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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

April TBR: O.W.Ls Magical Readathon 2020

It’s April! And that means it’s time…for another O.W.Ls Magical Readathon! If you’ve been following my blog for some time then you’ll know this is the third year I’ve done this particular Harry Potter themed readathon, created by G at Book Roast. However, for those of you who are new to it, the magical readathon has two parts, O.W.Ls (April) and N.E.W.Ts (August), and it’s based around the exams Hogwarts students take in their fifth and seventh years of schooling. For O.W.Ls, participants are given a series of prompts, each of which relate to one of the subjects young wizards study. In order to pass a subject, all you have to do is read a book, comic, manga, graphic novel, etc. which fits the prompt. Easy, peasy!

My Magical Career & Required Subjects

For those readers who want an extra challenge, there’s also the choice of a wizarding career! In 2019, G created a guide book to the fun and bizarre range of jobs that we young wizards (I wish) can choose to “pursue” during the readathon. But just like in the boring muggle world, each career has a list of pre-requisite subjects which must be completed, thus shaping which prompts you do.

This year I’ve decided to work towards the glamorous and illustrious career of…Trader of Magical Tomes. Acquiring, selling and learning about magical books? Um, yes please. Okay, maybe not The Monster Book of Monsters but otherwise, sounds good. Also, having my own bookshop sounds amazing. In order to succeed in my chosen career, I need to complete 4 O.W.Ls – Ancient Runes, Charms, History of Magic, and Transfiguration.


Heart rune: Heart on the Cover or in the Title

Heartless – Marissa Meyer

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This was a tough pick for me. Not because there aren’t books which meet the prompt but for some reason none of them were grabbing me and screaming: you must read this! For now, I’ve decided to go with Heartless. I’ve heard positive things about this book in the past and having read three of The Lunar Chronicles books and enjoyed them, I know Marissa Meyer does well when it comes to re-imagining existing stories in creative ways. I’m interested to see how she does with the Queen of Hearts and the world of Alice in Wonderland. Definitely have to find myself a copy of the hardback though because that jacket-less cover is fabulous.


Lumos Maxima: A White Cover

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

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There were two different covers available to me when I picked this one up at my usual bookstore. I’m glad I ended up going with the white rather than the red (which didn’t really float my boat) so I could use it for this prompt. I’ve been thinking about reading In Cold Blood for a while now. It’s something I’ve definitely been curious about and is even listed on my 30 books to read in 2020 list. I never read true crime novels and this book is considered one of the defining books of the genre so it’ll be a new experience for me and I really hope I find it interesting. It’s also only around 300 pages which makes it great for a readathon pick.


Witch Hunts: A Book Featuring Witches/Wizards

Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb 1#) – Tamsyn Muir

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I’ll be honest, I was determined to find a way to read this book because I’m super excited about it even though there’s about a 50-50 chance I’ll like it due to the confusion factor. GtN is a sci-fi and fantasy genre blend, but the book deals with necromancers which is a type of magic/wizardry as far as I’m concerned. Just a very dark kind. The book follows a swordfighter named Gideon who travels with a necromancer (& planet ruler) named Harrowhark to attend a competition between necromancers to win the favour of the emperor. However, things go a bit haywire when the other competitors start to get murdered.


Animagus Lecture: Book/Series that Includes Shapeshifting

Sword of Destiny (Witcher 0.75#) – Andrzej Sapkowski

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Yes, it’s taken me more than a year and a half to get there but I’m finally reading the second collection of The Witcher short stories. I was hoping to tackle this earlier in the year (tried to buy it at x-mas but they were all sold out!) but as it turns out, it’s a good thing I didn’t, because then I wouldn’t have been able to use it for this prompt. This collection includes dopplers, which are shapeshifters, and introduces us to Ciri, a vital character in the main book series. It also includes the story, The Bounds of Reason, which is about a dragon hunt and was used as the basis for one of my favourite episodes in the Netflix TV series.


Additional Courses, Seminars & Training Subjects

Now, aside from the careers and their subjects, G has made a new addition to this year’s readathons and that is ‘courses, seminars and training’. These are optional add-ons which cover things like animagus training, dragon tamer training and learning to operate magical trains. Each course or seminar, should you choose to do them, provide additional subject requirements. Some are more difficult than others.

