Everyone has a favourite season. Mine, by a long way, is Autumn. I love watching the leaves change colour from green to gorgeous shades of red, orange and yellow, and finally getting to break out my warmer wardrobe again (I own A LOT of sweaters). While all you northern hemisphere people are enjoying the first few weeks of spring, in the southern hemisphere I’m currently throwing my usual ‘Thank god, summer is over party’. With this in mind, I thought I’d do a fun little post to showcase some book covers which really capture those Autumn feelings. Leaves, warm colour schemes, coziness, rustic vibes, all that wonderful goodness. Enjoy!
Did I miss any notable ones? What’s your favourite Autumn feeling book cover?
It’s been a while since I last put some US and UK book covers in a battle to the death. Okay, it’s not that dramatic. Still, I think it’s time to put the score board back up and see which region’s covers reign supreme. Just in case you need a catch up, here are rounds 1, 2 and 3. At this point the US is in the lead on 17 points with the UK right behind on 16 points. You guys know the drill by now, US covers on the left and UK on the right. Let’s dive in!
Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell
While I do like the idea of the renaissance style painting and the text on scripts of parchment on the US cover, I love the elegance of the UK version. The gold, nature based designs around the letter are stunning.
Verdict: UK Cover
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – V. E. Schwab
This was an easy decision, especially considering how much money I forked out to get a copy of the US cover sent to Australia (UGH). I’m not sure what it is about the UK Cover, but I’m just not really a fan. The squiggly lines look a little odd and I wish that the text had been more elegant. The US cover is so simple but the text with the star constellation incorporated is magical.
Verdict: US Cover
The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett
Now this is a tough one. I love the semi-abstract nature of the imagery on both covers. There’s so many organic, flowing lines. I also feel like both covers capture the idea of two sisters being different parts of a whole very well. In the end though, I’m going to go with the UK cover but only just! It’s mostly because I find the colour scheme easier on the eyes than the shades of blue, green, orange and pink blended together on the US version.
Verdict: UK Cover
The Midnight Library – Matt Haig
I’m definitely a fan of the starry sky background on the top half of the UK cover but the rest of it is kind of boring, especially the snooze-worthy title font. The US cover, on the other hand, is an example of a simple cover which still looks engaging. I love all the little images inside the ovals. They remind me of airplane windows. The colour contrast of the yellow and orange with the navy is nice, too.
Verdict: US Cover
Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo
Another difficult match up, again because the concepts are similar but the styles are different. I love how both covers utilise half the girls’ faces and a clear sense of colour contrast. I think I like the more realistic art style of the UK cover better, however I prefer the colour scheme (the use of green and pink to create harmony and difference is well done) and layout of the US cover.
Verdict: US Cover
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid
This is another pairing where the publishers have executed a same-same vision with small differences. It’s a tough choice. I think the title stands out better on the UK cover and I like the way the dress falls at the bottom. I also feel as though the brown wall offers good contrast against the green. However, the US cover screams old Hollywood more and I believe it captures the sexy, glamorous image Evelyn portrayed to the world a lot better. Very Marilyn Monroe.
Verdict: US Cover (By a smidge!)
If I Had Your Face – Frances Cha
My god, that yellow and red overlay on the US cover is gorgeous. I love the way the title text takes up a lot of space and cuts through the colour so cleanly. Yet, the UK cover is really eye-catching, mostly because it’s super weird to look at. You just find yourself staring at it trying to make sense of what’s happening. I’m torn on this one, guys. There’s stuff to like about both. Tie it is then.
If We Were Villains – M. L. Rio
Considering how much I loved this book, I wish I’d bought the US hardback now. The skull, script and dark lighting are making all my dark academia dreams come true. The UK cover (which has since been redesigned) is very simple. I like the ’embossed’ bordering and big dramatic title text, however the dead sparrow image only really makes sense if you’ve read the novel and look kind of odd if you haven’t.
Verdict: US Cover
The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell
There’s something very soothing about the US cover for The Bone Clocks. Maybe it’s the reflected sky or perhaps it’s those beautiful layers of perfect circles, one after the other. Still, I definitely find the UK cover more striking and visually dynamic. The colours, sense of movement, and all the tiny details to pick apart make this one the stronger cover in my opinion.
Verdict: UK Cover
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder – Holly Jackson
Both the US & UK covers have the same concept here – a messy looking murder board – but they go about it slightly differently. I have to say, I’m more a fan of the US cover and it’s mostly because the title text is better integrated into the image than the splat-on-the-page approach of the UK cover. I also feel like the slightly grayer background feels more ominous looking than the stark white which is what you want for a mystery novel.
Verdict: US Cover
City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert
This is another set of covers with somewhat similar concepts, this time with the use of showgirl costume feathers. I appreciate the colour scheme and bold, theater style text on the US cover, but there’s something about the image of the showgirl peering over the top of the text in the UK version that I really like.
Verdict: UK Cover
My Dark Vanessa – Kate Elizabeth Russell
I have to say, I don’t really like the US cover for My Dark Vanessa. I appreciate the incorporation of the butterfly as a reference to Vladimir Nabokov who wrote Lolita (which is referred to many times in this book), but the image doesn’t do much for me. The UK cover, however, features one of my favourite colour combos on covers – orange and blue, a complementary pairing. I also love the bold, blocky title text woven into the hair strands. So clean looking.
Verdict: UK Cover
Okay, better stop before I get too carried away (which is easy to do when you’re looking at a bunch of cool book covers). Time to check the score board!
US Covers: 24 Points
UK Covers: 22 Points
It seems that the US is still in the lead. Hm, interesting. Better get your act together UK, you’re falling behind. As always, how would you have decided these match ups? Any favourite covers among the bunch?
A new year, a new probably unrealistic list of books I’d like to tackle before the end of the year. In 2020 I set myself a list of 30 books I wanted to read from a bunch of different genres. I ended up only reading…well, 14 of them. Er, yeah. It could have been better. Anyway, here’s hoping that this year is more productive and less subject to intense shifts in my reading mood.
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte: I bought a Penguin faux leather copy of this and it’s too pretty not to be read. Hopefully I like it a lot more than I did Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier: I’ve been putting this off for YEARS. Now that I’ve watched an adaptation, I feel I really, really need to finally read the book.
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott: Yes, this book was on my 2020 list. Yes, it’s here again.
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson: Lately I’ve been wanting to try my hand at writing a ghost story. I should probably see how one of the experts does it.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe – Benhamin Alire Saenz: I’ve heard so many amazing things about this book and it sounds so good.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne: Heaps of positive reviews, an interesting sounding blurb and recommended for those who liked A Little Life (which I did). Please don’t make me cry.
Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami: I tried reading 1Q84 many years ago and found it super weird. This is supposedly less so. I might hate it, might love it. Trying it for something different.
The Comeback – Ella Berman: There’s something intriguing about this book. It just seems like something I’d like. Plus very topically relevant in today’s day & age.
If We Were Villains – M. L. Rio: I read The Secret History back in 2020 and really liked it. This has been regularly recommend as being similar in feel. Yay, dark academia & murder!
