Last Year I Was Reading… | 20.4.21

Back in September of last year, I tried out a post idea created by @ReadingMaria called ‘Last Year I Was Reading’. I had fun with it in comparing my different reading tastes so this week I thought, why not do it again? The general gist is to look at what you’re reading now, what you were reading at the same time last year, and compare the two reads. Easy peasy!

None Shall Sleep – Ellie Marney

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My current read is None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney (woo, an Aussie author!). It’s set in 1982 and is about two eighteen-year-olds, Emma & Travis, who both have personal experience with serial killers and are recruited by the FBI to interview juvenile offenders for information on cold cases. They soon get involved in consulting on an active case which leads them to speak to an incarcerated killer: super-intelligent sociopath, Simon Gutmunsson. Gutmunsson is highly dangerous and extremely manipulative but the advice he’s providing them with may be necessary to save lives. But what is his connection to the current murders and should they be concerned about his growing interest in Emma?

I went into this expecting it to be a young adult version of Mindhunter but once I got stuck in, I realised it’s actually more of a YA Silence of the Lambs. Regardless, I’m very much here for it. I’m loving it’s maturity, darkness and sense of tension. The writing is pretty matter of fact but I’m not opposed to it. I’m really excited to see how the rest of the book plays out because the reviews I’ve seen have been mostly really positive.

Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir

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At this point in April 2020 I was coming to the end of the confusing, ambitious and badass sci-fi-fantasy, Gideon the Ninth. It’s about a bunch of necromancers and their sword-wielding bodyguards from eight royal houses coming together on a mysterious planet to compete to discover a secret knowledge and win the favour of the emperor. Our lead is Gideon who is tasked with protecting the heir to the Ninth House, Harrowhark. Things take an unexpected turn though when house members start getting murdered.

Gideon is a polarising book – either you enjoy it or it’s really not your thing. The main reason for this is that it’s complicated and there’s very little hand holding to help the reader understand. Either you just go with it until it makes sense or you get steamrolled. While I was super lost through large chunks, I still enjoyed it and thought it was a super interesting and unique read. The characters were fun and snarky, the ending was fantastic and the story was engaging.

Just like the last time I did this, both of the books involved are very different from one another. One is YA, the other is adult. Gideon is sci-fi/fantasy and set in the future, while None Shall Sleep is a Thriller/Crime book set in the past. The writing styles are completely different, too. I mean, both books have a degree of mystery, violence and murder to them and also involve a team of two major characters working together to achieve a particular goal, but I’m abstracting a lot to create that commonality. At this point I can’t really say which of the two books I prefer over the other, but I really hope my current read is a high starred one.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think? What book were you reading this time last year and how does it compare to your current read?

Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my 2021 Autumn TBR

Once again, it’s time for another installment of Top 10 Tuesday (hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl). This week’s topic is ‘Books on my 2021 Spring TBR’. But, as you know, I’m Australian so Autumn TBR it is! Here are some reads I’m really looking forward to starting this season.

Our Year of Maybe – Rachel Lynn Solomon

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Over the last few months, I find that I’ve been gravitating towards more adult reads than I ever used to. However, lately there have been a few YA reads that have caught my eye, one of which is Our Year of Maybe. It’s about two best friends, Peter and Sophie. Peter is a pianist and in need of a kidney transplant, while Sophie, a dancer who has had a crush on him for years, turns out to be a match. Hoping the transplant will elevate their relationship to the next level, Sophie decides to donate. Things don’t exactly turn out as planned when post-operation, Peter finds himself drawn to Chase, a guitarist in his new band. I’ve heard that Solmon’s books read on the older side for YA and that she talks about a lot of topics which aren’t frequently represented in young adult books. I have high hopes for this one so fingers crossed.

She Who Became the Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan

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After finishing the last book in The Poppy War series by R F Kuang earlier this year, I am so ready for some more Asian inspired fantasy x historical fiction, and from an Australian author, too! What I’ve heard of this book so far has been fantastic (pleeasssee don’t be a disappointment). It’s pitched as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles and I’m just like…two of my favourite things? Yes, please! The story is about a brother and sister whose futures are predicted – the boy, greatness, but the girl, nothingness. After their family is attacked by bandits and her brother dies, Zhu takes on his identity to enter a monastery as a male novice and achieve his fated destiny. I was super lucky to receive an ARC of this book and I’ll definitely be getting stuck into it very soon.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

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It’s time to tick off another classic! I’ve been wanting to read Rebecca for years but always seem to talk myself out of it. I think I’m just worried it won’t be my kind of book because it’s more about the atmosphere and writing than it is about plot but I should really stop underestimating my ability to enjoy different kinds of novels. I was originally hoping to read it before I saw an adaptation but well, that failed…so here we are. As I’m sure everyone is aware, the book follows a young woman who meets and marries a wealthy widower named Maxim de Winter and moves into his large estate called Manderley. There she has to deal with the shadow Maxim’s former wife Rebecca casts over their lives. It’s all very gothic and creepy.

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

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The only Murakami book I have ever read (or attempted to read) is 1Q84 and it was…weird. Very weird. So, I’m hoping for a different result with my second attempt at his work. Norwegian Wood, on the other hand, is supposedly one of Murakami’s more straightforward books (no sci fi or magical realism) and funnily enough, it’s also probably his most popular. Even the author himself is confused as to why. It deals with a 37-year old man looking back on his life 20 years ago and his first love. It’s supposed to be a pretty dark read at times and heavily deals with things like suicide and mental illness. I get the feeling this one is going to hurt but then again, that’s not always a bad thing.

