is such a thing as love before first sight.

Yeah, so you’ll notice that I had a habit back in the day of adding every book an author had written. I don’t own this one and it sounds like a straight-up romance which is not really a genre I read. Maybe if I like Landline, I’ll add it back but for now…

Verdict: Remove


Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

carry on

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a love letter to love stories and the power of words – to every ‘chosen one’ who ever had more on their mind than saving the world.

*waits for the gasps of horror*

No, I’ve never read Carry On. Honestly? I’m apprehensive; I’m not sure how I’m going to feel about this Harry Potter spoof. But I’d like to read it just to see what the hype is all about. And I do like the nod to Supernatural in the book titles (whether it was intended or not).

Verdict: Keep


The House on Carnaval Street by Deborah Rodriguez

carnaval street

When her family faces kidnap threats after the publication of her first book, Deborah Rodriguez is forced to flee Kabul, leaving behind her friends, her possessions, the beauty school she helped found and her two beloved businesses: a beauty salon and a coffee shop.

But life proves no easier ‘back home’. After a year living on top of a mountain in the Napa Valley and teetering on the edge of sanity, Deborah makes a decision. One way or another she’s going to get the old Deb back.

So, at the age of forty-nine, she packs her life and her cat Polly into her Mini Cooper and heads south to a pretty seaside town in Mexico. Home is now an unassuming little house on Carnaval Street.

There she struggles to learn Spanish, works out with strippers and spends her Sunday nights watching clowns. And maybe – just maybe – the magic of Mexico will finally give her what she’s always dreamed of: a life on her own terms . . .

I added this one after enjoying The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul but I managed to miss the fact that it was a memoir (I thought maybe it was fiction but based on truth? I don’t know.) Anyway, I don’t tend to read memoirs unless they’re by someone I’m super interested in.

Verdict: Remove


Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

dark places

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?

I recently unhauled the physical copy of this from my shelves so it can definitely come off my digital shelf too! I just feel like this author is really over-hyped and I’m no longer interested in reading her books. (Sorry if that offends anyone!)

Verdict: Remove


The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

the rest of us just live here

Not everyone has to be the chosen one

What if you’re not an indie kid, fighting zombies, or whatever this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Sometimes you just have to discover how even an ordinary life can be extraordinary.

From the bestselling and award-winning author of A Monster Calls and More Than This comes a bold, funny and insightful about many different types of remarkable.

Ah, another Patrick Ness. I must read this one of these days.

Verdict: Keep


The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness

crane wife

One night, George Duncan – decent man, a good man – is woken by a noise in his garden. Impossibly, a great white crane has tumbled to earth, shot through its wing by an arrow. Unexpectedly moved, George helps the bird, and from the moment he watches it fly off, his life is transformed.

The next day, a kind but enigmatic woman walks into George’s shop. Suddenly a new world opens up for George, and one night she starts to tell him the most extraordinary story.

Wise, romantic, magical and funny, The Crane Wife is a hymn to the creative imagination and a celebration of the disruptive and redemptive power of love.

This is probably the Patrick Ness book that I’ve heard the least about but oh my word, it sounds wonderful.

Verdict: Keep


The New World, The Wide Wide Sea, and Snowscape by Patrick Ness

The New World: In this dramatic prequel to the award-winning Chaos Walking Trilogy, author Patrick Ness gives us a short story of Viola’s journey to the New World.

The Wide, Wide Sea: The Wide, Wide Sea is set in the past, at a time before the Spackle War, and we get a first look at the fishing village on the sea where some very important things happen at the end of Monsters of Men.

Snowscape: Snowscape is set after the end of Monsters of Men, so that’s when you should read it. That’s all I’ll say, I don’t want to give anything away. 😉 – Patrick Ness

I’m taking these three short stories together because I can’t be bothered to repeat myself 3 times lol. These stories all relate to the Chaos Walking trilogy which I loved but they’re only available as e-books and that’s not a format I enjoy reading. Plus it’s been years since I actually read the trilogy so these wouldn’t resonate as much with me nowadays.

Verdict: Remove


Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link

magic for beginners

The nine stories in Link’s second collection are the spitting image of those in her acclaimed debut, Stranger Things Happen: effervescent blends of quirky humor and pathos that transform stock themes of genre fiction into the stuff of delicate lyrical fantasy. In “Stone Animals,” a house’s haunting takes the unusual form of hordes of rabbits that camp out nightly on the front lawn. This proves just one of several benign but inexplicable phenomena that begin to pull apart the family newly moved into the house as surely as a more sinister supernatural influence might. The title story beautifully captures the unpredictable potential of teenage lives through its account of a group of adolescent schoolfriends whose experiences subtly parallel events in a surreal TV fantasy series. Zombies serve as the focus for a young man’s anxieties about his future in “Some Zombie Contingency Plans” and offer suggestive counterpoint to the lives of two convenience store clerks who serve them in “The Hortlak.” Not only does Link find fresh perspectives from which to explore familiar premises, she also forges ingenious connections between disparate images and narrative approaches to suggest a convincing alternate logic that shapes the worlds of her highly original fantasies.

