Bookish Fun: Reacting to 1 Star Reviews of Books I Loved

Sometimes we fall in love with a book and sometimes…we really wish we’d spent our time doing something else. And, as we all know, just because you enjoy something that doesn’t necessarily mean other people will, too. Their reasons for this can vary from bizarre and hilarious to problematic to genuinely reasonable. With this in mind, I thought I’d try my hand at a post that quite a lot of other people in the community have done previously – reacting to some really negative reviews of books I loved. After all, sometimes it’s good to challenge your own viewpoint. So, I’ve scoured Amazon and Goodreads to find some short and complete opposite opinions to my own on a couple of my five star reads.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

I loved this book and even named it my favourite read of 2018. Here are a couple of people who were…less enthralled than I was.

While I loved the characters, I’m not going to argue with someone about not feeling the same way. Hate’s a strong emotion. At least they weren’t boring, right? In terms of ‘difficult to believe’, aren’t most of the crazy things that happen in Hollywood hard to believe? Seven husbands alone sounds ridiculous but, then again, Elizabeth Taylor got married EIGHT times. Plus, it’s a guarantee that many famous people in this era had to cover up the fact that they weren’t straight. Yes, the relationship between Evelyn and Celia isn’t perfect or entirely healthy but a large part of that is due to the stress of the circumstances and time. Besides, doesn’t that make it far more interesting from a literary perspective?

Hey, I’m sure plenty of other people wish that, too. Then they would’ve been further up the holds list at your library to read it.

Does every book need to do something profound or entirely new to be considered good or worthwhile? I mean, I love rom-coms largely for their predictable, fluffy formula. Everything has its purpose. As for particularly interesting, well, we disagree. I know plenty of people were divided over the content of the twist but placing it right at the end isn’t an uncommon way to use that device. As for boobs, lesbians, gossip columns, and green dresses, well geez, someone better call the literary police! We can’t have those infesting our books now, can we? Think of the children!


Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

The fact that the number of 1 star reviews for this book doesn’t even constitute 1% of the total on both Goodreads and Amazon gives me such warm fuzzies. But let’s check out that <1%.

Um, I may be missing something here but… how can something be overdramatic and super boring at the same time? But just speaking to the ‘boring and predictable’ part, I’m even more confused because this book has so much action. Literal SPACE BATTLES. Deaths, plot twists, alien attacks! Trust me, you missed a lot in those intervening pages.

“Teenage girl drivel”. *breathes heavily* What? Is it purely because Spensa is a teenage girl? Because if we’re talking stereotypical “teen girl” stuff (with which there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying, liking and/or partaking in), there’s basically nothing here. Spensa is training to become a pilot (a field dominated by men), she has almost no traditionally girly interests, and there’s no romance in the book whatsoever. It’s basically sci-fi Top Gun. Please, explain.

Not one? Really? Not a single, teeny, tiny thing? Even one vaguely amusing line of dialogue? Gosh, that sounds like absolute torture. I mean, I don’t give out 1 or 1.5 star reviews very often but even then I usually have at least something positive I can mention.


Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney

I’m probably asking for pain and suffering with this one because I know it’s divisive. Funnily enough, that’s what I’m actually expecting the 1 star reviews for CWF to say.

Hm, I guess it depends on your idea of “substance”. If we’re talking about plot, Rooney’s books are generally more about characters so the substance comes from them. However, I realise this is up to personal preference. Also, fair point about the lack of quotation marks. It is confusing before you get used to the flow and structure of Rooney’s writing. But mainly about lesbianism? That’s where you lose me. First, is this supposed to be a statement or a criticism? As far as statements go, it’s kind of wrong. Yes, f/f relationships play an important role in the book but the central character is bisexual and the central romance is between her and a straight man. Colour me confused.

Well, you’ll probably get just as much conversation from it as you would trying to converse with the book but you do you.

Ouch! Okay, yes, the characters aren’t the best people but that’s why I find it interesting. They’re layered and very flawed, and I get why they won’t be for everyone. But, come on, you read a book dealing with US attitudes towards race and this made you angrier? Sounds pretty suss to me. Now, a blurb that claims you can read this as a romantic comedy or feminist text? That can’t be right. *flicks through Goodreads* Oh god. As much as I hate to say this, he’s right. Whoever wrote the blurb for that edition, how do you read this as a romcom?! Romcoms are FLUFFY. I love this book but never in a million years would I call it a romcom. And while there are feminist commentaries in the book and it does involve strong female characters, I don’t know if I would label it a “feminist text” per se. I’m afraid you may have been misled here a bit, buddy. I blame the publisher.


The Poppy War – R F Kuang

I love this series but it’s one I can understand people not liking because of their tastes regarding things like violence. These books get DARK. However, as usual, there are always people who conflate ‘not for me’ with ‘not for everyone’ or just plain terrible. *sigh*

  • I might be wrong but the only similarities I see between TPW & Nevernight are that they’re fantasy and both involve the training academy and mentorship tropes (my faves!). I suppose there are Gods? But these aren’t important in Nevernight until book 3. Oh, and MCs who are orphans with something to prove, perhaps. Hmmmm…
  • Sure, there are some common fantasy tropes so I understand this. But also keep in mind it’s inspired by Chinese history so there are some limits to originality.
  • I sincerely hope the 45% mark was before all the violence otherwise this is worrying on many levels.
  • It’s kind of a chunky book. You can’t start the violence that early or it’ll run out of steam. But also, why are you actively waiting for violence?
  • Why skip pages? Just stop reading.
  • If you’d kept reading, you would have found out.
  • *eyerolls back* Sorry, it’s all I could think to say because I wanted the same number of points.

Firstly, TPW is classified as Adult, not YA. Second, ah yes, I can clearly see the glorification of drug use in: If you continue using drugs to commune with the gods, eventually you will go so insane that we will lock you up in a prison where you will remain trapped in rock but self-aware for the rest of eternity. Yep, gimme some of that. It just sounds so appealing!

Lord, where do I even start? This may not have occurred to you before so brace yourself, but, some women do not want to be mothers. Whoa! Crazy, I know, but true, and calling childbearing ‘the greatest gift a woman has’ is absolute sexist rubbish. Women have so many fantastic qualities. Some become mothers and some don’t. Either way, they’re amazing. There are so many women out there who know that motherhood is not what they want even from a young age and struggle for years to find a doctor who respects their autonomy enough to give them a tubal ligation or hysterectomy, even when they have existing medical conditions. Rin may be young but she knows that she doesn’t ever want to have children. If she’s old enough to prepare to fight in a bloody and brutal war, she’s old enough for us to respect her decision on this. It is in no way a judgment on those women who do want children and what their capabilities are.


If We Were Villains – M. L. Rio

Oh, ho. I’m expecting some very unhappy campers on this book because it’s somewhat polarising. I’m also expecting A LOT of ‘terrible copy of The Secret History‘ comments.

Two seconds in and we have a The Secret History mention. I’m not even going to argue because yep, IWWV is pretty much The Secret History but Shakespearean. I love both so you won’t catch me complaining. As for being pretentious, I’ll give you that as well because you bet it is, but I’m known for liking the occasional pretentious book so… Let’s be real though, The Secret History is pretentious as hell, too. You can’t accuse one without the other.

I had a giggle over the title of this one. Can’t really argue with most of the points made because it’s all subjective and since I loved it I obviously disagree. Yet, I do think one or two of the characters could have been given more attention. To some extent, I find most dark academia to be a bit unrealistic but isn’t that all part of the fun? As for plagiarism, you do realise that plagiarism is trying to pass off the work of someone else as your own without acknowledgment right? Trust me, Rio acknowledges The Bard. Many, many, MANY times. Not to mention the plays themselves.

