Bookish Fun: Book Covers with Autumn Vibes

Everyone has a favourite season. Mine, by a long way, is Autumn. I love watching the leaves change colour from green to gorgeous shades of red, orange and yellow, and finally getting to break out my warmer wardrobe again (I own A LOT of sweaters). While all you northern hemisphere people are enjoying the first few weeks of spring, in the southern hemisphere I’m currently throwing my usual ‘Thank god, summer is over party’. With this in mind, I thought I’d do a fun little post to showcase some book covers which really capture those Autumn feelings. Leaves, warm colour schemes, coziness, rustic vibes, all that wonderful goodness. Enjoy!

Did I miss any notable ones? What’s your favourite Autumn feeling book cover?

Battle of the Book Covers: US vs UK (Round 4)

It’s been a while since I last put some US and UK book covers in a battle to the death. Okay, it’s not that dramatic. Still, I think it’s time to put the score board back up and see which region’s covers reign supreme. Just in case you need a catch up, here are rounds 1, 2 and 3. At this point the US is in the lead on 17 points with the UK right behind on 16 points. You guys know the drill by now, US covers on the left and UK on the right. Let’s dive in!

Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell

While I do like the idea of the renaissance style painting and the text on scripts of parchment on the US cover, I love the elegance of the UK version. The gold, nature based designs around the letter are stunning.

Verdict: UK Cover


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V. E. Schwab

This was an easy decision, especially considering how much money I forked out to get a copy of the US cover sent to Australia (UGH). I’m not sure what it is about the UK Cover, but I’m just not really a fan. The squiggly lines look a little odd and I wish that the text had been more elegant. The US cover is so simple but the text with the star constellation incorporated is magical.

Verdict: US Cover


The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett

Now this is a tough one. I love the semi-abstract nature of the imagery on both covers. There’s so many organic, flowing lines. I also feel like both covers capture the idea of two sisters being different parts of a whole very well. In the end though, I’m going to go with the UK cover but only just! It’s mostly because I find the colour scheme easier on the eyes than the shades of blue, green, orange and pink blended together on the US version.

Verdict: UK Cover


The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

I’m definitely a fan of the starry sky background on the top half of the UK cover but the rest of it is kind of boring, especially the snooze-worthy title font. The US cover, on the other hand, is an example of a simple cover which still looks engaging. I love all the little images inside the ovals. They remind me of airplane windows. The colour contrast of the yellow and orange with the navy is nice, too.

Verdict: US Cover


Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo

Another difficult match up, again because the concepts are similar but the styles are different. I love how both covers utilise half the girls’ faces and a clear sense of colour contrast. I think I like the more realistic art style of the UK cover better, however I prefer the colour scheme (the use of green and pink to create harmony and difference is well done) and layout of the US cover.

Verdict: US Cover


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is another pairing where the publishers have executed a same-same vision with small differences. It’s a tough choice. I think the title stands out better on the UK cover and I like the way the dress falls at the bottom. I also feel as though the brown wall offers good contrast against the green. However, the US cover screams old Hollywood more and I believe it captures the sexy, glamorous image Evelyn portrayed to the world a lot better. Very Marilyn Monroe.

Verdict: US Cover (By a smidge!)


If I Had Your Face – Frances Cha

My god, that yellow and red overlay on the US cover is gorgeous. I love the way the title text takes up a lot of space and cuts through the colour so cleanly. Yet, the UK cover is really eye-catching, mostly because it’s super weird to look at. You just find yourself staring at it trying to make sense of what’s happening. I’m torn on this one, guys. There’s stuff to like about both. Tie it is then.

Verdict: Tie


If We Were Villains – M. L. Rio

Considering how much I loved this book, I wish I’d bought the US hardback now. The skull, script and dark lighting are making all my dark academia dreams come true. The UK cover (which has since been redesigned) is very simple. I like the ’embossed’ bordering and big dramatic title text, however the dead sparrow image only really makes sense if you’ve read the novel and look kind of odd if you haven’t.

Verdict: US Cover


The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell

There’s something very soothing about the US cover for The Bone Clocks. Maybe it’s the reflected sky or perhaps it’s those beautiful layers of perfect circles, one after the other. Still, I definitely find the UK cover more striking and visually dynamic. The colours, sense of movement, and all the tiny details to pick apart make this one the stronger cover in my opinion.

Verdict: UK Cover


A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder – Holly Jackson

Both the US & UK covers have the same concept here – a messy looking murder board – but they go about it slightly differently. I have to say, I’m more a fan of the US cover and it’s mostly because the title text is better integrated into the image than the splat-on-the-page approach of the UK cover. I also feel like the slightly grayer background feels more ominous looking than the stark white which is what you want for a mystery novel.

Verdict: US Cover


City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert

This is another set of covers with somewhat similar concepts, this time with the use of showgirl costume feathers. I appreciate the colour scheme and bold, theater style text on the US cover, but there’s something about the image of the showgirl peering over the top of the text in the UK version that I really like.

Verdict: UK Cover


My Dark Vanessa – Kate Elizabeth Russell

I have to say, I don’t really like the US cover for My Dark Vanessa. I appreciate the incorporation of the butterfly as a reference to Vladimir Nabokov who wrote Lolita (which is referred to many times in this book), but the image doesn’t do much for me. The UK cover, however, features one of my favourite colour combos on covers – orange and blue, a complementary pairing. I also love the bold, blocky title text woven into the hair strands. So clean looking.

Verdict: UK Cover


Okay, better stop before I get too carried away (which is easy to do when you’re looking at a bunch of cool book covers). Time to check the score board!

US Covers: 24 Points

UK Covers: 22 Points

It seems that the US is still in the lead. Hm, interesting. Better get your act together UK, you’re falling behind. As always, how would you have decided these match ups? Any favourite covers among the bunch?

Bookish Fun: 10 Literary Recipes for Lovers of Books and Food

Christmas is my favourite holiday of the year. No contest. While the time off work, seeing relatives, receiving presents, and general feeling of cheer are great, we all know the real reason I love this time of year: the FOOD. If I’m not ready to slip into a food coma after Christmas lunch, something’s gone wrong. Recently we’ve been trying to work out the menu for Christmas day and it’s also got me thinking about bookish food – all the awesome sounding dishes that pop up in our favourite reads purely to make our tummies start rumbling and mouths salivate. In this spirit, here are ten scrumptious literary recipes courtesy of some fabulously talented food bloggers to whet your appetite.

November Cakes – Maggie Stiefvater (The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater)

Finn finds my left hand, opens my fingers, and puts a November cake in my palm. It oozes honey & butter, rivulets of the creamy frosting joining the honey in the pit of my hand. It begs to be licked.

Unlike the other recipes listed in this post, this one was actually created by the author herself after plenty of trial and error to ensure fluffy, sweet perfection. To give you a rough idea, these “cakes” are almost cinnamon bun-ish in consistency, baked in the shape of a muffin (but with a much more dimpled top). They’re then glazed in a honey-caramel sauce and drizzled with a simple sugary-icing. I’ve tried my hand at baking these and while it’s a bit of a lengthy process (plus there’s the whole metric conversion thing), they’re warm, sweet and lovely.

Give them a try here.


Brianna’s Bridies – Outlander Kitchen (Drums of Autumn [Outlander 3#] by Diana Gabaldon)

“Bridies! Hot Bridies!”  A high pitched screech cut through the rumble and racket of the hall, and Brianna turned to see an old woman elbowing her way robustly through the crowd, a steaming tray hung around her neck and a wooden spatula in hand.

The heavenly scent of fresh hot dough and spiced meat cut through the other pungencies in the hall, noticeable as the old woman’s calling.  It had been a long time since breakfast, and Brianna dug in her pocket, feeling saliva fill her mouth.