I feel like this synopsis is trying very hard? But I still quite like sound of this book and I’ve been enjoying short story collections more and more recently.

Verdict: Keep


Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales edited by Kelly Link

monstrous affections.jpg

Fifteen top voices in speculative fiction explore the intersection of fear and love in a haunting, at times hilarious, darkly imaginative volume.

Predatory kraken that sing with – and for – their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as to repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side-by-side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling, to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these, and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.

With Monstrous Stories by M. T. Anderson, Paolo Bacigalupi, Nathan Ballingrud, Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, Nalo Hopkinson, Dylan Horrocks
Nik Houser, Alice Sola Kim, Kathleen Jennings, Joshua Lewis, Kelly Link, Patrick Ness and G. Carl Purcell.

I obviously added this based on the Kelly Link connection but it sounds pretty awesome and there are some authors whose contributions I’d like to read.

Verdict: Keep



Books removed in this post: 9

Books removed in total: 17

Total books analysed: 42

Do you participate in ‘Down The TBR Hole’? What do you think of my decisions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! xsignature (2)

October 2019 Wrap-Up!

Hey everyone! I’m slightly late with this wrap-up but I want to share with you what I’ve been reading recently!

october 2019 wrapup


Review Books

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

I was delighted to be sent a copy of the final book in the Winternight trilogy for a blog tour. This series conclusion was everything I could have wanted and more. Utterly stunning!

 

The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner

I received a copy of this one from Titan Books and it was perfectly spooky for October! It was billed as YA but felt more middle-grade to me. However, I still enjoyed the story and would agree with the comparisons to Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

 

Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women by Sharon Blackie

This was a stunning collection of short stories inspired by European mythology and folktales. The artwork was stunning and there wasn’t a single story I didn’t like. It was fantastic.

 

Angel Mage by Garth Nix

I received an ARC of this highly anticipated new release from Gollancz but unfortunately, I struggled a little with it. I found it to be overly complex and there were lots of unnecessary characters to contend with. I did appreciate the feminist elements though.

 

The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo

I really enjoyed this story of girls lifting each other up and being strong together. The book was very readable and I loved the setting.


Books from my TBR

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

I read this in preparation for the final book in the trilogy. It was an excellent middle book which genuinely developed the story and continued the character arcs, rather than feeling like simply filler.

 

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

This adorable graphic novel was a perfect seasonal read. I loved the artwork and the abundance of autumnal snacks featured. I’m hoping we’ll be treated to a sequel at some point.

 

Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

This is one of those rare cases where I enjoyed the second book more than the first! I preferred the setting in this one and felt less like I was being spoon-fed. The plot is developing nicely.

 

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

I was nervous about this one as I’m such a big fan of Frankenstein. But it’s clear that Kiersten White is a fan too. This reimagining felt respectful of the original while also adding its unique spin. Very enjoyable.

 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

I did it! I read Dracula! It wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I’m so glad to have finally read this Gothic classic. I will be sharing more thoughts soon!


Rereads

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Since I already had books two and three on my tbr, I decided to just reread book one and binge my way through the whole trilogy. It really made me appreciate the development of Vasya’s character and I loved immersing myself in Arden’s gorgeous writing.

 

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

I wanted to reread this one before diving into Tunnel of Bones. I had been looking back on it fondly but when rereading, I was reminded of everything that had irritated me. Oops.


Non-Fiction

hypnosis for change

Hypnosis for Change by Josie Hadley & Carol Staudacher

I read this one for my diploma course. It is a resource that I found very helpful and I will probably refer to it in future practice.


Stats

Total pages: 4247

Average pages per day: 137

Longest book: Angel Mage (560 pages)

Shortest book: Pumpkinheads (209 pages)

Favourite read of the month: Foxfire, Wolfskin & Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women

Biggest disappointment of the month: Angel Mage

Male authors: 2

Female authors: 10

october 2019 wrapup


What was your favourite read of October? Or your biggest disappointment? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

November 2019 Anticipated Releases!

It’s finally November! Not that I’ve been wishing the year away but this is the month that some of my most anticipated books of the year are finally being released!! I am very excited 😀

For some reason, a lot of the books I was planning to feature this month have been pushed back and now won’t release until December, so this is going to be a shorter post than usual. But some of the entries more than make up for it, in my opinion.