Alongside my career, I’ve decided to also take two extra courses:

  • Magical Shop Management (Essential if I want to run my own magical book shop, Flourish & Blotts better watch out!)
    • Additional subject required: Arthimancy
  • Merpeople Linguistics (Might be useful in my magical research? Okay, maybe not. It just sounds quirky and fun, and I have to do it)
    • Additional subject required: Herbology

Magical Qualities of Number 2: Balance/Opposites – Read Something Outside Your Favourite Genre

Fence, Vol. 1 – C. S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad, Joana LaFuente, Jim Campbell

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I think it’s fairly obvious that my favourite genre is fantasy. I read a lot of it. You know what I don’t read? Books about sport. You know what I also don’t read a lot of? Graphic novels & comics. So why not simply jump off the deep end and try Fence Vol 1. What have I got to lose? I’ve heard really great things about this series. It’s supposedly plot driven, fast paced, LGBTI positive and has great characters. I read C. S. Pacat’s The Captive Prince trilogy a while back so it’ll be interesting to see how her writing changes with a different genre and medium. I hope I find a new fave!


Mimbulus Mimbletonia: Title Starting with an ‘M’

Morning Star (Red Rising Saga 3#) – Pierce Brown

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As some of you may have seen in my recent posts, I’ve been doing a re-read of the first three Red Rising books with the intention of pushing on into Iron Gold and Dark Age (which are sitting on my shelf already). I read books 1 & 2 last month and now I’m moving on to Morning Star. This is my favourite book of the original three so I’m super excited to experience it for a second time. Because it’s something I know and love, I’m hoping I’ll be able to read it super quickly, just like I did with RR and Golden Son.


Will you be participating in the O.W.Ls magical readathon this year? If so, what career have you chosen and which books are you most excited to read?

If You Liked This, Try These: One of Us is Lying, American Panda, and Six of Crows

Ever read a book you enjoyed so much that upon finishing it all you wanted was to find something just like it? Yep. Me, too. Well, here I am to save the day and give you a few book recommendations based on things you might have already read and liked. Maybe they have similar characters, settings or plots? Or perhaps they have some common themes? Regardless, hopefully one of these books will help fill the void.

Now, I should state up front, I haven’t read every book in this post and that’s where reviews, tags, blurbs, genres and other factors come into play. Still, I’m pretty confident that even the books I haven’t read will be suitable recommendations for the books below. If not, give me a heads up. Although, in my defense, just because the books may be similar that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll love every book in the group. Everyone’s got their own personal preferences after all!

One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus

  • The Cheerleaders – Kara Thomas: Like OoUiL, The Cheerleaders has a small town murder mystery type plot in which teens take on the investigating role because of a personal involvement in the deaths (in this case, the mysterious deaths of 5 cheerleaders within a short time period). Both books tackle some heavier topics and share a solid friendship element.
  • A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder – Holly Jackson: Again, more small town murder vibes. If you were a fan of Bronwyn and her sister Maeve in OoUiL, you’ll probably like MC, Pip. There’s also a romantic subplot if enjoyed that about OoUiL. I haven’t actually read this one yet but I’ve heard amazing things.
  • All Your Twisted Secrets – Diana Urban: This book also features a group of characters fitting high school stereotypes, The Breakfast Club style, being thrown into the deep end (here, a potentially deadly dinner party). AYTS is more thriller-y than OoUiL and less drawn out timeline wise, but they definitely share similarities.
  • Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson: If you’re looking for something in the YA mystery genre that isn’t exactly similar to OoUiL but still has quirky high school characters and a fun, out-there scenario, Truly Devious is a good pick. It also involves the death of a high school student, only this time it’s at a prestigious high school in the mountains and our investigator is a girl named Stevie who has a fascination with crime.