Don’t worry, I gave it 5 stars and still think I’m too dumb to fully appreciate it.


Okay, this is where I stop because otherwise I’ll never get out of the vicious spiral starting to occur whereby I question all of my reading taste (do I have any?) and whether I’ve somehow missed a million problematic elements of my 5 star reads. I know I poke fun at some of these reviews but everyone is entitled to their own opinion of what they read. We’re not always going to love the same things and that’s great because it allows for a more diverse publishing market.

What was the last book you gave 1 star to? (Mine was Norweigan Wood by Haruki Murakami).

Battle of the Book Covers: US vs UK (Round 6)

I don’t know what it is about these posts but if my stats are anything to go by, you guys really seem to enjoy them. Or maybe you just really like looking at book covers. Either way, here’s another round in the ongoing battle between US and UK book covers, with points calculated completely subjectively and entirely by me. Woo. If you’ve missed any of the previous rounds and would like to check them out, you can find them here: one, two, three, four, five. Now, to remind us of where the current tally lies:

The US is in the lead by 4 points. Can the UK make a comeback from behind? Let’s find out!

People We Meet on Vacation – Emily Henry

This match-up is interesting in that it’s not just the covers but also the titles that are different. When I first saw these I thought I preferred the US edition because of the layout and popping orange background. Yet, the more I look at them, the more I love the brightness of the pink hues against the blues on the UK cover. I also like that the characters are looking at each other rather than in opposite directions. I will concede, though, that there’s too much text on the UK cover.

VERDICT: UK Cover


Six Crimson Cranes – Elizabeth Lim

Can I just say, whoever’s responsible for Elizabeth Lim’s covers, keep doing what you’re doing because these are both STUNNING. They’re two very different styles but so beautifully eye-catching, and I’m not normally a fan of people’s faces on covers (although, I do make exceptions for art over photography, like this one). On the US cover, I love the feathered background, the way it swirls around the girl, and the bold red text. Meanwhile, the UK version offers the sweetest, most dreamy pastel palette. I couldn’t possibly choose. Points for everyone!

VERDICT: Tie!


She Who Became the Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan

The covers for She Who Became the Sun are another difficult match-up. The colours on the UK cover are absolutely gorgeous. They just glow with such a wonderfully sunny warmth. You couldn’t miss this book on a shelf even if you tried. Yet, there’s just something I love about the composition of the US cover – the sun, watercolour blacks, image of the army with the general at the head. It looks pretty darn epic. Where it lets me down is the text fonts which are very blah looking

VERDICT: US Cover


Once Upon a Broken Heart – Stephanie Garber

I love having two completely different covers to compare, as we do for Once Upon a Broken Heart. The US version’s glittery, abstract-ish space heart is very pretty (I like the stars in the middle) but I can’t help finding it a little odd. The UK approach is quite whimsical – I like the pops of colour in the arch, the lovely title font and the cheeky-looking suits of armour. It’s very fairytale-esque, which is probably what they were going for. I think you can tell which way I’m leaning on this one.

VERDICT: UK Cover


Billy Summers – Stephen King

I actually like both of these covers, but I suppose when you’re as big as Stephen King they hire experienced designers. The UK cover has my fave orange-blue colour combo and it’s as striking as ever. The text is wonderfully clean as well. However, I think I’m going with the US cover on this one. I keep finding my eyes drawn to those vivid, red trees. I also really like the way the page tear divides the cover, plus the tan text stands out really well.

VERDICT: US Cover


The Mirror & the Light (Thomas Cromwell 3#) – Hilary Mantel

If anyone wants to disagree with my choice on this match-up, you do you, but I’m going to need you to explain why, because….how. This is a UK winner for me, hands down. The US cover is just so flat and boring. Like, this series has won the Booker prize twice and that was the best you could come up with? Seriously? Yes, the text on the UK cover does blend in somewhat, but the artwork in the background is colourful and visually dynamic. I love the sense of movement (apologies if I’m starting to sound like a high school art essay).

VERDICT: UK Cover


Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner

I’ll be quick on this pairing – I prefer the US cover. I have nothing against the imagery on the UK version, but the text is so boring. Also, the red background on the US cover is so much more vivid. The noodles split between the chopsticks is cute, too.

VERDICT: US Cover


On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong

While the orange, autumn style leaves against the starry sky on the UK cover are nice to look at, this is another US pick for me. There’s something so intimate and touching about the photography of that hug. You feel it. In case you were interested, the image comes from a photographer named Sam Contis and is called “Embrace”. The one downside is that the text gets a bit lost in the photo in some places but that’s always a challenge with full cover photography.

VERDICT: US Cover


Anxious People – Fredrik Backman

I know people are going to disagree with me on this one but let’s throw caution to the winds anyway. In terms of amazing, memorable covers, neither of these is really up there but they’re not bad either. The US cover is, once again, a believer in the orange-blue colour scheme, although the shade of orange they’ve chosen isn’t my favourite. The image is fine but it’s also on the bland side. The UK cover is, yes, mostly empty space but I like the salmon-y red colour and enjoy the little windows displaying all the different people, offering glimpses into their lives. It’s simple but cute.

VERDICT: UK Cover


The Court of Miracles – Kester Grant

There’s nothing wrong with the US cover for The Court of Miracles but come on, do you see that UK cover? It’s SO PRETTY. And even better, the gold is FOILED! I’m sorry guys, but foiled nearly always wins. It just has to. It’s like a rule, or something. I really like the duality and contrast of the image as well. It’s very dramatic and grand looking.

VERDICT: UK Cover


The Hating Game – Sally Thorne

Both the US and UK covers for The Hating Game use almost the exact same colour scheme, which I like because it’s quite striking. However, the text style and imagery are different. I don’t mind either of these covers but I think I might prefer the UK one the teeniest, tiniest bit more. Mostly because I find the image of Lucy and Josh stuck centimetres away from each other with giant squiggles of frustration over their heads funny. However, I will say, the yellow pops more on the US cover.

VERDICT: UK Cover (by a hair)


Once again, it’s time to check back in with our scoreboard, or should I say MY scoreboard as you’re all probably sitting there, disagreeing with every second decision I make. Anyway…here’s where we are now after round 6 (geez, I really need to come up with new post ideas).

And would you look at that, the UK has closed the gap slightly, but the US remains in the lead. Lately, I’ve been finding that more publishers are sticking to using the same cover for both regions. That is, except for romance and thrillers, which is annoying because the alternate UK versions feel really lazy a lot of the time. Anyway, hopefully, I’ll find a few more matchups over the coming months to be able to continue the ongoing battle.

Which covers would you have picked to win these matchups? Do you agree with my picks or am I blind?

Spooktober: Characters I’d Want on My Haunted House Investigation Team

Only a few short days left until the end of Spooktober! I can barely believe how quickly this month has gone and yet, here we are. The other day I discovered this really fun post idea on Raya’s Reads, written as part of a Top 10 Tuesday freebie a few years back. It sounded really cute and perfect for one of my October Halloween-themed posts so I thought, why not give it a try? I love the idea of fictional haunted houses, I’d even love to write my own story about one someday. Real-life haunted houses though…not so much. This is why if I ever decided to try my hand at investigating one The Conjuring style, I’d need a great, supportive team! Here are the fictional character’s I’d bring with me if I could choose and the roles they’d likely fill:

The Researcher: Pippa Fitz-Amobi (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder Series – Holly Jackson)

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Pippa is a research and investigation wizard. Whether it’s internet searches, interviewing people, or piecing things together with the help of a board/journal, Pippa has it covered. She’s also super determined to find answers, whatever they may be or the threats preventing her from doing so. I have no doubt that she would be perfect in discovering the history of our haunted house and its various inhabitants so that we can get to the root of why it’s such a source of paranormal activity.