Let’s dive in and see what delights November has in store for us, shall we?

[As always, all covers and synopses are taken from Goodreads, and I have used UK release dates.]

November


By Any Means Necessary by Candice Montgomery

Release date: November 1st

by any means necessary.jpg

On the day Torrey officially becomes a college freshman, he gets a call that might force him to drop out before he’s even made it through orientation: the bee farm his beloved uncle Miles left him after his tragic death is being foreclosed on.

Torrey would love nothing more than to leave behind the family and neighbourhood that’s bleeding him dry. But he still feels compelled to care for the project of his uncle’s heart. As the farm heads for auction, Torrey precariously balances choosing a major and texting Gabriel—the first boy he ever kissed—with the fight to stop his uncle’s legacy from being demolished. But as notice letters pile up and lawyers appear at his dorm, dividing himself between family and future becomes impossible unless he sacrifices a part of himself.

Why I’m interested: The early reviews I’ve seen for this one have been incredibly positive. I’ve developed a real love of contemporaries in recent months and this one just sounds wonderful. LGBT and bees? Sign me up.


Beyond the Black Door by A. M. Strickland

Release date: November 1st

beyond the black door.jpg

Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people’s souls while they sleep.

But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.

When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.

A.M. Strickland’s imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai’s own soul, but the entire kingdom…

Why I’m interested: The premise of this one sounds so cool! Journeying into people’s souls? Whoa. Sounds great.


Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Robertson

Release date: November 1st

lifestyles of gods and monsters

Sixteen-year-old Ariadne’s whole life is curated and shared with the world. Her royal family’s entertainment empire is beloved by the tabloids, all over social media, and the hottest thing on television. The biggest moneymaker? The Labyrinth Contest, a TV extravaganza in which Ariadne leads fourteen teens into a maze to kill a monster. To win means endless glory; to lose means death. In ten seasons, no one has ever won.

When the gorgeous, mysterious Theseus arrives at the competition and asks Ariadne to help him to victory, she doesn’t expect to fall for him. He might be acting interested in her just to boost ratings. Their chemistry is undeniable, though, and she can help him survive. If he wins, the contest would end for good. But if she helps him, she doesn’t just endanger her family’s empire―the monster would have to die. And for Ariadne, his life might be the only one worth saving.

Ariadne’s every move is watched by the public and predestined by the gods, so how can she find a way to forge her own destiny and save the people she loves?

Why I’m interested: This sounds like it will be the most hilarious combination of Greek mythology and trash tv. I’m here for it.


The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Release date: November 5th

starless sea

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood. Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues–a bee, a key, and a sword–that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians–it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also those who are intent on its destruction.

Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly-soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose–in both the mysterious book and in his own life.

Why I’m interested: This is it people! My most anticipated release of the year, possibly ever! I cannot wait to immerse myself in more of Erin Morgenstern’s gorgeous writing and I have no doubt that I will adore this.


Winterwood by Shea Earnshaw

Release date: November 5th

winterwood

Be careful of the dark, dark wood . . .

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

Why I’m interested: This is another one I’m very excited about! I loved this author’s debut, The Wicked Deep, so I’m looking forward to reading more from her.


The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White

Release date: November 5th

guinevere deception

Princess Guinevere has come to Camelot to wed a stranger: the charismatic King Arthur. With magic clawing at the kingdom’s borders, the great wizard Merlin conjured a solution–send in Guinevere to be Arthur’s wife . . . and his protector from those who want to see the young king’s idyllic city fail. The catch? Guinevere’s real name–and her true identity–is a secret. She is a changeling, a girl who has given up everything to protect Camelot.

To keep Arthur safe, Guinevere must navigate a court in which the old–including Arthur’s own family–demand things continue as they have been, and the new–those drawn by the dream of Camelot–fight for a better way to live. And always, in the green hearts of forests and the black depths of lakes, magic lies in wait to reclaim the land. Arthur’s knights believe they are strong enough to face any threat, but Guinevere knows it will take more than swords to keep Camelot free.

Deadly jousts, duplicitous knights, and forbidden romances are nothing compared to the greatest threat of all: the girl with the long black hair, riding on horseback through the dark woods toward Arthur. Because when your whole existence is a lie, how can you trust even yourself?

Why I’m interested: Having recently enjoyed The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, I’m interested to read another feminist retelling from this author. Hopefully she’ll do just as good a job with this one.


The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Release date: November 7th

the toll

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

Why I’m interested: Why is the blurb so short?! I have the fear. But I’m beyond excited to see how this trilogy ends after that cliff-hanger at the end of book two. And I’m thrilled to already have a copy of this one thanks to Walker Books! I should be reading it as this post publishes!