The Boy From the Woods – Harlan Coben: I came across TBFtW while perusing the GR Choice awards noms. I do enjoy a good mystery from time to time and this one certainly sounds exciting.
The Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager: It’s bizarre, I am so keen on reading Sager’s books despite having this nagging feeling that I won’t love them. This one is set at a camp which is cool yet creepy.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder – Holly Jackson: This is my next stop in the search for an amazing YA crime/thriller book. I’ve been burnt before but reviews have been great so fingers crossed!
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars – Christopher Paolini: The size is definitely intimidating but as if I’m going to pass up new Paolini, and an interesting sounding one with a gorgeous cover at that.
Dark Age (Red Rising 5#) – Pierce Brown: You guys already know how much I love this series. I FINALLY read Iron Gold last year so that means it’s time for Dark Age. I’m preparing my heart.
Ready Player Two – Ernest Cline: Reviews on this one haven’t been great but a) I got it for Christmas and b) I really liked the first book. So we’re doing it in 2021.
The Midnight Library – Matt Haig: The Goodreads Choice Awards Fiction winner for 2020! This book sounds so good and I’m almost 100% positive that I’m going to love it.
The Burning God (The Poppy War 3#) – R F Kuang: I’m legit obsessed with this series. Book two was my favourite read of 2020 and I’m SO keen for the last book. Pain is coming, I can tell.
Piranesi – Susanna Clarke: Shiny foiling on covers, I can’t resist it. Piranesi sounds super different from other things I’ve read in recent years and I’ve seen some amazing reviews, too.
The Well of Ascension (Mistborn 2#) – Brandon Sanderson: I have a sudden desire to go back to this series (blame Skyward maybe?). I read The Final Empire back in 2015 but for some reason didn’t continue onward. I’ll have to reread it before tackling TWoA but I’m really looking forward to it.
Foundryside – Robert Jackson Bennett: I’ve had Foundryside on my radar for a while now and I think it’s finally the time. Magic, politics, a heist, adventure…sign me up!
Layla – Colleen Hoover: It’s been hit or miss with Colleen Hoover reads, but I like the sound of this. Hopefully it’s more Verity & It Ends with Us than Confess. I also got it for $2 on kindle, SCORE.
The Two Lives of Lydia Bird – Josie Silver: The concept for this sounds kind of weird but I enjoyed Josie Silver’s One Day in December so I’m keen to give this a whirl.
From Blood and Ash – Jennifer L. Armentrout: Blame the hype. I have to see what people are talking about. I’m sure it’ll be tropey and cringey to the max but the FOMO is too intense.
Today, Tonight, Tomorrow – Rachel Lynn Solomon: This looks like a solid ya rom-com. It also features enemies to lovers (= my crack). I’m worried about rushed development because of the time frame but we shall see.
What’s on your list of backlist books to read in 2021?
Let me preface this by saying that there are so many amazing looking books due to come out in 2021. I am ridiculously excited. So, that means, DO NOT BLAME ME THAT THIS POST IS LONGER THAN WAR AND PEACE, okay? My reading tastes tend to gravitate towards fantasy, romance and mysteries/thrillers (both YA & Adult), so expect to see a mix of books from these genres below.
Lore – Alexandra Bracken | January
Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality. Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.
Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.
The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.
A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses 4#) – Sarah J Maas | February
Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.
The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.
Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.
Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.
The Project – Courtney Summers | February
Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying—and failing—to prove it.
When a man shows up at the magazine Lo works for claiming The Unity Project killed his son, Lo sees the perfect opportunity to expose the group and reunite with Bea once and for all. When her investigation puts her in the direct path of its leader, Lev Warren and as Lo delves deeper into The Project, the lives of its members it upends everything she thought she knew about her sister, herself, cults, and the world around her—to the point she can no longer tell what’s real or true. Lo never thought she could afford to believe in Lev Warren . . . but now she doesn’t know if she can afford not to.
The Mask Falling (The Bone Season 4#) – Samantha Shannon | February
Dreamwalker Paige Mahoney has eluded death again. Snatched from the jaws of captivity and consigned to a safe house in the Scion Citadel of Paris, she finds herself caught between those factions that seek Scion’s downfall and those who would kill to protect the Rephaim’s puppet empire.
The mysterious Domino Program has plans for Paige, but she has ambitions of her own in this new citadel. With Arcturus Mesarthim-her former enemy-at her side, she embarks on an adventure that will lead her from the catacombs of Paris to the glittering hallways of Versailles. Her risks promise high reward: the Parisian underworld could yield the means to escalate her rebellion to outright war.
As Scion widens its bounds and the free world trembles in its shadow, Paige must fight her own memories after her ordeal at the hands of Scion. Meanwhile, she strives to understand her bond with Arcturus, which grows stronger by the day. But there are those who know the revolution began with them-and could end with them…
Sing Me Forgotten – Jessica S. Olson | March
Isda does not exist. At least not beyond the opulent walls of the opera house.
Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high—and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.
But Isda breaks Cyril’s cardinal rule when she meets Emeric Rodin, a charming boy who throws her quiet, solitary life out of balance. His voice is unlike any she’s ever heard, but the real shock comes when she finds in his memories hints of a way to finally break free of her gilded prison.
Haunted by this possibility, Isda spends more and more time with Emeric, searching for answers in his music and his past. But the price of freedom is steeper than Isda could ever know. For even as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place.
Rule of Wolves (King of Scars 2#) – Leigh Bardugo | March
The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.
The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.
The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.
King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.
Yolk – Mary H.K. Choi | March
Jayne Baek is barely getting by. She shuffles through fashion school, saddled with a deadbeat boyfriend, clout-chasing friends, and a wretched eating disorder that she’s not fully ready to confront. But that’s New York City, right? At least she isn’t in Texas anymore, and is finally living in a city that feels right for her.
On the other hand, her sister June is dazzlingly rich with a high-flying finance job and a massive apartment. Unlike Jayne, June has never struggled a day in her life. Until she’s diagnosed with uterine cancer. Suddenly, these estranged sisters who have nothing in common are living together. Because sisterly obligations are kind of important when one of you is dying.
She’s Too Pretty to Burn – Wendy Heard | March
The summer is winding down in San Diego. Veronica is bored, caustically charismatic, and uninspired in her photography. Nico is insatiable, subversive, and obsessed with chaotic performance art. They’re artists first, best friends second. But that was before Mick. Delicate, lonely, magnetic Mick: the perfect subject, and Veronica’s dream girl. The days are long and hot―full of adventure―and soon they are falling in love. Falling so hard, they never imagine what comes next. One fire. Two murders. Three drowning bodies. One suspect . . . one stalker. This is a summer they won’t survive.
Inspired by The Picture of Dorian Gray, this sexy psychological thriller explores the intersections of love, art, danger, and power.
Every Last Fear – Alex Finlay
After a late night of partying, NYU student Matt Pine returns to his dorm room to devastating news: nearly his entire family—his mom, his dad, his little brother and sister—have been found dead from an apparent gas leak while vacationing in Mexico. The local police claim it was an accident, but the FBI and State Department seem far less certain—and they won’t tell Matt why.