Take a Hint, Dani Brown – Talia Hibbert

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I definitely feel like I’ll be in the mood for some contemporary romance very soon because I’ve yet to read any in 2021. The bright yellow cover for Take a Hint, Dani Brown is definitely calling my name. As is the fact that it’s another faking dating story. I read the prequel, Get a Life, Chloe Brown, in 2020 and had fun so I thought, why not give the second installment a try? This book is about Dani who’s not really looking for a committed relationship right now. However, after she gets photographed being rescued by security guard Zaf during a fire drill, the internet starts shipping them together. Zaf asks Dani to play along to help with publicity for his children’s charity and Dani agrees. As you’d expect, cue sparks. This sounds like a sweet and sexy read so I hope it’s enjoyable!

Layla – Colleen Hoover

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Here I am again, reading another Colleen Hoover book, although one that’s a bit different from her usual novels. This one is about a couple named Leeds and Layla who try to get their relationship back on track after an almost fatal attack by staying at the bed-and-breakfast where they met. But then weird things start happening that can’t be explained and Leeds turns to another guest for comfort. I’m not really sure what to expect with this one other than that it’s a paranormal romance of sorts. Confession though, I’m already about a quarter of the way through and still really on the fence about what to think. Here’s hoping it ends up being a Verity sort of scenario, which I really liked.

This is How you Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

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I’ve never been much of a novella or short story reader. Usually I like books to have more room to breathe in terms of their narratives and characters. However, after enjoying Becky Chambers To be Taught, If Fortunate, I thought I’d give this one a go as I’ve heard so much about it. The novella deals with two time-travelling spies from different worlds, Red and Blue, on opposites sides of a conflict who fall in love via letters. I’ve seen two general reactions to this, 1) it was really confusing and weird and I was not a fan, and 2) This book was so amazing and I will need multiple re-reads to fully appreciate its beauty. My thoughts right now: intimidated. I really hope I like this and it certainly sounds really unique, but at least if it’s not my cup of tea it’s only around 200 pages long.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars – Christopher Paolini

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I’m starting to realise that the books I’m tending to let sit on my TBR for extended periods are the doorstoppers. I’m afraid if I don’t start reading some of them, they’re going to launch a protest, rise up and bury me somehow. So, we’re going to try and tackle To Sleep in a Sea of Stars because it’s the scariest looking one and would probably be the ring leader in such an assault. This is a Sci-fi first contact story which follows a xenobiologist named Kira who comes across an alien artifact on a moon. This has big consequences for her and her crew, and triggers the start of an intergalactic war against humanity. It sounds really intriguing but I’m definitely worried about the amount of world building and whether the book will drag. Guess I’ll have to find out.

The Soulmate Equation – Christina Lauren

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So, this book doesn’t actually come out until May but hey, it’s still Autumn. I’m also including it because I know it’s unlikely I’ll resist reading it for very long after it comes out. As you guys probably already know if you’re regular visitors to my blog, I love a good CLo Romance and this one sounds really good! It’s about a single mum named Jess who signs up for a DNA based match-making service which claims to be able to find your soulmate. She ends up matched with the company’s founder, Dr River Pena, with an unheard of 98% compatibility. The company offers to pay her to give the match a chance as a form of promotion for its stock. It’s an opposites attract type story and I can already partially predict how the plot will play out but I’m still really keen.

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

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Little Women is another one of those aforementioned large books threatening to hurt me if I don’t read it soon. I’ve found myself glancing at this one on my shelves a lot lately (probably because of the pretty nature patterned, olive green spine) so I’m sure I’ll probably crack soon and just sit down to read it. The text is quite large in this edition so I’ll take comfort in the fact that it looks a lot bigger than it probably is. As almost everyone knows by now, this is a coming of age story about four sisters, Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy, in 1860s Massachusetts. This novel is on my classics TBR so I’m looking forward to being able to finally check it off.


I’m feeling good about the next couple of months and hopefully I discover some more books to add to my annual favourites list. If everything could just be a five star read from here on out, that would be great. Thank you.

What books are you most looking forward to reading over the next few months of Spring/Autumn?

Top 5 Tuesday: Authors I Want to Try

Hello, hello, hello, bookish friends! Today I’m looking at five authors who I want to try reading books by at some point soon. Soon-ish. Sort of soon. Okay, at some point before I inevitably die (because isn’t that just bookworm life?). Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm and is now hosted by the lovely Meeghan over at Meeghan Reads.

Tana French

Tana French

In recent years I’ve been gravitating towards the occasional mystery/thriller type read, something I was pretty big on in my later teen years. Tana is one of the major authors in this genre and I seem to see her books pop up a lot because they’re pretty darn popular. I’m keen to read the first few of her Dublin Murder Squad books, especially The Likeness because of my recent interest in dark academia books. I’m not 100% sure whether I’ll like her writing but I guess there’s only one way to find out.

T.J. Klune

T.J. Klune (Author of The House in the Cerulean Sea)

I somehow only found out about T J Klune towards the end of 2020. Flash forward to now and I have four of his books on my TBR. Three of them I’ve heard wonderful things about (they’ve all got like 4.4 average stars on Goodreads, like WHAT?) and one comes out later this year which sounds super cool from the blurb. The word is that he writes really heartwarming, diverse and funny stories, and I really, really hope that they live up to expectations because I’ll be a little bit heartbroken if they don’t.

N. K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin makes history at the Hugo Awards with third win in a row for  best novel - Los Angeles Times

At this point, I think I’ve lost track of how many people I’ve seen rave over the amazing-ness of Jemisin’s books. The fact that she’s won both a Hugo and a Nebula award is pretty damn impressive, too. I’ve definitely had The Broken Earth series on my radar to read for ages but as usual, I keep putting it off. I recently also added The City We Became to my TBR because the concept just sounded so different and intriguing that I felt I had to give it a go. I’m not sure when I’ll finally get around to giving her work a try but it’s certainly on the list for the future.