The Protector: Geralt of Rivia (The Witcher Series – Andrzej Sapkowski)

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Geralt is a witcher which means he’s well versed in all manner of supernatural creatures – demons, monsters, spirits, you name it. Hopefully, this will give us an advantage in understanding what we’re dealing with in our particular haunted house. Even better, he doesn’t scare easily (or at all, really) and is a badass with a sword, which might prove handy. Plus, he can use potions to see in the dark, something that may be useful should we lose power. Basically, you can understand why I want him around to cover my butt when terrifying things start happening.


The Medium: Galaxy ‘Alex’ Stern (Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo)

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The reasoning behind this one is pretty obvious. When investigating a haunted house, I’d definitely want to have someone around who can see and communicate with ghosts (well, that is if it’s a ghostly haunting). That way, we’ll be able to see any ghostly hijinks coming and potentially be able to speak to vengeful spirits. Alex is also a badass and has seen some serious “stuff” in her time so I doubt much would rattle her anymore, making her the perfect party member for such an expedition.


The Record Keeper: Josephine “Jo” March (Little Women – Louisa May Alcott)

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What’s the point of going through all these adventures exploring a haunted house if we don’t have anyone to write about it? Well, Jo March to the rescue! Jo starts out by writing Gothic-style stories and she’s quite a strong, progressive character for her time, so I’d like to think she’d find the idea of exploring a haunted house thrilling – the perfect fodder for a heap of interesting tales. I’d expect her to document the events that befall us in lush detail for others to read about and in a way that makes us all look very brave and dashing, of course.


The Leader: Victor Vale (Vicious – V. E. Schwab)

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I agree with Raya on this one. Every adventuring party needs to have someone who can plan, back up plan, and think on their feet when things hit the fan (with a haunted house, they inevitably will). Victor is smart, calculating, thinks outside the box, and can take his emotions out of the equation, all of which are important in dangerous situations. Also, with his ability to manipulate pain, if any of us happen to get injured by angry ghosts, he’ll get us up and going until we can reach help. He’ll probably be a bit of a harsh leader but I feel confident in his ability to get us through.


The Moral Support: Maybell Parish (Twice Shy – Sarah Hogle)

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In dark and scary situations, it’s always important to have someone with you who’s positive, cheerful, and morally supportive. After all, ghosts and demons can be scary and demoralising! Especially so if our time in the haunted house lasts for several days. Maybell is super sweet and an optimist, despite the sucky things that have happened to her. While she isn’t likely to be the bravest or most physically useful up against the paranormal, she’ll certainly be great for keeping people’s spirits up and helping take our minds off of things during the time between hauntings with her big dreams, bubbly chatter and romantic fantasies.


The Scientist: Chen Kitay (The Poppy War Series – R. F. Kuang)

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Okay, I know Kitay lives in a fantasy world inspired by 20th century China, but hear me out. The boy is a genius, so I have no trouble believing that were he in our modern world and I asked him to study a haunted house using scientific equipment, he would be like: Where do I sign up? Kitay loves a conundrum and while he’s more focused on things like strategy and policy, he’s also great with numbers and nventions, and generally loves exploring theory and knowledge. On this basis, I’m going to say that capturing and studying data to prove to others that a house is haunted and trying to work out ways to un-haunt it would be an exciting challenge for him.


And so concludes the dream team! I’m fairly confident in our chances here. I’m a complete wimp when it comes to scary stuff but I feel as though,with these characters by my side, I could maybe make it through and probably a lot more mentally healthy than the characters in The Haunting of Hill House.

Who would you want by your side when venturing into the depths of a haunted house?

Spooktober: Creepy Book Covers to Haunt Your Nightmares

We’ve all come across books that seem innocuous enough only to find that the inside is far creepier or messed up than we expected. Then there are other books which are just like: screw subtlety, I want to destroy any chance of you having peaceful dreams for the next several months. Well, this post is about the latter type. The scary, the creepy, the weird, and the *laughs nervously* wtf type covers.

NOTHING BUT BLACKENED TEETH – CASSANDRA KHAW: My soul almost left my body the first time I saw this cover. My overactive imagination was sitting there jumping for joy at the inspiration for the terror-filled imaginings it was going to be sending my way. Honestly, though – the lack of eyes, that…mouth, the claw like hands. Nope, nope. NOPE.

I AM LEGEND AND OTHER STORIES – RICHARD MATHESON: I’m not usually bothered by vampire imagery but these bloodsuckers look terrifying, especially skull dude at the front. They’re almost like zombie-vampires. Get those creepy faces away from me. Far away.

SHUTTER – COURTNEY ALAMEDA: I have no idea who’s imagination this cover imagery came from but I can safely say, I never want to be trapped there because jeez. If ghosts are real, please lord may I never discover that they look like this. I think it’s the mouth *shivers*

HOLLOW CITY (MISS PEREGRINE’S PECULIAR CHILDREN 2#) – RANSOM RIGGS: Is it just me or are vintage photos of children often creepy? They’re usually dressed in clothes devoid of any childish joy, mostly unsmiling, and the grainy black and white film gives them such a weirdly sinister feel. It’s all very Children of the Corn.

THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE SINCE WE LAST SPOKE – ERIC LAROCCA: This cover is so weird and eerie looking. I have no idea what’s happening but I keep staring at it, eyes darting back and forth between the blood smeared shoulder and the vortex of head tissue. It’s certainly memorable.

THE OUTSIDER – STEPHEN KING: King has so many horror books that a few of the covers were bound to be scary. Those red eyes on the dark figure keep drilling further and further into me the longer I look at this. I keep imagining it brutally murdering me and then walking off wearing my face. Send help.

THE DOLL COLLECTION – EDITED BY ELLEN DATLOW: An entire book full of short stories about creepy dolls? No, thanks. Better yet, a creepy-ass cover featuring a discarded porcelain doll’s head with eyes I won’t be able to stop seeing for weeks, double no thanks.

WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE – SHIRLEY JACKSON: This book has long since been re-covered but there’s something about the old school edition that weirds me out. I’m not sure if its the posing, the hair draped/flying, or that single eye, just starting at me through the gap in the fence as though she’s plotting something.

JAWS – PETER BENCHLEY: This cover is similar in design to the movie posters. While I’ve never felt especially put off by them, despite my nervousness about deep water, the visual here hits me differently. I think it might be the black background, It’s almost like a swimmer moving through a deep, dark part of the ocean, not knowing what’s lurking just metres away from them.

MY WIFE JODIE – V. A. RUDYS: It’s all about the smile with this one and the way the face is lit to showcase it. Gives me such predatory vibes despite the seemingly controlling hand above.

IT – STEPHEN KING: Like I said, lots of King horror novels and lots of cover opportunities to scare the pants off people. Now, I don’t have a problem with clowns, but the one on this cover is flippin’ terrifying. The eyes, those teeth, you can definitely see this edition of Pennywise hunting down small children for a tasty snack.

A MONSTER CALLS – PATRICK NESS: While this isn’t a scary story and more of a tear-jerker, the cover is pretty sinister looking with the grayscale colour scheme and sketchy art style. There’s just enough detail to up the anxiety levels.

What creepy looking book covers have haunted your nightmares?

Spooktober: Books Based On Your Favourite Halloween/Horror Creatures

When it comes to Halloween everyone has their favourite supernatural creatures, even if you don’t necessarily enjoy them within the context of horror books. For that reason, I thought it might be fun to bring together books based on some of the more popular monsters & creatures. For variety purposes, I’ve tried to include a mix of different books – YA/Adult, genres, tones, etc.

As usual, let me preface this by saying that I have NOT read all of the books mentioned here but I’ve done my best to research and ensure I’ve correctly allocated them.