The tragedy makes headlines everywhere because this isn’t the first time the Pine family has been thrust into the media spotlight. Matt’s older brother, Danny—currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his teenage girlfriend Charlotte—was the subject of a viral true crime documentary suggesting that Danny was wrongfully convicted. Though the country has rallied behind Danny, Matt holds a secret about his brother that he’s never told anyone: the night Charlotte was killed Matt saw something that makes him believe his brother is guilty of the crime.
When Matt returns to his small hometown to bury his parents and siblings, he’s faced with a hostile community that was villainized by the documentary, a frenzied media, and memories he’d hoped to leave behind forever. Now, as the deaths in Mexico appear increasingly suspicious and connected to Danny’s case, Matt must unearth the truth behind the crime that sent his brother to prison—putting his own life in peril—and forcing him to confront his every last fear.
Twice Shy – Sarah Hogle | April
Parrish has always been a dreamer and hopeless romantic. But living with her head in the clouds has long been preferable to dealing with reality, whether it’s navigating the wild world of dating apps or getting her coworkers to show her a little respect. So when Maybell inherits a stately old Tennessee manor from her Great Aunt Violet, she seizes the opportunity to make a fresh start.
But when she arrives at her new home, it seems her troubles have only just begun. Not only is the manor practically falling apart around her, but she isn’t the only inheritor: she has to share everything with Wesley Koehler, the groundskeeper who’s just as grouchy as he is gorgeous–and it turns out he has a very different vision for the property’s future.
Convincing the taciturn Wesley to stop avoiding her and compromise is a task more formidable than any of the many other dying wishes Great Aunt Violet left behind. But when Maybell uncovers something unexpectedly sweet beneath Wesley’s scowls and silences, she realizes they might have more in common than she ever dreamed. And as the two slowly begin to let their guards down, they just might learn that sometimes the smallest steps outside one’s comfort zone can lead to the greatest rewards.
The Forest of Stolen Girls – June Hur | April
Hwani’s family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest, near a gruesome crime scene. The only thing they remember: Their captor wore a painted-white mask.
To escape the haunting memories of this incident, the family flees their hometown. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani’s father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared under similar circumstances, and so he returns to their hometown to investigate… only to vanish as well.
Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and reconnects with her now estranged sister—Hwani comes to realize that the answer lies within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago.
Life’s Too Short – Abby Jimenez | April
Vanessa lives life on her own terms — one day at a time, every day to its fullest. She isn’t willing to waste a moment or miss out on an experience when she has no idea whether she shares the same fatal genetic condition as her mother. Besides, she has way too much to do, traveling the globe and showing her millions of YouTube followers the joy in seizing every moment.
But after her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her infant daughter, she is housebound, on mommy duty for the foreseeable future, and feeling totally out of her element.
The last person she expects to show up offering help is the unbelievably hot lawyer who lives next door, Adrian Copeland. After all, she barely knows him. But as they get closer, Vanessa realizes that her carefree ways and his need for a structured plan could never be compatible for the long term. Then again, she should know better than anyone that life’s too short to fear taking the biggest risk of all...
Girl, 11 – Amy Suiter Clarke | April
Once a social worker specializing in kids who were the victims of violent crime, Elle Castillo is now the host of a popular true crime podcast that tackles cold cases of missing children in her hometown of the Twin Cities. After two seasons of successfully solving cases, Elle decides to tackle her white whale—The Countdown Killer. Twenty years ago, TCK abruptly stopped after establishing a pattern of taking and ritualistically murdering three girls over seven days, each a year younger than the last. No one’s ever known why—why he stopped with his eleventh victim, a girl of eleven years old, or why he followed the ritual at all.
When a listener phones in with a tip, Elle sets out to interview him, only to discover his dead body. And within days, a child is abducted following the original TCK MO. Unlike the experts in the media and law enforcement who have always spun theories of a guilty suicide, Elle never believed TCK had died, and her investigation was meant to lay that suspicion to rest. But instead, her podcast seems to be kicking up new victims.
Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid | May
Malibu: August 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over–especially as the offspring of the legendary singer Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud–because it is long past time for him to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.And Kit has a couple secrets of her own–including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.
The Soulmate Equation – Christina Lauren | May
Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents—who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno—Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.
But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: this Jess understands.
At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess—who is barely making ends meet—is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist—and the science behind a soulmate—than she thought.
Tokyo Ever After – Emiko Jean | May
Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izzy discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.
In a whirlwind, Izzy travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.
Izzy soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairytale, happily ever after?
Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir | May
Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission–and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish. Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it. All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.
His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, he realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Alone on this tiny ship that’s been cobbled together by every government and space agency on the planet and hurled into the depths of space, it’s up to him to conquer an extinction-level threat to our species. And thanks to an unexpected ally, he just might have a chance.
One Last Stop – Casey McQuiston | June
For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures.
But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.
Jane. Dazzling, charming, mysterious, impossible Jane. Jane with her rough edges and swoopy hair and soft smile, showing up in a leather jacket to save August’s day when she needed it most. August’s subway crush becomes the best part of her day, but pretty soon, she discovers there’s one big problem: Jane doesn’t just look like an old school punk rocker. She’s literally displaced in time from the 1970s, and August is going to have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help her. Maybe it’s time to start believing in some things, after all.
The Maidens – Alex Michaelides | June
Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.
Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?
When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.
Survive the Night – Riley Sager | July
It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.
Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?
What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing—survive the night.
The Dead and the Dark – Courtney Gould | August
Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.
Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.
The Heart Principle – Helen Hoang | August
To most people, Quan Diep is nothing but a surly-looking, underachieving playboy. The problem is he’s not any of those things. And now that he’s the CEO of an up-and-coming retail business, he’s suddenly a “catch,” and the rich girls who never used to pay any attention to him are looking at him in a new way—especially Camilla, the girl who brushed him off many years ago.
Anna Sun dislikes Quan Diep almost as much as germy bathroom door handles. Or so she tells herself. She will never admit that she has a secret crush on him, especially because he only has eyes for her charismatic and newly engaged younger sister Camilla. Over the years, Anna has worked hard to overcome her OCD, but she’ll still need to find a way to bury her anxieties and seduce Quan so he doesn’t ruin her sister’s engagement, and with it, a crucial real estate development deal.
Slowly, Anna breaks down Quan’s dangerous and careless exterior while peeling off her own tough, protective shell. But when Quan discovers Anna’s true intentions, he’s forced to confront his own hurtful past and learn to forgive, while Anna must face her greatest challenge: truly opening herself up to love.
If the Shoe Fits – Julie Murphy | August
After having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, and trying to get her feet on the ground, Cindy is working for her stepmother, who happens to be the executive producer of America’s favorite reality show, Before Midnight. When a spot on the show needs filling ASAP, Cindy volunteers, hoping it might help jump-start her fashion career, or at least give her something to do while her peers land jobs in the world of high fashion.
Turns out being the only plus size woman on a reality dating competition makes a splash, and soon Cindy becomes a body positivity icon for women everywhere. What she doesn’t expect? That she may just find inspiration-and love-in the process. Ultimately, Cindy learns that if the shoe doesn’t fit, maybe it’s time to design your own.