Abby Jimenez

Abby Jimenez

I’m sure you guys know that I’ve been reading a lot more adult contemporary romances over the last two years and having a heap of fun. Abby Jimenez is an author I’ve seen come up quite a few times during my scouring of the interwebs for some good reads to tackle during my romcom binges and I’m almost positive that one of her books will be included in my next one (whenever it may be). Her 2020 release, The Happy Ever After Playlist, was actually nominated for a GR choice award last year and I’m really looking forward her upcoming April 2021 release, Life’s Too Short, which sounds great.

Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rachel Lynn Solomon

There are a couple of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s books that have grabbed my interest of late and I’m really excited to give them a read. From what I’ve heard, her YA books tend to fall on the older end of the age bracket in terms of themes and characters, something I really like the idea of, plus she has a couple of adult reads which seem interesting too. Right now Today, Tonight, Tomorrow and Our Year of Maybe are the two books at the top of my priority list (as an added bonus they have pretty cute covers, too).


What authors are on your list to try out in the future? Which books of theirs are you most interested in?

And That’s a Wrap 2020: Top 10 Favourite Reads

Here we are, both the last day of 2020 and my final wrap up post of the year! Today is the day that I get to gush about the amazing books I read this year *happy dance*.

According to my reading tracker, my most frequent ratings for books this year were 3 and 3.5 stars. I also did quite a few re-reads in 2020 (which I exclude from these types of lists). With these two things in mind, picking my top 10 this time around wasn’t as difficult as it has been previously. However, it also means that this list only includes a couple of books that I actually rated 5 stars. For those who saw my mid-year favourites post, you’ll notice some familiar faces here.

Like in 2019, I’ll be ordering this list from the bottom to my top read of the year. Now, let’s start the count down!

10. To Be Taught, If Fortunate – Becky Chambers

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This fantastic, little novella swept in at the last moment to score a position on this list. For something so short (only 135 pages, in fact), it crafts such a wonderfully immersive journey. The story follows a four astronaut research team sent to explore far off planets and study their local lifeforms. It’s a quiet, gradual story, more focused on scientific discoveries, the joy of exploration, and the bonds between the characters than action or high speed adventure. The writing can be quiet science heavy at points but it really does add to the believability of it all. I loved how diverse the cast was, both ethnicity and LGBTI wise, and how hopeful the story felt. However, I do wish that the mental health of the astronauts had been dealt with in more depth, especially during one troubling part of their mission. As a whole though, beautifully done.


9. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

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Classics usually aren’t my thing, even the modern ones. In the interest of trying new things I decided to give The Secret History a go hoping to find some murderous, dark academia magic. Shockingly, I really enjoyed it. I’m still kind of mystified as to how it happened really – slow pacing, unreliable narrator, characters who are all shitty people, general sense of pretentiousness, and YET it’s so good! The best way I can summarise it is: a group of university classics students who try a Bacchian rite end up killing someone and have to cover it up. Dark, immersive, mysterious, over the top, tension-filled…insert a multitude of other adjectives here. The only reasons I couldn’t rate it higher on this list are my complicated feelings about the ending and a slight lull in the middle. Still, I can definitely see myself re-reading it in a few years time to see what I missed.


8. Boyfriend Material – Alexis Hall

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I confess, I picked this book up because it gave me serious Red, White and Royal Blue vibes. In the end, it was different but wonderfully enjoyable all the same. It’s about the son of a rock legend named Luc who, in an effort to clean up his public image, makes a deal with a barrister called Oliver to fake a relationship for the press. Although it was super sweet, Boyfriend Material was also so much funnier than I expected it to be. The banter and chemistry between Luc & Oliver was fantastic but the supporting cast was hilarious as well. While a plotline involving Luc’s dad didn’t really end in a satisfying way, I didn’t mind so much because of how much I loved the way the opposites attract relationship developed. Easily one of my favourite romances of the year.


7. Know My Name – Chanel Miller

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Many of you will be aware of the Stanford Rape Case in which swimmer Brock Turner was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster during a frat party. For years, this woman was known only to the world as Emily Doe but, in fact, her name is Chanel Miller. In this memoir, Chanel tells her story in her own words. It’s so difficult to rate and review memoirs, especially one as difficult to put to paper as this would have been. However, this is honestly one of the most beautifully written, raw and powerful things I’ve read. I was expecting this to be a hard book to read, what I wasn’t expecting was how fantastic a writer Chanel would be. Everyone should read this and I cannot recommend it highly enough.


6. Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin

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I’ve been raving about this book all year (to the point where I think you guys are glad it’s almost 2021 just so I’ll finally stop). As if it wasn’t going to make an appearance on this list. Wolf by Wolf is an alt-history story set in a world where the Axis won WWII and now hold an annual, deadly motorcycle race across the world. Yael, a shapeshifter, survivor of Auschwitz and member of the resistance enters the race as part of a plan to assassinate Hitler. I’m not usually big on journey narratives but I love a good competition plot and this one was handled fantastically. The pacing is good, the MC is strong yet vulnerable and well developed, the story itself is engaging, the romance is subtle and there’s a great cliffhanger ending. If only the second book had been this good but hey, it was a high bar to overcome.


5. Becoming – Michelle Obama

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By the looks of my top 10, I should be reading more biographies/memoirs. Becoming is a fantastic autobiography and I’m so glad I decided to go with the audiobook. What could be better than Michelle herself telling you her story? I really enjoyed learning about Michelle’s life, all the way from her childhood on the second floor of her great-aunt’s house in Chicago to her time as FLOTUS in The White House. In retelling her journey, Michelle touches on so many important topics such as politics, parenting, relationships, the experiences of Black Americans, and the difficulties of the working class. This is the kind of book I believe anyone could take something away from. I know I certainly learnt a lot. Even if you’re not a Michelle Obama fan, it’s a thumbs up from me.


4. Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney

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As I mentioned in my surprises and disappointments wrap up, I did not expect to love Conversations with Friends as much as I did. This little book came out of nowhere, stole my heart and I’m still shocked. The characters are largely unlikeable people and yet they’re complex and just feel so real and human. The book deals with love, intimacy, monogamy, loneliness, and youth, and I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about it for days afterwards. It’s about a college student named Francis and her ex-girlfriend Bobby who are drawn into the world of a journalist named Melissa and her husband, Nick. Francis soon begins an affair with Nick which changes her outlook on life and herself. 


3. Starsight (Skyward 2#) – Brandon Sanderson

Another entry from my mid-year favourites list which managed to make its way onto my end of year list. As soon as I finished Starsight, I knew it would be sitting on this top ten somewhere. Skyward was my number one pick of 2019 so I was incredibly relieved that the sequel was so darn good. While it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting and very different from the first book in terms of narrative, pacing and characters, it was still a really engaging and entertaining read. I loved the expanded world building and additional character development, and I am crazy excited for the next book in 2021.


2. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

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This is another book that I haven’t shut up about this year so no one should be surprised to see A Little Life in the number 2 slot. With its very difficult content and 700+ page count, this definitely isn’t a book for everyone. But despite the fact that it completely wrecked me emotionally, I adored it (clearly I’m a masochist). The book follows a group of four university friends who move to NYC together and showcases the highs and lows of their lives over several decades. I loved the writing and have a special place in my heart for the characters. I don’t know if this is a book I can recommend exactly but I can say that I thought it was beautiful, memorable and worth all the tears.


Okay, time for the big one, my favourite book of everything I read in 2020…

1. The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War 2#) – R. F. Kuang

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Yes, that’s right. While The Poppy War may have cracked the number three spot in my top reads of 2019, it’s The Dragon Republic which takes out the number one for 2020. When the first book in a series is amazing, I always get super nervous about the sequel but this one blew me away. I loved every minute of its 650-ish pages. The world is amazing, characters fantastic, battles engrossing, and the plot is the chef’s kiss, it’s so, so good. There’s so much action but Kuang manages to balance it out perfectly with emotional content and character development. I easily consider this series among my favourites now and I cannot wait to read the final entry. Perhaps it’ll take out the crown in 2021?


And that’s it for 2020! For those who’ve been following my blog for a while now, thank you for your continued support, it means the world to me. To those who discovered me this year, welcome! I hope my little blog has, at the very least, helped take your mind off what’s been a troubling year for many people. I’d like to wish you all and your families a very happy new year and plenty of five star reads for 2021.

My other wrap ups for 2020:

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope Santa Brings

What’s better than new books? Answer: New books that I didn’t have to pay for myself! Woo! Books make up a substantial amount of my Christmas list every year (because obviously you have to give people options, many, many options) so here’s hoping I find a few wrapped up in pretty paper under my tree in 2020. It’s not ten, but these are the ones I’m wishing for:

The Burning God – R. F. Kuang

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Kicking off my Santa list with my most wanted book, The Burning God. I finally read book two in this series, The Dragon Republic, in November and it was just as amazing as The Poppy War. So you have no idea how excited and happy I was to discover that the last book in the series would be releasing just a few weeks later. If you love fantasy and haven’t given these books a try yet, I definitely recommend them, especially if military fantasy is your thing or you adore magic as much as I do. These characters have been through a lot and in every book there’s a new enemy for them to fight. I have a feeling this will be an emotional ride so I better prepare myself.


Pumpkinheads – Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks

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I’ve been wanting to read this sweet, autumn-y graphic novel for a good while now but, as usual, just haven’t gotten around to it. I’ve heard so many amazing things about it over the years – that the banter and friendship is great, that it’s charming and comforting, and it has snacks in it. At this point, I’m pretty much like: I need this in my life. The general gist is that it’s about two friends, Deja and Josiah, who have worked together at a pumpkin patch every autumn throughout highschool. However, as this year they’ll be graduating, they decide to make the most out of their final shift and have some adventures.

Cemetery Boys – Aiden Thomas

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The bookish community has been completely obsessed with this book for the last few months of 2020, and for good reason: The story is supposedly fantastic, it’s full of latinx characters and has a trans lead, it features a queer romance, and Aiden Thomas is the first trans author to hit the NYT Bestsellers list. I really want to be a part of this hype party, okay. The book is about Yadriel who, determined to prove himself to his family as a brujo, sets out to summon the ghost of his murdered cousin and release it to the afterlife. Instead, he summons Julian Diaz, a bad boy with unfinished business. The two agree to help each other with their respective problems so they can both get what they want.


The Two Lives of Lydia Bird – Josie Silver

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I read Josie Silver’s debut novel, One Day in December, a few months back during my week of romance novel binge-ing and really enjoyed it. Anything that can get me to temporarily overcome my dislike of the love at first sight trope gets major brownie points. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird is Josie’s 2020 release and it kind of gives me Sliding Doors vibes. It’s about a woman named Lydia (duh) whose partner of 10 years, Freddie, dies in a car accident. To help her sleep, Lydia is given sleeping pills which somehow cause her to fall into a world in which Freddie is still alive. As she lives out the events of both timelines, she has to decide how to move on with her life. It sounds like an odd concept and I can already tell it’s going to be bittersweet, but I’m determined to give it a try.


Ready Player Two – Ernest Cline

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I read Ready Player One back in 2018 and had a blast in all my nerdiness. For this reason, it’s pretty obvious that I’m going to read the sequel. I’ve heard a lot of disappointing things about this book since it’s release last month which is a huge bummer but I feel like I have to read it and make up my mind for myself. I’ll just have to go in with super, super low expectations and hope it exceeds them (hey, it worked when I first watched Justice League). The book involves Wade and his friends trying to solve new riddles and clues in the hopes of finding an advancement for the Oasis.


