Top Five Tuesday: Books About a Death

Welcome back to another edition of Top 5 Tuesday! It was originally created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm but now has its home at the lovely Meeghan Reads. This week’s topic is books that revolve around a death! Ooooo…sounds dramatic. With this topic, I tried to mostly stay away from just using straight-up murder mystery books (because, duh, a death is the whole damn premise of the genre) in order to give the list a little more variety. So, here are five books that I really enjoyed whose plot rests largely on a significant death.

The Push – Ashley Audrain

To explain how this book is about a death would be a spoiler so I won’t. In truth, The Push is about so much more than that – the relationships between mothers and daughters, mental health, and societal conventions of motherhood, just to name a few things. However, it’s the death of a particular character that sets off a series of events that massively changes the life of the narrator. The book is about a woman named Blythe who struggles to connect with her daughter Violet after she’s born. As Violet grows, Blythe begins to worry there might be something…twisted and wrong with her child.

Sadie – Courtney Summers

Oh, Sadie. I feel like I haven’t spoken about this book in a while and since it’s a) fantastic and b) perfectly suited for this week’s topic, let’s rectify that right now. It’s just so darn heartbreaking and I don’t think I’ve really read many books like it. The death relevant here is that of Mattie, little sister to our 19-year-old protagonist, Sadie. Mattie meant everything to Sadie and with the two having grown up in a terrible home environment, Sadie felt responsible for keeping her sister safe. So, following her murder, Sadie sets out, determined to track down Mattie’s killer and get revenge. It’s a dark, raw, and expertly told story that won’t be for everyone but is well worth a read.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

While Rebecca is about a wedding, which was last week’s topic, it’s more importantly about the death of the titular character. The novel centers around an unnamed protagonist who after meeting wealthy widow Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo marries and returns with him to his famous English estate, Manderley. However, she soon finds that the presence of Maxim’s glamorous former wife, Rebecca, lingers over everything, aided by Manderley’s hostile housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, who refuses to allow her mistress’s precious memory to be papered over. Our protagonist begins to question whether she will ever measure up to the legendary first Mrs de Winter. But the real question is, is Rebecca truly gone?

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

The Secret History is one of those books that if you were to try and explain what it was about, you would probably say it’s about a death. A murder to be exact, committed by a group of university classics students against one of their friends to cover up another murder that took place during an ancient Roman ritual. In truth, it’s far more complicated and deals with a myriad of themes and ideas. It’s about group dynamics, the power of guilt and secrets, social class, the nature of beauty, fate vs choice, and so much more. The writing is dark, intense, intelligent, and wonderfully addictive. If you’re curious about the book that kicked off the dark academia genre, this is the one to read.

Vicious – V. E. Schwab

Another great read that I haven’t chatted about for a bit. So, technically there are a bunch of deaths in Vicious and that’s because the whole premise is people dying, being brought back, and developing special X-men type abilities as a result. Yet, these people don’t stay dead so the death I’m actually referring to is that of Angie, a university classmate of our leads Victor and Eli (& Eli’s girlfriend). While Victor and Eli have a friendship/rivalry before this event, it’s Angie’s death that puts their whole Professor X-Magneto conflict into full motion. The book follows the two men years later as Victor tries to get revenge on Eli for putting him in prison and Eli seeks to kill Victor as part of his plan to hunt down all ExtraOrdinary humans.


What are some of your favourite books that centre around the death of a particular character?

First Lines Friday | 04.03.22 | Deciding My Next Read

This week, we’re trying something different – well, different for me at least! First Lines Friday! Previously hosted by Wandering Words, this weekly feature asks us to judge books by their opening lines rather than their covers. Normally the feature asks you to choose a book, copy out the opener, and then get people to guess which novel it belongs to before finally revealing the answer. However, I’m going to change things up and do three! As I’m currently in between books, I thought it might be fun to choose my next read based on its opening lines. So, let’s get into the 3 options I’ve selected:

OPTION ONE

The two would-be jade thieves sweated in the kitchen of the Twice Lucky restaurant. The windows were open in the dining room, and the onset of evening brought a breeze off the waterfront to cool the diners, but in the kitchen, there were only the two ceiling fans that had been spinning all day to little effect. Summer had barely begun and already the city of Janloon was like a spent lover—sticky and fragrant.