American Panda – Gloria Chao

  • Loveboat, Taipei – Abigail Hing Wen: If you really liked Mei in American Panda, you’ll probably also enjoy Ever. Both girls dream of dancing but their parents expect that they’ll become doctors instead. These books share similar themes of self-discovery, family, love and straddling two cultures. Loveboat is more drama filled, has a larger cast of characters and is set in Taiwan, but both are fun reads.
  • Frankly in Love – David Yoon: American Panda and Frankly in Love look at family dynamics and the difficulty in reconciling traditional cultural values with modern American ones. This is especially so where it comes to dating. Like Mei, Frank falls for someone he knows his family wouldn’t approve of and has a similar history of having a sibling cut off for their choice of partner. The characters handle things differently but the challenges they face are alike.
  • I Love You So Mochi – Sarah Kuhn: Like Loveboat and American Panda, this is another book featuring a heroine trying to weigh up her own creative dreams (fashion) against parental expectations. Again, we have a sweet story of journeying to self-awareness, romance and complicated family relationships. However, unlike AP this book is set in Japan.
  • Always Never Yours – Emily Wibberly & Austin Siegemund-Broka: Those who enjoyed the coming of age, identity and romance elements of American Panda, will find plenty to love in Always Never Yours. It involves a group of students putting on a production of Romeo & Juliet and an MC whose exes always seem to find ‘the one’ right after she breaks up with them.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

  • The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch: While TLoLL is an adult fantasy, like Six of Crows it features a gritty city setting, band of likeable thieves pulling off a heist, and an intelligent, plotting, money-loving leader with a decent heart. There’s also the found family trope that SoC fans love so much.
  • The Final Empire – Brandon Sanderson: The Final Empire is, again, an adult fantasy. Similarly to SoC, it has good world building, great action, a group of not so reputable characters carrying out a plan, and a witty, criminal mastermind. If you like the magical grisha elements of SoC you’ll probably also love the magic system here which is wonderfully unique and based around metals. And for the romance shippers, yes, there is a romantic subplot.
  • Foundryside – Robert Jackson Bennett: In Foundryside, you have another adult fantasy featuring some great world building, thieves with appropriate levels of snark stealing important artifacts, exciting magic, and fun action. Much like the women of SoC, this book also includes a strong, independent female lead with unique abilities.
  • The Diviners – Libba Bray: At first glance, these two books seem to be completely different. However, the strength of both lies in their cast of well crafted and loveable characters. SoC & The Diviners also share darker story elements, romantic subplots, strong friendships, magic, and rich world building. The plot & setting may be different but the vibes are similar.

What books would you recommend for lovers of these picks?

March TBR: Challenging Myself and Some Re-Reads

I don’t usually do posts like this, mostly because my mood reader little self hates boxing herself in unless it’s for a readathon. However, this month I feel like a small challenge (6 books instead of my usual 4 of late) and providing a sense of structure to March. One of the reasons for abandoning a large yearly reading goal for 2020 was to encourage myself not to be afraid to tackle bigger books and do re-reads. This month I feel like doing some of the latter. Here are the books I’ll be reading and re-reading this month:

RE-READS

Red Rising (red rising 1#) – Pierce Brown

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I first read the original 3 books in The Red Rising Saga back in early 2018 and absolutely loved them. Books 2 & 3 ended up sharing the no. 2 spot on my top 10 of the year and I count the series as one of my favourites. Lately I’ve been really craving a re-read and my recent purchase of Dark Age (book 5) has only made the feeling stronger. I still haven’t gotten around to reading Iron Gold (book 4) but I’m expecting that the momentum from re-reading the first three will carry me through into finally finishing it. I’m so keen to get back to Pierce’s amazing characters, exciting action and wonderful world building.

Clockwork angel (The infernal devices 1#) – Cassandra Clare

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Yes, I am caving to the Chain of Gold excitement. I can’t help myself. I know, I know, okay? I get terrible FOMO! My problem is though, the last time I read The Infernal Devices books they’d only just been released! In other words, I was 15 when I read Clockwork Angel. FIFTEEN. Baby Ashley. Anyway, my point is that I feel an extremely strong need to do a re-read of the series to (a) see if they’re still as enjoyable and (b) refresh my memory of the characters and world in this timeline. I’m kind of worried they won’t hold up, but I guess I just have to put my faith in Will Herondale and his cannibalistic ducks.

NEW READS

The Diviners (The Diviners 1#) – Libba Bray

I’m cheating with this one slightly as I started reading it in late Feb and am close to finishing it now. But as I’ll complete it in March, it counts towards this month. I remember picking up this book at the bookstore multiple times in recent years but somehow it took me until this year to buy it. Clearly I was sleeping on it in a big way. I never realised just how much love there was for this series about a group of teens with special abilities facing down ghosts in 20s New York. The last book in the series was released last month so at least I don’t have to wait in between installments.