The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim

Release date: November 14th

surprising power of a good dumpling.jpg

Anna Chiu has her hands pretty full looking after her brother and sister and helping out at her dad’s restaurant, all while her mum stays in bed. Dad’s new delivery boy, Rory, is a welcome distraction and even though she knows that things aren’t right at home, she’s starting to feel like she could just be a normal teen.

But when Mum finally gets out of bed, things go from bad to worse. And as Mum’s condition worsens, Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.

A nourishing tale about the crevices of culture, mental wellness and family, and the surprising power of a good dumpling.

Why I’m interested: This one flew under my radar initially but I’ve since seen a couple of fantastic reviews for it. I love that mental health seems to be a big theme and I’d really like to see how it’s handled. Plus foodie fiction!


Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia

Release date: November 14th

now entering addamsville

Zora Novak has been framed.

When someone burns down the home of the school janitor and he dies in the blaze, everyone in Addamsville, Indiana, points a finger at Zora. Never mind that Zora has been on the straight and narrow since her father was thrown in jail. With everyone looking for evidence against her, her only choice is to uncover the identity of the real killer. There’s one big problem—Zora has no leads. No one does. Addamsville has a history of tragedy, and thirty years ago a similar string of fires left several townspeople dead. The arsonist was never caught.

Now, Zora must team up with her cousin Artemis—an annoying self-proclaimed Addamsville historian—to clear her name. But with a popular ghost-hunting television show riling up the townspeople, almost no support from her family and friends, and rumors spinning out of control, things aren’t looking good. Zora will have to read between the lines of Addamsville’s ghost stories before she becomes one herself.

Why I’m interested: Eliza and Her Monsters is still on my wishlist but I can’t help adding this one right alongside it. It gives me great spooky mystery vibes. And I’m a little bit in love with the cover.



Are you excited about any of these books? Is there anything I haven’t featured that you’re looking forward to? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

Recommendations from the Piano: Creepy Classics!

Hello lovely people! It’s been a while since I did my very first recommendations post but I want to thank you for responding to it so positively! It gave me a lovely confidence boost 😀

So I’m back with another one today! I wasn’t sure what to recommend first for the spooky season as there are honestly SO many books I love that are just perfect for this time of year. But I’ve seen bloggers such as The Orangutan Librarian and Pages Unbound talking so eloquently about classics so I thought I’d link up with them and recommend some of my favourite creepy classics that are perfect to read in Autumn!

recommendations - creepy classics


wuthering heights

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

This book is fairly divisive but I think a lot of the people who hate it tend to be the ones who go in thinking it’s a love story. It’s not! This is a story of two haunted young people, revenge plots, corruption, and the stormy Yorkshire moors. It’s one of my all-time favourites and I could read it at any time of year, but I think the rain and gloom of Autumn add particularly to its atmosphere.

 

jane eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I can’t mention Emily Brontë without giving a nod to her sister. Jane Eyre has so many great Gothic elements, including the absolutely fabulous setting and of course the legendary Bertha Mason. The time is definitely right to light a candle and read this one under a blanket.

 

rebecca du maurier

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

And I can’t talk about Jane Eyre without then mentioning a book heavily inspired by it! I’m fairly new to du Maurier having only read this one last year. But it’s easy to see why this is a classic. The symbolism alone makes this novel an absolute masterpiece but then you’ve got the characters, the house… everything is just fabulous. If you call yourself a fan of the Gothic, you need to read this one.

 

frankenstein penguin horror

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I studied this one in school alongside Wuthering Heights and I’ll be totally honest: I wasn’t immediately enamoured with it. But the more I learned about it, the more I began to appreciate it. And I have since read it multiple times. Autumn is the perfect time to read this one as the titular character Victor embarks on his university education but decides to go down a rather unconventional path with disastrous consequences…

 

picture of dorian gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

First entry on the list written by a man! I have rather a love for Gothic queens. But this one is deserving of a place on a creepy classics recommendation list! A portrait that absorbs a persons sins and ages in their place? It doesn’t get much creepier than that!

 

turn of the screw

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

This is one of the original ghost stories! The ambiguity of this one makes it perfect for those of you who enjoy a good mystery in the darker months. I will say no more… 😉

 

haunting of hill house

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Another Autumn/Halloween queen! This book is brimming with a deliciously creepy atmosphere. I wasn’t sure whether to recommend this one or We Have Always Lived in the Castle – but I guess I’ve just mentioned both so 😉

 

macbeth.jpg

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Yes, I’m recommending a play! It’s not very often I shout about Shakespeare here on the blog but he really is one of my first loves. This is one of his spookiest plays, being set in a Scottish castle and featuring plenty of witches and ghosties!

