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

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

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

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

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

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

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


Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

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

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

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

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


Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney

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

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

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

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


The Poppy War – R F Kuang

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

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

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

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


If We Were Villains – M. L. Rio

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

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

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

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


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

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

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Autumn 2022 TBR

Happy Tuesday, bookworms. It’s that day of the week again so it’s time for another edition of Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the lovely Jana @ ThatArtsyReaderGirl). This week we’re talking books on our TBR for the season. As always, I’m Australian so while all you northern hemisphere babies are busy planning your spring reads I am extremely happy to be reunited with my favourite season, Autumn. Because my mood reader self panics at the idea of having to plan 10 books for this list, I’m only doing 8 – shorter and sweeter. Here are the reads on my TBR:

The Atlas Six – Olivie Blake

The re-publish is finally out and, as of last weekend, I have a copy sitting in my house. Woo! I’m excited because I’ve been wanting to read this for ages now but I’m also worried about being disappointed because in that time it’s become extremely hyped. Like, EXTREMELY hyped. On its face, The Atlas Six seems like it should be right up my alley – magic, competition plot, dark academia, grey characters, but there’s always room for things to go wrong. It’s about a group of 6 magicians competing against each other for only 5 spots in a secret society of magical academics. Please, be good, please, be good!


Cleopatra and Frankenstein – Coco Mellors

This is another one of those books that I bought on a sudden whim while perusing the book store. It’s been marketed as being suitable for lovers of Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney which I love, however, I’ve been burnt by these types of recommendations before. But after seeing a few positive reviews from people who actually did like CwF, maybe the suggestion is legit? It’s about a young painter named Cleo who impulsively marries a man named Frank, twenty years her senior. The book looks at how this decision impacts their lives and those of their close friends and family.


All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) – Martha Wells

I’ve heard so many positive things about The Murderbot Diaries that I think it’s about time I see for myself what everyone’s talking about. These are sci-fi novellas (eventually progressing to a full-length novel) so they’re fairly quick reads and there’s always something fun about a sarcastic, dysfunctional AI. It’s about a self-aware security droid tasked with protecting a group of humans doing research on a far-off planet. However, Murderbot (as it refers to itself) doesn’t really like humans and would rather just be sitting around watching videos, doing stuff all. Sounds like me. Here’s hoping I find an enjoyable new series.


Jade City (The Green Bone Saga 1#) – Fonda Lee

Okay, yes, mentions of this book on my blog are starting to feel a bit Jack in the box-ish lately so I won’t rehash the blurb for the umpteenth time, but here we are again. I’d really like to get stuck into this series sometime over the next few months. I’ve finally managed to find a copy at the book store (they were all weirdly sold out for a while there – guess everyone else had the same idea as me) so I’m ready to go. I still have no idea if this is going to be something I enjoy as I’ve never really gravitated towards mob-like stories before but I’m really intrigued so I suppose we’ll see.


A Lady for a Duke – Alexis Hall

I only recently heard about A Lady for a Duke and it’s annoying because had I known earlier I would’ve included it in my 2022 anticipated releases list. I had a lot of fun with Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material and I’ve been reading a few historical romances lately so the idea of combining the two is exciting. This book sounds so good! It’s about trans lead Viola who after being presumed dead at Waterloo takes the opportunity to finally live as herself. She ends up reconnecting with her best friend, Justin, who hasn’t handled her death well and becomes determined to help him find happiness again. We don’t often see a lot of mainstream romances where trans characters get to take center stage so this is such a nice change. This one will be a very late Autumn read due to the release date (but if anyone wants to send an ARC my way…*wink wink*)


Skyward (Skyward 1#) – Brandon Sanderson (Re-Read)

I received Cytonic, the third book in this series, for Christmas but I haven’t read it yet because I’d really like to do a re-read of the first two books in the series and then make my way through the two novellas set in between books 2 and 3. It seems like a stack at the moment, which is likely why I’ve put it off for months, but I really love this series so I should just get to it already. This will be my third time through Skyward but it’s such a fantastic book that I have no doubt I’ll power through it as I have the first two times. If you haven’t read it and have been thinking about doing so, I 100% recommend going for it!


The Hacienda – by Isabel Cañas

This is the second book on this list that has yet to release but I’m so keen to read The Hacienda that I’m including it anyway. It’s been likened to Mexican Gothic, which I wasn’t a huge fan of, but also Crimson Peak and Rebecca, both of which I did like. Combine that with a great-sounding blurb and I’m hoping for a hit. The story follows Beatriz. After losing everything when the Mexican government is overthrown, she marries the handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano and moves to his country estate. However, something seems off about the Hacienda and there are rumours about what happened to her husband’s first wife. Desperate for help, Beatriz seeks assistance from a young priest in getting rid of the malevolent presence plaguing the house.


Fence, Vol. 2 – C.S. Pacat & Johanna the Mad

I’m in the mood for something fun and what’s more fun than a comic about silly, competitive boys fencing? I read the first volume in this series ages ago and bought the next two volumes expecting that I’d get around to them shortly after but, as usual, I didn’t. So, let’s change that, shall we? I feel like this will be a good way for me to break up one of the larger and more dense reads on my TBR with a couple of hours of something fluffy. The fifth volume in the series is due out in August this year so perhaps I’ll be all caught up by then.