If you haven’t heard of a bridie before, they’re a bit like a pastie except usually with flaky pastry instead of shortcrust and filled with beef and onion. In other words, a comforting and hearty pastry dish. This recipe comes from Theresa Carle-Sanders who, alongside her blog Outlander Kitchen, has published two whole cookbooks with multitudes of Outlander inspired recipes. Theresa has added a few vegetables to her bridies to make them a bit more well rounded. Nobody likes scurvy, after all.

You can give these bridies a whirl here.


Sister’s Stew – Feast of Starlight (A Dance with Dragons [A Song of Ice and Fire 5#] by George RR Martin)

Lord Godric waved his spoon toward a chair. “Sit. Before you fall, set. My hall is cold and damp and dark, but not without some courtesy. We’ll find dry clothes for you, but first you’ll eat.” He shouted, and a woman entered the hall. “We have a guest to feed. Bring beer and bread and sister’s stew.”

The beer was brown, the bread black, the stew a creamy white. She served it in a trencher hollowed out of a stale loaf. It was thick with leeks, carrots, barley, and turnips white and yellow, along with clams and chunks of cod and crabmeat, swimming in a stock of heavy cream and butter. It was the sort of stew that warmed a man right down to his bones, just the thing for a wet, cold night.

There’s nothing like a good stew or chunky soup to warm you up in winter, and creamy soups are my weakness. The A Song of Ice and Fire series is full of references to drinks and dishes (so many that there’s an official cookbook). This recipe for Sister’s Soup served at The Three Sisters to Sir Davos Seaworth in A Dance with Dragons is from Deanna at A Feast of Starlight (her blog features recipes from books, TV shows, movies and games, and there are so many I want to try!). It’s a creamy seafood and vegetable soup which is very much like a less heavy chowder and served in a bread bowl. Yum!

Check it out here.


Strawberry Tarts – Sugar & Soul (The Selection by Kiera Cass)

I mulled this over as I bit into the strawberry tart. It was so sweet and the dough so flaky, every millimeter of my mouth was engaged, taking over the rest of my senses entirely. I didn’t mean to make the little moan, but it was by far the best thing I had ever tasted. I took another bite before I even swallowed the first.

Gosh, the moment these tarts popped up in The Selection my stomach started rumbling. Worse, the MC, America, remarks that they’re the best thing she’s ever tasted and her sister would probably cry upon eating one. If that isn’t a glowing endorsement, what is? This recipe was created by Rebecca at Sugar & Soul and adds some Nutella to the mix just to give the tarts something extra. I mean, strawberries, chocolate, flaky pastry and a dusting of icing sugar, served hot from the oven? YES, PLEASE!

Find the recipe here.


Peeta’s Cheese Buns – Yammie’s Noshery (Catching Fire [The Hunger Games 2#] by Suzanne Collins)

From the bag I pull two fresh buns with a layer of cheese baked into the top. We always seem to have a supply of these since Peeta found out they were my favorite.

Two food groups I love – cheese and bread. So thank god there are recipes like this one from Yammie’s Noshery to bring me the best of both worlds. Suzanne Collins doesn’t give us much detail about Peeta’s buns in the book but I am definitely not opposed to the idea of biting into a warm center of gooey mozzarella. They also have a topping of Colby and Swiss for extra cheesiness. I can definitely see why these were Katniss’s favourite.

Dive into cheese heaven here.


Pasta Puttanesca – Rosanna Pansino (The Bad Beginning [A Series of Unfortunate Events 1#] by Lemony Snickett)

For most of the afternoon, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny cooked the puttanesca sauce according to the recipe. Violet roasted the garlic and washed and chopped the anchovies. Klaus peeled the tomatoes and pitted the olives. Sunny banged on a pot with a wooden spoon, singing a rather repetitive song she had written herself. And all three of the children felt less miserable than they had since their arrival at Count Olaf’s.

If you were anything like me when you were young, you spent a lot of time reading the A Series of Unfortunate Events books. If so, you’ll probably remember the Baudelaires being asked to cook dinner for the dastardly Count Olaf and his acting troupe and deciding on this particular pasta dish. I love pasta dishes in all their carbalicious glory. This recipe is more glamorous than the siblings would have constructed with their limited ingredients but it’s probably far tastier for it. It comes from YouTuber Rosanna Pansino as part of her Nerdy Nummies series!

Try to please Count Olaf here.


Bruce Bogtrotter’s Chocolate Cake – Binging with Babish (Matilda by Roald Dahl)

The cook disappeared. Almost at once she was back again staggering under the weight of an enormous round chocolate cake on a china platter. The cake was fully eighteen inches in diameter and it was covered with dark-brown chocolate icing.

…”There you are Bogtrotter,” the Trunchbull said, and once again her voice became soft, persuasive, even gentle. “It’s all for you. Every last bit of it. As you enjoyed that slice you had yesterday so very much, I ordered Cook to bake you an extra large one all for yourself.”

If you’ve read any of my bios across various websites then you know that I love cake. If I could live on it without dying or getting fat, I would. With this in mind, I doubt any of you would be surprised to know that the chapter in Matilda during which Bruce Bogtrotter is required to eat an entire multi-layer chocolate cake is pretty much my dream. You call this a punishment Trunchbull? Think AGAIN. For this 3-layer recipe of chocolately goodness we can thank Binging with Babish. You can check out his Youtube channel for other great recipes.

Eat like Bruce here.


Vegan Pumpkin Chimichangas – That Was Vegan? (Geekerella – Ashley Poston)

“And may the force be with those chimichangas.”

In this cute Cinderella retelling, the MC Elle spends her days working in a pumpkin food truck, called The Magic Pumpkin, selling vegan snacks to the masses. One of the hot menu items is the chimichangas. I love pumpkin so the idea of using it in this way was super appealing to me. This recipe for baked chimichangas with a chipotle cream sauce comes from Barb at That Was Vegan? If you’re not as keen on pumpkin, you can substitute with sweet potato as well. Some heat, some crunch, a bit of sweetness, Mmmhmmm…

Live the fairytale food truck life here.


Butterbeer – Ashlee Marie (Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling)

Why don’t we go and have a butterbeer in the Three Broomsticks, it’s a bit cold, isn’t it?

I’m pretty sure it’s generally accepted at this point that if you’ve read Harry Potter you’ve wished you could try butterbeer at some point. While Universal studios serves hot, cold and frozen versions at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the recipes are kept top secret. However, because it tastes so darn good, people everywhere have worked hard on creating their own. Food blogger Ashlee Marie has recipes for all three types. They involve butterscotch syrup made from scratch and a butterscotch marshmallow cream to go on top. A drink for every season!

Try it for yourself here, here & here!

Lembas Bread – Jet Set Fork & Celebration Generation (The Lord of the Rings Series by J RR Tolkien)


In the morning, as they were beginning to pack their slender goods, Elves that could speak their tongue came to them and brought them many gifts of food and clothing for the journey. The food was mostly in the form of very thin cakes, made of meal that was baked a light brown on the outside, and inside was the colour of cream.

There are two main bread-type foods frequently mentioned in the Tolkien verse – cram and lembas. Made by the elves, Lembas is pocket-sized, sweet, stays fresh for long periods (good for adventuring), nutritious and highly filling. Unlike cram, lembas seems to be more like shortbread or an energy bar in texture. There are a heap of different recipes online for this fictional food so I’ve decided to give you guys two – Jet Set Fork & Celebration Generation (gluten free recipe).

Try version 1 here & version 2 here.


Now, you’ll have to excuse me because that is the sound of my stomach rumbling and I need to go and stuff my face. Pronto!