Empire of the Vampire – Jay Kristoff | September
It has been twenty-seven long years since the last sunrise. For nearly three decades, vampires have waged war against humanity; building their eternal empire even as they tear down our own. Now, only a few tiny sparks of light endure in a sea of darkness.
Gabriel de León is a silversaint: a member of a holy brotherhood dedicated to defending realm and church from the creatures of the night. But even the Silver Order couldn’t stem the tide once daylight failed us, and now, only Gabriel remains.
Imprisoned by the very monsters he vowed to destroy, the last silversaint is forced to tell his story. A story of legendary battles and forbidden love, of faith lost and friendships won, of the Wars of the Blood and the Forever King and the quest for humanity’s last remaining hope: The Holy Grail.
Under the Whispering Door – T. J. Klune | September
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead. Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over. But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.
When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.
I’m stopping here before I break my blog. There are a few other books which are also rumoured to be coming out in 2021 but still not confirmed yet, e.g. Skyward 3# by Brandon Sanderson and V. E. Schwab’s first Threads of Power book, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Which 2021 releases are you most dying to get your hands on?
I honestly cannot believe there’s only around a week left until Christmas. Mentally, I’m still back in like…July. But that’s just 2020, isn’t it? If you’re like me and in need of a nudge to help find that Christmas spirit this year, here are 10 books bound to bring on some solid holiday vibes:
In a Holidaze – Christina Lauren
With how popular holiday romances are, expect to see a few in this post. In a Holidaze, follows Maelyn Jones whose life is a bit of a mess. The bright spark of her year has always been the holiday season spent at a cabin in Utah with her family and their friends, including Mae’s long time crush Andrew. However, Mae’s good mood quickly disappears upon finding out that Andrew’s family will soon be selling the cabin. Things get worse when Andrew catches her hooking up with his brother, Theo. In desperation, Mae sends out a silent plea to the universe for help. The answer? A ground-hog day time loop which forces her to live through the trip over and over again. Now Mae will need to find a way to break free of her holiday purgatory and in the process figure out what will truly make her happy.
The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia 2#) – C. S. Lewis
It would be impossible to forget this British classic about four children entering a magical land through means of an upstairs wardrobe. Upon arriving in Narnia, the siblings discover that it is ruled over by the tyrannical White Witch whose powers keep it locked in an eternal winter but without Christmas. Yet, once the witch’s powers begin to weaken and The Great Lion Aslan’s (the true king) grow, the children are greeted by Father Christmas who gives them each gifts to assist in the uprising to free Narnia.
A Christmas Carol and Other Stories – Charles Dickens
A Christmas literary classic which has remained popular since 1843. Even if you’ve never read A Christmas Carol, I’ll bet that you still know the story or have seen it adapted in one form or another. It’s the tale of stingy, miserable grump Ebenezer Scrooge who on Christmas Eve is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come which encourage him to become a kinder, better man. As a story which promotes the idea of the Christmas spirit and importance of generosity, it’s easy to see why it’s a favourite at this time of the year.
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – Agatha Christie
Just like romances, crime books also frequently feature holiday settings because there’s nothing like a bit of death to go with your pudding and presents. This mystery from the Queen of Crime features Detective Hercule Poirot trying to solve the murder of a wealthy patriarch. Simeon Lee is found dead after inviting each of his adult sons and their families home for Christmas with the intention of playing tricks on them. Clearly his plan backfired. This is classic Christie – an isolated location, set number of suspects each with a motive, a couple of red-herrings, and Poirot having to use his little grey cells to put it all together.
One Day in December – Josie Silver
Another romance, don’t say I didn’t warn you. One Day in December is about Laurie and Jack who lock eyes through a bus window on a snowy December day. It’s love at first sight although the two never speak. Laurie spends ages looking for her bus boy but only finds him when he’s introduced to her at a Christmas party as her roommate Sarah’s new boyfriend. Cue 10 years of heartbreak and missed opportunities. While the story isn’t limited to December, a lot of its bigger events tend to happen at Christmas time, making it a good pick for this time of the year if you can handle the emotions.
The Afterlife of Holly Chase – Cynthia Hand
For a twist on the traditional A Christmas Carol tale, The Afterlife of Holly Chase gives us the story of a girl named Holly who, unlike Scrooge, failed to change her ways after being visited by the Ghosts of Past, Present and Future. Now she’s dead, frozen at the age of seventeen while her family and friends go on with their lives, and stuck working as the newest Ghost of Christmas Past. Five years later she’s assigned a teenage boy whom she has a lot in common with. It’s a light, kind of silly, fun, and feel-good read for the Christmas season.
Letters from Father Christmas – J RR Tolkien
As a kid, it’s pretty common to write letters to Santa Claus. However, in Tolkien’s household every year the children received a special letter from Father Christmas in return, detailing the many adventures of him and his friends at the North Pole. Pesky goblins, a polar bear who falls through a roof, wandering reindeer, Tolkien details it all in loving detail and beautiful calligraphy. This book collects each of the letters written over a period of 20 years and, one again, showcases Tolkien’s creativity and attention to detail as well as his immense love for his children. As far as sweet, heart-warming Christmas reads go, this is a solid one.
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Little Women isn’t a Christmas book exactly but it’s often associated with the holiday season due to volume one being book-ended by it. The novel opens with the March girls experiencing their first Christmas without their father (who is fighting in the American Civil War), bemoaning that they can’t have a big celebration due to lack of funds. But in generous Christmas spirit, they end up using what money they do have to buy gifts for their mother and donating their breakfast to a family in need. The first part of the book ends with their father’s return on Christmas day a year later and them finding happiness in each other’s company. It’s a sentimental, selfless and innocent view of Christmas which people find comforting.
Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon – James Lovegrove
Okay, it’s not Conan Doyle but if you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan and looking for a Christmas themed mystery, James Lovegrove has one for you. Days before Christmas, Holmes and Watson are visited by a new client, Eve Allerthorpe, who claims that she’s being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit called Black Thurrick (a dark inversion of Father Christmas). Suspiciously though, Eve is soon to inherit a fortune but only if she’s found to be of sound mind. So is she actually being harassed by a frightening creature or simply someone seeking to have her institutionalized? Its up to our dynamic duo to find out.
10 Blind Dates – Ashley Elston
This particular YA contemporary is a holiday two for one as it covers both Christmas and the New Year. After her boyfriend breaks up with her, Sophie takes refuge at her grandparents house where her large Sicilian family is gathered for the holidays. To brighten up her mood they devise a plan to set her up on 10 blind dates each devised by a different family member. And so begins a week and a half of ugly sweater parties, living nativities, and other surprises. It’s fluffy, sweet and all about that spirit of togetherness which many of us love so much about this time of year.
No matter where you are in the world right now and what may be happening in your lives, I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season full of good food & laughter, and surrounded by those you love.