Let’s see how many of these I get through over the next couple of months. For all I know, I could suddenly have an urge to binge read massive amounts of thrillers and this could get thrown out the window. Hopefully not, but life is full of surprises.

What books are you hoping to read this Autumn/Spring?

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

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

JANUARY

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

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

Skyward – Brandon Sanderson ★★★★★ | Review

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

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

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

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

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

FEBRUARY

Becoming – Michelle Obama ★★★★★

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

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

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

10 Blind dates – Ashley Elston ★★★

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

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

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

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

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

Life

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

TV & Movies

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


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

A Hero Doesn’t Choose Her Trials: Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Skyward was my favourite read of 2019, so to say that I had high expectations for Starsight is verging on understatement. In the end, was it as good as the original? No, but I can safely say it was a very enjoyable ride all the same.

Who, What, Where?

Yeah, I can’t do this section for this particular review because the spoilers would be out of this world. Ha. Get it? Out of this…okay, moving on.

A Different Type of Adventure

Story wise, Starsight was a very different experience to Skyward. I’ll admit, I panicked when I first realised the direction the narrative was taking, but in the end I really needn’t have worried. Where book one was focused on a straightforward path of training and survival with clear heroes, enemies and goals, Starsight is more about subtlety, politics, and subterfuge. Because of this, the pacing is a lot slower at points. Still, despite the lack of ‘I-must-keep-reading’ momentum, I was never bored.  And if you’re someone who really enjoyed the battles in book one, don’t worry. Spensa spends plenty of time in the cockpit.

A Whole New World…or Universe

Over the years, something I’ve found that frequently ruins a good concept is an author attempting to take their stage from small to big. When I saw this was about to happen here, a large part of me wanted to scream: ABORT MISSION. As it turned out, I should have trusted a phenomenal world builder like Sanderson not to let me down. Starsight is the big bang of world building. It introduces new races, technology, planets, histories, culture, politics, everything you could possibly think of, and it does so fantastically. These inclusions are not only interesting but exponentially raise the stakes for the characters and expand the story in an exciting (and MAJOR) way. Even better, they make logical sense. Now that the door has been opened, I’m really looking forward to seeing what else is out there.

New Faces & Missing Familiar Ones

Starsight introduces us to a bunch of new characters. I can’t say much because of spoilers, but these new faces are very different to those we found in Skyward. They’re also completely distinct from one another in personality, physical appearance, and backstories. You can tell that Sanderson had a lot of fun crafting these characters and throughout the story they provided some great moments of humour, sadness and excitement. I really enjoyed them, both the “good” and the villainous.

Yet, while I liked the new characters, I have to say that I missed Cobb and the Skyward Flight gang in this book. For plot reasons, they don’t get much page time other than a few scenes here and there. Jorgen makes some bread (really) and gets the beginnings of a character arc, which will be expanded later, but for the others, it’s almost a blink and you’ll miss it situation. Although, I am happy to report that our faves, M-Bot and Doomslug, were very much along for the ride (complete with an existential crisis on M-Bot’s part) and gave me the usual snort laughs. And bonus, they even got some development of their own!

Spensa the Spy

Something I really loved about this book was just how much growth Spensa underwent. I loved Spensa and her crazy dramatics in Skyward, but in Starsight she becomes far more self-aware, realises the value of discipline and pre-planning, and re-evaluates her perspectives on war and what it means to be a hero. It was also great to see her tackle challenges in new, subtler ways and have to utilise skills not previously part of her strengths. By pushing Spensa out of her comfort zone, Sanderson has created an even better lead that I can’t wait to see develop further.

Sanderson, You Suck

That ending. I knew it was coming, but I’m still mad. How could you do this to me? And with at least a year to wait for the next book? Like, really? REALLY?


Although distinctly different from its predecessor in terms of scale, plot and pacing, Starsight is another fantastic read which massively expands the series’ overarching story and universe. While I may have enjoyed Skyward better, Starsight was still a great mix of action, humour, and heart that I’m sure I’ll re-read in years to come.

Now, someone wake me up when book three is out…

4.5 Stars

Top 10 Tuesday: Favourite Reads of 2019

It’s that time again. The one where I somehow pick 10 books out of the piles I’ve read over the past year to crown my favourite reads. Choosing favourites of anything has always been a tough ask for me, but I’m going to do my best anyway. This year I’ve read 73 books. While it’s not as many as last year, it’s still a sizable amount to narrow down from. To ensure variety I’ve excluded re-reads from eligibility. Now, in order from 10 to 1, here are the books I enjoyed the most this year.

10. The Boy Who Steals Houses – C. G. Drews | ★★★★.5 | Review

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I read several young adult contemporaries during 2019 and this little, Aussie gem was easily one of the best. I’ve found that, most of the time, the best books in this genre are the ones that are somehow able to bring you both joy and heartbreak and TBWSH does this perfectly. The book definitely has some sad and dark moments but it’s also a story about found families, brotherly love, and plenty of waffles. The characters are loveable, the autism and anxiety rep wonderfully done, and (despite some loose ends and minor problems with the writing style) it’s just generally a lovely read.