 

woman in black

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

This is definitely one of the creepiest classics on this list. There were some moments in this that genuinely freaked me out and I certainly wouldn’t recommend reading it in the dark before bed! This book also has one of the most memorable endings in all of literature. A must-read, for sure.

 

hound of the baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sherlock Holmes

I’m sensing a lot of similarities between the settings of these books – old Gothic houses in isolated locations? I’m here for them all. This one is a cracking little murder mystery story about a hellhound roaming the moors; it’s perfect to read on a dark night while the rain lashes against the windows.

 

sleepy hollow

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

This one practically demands to be read near Halloween. While the prose is a little slow in pace, this story of the Headless Horseman is a good one. And it’s been adapted into graphic novel format if that’s your thing!

 

the raven

The Raven and Other Stories by Edgar Allen Poe

While you’re at it with the short stories, make sure you pick up some Poe! I can think of no better time to discover The Raven, The Pit and the Pendulum, and my personal favourite The Tell-Tale Heart. It’s all so deliciously macabre.

 

something wicked this way comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Finally (because you have to have 13 recommendations on a creepy classics list 😉 ) is a slightly more modern classic. While I love my Gothic queens, Bradbury is the king of Autumn. Something Wicked This Way Comes is about so much more than a Halloween carnival (though that alone would make me love it). It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story and features some absolutely stunning imagery. If you read any book on this list, make it this one ❤


So those are my recommendations for creepy classics to read this Autumn! How many have you read? Any that are on your list to read? Let me know in the comments! xsignature (2)

Down The TBR Hole [#1]

Hello lovelies! I’ve really been wanting to tidy up my Goodreads shelves recently so I’m finally diving into this meme! I’ve seen so many people doing ‘Down the TBR Hole’ and it always intrigues me, so hopefully you won’t mind me joining in with it 😀

I’m going to format these posts in the same way as I do my anticipated releases for the month because I really like that setup!

down the tbr hole.png

‘Down The TBR Hole’ is a meme created by Lia @ Lost in a Story, though she now blogs @ Sunflowers and Wonder!

Here are the rules:-

  1. Go to your Goodreads want-to-read shelf.
  2. Order on ascending date added.
  3. Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. 
  4. Read the synopses of the books
  5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
  6. Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next time!

The Little Prince by Antoine de Sainte-Exupéry

little prince

Moral allegory and spiritual autobiography, The Little Prince is the most translated book in the French language. With a timeless charm it tells the story of a little boy who leaves the safety of his own tiny planet to travel the universe, learning the vagaries of adult behaviour through a series of extraordinary encounters. His personal odyssey culminates in a voyage to Earth and further adventures.

This is one of those classics that I feel like I should have read as a child. Sadly, that time is long-since past but I’d still like to read this book at some point and see what it’s all about.

Verdict: Keep


The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

bell jar

The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.

This is another one of those classics that I absolutely want to read at some point – particularly as this is a mental-health related title. I feel like I’m the only person in the world that hasn’t read The Bell Jar and that’s something I want to remedy.

Verdict: Keep


Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

smoke and mirrors

The distinctive storytelling genius of Neil Gaiman has been acclaimed by writers as diverse as Norman Mailer and Stephen King. Now in this new collection of stories–several of which have never before appeared in print and more than half that have never been collected–that will dazzle the senses and haunt the imagination.

Miraculous inventions and unforgettable characters inhabit these pages: an elderly widow who finds the Holy Grail in a second-hand store…a frightened little boy who bargains for his life with a troll living under a bridge by the railroad tracks…a stray cat who battles nightly against a recurring evil that threatens his unsuspecting adoptive family. In these stories, Gaiman displays the power, wit, insight and outrageous originality that has made him one of the most unique literary artists of our day.

I fully intend to read everything Neil Gaiman has written. It’s just a case of when. I’m taking part in a Gaiman readathon in November so maybe I’ll pick this one up if I’m in the mood for some short stories.

Verdict: Keep


Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

wicked

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?

Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.

An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

I pretty much know the story of this one thanks to the fabulous musical soundtrack. And I’ve heard that the book itself isn’t actually that great. I think I’d rather just go see the show.

Verdict: Remove


The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

wasp factory.jpg

Frank, no ordinary sixteen-year-old, lives with his father outside a remote Scottish village. Their life is, to say the least, unconventional. Frank’s mother abandoned them years ago: his elder brother Eric is confined to a psychiatric hospital; and his father measures out his eccentricities on an imperial scale. Frank has turned to strange acts of violence to vent his frustrations. In the bizarre daily rituals there is some solace. But when news comes of Eric’s escape from the hospital Frank has to prepare the ground for his brother’s inevitable return – an event that explodes the mysteries of the past and changes Frank utterly.