The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

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This book was a recent discovery for me, mostly due to it being nominated for and winning best fiction novel in the Goodreads choice awards. I had a read of the blurb and knew I had to add it to my TBR. It just sounds…wonderful. A library with an infinite number of books, one for each path your life could have taken depending on the choices you’ve made. The book follows a girl named Nora who, after a suicide attempt, ends up in the library and has the opportunity to read through her volumes to find out what she could have been. Perhaps not a big action packed book full of twists, but certainly something quiet, contemplative and meaningful.

The House in the Cerulean Sea – T. J. Klune

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I’ve seen this book described as “filled with whimsy and enchantment”, “the loveliest story I’ve ever read”, and “sunlight through all the dark clouds”. After the disheartening year that has been 2020, I think we all need this in our lives. It’s about a case worker named Linus who’s employed by the Department in Charge of Magical Youth to oversee the well being of kids in government orphanages. He’s assigned to check on the Marsyas Island Orphanage where six dangerous children (a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist) reside and must decide whether or not they’re likely to cause the end of the world. It’s all found families, sweet kids, humour and learning to belong. Plus that cover is stunning.


What books are you most hoping to receive this holiday season?

I usually end up just going out and buying the rest of the ones on my list that I don’t receive as gifts because hey, nobody said I couldn’t give myself presents. Here’s hoping for some enticing sales. I can hear my bank account and my book shelves crying out in pain already.

TTT is a weekly meme hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. You can find the upcoming topics here.

Top 5 Tuesday: Favourite Characters O-Z

It’s time to finish what I started! Last week for Top 5 Tuesday, I began my character countdown through the alphabet up to the letter N. This week we’re running through the remaining (and more challenging) letters of O-Z. If you missed part 1, you can find it here. It also explains why my ‘top 5’ is not even close to being a top 5 numbers wise (spoiler alert – I’m always late to the party and somewhat disorganised).

FYI, Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by Shannah at Bionic Book Worm and now hosted by Meeghan at Meeghan Reads. If you’d like to participate next week, you can find the October topics here.

O is for Finnick Odair (The Hunger Games Series)

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Finnick, Finnick, Finnick, you charming bastard. I’ll be forever mad at Suzanne Collins for what happened to you. Reasons Finnick is on this list: He 1) wields a trident like it’s nobody’s business, 2) adores his girlfriend/wife Annie, 3) has sugar cubes on hand for awkward meetings, 4) hasn’t let his treatment by the Capital and President Snow kill his sense of humour, 5) will happily walk around in his underwear, and 6) would die for those he loves.


P is for Patroclus (The Song of Achilles)

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Patroclus is one of those quiet characters that, despite the story being told from his perspective, is easy to dismiss as a side kick at first. But as the story unfolds you come to recognise his bravery, compassion, and awareness of his own strengths & weaknesses. Honestly, he has the purest heart and is basically my sweet, little, ancient Greek cinnamon roll.


Q is for Quan Diep (The Kiss Quotient Series)

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Quan is pretty much a favourite of everyone who reads The Kiss Quotient books. He’s a side character but a super memorable one. While he seems like this bad boy player complete with tats and a shaved head, he’s actually a massive sweetheart. Quan is super supportive of his autistic brother, Khai, very conscious of other people’s body language and feelings, and even offers to marry Esme, the female lead in The Bride Test, to allow her to stay in the United States. He also makes me laugh. I’m so keen to read his love story, The Heart Principle, in 2021.


R is for Rose Hathaway (Vampire Academy Series)

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It’s an extremely rare occurrence for me to be able to say that my fave character in a series is the main protagonist. Rose is one of those special cases and I love her dearly. She’s immensely passionate, a caring and dedicated friend, a hell of a fighter, wonderfully snarky, and so enjoyable to read from the POV of. She grows so much over the series and no matter how many times I read VA, there’s nothing like being back inside her head.


S is for Spensa Nightshade (Skyward Series)

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Ah, Spensa. On my first read of Skyward, Spensa definitely took some getting used to. Overconfident, a flair for the dramatic, and a massive chip on her shoulder, as far as characters go she’s…a lot. Over time though I came to love her for her unwavering determination to achieve her dreams in the face of a lot of hardship and obstacles. She’s also funny, very hardworking, and unwilling to leave a teammate behind. What can I say? I’m a sucker for an underdog.

…and also for Sadie (Sadie)

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Sadie is another one of those characters that has been through so much awfulness that I want to wrap her up in a blanket, hold her and tell her everything will get better. But I can’t. She’s such a broken and vulnerable character with so much darkness and pain her life. At the same time, she has this amazing determination, strength and courage in the face of doing something so destructive and dangerous. While I didn’t always agree with her choices, Sadie was definitely a fighter and I rooted for her all the way to the very end.


T is for Carswell Thorne (The Lunar Chronicles)

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Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you about my weakness for attractive male characters with slight bad boy streaks and a sarcastic sense of humour who are actually good guys. Because here we have another one. Thorne is probably my favourite character in TLC books. He’s a massive flirt with a decent sized ego and I get so much enjoyment out of reading about his interactions with other characters, especially innocent & sweet Cress.


U is for… I am Useless at Finding a Character starting with ‘U’


V is for Virginia “Mustang” Au Augustus (Red Rising Saga)

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There are a lot of amazing and loveable characters in the Red Rising saga but I’ll always have a soft spot for women who can kick serious butt with both their bodies and minds. Virginia is a person that others underestimate at their own peril. She’s cautious, cunning, well spoken, and highly intelligent. However, she also loves fiercely, is loyal and empathetic, and has a strong sense of right and wrong. The perfect balance to our lead, Darrow.


X is for…Xylophone

I’m kidding. Sorry guys, I tried. I really did, but I came up empty.


W is for Willem Ragnarsson (A Little Life)

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This book permanently damaged my heart and soul. It’s full of so much sadness but Willem, for the most part, is a little spark of happiness. He’s such a kindhearted and beautiful person who doesn’t allow fame and success to change him into something he’s not. Also, the relationship between Willem and Jude is one of my favourite parts of the book. *SPOILERS* I was absolutely devastated after what happened to him and haven’t cried so hard reading anything in years.