Ghost & Ghouls

I love me some ghost-y shenanigans. After all, what’s more Halloween than a haunted house? Good ghost stories always seem to expertly walk the line between spooky and emotional and I think that’s why we enjoy them so much.

  • THE SUN DOWN MOTEL – SIMONE ST. JAMES: In dual timelines (1982 & the present), two women work the night shift at a haunted motel whilst investigating the disappearances & murders of other young women in the small, run-down town.
  • THE DIVINERS – LIBBA BRAY: In 1920s New York, a group of young people with psychic abilities and the owner of an occult museum help investigate a serious of ritualistic murders that may be being committed by a violent spirit.
  • NINTH HOUSE – LEIGH BARDUGO: Alex Stern, gifted with the ability to see ghosts, joins the mysterious ‘Ninth House’ at Yale, tasked with keeping the secret societies’ occult exploits in check. She finds herself investigating a murder on campus with potential links to them.
  • THE SHINING – STEPHEN KING: After taking a job as the off-season caretaker for the Overlook Hotel, writer Jack Torrence moves his family to Colarado. However, his uniquely gifted 5 year old son begins to notice something sinister about the Overlook.
  • KILL CREEK – SCOTT THOMAS: Four master horror authors agree to spend a night in The Finch House, one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses. What starts out as a publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for their lives as the horror follows them home.
  • THE DEAD AND THE DARK – COURTNEY GOULD: After teens go missing, Logan moves with her ghost-hunter dads to Snakebite, Oregon. She teams up with Ashley Barton (who is being haunted by the ghost of her boyfriend, Logan, the first boy to disappear) to investigate.

Demons & The Devil

What’s Halloween without the occasional loose demon causing havoc or a visit from the devil in the form of a body breaking possession? Well, if hellish vibes are what float your boat, here are a few reads with demonic flair.

  • THE DEVIL MAKES THREE – TORI BOVALINO: While working at her school library for the summer, Tess makes a bargain with the headmaster’s intolerable son, Eliot, which results in them discovering an ancient grimoire and accidentally unleashing a book-bound demon.
  • THE EXORCIST – WILLIAM PETER BLATTAY: Two priests and a desperate mother fight to free the soul of 12-year old Regan from an evil supernatural entity. I’m sure you know the movie.
  • GOOD OMENS – NEIL GAIMAN & TERRY PRATCHETT: A fussy angel, Aziraphale, and a fast-living demon, Crowley, team up to avert the apocalypse based on the prophecy of a 17th century witch. Only problem is, somebody has misplaced the Antichrist.
  • HORNS – JOE HILL: Following the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Ig finds himself the town outcast, convicted in the court of public opinion. However, after a night of drinking, he wakes up with a set of horns growing from his skull and some special abilities to go with them.
  • MY BEST-FRIEND’S EXORCISM – GRADY HENDRIX: Abby & Gretchen have been BFFs since 5th grade. After Gretchen disappears during a night of fun, she comes back…not right. The conclusion: She’s possessed by a demon. And so, Abby embarks on a quest to save her.
  • KINGDOM OF THE WICKED – KERRI MANISCALCO: After her sister is murdered, Sicilian witch Emilia uses dark magic to summon a demon prince, Wrath, for answers. The two make a deal and set out to find who or what is killing women on the island and why.

Vampires

Nothing beats a classic blood sucker book. Maybe you like them brutal, bloody and terrifying? Or perhaps brooding and in the midst of a moral crisis? Or MAYBE you just want to get your lust on? Well, either way, there’s a book for you.

  • DRACULA – BRAM STOKER – The classic vampire novel. Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to do business with the noble Count Dracula only to discover a horrifying secret. To thwart Dracula’s evil designs, Jonathan and friends, led by Professor Van Helsing, must embark on an nightmarish adventure. 
  • LET THE RIGHT ONE IN – JOHN AJVIDE LINDQVIST: In 1981 Blackberge, Sweden, bodies begin to show up drained of blood. Meanwhile, bullied,12-year-old Oskar makes a new friend in Eli – a girl who only comes out at night, smells odd and has never seen a Rubik’s cube.
  • THE PASSAGE – JUSTIN CRONIN: A series of military experiments on a group of prison inmates go horribly wrong, resulting in a vampire apocalypse which wipes out all but a few pockets of humans in North America. Their only hope might just be a little girl from Iowa.
  • INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE -ANNE RICE: Vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac tells his 200 year life story to a reporter. He details his turning by the sinister Lestat, his bond with a child vampire named Claudia, and their travels across Europe to meet more of their kind.
  • THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB’S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES – GRADY HENDRIX: A book club of Charleston mothers investigate a mysterious newcomer to town after several local children go missing, only to discover that vampires are terrifyingly real.
  • DEAD UNTIL DARK – CHARLAINE HARRIS: Cocktail waitress and telepath Sookie Stackhouse’s life changes suddenly when a handsome vampire comes to town and her neighbours start turning up dead. There are heaps of vampire romances out there so I thought I’d include one I’ve read & liked.
  • VAMPIRE ACADEMY – RICHELLE MEAD: Couldn’t resist including my fave YA vampire series. When psychically bonded best friends Rose & Lissa return to Saint Vladimir’s, a school for good vampires (Moroi) and their future half-vampire bodyguards (Dhampirs), it soon becomes clear they’re in danger from more than just the evil vampires (Strigoi) outside the school walls.

Witches

All about that old black magic? Well, here are some magical reads. There were a heap of witch-y books out there that I could have used for this post but I decided seven would be plenty.

  • THE RULES OF MAGIC – ALICE HOFFMAN: The Owens family is bound by a centuries old curse that kills anyone they fall in love with. The book follows siblings Franny, Jet & Vincent growing up in 50s/60s New York and discovering their magical heritage and abilities.
  • PAYBACK’S A WITCH – LANA HARPER: In a small town during a spell-casting competition, three witches come together to enact vengeance on the warlock who broke all of their hearts, only for two of them to end up falling for each other.
  • SERPENT & DOVE – SHELBY MAHURIN: Lou, a thief & witch in hiding from her coven, ends up wed to a witch hunter, Reid, in a world in which humans and witches have long been at war. Despite the secrets between the two of them, they fall in love.
  • THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING – ALEXIS HENDERSON: In a strictly religious community, outsider Immanuelle begins to question the teachings of the Prophet when the spirits of dead witches gift her a journal previously belonging to her dead mother. Accidentally triggering a revenge curse, she must then choose whether or not to save the townspeople.
  • THE WITCH’S HEART – GENEVIEVE GORNICHEC: Re-imagining Norse Mythology, this book tells the story of the witch Angrboda, exiled by Odin for refusing to reveal the future and mother to three of Loki’s children. Angroboda must decide whether to accept fate or fight it.
  • THE NATURE OF WITCHES – RACHEL GRIFFIN: Clara, an Everwitch, is special in that her magic is connected to every season. When other witches start to lose control of their magic, sending the world toward an ecological disaster, Clara soon becomes the only hope of saving it.
  • BLOOD LIKE MAGIC – ESTELLE SAMBURY: To come into her powers, Voya must complete The Trial or risk her entire family losing their magic. The task: kill her first love. Voya signs up for a genetic matchmaking program only to be paired with the infuriating Luke. Soon it becomes a question of her heritage or her morality?

Werewolves & Shapeshifters

This was definitely the toughest category to find books for, mostly on the werewolf side because there don’t seem to be many well reviewed werewolf reads outside the romance genre. While I certainly included some romance picks, keeping my selections broad was challenging here.