The Wasp Factory is a work of horrifying compulsion: horrifying, because it enters a mind whose realities are not our own, whose values of life and death are alien to our society; compulsive, because the humour and compassion of that mind reach out to us all. A novel of extraordinary originality, imagination and comic ferocity.

I don’t know why I ever added this. Maybe the mention of a psychiatric hospital? But honestly, it sounds kind of horrific. Add to that all the negative reviews and I don’t fancy it.

Verdict: Remove


Let The Right One In by John Adjvide Lindqvist

let the right one in

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….

I’ve heard mixed things about this author but since this is a classic of the genre, I think I’ll let it stay (for now).

Verdict: Keep


The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister

magicians lie

Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus in The Magician’s Lie, a debut novel in which the country’s most notorious female illusionist stands accused of her husband’s murder –and she has only one night to convince a small-town policeman of her innocence.

The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden’s husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear.

But when Virgil happens upon the fleeing magician and takes her into custody, she has a very different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless—and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding. Over the course of one eerie night, Virgil must decide whether to turn Arden in or set her free… and it will take all he has to see through the smoke and mirrors.

I don’t remember adding this one but I can tell from the first line of the synopsis why I did. Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus? Sounds made for me. This one can stay.

Verdict: Keep


I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

i am the messenger

Ed Kennedy is an underage cabdriver without much of a future. He’s pathetic at playing cards, hopelessly in love with his best friend, Audrey, and utterly devoted to his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman. His life is one of peaceful routine and incompetence until he inadvertently stops a bank robbery.

That’s when the first ace arrives in the mail.

That’s when Ed becomes the messenger.

Chosen to care, he makes his way through town helping and hurting (when necessary) until only one question remains: Who’s behind Ed’s mission?

The Book Thief is one of my all-time favourite books and I’ve always been intrigued by Zusak’s other books. Plus I own a copy of this one. I just need to get to it at some point.

Verdict: Keep


Collected Folk Tales by Alan Garner

collected folk tales

The definitive collection of traditional British folk tales, selected and retold by the renowned Alan Garner.

Following on from the fiftieth anniversary of Alan Garner’s seminal fantasy classic, THE WEIRDSTONE OF BRISINGAMEN, here are collected all of Alan’s folk tales, told with his unique storytelling skill and inimitably clear voice. Essential reading for young and old alike.

Among the stories collected here are:
• Kate Crackernuts
• Gold-Tree and Silver-Tree
• Yallery Brown

I don’t think I’d ever pick up a full collection like this and read it cover to cover. It’s probably more of a reference book that you would dip in and out of at times.

Verdict: Remove


Mental Health Matters: A Reader by Tom Heller

mental health matters

Mental Health Matters is an innovative, interdisciplinary collection of texts which challenge traditional understandings of mental health, emphasising the perspectives of mental health service-users. Combining classic writings about mental health practices and problems from psychiatry, sociology and psychology with specially commissioned new articles, it considers theories and debates in mental health and distress; the social and historical dimensions of mental health; involving users in mental health services and practically improving those services.

This is a book that I acquired during my psychology degree. I still own it and would use it for references at times but it’s not really the kind of book that needs a place on my TBR.

Verdict: Remove


Prudence by Gail Carriger

prudence.jpg

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances – names it the Spotted Custard and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

I really enjoyed Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series and I would love to try this spin-off series about her daughter at some point.

Verdict: Keep


Imprudence by Gail Carriger

imprudence

Rue and the crew of the Spotted Custard return from India with revelations that shake the foundations of England’s scientific community. Queen Victoria is not amused, the vampires are tetchy, and something is wrong with the local werewolf pack. To top it all off, Rue’s best friend Primrose keeps getting engaged to the most unacceptable military types.

Rue has family problems as well. Her vampire father is angry, her werewolf father is crazy, and her obstreperous mother is both. Worst of all, Rue’s beginning to suspect what they really are… is frightened.

I’m making it a rule to only keep first books in series on my TBR shelf, as a placeholder for the series as a whole. If the time comes, I can add this back.

Verdict: Remove


Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield

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A haunting Victorian ghost story of love, loss and the mystery of death from the bestselling author of THE THIRTEENTH TALE.

A childish act of cruelty with terrible consequences.

A father desperate to save his daughter.

A curious bargain with a stranger in black.

And Bellman & Black is born.

I read The Thirteenth Tale many many years ago and remember enjoying it. This one is languishing on my backlist but since I own it, I plan to get to it. One day.