That’s right, it’s time for some more fun, bookish trivia! You guys seemed to enjoy my original version of this post back in January so much that I thought, hey, why not go for round two (it may or may not also be because I’m running low on posting ideas at the moment…but we’ll keep that just between us). Besides, who doesn’t love learning fun, useless facts perfect for bringing up during long, awkward silences?
‘Tsundoku’ is a Japanese term which refers to a person who acquires reading materials with a tendency to let them pile up unread. They know me, they really know me!
While we’re on the topic of bookish language, ‘Bibliosmia’ means enjoying the smell of good or old books. I have to say, the smell of books is definitely one of the reasons I prefer physical books to e-copies. Gimme that mustiness.
The Harry Potter books are some of the most banned novels in America due to religious complaints. Can’t have none of that nasty witchcraft potentially infecting the minds of the young now, can we?
According to the NOP World Culture Score Index, the countries which read the most on average per week are India (10.42 hrs), Thailand (9.24 hrs) and China (8 hrs). I think that’s more than even I usually read in a standard week! Go Asia!
Slate magazine conducted a study which revealed the most commonly used sentence in The Hunger Games trilogy is “My Name is Katniss Everdeen”, in Harry Potter it’s ‘Nothing happened’ and in the Twilight series it’s “I sighed”. The more you know, I suppose.
The longest title of a book has over 26,000 characters (!) and was published in Kyrgyzstan in 2019. If you’d like to see the full title (it is LONG, man), you can find it here.
Where the Wild Things Are was originally supposed to be about horses but when author Maurice Sendak began to draw the illustrations he quickly realised he couldn’t actually draw horses (I can relate – horse are hard!). As you can imagine, these eventually changed into the wild “things” we’re familiar with. Horses, can you even imagine?
The first draft of Lolita by Vladamir Nabokav was written on notecards. They had the entire text of the novel plus edits, additional notes and drawings. I don’t know about you, but I can feel the eye strain from here.
I don’t know if I should label this a fun fact or a horrifying one, but Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James is the third bestselling book in the UK (it falls short only to The Da Vinci Code and, you probably guessed it, Harry Potter).
Back in 2008, the first ever Kindle sold out in less than 6 hours and stayed out of stock for 5 months. Also interesting to note, it only had about 250MB of storage. To put that into perspective, a Kindle Paperwhite today has 8GB. That’s certainly a lot more book space.
Sadly, Jane Austen’s novels were published anonymously until after her death. She was only identified as their author for the first time in a eulogy written by her brother Henry which was included in Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously. Ah, the trials of being a female author.
Mary Shelley first wrote Frankenstein as part of a ghost story competition proposed by English poet Lord Byron while they were stuck in Switzerland following a volcanic eruption in Indonesia. The idea apparently came to her in a nightmare. Ahem, where is my literary gold dream, huh?
Danish fairytale author Hans Christian Andersen used to bring a coil of rope with him whenever he stayed in hotels, just in case a fire emergency required him to flee out the nearest window. Amusingly, if you visit his museum in Denmark they actually have some rope on display. I guess you can never be too prepared.
George RR Martin still writes his books on a DOS machine using word processing software that was popular during the 80s. No wonder his fans have been waiting so long for the next book…
C.S. Lewis and J RR Tolkien became friends after they met at an Oxford English faculty meeting and each encouraged the other to produce their most famous pieces of literature. Tolkien even helped convert Lewis to Christianity, the themes & imagery of which are quite prominent in his Narnia works.
Last but not least, Shakespeare can be credited with over 1,700 words in the English language. A few of them are addiction, courtship, bloodstained and assassination. And people think millennials come up with a lot of new terms!
Hopefully you picked up at least one new interesting thing. Got any fun bookish or author related facts to share? I want to hear them!
I have a list of purchased books sitting on my bedside table to help me keep track of them all and ensure I don’t let “the stack” get out of control. So, the logical thing to do in order to keep this list manageable would be to pick a TBR for July from these books. Right? Right?
Yeah, that would be a noooooo.
Instead, I went to the bookstore and bought a bunch of new books to read. Because clearly I want both myself and my credit card to suffer. Feel the joy. Here are the books I’ll attempt to tackle in July (50% of which I have a high chance of disliking. Woo?):
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
There seems to be two kinds of responses to this book. 1) This is fantastic and 2) What is this pretentious load of boring bullshit? As I’m sure you can guess, I hope I fall into camp one. TSH is about a group of New England University Classics students who take part in a Bacchian rite and end up killing one of their classmates. It’s dense, slow, and supposedly full of terrible people. What a page turner, am I right? Yet, somehow it’s also a lot of people’s favourite book and apparently addictive. TSH has been around for a while now (28 years in fact) but if you haven’t heard of it, you’re probably familiar with Tartt’s more recent hit, The Goldfinch.
Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney
I have no idea why I have the sudden urge to read this book, but the sudden urge I do have. I was kind of lukewarm towards Rooney’s Normal People and didn’t really see myself reading anything else from her, but then I watched the TV adaptation, loved it, and now here we are with a copy of Conversations with Friends. It’s about a college student named Francis and her ex-girlfriend Bobby who end up drawn into the world of a journalist named Melissa and her husband, Nick. Francis soon begins an affair with Nick which changes her outlook on life and herself. I’m probably flirting with disappointment on this one but I live in hope.
The Little Drummer Girl – John Le Carré
Yes, we’re trying some espionage. I know, not my usual wheelhouse at all. I’ve probably read one book in this genre period. Temporary insanity, maybe? This is another one of those cases where I saw the adaptation, liked it (probably because I adore Florence Pugh) and decided I’d read the book. It’s also a book I’m very nervous about not enjoying because COMPLICATED. But hey, you never know unless you give things a try. The Little Drummer Girl is about an actress named Charlie being used by Israeli intelligence to infiltrate a Palestinian Terrorist cell and capture their leader. I don’t anticipate this being an easy novel to read but sometimes it’s good to challenge yourself. At the very least I’ll be able to say I’ve tried le Carré , right?
Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid
My only not brand new purchase this month, I picked up Such a Fun Age on audible a few months ago. However, until this month, I just haven’t been in the mood to listen to it. Well, its time has come! I’ve heard some good things about the story, ideas and light, easy writing style so I’m looking forward to it. Such a Fun Age tells the story of an African-American woman named Emira who babysits for a wealthy, white family. After taking two year old Briar to a supermarket, Emira is accosted by security and accused of kidnapping her. Things kind of go pear shaped when Briar’s mother, Alix, tries to get justice for Emira. The book looks at race, privilege, white saviors, cultural awareness and more. I’ve heard the ending is a bit disappointing but I’m expecting an enjoyable story for the most part.
If I Never Met You – Mhairi McFarlane
While romance is usually associated with summer, I’m feeling like bucking the seasonal trend. Plus, I definitely need something light to break up the rest of this month’s selections. I shamelessly love a good fake dating trope so this is pretty much gold for me as far as the blurb goes. The story revolves around Laurie who sets up a fauxmance with the office playboy, Jamie, after her partner of 10 years leaves her and shortly after shows up with a pregnant girlfriend. Meanwhile Jamie is in need of a respectable girlfriend if he wants to impress the higher ups. I’m looking for some fun banter, cuteness, laughs and a teensy bit of steam.