What are some of your favourite foods to show up in books, both real and fictional? Bonus points if you have a good recipe for them!

Babelicious Book Covers: International YA Covers

Something that never fails to give me those warm, happy tingles is discovering an aesthetically pleasing book cover. Oh, boy. It’s so good. There are a lot of factors that go into creating an awesome cover (I did an entire post on it, in fact) and sometimes publishers really excel while others, they bomb. Hard. I spend a lot of time talking about and comparing US and UK book covers which, being from Australia, makes sense. However, I thought it would be a fun change to have a look at some awesome international covers for popular young adult books. For reference, I’ll be popping the original US Covers towards the left and their international counterparts on the right.

Simon v the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertalli: Indonesia & Thailand

How cute is the Indonesian cover for Simon?! The colour scheme is fairly similar to the US cover but I love the illustration. You’ve got this great image of Simon literally hiding from the world, surrounded by objects relevant to the story – his laptop and phone for chatting with Blue, Oreos, and an iPod (music being super important to Simon and the overall book). Perfect cover choice!

While it’s not my favourite design, the anime-ish drawing of Simon on the Thai cover is pretty fun, especially with the mysterious, hooded Blue figure in the background. I also like the fact that they kept the idea of the speech bubble title and red background from the US cover.


A Darker Shade of Magic Series – V. E. Schwab: France, Indonesia & Bulgaria

Something I’ve noticed writing this post: France has some amazing book covers. Like, damn. The artwork for the “Shades of Magic” books in particular is gorgeous (the work of the ridiculously talented Charlie Bowater). The characters are almost exactly how I would imagine them to look plus the lighting, backgrounds, and colours are all fantastic.

Although I quite like the Indonesian cover’s font and the incorporation of the map into the ends of Kell’s coat, I’m not as fond of this one as the others. The Bulgarian cover, on the other hand, is awesome. I love the use of the compass in bold, bloody red and Kell at the centre.


The Lunar Chronicles – Marissa Meyer: Norway, Korea & Thailand

I’m not normally a fan of models in strange poses on book covers but I can’t help finding the editing on the Norwegian ones super pretty. They really do capture the great mix of fairytale and sci-fi that The Lunar Chronicles have. Although each image is quite different from the US versions (more about the people than the objects), it’s still easy to identify which fairytale the book is referring to.

I think what draws me to the Korean covers is their use of bold, solid colours which really makes the imagery and titles stand out. The art style is simple but fairly nice to look at as well. The Thai covers are heavy on the sci-fi side – space-y colours, planets in the background, obvious light sources… It’s different but it works.


Warcross – Marie Lu: Germany & Spain

As Warcross is set in futuristic Japan and centers around hacking and e-sports, this leaves a lot of room for bright, eye-catching, sci-fi cover designs. For some reason, the German cover gives me serious Ready Player One vibes. There’s this great dystopian feel to the way it showcases the contrast between the big, bright parts of the city and its darker underbelly (something Emika delves into). The title text is also really cool.

I feel like the Spanish cover perfectly captures the sense of wonder and possibility Emika experiences in being introduced to technologically advanced and exciting Tokyo. You really do get the sense that this is the sort of place where VR capture the flag type competitions could be a big deal. I do wish they’d done more with the text though.


The Selection – Kiera Cass: Vietnam & Persia

The Vietnamese covers for The Selection books are very similar in feel to the US covers except they use illustrations instead of photographed models. And well, I have absolutely no problem with this because the illustrations are pretty and suit the books just as much as the originals.

I’m not sure what it is about the Persian cover, but I like it. It probably doesn’t fit the actual story very well considering The Selection is supposed to be set in a dystopian future. However, I like the romantic, historical feel of it. Also points to both covers for remembering America’s red hair.


The Diviners – Libba Bray: Germany, Spain & Australia

Whoever is handling The Diviners covers around the world, you’re doing a top notch job. I adore the clear 1920s feel of both the German and Spanish covers. The costuming on the German version is lovely and the woman’s head popping up from the border on the Spanish cover is really cute. The title fonts on all three are great, too. I will say though that Australian cover probably captures the darkness and mysticism of the book more than the others.


The Grisha Trilogy – Leigh Bardugo: France

Okay, I really tried not to include another bunch of French covers, but WOULD YOU LOOK AT THESE GRISHA COVERS?? They’re just….*heart eyes*. Gosh I wish I’d continued with my French studies at university. The colouring, borders, font, imagery, it’s all so gorgeous and Alina looks like such a badass.


Caraval – Stephanie Garber: China, Russia & Iran/Persia

It turns out that Caraval has a smorgasbord of cool looking international covers. The Chinese cover is 100% my favourite. The artwork is stunning. I especially like the layout with the girl in the sweeping dress at the front, Caraval itself in all it’s glory, and then the back of Legend’s glorious top hat above the title. It just feels wonderfully mystical and adventurous.

The Russian cover has a few bits and pieces that look somewhat out of place (the woman on the left) but overall, it’s vivid and eye catching. The use of colour suits the story and I really like the idea of the big, voluminous dress flowing across the centre.

What I like about the Iranian/Persian cover is that it’s different from covers I usually see. I enjoy the simple red, white and black colour scheme and the use of silhouettes. It looks nothing like the other covers here but still manages to give the same sense of mystery and magic, although with a little danger mixed in.


Do you have a favourite non-US/UK cover for a young adult read? Link me up! I’d love to see it.

Binge Reading: How Many Adult Contemporary Romances Can I Read in a Week?

Now, looking at the title of this post you might be thinking: Why? Well, to that I say: Why not?

Okay, for a more expanded explanation: in August I finished a total of 2 books which is kind of sad and probably because I’ve been apathetic towards reading lately. Romantic contemporaries are always quick and easy reads for me so I thought, why not give my bookwormishness (what a monstrosity of a made up word) a jump start with an entire week of them?! I’m probably going to give myself whatever the bookish equivalent of a cavity after eating too many sweet things in one go is, but WHO CARES.

For fun, I’ll be scoring them using my usual star system but also doing individual ratings for sweetness, humour, sexiness/steam, and romance – just to give a better idea of their mood. I’ll also be mentioning whether they include any diversity because yo, it’s 2020. Let the week of romance begin!

Day 1-2: One to Watch – Kate Stayman-London

53103895

Premise: A plus-sized fashion blogger goes on a reality dating show called Main Squeeze (a fictional version of The Bachelor/Bachelorette) and dates a bunch of hot guys whilst showing that bigger girls can be attractive and deserve love too.

  • Hurrah! A strong start to the week. I enjoyed this one, mostly because it was super relatable for me. As someone who’s far from a size 6, I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to have a protagonist who shares many of the same insecurities about love and relationships that I do. Reading about the MC, Bea’s, journey was hard but also empowering and encouraging. The body positivity message is very, very on the nose but I can mostly forgive it.
  • Diversity wise, this book is amazing. Aside from Bea being plus sized, among the contestants there’s also a black man, an Asian-American, and an asexual man. They’re all portrayed as being desirable & unlike on real life TV, they all make it close to the end!
  • The Bachelorette concept was fun and definitely why this caught my eye. However, having Bea cycle through different dates does mean that the love interests share the limelight, reducing the ability to give them lots of depth but the real focus is Bea anyway. Still, there are plenty of sweet moments and a little bit of sexual tension.
  • The book plays around with style a lot using articles, tweets and text convos in between standard third person narrative. It’s somewhat jarring to get used to at first but fine after a while.

Sweetness: ★★★
Humour: ★.5
Sexiness/Steam: ★★
Romance: ★★★
Diversity: Yes! All the YES.