  • SHIVER – MAGGIE STIEFVATER: After surviving a wolf attack as a child, Grace has long watched the wolves behind her house, fixated on one with yellow eyes. Sam lives two lives – human in the warmer months, wolf over winter. When the two finally, properly meet, Grace recognises Sam instantly and their relationship evolves. Can a cure be found or will they be torn apart by the dropping temperature?
  • THE WOLF’S HOUR – ROBERT R. McCAMMON: This book is basically like if James Bond had been working during WWII and happened to be a werewolf. Told in dual timelines, it follows MC, Michael’s, efforts to foil a Nazi plan called Iron Fist and his early years in Russia during which he was turned.
  • BITTEN – KELLY ARMSTRONG: Elena Michaels, the world’s only female werewolf, is trying to live life as a regular human when her former pack leader calls asking for help with a rogue wolf killing humans. This brings her back in contact with her ex/the man who turned her, Clay.
  • WICKED FOX – KAT CHO: In Seoul, Miyoung, a half-gumiho (nine-tail fox who feeds on the energy of men) accidentally loses her fox spirit after she saves a boy named Jihoon from a goblin attack. In the aftermath, the two form a bond, but when a shaman gives Miyoung the chance to reunite with her spirit, she must choose between immortality or Jihoon’s life.
  • IT – STEPHEN KING: Seven teens come together to face off against a supernatural entity killing children that disguises itself as a clown. 27 years later they are called back to town to fulfill their vow to fight IT again should it ever return.
  • THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS – STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES: Ten years after a hunting transgression, four American Indian men must fight for their lives as they are hunted by a vengeful shapeshifting creature known as the Elk-Head Woman.

Zombies & The Undead

Is death really the end? Not in these books, at least. If you’re someone who enjoys thinking about how they’d fair in a zombie apocalypse or likes tales of resurrection, this is the category for you.

  • UNDEAD GIRL GANG – LILY ANDERSON: When Mila’s best friend Riley and two others die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe it was a suicide pact. And so, armed with a grimoire, she brings them back to life. Now with only 7 days until the spell ends, she’ll need to wrangle the undead teens long enough to discover the identity of their murderer.
  • WARM BODIES – ISAAC MARION: R is a zombie with no life or memory of who he was before he was undead. Then he meets Julie – a living girl who brings colour to his grey existence and who, after consuming the brains of her boyfriend, R can’t help but want to protect.
  • GIDEON THE NINTH – TAMSYN MUIR: In a galactic empire of 9 planets, each home to a House practicing a type of necromancy, the house heirs and their bodyguards are invited by the Emperor to undergo a difficult and deadly trial to become Lyctors – his immortal disciples and living saints. This should probably be in the witch category but necromancy, so…
  • WORLD WAR Z – MAX BROOKS: Max Brooks provides an “oral history” of survivors’ experiences during the zombie apocalypse. Told in a series of vignettes, the book travels the world, detailing people’s accounts from the first discovery of African Rabies through to The Great Panic and beyond.
  • THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS – M. R. CAREY: Set in a world in which a fungus turns human beings into mindless people eaters, Melanie and the children she goes to school with are special – while they are affected by the disease and eat human flesh, they retain their thoughts and emotions. Are they potentially a cure for humanity?
  • BRUJA BORN – ZORAIDA CORDOVA – After her boyfriend dies in a bus crash, Lula uses dark magic to bring him back. However, in doing so she turns all the bodies from the accident into casi muertos (creatures between living & dead). Now the only thing standing between them and freedom is Lula’s death.

Miscellaneous Monsters & Creatures

  • MONSTRUMOLOGIST – RICK YANCEY: In Victorian New England, orphan Will Henry is the assistant to Dr Warthrop, a man specialising in the study of monsters. The two are tasked with tracking down and removing a terrifying creature feeding on humans.
  • THIS SAVAGE SONG – V. E. SCHWAB: In the city of Verity, humanity’s darkest deeds result in the creation of monsters. Split into 2 independently controlled districts based on their approach to handling the monsters, there are fears the city will soon collapse into conflict.
  • A DEADLY EDUCATION – NAOMI NOVIK: At a school for mages with a low survival rate due to the constant influx of monster attacks, El Higgins does her best to survive the school year whilst keeping a handle on her talent for destructive (& potentially world ending) magic.
  • FRANKENSTEIN – MARY SHELLEY: Do I need to summarise this one? Consumed by ambition, Dr Victor Frankenstein builds a hideous creature out of human corpses and brings it to life. But which of the two is the true monster?

If I missed your favourite creature, I’m sorry! Really though, there were more I wish I could have included but this post was starting to verge on War & Peace levels already and we couldn’t have that.

What’s your favourite halloween-ish creature and what’s a book you enjoy that features it?

Bookish Fun: Awesome International Book Covers

While the US and UK may have some lovely book covers, and I thoroughly enjoy comparing them with one another, at times I feel like we overlook some of the amazing international language editions of popular books. In some cases, they’re even nicer than the English editions! Last year I had a look at some international covers of popular YA books and I thought it might be nice to do this again but include Adult reads as well. So, here are some of the interesting covers I’ve found in my online exploration…

(Note: I’ve put either the US/UK cover on the far left for reference).

The 7 (1/2) Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

France, Portugal, Italy & Slovakia

While the US/UK cover for Evelyn Hardcastle has a clear 1920s vibe, in my opinion the international covers are much more interesting! The French version is very mystical with all the stars and the moon, which works considering this isn’t a traditional mystery. I’m not really sure why the manor is sideways on the Portuguese cover but I like the red & white colour scheme. The Italian cover is probably my favourite. It looks like paper tole art with all the layered elements and people peering ominously out from behind the pillars. I’m a big fan of the Slovak design, too, and like that they went down a different route, focusing on the mysterious man in the plague doctor mask.


The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

Spain, Germany, Turkey & The Netherlands

I know, I feature this book a lot on my blog but I love it so, too bad. I would have used Circe but there aren’t many different covers for it. The Song of Achilles, however, has some super pretty foreign language editions. I am so in love with the Spanish version. Mainly because it’s foiled and shiny. Like, look at that gorgeousness! I adore the border on the German cover and, although you can’t see it from this image, all the beige sections such as the hair are foiled, too. Give me all the shiny books! The Turkish cover is similar to the original US cover in design but with extra detail and a more “classical” colour scheme. It works, though. The Dutch cover is fairly simple but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that shade of blue against the stark black is beautiful.


Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

Sweden, Brazil, Russia/China & Japan

Most of the international covers for RW&RB have similar imagery and colours to the original. I’m not super fond of the Swedish cover but at least they tried something different. The Brazilian cover is very much like the original. The only real difference is the illustration style, which I like a lot better! They look so cute and fun. In complete contrast, we have the Russian cover (the Chinese cover uses the same image with a different border). It’s so serious looking and there isn’t much warmth. I would never have guessed it was a romance. With the Japanese cover we bounce back to the original’s vibes. The illustrations are sweet but they look slightly strange sitting in mid-air. Is it just me? At least the original’s figures were leaning on the title.


Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Poland, Turkey, Croatia & Norway

It turns out that the cover for Strange the Dreamer is pretty much straight up gorgeous all around the world. As you probably expected, lots and lots of moth designs. I generally like all the covers I’ve got listed here but that Turkish cover in bright sunshine yellow with blue accents is stunning. I also quite like the way the Norwegian cover has integrated the text into the moth’s wing. It’s still legible but looks different from the regular.


The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue – V. E. Schwab

France, Hungary, Bulgaria & Russia

For this one, many countries have embraced the US cover with the title in their own language, but there are several international covers which took different routes. The French cover keeps the US colour scheme but also includes a greyscale illustration of Addie. While I prefer the simplicity of the original, I do see a sort of haunting quality to this version. The Hungarian cover is completely different but I really like it. I think the layout is very nicely done and the soft pink/navy colour scheme is striking. The Bulgarian cover is a little odd but still nice. However, it does give me more of a science fiction vibe. Once again, the stars make an appearance, though. The Russian cover is hands down my favourite. I think I might even like it more than the original. It’s so dreamy looking for such a simple design.


Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

Japan, Greece, China & The Netherlands

The original cover for Where the Crawdads Sing is such a peaceful shot with a soft colour palette so I was interested to see how other countries had repackaged it. As it turns out, a lot of them took a like-minded approach just with different photography, like the Chinese cover. The Japanese cover is similar but I like that they’ve designed it like an oil painting, and the pink-purple colours are lovely. I find it so funny that the Greek cover went completely literal and smacked an actual crawdad on the cover. No mess, no fuss – here is a crustacean! The Dutch cover goes in a different direction to the others with the silhouette. I don’t mind this image but I wish there was slightly more contrast between the green foliage and the blue background.


Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Iran/Persia, France, Serbia & Israel

Like Addie La Rue, most of the international SoC covers are reworkings of the US/UK cover but I still found a few different ones. The Iranian/Persian cover is 100% my favourite. I’ve noticed that they seem to prefer using realistic-style illustrations in those countries. I love how Kaz is at the front, Inej in the top left corner & the rest of the crows in the back. It’s wonderfully dramatic. The French cover is quite clean and I like the crow image against the off-white background. The figures at the bottom are okay but could be more identifiable. The Serbian cover is another good one – great atmosphere and the decision to use Kaz’s cane as the focus was a solid one. It fits nicely against the original cover. The Hebrew edition isn’t my favourite but it’s not bad. The crow positioning is good and I like that they’ve tried to include some Fjerdan imagery at the bottom. It could be more visually dynamic, though.


The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

Korea, Japan, Georgia & Italy

Okay, I love all of these. Admittedly, cover designers for the The Night Circus had a romantic, fun subject matter and nice colour scheme to work with, so they were bound to come up with some pretty lovely imagery. These all look so mystical, dramatic and intriguing, but I think the Japanese and Georgian covers might be my favourites.


The Midnight Library – Matt Haig

Vietnam, Finland, Bangladesh and Italy

A book cover which features books, what could be more perfect? And these are all lovely in their own ways. The Vietnamese cover is my favourite. I love it so much – it looks magical. The Finnish cover is very tidy but it works. I appreciate the clean lines, plus the layout makes the title stand out. The Bangladeshi cover is kind of abstract but I like how the green and yellow stand out, and all the little images woven into the hair. The Italian cover seems like complete chaos at first but I think the pastels in the colour scheme and the white border pull it back for me.


Normal People – Sally Rooney

Czech Republic, Portugal, Norway & Slovenia

I really like each of these international Normal People covers. I’ve never been enthusiastic about the original US or UK covers so it was nice to explore some alternates. The colouring and layout for the Czech cover is great (love a good orange/blue combo). The only thing that bugs me is the empty eyes on the illustrations. The contrast on the Portugese cover is pretty cool – one dark half, one light, one figure looking forward, the other away. The colour scheme for the Norwegian cover is nice and the boxy layout is very modern and funky. The Slovenian cover is simple, much like the UK cover, and the yellow background reminds me of Conversations with Friends. I love the clean lettering and the illustration is nicely symbolic of the main characters’ bond.


Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

Germany, Hungary, Indonesia & Sweden

Covers for Station Eleven tend to fall into two categories – pretty/starry landscapes or full blown apocalypse (Google Lithuanian’s Vienuolika stotis and Japan’s ステーション・イレブン for examples). All of the covers above are nice in different ways. Germany has the starry sky and pastel colours, Hungary’s is another example of my fave orange/blue contrast again, Indonesia balances mysterious with ominous, and Sweden’s looks like travel poster art.


The Bone Season – Samantha Shannon

Bulgaria, Vietnam, Poland & China

There aren’t a lot of differently designed covers for The Bone Season but of those I found, there were several pretty nice ones. I really like the Bulgarian cover. It retains the image from the original in the middle but I’m really drawn to the addition of the cards, bones and mist surrounding it in that lovely blue. The Vietnamese cover is quite gothic looking. I find it interesting that they took the UK/US symbol and made it out of actual bones. It all feels very horror-esque. The Polish cover has a similar vibe to the original but with different imagery. I think the sun design is striking, especially against the blue. The Chinese cover isn’t my favourite, but it’s attractive in a sci-fi way.


Did any of these covers catch your eye more than their UK/US equivalent? If so, why? It definitely makes you want to try learning another language, or at least it makes me want to!

What’s your favourite international edition of an English language book?

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

That’s right, it’s time for EVEN MORE bookish, reading and author related facts. But why, you ask. Well, why not? And because you can never have enough fun facts about books and reading! So, let’s continue to expand your (and my) superior trivia knowledge, shall we?

Bookish & Reading Facts

1. there’s a precise word for ‘someone who reads in bed’

That’s right! The term is a ‘Librocubicularist’. Try saying that mouthful three times fast.

Gif.... Hey Andrew, whatcha reading? Guess your character and I are both  librocubicularists?! | Andrew scott, Jim moriarty, Sebastian moran

2. Reading is good for both mental and physical health

Although, I’m sure you were already aware of this. The University of Sussex conducted a study in 2009 that showed reading can reduce stress levels by up to 68%, which is even better than listening to music, taking a walk or having a cup of tea. Apparently it eases muscle tension and lowers your heart rate.

3. The World’s Oldest (Operating) bookstore is located in Lisbon, Portugal.

It’s called the ‘Livraria Bertrand’ and was founded by two French brothers in 1732!! When you buy a book there, the staff will ask if you want a stamp in it stating that you bought it at the world’s oldest bookstore. The books stocked are mostly in Portuguese but they do have a small English language section.

Bonus: Up until 2014, when it closed, the largest bookstore in the world by floor area was the Barnes and Noble flagship store on 5th Avenue in New York City. It covered 54,250 square feet and had 12.87 miles of shelving.

4. The original printing press was built in Germany by a man named Johannes Gutenberg and the first book he printed was The Gutenberg Bible.

It’s one of the rarest books in the world. Back in the 1970s, a copy was sold by a New York book dealer to a German museum for $1.8M. Again, note to self, do not get into rare book collecting.

5. Books actually do have a “smelL” which becomes more potent as they age

Ever wondered about the book smell we love so much? Well, it’s caused by a breakdown of two of the chemical components of paper – lignin and cellulose. The by-products of this process create a mixture of almond, vanilla, floral, and general sweet scents.

Logan Huntzberger Netflix GIF by Gilmore Girls - Find & Share on GIPHY

6. Scientists can use this scent to determine a book’s age

By looking at the breakdown of these compounds, historians are able to use a process called material degradomics to determine the age of a book. Science is cool, guys.

7. The Romance Genre is a Massive Money Maker

Romance as a genre is often disregarded but you might be surprised to know that romance makes up over 1/3 of mass-market paperbacks sold. It’s a billion dollar industry and actually makes more money than several other genres combined. I’ll admit, I contribute to this.

8. Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue is credited as being the first ever ‘locked-door mystery’

However, if you go back a LONG way, it might actually be Greek historian Herodotus’s account from the 5th century BC of a robber whose headless body was found in a sealed stone chamber with only one guarded exit. Creepy.

9. in 2014, Amazon released a list of the most highlighted e-book passages and 19 of the top 25 were from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

The most popular was the line, “Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them”. People were obviously feeling very bleak at that point in time.

I Can'T Help It That I'M Popular GIF - Mean Girls Gretchen Wieners Lacey  Chabert - Discover & Share GIFs

Author Facts

10. Stieg Larsson got the idea for his The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo lead, Lisbeth Salander, by imagining what Pippi Longstocking would have been like as an adult.