I hear ‘would-be thieves’ and already my brain is excitedly screaming: HEIST! I also like that this opening already gives me a sense of the world I’m soon to read about.

Any idea what the book is? No? Well, here are three clues:

  1. It’s an adult fantasy.
  2. It’s the first in a trilogy.
  3. The author has described it as ‘The Godfather with magic and kung-fu’.

OPTION TWO

When Red wins, she stands alone.

Blood slicks her hair. She breathes out steam in the last night of this dying world.

Well, damn. Isn’t this dramatic as hell? I love it.

Ringing any bells for you? If not, these hints might help you out:

  1. It’s a sci-fi novella
  2. The story involves time travel and a f/f romance
  3. It has two authors.

OPTION THREE

And last but not least…

Anthony Bridgerton had always known he would die young.

Oh, not as a child. Young Anthony had never had cause to ponder his own mortality. His early years had been a young boy’s perfection, right from the very day of his birth.

Anthony, stop being so darn melodramatic. Jeez. I like the fact that this opener seems to support my assessment by pointing out just how perfect his life has been for the most part.

Okay, be honest, do you even need a hint to guess this one? Still, for consistency’s sake…

  1. It’s a sequel.
  2. It’s a historical romance.
  3. The series name is in the quote above minus an ‘s’.

The (Not So) Big Reveal

*Drumroll*

1. JADE CITY – FONDA LEE

The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.

The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.

When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.

2. THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR – AMAL EL-MOHTAR & MAX GLADSTONE

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.

Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war.

3. THE VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME (BRIDGERTONS 2#) – JULIA QUINN

This time the gossip columnists have it wrong. London’s most elusive bachelor Anthony Bridgerton hasn’t just decided to marry—he’s even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended’s older sister, Kate Sheffield—the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate’s the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams…

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands—and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate’s determined to protect her sister—but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony’s lips touch hers, she’s suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself…


Did you guess any of the three correctly? Which book do you think I should read next?

WWW Wednesday | 26.01.22

Confession: I’ve been low on post ideas coming into this new year. I’m sure it’ll pass but for now, I thought I’d update you all on how my reading has been going and where it’s heading. WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words and asks you to answer the 3 Ws – what did you recently finish, what’s your current read, and what are you reading next?

Seven Days in June – Tia Williams

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I read Seven Days in June as part of my ‘Reviewing the Goodreads Top 10 Romance Novels of 2021‘ post and gave it 4 stars. It was so nice to read a romance with not only two black leads but one featuring a single mum who was also dealing with a chronic pain condition. SDIJ is a second chance romance story and although I don’t usually gravitate towards those, I liked this one. The connection between leads Eva and Shane was electric, their relationship issues more about timing than compatibility. The characters were developed well and I thought the balance between romance, drama, and levity was handled wonderfully. However, I wish there’d been fewer pop culture references, more info about Eva’s family, and an expansion on the past chapters to further support those events’ impact on the present. I definitely recommend this one if you enjoy more drama-type romances.


The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive 1#) – Brandon Sanderson

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After years of wanting to start this series but feeling too intimidated to do so, I am FINALLY reading The Way of Kings! I know, I’m as shocked as you are. I just felt super motivated all of a sudden and decided to embrace it while it lasted. Probably those start-of-the-year feels. At this point, I’m just past halfway (it’s 1009 pages long, FYI) so I’ve still got a long way to go, but you know what? It’s pretty great. There are a lot of things I don’t understand or remember about the world, but I assume that will come with time considering the scope of it. I’m really enjoying the characters and how their paths are connected but not directly yet. The first couple of chapters were somewhat jarring but since then I’ve been consistently engaged, which is a relief for a book of this size. I’m really looking forward to seeing how events progress in the second half. Perhaps, a new favourite series for me?