Oh god. A four star read out of the gate. It’s got to be downhill from here, right? Suddenly the books on my pre-made list seem risky and unappealing. What does Goodreads suggest instead…

This looks interesting. *checks Amazon* SIXTEEN DOLLARS? ON KINDLE? This better be worth it.

Day 2-3: You Deserve Each Other – Sarah Hogle

50027029. sy475

Premise: Naomi and Nicholas seem like the perfect engaged couple but, in reality, these days they can barely stand one another. Now with only 3 months left til their wedding, the pair decide to try their best to get the other to end the engagement and foot the massive bill. But what if they turned their attention to working out what went wrong with their relationship instead?

  • Yes, it was easily worth the $16. This was so unexpectedly enjoyable! I love a good enemies to lovers trope but it was great to see it used in a fresh way. I will gladly read another book about two people finding themselves again and remembering why they loved one another in the first place.
  • One of the best parts of this book was easily the humour. I was surprised by how funny it was. Like, actually laugh out loud funny. The banter between Naomi and Nicholas is great, mostly because, as a couple who’ve been together for a while, they know exactly how to push each other’s buttons. Particularly where Nicholas’s mother is concerned.
  • The characters are very likeable, too. With the way Naomi acts at times, I should have found her childish and petty but honestly, I loved her boldness and vulnerability. Nicholas, meanwhile, can just marry me. A man who can banter, loves skittles, proudly owns a How to Train Your Dragon tie and will fight for his relationship – swoon.
  • I should also mention how seamlessly the book’s mood changed from light and fun to serious and emotional. I loved that I could enjoy myself reading about Naomi and Nicholas’s antics one moment then sympathise with their difficulties in repairing their relationship and behaviour the next.

Sweetness: ★★★
Humour: ★★★★
Sexiness/Steam: ★★★
Romance: ★★★★
Diversity: Nope.


We’re definitely going down now. It’s inevitable. Maybe I need something completely different. Well, different within the confines of contemporary adult romance. Just kidding. More enemies to lovers it is. But with cupcakes. Cause I love cupcakes.

Day 3 – 4: Kiss my Cupcake – Helena Hunting

49533585. sy475

Premise: Blaire Calloway is excited to finally be opening her own cupcake & cocktail cafe. However, her parade is rained on when she discovers hottie Ronan Knight opening a sportsbar next door on the same day. The two clash, setting off a competition for customers. But when a chain of popular bars opens their newest location across the street, the two have to work together to keep their businesses afloat.

  • Can I just say, this book has SO MANY CUPCAKES. Thank god I had left over birthday cake in the house while I was reading this because I might have died of cravings otherwise (it’s possible, okay).
  • I quite enjoyed the chemistry between Blaire and Ronan. Blaire is somewhat over the top in her reactions to things (especially at the climax of the book) but overall she’s okay. Ronan is hot – physically and in personality. He can stay. Enough said.
  • At the end of each chapter, the book incorporates “tweets” supposedly posted by Ronan and Blaire’s businesses but honestly, they’re mostly cringy alcohol & cupcake puns which offer nothing to the story. I have no clue why they’re included.
  • With romance novels I always expect some drama around the 80% mark before the couple makes up and sails off into the sunset. Unfortunately, the dramatic climax of this book is super disappointing. In fact, it’s almost non-existent and just makes Blaire look bad for thinking so badly of Ronan with barely anything to go off. That this is then followed up by an over the top and cheesy ending put a dampener on my enjoyment of the overall book.
  • The story is told in split perspectives between Ronan & Blaire but the balance between the two is really uneven, leaving Ronan with only a couple of chapters. I found this a somewhat odd choice which made me question the reason for the split at all.
  • KMC is definitely the most steamy of the books I’ve read so far this week. As in, there’s an actual sex scene. There’s also noticeable sexual tension throughout the book. So if this kind of thing floats your boat, *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*.

Sweetness: ★★★★
Humour:
Sexiness/Steam: ★★★★
Romance: ★★
Diversity: Nooopppee


Alright, let’s turn up the “romance” rating a bit more. I want some swoon-worthy love story here. Real depth of emotion with boomboxes outside windows. I will accept no substitutes.

Day 4-5: One day in December – Josie Silver

42382386. sx318

Premise: When Laurie locks eyes with Jack riding the bus home one day, it’s practically love at first sight for the both of them. That is, until the bus drives away with him on the curb. She then spends the next year searching London for him until finally she finds him – introduced as her roommate Sarah’s new boyfriend. What follows is ten years of missed opportunities and complicated choices.

  • Based on the few reviews I’ve read of this book, I honestly didn’t expect to like ODiD as much as I did. Then again, I’ve always had a soft spot for stories told over several years in characters’ lives. I just love watching people grow, change, and experience life.
  • Normally I’m 100% in the camp of NO to love at first sight but somehow, this book actually made me believe in it for its duration. Now, if that ain’t magic, I don’t know what is.
  • The characters in this book aren’t always logical and don’t consistently do the right thing by themselves or each other, but that’s people. For the most part, I cared about what happened to Laurie, Jack & Sarah, and genuinely wanted them to get their happy endings. ODiD is definitely one of those books where you do have to be invested in the characters and their lives to enjoy it, otherwise it’s going to be pretty darn boring.
  • I should warn you, if you hate cheating plotlines, there’s an element of it here. Physically only minor but emotionally, plenty.
  • My two main gripes are: 1) I wish the ending had been handled differently as it felt odd and abrupt when fit into the rest of the story (I mean, we’d been waiting TEN YEARS by this point). Perhaps another time jump afterwards would have helped? And, 2) I would have liked more done with Laurie’s career considering its importance to her.
  • Less of a fluffy read than the other books so far this week, but very enjoyable.

Sweetness: ★★★
Humour: ★★
Sexiness/Steam: ★.5
Romance: ★★★★
Diversity: No, again. More straight, cis, able-bodied, white people problems.


I’ve just realised that this post is lacking a noticeable amount of gay so we should rectify that right now. Bring on the LGBTI romance!

Day 5: Boyfriend Material – Alexis Hall

48994908. sy475

Premise: As the son of two rock legends, Luc has always been in the spotlight. After a compromising photo puts him in hot water with his employer’s donors, Luc is told to clean up his image by finding a respectable boyfriend. Enter Oliver Blackwood – vegetarian, barrister and in need of a date for a big event. And so the two strike up a deal: a fake relationship for a few weeks and then go their separate ways. But what happens when real feelings get involved?

  • Did I pick this book because it reminded me of Red, White and Royal Blue? Yes, you caught me. And I’m so glad I did because it was the perfect combo of adorably sweet & hilarious. I had an absolute ball.
  • The humour in this is great, mostly found in the lengthy sections of dialogue. Part of it stems from the banter and chemistry between Luc and Oliver, but the rest can be attributed to the fun supporting cast. This includes Luc’s vague co-worker Alex (my favourite) and his publisher friend Bridget.
  • I loved the relationship between Oliver & Luc. It’s an opposites attract situation which requires time to sort through the kinks but develops into something wonderful. I really enjoyed how good an impact they had one one another, especially with regards to Luc’s self-esteem and trust issues.
  • Aside from the romance, BM also involves a plot to do with Luc’s estranged, famous father. However, for something that took up a chunk of the novel, it ended up weirdly…fizzling out. It’s even more disappointing considering how much Luc’s life was impacted by his dad’s choices and lifestyle.
  • Speaking of family, there’s also an incident involving Oliver’s which I wish had been built up to more over the novel instead of becoming a factor all of sudden in the later stage of the book.
  • This book is boyfriend material in more ways than one – would for sure recommend snuggling up with it on a night in.

Sweetness: ★★★★
Humour: ★★★★★
Sexiness/Steam: ★★★.5
Romance: ★★★
Diversity: Yes! We have straight, bi and gay characters in this one.