Y is for Yael (Wolf by Wolf Duology)

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As a survivor of Auschwitz and a shapeshifter, Yael certainly has a lot of emotional baggage and identity issues to deal with. But as far as characters go, she straddles the line between strong and vulnerable perfectly. She’s highly capable, smart, and hasn’t let her painful and loss filled past completely close her off to others. Although her mission to kill Hitler does require tough decisions, her underlying kindness frequently shows through.


Z is for Zoya Nazyalensky (The Grisha Trilogy & King of Scars)

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There was no way I was leaving my girl Zoya of this list. Who cares if it might as well be called the Leigh Bardugo character list. I was definitely far from Zoya’s biggest fan when she was first introduced in The Grisha trilogy. I mean, she was kind of a bitch. But then as the books progress and we move into King of Scars, she undergoes so much growth and development, and gets a chance to really shine. I love how sassy, strong, powerful and resilient she is. Plus, her rapport with Nikolai is perfection. Can someone just crown her Queen of Ravka already?


We made it! We survived! Wooooooooo!

Okay, chill out Ashley. It’s not like you just wrote War and Peace.

If you had picked favourite characters for these letters, who would have made the cut? (Plus, any suggestions for my missing letters? First names, surnames and nicknames all count. Let me know!)

Top 5 Tuesday: Favourite Book Characters A-N

No, that is not a typo you see in the title. This week, instead of doing my usual, but infrequent, Top 10 Tuesday, we’re joining in the fun of Top FIVE Tuesday with the lovely Meeghan Reads! You may also be asking: Ashley, if you’re doing favourite characters from A-N, shouldn’t it be top fourteen Tuesday? Okay…you have me there.

To make a long story short. each of the T5T topics for this month have broken down the alphabet into groups of 5 letters (except for the last six). Me, being super late to the party, only discovered this at the point of K-O. Now, because I am (a) super disorganised and (b) stupid, I didn’t just join in for the remaining weeks. Instead, I’ll be breaking up the alphabet into two parts starting with A-N (Truth: I was going to do all 26 in one go, but I almost had a mental breakdown).

For this list, first names, last names and nicknames all count towards allocating characters to specific letters. Let’s begin!

A is for Alex Claremont-Diaz (Red, White & Royal Blue)

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Alex could have made this list purely on the basis of his ability to make me laugh with his dialogue and shenanigans. Smart-mouthed, slightly too overconfident, immense potential to drive me up the wall were he ever to become real, and yet, I absolutely love him. Well-developed characters who are both sweet and hilarious? Irresistible. Also, yay for diverse romantic leads!


B is for Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice)

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Elizabeth is the 19th century version of a badass. This is a woman from a large & not particularly wealthy family, living in a time in which marriage is essential for young women, and she turns down not one but TWO proposals to men of a higher class than herself. Why? Because she knows what she’s worth and refuses to accept anything less. She’s also witty, protective of her family, speaks her mind and accepts her own failings. You go girl.


C is for Cassian (A Court of Thorns and Roses Series)

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I have so much love for Cassian as a character. Despite experiencing loss, hardship and rejection, he still brings such levity to the lives of people around him. He’s constantly aware of everyone’s emotional states and is always doing his best to take care of them, even at his own expense. On a less serious note, he’s also a massive shit stirrer and is banned from one fey court because he destroyed a building.

…and for Cardan Greenbriar (The Folk of the Air Series)

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I knew from the first moment I was introduced to Cardan that here was a character I shouldn’t like but I was darn well going to love anyway. He’s definitely an asshole at several points during the series, yet he has this annoyingly sympathetic backstory, fantastic chemistry with Jude, and enjoyable path of growth and self-reflection. Like, stop it already! It also doesn’t hurt that he has that dry, sarcastic sense of humour that’s like catnip for me in male book characters.


D is for Declan Murphy (Letters to the Lost)

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Oh, Declan. On the outside, he’s this hardened, aggressive bad boy but on the inside there’s so much bottled up pain and grief about past family trauma. Letters to the Lost slowly peels back the layers to reveal the caring and intelligent person underneath. There were parts of Declan’s journey that hit me super hard. I just wanted to wrap him up in cotton wool and protect him from the world. But it was so wonderful to see him make progress by the end of the novel.


E is for Emika Chen (Warcross Duology)

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Emika is ballsy, curious, quick thinking, creative and not afraid to be different. Although she may not be physically kicking ass like other characters on this list, she’s just as strong by virtue of her awesome hacking abilities. I love that she begins the duology as a very independent, can’t-rely-on-anyone-but-myself character who evolves to form meaningful friendships with people she can trust. Also, rainbow hair. Always rainbow hair.

…and for Evelyn Hugo (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo)

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TSHoEH is one of my favourite books and as the strength of it rests on Evelyn herself and the events of her life, it’s no surprise she’s listed here. Evelyn is a beautifully complex, imperfect, ambitious and feminist character. She knows exactly what she wants out of her life and works her butt off in any way she can to get there. Evelyn evolves beautifully over the span of the novel and you can’t help but root for her, despite her flaws, through all the pain and heartache.


F is for Francis (Conversations with Friends)

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Francis is another character that I really shouldn’t like (she’s often selfish, childish and spiteful) and yet, she seems to have taken up residence inside my head and refuses to leave. With her mess of flaws, she just feels so real to me and I can’t help but sympathise with her. Through all her loneliness, self-doubt and hurt, I so badly wanted her to be safe, happy and loved.


G is for Georgina Kincaid (Georgina Kincaid Series)

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There’s something about snarky, strong, independent female leads in Richelle Mead books that I can’t help but adore. With her love of shoes & vodka, and the high level of importance she places on her appearance, Georgina doesn’t seem like the kind of character I would normally gravitate towards. But her winning dialogue, love of books, sense of humour, and fighting spirit are what hooked me.