The Bromance Book Club – Lyssa Kay Adams

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To balance out the heavier fantasy and sci-fi reads for this month, I thought I’d slide in this fun, little romantic contemporary about a bunch of baseball players in Nashville who start a romance book club to help them with their relationships. The MC, Gavin, turns to the club for help when his wife, Thea, requests a divorce. These types of books are always great mood boosters when you’re having a not so great day (or week) and I seem to fly through them very quickly. Hopefully it’ll give me a laugh and a few ‘aww’ moments. Plus, if I like it, the follow up novel – Undercover Bromance – releases this month.

The Dutch House – Ann Patchett

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I’ve been sitting on an audible credit ever since I finished Becoming by Michelle Obama last month. This is mainly because I had no idea what to use it on but I feel pretty happy about my decision. The Dutch House has a 4.22 average Goodreads rating, it’s narrated by the loveable Tom Hanks, and it’s less than 10 hours long. Sounds good to me. Designed as a sort of modern fairy tale and taking place over five decades, the book focuses on a dysfunctional family, specifically the bond between a brother and sister, and their connection with their childhood home. It’ll likely be very different from the things I normally read but I’m looking forward to it.

All Your Twisted Secrets – Diana Urban

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I’m probably starting to push it numbers wise for me at this point but eh, why not add another one. All Your Twisted Secrets is actually an upcoming release and will come out on the 17th. Based on the pricing for hardbacks that I can see, I’ll likely be kindle-ing this one. This book definitely captured my attention the first time I came across it – a dinner party in which a group of students are locked in with a bomb and forced to choose one among them to die by poison or risk all getting blown to smithereens. It’s a pretty exciting concept. Hopefully the execution of the idea is just as good. Fingers crossed.


That makes 6. I’m hoping that due to the sheer enjoyment factor I’ll get through a few of these faster than I ordinarily would. Also, since I’ll be covering physical, e-book and audiobook formats, I’ll be able to read multiple books at the same time. Anyway, we’ll see how things go.

What books are you tackling in March?

And That’s A Wrap: Jan and Feb 2020 Edition

Just like that, the first two months of 2020 are over. It feels as though it’s gone fairly quickly even though I’ve done basically nothing except work, read, blog and watch TV. Exciting stuff, I know. So far I’m really enjoying this more laid back approach to my yearly reading goal. There’s been a lot less stress and I’ve managed to tackle a few bigger books. There are also so many books that I’m super excited to read and re-read in the coming months which is such a great feeling. But let’s get to recap, shall we?

JANUARY

The Whisper Man – Alex North ★★★.5 | Review

A solid start to the year. The Whisper Man was an enjoyable read and well written. The characters were developed and realistic, and despite a few lulls in momentum, the story was engaging. As far as crime or thriller novels go, it was a decent book but where the novel really excels is its focus on grief and father-son relationships. The potential paranormal element was also a nice surprise.

Skyward – Brandon Sanderson ★★★★★ | Review

A re-read before tackling Starsight. Skyward was my favourite read of 2019 and after a second go around, I’m still 100% sure it was the right decision. I love this book – the characters, story, action, world building, humour and writing. It’s just fantastic all around.

Starsight – Brandon Sanderson ★★★★.5 | Review

I was nervous going into this but, in the end, I shouldn’t have been because Starsight was a great sequel. It was certainly different to Skyward in terms of its approach to plot, sense of momentum and themes, but still good different. I did miss some of the characters from book one but I loved seeing Sanderson’s universe expand in an exciting way and seeing our lead, Spensa, continue to grow.

Loveboat, Taipei – Abigail Hin Wen ★★★.5 | Review

Summer camp in Taipei! I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. While it’s pretty predictable, has too many side characters and tries to cover more heavier themes than it should, it’s still a good read. Loveboat does well where it looks at ideas of belonging, family and identity, and I really sympathised with the MC, Ever, and her classmates’ difficulties. The setting is a lot of fun and I picked up quite a few new bits of info about Taiwan. Also, yes, there is a love triangle but as both sides of it were likeable, it didn’t bother me much.