I might be able to squeeze in one more book. Just ONE more.

Day 6-7: Get a Life, Chloe Brown – Talia Hibbert

43888874

Premise: After a near death experience, chronically ill computer geek, Chloe Brown writes herself a list of tasks designed to help her “Get a Life”. Realising she’ll need a hand in completing it, Chloe enlists the help of talented artist (and her building superintendent) Redford Morgan, who has baggage of his own to deal with.

  • Once again, yay for diversity: this book features a black, curvy protagonist with a chronic illness. Even better, Chloe’s condition isn’t forgotten about whenever it’s convenient. It actually factors into her behaviour and how the romance plays out. It sounds like such a small thing but I adored the fact that Red was so attentive about Chloe’s pain & exhaustion, and that he always kept her condition in mind when they did things together.
  • It was interesting having a male lead who looks physically strong dealing with getting out of an abusive relationship. Not just physical abuse but emotional, too. Seeing how this trauma impacted Red’s self esteem and his painting really added something different to the novel.
  • To my complete shock, GaLCB ended up being the most steamy book I read this week! From the description and cover, it seems super cutesy but then BAM masturbation scene, public acts of indecency, dirty talk, erections & taut nipples galore…!! To be honest, it was probably too much for my liking. There were quite a few conversations between Chloe and Red which I wish had been more emotional and less I-can’t-stop thinking-about-your-body-on-mine.
  • Based on the blurb I was under the impression that there would be more elements to completing Chloe’s list and that this theme would provide a more structured plot. I was also expecting that doing these things would be the reason for Chloe’s new lease on life but it ended up mostly being about her opening up to Red. This was nice and all but I wanted something a bit more.

Sweetness: ★★★★
Humour: ★.5
Sexiness/Steam: ★★★★★
Romance: ★★★
Diversity: YES!


There we have it – 7 days, 6 adult contemporary romances. Phew! I’m pretty happy with myself to be honest. I had a fun week of reading, beefed up my Goodreads tracker for 2020 and I’m already looking forward to the next book I tackle. FYI, it will not be a contemporary romance. I’m starting to feel the bookworm cavities… Too much of a good thing.

Are you a romance reader? If so, what are some of your favourite picks?

Should I try doing this with a different genre in the future?

Bookish Fun: 16 MORE Book, Reading and Author Related Facts

That’s right, it’s time for some more fun, bookish trivia! You guys seemed to enjoy my original version of this post back in January so much that I thought, hey, why not go for round two (it may or may not also be because I’m running low on posting ideas at the moment…but we’ll keep that just between us). Besides, who doesn’t love learning fun, useless facts perfect for bringing up during long, awkward silences?

Bookish Facts

  • ‘Tsundoku’ is a Japanese term which refers to a person who acquires reading materials with a tendency to let them pile up unread. They know me, they really know me!
  • While we’re on the topic of bookish language, ‘Bibliosmia’ means enjoying the smell of good or old books. I have to say, the smell of books is definitely one of the reasons I prefer physical books to e-copies. Gimme that mustiness.
Trump Words GIF by moodman
  • The Harry Potter books are some of the most banned novels in America due to religious complaints. Can’t have none of that nasty witchcraft potentially infecting the minds of the young now, can we?
  • According to the NOP World Culture Score Index, the countries which read the most on average per week are India (10.42 hrs), Thailand (9.24 hrs) and China (8 hrs). I think that’s more than even I usually read in a standard week! Go Asia!
  • Slate magazine conducted a study which revealed the most commonly used sentence in The Hunger Games trilogy is “My Name is Katniss Everdeen”, in Harry Potter it’s ‘Nothing happened’ and in the Twilight series it’s “I sighed”. The more you know, I suppose.
Green Tea Repeat GIF by Kim's Convenience
  • The longest title of a book has over 26,000 characters (!) and was published in Kyrgyzstan in 2019. If you’d like to see the full title (it is LONG, man), you can find it here.
  • Where the Wild Things Are was originally supposed to be about horses but when author Maurice Sendak began to draw the illustrations he quickly realised he couldn’t actually draw horses (I can relate – horse are hard!). As you can imagine, these eventually changed into the wild “things” we’re familiar with. Horses, can you even imagine?
  • The first draft of Lolita by Vladamir Nabokav was written on notecards. They had the entire text of the novel plus edits, additional notes and drawings. I don’t know about you, but I can feel the eye strain from here.
Squinting George Costanza GIF
  • I don’t know if I should label this a fun fact or a horrifying one, but Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James is the third bestselling book in the UK (it falls short only to The Da Vinci Code and, you probably guessed it, Harry Potter).
  • Back in 2008, the first ever Kindle sold out in less than 6 hours and stayed out of stock for 5 months. Also interesting to note, it only had about 250MB of storage. To put that into perspective, a Kindle Paperwhite today has 8GB. That’s certainly a lot more book space.

Author Facts

  • Sadly, Jane Austen’s novels were published anonymously until after her death. She was only identified as their author for the first time in a eulogy written by her brother Henry which was included in Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously. Ah, the trials of being a female author.
  • Mary Shelley first wrote Frankenstein as part of a ghost story competition proposed by English poet Lord Byron while they were stuck in Switzerland following a volcanic eruption in Indonesia. The idea apparently came to her in a nightmare. Ahem, where is my literary gold dream, huh?
  • Danish fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen used to bring a coil of rope with him whenever he stayed in hotels, just in case a fire emergency required him to flee out the nearest window. Amusingly, if you visit his museum in Denmark they actually have some rope on display. I guess you can never be too prepared.
Be Prepared The Lion King GIF
  • George RR Martin still writes his books on a DOS machine using word processing software that was popular during the 80s. No wonder his fans have been waiting so long for the next book…
  • C.S. Lewis and J RR Tolkien became friends after they met at an Oxford English faculty meeting and each encouraged the other to produce their most famous pieces of literature. Tolkien even helped convert Lewis to Christianity, the themes & imagery of which are quite prominent in his Narnia works.
Best Friends Bff GIF
  • Last but not least, Shakespeare can be credited with over 1,700 words in the English language. A few of them are addiction, courtship, bloodstained and assassination. And people think millennials come up with a lot of new terms!

Hopefully you picked up at least one new interesting thing. Got any fun bookish or author related facts to share? I want to hear them!

Bookish Fun: Video Games Inspired by Books

While reading is certainly one of the big hobbies of my life, something I’ve also been doing since I was pretty young is video gaming. Yes, I know, I’ve heard it all – it’ll damage your eyes, melt your brain, waste your time, blah, blah, blah. Regardless, I love raiding tombs, spending hours crafting an island paradise full of cute animals, ordering Sims around like a mini-God, working out puzzle rooms designed by a crazed computer, or defeating other civilisations with my superior ability to build a rocket. There are so many fabulous games out there for people with all different kinds of interests and skill levels. However, would you be surprised to know that there are a few which were actually inspired by books? Okay, you’re probably not that surprised, but I thought it might be fun to have a look at a couple.

Nancy Drew Detective Game Series | Nancy Drew Series – Caroline Keene

The Nancy Drew mystery series has been around since the 1930s(!) and it’s managed to remain pretty popular since then (there have been multiple adaptations in the last few years alone). I got into these books when I was around ten years old and not long after also discovered the video games. To give you an idea of just how popular these point and click adventures are, the first entry, Secrets Can Kill, was released in 1998 and only last year, they released installment number 33! These games are so much fun and super re-playable. They’re full of challenging & entertaining puzzles, interesting characters and exciting stories. While the plots differ from the books for the most part, they do feature all the popular characters including The Hardy Boys. I highly recommend these even if you’re not a gamer. Plus they’re usually super cheap during Steam sales (some of my favourites are Curse of Blackmoor Manor, Tomb of the Lost Queen and Shadow at the Water’s Edge).