…and for Ginny Weasley (Harry Potter Series)

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To say that Ginny got shafted by the Harry Potter film series is putting it mildly (it makes me so mad!). Although she starts out shy, awkward and naive, Ginny grows into a super independent, quick witted, assertive, brave, and magically talented young witch. She takes zero of Harry and her brothers’ crap and can always be counted on in a sticky situation.


H is for Helene Aquilla (The Ember Quartet)

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir: 9780448494517 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

When it comes to The Ember Quartet, Helene is officially my girl and she’s ridiculously underrated. She’s easily the most interesting of the protagonists and even though she’s technically on the side of the “bad guys”, she’s still generally a loyal and honorable person. I mean, awesome warrior, stands up to sexist, tyrant assholes, makes tough decisions but still questions the why of them, vulnerable and caring…just EVERYTHING. Basically Helene for empress, okay?

…and also for Hermione Granger (Harry Potter Series)

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Hermione was my childhood idol, plain and simple. I’ve gone to many a costume party dressed as her. To kid Ashley, she was both like me and everything I wanted to be – bookish, brave, kindhearted, a star student, supportive friend, and all of it without having to be drop dead gorgeous. As we all know, Harry and Ron would have been entirely lost (and very dead) without Hermione and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for her.


I is Adrian Ivashkov (Vampire Academy & Bloodlines Series)

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While I was definitely a Rose x Dimitri shipper, as far as characters go, Adrian is one of my favourites. He’s another one of those seemingly arrogant, sarcastic, bad boys who aren’t really bad boys and use humour to hide their emotional baggage. It’s my type, okay? I love his fabulous one-liners, flirty nature, good heart, and the depth/conflict that comes with him being one of a select few spirit magic users.


J is for Jude Duarte (The Folk of the Air Series)

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Jude is a character that I took a while to warm up to but after re-reading The Cruel Prince and getting stuck into The Wicked King, the fangirling began – pretty much just stab ’em all, girl. I love that she uses both her mental and physical strength to get what she wants. She’s smart, cunning, and will happily cut people down if they get in her way. There’s something fun and freeing about a character who’s morally ambiguous.


K is for Kaz Brekker (Six of Crows Duology)

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As if I could forget old, dirtyhands Brekker. You can’t go past a good anti-hero and Kaz is certainly that. I adore Kaz’s fast working brain – constantly one step ahead, working through the different scenarios. The other fantastic thing about him is that you never know exactly what he’s going to do in a given situation – will he be a decent human being or just hightail it out of there with the money? I’m also a sucker for a tragic backstory.

…and for Kady Grant (The Illuminae Files)

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The second hacker character on the list with colourful hair, Kady is one of the highlights in a wholly amazing book. She’s stubborn, independent, great under pressure and comes up with some enjoyable zingers (my weakness when it comes to favourite characters). Despite danger and fear, Kady doesn’t let anything stop her from doing whatever she can to protect the people she cares about. Bonus: she’s also the reason we got to enjoy more of AIDAN’S antics beyond book one so points for that, too.


L is for Lazlo Strange (Strange the Dreamer Duology)

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Lazlo – my sweet, innocent and curious librarian. He must be protected at all costs. The thing that I like most about Lazlo is the beautiful, almost childlike way he sees the world. To him, everything is full of possibility & magic, and although evidence may be to the contrary, he always tries to see the good in people. The world would be so much better if more people were like him.

…and also for Lila Bard (A Darker Shade of Magic Series)

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) by V.E. Schwab

Thief, pirate, magician – Lila pretty much covers all the most interesting types of characters you find in a fantasy novel in one. She’s daring, proud, a bit devious, and highly adventurous, making her an exciting character to follow around. I mean, upon acquiring an object of immense power, the first thing she did was create a clone of another character purely to make it do a striptease. If that isn’t list worthy material, I don’t know what is.


M is for Mia Corvere (The Nevernight Chronicle)

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Mia, my badass, shadow assassin bitch. How I love her and her amazing one liners. Mia comes off as cold, highly venomous and consumed by her quest for revenge. She’s calculating, manipulative when need be, and will brutally murder you without a second thought if you deserve it. Under the surface though, she has a hidden vulnerability, sense of honour and degree of goodness. I may also love her because her magical abilities are freakin’ awesome & she uses sword blades like a boss.


N is for Nikolai Lantsov (The Grisha Trilogy & King of Scars)

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Isn’t Nikolai pretty much everyone’s favourite character? He was kind of legendary before I even read The Grisha trilogy. Then I read it and got what all the fuss was about. Cocky, flirty, unwilling to be deterred by bad odds, and just overall a fun character, Nikolai brightens up almost every scene he’s in. I love his rapport with Alina and Zoya, and the different layers Leigh Bardugo reveals of him as you progress through to King of Scars.

…and also for Nesta Archeron (A Court of Thorns and Roses Series)

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I admit, it took me a good while to warm up to Nesta but I am now 100% on the love Nesta train and cannot wait for her starring role in the next ACOTAR book. She comes off as this stuck up, selfish, rude and bitchy person but once you actually understand her, you realise just how emotionally complex, hurt and traumatised she is. I am so excited about how much potential for growth and healing she has, and her back and forth with Cassian brings joy to my life.


Fourteen letters down, twelve more to go (including a few very tricky ones!). Would any of these characters feature on your alphabetised favourites list? Who else would you most want to include?

Okay, I need to go take a nap now. Lists are hard….

Last Year I Was Reading… | 17.09.20

In a surprising turn of events, we’re doing something different this week (woo!) and engaging in a little Throwback Thursday fun times. Maria @ReadingMaria came up with the cute idea of ‘Last Year I Was Reading’ in which you compare your current read to the book you were reading at the exact same time last year. You consider how they differ/are alike, which one you like better and mention any specific facts you feel like mentioning.