FEBRUARY

Becoming – Michelle Obama ★★★★★

I went with the audiobook on this one and I’m so glad I did. Listening to Michelle tell her own story, all the way from childhood through to leaving The White House, was both engaging and inspiring. I learnt a lot from this autobiography and in it Michelle discusses a wide range of things including politics, family, parenting, relationships, growing up working class, and the experiences of African Americans. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara ★★★★★ | Review

I did not see this book coming. I decided to read it on a whim and it ended up being the most surprising and emotional reading experience I’ve had in a long time. The writing was gorgeous and the characters just felt so real to me. It’s a long read and deals with some extremely tough subject matters (e.g. child sexual abuse, suicide, domestic violence, etc.) but despite the few issues I had, I honestly loved this book. It broke my heart and I cried. Hard.

10 Blind dates – Ashley Elston ★★★

This was a sweet, rom-com-esque holiday read. It’s nothing particularly memorable and unlikely to bump your favourite YA romance reads off their thrones, but it’s fun. 10 Blind Dates is exactly what it claims to be – a girl being set up on a bunch of blind dates with different guys to help get her mind off a break up. Plus, there’s a happy ending. I liked Sophie as a heroine and really loved her crazy, enormous, Sicilian family, which is really the heart of this book. If you’re after something light and cute (which I needed after A Little Life), this is a good choice.

The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell ★★ | Review to Come

For the majority of its run, I found The Family Upstairs a decent read. Even with the cult, child abuse, and mysterious deaths, it somehow gives off this weirdly laid back vibe which makes it very readable. I think it may be the writing. I liked the concurrent past and present timelines and although the twists in the story aren’t particularly shocking, I was okay with them. This would have been a 3 star read if not for the ending, which felt flat, weird and lazy, and my realisation that almost an entire plotline could have been removed without damaging the story at all.

To avoid you guys having to see the same book covers over and over again, I’m only going to include the books that I bought over the last two months and still have yet to read. Plus, it makes me look so much better spending wise. Also, although Crescent City was purchased this month, because it’s a pre-order, I won’t get it till after release day on March 3rd.

Just in case you missed them and there was something that would have interested you, here are my posts from Jan & Feb (excluding the book reviews which are linked above).

Life

As I mentioned earlier, life for me has been largely uneventful for the last two months. However, as I’m sure you’ve heard, I can’t say the same for my country. This summer has brought absolutely terrible bushfires, devastating floods, an extension of our longest and worst drought in history, and now a cyclone. Australia has always been a land of extreme weather, but this year’s has been far more extreme than ever before. I am extremely lucky to live in a city area where the impacts of things like this aren’t as prevalent but so many others haven’t been so fortunate. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch the news everyday for months on end and see images of people crying over the ruins of burned down homes, wildlife injured, killed or without habitats, and farmers desperately praying for rain in regions that look like dusty wastelands with the remaining livestock almost skeletal in appearance. The photos below come from near my grandpa’s farm in an area of regional NSW where fire destroyed more than 21,500 hectares of forest in just one day. I hope that things will get better soon because honestly, anything has to be better than this.

TV & Movies

On to something less serious. Here are some of the TV and Movies that have been occupying my time over the last few months. There’s a weird mix. There was the amazing (Sex Education S2, Unbelievable), good (Ready or Not, The Little Drummer Girl, Little Women), terrible yet addictive (The Circle), disappointing (P.S. I Still Love You, Titans S2) and just not my thing (Midsommar, Marriage Story). And yes, I may have fallen in love with Florence Pugh just a little bit.


And that’s a wrap on January and February 2020! I hope you’ve had a good start to the year and that there are plenty of fabulous books on the horizon for you.

New Additions to My Goodreads To-Read Shelf | 20.02.20

Like the typical bookworm that I am, I’m always stumbling across books which manage to catch my eye for some reason or another. Next thing you know, BAM..I’ve added them to the to-read shelf. Currently, my to-read shelf is at a much more manageable level than it has been in the past so I don’t feel so bad about throwing a few extra things on there now and again. After all, how else am I suppose to remember the massive amounts of books that I want to read?! Here are a couple of novels that have recently been added to the list.