American McGee’s Alice & Alice: Madness Returns | Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Caroll

This gaming duology takes its concept from Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. People have often considered the Alice stories with regards to mental illness, but these video games take it a step further by having Wonderland exist as a mental retreat for institutionalised Alice’s traumatised mind. Here, Wonderland is a lot darker and more violent, but I suppose that’s necessary for a video game. The games feature a slightly older Alice battling her way across the land using a variety of weapons whilst attempting to repair her mind in the wake of her parents’ deaths. Fans of the stories will be happy to know that the games do include a lot famous faces such as the White Rabbit, Queen of Hearts and Cheshire cat. The design style leans towards comic book-ish but there are some super pretty and engaging environments, as one would expect of something set in Wonderland.


Metro Series | Metro 2033 – Dmitry Glukhovsky

If you’re a fan of first person shooter or survivor horror games, then you’ve probably heard of Metro 2033 and its sequels Metro: Last Light & Metro: Exodus. The original game is based on a book of the same name by Russian author, Dmitry Glukhovsky. Both are set in Moscow following the fallout of a nuclear war in which people are forced to live in underground bunkers and tunnels – a network called the Metro. Aside from the fallout radiation, survivors also have to deal with extreme human factions and dangerous mutant creatures. The story follows a man named Aryton who is tasked with journeying to the heart of the Metro to warn people about a threat known as the Dark Ones. The book and game share many similarities but also quite a few differences – most notably the game’s ability to make the player feel extremely uneasy for most of its run time and its different two endings.


The Witcher Series | The Witcher Series – Andrzej Sapkowski

If you’re considering video games with their origins in books, The Witcher games are definitely the most well-known. These are somewhat different to others on this list in that they don’t attempt to directly adapt the novels. Instead, they act as sequels. Well, at least they were sequels until the author realised how popular the games were, got ticked off at how things were handled, and went back to add extra books to the series. Because they’re follow ups, the games include a heap of prominent and smaller book characters and showcase many different parts of Sapkowski’s world in lush and fantastic detail. While it helps to have read the books to understand references, in-jokes, and backstories when playing, it’s not essential for enjoyment. Also, this is definitely a series which improves with each installment. Although the first game leaves a lot to be desired, it’s worth pushing through to eventually get to play Wild Hunt (one of my favourite games of all time).


The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring | The Lord of the Rings Series – J RR Tolkien

There have been a HEAP of Lord of the Rings games and it’s easy to understand why: the franchise is ridiculously popular. One of my favourites is LEGO LotR, but considering how movie influenced it is, (and the fact I wasn’t a big fan of Shadow of Mordor) I’m going with The Fellowship of the Ring game for this list. Released the year after the film, you’d think it’d just be a basic, cash-in type thing but it’s actually very much a book adaptation. The characters are modeled using the book’s descriptions, not the actors, and the storyline includes a lot of sections from the novel which aren’t covered in the movie. This is particularly so where it comes to Frodo’s journey to Rivendell e.g. the Barrow Downs, Tom Bombadil, Farmer Maggot, etc. It’s not the best game around (oh lord, the graphics!), however if you’re a LotR fan it’s definitely fun running around fixing weather vanes as Frodo, battling trolls as Aragorn and using magic to defeat a Balrog as Gandalf.


Bioshock | Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand

Okay, this one is a bit less straightforward. Good thing I named this post “inspired by” and not “adapted from”. Bioshock is a first person shooter set in the rundown underwater city of Rapture. Philosopher/writer, Ayn Rand, is all over this game. In their development of the philosophy behind Rapture, the game’s creators relied heavily on Rand’s theory of Objectivism from Atlas Shrugged, which advocates for individuals focusing on their own interests over those of others with minimal state intervention (radical selfishness, in essence). Rapture is basically a depiction of just how bad strictly applied Objectivism can be, especially when its ideas become warped. The game also has other links to Rand and her work, e.g. the similarities between Rapture’s creator, Andrew Ryan, and Rand, smaller references to the novel such as posters stating ‘Who is Atlas?’, and the links between the plight of John Galt and the game’s backstory events. It seems philosophical texts can make good games just as well as fantasy books.


Sherlock Holmes Series | The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

Much like Nancy Drew, the Sherlock Holmes series is a set of adventure-mystery games which feature Doyle’s famous detectives, Holmes and Watson, investigating some sort of crime in an attempt to solve it. The player solves puzzles, locates hidden clues and analyses them, and talks with suspects. The games’ storylines are largely original (with a few exceptions such as in Crimes and Punishment) and don’t really adhere to the novels but still seem to maintain the feeling of them. The series has been around since 2002, with the latest game released in 2016, and it’s remained fairly popular during that time, even winning a couple of awards. So if you’re a Sherlock fan and enjoy a good mystery game, this might be a fun series to give a try during your spare time.


And that’s it from me for now! Are you someone who loves playing video games? Have you played any of the ones in this post? (Psssst…If you’re as obsessed with the Nancy Drew games as me and my sister, let me know your favourite!).

Future TBR: Classics I’d Like to Try Reading

I am not a classics lover. In fact, of the limited number of classic books that I’ve actually read, probably about 80% of them I’ve disliked. However, in the spirit of the whole ‘broaden your reading horizons’ vibe I’ve had going on in recent months, lately I’ve been thinking more and more about giving classics another chance. So, I’ve been doing my research (looking at the many ‘classics for beginners’ lists available across the bookish web), thinking back to classics adaptations that I’ve enjoyed, and making heart eyes at the Penguin Clothbound Classics editions. Finally, I have myself a list of 8 classic novels that I’d like to give it my best shot at reading and hopefully enjoying.


Emma – Jane Austen

7181805. sy475

Technically I’m already 100 pages into this one but as I’ve yet to finish it, it counts. As I mentioned above, there aren’t many classics I can say I’ve read and enjoyed but Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is one of the few. So, why not try another of her books? At this point I’ve seen two adaptations of Emma (plus Clueless) and really enjoyed them. As a character, Emma is full of herself and bit of a spoiled brat, but I kind of love her for it. The story is basically just her setting people up and meddling in people’s affairs. As you can imagine, romantic shenanigans ensue. Despite this lighter plotline, the book actually takes a great look at issues like social class and the oppression of women. Sure, there’s a somewhat…uncomfortable age gap between Emma and her love interest, Mr Knightly, but eh. Different times.


Dracula – Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker

This will sound weird, but I’m not sure if I’ve already read this. When I was in high school, we were studying representations of Dracula in film and TV but (bizarrely) did not have to read the book. Me, being me, borrowed it from the library anyway. However, to this day, I’m still unsure if what I read was one of those dumbed down/revised/changed language versions for students or the real book. I was sick at the time and it was about 11 years ago, so the only way to find out for sure is to read it (or re-read it?). I’ve always been a vampire fangirl and Dracula is pretty much the original vampire story. The book is about a lawyer named Jonathan Harker who travels to Transylvania to assist Count Dracula with a London house purchase. In doing so, he makes some horrifying discoveries which set off a chain of events back in England.


The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle

7148831. sy475

How could I possibly go past trying out a classic Sherlock Holmes story? The majority of Conan Doyle’s Holmes tales were short stories but The Hound of the Baskervilles is slightly longer, and probably the most famous. In perfect Gothic novel fashion, the story is set in a creepy mansion among the dark and misty, English moors. Here, a dark curse is believed to be upon the Baskerville family involving a spectral dog, said to hunt down any members who risk wandering the grounds at night. After the death of his friend, Sir Charles Baskerville, Dr. James Mortimer calls upon Holmes and his assistant, Dr. Watson, to investigate and hopefully protect Charles’s heir, Henry, from a similar fate. It’s said to be a little scarier than your average Holmes story but perhaps that’s why it’s so fun.