Five books for July. I have absolutely no clue if I’ll manage to read them all or just get stuck on one for over two weeks (pray for me – I started The Little Drummer Girl first). Guess we’ll have to see. I’m keen to try a few things which are very different from my usual reading choices but at the same time, this could also be a recipe for disaster.
What’s the number one book on your TBR for this month?
Recently I published a post outlining some things I really wish were found in YA lit more often. One of the items on my list was more books set in countries other than the USA or England, as these two settings seem to dominate the market. This got me thinking: what YA books out there ARE set in other countries? Well, it took some time to track them down but here are 20 of them. While I haven’t read many of the books listed, I’ve certainly found a lot to add to my TBR. Now, I present to you, a trip around the world courtesy of YA novels. Be prepared for plenty of live abroad situations, many estranged overseas relatives and a LOT of romance.
Note: I apologise in advance for the gaps in this list, particularly where it comes to South America and Africa. I had trouble finding YA books set in these locations. If you know of any that you’d like me to add, send them my way!
Scotland: Her Royal Highness – Rachel Hawkins
We’re starting out in the land of kilts, rolling green hills and fabulous castles. I’ve actually visited Scotland and it’s an absolutely beautiful place so, note to self, find more books set there. This YA contemporary follows Millie, an American teen who moves to a prestigious boarding school in the Scottish Highlands after a bad break up. To her surprise, she ends up roommates with Flora, not only a princess in personality, but the princess of Scotland. Prepare yourself for an fluffy, sapphic, enemies to lovers romance with a stop off at friendship along the way in a stunning UK setting.
Spain: The Fountains of Silence – Ruta Sepetys
After less rain and more sunshine? Perhaps some tapas? Well, Spain is the answer. The Fountains of Silence is set in 1950s Madrid during the dictatorship of General Franco in which tourists were encouraged to visit the country to help improve its financial problems. Eighteen year old photographer Daniel arrives with his family, hoping to learn more about and connect with the place of his mother’s birth. Here, he meets hotel maid Ana who slowly begins to educate him on the buried secrets of the country at great risk to herself and her family. The story follows several characters as they make their way through a dark and painful period of history.
The Netherlands, Austria, Italy, & Czech Republic: Wanderlost – Jen Malone
Ever wanted to do a multi-country trip through Europe? Then this will be right up your alley. After her sister Elizabeth gets into some trouble, Aubree agrees to help her out by taking over Elizabeth’s summer job leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe. The problem is, Aubree knows very little about European countries and it doesn’t take long before things start to go completely pear shaped. Then, to make matters worse, the tour picks up an unexpected guest: the company director’s son, Sam. Aubree can’t help falling for Sam but how can she possibly be herself when she’s supposed to be pretending to be her sister? And what would happen if he ever found out?
Greece: Love & olives – Jenna Evans
Greece has been on my holiday dream list for years now. There’s just something about its wonderfully rich history and the beauty of its islands. At some point I’ll get there, but until then perhaps Love & Olives can help pass the time. Now, this is actually an upcoming 2020 release but eh, who cares. The book introduces us to Evie, a Greek myths enthusiast. Upon receiving a postcard from her estranged father, she hops on a plane to Santorini to assist with his National Geographic Documentary about theories of Atlantis. As the shoot goes on, Evie has to deal not only with the emotions associated with seeing her father again for the first time in years but also his charismatic protege, Theo.
Romania: Hunting Prince Dracula – Kerri Maniscalco
We’re slowly making our way over to the east of Europe, and our next destination is Romania. It’s home to Dracula, stuffed cabbage leaves and preserved medieval towns. Woo! While the first book in this series is set in London, the sequel sees the two leads, Audrey Rose and Thomas, journeying to one of Europe’s best forensic science schools, which also happens to be a castle. Cause when in Romania, right? Then, as you’d expect, corpses start turning up, and not just the ones scheduled for dissection. Rumours soon spread that Vlad the Impaler himself has returned and is out for blood. So it’s up to our plucky duo to solve the mystery.
Russia: The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden
Like Greece, Russia is one of those countries that I’ve wanted to visit for some time but it’s also one I’d prefer to do with a friend. Anyone up for a trip with me? Incorporating Russian folklore, TBATN is about a girl named Vasilisa who lives with her family in a small, northern village. Vasilisa is special in that she can see and converse with the creatures/spirits that live on their land. But 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 old superstitious practices abandoned. Soon things in the village begin to go very wrong such as failing crops and sinister things emerging from the forest. Now it’s up to Vasilisa to use her gifts to save the people she loves most.
Taiwan: The Astonishing Color of After – Emily X.R. Pan
We’ve jumped continents and it’s time to see what Asia holds for our YA travels. First up we have the story of Leigh. After her mother’s suicide, Leigh travels to Taiwan to visit her grandparents for the first time. She is convinced that her mother has been reincarnated as a red bird and is somehow trying to speak to her. This takes her on a journey in which she develops bonds with her grandparents, comes to terms with her mother’s mental illness, and learns more about her mother’s history and Taiwanese culture. In turn, she also gains a greater understanding of herself. It’s a story about grief, mental health, family and identity.
Hong Kong: Somewhere Only We Know – Maurene Goo
While Hong Kong may not be the best travel destination at present, we always have travel in the form of books. Somewhere Only We Know is a YA contemporary romance. Lucky is a huge K-Pop star currently preparing for her big American debut. When she sneaks out of her hotel room in search of some fast food, she accidentally runs into Jack, a tabloid reporter who has slipped in searching for a story. The two end up deciding to spend a day together adventuring around Hong Kong, free from the stress and rules of their normal lives. Only problem is, neither party is being honest with the other.
Japan: I Love You So Mochi – Sarah Kuhn
Japan! Another country on my to-visit list. Cherry blossoms, great food in quirky locations, gorgeous scenery, ridiculous numbers of vending machines, what’s not to like? I Love You So Mochi is, once again, a YA contemporary romance. Kimi loves fashion and spends her spare time creating outfits for herself and her friends. However, her mum sees this as nothing more than a distraction from her painting portfolio. When Kimi is invited by her grandparents to spend Spring break in Kyoto, she decides to take the chance to get away for a while. In Japan she meets Akira, a med student and part time mochi mascot. Over the course of her trip, Kimi embraces everything Japan has to offer, forges new bonds with her family, falls in love, and evaluates her future.
Pakistan: Written in the Stars – Aisha Saeed
Say hello to southern Asia. This time we’re in Pakistan, the fifth most populated country in the world! Our next book follows the story of Naila, a teen from a highly conservative American-Pakistani family. After falling in love with a boy named Sarif against her family’s wishes, Naila’s parents quickly whisk her off to Pakistan to visit their relatives in the hopes of re-immersing her in their culture. However, Naila is soon shocked to discover that her parents have actually brought her there for an arranged marriage. Cut off from everything she knows and stuck in a situation she sees no way out of, Naila has no choice but to remain strong and hope that Sarif will find her before it’s too late.