Slay – Brittney Morris

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This book caught my eye while I was searching for something else at the book store a few weeks ago. The cover is really striking and once I saw the blurb, I knew I’d have to add it to the to-read list. As a gamer myself, there’s just something about video game stories. Slay is about 17-year-old Kiera who has developed a multiplayer online role playing card game called SLAY which is popular among Black gamers. None of the people in her life know this though. However, after a teen is murdered over an in-game dispute, SLAY is picked up by the mainstream media and labelled as racist and exclusionist. Kiera is left to deal with the consequences of this, including one particularly vicious troll, all whilst trying to keep her identity a secret.


The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

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I remember being intrigued by TBATN a good while ago but for some reason never added it to my to-read shelf. I think I ended up falling on the side of: I don’t know if this will be my cup of tea. However, while writing my recent post showcasing YA books set in other countries, it came back onto my radar and I decided to give it a go. The book is based on Russian folklore and tells the story of Vasilisa, who lives with her family in a small village. Vasilisa is special in that she can see & speak to the creatures/spirits that live on the land. After her father re-marries and a new priest enters the community, attitudes towards these beings and Vasilisa’s abilities change, leaving her an outcast and previous superstitious practices abandoned. Soon things in the village begin to go wrong such as failing crops and sinister things emerging from the forest. Now Vasilisa must use her gifts to save her loved ones.


Foundryside – Robert Jackson Bennett

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Foundryside is another book that I took note of a while back but for some reason just didn’t end up adding to my shelf for future reference. Having recently gone back, read the blurb and some reviews, and stared at the gorgeous cover for a good few minutes, I’ve decided this will probably be something I’ll like. The book is about a thief named Sancia who is hired to steal a magical artifact with immense power and the potential to revolutionise a magical technology known as scriving. However, in stealing it, Sancia angers the powerful merchant houses that control the technology and now they want her dead. Her only way out is to gather allies and learn to use the power of the artifact for herself.


Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid

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Lately I’ve been adding more adult contemporary fiction to my TBR. Such a Fun Age has been popping up a lot over the last few weeks and I’ve heard some good things about it. It’s about two women – Alix & Emira. Emira is the 25-year-old, black babysitter to Alix’s daughter and currently juggling multiple jobs whilst trying to work out what to do with her life. Alix, on the other hand, is a wealthy, white, feminist blogger and influencer who has doubts of her own. After Emira is accused of kidnapping Alix’s daughter, Briar, whilst out at the supermarket one evening, the whole altercation is caught on camera. Emira wants to forget and move on but Alix is determined to get justice for her. So begins a story about race, friendship, white saviourism, privilege, and parenthood.


Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb 1#) – Tamsyn Muir

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This book could go very well or not so great at all based on what I’ve seen from reviews. Apparently there is a long period of not having a clue what’s going on. Yet, I can’t help but be super intrigued. It’s centred around a smart mouthed swordswoman named Gideon. Harrow, a necromancer, has been summoned by the emperor to compete in a set of mysterious trials to potentially ascend to something that will bring immortality. But, Harrow is unable to compete without a cavalier at her side. Enter Gideon. However, when the other necromancers and cavaliers start getting murdered, Gideon not only has to worry about assisting Harrow but keeping the both of them breathing and tracking down the culprit. It’s dark, queer, unique, and I’m super excited to read it.


There we have it, five additions to the list. Lord knows when I’ll actually get around to buying and reading any of them. Then again, I do have a habit of letting books skip the queue because I’m a serious mood reader. Guess, we’ll have to see.

Have you recently added anything exciting to your to-read shelf?

Battle of the Book Covers: US VS UK (Round 3)

That’s right, we’re back again to match up US and UK cover designs in a battle to the death to see which comes out on top! Looking at the scoreboard from rounds 1 & 2, the US is currently in the lead by two points with 12 to the UK’s 10. Let’s see what happens in round 3.


The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern

As with Erin’s first book, The Night Circus, I love both covers. However, this time, the designs are completely different in style. I like the simplicity and clearness of the US cover. It’s very understated and elegant. On the other hand, the paint swirled background of the UK cover is so lovely. I also think it’s really cool that they’ve tried to make it look like a battered hardback. If it weren’t for the weirdly placed male silhouette in the middle, I probably would give this to the UK but as it is, it’s a tie.