House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City 1#) – Sarah J. Maas

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Here it is, my current read, in all of its 803 page, door-stopping glory. After powering through six romance novels in the first week of this month, I couldn’t see why I shouldn’t spend the rest of it tackling one of the bigger books on my TBR. HoEaB is an adult urban fantasy book full of fae, vampires, angels, shapeshifters and a bunch of other magical beings. The story revolves around a half-fae party girl named Bryce teaming up with a disgraced angel, Hunt, to investigate the brutal murders of Bryce’s friends. There’s magic, family drama, characters with plenty of baggage, a bit of violence, and romance typical of a Maas book.

At this point, I’m about 600 pages in and so far so…relatively good. It’s definitely a bigger book than it needed to be, the writing is questionable at points, and I’m still confused about elements of the world building. Still, for the most part, I’m enjoying it. I’ve heard that the last 200 pages get pretty crazy so I’m looking forward to finding out what happens.


The Institute – Stephen King

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In September of 2019 I was making my way through Stephen King’s newest release, The Institute – a sci-fi, fantasy, thriller mix. It involves a group of kids being abducted for their telepathic and telekinetic abilities and taken to a secret facility in Maine (it’s always Maine). Here, they undergo testing to enhance their powers for some mysterious reason before being sent to another part of the complex after which they are never seen again. This was King’s first book in a long time focusing on child characters, which he still writes fantastically. It was very well received, even scoring a win for best horror novel in the 2019 Goodreads choice awards (I wouldn’t consider it much of a horror book though).

I enjoyed The Institute but not as much as I did IT. The characters were certainly likeable and the story did build up to an action packed (if somewhat rushed) climax. Yet, the pacing was a bit too slow in some sections and the neatly packaged ending was disappointing. There was also something missing from it that I still can’t quite put my finger on.


These are two very different books so comparing them is tricky. They both involve fantasy elements I suppose but that’s where the similarities end – vastly different settings, characters, lengths and moods yet still enjoyable. Of the two, I would say that House of Earth and Blood is my preferred read but only because my love for magical creatures comes out just ahead of my obsession with humans with superpowers. I will say though that these are two books that could have had smaller page counts and improved story momentum in spots.

What book were you reading this time last year? Was it more or less enjoyable than your current read?

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Covers that Make me Happy

Let’s be real – 2020 has been a dumpster fire of a year. Every time I watch the news, I’m hit with a constant stream of misery and awfulness occurring somewhere in the world. Considering the mental health stats at the moment, everyone is having a rough time. So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to use this week’s TTT cover themed freebie (hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl) to showcase some book covers that bring me joy and elevate my mood. Sometimes it’s the colour and others it’s the imagery. Ten seems pretty short for this post (especially since I’m literally just copying book covers like the lazy person that I am) so I’ll do 12 this week.

I hope that this post lifts your spirits just the tiniest bit (and yes, there are quite a few YA contemporaries here).

What book covers give you a burst of joy just by looking at them? Spread the happiness around.

WWW Wednesday | 5.08.20

After what seems like a millennia, it’s time for another WWW Wednesday post! This meme is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words and asks you to answer the three Ws – what did you recently finish, what are you currently reading, and what’s up next? Here’s what I’ve been up to lately reading wise:

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

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My current thoughts and feelings about this book are gibberish. It was what I expected and yet, at the same time it wasn’t. I was really worried that I wouldn’t like TSH but, once again, surprises do happen. The plot was super slow for the most part (definitely not everyone’s cup of tea), but somehow I was gripped for the majority of the 600+ pages. The characters were plainly terrible people but for a bizarre reason I couldn’t help sympathising with them, even as they progressively went further and further down the rabbit hole. And the questions! My god, the questions. I have so many still which will never receive definitive answers, and it’s driving me mad! I do have to say though, I wasn’t entirely sold on the ending and do feel as though one character’s spiral felt out of sorts with the first half of the novel. However, it’s definitely a clever and well executed book. I understand why it’s been so popular for such a long time and I’ll certainly be pondering it for the foreseeable future.


Iron Gold (Red Rising 4#) – Pierce Brown

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That’s right! Ah, ha! I told you I’d finally do it this year and LOOK. Okay, sure….I know I’ve said I’ll do it like fifty times by this point so I understand if you didn’t believe me. But the time has come, my friends! I already know it’s going to take me a while to finish it (mostly because I’m remembering from my first attempt that some of the characters’ storylines take their sweet time warming up) but who cares. I’m doing it. I’m hoping take two turns out much better than the original. So far I’m about 80 pages in, getting the lay of the land. I mean, there’s been a 10 year time jump since the end of Morningstar so a lot has happened. Plus, it’s going to take some time to adjust to going from being in one character’s head to four but I’ll get there. The plotlines are also more complex, so it does require focus to follow what’s happening but I trust Pierce knows where he’s going.


Bookish and the Beast – Ashley Poston

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This is the third entry in the Once Upon a Con series. While I read and really enjoyed Geekerella, I didn’t get around to the follow up, The Princess and the Fangirl. However,because I love Beauty and the Beast, I was really excited to be approved for an ARC on this one. It’s about a girl named Rosie who after accidentally destroying an expensive, rare book offers to work off the debt by cataloging and organising the owner’s home library. Currently living in the house hiding from some bad press is Vance Reigns, star of the popular Starfield movies, who just happens to be a massive jerk. Unfortunately, Vance recognises Rosie – he met her while cosplaying at a convention and told her some things about himself that he probably shouldn’t have. Now he wants her gone, ASAP. As you’d expect from a B&tB retelling, the two start to spend time together, get to know one another and realise that the other person isn’t so bad. Here’s hoping for another cute contemporary romance read!


And that’s it for now. You’re all caught up. I have a feeling August will be a bit of a slow month for me in terms of the number of books finished but hopefully the ones I do read will be good ones. How has your reading been lately? Finished anything amazing?