9. Sorcery of Thorns – Margaret Rogerson | ★★★★.5

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After a so-so reaction to An Enchantment of Ravens, I went into Sorcery of Thorns with low expectations. Next thing I know, I’m having a great time! While I loved the characters – librarian, Elisabeth, sorcerer, Nathaniel, and his demon companion, Silas – it was the world that really hooked me. Monster books, library magical hot spots, deals of demonic servitude, historical battles won through the use of necromancy, I’d gladly read another book set in this universe. My only real gripe was some pacing issues, mostly around the middle. However, bonus points for a well-developed romance, sword fights, decent magic system, Nathaniel’s banter, and Silas shape-shifting into a cat.


8. Eggshell Skull – Bri Lee | ★★★★.5

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2019 was a year for broadening my reading horizons. In the search for something different I tried a couple of non-fiction reads. Eggshell Skull was one of them and I was shocked by how engaging it was. From the moment I picked it up, I had trouble putting it down. Learning about the Queensland court system’s approach to sexual assault cases from someone who has experienced it on two different sides – judge’s associate & complainant – was both fascinating and horrifying. It was extremely informative and I wish I could smush it in the faces of everyone who asks why women don’t report assault. The writing style may not always be smooth but the content is spot on.


7. Josh + Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating – Christina Lauren | ★★★★.5 | Review

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Sometimes all you need is a sweet, romantic contemporary to brighten up your week, and Josh & Hazel were the ticket for exactly that. This is the perfect read for those who gravitate towards a good friends to lovers story with a solid dose of humour and adorableness. I loved Josh and Hazel as characters and their opposites attract friendship, which eventually evolved into something more, was immensely enjoyable. Unfortunately, I had to deduct half a star for a not so great ending but it wasn’t enough to severely damage my overall positive feelings. This book is definitely the gateway drug to reading the rest of Christina & Lauren’s adult romances.


6. Letters to the Lost – Brigid Kemmerer | ★★★★.5 | Review

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LTTL feels like it came out of nowhere and stole my heart. I read a few YA contemporaries these days and most of them are enjoyable but not as many are really memorable. This book dealt with some heavy themes and it did so with such heart and honesty. The characters are wonderfully written, even the smaller ones, and the relationship between the two leads, Juliet and Declan, was beautifully done. I don’t often get emotional reading books but LTTL was very close to getting me there. The sense of catharsis I felt upon reaching the end of it is hard to put into words. The story may be a little melodramatic for some people but if you can get on board with it, it’s an enjoyable (if sad) read.


5. The Wicked King – Holly Black | ★★★★ .5 | Review

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In 2019, I can say that I binge-read this book not only once, but twice! And I loved it just as much the second time as the first. While The Queen of Nothing may have been disappointing, The Wicked King certainly wasn’t. This book was full of twists, devious characters, addictive romantic tension and political machinations. It expanded on the world building of the series somewhat, made me fall more in love with Jude & Cardan, and just generally had me glued to the page from start to finish. The book hangover was strong with this one!


4. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss | ★★★★★

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Say hello to the largest book I tackled in 2019. It may have taken me months to get there but the adventure & effort were worth it in the end. Sure, the writing can be a little wordy at times and there’s some issues with the story (e.g. female characters), there’s just something about this book! I’m not sure if it’s the witty, talented protagonist, the phenomenal world building (magic, currency, history, lore!) or just the general journey that the story takes you on from start to finish. Regardless, I really enjoyed this brick and I understand why it’s considered a fantasy masterpiece. I’ll surely read book two, The Wise Man’s Fear. Well, maybe when I know that book 3 is actually in sight.


3. The Poppy War – R.F. Kuang | ★★★★★

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On first glance, I was intimidated by the size of The Poppy War but in keeping with my resolution to read some bigger books in 2019, I gave it a go. I’m so glad that I did because it was absolutely fantastic. This was an emotionally intense ride full of violence, death and pain, and every time I thought I knew how things would progress, I was completely wrong. It’s beautifully written (drawing from Chinese history to shape it’s narrative), has a strong, well developed protagonist, great world building, and engrossing action. It also happens to include a few of my favourite fantasy tropes like training academies and mentorship. The fact that this is a debut novel is crazy to me and I’m looking forward to getting around to reading the sequel, The Dragon Republic.


2. Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston | ★★★★★ | Review

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I knew the moment I started reading RW&RB that it’d be on this list. I’m somewhat stingy with my five star ratings (I should work on that!) but had no trouble handing one out here. Much like Simon or TATBILB in 2018, this was a breath of fresh air- fun, romantic, great characters, diverse, and laugh out loud funny. The US first son falls in love with the Prince of Wales. That set up alone is pure gold. Throw in some potentially murderous turkeys, a bit of polo, a few Star Wars references, and some major queer positivity, and you have a winner! There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll re-read this down the line.


And here we are, at my number one read for 2019. If you’ve read through a few of my blog posts this year, you’re not likely to be surprised by this particular choice. It’s not only a great book but written by a fantastic author.

* Drumroll*

1. Skyward – Brandon Sanderson | ★★★★★ | Review

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The first half of 2019 was full of great books but looking back, Skyward was my favourite. I totally get the Sanderson magic now. This book had me completely gripped and made it so difficult to put it down (getting off my morning train was a sad moment). As someone who doesn’t usually visualise books as I read them, I was surprised at just how fantastically this novel played out in my head, much like an action packed movie. I fell in love with the characters, especially Spensa and her sassy talking ship, M-Bot, laughed at the dialogue, absorbed every bit of detail about the world, and overall just had an amazing time. If you enjoy science fiction with heart, this is the perfect read for you. I cannot wait to dig into Starsight!