Even the nameplate for one of Lisbeth’s apartments is an allusion to Pippi’s house Villa Villekulla. I’m sorry, but what??

11. Truman Capote was REALLY superstitious.

He wouldn’t start or finish a book on a Friday, allow more than 3 cigarette butts in an ash tray, stay in hotel rooms with unlucky numbers, call phone numbers that added up to unlucky numbers, or fly on a plane with more than two nuns on board. He always needed to write lying down and frequently carried a security blanket with him. However, some of these things might be due to the fact that he suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder.

12. Charles Dickens had a fascination with morgues and dead bodies

He was in the habit of visiting the Paris Morgue, even on holidays like Christmas and New Years. He referred to the morgue as ‘an old acquaintance’. Morbid, but whatever floats your boat I guess?

Season 13 Episode 22 GIF

13. Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series was created because of a challenge of sorts from a member of an online writers’ workshop.

The man claimed Jim couldn’t write a good story based on a lame idea. He disagreed and said he’d do it based on any two lame ideas of the guy’s choosing. They were “Lost Roman Legion”, and “Pokémon”. And what do you know, the average Goodreads rating for book one, The Furies of Calderon, is over 4 stars.

14. Roald Dahl used to write his books in a small shed at the bottom of his garden.

He would sit in an cosy, old armchair with a pencil and a red book (apparently he never learned to type) for around 4 hours every day. That’s some serious dedication.

BONUS – Did you know that originally James and the Giant Peach was going to be about a giant cherry? It was changed because a peach was supposedly ‘prettier, bigger and squishier’. So weird.

15. Toni Morrison began working on her first novel while she was at university but it wasn’t published until she was 39 years old

She went on to win a Pulitzer prize, be awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, and become the first African-American woman to ever win the Nobel Prize in literature . If that isn’t reason to never give up on your dreams, I don’t know what is.

Ron Burgundy Wow GIF

16. Marissa Meyer wrote her The Lunar Chronicles novella, Fairest, in just 9 days!

Originally it was going to be a short promotional story but ended up growing and developing so much beyond this that it was published as its own novella. I mean, I already knew that Meyer drafted the first 3 books in the series as part of different NaNoWriMos but this is crazy impressive!

BONUS: Meyer drew influence for the series from things like Star Wars and Sailor Moon. No wonder it’s so much fun.


How many of these facts did you already know about? Probably more than me, let’s be honest. Still, I hope you picked up one or two new things to use during super boring conversations.

Missed the first two posts full of bookish and author related facts? You can find them here & here.

Top 5 Tuesday: Books with Food on the Cover

This week’s topic for Top 5 Tuesday (created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm and now hosted by the lovely Meeghan at Meeghan Reads) is books with food on the cover! I was pretty excited for this topic until… I discovered that I’ve read barely any books with food based covers. Cue my disappointment. So, in order to actually have some semblance of a post, I decided to just showcase some awesome looking food covers that I’ve discovered during my travels through the internet.

Fair warning, I’ve read probably only around 5 of the books showcased here. But I’m not going to let that come between me and covers which showcase cake, pie, ice-cream, pizza, dumplings, pastries and any of the other food goodies in the world.

As it turns out, I was having so much fun finding covers with food on them, I thought: why not also include 5 books with food in the title?

And, of course, I couldn’t possibly leave beverages out of the mix. Here are 5 more covers which feature drinks!

Okay, I’m done now. Promise. My growling stomach can’t take any more. Time to go ferret out something to eat in the kitchen.

What are some of the best covers you’ve seen that feature food or drinks?

If You Liked This, Try These: ‘The Song of Achilles’, ‘Normal People’ and ‘Daisy Jones & the Six’

If you’re anything like me, once you read something you love, all you can think about is finding something similar to keep the good times rolling. But where to find a good readalike, you wonder. Well, here I am to help (I hope) with another instalment of ‘Liked This, Try These’. Today’s three books are backlist reads but super popular ones that continue to be read in massive numbers, just ask the Goodreads’ most read sections. So, for those of you who’ve only just discovered these fiction dynamos and those sick of re-reading them for the twentieth time, here are a few recommendations that’ll help scratch that specific itch.

While I always like to showcase books I’ve actually read, there are some on this list that I haven’t. As always, where this is the case I’ve made sure to research the book using the reviews of others to support the reasoning for my recommendation.

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS – PAT BARKER: Enjoyed reading about the siege of Troy in The Song of Achilles? Well, here it is from two different perspectives – Briseis and Achilles to be exact. Some of this will be familiar territory to you but expect a much more brutal take this time around which really showcases the ugliness of war. In other words, don’t go into this looking for romance. Also, without the sweet, admiring narration of Patroclus, be ready to find Achilles a much bigger asshole than before.

THE CAPTIVE PRINCE TRILOGY – C. S. PACAT: I always feel weird about recommending this series because it’s controversial and involves uncomfortable themes (e.g. slavery, rape, etc.). So just be prepared. My recommendation here is more about the second and third books than the first (I enjoyed the sequels far more). It’s about two opposing kingdoms – Akielos and Vere. When the prince of Akielos, Damen’s, half brother seizes power, he is stripped of his identity and given to Vere’s Prince, Laurent, as a slave. The two eventually have to work together in the face of plots against them and war breaking out between the kingdoms. If you enjoy the romance of TSoA and its wartime setting, you might enjoy these as guilty pleasure reads.

ARIADNE – JENNIFER SAINT: After a completely different Greek mythology retelling? Perhaps Ariadne is up your alley. Like TSoA, Ariadne spans over a period of many years and follows the story of the titular character, the daughter of King Minos, and her sister Phaedra. The book links into a few different Greek myth stories, one of the bigger ones being that of Theseus and the Minotaur. This one really puts women at the forefront of the story and focuses heavily on character exploration, showcasing well known events from an alternate perspective.

MYTHOS – STEPHEN FRY: If what you loved most about TSoA was just the Greek mythology and you’re eager to learn more about the various gods and stories, might I suggest picking up Fry’s Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold? In this collection Fry retells a bunch of classic Greek myths including those of Prometheus, Echo, and Persephone, to name a few. As you’d expect from Fry, he does so using his typical wit and flair, commenting on some of the more ridiculous and comical aspects of these tales. I should also note, for a Norse alternative, Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology might similarly hit the spot.

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME – ANDRÉ ACIMAN: CMBYN is a much more modern form of historical fiction than TSoA and it’s not a retelling, but I still feel like there are lot of things to like about it if you loved TSoA. Both books include: a) lovely prose you’ll want to underline for later, b) a super intense m/m relationship, and c) endings that poke holes in your heart. It’s set in the ’80s in the Italian Riviera and is about the romance between teenage Elio and a graduate student, Oliver, who comes to stay with Elio’s family as a research assistant for the summer.

Normal People – Sally Rooney

CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS – SALLY ROONEY: This seems like cheating because it’s by the same author but my reasoning is that it feels like so many people have read and loved Normal People but for some reason not read Rooney’s earlier novel. If you’re one of them, please rectify this because I love this book! Like NP, CwF features complicated and flawed characters, and coming of age themes. Rooney’s writing style is the same except that events are in chronological order. It’s about two university age friends, Francis & Bobby, whose lives change when they get involved with a wealthy married couple.

ONE DAY IN DECEMBER – JOSIE SILVER: If what you enjoyed the most about Normal People was the romance, ODiD might be for you. It’s more in the contemporary romance category but still has a good degree of emotional weight to it. Like NP, the central relationship is a complicated mess of friendship and romantic longing with bad timing. It follows Laurie who falls in love at first sight with a man she sees waiting at a bus stop. She spends months searching for him again only to eventually find him in a relationship with her best friend. Cue 10 years of missed opportunities, ups and downs.