Iran: Darius the Great is Not Okay – Adib Khorram
Iran – home to beautiful architecture and a welcoming population. Darius is about to take his first trip to Iran and it’s exciting but also overwhelming for a chubby, geeky guy with clinical depression, zero social life and a difficult relationship with his father. Upon arrival, Darius feels somewhat out of step with the language and culture. That is, until he meets Sohrab – a boy who just gets Darius and not only shows him what it’s like to have a best friend but to feel Persian for the first time. The trip offers Darius a chance to understand and accept himself, and to form new, close relationships with members of his family. Set among the bustling background of Yazd, this is a story about friendship, self-acceptance, depression, identity and family.
Qatar: Love from A to Z – S. K. Ali
And…we’re back to romance, this time in Doha – the place to go for huge buildings, swanky hotels, amazing shopping, and well, if you want to feel poor. Our two main characters here are Zayneb and Adam. After confronting her teacher for anti-Muslim remarks, Zayneb is suspended and her parents send her to her aunt’s in Doha. College student Adam is dealing with both the recent loss of his mother and a multiple-sclerosis diagnosis (something he’s avoided telling his father and sister about). When the two meet on the flight to Doha, an unexpectedly wonderful connection forms. This is a book which deals with some heavy topics but if you’re after an un-apologetically muslim, own voices novel, this is one to think about.
Saudi Arabia: A Girl Like That – Tanaz Bhathena
Time for YA contemporary, but told a little differently and this time set in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This is a story that begins with the deaths of our lead and her love interest. Zarin is a bright student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also someone parents call ‘troublemaker’ & whose romances are endlessly gossiped about. You don’t want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. And yet, eighteen year old Porus has only ever had eyes for her. But how did Zarin and Porus end up dead, crashed on the side of a highway? When the police arrive, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.
Egypt: In a Perfect World – Trish Doller
Egypt is another country on my ‘must travel to before I die list’ and although I’m not great with hot weather, I’m determined to see those Pyramids. Once again, we’ve got ourselves a contemporary romance. In a Perfect World centers around Caroline, whose perfect summer plans are completely thrown out the window when her mother is hired to open an eye clinic in Cairo. Instead of soccer camp and a job at the amusement park, Caroline will be spending not only her summer but her final year of high school in Egypt. Despite her cultural shock, Caroline finds herself opening up to new experiences, food and culture and falling for a boy who challenges everything she thought she knew about life, love and privilege.
South Africa: Deadlands – Lily Herne
Ever been to South Africa? Well, here’s your chance. The catch: zombies. Ten years after a zombie apocalypse, the dead freely roam the suburbs of Cape Town while survivors cluster on farms and in urban shantytowns. They are protected by mysterious, robed figures known as Guardians who are somehow able to control the zombies. Each year the Guardians hold a human lottery in which 5 teens are chosen to leave the enclave for an unknown purpose. Seventeen year old Lele can’t help but resent her current situation – a school run by a fanatical, Guardian devoted cult, the recent death of her grandmother, and a lack of freedom. So when she’s selected during the lottery, Lele sees it as an opportunity to get answers to some of her biggest questions.
Beliz & Guatemala: Wanderlove – Kirsten Hubbard
We’ve hit the bottom of North America and this time it’s two destinations in one. Wanderlove is a travel story centered around 18-year old Bria who accidentally signs up for a trip to the wrong Central America. On tour she runs into diving instructor Rowan and his humanitarian twin sister, Starling, and decides to ditch her group in favour of a trip more off the beaten path. As they travel through islands and villages, Bria soon realises that her and Rowan are in search of the same thing: escaping their past. However, with time, Bria learns that in order for her to move forward, first she’ll have to deal with her baggage.
Canada: The Gathering – Kelly Armstrong
Skipping over the USA, we’re heading up to Canada and this time to a paranormal/fantasy read set on Vancouver Island. Maya knows very little about her past, specifically her parents. Her only clue is a paw-print shaped birthmark on her hip. She’s never had much reason to think about it, until now. All of sudden strange things have started happening – unexplained deaths, cougars just showing up and following her around, and her friend, Daniel, getting weird ‘feelings’ about people and situations. Then there’s the hot, new guy, Rafe and his damaged sister, Annie. Seems like there’s more to town than there seems.
The Bahamas: Learning to Breathe – Janice Lynn Mather
Sun, sand, and…teenage pregnancy. Indira Ferguson has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules – study hard, be respectful, and never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially while living in her mother’s shadow. When Indy is sent to live with relatives in Nassau, trouble follows her. Now she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth. Completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home. After stumbling upon a yoga retreat, she wonders if perhaps she’s found it. But Indy is about to discover that home is much bigger than just four walls – it’s about the people she chooses to share it with.
Australia: On the Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta
Welcome to my happy home in the land down under. As far as Aussie YA goes, I pretty much had to include a Melina Marchetta book. OtJR is about a girl named Taylor who was abandoned by her mother when she was young and now lives in a boarding house for troubled and neglected kids. Here, Taylor acts as a leader for the residents in their territory wars with the local townies and cadets. Her closest friend is a woman named Hannah who lives on the edge of the school grounds. However, when Hannah mysteriously disappears and Taylor sets out to find her, she comes across a journal about five friends who used to live in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. This leads her on an emotional journey to uncover what happened to her mother and why she left all those years ago.
New Zealand: Antipodes – Michele Bacon
Heading just across the channel to NZ, it’s time for some extreme sports, fabulous scenery and lots of sheep. When Erin arrives in Christchurch for her work-study abroad program, her life and reputation are a bit of a mess. She’s lost her boyfriend, been kicked off the swim team, and severely damaged her future college prospects. This trip seems like the perfect opportunity to get things back on track but Erin’s less than impressed when she’s introduced to her host family, their cold & cramped living conditions, and her itchy school uniform. Yet, the more Erin opens herself up to her new surroundings and the people around her, the more she starts to rethink her priorities and realise the kind of person she wants to be.
That concludes our journey! I hope you’ve had a wonderful trip – saw some new sights, experienced some wonderful things. Okay…maybe just found a few new books to add to the ever growing TBR pile. What are some of your favourite reads set in other countries? What countries would you most love to travel to?
It’s time for a few bookish, reading and author related facts. I thought this might be a fun post and something different from the usual parade of reviews, tags and top 10s I usually publish. Besides, you never know when you’ll get hit with a literary trivia question down at the pub. You’ll be thanking me when your team starts looking at you in awe.
I’m never complaining about the cost of my book hauls again. The most expensive book ever sold was a scientific journal of Leonardo Da Vinci’s called The Codex Leicester. It was purchased by Bill Gates for $30.8M back in 1994. At least I know he would have made the money back quickly.
The longest sentence in a book is over 800 words long (!!!) and can be found in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I don’t know about you, but I’d fall asleep long before ever finishing it.
Just in case you were wondering, three of the most read books in the world are The Bible (duh), Quotations from Mao Tse-Tung, and Harry Potter (the power of a boy wizard, folks).
The largest library in the world is the Library of Congress in Washington D.C, USA. It has over 168 MILLION books. My book loving, little heart just skipped a beat. Or two.