One Night on the Island – Josie Silver

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver - Penguin Books Australia

Once I finish my current mammoth read I’ll be starting my ARC of One Night on the Island by Josie Silver. I’ve actually had this on my Netgalley approval shelf for a while now but I’ve been putting it off so that I could get through all the books for my GR’s romance finalists post. However, since the release date is quickly coming up (Feb 17), I better get on it! It’s a forced proximity romance about a dating columnist, Cleo, who takes a trip to a remote Irish island to do a sensationalist piece on marrying herself. However, when she turns up at her luxury cabin she finds a handsome and stubborn American named Mack who insists it’s his and refuses to leave. With neither willing to budge and a storm fast approaching, the two decide to bunk down together. I really enjoyed Silver’s One Day in December so I’m hoping this will be a similarly good read. Guess we’ll see!


I hope your reading for the year has gotten off to a good start and that you’ve got some interesting looking books lined up for the near future.

What are you currently reading? Thoughts about it?

WWW Wednesday | 01.12.21

I can’t believe it’s been more than a year since my last WWW Wednesday post. So how about we rectify that now? As always, this weekly meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words and asks you to answer the 3 Ws – what did you recently finish, what are you currently reading, and what’s up next? Here’s what I’ve been up to lately and what’s on the horizon…

Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao

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I was super excited to read Iron Widow after hearing so many amazing things. While I enjoyed it, I feel bad that I didn’t love it the way others have. The gritty, edgy aesthetic was great and I had a lot of fun with the machine vs alien battles. The vibe is very Pacific Rim and the technology/magic aspect was quite interesting. This is the first time I’ve read a book with a poly romance and I love that it did something different. However, I found the relationships with both love interests a little too underdeveloped to truly invest in them. The overall themes were good but it did feel like the book was screaming them at me most of the time, especially the feminist elements, and I wish there’d been more depth and nuance. Some of the world-building is also slightly lacking, weakening the ‘rage against the machine’ aspect. Zetian is a strong female lead and I found her easy to root for, but she can be quite rash at times and there’s definitely a hint of the ‘not like other girls’ trope. Overall, a good read, but I’m still tossing up whether I’d be interested in the sequel.

Once There Were Wolves – Charlotte McConaghy

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While this wasn’t the five-star read I was hoping for, I’m really glad I decided to pick it up. OTWW focuses a lot on environmental issues and I learned some interesting things about wolves and natural ecosystems. The blend of drama, mystery and romance was good (although, the latter was a little rushed at the beginning) and I found the conflict between the biologists reintroducing the wolves to the Scottish Highlands and the farmers compelling. I wasn’t sure about the writing at first but came to appreciate its beauty, especially when exploring heartbreaking themes of abuse & assault, painting a picture of gorgeous rural settings, or diving into MC Inti’s experiences with mirror touch synesthesia. I was also shocked at just how much CM managed to get me to care about the wolves themselves. I can definitely see myself giving McConaghy’s Migrations a read in the future.


One Last Stop – Casey McQuiston

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That’s right, I’m finally doing it (after saying that I will on this blog for what feels like forever!). At the moment, I’m around 120 or so pages in but, hopefully, I’ll get some more read tonight. So far, I’m liking it but there isn’t that absolute love feeling I had very quickly while reading RW&RB or the compulsive need to binge-read to the end. The characters are cute and diverse (the found family trope is always a winner) but I’m a little sad that I haven’t been laughing out loud as much as I did with CM’s debut. I’m also a litttttlllle worried that this will start to drag at some point, considering how long it is and how far in I am already. I might be completely wrong but I guess I’ll find out soon enough.


Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters 3#) – Talia Hibbert

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I’m currently in the process of working on a 2021 romance reads review post so it’s highly likely that my next book will be Act Your Age, Eve Brown. I’m doing things a little out of order with this series as I’ve read the first entry but not the second. However, because you can get away with reading them as standalones and I just really loved the sound of this one, I’m doing it. It’s an opposites attract/enemies to lovers story set at a B&B, and I’m so keen! I’m hoping this will be a quick, comforting and cute (but still sexy) read. My only worry is that it’ll be a little too heavy on the smut as that’s one of the issues I had with Get a Life, Chloe Brown.


That’s the latest from me. With only one more month left before 2021 closes, I’m thinking hard about what books I really want to squeeze in over the next few weeks. I’m still hoping to pad out my top ten reads of the year list a bit more with a couple of highly-rated books, but who knows? Wish me luck!

What’s your current read? How are you enjoying it?

Top 10 Tuesday: Book Titles that are Complete Sentences

It’s Tuesday and I’m running low on post ideas so…you know what that means: it’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday (hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl). This week’s topic is a freebie so I’m using it to do a topic from a few weeks back which revolves around book titles that are complete sentences. This seemed really simple at first but I quickly realised there are a lot of titles out there that seem like sentences but, in truth, aren’t. This is why many of my picks for this post are phrases I can imagine people saying to one other, because that makes it a sentence, right?

Just for fun, I’ve decided to do 5 books I’ve read, 5 books on my TBR and, as a bonus, 5 books I don’t plan on reading but like the titles of. I know these lists are supposed to be a ranking type thing but half the time I’m more like, let’s just list these books that meet the prompt. That’s pretty much what I’m doing today.


Titles I’ve Read

  • And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
  • Lock Every Door– Riley Sager
  • You Deserve Each Other – Sarah Hogle
  • I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson
  • Life’s too Short – Abby Jimenez

Titles on My TBR

  • Once There Were Wolves – Charlotte McConaghy
  • We Are the Brennans – Tracey Lange
  • Take a Hint, Dani Brown – Talia Hibbert
  • Beautiful World, Where are You? – Sally Rooney
  • My Heart is a Chainsaw – Stephen Graham Jones

Bonus: Titles I Don’t Plan to Read But Like Regardless

  • Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf? – Edward Albee
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Shirley Jackson
  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness
  • My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry – Fredrik Backman
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick

What’s your favourite title of a book that reads as a complete sentence?

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?

Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my 2021 Winter TBR

It’s TBR time again – courtesy of this week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic (hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl). I’ve hit a rather large slump recently and haven’t done much reading for the last month. Making this list was kind of a challenge because I’m in that nothing-feels-appealing-to-me-right-now mood. However, I did manage to come up with a couple of titles that I’m keen to try and get through over the next few months. It isn’t 10 but with the way things have been tracking for me, perhaps 8 is a more reasonable number. HA, who am I kidding? It’s likely too LARGE a number already!

Just Last Night – Mhairi McFarlane

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When I have been reading lately, it’s been mainly a romance mood and Just Last Night is one I’m hoping to read soon. This is a 2021 release and unlike a lot of the other books in the genre that I usually read this isn’t really a romcom (at least they aren’t trying to market it as such because I’ve been burned by that before). Going in, I know to expect some heavier themes like forgiveness, grief, loss, betrayal, but I’m cool with that. It’s about a group of thirty-somethings, Eve, Ed, Susie and Justin, who have been friends since their teens. Eve has been in love with Ed for years but he’s long been in a relationship with his unlikeable girlfriend Hester. However, one night, tragedy occurs and their lives are irrevocably changed. In the aftermath, Eve learns shocking new things about her friends which cause her to question how well she really knows them.