AMERICANAH – CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE: Americanah will likely appeal to NP fans because it, too, follows two teens in love into adulthood and takes place over a period of several years. If NP’s non-linear storytelling appealed to you, Americanah takes a similar approach. This one is somewhat different though in that its characters originate from Nigeria before ending up in the UK & US. Because of this, the book comments on issues such as race, immigration, and identity. The novel follows Ifemelu and Obinze who meet at high school in Lagos. While Ifemelu leaves to study at Princeton, Obinze travels undocumented to London. They meet again in Nigeria 15 years later and realise how much their experiences have changed them.

NORWEIGAN WOOD – HARUKI MURAKAMI: Like Normal People, Norwegian Wood is written in clean, simple prose and deals with university age characters experiencing a coming of age. The book also deals with similar difficult topics like suicide, mental illness and outgrowing relationships. It’s about two characters, Toru and Naoko, who are in love but whose relationship hasn’t been the same since the death of their friend. While Toru begins to adapt to his new environment and finds himself increasingly drawn to someone else, Naoko withdraws under the responsibilities of her life.

Daisy Jones & the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

SONGS IN URSA MAJOR – EMMA BRODIE: If what drew you to DJ&TS was the music, the time period and the romantic plotline, this one’s for you. Much like Daisy Jones drew inspiration from Fleetwood Mac, Songs in Ursa Major is loosely based on the relationship between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. The story revolves around a girl named Jane who gets catapulted to stardom when her band steps in to play at a music festival following famed performer Jessie Reid’s motorcycle accident. In the aftermath, Jane and Jessie bond, and Jane has to come to terms with the challenges of being a successful young woman in the music industry.

THE FINAL REVIVAL OF OPAL & NEV – DAWNIE WALTON: As far as a DJ recommendation goes, this is a good one. 1970s setting? Check. Drugs, affairs, rock n’ roll and rampant sexism? Check. Oral history format utilising multiple character voices? Double check. The story, however, is where things differ. The Final Revival involves a young black woman from Detroit, Opal, being discovered by white British singer/songwriter, Nev, at an open mic night in NYC. The two agree to make music together and sign on to a record company. After the release of their first album, they’re propelled into the spotlight following an altercation involving a Confederate flag. The story details their time together and what broke them up. Like with DJ&TS, the audiobook is said to be great.

MALIBU RISING – TAYLOR JENKINS REID: Yes, this is another example of recommending a book by the same author because TJR has heaps of books. Like Daisy Jones, Malibu Rising is historical fiction but set in the 80s rather than the 70s. While it’s not told in interview format, it does similarly showcase common events from the perspective of multiple different characters (although over a far more condensed period of 24hrs). Like DJ&TS the book also deals with things like drugs and alcohol abuse, cheating, and the dark side of fame and money. The plot follows the famous Riva family who throw an unforgettable end-of-summer party.

CITY OF GIRLS – ELIZABETH GILBERT: City of Girls is, yep, another historical fiction read. It’s set in the 1940s and deals with theatre rather than the music industry. Like DJ, this involves a character looking back on the past and recounting their story from many years later, but this time in the form of a letter. It’s also a book that includes strong female characters pushing the envelope for their time and going after what they want. The book revolves around nineteen year old Vivian whose parents send her to stay with an aunt in New York City for the summer. Viv’s Aunt Peg owns a mid-town theatre and she ends up becoming a costumer as well as meeting a bunch of interesting and unconventional characters.


What do you think of these recommendations? And what books would you recommend to lovers of these three novels?

My Favourite Reads of 2021 (So Far)

Once again, we’ve hit July and that means another half year has bit the dust. For the last few years I’ve made a habit out of doing a mid-year favourites post. It’s something I really enjoy because not only does it allow me to look back at the amazing books I’ve loved the most over the last six months, but it’s interesting to compare it with my end of year top 10 rankings. Some books manage to remain among my best of the best while others get knocked out by other fantastic reads. It’s a book eat book world out there, guys.

In 2021 so far I’ve read 30 books and I’ll admit, this is less than what I was hoping or expecting to be at by now. The main reason is that I hit a major slump around early May and my reading over the last two months has been abysmal. Up until yesterday, the last book I’d finished was around June 2nd. Fingers crossed I manage to snap out of it soon and better things are in store for July. As it stands, I currently have 5 books on this list. It’s not a lot but I can genuinely say I loved reading each of these. In no particular order, they are:

The Burning God – R F Kuang

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To say I was looking forward to this book’s release is an understatement, so there were definitely some high expectations there. To my relief, although there were a few plotlines I wish had been handled slightly better/differently, I wasn’t disappointed. This final installment secured The Poppy War Series as one of my absolute favourites. The Burning God was a complete emotional rollercoaster and ended in such a dramatic way that I almost couldn’t process the gravity and scale of what had happened. It again really drove home the brutal realities of war and reminded readers that there are never any true victors. The writing was fantastic and the story and characters remained compelling. Memorable right to the very end. I can’t wait to read whatever Kuang does next.


If We Were Villains – M. L. Ro

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I didn’t expect to fall in love with this book the way that I did. I really should have though considering its similarities to The Secret History but with Shakespeare instead of classical history. It follows a group of acting students whose friendships and lives start to destruct after one of them dies under tragic and dark circumstances. I was completely enthralled by this and got so invested in the characters (especially Oliver & James) who are designed like theater role stereotypes. The structure of the novel itself is so fantastically done as well and I really wish I had more knowledge of Shakespeare’s works so I could’ve appreciated all the little nuances even more. I regret not writing a proper review for this now. However, I did try at the time and had so much difficulty putting my thoughts into words. I’m sure I’ll reread it in the future so maybe then!


The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter

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The Good Daughter was my first introduction to Karin Slaughter’s books and I understand why she’s so popular because this was fantastically done. It’s technically a crime novel but the strength of the book is in its characters, particularly the two MCs, Sam & Charlie. They’re complex, well written and I really liked the way the book slowly dug into the childhood trauma surrounding their mother’s death and how this affected them into adulthood. The pacing is good and the ending is sastisfying, which is always nice for a novel like this. It’s definitely on the more dark and violent side of things, but I didn’t have a problem with it. I’ll 100% be trying out some of Slaughter’s other works.


The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

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I picked up The Heart’s Invisible Furies based on recommendations made because I loved A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. While the two books are very different, I ended up loving this all the same. The book follows Cyril, a gay man living in Ireland in the decades before the legalisation of homosexuality. It wasn’t what I expected but in a great way, mostly due to the writing which has this magical blend of comedy and tragedy. It’s super quirky and absurd at times but it works. I also have a thing for books which follow characters over lengthy periods of their lives and this fits into that category. Because of the time jumps I did feel a little like I had missed out on things sometimes but was able to move past it quickly. I wish I’d gotten to know certain characters better to properly appreciate their big emotional moments but regardless, this was amazing and I’ve already got several of Boyne’s other books lined up to read.


Twice Shy – Sarah Hogle

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This book was so sweet and uplifting, and it’s cemented Sarah Hogle as an auto-buy author for me. It does get a bit corny and odd at times but you can’t help but love it anyway. The story is another version of the forced proximity trope and involves our leads co-inheriting a large house, then working to fix it up together. The characters are super loveable – dreamer, romantic Maybell & anxious, vulnerable Wesley – and really wonderful together. They have this lovely and gradual journey to understanding each other which I loved and they deal with their issues in such a healthy, non-frustrating way. There’s less banter and humour than in Hogle’s debut but that’s completely fine. Definitely recommended for those with Covid or mid-week blues.


Help me defeat my slump! Recommend me one of your favourite reads of 2021 so far and tell me why you enjoyed it so much.