What do you think of my 2019 top 10? And which book came out on top for you this year?

** Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl but which originated on the now retired blog The Broke and the Bookish. **

Top 10 Tuesday: Favourite Reads of 2019…So Far

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is actually supposed to be a character based freebie. However, as we’re now around halfway through 2019, I’m doing a list of my favourite reads of the year so far. I did a similar list in 2018 and found it really interesting to compare it with the final top 10 at the end of the year to see how things had changed. So here they are, in no particular order and excluding re-reads:

Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

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The first of several obvious choices for this list. I don’t hand out five stars that often in my reviews but this fun book is one of a few that have successfully hit the jackpot in 2019. I had such a good time reading this – the characters are great, the dialogue is funny, it’s super queer positive, and the romance is so shippable it hurts. This is a perfect example of what new adult could be. As my eleven year old self would have said, Alex and Henry 4eva!


The Wicked King – Holly Black

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You know those books that you’re so excited for, you binge read them in about a day? It’s rare for me these days but TWK was one of them and not a disappointment at all. The twists keep coming, the characters are still devious little bastards, the romance smolders just a bit, and we get more info on the world. I can’t get enough of this series and I’m counting down the days until The Queen of Nothing releases.


The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang

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I like big BOOKS and I cannot lie…especially if it’s this book. The Poppy War was an intense ride (how could it not be drawing from especially bloody moments in Chinese history) but dramatically enjoyable all the same. This book had some turns I didn’t see coming and ended in a way that had me going, did that really just happen? Like other books on this list, is has great characters and a fascinating setting. It also features a layered protagonist, plus bonus points were awarded for catering to some of my fantasy trope fettishes.


Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

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Why, hello there kickass sci-fi written by a fantastic fantasy writer. This book is basically a movie in literary form, in the best way possible. There’s humour, friendship, action, compelling world building, an engaging plot, and characters that grow on you like moss. The sequel to Skyward is another one of my most anticipated releases for the rest of the year because after that ending, I need to know where we go from here. But also I miss Spensa’s random proclamations of blood and violence.


Verity – Colleen Hoover

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If I had one word to describe Verity, it’d be ‘addictive’ because this was one book I had a lot of trouble putting down. It’s different from Colleen’s usual romantic reads (there is a romance though) but it goes to show, she can do thrillers just as well as her usual genre. A creepy setting, a story which makes you question everything, and then an ending which goes from 0-100 – definitely a book I’ll be recommending to friends.


The Boy Who Steals Houses – C. G. Drews

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TBWSH was an unexpected gem. This novel was such a perfect mix of sweet and fluffy, and tear your heart out sad. It’s got memorable characters, great autism rep, fun banter, and lovely sibling relationships. And waffles, can’t forget the waffles. As far as YA contemporaries go, a good choice and from an Aussie author to boot!


Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

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This book is one of the most loved YA contemporaries around and in January, I finally sat down and read it. I honestly expected the hype to be massively over the top on Fangirl, but I ended up really enjoying it. As a bookworm, I think it’s hard not to relate to Cat on some level in all her crazy fan ways. I liked the fact that the book was a little older in feeling than some other YA out there and also that it took the time to deal with some not so light topics whilst still feeling sweet overall. Worth a reread down the line.


The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

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It only took me about four months but it was certainly worth the time and effort. The amount of work that’s gone into this book is pretty staggering and even if I hadn’t enjoyed the story itself, that alone would be impressive. However, I did enjoy the story. There will likely be people out there who’ll find the direction and pacing a bit slow but for me, I was there for it from start to finish. Now the question is: do I read book two knowing book three is nowhere near release or hold off? Hm…


It Ends with Us – Colleen Hoover

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Colleen is doing very well as far as my 2019 is concerned. This was my first experience with her writing and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, only that it would involve a romance and some form of complication. Here she manages to take something as dark as domestic violence and handle it fantastically with all of its emotional complexity. It really helped me think about things differently than I had before. The characters are also likeable, deep and really help connect you with the story itself.


The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

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While the plot is slower at points, the strengths of this particular book are it’s rich and diverse characters, and fabulous world building. Chamber’s universe is full of a multitude of vastly different species all with their own languages, cultures, and histories, and just travelling the universe with her lovely, little Wayfarer crew (or family) is a wonderful ride in itself. There’s adventure, humour, romance, friendship, and most importantly, acceptance of anyone and everyone for exactly who they are.

And that’s my top ten reads for 2019…so far. I expect things to shift a lot by the time we reach the end of the year if 2018 is anything to go by. From what I can see at this point, I’ve read quite a lot of good books over the past six months. Here’s hoping for a bunch more during the rest of the year!

What are some of your favourite reads of 2019 so far?

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Book Tag

As my family and close friends know, I’m a big Buffy fan. Huge. Enormous. I mean, this is a show that absolutely revolutionised TV in the 90s. I pretty much try to get everyone I know to watch it at some point. Amazing characters, great dialogue, gripping plots, badass action scenes, female empowerment, one of the first ongoing gay relationships on TV, the best musical episode of a non-musical TV show ever (fight me), some corny but fun CGI…it’s just so good. Go watch it if you haven’t already.