The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Going back to those ‘classics for beginners’ type lists I mentioned above, Dorian Gray is a book which seems to feature on a lot of them. This is probably for two reasons – (a) it’s shorter than a lot of other classic novels, and (b) the writing and themes are somewhat easier to grasp. This was the only novel Wilde ever published as the rest of his works were plays. While at university, I saw a production of The Importance of Being Earnest and thought it was fantastic so if I’m going to try classics, this seems like a good choice. The novel is about a man who sells his soul for eternal youth and ends up falling into a spiral of debauchery and desire. It’s full of morally ambiguous characters (yes!) and the themes are still highly relevant today.


The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas pere

Yes, I know. I’m already crying at the sheer size of this gargantuan book. It’s over 1200 pages long (blame publishers who though paying authors by the word was a good idea)! But, hey, at least if I end up hating it or bored out of my brain I’ll have a fabulous, new paperweight. Still, I’ve seen & heard some amazing things about this book. It’s a tale of adventure and suffering, but above all it’s about REVENGE! And I just can’t help loving a good revenge story. After being condemned for a crime he didn’t commit, Edmond Dantes is sent to the fortress of If. Here he learns about a treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo. Dantes becomes determined to escape, find it, and use it to destroy the three men responsible for his incarceration.


Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

20893528

I’m one of those people that as soon as they see a movie they really enjoy suddenly feels a strong need to read the book it was adapted from. Sometimes I’m able to wait out the desire until it goes away but other times, not so much. As you’ve probably guessed, I saw Greta Gerwig’s Little Women back in January and guess what, I still want to read it. Yes, I know there are issues with the ending and it’s not a small book by any means, but still. A lot of the classics on this list were written by English writers so it’ll be nice to see how an American classic compares. Also, a book about four women, written by a woman back in 1868? That’s pretty darn special in and of itself.


A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings

Have you really tried to get into classics if you haven’t given something by Dickens a red hot go? Apparently not, or at least so I’ve heard. A Christmas Carol is one of those stories that’s just massively loved and re-read over and over, especially at the most wonderful time of the year. It’s only a shorter read so I feel like it’ll be a good way for me to dip my toes into Dickens without getting stuck into one of his larger novels (which seem to have mixed reviews despite still being memorable “classics”). I’m also somewhat familiar with the plot here courtesy of it showing up in things like The Muppets and The Simpsons – this is supposedly helpful if you’re someone looking at trying out classic authors/books.


Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Okay, after the unpleasant experience that was Wuthering Heights, I’m willing to give the Bronte sisters another chance. Here’s hoping Charlotte does better by me than Emily did. Jane is another one of those romantic classics that people talk about a lot. I’ll admit, one of the reasons I’m inclined to read it is the strength and independence of Jane herself which, considering when this was written, is pretty admirable. I also like the fact that the two central characters in this book aren’t your typical romantic leads. Again, this is a classic I’ve seen an adaptation of so even if I have some difficulty with the writing style, I should still be able to follow what’s going on.


What do you think of my classics reading list?

If you’re someone who really enjoys classic novels, I’d love to hear which books you’d most recommend to someone starting out with them. Or better, what is your favourite classic novel and why?

Books To Avoid During a Pandemic

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of lists centered around books that are perfect for occupying one’s time during the social isolation periods of a pandemic. There’s long books, uplifting books, gripping books, and everything in between. But what about books you SHOULDN’T read? Ones full of the world ending, awful viruses and infections, and post-apocalyptic wastelands. Probably not something people want to be thinking about at the moment, huh? So, why not look at a couple of them anyway?

The Stand – Stephen King

1454116

I’m pretty sure a lot of people predicted this book would show up. Like IT, The Stand is a doorstopper of a read at over 1100 pages and is considered to be one of Stephen King’s best. The Stand is set in a post apocalyptic world in which 99% of the population has died as a result of a super flu. The scattered survivors end up drawn to two camps led by very different individuals. Nebraska is home to Abigail Freemantle, a 108 year old woman who supposedly receives visions from God. In Las Vegas, Randall Flagg reigns – a man with supernatural powers who thrives off death and destruction. It’s a story about the struggle between good and evil and how quickly things like human greed and corruption can flourish when allowed to do so.


Year One (Chronicles of the One 1#) – Nora Roberts

34311452

Another book, another population murdering, world ending virus. However, if you like your apocalyptic stories mixed with fantasy, this is the one for you. In Year One, the plague (“The Doom”) is rooted in magic and after the decimation of humanity, magic starts to spring up rapidly among the immune survivors. Some fall on the light side of things – faeries, good witches, clairvoyants, etc. Then there are those gifted with dark powers who are interested in torture, rape and murder. To make matters worse, the government is also rounding up survivors in the hopes studying and testing them to determine the reason for their immunity. The book follows three groups of characters as they flee the city in search of safety and a new start.


Contagion – Erin Bowman

35068650. sy475

Now for something different, Contagion is a YA sci-fi read. Much like in the movie Alien, this book involves a team from a small ship called ‘Odyssey’ responding to an SOS signal from a mining crew on a distant planet in the hopes of carrying out a search and rescue mission. When they arrive, they find a bunch of dead bodies, rotten food and an abandoned site. And so, as you’d expect, they try their best to find out what happened. The next thing they know, an unknown contagion has infected the crew with potentially catastrophic consequences if it gets out. Not exactly comfort reading in today’s climate, huh? Also, there may or may not be some space zombies and a fight for survival thrown in the mix.


Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

20170404

Like The Stand, Station Eleven is a book which involves the wiping out of 99% of the population by means of a flu. In this case, “The Georgian Flu”. The book focuses on two timelines. The first details the lead up to the outbreak in which Arthur, a stage actor, is attempting to reboot his career by performing Shakespeare. Instead, he dies on stage and shortly after everything changes. The second skips forward into the future to follow the lives of several survivors and shows how they connect with one another through a group of actors and musicians called The Traveling Symphony. It’s a novel about nostalgia but also about just surviving versus actually living.


The Fireman – Joe Hill

29875363

Time for a different sort of pandemic from your average flu – one that involves the spread of highly contagious spore which causes black and gold “scales” to appear across the skin prior to spontaneous human combustion. I guess Coronavirus doesn’t sound so bad after all… The story revolves around a nurse named Harper who, after contracting the spores, disregards a pact she made with her husband to kill themselves if they were ever infected. This is so she can hopefully live long enough to deliver her baby. When her community begins to devolve into chaos and her husband abandons her, Harper finds aid in the form of a mysterious figure known as The Fireman, who has somehow learned to control and use his Dragonscale affliction.


Blindness – José Saramago

2526

In Blindness, we, again, have a very different epidemic. The book begins with a man spontaneously losing his sight while waiting at a traffic light. He then sees a doctor to find an explanation for his condition who, after some time, also goes blind. All of a sudden, the city is rife with it, bright-white blindness spreading from one person to the next without warning. In an attempt to halt it, authorities confine those affected to an empty mental hospital where a criminal element soon takes over. Among it all, the doctor’s wife somehow retains her sight and does her best to look after those trapped but without revealing her unaffected vision. It’s a bleak view of society and a terrifying look at what people will do out of fear. Fun fact, this book won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.