VERDICT: Tie


Call Down the Hawk – Maggie Stiefvater

Both of these covers use the same image of the hawk in flight, however, to different scales and with varied colour schemes. While I like the style of the title on the US cover and the orange is visually striking, I definitely prefer the UK cover. I love a good bit of pastel and the background here is both warm and soft. I also really appreciate that the burning trees in the bird wings are much more visible and bright.

VERDICT: UK Cover


The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden

This is a very easy decision from where I’m sitting. Out of these two, the UK cover does absolutely nothing for me. I plan to buy this book at some point in the future and am 100% sure I’ll be ordering the US version. The font, colour contrast, ominous & fairy-tale-eque look of the image…the US cover wins.

VERDICT: US Cover


The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin

I actually really like both of these covers. They’re doing a lot of things right. Both have nice colour schemes, easy to read fonts, and elements that catch the eye. I enjoy the ‘painted on the side of a building’ look of the UK cover with the figures sitting on top – it’s different and rustic. However, for some reason my eyes keep darting back to the US cover’s tree with its gorgeous autumn coloured leaves.

VERDICT: US Cover (It’s a close call though)


Wayward Son – Rainbow Rowell

These two books give me a very similar vibe – the text is similar, the art style is the same (just a different image), and both go well with the Carry On US Cover. The colour contrast between the yellow and aqua on the US cover is eye catching and I’m loving the smirk Simon has going on. And YET, I have to go with the UK Cover. I mean, just look at Baz’s suit! LOOK AT IT. Bonus points for the addition of Simon’s tail wrapping around the title and the fun image at the bottom which really suits the road trip story.

VERDICT: UK Cover


The Flat Share – Beth O’Leary

With the US cover, I appreciate that they tried to do something different by using the painted image. Unfortunately, the painting just isn’t my style. I can’t help feeling that it looks too basic, almost like something a 12 year old would paint in art class? I do really like the layout though, with the title down the middle on the door. The UK Cover is simple but clean. I enjoy the colour palette, the font choices, and the texture provided by the bedspread and paneled flooring.

VERDICT: UK Cover


The Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch

Fun fact, the US cover for this book is actually a redesign done in response to Americans saying how much they wish they had the UK cover. As someone who owns the UK/Aus cover, I can definitely see why because it’s pretty darn nice. So nice, in fact, that even with a redesign the US cover still doesn’t top it. The look of the city against the water, title fonts, sneaky little silhouette of Locke looking like he’s about to steal everything you own – it’s simply a great cover.

VERDICT: UK Cover


Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mendel

Now these are two completely different covers and they’re both lovely. I love astrophotography. It’s gorgeous, magical and always makes you feel small in a big universe. The use of it on the US cover is really nice and the fact that they’ve kept the text simple works very well. On the UK Cover, I’m a big fan of the bold, pink title in contrast to the black & white image. I also love how the cover looks almost like a paper tole craft with all the different cutout layers. The white border is super pretty and really stands out.

VERDICT: US Cover (Another super close race!)


City of Ghosts – Victoria Schwab

For these covers, the compositions are very similar. It’s almost as if two artists were given the same brief and asked to do a design in their own personal art style. While I usually love red covers, my preference here is definitely for the US cover. It looks so much more eerie with the grey-white background and blurred image of the girl & cat. I also think I prefer the design of the city skyline more on the US cover compared to the UK.

VERDICT: US Cover


Normal People – Sally Rooney

This was an easy pick in the UK’s favour. There’s something about the faces on the US cover that give me the creeps. Maybe it’s the fact that the eyes are just blank circles? Who knows? I appreciate the clean, blocky title text on both versions but it looks so much clearer and bolder on the UK cover because of the colour scheme. I have to give brownie points to whoever was bold enough to release a book in olive green because it certainly stands out in a bookstore.

VERDICT: UK Cover


And that ends round 3. Let’s take a look at the updated points:

US Covers: 17 Points

UK Covers: 16 Points

After all that, it’s still a very close race which actually surprises me! For some reason I thought the US had won more covers this round than it actually had. Guess it just goes to show, there are some good and bad covers on both sides of the ocean.

How would you have decided these match ups? Are my tastes in covers completely different from yours?