Verdict: Keep


The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

mermaid chair.jpg

Inside the abbey of a Benedictine monastery on tiny Egret Island, just off the coast of South Carolina, resides a beautiful and mysterious chair ornately carved with mermaids and dedicated to a saint who, legend claims, was a mermaid before her conversion.

Jessie Sullivan’s conventional life has been “molded to the smallest space possible.” So when she is called home to cope with her mother’s startling and enigmatic act of violence, Jessie finds herself relieved to be apart from her husband, Hugh. Jessie loves Hugh, but on Egret Island-amid the gorgeous marshlands and tidal creeks-she becomes drawn to Brother Thomas, a monk who is mere months from taking his final vows.

What transpires will unlock the roots of her mother’s tormented past, but most of all, as Jessie grapples with the tension of desire and the struggle to deny it, she will find a freedom that feels overwhelmingly right.

What inspires the yearning for a soul mate? Few writers have explored, as Kidd does, the lush, unknown region of the feminine soul where the thin line between the spiritual and the erotic exists.

The Mermaid Chair is a vividly imagined novel about the passions of the spirit and the ecstasies of the body; one that illuminates a woman’s self-awakening with the brilliance and power that only a writer of Kidd’s ability could conjure.

Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees is another of my all-time favourites. I also really enjoyed The Invention of Wings. I’m a completionist so I obviously want to read this one.

Verdict: Keep


The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

divine comedy.jpg

The Divine Comedy describes Dante’s descent into Hell with Virgil as a guide; his ascent of Mount Purgatory and encounter with his dead love, Beatrice; and finally, his arrival in Heaven. Examining questions of faith, desire and enlightenment, the poem is a brilliantly nuanced and moving allegory of human redemption.

I’m one of those people that loves epic poetry (Paradise Lost is a favourite). I’d love to get to this one day but I don’t currently own it and it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind. If I ever acquire a copy, I’ll add it back.

Verdict: Remove


The Gates by John Connolly

the gates.jpg

Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Road. The Abernathys don’t mean any harm by their flirtation with the underworld, but when they unknowingly call forth Satan himself, they create a gap in the universe. A gap in which a pair of enormous gates is visible. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out…

Can one small boy defeat evil? Can he harness the power of science, faith, and love to save the world as we know it?

Bursting with imagination, The Gates is about the pull between good and evil, physics and fantasy. It is about a quirky and eccentric boy who is impossible not to love, and the unlikely cast of characters who give him the strength to stand up to a demonic power.

John Connolly manages to re-create the magical and scary world of childhood that we’ve all left behind but so love to visit. And for those of you who thought you knew everything you could about particle physics and the universe, think again. This novel makes anything seem possible.

I added this because I love The Book of Lost Things but I had forgotten about it. It sounds great though so I’m letting it stay. Anyone else get Good Omens vibes?

Verdict: Keep


The Book of Flying by Keith Miller

book of flying.jpg

In Keith Miller’s debut novel, our hero is Pico, a poet and librarian who is forbidden to pursue the girl of his dreams – for she has wings, and Pico does not. When he discovers an ancient letter in his library telling of the mythical Morning Town where the flightless may gain their wings, he sets off on a quest. It’s a magical journey and coming-of-age story in which he meets a robber queen, a lonely minotaur, a cannibal, an immortal beauty, and a dream seller. Each has a story, and a lesson, for Pico – about learning to love, to persevere, and, of course, to fly. A gorgeously poetic tale of fantasy for adults, The Book of Flying is a beautiful modern fable and daring new take on the quest narrative.

Another one that I can’t remember adding – I think it came up as a Goodreads recommendation? I’m honestly not sure what to do with it. It sounds decent so I’ll let it stay for now but I may remove it if anyone convinces me otherwise!

Verdict: Keep


Nocturnes by John Connolly

nocturnes

From #1 internationally bestselling author John Connolly comes Nocturnes, a dark, daring, utterly haunting shot story anthology of lost lovers and missing children, predatory demons, and vengeful ghosts.

Connolly’s collection of supernatural novellas and stories echoes the work of some of the masters of the genre while never losing his own distinctive voice. In “The New Daughter,” a father comes to suspect that a burial mound on his land hides something very ancient, and very much alive; in “The Underbury Witches,” two London detectives find themselves battling a particularly female evil in a town culled of its menfolk. And finally, private detective Charlie Parker returns in the long novella “The Reflecting Eye,” in which the photograph of an unknown girl turns up in the mailbox of an abandoned house once occupied by an infamous killer. This discovery forces Parker to confront the possibility that the house is not as empty as it appears, and that something has been waiting in the darkness for its chance to kill again.

I love John Connolly’s writing and definitely want to read this one. I actually own a copy of the second part, Night Music, and I’ve been holding back on it until I get my hands on a copy of this one.