Anyway, when I came across a book tag devoted especially to it, I knew I had to do it. Just HAD TO. This tag was originally created by Lauren over at Book Slaying but was then changed slightly by Sarah at Written Word Worlds. I’m going to do a combination of the two versions, with my own changes and additions because why not? Let’s get slayin’.


Buffy: A Character Who Lives a Double Life

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Nova Artino (Renegades- Marissa Meyer)

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There were a few options for this one but I’ve decided to go with Nova. In Renegades, Nova’s allegiance is to the so called ‘Villains’ group in society. She resents the Renegades, (who act as the city’s political body/law enforcement group) for their past failures, and believes they’re not what they claim or people hold them up to be. In order to gain valuable intelligence on the inner workings of the Renegades team, she joins them, complete with an entirely new (and fake) personal history.


Willow: A Badass Witch

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Manon Blackbeak (Throne of Glass series – Sarah J. Maas)

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I don’t use Throne of Glass related things for many prompts. It’s mainly because I wasn’t a huge fan of the series and only made it about 4 books in. Still, there’s no denying that Manon is 100% a badass witch. Or more specifically, a scary-ass witch. I mean, she’s killed people and actually drank their blood, has retractable iron fangs and nails, and she flies a wyvern. Combine that with an icy, ruthless and determined personality, and the end result is…well, don’t cross her if you can avoid it.


Xander: A Character Who Mostly Provides Comic Relief

M-BOT (Skyward – Brandon Sanderson)

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While M-Bot certainly has its other purposes, as you do being a super advanced stealth space ship, its main contribution to Skyward is as comic relief. If you’re laughing at something during this book, 80% chance it’ll be M-Bot. Sometimes it’s talking about its drive to catalogue mushrooms, others it’s randomly hacking into Spensa’s communications channel to give commentary, and then there’s the constant crapping on poor Rig as he attempts to repair it. Regardless, M-Bot is an easy fan favourite.


Giles: A Parental Figure

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Miss Honey (Matilda – Roald Dahl)

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Honestly, can you guys think of a more perfect parental figure than Miss Honey? She’s kind, gentle, smart, wants the best for each of her students, and tries hard to ensure that Matilda will receive the kind of care and education that she deserves. The two develop a special bond with Matilda using her telekinetic powers to ensure the return of Miss Honey’s home and inheritance from Principal Trunchbull. By the end of the book, Matilda goes to live with Miss Honey and it’s pretty much a happily ever after.


Dawn: Favourite Sibling Relationship

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Tyler & Scarlett Jones (Aurora Rising – Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman)

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Ugh, Dawn. I almost changed this prompt to ‘A character you found ridiculously annoying’. There are a few sibling relationships I really love, but for the sake of variety, I’ve picked Tyler and Scarlett. Having just finished Aurora Rising, these two are fresh in my memory. They have a great degree of banter, trust one another, are able to communicate with little more than a look or a raised eyebrow, and have faith in the other’s abilities. Ty and Scarlet are squadmates and siblings but more importantly they’re good friends.


Oz: A Book With Werewolves

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Nightshade -Andrea Cremer

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I read this book YEARSSSSS ago and I can’t remember anything about it other than it was about werewolves and the main character’s name was Calla. Based on my GR review, I must have liked it somewhat (but not enough to read the sequel). Obviously I was drawn in by the pretty purple cover. Gosh, that’s a nice colour. I have a sneaking suspicion that I wouldn’t be so keen on it were I to read it now – male wolf dominance, love triangles and all that, but eh, it’s a werewolf book and it’s something different from my usual book tag choices.


Cordelia: A Character Who Undergoes Major Growth

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Zoya Nazyalensky (The Grisha Trilogy & King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo)

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When we first meet Zoya, to put it mildly, she’s kind of a raging bitch. But after being knocked off her pedestal and then joining Alina’s & Nikolai’s fight against The Darkling, she undergoes some great character development. However, much like with Cordelia Chase, it’s a spin off that really gives her the chance to shine. Zoya is sassy, resilient, able to handle Nikolai (a feat in itself), a badass grisha, and has not got time for your shit. Basically, we stan. Zoya for Queen of Ravka.


Angel: An Extremely Broody Character

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Victor Vale (Vicious – V.E. Schwab)

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Ah, Victor. You’re certainly a very broody character. Admittedly, this is fairly understandable because: (a) he went to prison for years for a murder he committed accidentally, giving him plenty to brood about, (b) how else would he plot his nemesis & former friend’s demise?, and (c) it just fits his whole gloomy, anti-hero image. So, in Victor’s case, unlike some other’s, it actually works very well.


Spike: A Character with a Redemption Arc

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Severus Snape (Harry Potter Series – J. K. Rowling)

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To avoid reusing Holland from ADSOM for the millionth time, I’m going with Severus Snape. In fairness, I don’t think I’ve ever used this one in a book tag before despite how popular a choice it must be and how much I love HP. Snape definitely has some massive flaws and he’s far from being fully redeemed by the end of the series. However, our view of him as a character is certainly very much improved in Deathly Hallows by the introduction of a whole bunch of new info about past events.


Tara: A Book with a LGBTI Relationship

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Alex & Henry (Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston)

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There are so many wonderful LGBTI ships out there in fictional land. I recently finished this book so it’s been on the brain which is probably why I jumped here first. However, it’s also probably because these two are so darn CUTE. Ahhhhhh. Alex is smart-mouthed and outgoing while Henry is a closet-nerd and major romantic. The two start out a bit rough but eventually their relationship develops into hilarious late night texting convos, sexy, secret rendezvous, and some genuinely sweet heart to hearts.