A Ladder to the Sky – John Boyne

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne - Penguin Books Australia

Some of you might remember that a few months ago I read one of John Boyne’s other books, The Heart’s Invisible Furies. I thought the writing was fantastic and enjoyed it so much I gave it 4.5 stars. After having a browse through Boyne’s other works, there ended up being several others I’d love to read. A Ladder to the Sky is the first on the list. It deals with a young man named Maurice Swift who wants more than anything to be a famous novelist. He makes his name by cosying up to an aging, closested gay author and uses the story of his youth in Nazi Germany to write an international bestseller. Maurice then continues to use his charm, manipulation and deviousness to steal stories from others and continue climbing the ladder to success.


The Maidens – Alex Michaelides

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I read Michaelides debut, The Silent Patient, back in August 2019 when there was a heap of hype surrounding it. It only took me about a day to finish but I wasn’t really sure why people were going as gangbusters for it as they were. Still, I can’t help feeling super excited to give his second book, The Maidens, a read. I think it might be the dark academia draw card. I’m fascinated and obsessed with the genre at the moment. The Maidens centres around a series of murders taking place in connection with Cambridge University. The main character is Mariana, a group therapist, who starts looking into the deaths when her niece, Zoe’s, friend is killed. She comes to suspect one of the professors, Edward Fosca, who runs a cult like secret society of female students called The Maidens who deal in ancient Greek rites. Mariana becomes determined to catch him and drama ensues.


The People in the Trees – Hanya Yanagihara

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I’ve actually started reading this one. I’m not sure whether it’s the book itself or my reading rut, but it’s been slow going and my motivation has been low. I might have to stop and come back to it next month. I do really want to read it though as I loved Yanagihara’s A Little Life. I know TPITT is supposed to be quite different but I really hope it’ll be a great read, too. It’s written in the style of a memoir and is about a doctor who takes a trip to a remote island in Micronesia where he discovers a tribe of locals who have obtained a kind of physical (but not mental) immortality by eating a rare turtle – a condition he names ‘Selene Syndrome’. He brings knowledge of this back to the US and also adopts a bunch of the children he meets on the island, both of which have severe consequences.


An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir (Re-Read)

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The last book in The Ember Quartet was released in 2020 but as usual, being me, I haven’t read it yet. That’s largely due to the fact that I’d always planned to do a full re-read of the previous books in the series beforehand. Here we are, several months later and I haven’t even started. Since re-reads are a good way to help snap out of a slump, now might be the perfect time for me to finally start and refresh my memory with An Ember in the Ashes. I know I’ve probably forgotten a heap of stuff as it’s been like four years since I first read this. I vaguely remember there being some kind of competition to become emperor or something? I’m looking forward to spending more time with my girl Helene. What a badass.


Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir

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I really enjoyed Weir’s debut, The Martian, when I read it back 2017. I’d actually planned to read his follow up Artemis but after hearing some disappointing things, I eventually decided to give it a miss. So when Project Hail Mary was announced, I was interested but tried not to get my hopes up too high. However, this time around the reviews have been great and now I’m really excited to give it a read, especially since I’ve been feeling like I might be in the mood for some Sci-Fi soon. The story follows a middle-school science teacher who wakes up alone on space ship light years from home with no idea why or how he got there. Eventually he comes to realise that he is Earth’s only hope at stopping an impending extinction level threat. As with The Martian, Project Hail Mary is supposed to include quite a bit of scientific explanation but packaged with great story and fun humour.


All of Us Villains – Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

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Now, All of us Villains doesn’t actually come out until November which is still a good while off. Luckily for me though, I was recently approved for an ARC. Yay! This book is like The Hunger Games crossed with A Song of Ice and Fire plus magic. All the yes as far as I’m concerned. It tells the tale of a city where every generation seven families name a champion to compete in a fight to the death to win control of the city’s magic supply. One house normally wins every time but this year it seems like things will be different due to previously unseen publicity levels and attention on the event. I’ve been interested in reading other books by Amanda Foody before but have never really seemed to get around to them, so I’m glad to be giving this one a read.