Two banned book facts for the price of one: In 2015, Looking for Alaska by John Green was the most banned book in America, while Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carol used to be widely banned in China because of its inclusion of talking animals. Colour me confused.
There is an actual word to describe the fear of running out of things to read – Abiblophobia. I feel seen.
In Birmingham, UK, 2.5 million Mills and Boon books were pulped to create the top layer of the M6 toll road. Well, if you ever want to drive over some erotica, you know where to go.
In 2010, a cook book titled The Pasta Bible had to be reprinted due to a missed typo in one recipe calling for ‘freshly ground black people’ rather than ‘pepper’. I bet someone lost their job over that one…
Before writing his novels, J RR Tolkien spent two years working for the Oxford English dictionary. Bonus: Apparently, his favourite phrase was ‘cellar door’. Your guess is as good as mine.
Dr. Seuss’s editor made a bet with him for $50 that he couldn’t write a book using 50 words or less. He won using Green Eggs and Ham which was exactly 50.
Sarah J. Maas first wrote Throne of Glass when she was only 16. At the time, it was a lot longer and contained plot points from books 1-4. She published it on Fictionpress.net before realising its issues and rewriting it closer to what she eventually published.
Stephen King holds the record for the author with the most books on the NYT Bestseller list at one time. In 1995, he had 4 on the list! Writer goals right there.
Brandon Sanderson originally had plans to be a doctor and only realised how important writing was to him during a break from his biochemistry studies as a missionary in South Korea. As soon as he returned home, he enrolled in English instead.
Charles Dickens had a secret door in his home through a bookcase. The shelves were full of fake books with bizarre names such as The Art of Cutting Teeth. Note to self: If I ever get a library, put a fake bookcase door in.
Agatha Christie liked to think through her stories while eating an apple in the bath. I mean, I haven’t tried this method but she was the queen of crime, so…
Amie Kaufman was introduced to Jay Kristoff because of her confusion over obtaining a US Individual Tax Identification Tax Number. Amie was told Jay could help her as he had recently had the same problem. She offered to buy him brunch and the rest is history.
Rick Riordan modeled Percy Jackson after his son Haley who not only has a similar sense of humour but ADHD and dyslexia. Bonus, Percy was originally written as a short story to entertain Haley who suggested that his dad turn it into a full book.
Did you learn anything new? Because I certainly did. What’s your favourite piece of bookish or author related trivia?
It’s time for round two of the book cover battle – US VS UK covers! Because we all need a fun post once in a while. As of round one, the US is in the lead, 6 points to 5. If you missed round one, check it out here. Let’s see how they both fare this time around. As before, US covers will be on the left and UK on the right.
They Both Die at the End – Adam Silvera
This match up is a very easy one for me. I’ve actually put off buying the UK/Aus cover at my local bookstore because I’m so determined to get the US hardback. The design and imagery is gorgeous – the skull in the sky, the shadows coming together to form a grim reaper, it’s great. I also love how clean the colour scheme is.
VERDICT: US Cover
The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
Now, this is a tough one. Why? Both covers have the same colour scheme and very similar design styles. While the hand on the US cover does look a little awkward, I really like the image of the circus tents with the famous clock overhead. The swirls around the title are super pretty, too. Meanwhile, the cut out figures on the UK version are great and with the font, the cover really encapsulates the spirit of the novel. Honestly, I think this one might just have to be a tie. A point for both.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman
This is a tough match up because I quite like both covers for different reasons. The US cover has this fabulous complementary colour scheme going with the orange and the blue. Meanwhile, the UK cover is so clean looking. I really like the use of the matches (it’s all very symbolic) and the font choices. Hmmm, I think I’ll go with the the UK cover on this one. There’s just something about it.
VERDICT: UK Cover
Enchantee – Gita Trelease
If we were going off use of colour, the US cover would win here. I love the rustic, french flag like appearance and the torn paper effect through the middle. The cursive script for the title is quite nice, too. However, the weirdly obscured model at the centre does put me off somewhat. I really like the UK Cover as well. The fancy entrance gate is sweet, especially with the coloured accents against the black, and I appreciate the symmetry of it all. Difficult decision but I keep going back to the US version. Still, I’d be happy with either in my bookcase.
VERDICT: US Cover
The Institute – Stephen King
On first look at these, I found myself leaning towards the UK cover but the more I look at them, the more the US cover has grown on me. The bright blue of the UK version is lovely and I quite like the image of the boat with the reflection of the institute in the water. Still, there’s something about the muted colour scheme of the US cover which feels very rural America. I love the clean lettering and the design of the bedroom within the train car is very visually interesting.
VERDICT: US Cover
Daisy Jones & The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
When this book first came out, I was very much on team USA. I liked the way the image was cut to make it look like an album cover, the “worn” edges, and the muted but classy colouring. But, after buying and looking at the UK cover as I read it, that version eventually began to pull ahead for me ever so slightly. The title font has such fun 60s vibes and the colour scheme is very period appropriate. It’s also super eye-catching when you have it lying about. A very close call on this one.
VERDICT: UK Cover
And I Darken – Kiersten White
As you guys know, I am not a fan of people on covers. The images always seem to look forced. Weirdly enough, I don’t find this particular cover that bad. I haven’t read the book itself yet but from what I know of it, this cover seems like it encapsulates the dark, bloodthirsty vibes of it and the central character. Nevertheless, I still find myself leaning more towards the spear and bright purple flowers. It’s just that little bit more visually dynamic.
VERDICT: US cover
Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
Another challenging match up. When I first started this post, I was leaning towards team UK but as I’ve continued to compare them, I’ve changed my mind. With the UK cover, I love the brushed on title font and the image of the house figurine brightly burning down in the centre. Yet, from what I know of the book, the US cover seems like it fits very well with the story, which is about the events affecting the residents of a small community. The flames subtly showing through the front windows are also a great touch.
VERDICT: US Cover
Skyward – Brandon Sanderson
I love this book and while both covers are certainly great, I’m more in favour of the UK version here. Charlie Bowater’s art is always stunning, but I can’t help finding the straight on, character based image a little odd. Spensa, why are you trying to stare into my soul? Points for the stunning purple sky background though. I quite like the art for the UK cover and the small touches of yellow to contrast the shades of grey.
VERDICT: UK Cover
The City of Brass – S. A. Chakraborty
The last match up for round 2 of the book cover battle. Although the US cover is far brighter, there’s just something I don’t like about it. I don’t know if cheap is the right word but for some reason that’s all that will come to mind. While the UK cover isn’t exactly dynamic either, I do like that it looks the gates to a mysterious, fantasy city. There’s a sort of elegance to it. Then again, this might be one of those books you have to read to properly appreciate the US version (it’s on my TBR, okay?!). At least for now, I’m going with UK.
VERDICT: UK Cover
And that brings us to the end of round 2. Let’s check back in at the updated scoreboard shall we…
US Covers: 12 Points
UK Covers: 10 Points
Looks like the US has started to pull ahead a bit. Guess I’ll have to wait and see if round 3 can even things out again.
How did you score the covers from round 2? Any favourites here?