Anya: A Character Who Grew on You

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Nesta Archeron (ACOTAR Series – Sarah J. Maas)

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Yes, more SJM. I’m sorry I’m a cliche, okay.
If you happen to go through my read along posts for ACOTAR, you’ll find that I didn’t have many nice things to say about Feyre’s sisters early on. Nesta can be harsh, closed off and selfish, but after spending more time with her, I ended up loving that she was a more emotionally complex character. Some people will find it difficult to like her but I know she’s going to have her moment once the new series kicks into gear. Also, if she doesn’t end up with Cassian, I’ll riot.


Faith: A Character with Questionable Allegiances

Ashlinn Jarheim (Nevernight Series – Jay Kristoff)

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Ah, Ashlinn. I can’t really say much on this one without giving away major spoilers to anyone who hasn’t read Nevernight. If that’s you, go do it already! Before book three comes out in September! I will say that she’s sassy, resourceful, and calculating, and I’m looking forward to seeing where she ends up at the end of the series. Somehow I doubt she’ll do any more plot twisty things but considering her character, you never can be entirely sure.

Are you a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan? I love finding people to gush about amazing TV shows with, especially older ones. If so, who’s your favourite character?

I definitely think it’s time for a re-watch!

Top 10 Tuesday: Favourite Books Published in the Past Ten Years

I can say with 100% certainty that this was not one of the easiest Top 10 Tuesday topics I’ve ever done. And by not easy, I mean extremely difficult. Not only did it require a good deal of research but, is it just me or are a crazy number of amazing books all from the same publication year? For this reason, I wouldn’t really consider this to be a true favourite books list. There are some years where I really didn’t read all that many things I absolutely adored, while there are others which sent me into a massive meltdown with just how many books I wanted to list. So, I may…have cheated and done multiples for certain years. I’m terrible at choosing things, alright??? With 2019 only less than half way through, this list will cover 2009-2018. Gosh, I hope I got the publication years right…*breathes heavily*


2009

city of glass (The Mortal Instruments 3#) by cassandra clare

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As I’ve recently re-read this one, I’m confident that I still really enjoy it. It’s a worthy favourite from 2009 (not that there were many options to pick from). I was off the charts excited for this release when I was a teen, back during my big Cassie Clare fan period. This book is probably my favourite TMI book overall – the side characters get more of the limelight, there’s a big battle between shadowhunters and demons, a lot of the major questions get answered, and & Alec and Magnus are just cute.

2010

The Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices 1#) by Cassandra Clare & Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy 5#) by Richelle Mead

Another Clare book, surprisingly. I’ve always had a thing for Victorian English settings and the fact that Clockwork Angel has great characters, hilarious dialogue and features the shadow hunter world building from TMI, means it hooked me pretty quickly. The series also happens to feature one of the only love triangles I’m okay with. I definitely have to do a reread of this one at some point.

I really love the VA books (she says for the millionth time). I remember being so excited when this finally came out. I started reading it as soon as my mum popped it into my hot little hands. While book four was just okay, I really enjoyed book five. A prison break out, trip to Vegas, hopes for my favourite ship rekindled, and a twist ending. I was mighty keen to get book six as soon as possible.

2011

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

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While I read this in 2018, it was actually released seven years before and somehow I missed it! I loved this book, far more than Miller’s later (and, I think, more popular) release, Circe. It’s just the perfect blend of everything you could possibly want – romance, action, history and mythology, and even though you know it’s going to end tragically, you still hope for a happier ending. Honestly, I would gladly get my heart broken over and over again by this book.

2012

The Selection by Kiera Cass

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This was a struggle year to pick for because unlike some of the others further down, I haven’t read many books published in 2012 that I consider to be the-best-thing-ever. In the end, I’ve gone with The Selection in all its trashy glory because yes, it’s ridiculous, stupid, fluffy and has a protagonist who’s incredibly frustrating at times, but it’s the perfect choice for when I want to switch my brain completely off. This is comfort reading at its best. I can’t tackle literary masterpieces all the time.

2013

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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This year was still slightly a struggle to pick for because while I do have a couple of books I quite enjoyed from 2013, they’re still only 4 star reads. I’ve read The Bone Season twice now and raced through it enjoyably each time. Sure, there’s quite a bit of info dumping to get through and the magic system is kind of confusing but the plot is engaging, the characters are likeable, there’s romance without it taking over everything, and I just can’t help getting swept up in it all.

2014

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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This is another series that I’ve mentioned many times on my blog since I read it in 2018, but it’s only because I enjoyed them so darn much. After a slow start, RR really found its feet and it ended up being a little bit Hunger Games-esque only with more scheming, blood, and on a grander scale. This was actually only a 4.5 Star read for me and I even rated the next two books higher, however, in comparison to other books I’ve read from 2014, this one comes out on top (but only just slightly!).

2015

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo & A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Lord help me. Remember those meltdowns I mentioned? Half of them were because of this damn wonderful year of books. As I’ve already given the Red Rising series some love, it’s SoC & ADSOM who’ll be taking the prize for this 2015.