To Sleep in a Sea of Stars – Christopher Paolini (Again)

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Yes, it’s here again. After I failed to get to it in Autumn. Don’t come at me, okay. This thing is enormous and scary. I’m working my way up to it. Slowly. Very slowly. It’s going to happen eventually. But, hopefully I don’t have to also include it on my Spring TBR post…*facepalm*. This is a first contact story about Kira, who discovers an alien relic during a survey mission on an uncolonised planet. Cue craziness and a potential war. Apparently there are no space dragons but there are alien squids. Make of that what you will. It took a gazillion years for Paolini to write this so I hope it’s good.


What books are you looking forward to reading over Winter/Summer? Are they mostly new releases or are you tackling your epic backlist?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Book Openings

This week’s topic for Top 10 Tuesday (hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl) is centred around quotes pertaining to a central theme. After discovering that a previous topic I had missed involved favourite opening lines to books, I thought why not use that as my quote theme for this week. Now, I’m playing it a bit loose with the whole ‘opening lines’ idea to cover more than just the first sentence in some cases but my blog, my rules!

I went through SO MANY books to find entries for this list. Finding ones I loved was harder than I though. As it turns out, books I’ve adored have not always had the strongest openers, and others which I didn’t enjoy as much came out of the gate stronger than I remembered. For the purposes of this list, I’ve stuck only to books I’ve read (or read part of), and because 10 seemed a bit limited for this topic, I thought I’d extend the number of entries somewhat.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.

Well, if this opening doesn’t hook you, I don’t know what else would. The dramatic tension contained within it is just fantastic. We know that someone is dead, our narrator, and people associated with him, are involved somehow, and the situation at hand has occurred in an unexpected way. But, why did this occur? How did it happen? What will they do in response to their grave situation? So many interesting questions to answer!

Red Rising – Pierce Brown

I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.

I find this a really strong opener – short sentences, blunt sentiment, and a sense of contrast created by the dichotomy between peace and war. We immediately understand that our central character is someone who feels he has been forced down the path the novel is to take, that he’s not the ‘bad guy’ in this scenario. It’s also just a super dramatic and badass start to a book.

It – Stephen King

The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years – if it ever did end – began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.

According to King, he has on many occasions spent months trying to write the perfect opening line to his books and IT’s is definitely one of his best. This first line gives the reader an instant sense of the gravity of the evil the characters in the book will face. It then contrasts it against something so innocent and innocuous as a floating newspaper boat. It’s jarring and eerie, but perfect.

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size.

I’ve actually only read part of Red Sister but still, this opening gets a entry here on shock value. I mean, come on. How could you not want to read on after seeing an line like that? ‘Killing a nun’??? And that’s something which requires a large army? You immediately think: ‘I’m missing something here, and I need to find out what’.

Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir

In the myriadic year of our lord – the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death! – Gideon Nav packed up her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.

I love this opening because not only does it give you really quick insight into the type of character Gideon is, it also hooks you with so many intriguing questions right from the get-go. Why is Gideon escaping? What is the House of the Ninth? And most importantly, how the hell has the king managed to reign for ten thousand years??

Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

On the second Sabbat of the Twelfthmoon, in the city of Weep, a girl fell from the sky. Her skin was blue, her blood was red.

This is another book opener which really draws the reader in with questions – what is the city of Weep? Why is a girl falling from the sky there? And why is her skin blue? It creates a striking and vivid image in your mind almost immediately – you can see that bright red blood against the blue of her skin and track her falling towards the ground. Shocking and memorable.

Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

A classic literary opener. I’m sure this one is included on many people’s lists. Why? Because it so flawlessly sets up the novel. For characters such as Mr Bingley and Mr Collins, it’s very much true – they have money (or money coming) and, therefore, believe they should have a suitable wife. Then, in the case of Mr Darcy, it’s just a social construct – he is wealthy and thus society believes he should be interested in finding a wife. However, in reality, at the beginning of the book he’s entirely disinterested in doing so. Very clever.

Beartown – Fredrik Backman

Late one evening towards the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barrelled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead, and pulled the trigger. This is the story of how we got there.