Verdict: Keep


The Wanderer in Unknown Realms by John Connolly

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Soter is a man who has been haunted by World War I. But when he’s sent to investigate the disappearance of Lionel Maudling, the owner of a grand country house whose heir may be accused for his death, he encounters a home that will lead him to nightmares he could have never imagined.

Maudling’s estate houses countless books of every sort—histories, dramas, scientific treatises. But none seems to offer Soter any hint to Maudling’s whereabouts, until he’s led to an arcane London bookseller where the reclusive scholar made his last purchase. What Soter finds at the end of a twisted maze of clues is a book like no other, with a legacy that will put everything he knows in danger…

An inventive horror novella from internationally bestselling author John Connolly, this is a story of madness, of obsession, and of books’ power to change the world.

Apparently, I just added everything John Connolly has ever written. But that second volume of short stories I mentioned? This novella is apparently featured in it. So I can remove this as a separate entry.

Verdict: Remove


The Caxton Private Lending Library and Book Depository by John Connolly

caxton private lending library

Mr. Berger has spent thirty-four years keeping his life as empty as possible. His job title as a closed accounts registrar doesn’t spark much interest, and his cautious flirtation with a woman at his company was cut short upon her engagement to another man. This doesn’t bother him, however, as he much prefers the company of books to that of people. When a series of fortuitous events leads to an early retirement in the English countryside, Mr. Berger is content to spend the remainder of his years nestled comfortably between the pages of a book. But fate has other plans.

His serene life turns strange when he witnesses a tragedy chillingly reminiscent of Anna Karenina as a woman flings herself before a train. When he rushes to the scene, she has vanished, leaving no body on the tracks. Berger’s investigation into this event leads him to Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository, where the line between fiction and reality becomes blurred beyond comprehension.

Another one that can be found in a short story collection. Plus what on earth is that cover? Goodbye.

Verdict: Remove



Books removed: 8

New TBR shelf count: 369

Do you participate in ‘Down The TBR Hole’? What do you think of my decisions? Want to try and change my mind on any of them? 😀signature (2)

September 2019 Wrap-Up!

Hey everyone! It’s time for another wrap-up 😀 Let’s just get right into it!

september 2019 wrapup


Review Books

The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James

My first read of the month was gifted to me by Walker Books and my, oh my, did I love it! This is the first book I’ve read by Lauren James but I’m definitely going to check out her other work because this was such a gripping and clever story. Definitely recommend. (I’ll be reviewing it either later today or tomorrow so you’ll get to find out why!)

 

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

This was a very well-researched debut based on the publishing of Doctor Zhivago. I enjoyed reading it at the time but I’ve heard some negative things about it since so I’m not sure where I stand with it now.

 

The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

I haven’t read Young’s debut, Sky in the Deep, but I was excited to try this book set in the same world. Sadly, I had a lot of issues with it. Full review coming soon.

 

Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern

This graphic novel was great fun and I really vibed with the sense of humour. The artwork and colour scheme were also very appealing. A good quick read for the spooky season!

 

In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J. Malone

A book that ended up being much darker than I expected, I would be hesitant to recommend this one. But I’m thankful to the author for shining a light on a difficult and often-taboo subject.


Books from my TBR

Nevernight by Jay  Kristoff

I finally jumped onto the stabby bandwagon now that the full trilogy is released. And my goodness, I did not think I would love this so much. So much sass and bad-assery. Flailing review coming soon!

 

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

The plot development in this second book was outstanding and the twists and turns were absolutely killer (pun fully intended). I couldn’t devour this fast enough.

 

Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

Obviously, after the ending of Godsgrave, I had to jump straight into the final book of the trilogy. Binge-reading this series was one of the best decisions I ever made. I can’t wait to shout about it with you all soon.

 

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

I read my first Alice Hoffman book this month, in a buddy read with my lovely Instagram friend, Brooke. We both adored it. It taught us about a period in history with which we were unfamiliar and made fantastic use of symbolism. I can’t wait to read more of Hoffman’s work.


Rereads

No rereads in September but I’ve got a few planned for October!


Non-Fiction

No non-fiction this month either.


Stats

Total pages: 3467

Average pages per day: 115.6

Longest book: Darkdawn (512 pages)

Shortest book: Bloodlust and Bonnets (216 pages)

Favourite read of the month: The Museum of Extraordinary Things

Biggest disappointment of the month: The Girl The Sea Gave Back

Male authors: 4 (though technically 3 of the books were by the same author)

Female authors: 5

Multiple authors: 0

september 2019 wrapup.jpg


How many books did you read in September? Any new favourites? I’d love to chat with you in the comments! xsignature (2)