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t heard of these two amazing reads? Both of them feature fantastic fantasy worlds and a great cast of characters who very quickly force you to fall in love with them. There’s adventure, humour, magic, friendship, strong women, high stakes, and I enjoy every minute of these two stories. If people are looking for fantasy recommendations, these books are 100% at the top of the list.

2016

A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR 2#) by Sarah J. Maas & Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Twenty-Sixteen was another glorious year for books, friends. Even narrowing it down to these two was hard, not that they’ll come as a surprise.

While ACOTAR was an average read for me, ACOMAF was five stars all around. It introduces so many fabulous characters, and the slow burn romance is just, like, YES. This is what I want and never seem to get. Another series I really need to re-read.

Nevernight is the bloody, dark, and exciting read I didn’t know I needed. Assassin school is probably all I really needed to know. Yeah, the writing style is odd to get used to at first, but afterwards it’s easy to get on board. Mia is my girl and the fact that I once lived without knowing Mr Kindly, is sad indeed.

2017

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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TSHOEH was my number one read of 2018 and while there were some really great books published in 2017, this one is the definite winner. I adored this novel. The characters and setting are wonderfully rich and detailed, the romance is beautifully done, the sexual diversity is fantastic, the structure and style is perfectly suited to the story being told….really, I could go on for ages. It’s brilliant and I’ll recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

2018

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

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Gosh, I loved this book. I tend to gravitate more towards fantasy than sci-fi normally but it’s books like this that remind me just how much I enjoy it. Sanderson is absolute magic. His characters are great, the plot is exciting, world building exceptional, and it’ll even make you laugh. I already know this will be on my best reads of 2019 list (yes, I know I took a while to finally read it). I honestly can’t wait for the sequel later this year.

There we have it! Ten years in books. It was really interesting to look at just how long it took me to read certain books after they were published, especially ones that ended up being favourites. The fact that I now read a lot more books during the year and that these tend to be ones published in the last couple of years made certain entries for this list quite challenging but it was certainly an experience.

What are some of your favourite books from the last ten years?

TTT is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl

Claim the Stars: ‘Skyward’ by Brandon Sanderson

And thus, I finally understand the magic that is Brandon Sanderson. Don’t get me wrong, I liked The Final Empire, and I have a massive appreciation for its world building and magic system, but was I in love? No. Skyward, I loved. Basically, in future if anyone ever derides the fact that I read YA novels, I’m going to direct them straight to this and watch them eat their words. It’s just that freakin’ good.

Who, What, Where?

In Skyward, humans live trapped on a planet called Detritus. For decades, they’ve been locked in an airspace war for survival against a race they refer to as the Krell. For this reason, pilots are valuable and prestigious with high mortality rates. The story centres around Spensa whose dream is to fly with the DDF, just as her father did, and prove herself. However, for most of her life she’s had to live with the fact that her father was branded a coward after supposedly turning tail during the legendary Battle of Alta. When Spensa stumbles upon the wreckage of an ancient, but advanced, ship, she realises that she may just have a shot at showing people what she’s truly capable of, that is, if she can survive flight school.

Blood of My Enemies

There are some books you read where you reach a point and think: huh, has anything major actually happened yet? That’s not the case here. The pacing of this book is perfect. There are moments of tense, action-packed excitement – epic battles, shots flying, but also scenes of quieter character bonding and emotion – grieving the loss of a friend, Spensa worrying about whether she might be a coward herself because she’s scared. Honestly, I cannot say that there was one part of this book where I wasn’t genuinely sad to stop reading. And maannnnnn, that climax. That is some movie level excitement. My eyes haven’t been that glued to a page in a while. The ending itself is also wonderfully crafted and I’m so keen to see how things progress in book two.

Call Sign: Spin

As a lead, Spensa is jarring to get used to. She’s grown up on stories of epic heroes and because of that and her father’s legacy, she’s…a little dramatic. As in spontaneously utters things like, “I will hold your tarnished and melted pin up as my trophy as your smoldering ship marks your pyre, and the final resting place of your crushed and broken corpse.” …Yeah. However, once you see past this, you realise how dedicated she is. This is a girl who’s dealt with a lot of crap over the years, and she’ll live in a cave and eat rats if it means she gets the chance to achieve her dream. Spensa’s funny, hardworking, caring, spunky, and won’t leave a teammate behind. Yet, at the same time, she does mess up – says things she shouldn’t, judge people, act rashly, but she works to overcome her failures and I think that’s why I root for her so hard. Then again, I also love a good underdog.

Skyward Flight

Spensa’s team of pilot cadets features a range of loveable and interesting characters with distinct personalities. Even the ones with less screen time still manage to make an impression, and characters that start out as unlikeable (such as the Spensa’s flight leader, Jorgen) manage to undergo development to fix that. Without realising it, you become attached to this cast of brave misfits and watching them die, fail, and hurt hits hard. One of my favourite parts of Skyward was seeing them evolve into a kind of oddball family. Basically, friendship for the win. I should also mention how much I loved Skyward Flight’s instructor, Cobb, who was the perfect mixture of tough, unintentionally funny, compassionate, and damaged. If I could give the guy a hug, I would.