Backman’s Beartown is another example of a novel kicking things off with a bold, dramatic moment which we’re suddenly desperate to understand the why and how of but can’t. A sneak-peek of events to come. It’s particularly shocking because not only do we have someone shooting somebody else but that someone is a teenager. It really drives home from the very first line that this is a story which will deal with the loss of innocence.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

Long before we discovered that he had fathered two children by two different women, one in Drimoleague and one in Clonakilty, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore.

The opening to The Heart’s Invisible Furies is great because I feel as though it perfectly establishes the kind of book it’s going to be – a wonderful blend of humour and woe. Sure, as far as first sentences go, it’s on the wordy side but you’re immediately intrigued both by what has happened to reach this moment and what will happen next.

The Hobbit – J RR Tolkien

In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

I really enjoy how easy-breezy the world building is in these opening lines to The Hobbit. Within moments we already know that these strange fantasy creatures, Hobbits, live in warm, cozy homes in the ground and that they love food and comfortable furniture. It’s such a lovely image and you can’t help but immediately develop a degree of fondness for them.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

This is such a simple opener to a book that’s considered a modern classic. But unlike quite a few other classic novels, with Rebecca I actually understand why the first line is so famous. We question where Manderley is, why our narrator is dreaming about being there, and why she isn’t physically there. More so, this isn’t the first time she’s dreamt about it, so what is it about Manderley that’s causing it to haunt her dreams? The more you think about it, the eerier it sounds.

A Darker Shade of Magic – V E Schwab

Kell wore a very peculiar coat. It had neither one side, which would be conventional, nor two, which would be unexpected, but several, which was, of course, impossible.

I adore the charm of this opening to Schwab’s ADSOM series. It’s so simple, talking about a piece of clothing, but we’re immediately introduced to the magic and mystery that this world is going to offer us. Kell’s coat is a significant element of his character and from page one we’re already able to identify him as someone different and special, purely by the fact that he owns a coat which is impossible even in the context of his own universe.

Scythe – Neal Shusterman

We must, by law, keep a record of the innocents we kill. And as I see it, they’re all innocents. Even the guilty.

I’m drawn to these opening lines because they so clearly state the moral dilemma of all “good” Scythes. If you were given the power over life and death, who would you deem innocent enough to spare? Who would be bad enough to kill? And among those bad ones, how terrible do they have to be for you to be able to kill them without feeling some kind of distress or guilt? As a reader, you’re instantly drawn into why our narrator is killing people and within what social context. It’s a strong start to a great read.

The Martian – Andy Weir

I’m pretty much fucked. That’s my considered opinion. Fucked. Six days into what should be one of the greatest two months of my life, and it’s turned into a nightmare.

Okay, this opening’s here because it’s funny. Like, the dude has literally been left behind on Mars. What else is he supposed to say? This aside, it also quickly shows the reader that our main character is relatable and that despite this being a science based story, it’s going to be an approachable one.

Emma – Jane Austen

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to united some of the best blessings of existence, and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her. . .

Yes, another Austen. I know. You must think I’m a crazy Austen fan at this point, but honestly these are just two books with fantastic openers. I really like this one because with the way our narrator describes the leading lady, you can’t quite tell whether Austen wants us to like her or hate her out of pure jealousy of her perfectness. I also love how it so clearly suggests that there are plenty of vexing things due to come Emma’s way some time soon.


What are some of your favourite openings to books? What was it about them that grabbed you?

Last Year I Was Reading… | 20.4.21

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

None Shall Sleep – Ellie Marney

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

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

Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my 2021 Autumn TBR

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

Our Year of Maybe – Rachel Lynn Solomon

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

She Who Became the Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan

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

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

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

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

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

Take a Hint, Dani Brown – Talia Hibbert

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

Layla – Colleen Hoover

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

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

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

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars – Christopher Paolini

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

The Soulmate Equation – Christina Lauren

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

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

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


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

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