The Maze Runner Series – James Dashner

6186357

This might not apply to the first book as much because the full context for events doesn’t become apparent until further in. Still, the series as a whole fits this list. *major spoiler warning* In The Maze Runner books, the world has been affected by a man-made disease known as ‘The Flare’, intended to reduce the world’s population due to limited resources. Instead of eventually disappearing as planned, the disease mutated, became airborne and spread across the world, reducing those infected to savage, cannibalistic beings. In an attempt to combat it, the group WICKED was formed and began to conduct experiments on the small percentage of the population who were not affected by the The Flare (such as sticking them inside a ginormous maze), hoping their brain patterns/responses would reveal a path to a cure.


The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton

7670

A team is deployed to retrieve a military probe, recently returned to Earth after a mission to take samples from the outer fringes of space. They quickly become uncontactable. Then the aerial satellite images of the closest township, Pidemont, Arizona, come through – the entire population deceased, as if they simply dropped dead in the street. The government quickly initiates ‘Operation Wildfire’, putting a small group of scientists in a race to discover how to stop a deadly alien organism, needing only a few seconds incubation, before it becomes catastrophic. This is the book for those who love highly scientific and technical based reads.


Wilder Girls – Rory Power

42505366

If the whole quarantine element is what keeps you up at night, maybe avoid Wilder Girls. Also, body horror, because there’s a fair bit of that here if you’re squeamish. The book is about a bunch of girls from a boarding school on an island off the coast of Maine being infected with some kind of crazy and painful, body altering disease called the Tox. The girls are kept isolated on the island where they’re forced to deal with limited supplies (ain’t no chance to go to the shops and panic buy here), bad weather and aggressive animal attacks. It’s dark, atmospheric and mysterious.


And there we have it, nine books to avoid reading during the current COVID-19 pandemic if you want to keep those anxiety levels and crazy dreams about the end of the world under control.

In all seriousness though, I hope you and your families are all doing well, staying safe and remaining isolated as much as you possibly can. As much as I like to joke about all this apocalyptic fiction type stuff, this is in no way our current predicament. Things may seem frightening, stressful, and lonely right now, but just know that you’re not alone. Despite all the darkness, things will be okay again. It’ll take some time, but we’ll get there. In the meantime, take up a new hobby, write that book you’ve been putting off, play Animal Crossing: New Horizons til your fingers cramp, whatever keeps you sane.

And most important of all, stay positive.

gifs:lotr1 | Tumblr

Bookish Fun: Books Which Give Me Summer Vibes

To my immense relief, at the end of this week summer will finally be over in Oz for yet another year. What’s that sound, you ask? Oh, just me screaming with joy. I don’t do well with hot weather, guys. Not at all. I melt and it’s super gross. However, books can always make something sucky more positive and lately I’ve been thinking about what books I most easily associated with summer as a season. So, here are the books that give off definite summer vibes for me:

The Unhoneymooners – Christina Lauren

42201431

Romantic contemporaries have strong summer vibes in general but The Unhoneymooners feels especially summery for me. Most of the book takes place in Hawaii as the story involves a best man and maid of honour using their siblings’ honeymoon after everyone at the wedding but them gets food poisoning. There are mai tais, sexy massages, snorkeling, and some steamy moments. The perfect summer holiday read. I mean, just look at that cover! How could you think otherwise?


Call Me By Your Name – Andre Aciman

Image result for call me by your name book cover"

The fact that this book is set over the course of one summer is probably a good indication as to why I’ve listed it here, but it may also be the fact that it’s about love and set at a villa in the gorgeous Italian riviera. People spend lazy afternoons by the pool, at the beach or cycling through the countryside, fresh produce and seafood abound, and the characters sit and drink wine well into the evening discussing things like music, language and poetry. In the midst of all this, the book explores a consuming, obsessive, intimate and bright burning love affair between a teen and a grad student in beautiful and raw prose. Summer vibes all around.


We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

21882188

I’m not a big fan of this novel while others absolutely love it. Yet, that doesn’t seem to prevent it from very clearly coming to mind when I think of summer. The book is set on an island which the wealthy characters of the story return to every year for part of the summer. The story has a mystery element due to the main character, Cady’s, memory gaps from last year’s trip (and we all know that aside from romance, mystery is summer’s favourite genre). There’s also some family drama, heartbreak, much time spent at the beach, and a twist ending. It makes you think about youth, the loss of innocence and forgiveness.


Since You’ve Been Gone – Morgan Matson

18189606

Morgan Matson has a lot of books that scream summer, but I’m going with Since You’ve Been Gone. I believe the exact words in my review of this book were, ‘This book is summer in literary form’, and it is. SYBG is about a girl named Emily who is left a list of 13 tasks to complete over the summer by her friend Sloane who has mysteriously disappeared. Over the course of the book, Emily makes new friends, falls for a boy, gets a job at an ice-cream parlour, camps in her backyard, goes skinny dipping, crashes a party, and just generally learns to come out of her shell. The book is fun, light, sweet and a lovely story about female friendship.


Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie

Image result for death on the nile"

When summer rolls around, we break out the romance and the mystery novels. This is obviously one of the latter. If you’re after a good crime book, you can never go wrong with the queen of crime, Agatha Christie. Death on the Nile gives me those summer feels because, as you can tell from the title, it’s set on a river cruise in Egypt. After a newlywed socialite and heiress is found shot to death, famous detective, Hercule Poirot, hits pause on his holiday to determine who caused her untimely demise. Ruins, relentless sun, plenty of linen suits, jealously, and a lot of death. Sounds like summer to me. Okay, maybe minus the death part.


Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan

16085481

Summer in Singapore. This is another fun and light, but slightly trashy, read. It’s full of drama, crazy socialites, judgmental families, extravagant parties and ridiculously expensive things. If you’re the kind of person who binges soap operas or reality TV during summer (like me) for some mind-numbing entertainment, this is on par with that. Some of the storylines are somewhat ridiculous but as a bit of a satire, it’s what you’d expect. It also has a romance based story, so there’s that.


IT – Stephen King

Image result for it book cover

This is a weird one, I know. Go with it. My favourite parts of IT are the ones involving The Losers Club as kids and the bulk of this timeline takes place over the course of a summer. Sure, the characters spend most of it terrified and fighting to protect themselves from a creepy, child eating, clown shaped entity from another dimension. However, in between they also have some nice moments in support of the book’s friendship and coming of age themes. As the group solidifies, they spend a lot of their days hanging out with one another – riding around town on bikes, going to the movies, or seeking refuge in an area they call The Barrens. Here they play in the stream, build a dam, and even construct a hidden clubhouse. Feels like a childhood summer to me.


The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – Ann Brashares

Image result for the sisterhood of the travelling pants book

As far as YA contemporaries go, this one falls into the forgettable 3-star mush of ones I’ve read but it definitely rises to the surface of my brain when I think about summer vibe books. I mean, each book in the series deals with a summer in the life of a group of friends as they go to different places and have varying experiences. In the first book, one travels to Greece, another to Soccer camp, another takes a summer job at home, and the fourth goes to visit her dad. They make new friends, tackle emotional challenges, fall in love, and get out of their comfort zones. At the heart of the book is strong bonds of female friendship and being there for someone when they most need it.


Circe – Madeline Miller

Image result for circe madeline miller

Circe is a book that gives me strong summer vibes but I guess that’s just Greek mythology. A lot of the story takes place on a mythical island called Aeaea. Beautiful, but also a prison for poor Circe. Over the years, she occupies her time tending her garden, raising animals (both real & illusions), weaving, and developing her witchcraft. People come and go from Aeaea, the decent of which get to experience Circe’s hospitality by enjoying large feasts and sharing stories. Despite the loneliness of Circe’s life at times, this book makes me think of the parts of summer that I actually like – 1) the quiet, picturesque moments of natural beauty, 2) the social gatherings where people chat, eat, drink and enjoy each others’ company as the sun goes down, and 3) that sense of adventure in experiencing something new.


Which books most remind you of summer or give you serious summer vibes?