Lay Low & Catalogue Mushrooms

During the story, Spensa discovers a broken-down ship with advanced technology. Seeing its potential, she, with the help of her bestie Rodge, undertake the task of repairing it. As it turns out, the ship can talk (oh, can it talk) and has its own quirky personality involving a mushroom obsession and tendency to compliment shoes. I really enjoyed M-Bot and the story relating to his repair, often involving Spensa having to steal parts. M-Bot is a little like AIDAN from Illuminae but, of course, minus the bat-shit crazy elements. He’s fabulous comic relief but the interactions between the ship and Spensa are also great.

Other Points

  • The world building here once again shows off that Sanderson is the bomb when it comes to crafting engaging worlds. The detail is fantastic.
  • There are some awesome drawings of ships and flying maneuvers to help you visualise.
  • The dialogue is so well done – it differentiates the characters and it’s often very funny.
  • There’s no romance! Perhaps something that could develop into one in book two (yay for slow burns), but for now, friendship wins the day.

If you’re up for an exciting, sci-fi read with great characters, humour and emotional impact, this is an amazing choice and I cannot recommend it highly enough. All aboard the Sanderson fangirl train. Woot, woot!

5 Stars

Top 10 Tuesday: Books that Should be Adapted for Film or TV

This week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday involved picking characters you’d swap places with. Now, that just wouldn’t do for me because I honestly don’t want to swap places with ANY characters from the books I read. Why? Because if the story is semi-decent, there’s stuff happening to that character and you can bet that stuff is BAAAAADDDD. So nope, nope, nope. I will just happily read from the sidelines as they deal with their various fictional woes.

Instead, this week I’ve decided to go with books I’d like to see adapted for TV or film. As it turned out, it wasn’t as easy as I thought because while I absolutely love some books/series (*ahem* ADSOM), they’re likely to prove difficult to adapt well. I’ve also tried not to include books that I know are actively making their way to the screen already e.g. Six of Crows, The Hating Game. However, books that have had their rights acquired and then been sat on for YEARS are free game. Let’s get a move along studios!


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Medium: Film

I absolutely love this book but that aside, even as I was reading it, I was thinking about how good a movie it’d make. Provided it had the right script and a fantastic cast, as a movie about the darker side of the film industry itself, I believe it’d translate perfectly to screen. There’s meaty roles, strong conversations that’d translate well into visually powerful scenes, and moviegoers happen to love a good period piece. Plus, it’s always wonderful to see more LGBTI romances in film.

Skyward – Brandon Sanderson

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Medium: Either

This is another book I could see playing in front of my eyes like a film as I was reading. The battle sequences in this would make for fantastic action on screen with good CGI techniques. I mean the climax of this has ALL the necessary components for a winning movie moment. It’s basically sci-fi Top Gun. However, at the same time, the book’s also got some solid character moments to stop an adaptation feeling like a giant explosion fest.

Vicious – V. E. Schwab

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Medium: Film

While I absolutely love the ADSOM series, their scale might make it very difficult to showcase decently on screen. Vicious isn’t a huge book and it focuses on some interesting characters, which is likely to make for a good adaptation. One of the most compelling parts of the X-men franchise is the Magneto-Xavier dynamic and that’s somewhat present here in a much more grey-scale kind of way, which I think people would enjoy. Plus, who doesn’t love superpowers?

Warcross – Marie Lu

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Medium: Film

If there’s one thing the Ready Player One adaptation showed me, it’s that entire CGI sequences can work and be exciting. I would love to see the Warcross matches played out on screen for me to see in real time. But other than that, I also think the story’s modern, tech-savy, and would appeal to a lot of people. It’s got a little action, a little mystery, some romance, and also, go Asian representation!

Leah on the Offbeat – Becky Albertalli

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Medium: Film

After the success and adorableness of Simon in 2018 I feel like it’s only natural to adapt Leah as well. The actors in Simon were all very well suited to the original book characters and I feel like Katherine has the acting chops to take centre stage in a follow-up. I just want more gushy, marshmallow sweetness, okay? And as if this thing would not make some decent cash at the box office.

Illuminae – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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Medium: TV Series

So technically the rights for this one have been sold but considering we haven’t heard anything since 2015, it seems fair to include it here. The story for Illuminae is so out there, and so much fun, that I think it’d be a blast as an adaptation. What would be cool is to see how they manage to incorporate the changes of style to the screen – show scenes through ship cameras, have typed conversations, it’d be very interesting.

Red Rising – Pierce Brown

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Medium: TV Series

There seems to be a lot of sci-fi on this list somehow? This is another book that’s already had the film rights sold and then disappeared off the face of the earth. The scale of this series is enormous, and it’d likely be a challenge to do, but it’s so fantastic, it’d be worth it. The action sequences would be amazing. I think the first book as an adaptation would do particularly well due to its similarities to The Hunger Games (with many differences of course). There are also some great plot twists throughout the series which always do well in adaptations.

I’ll Give You the Sun – Jandy Nelson

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Medium: Film

Studios seem to have been on a bit of a YA contemporary streak lately. Both The Sun is Also a Star and All the Bright Places are scheduled for release this year, and I feel as though this would be another good pick in that vein. The key is to make sure the script doesn’t end up reading sappy. With this one, I’d love to see the two different time periods play out with different sets of actors. My favourite part of the book is the fact that the relationship at its heart is a sibling one involving two messed up people who make some big mistakes but ultimately come back to each other.

Cinder – Marissa Meyer

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Medium: Film

Now, I can hear you crying: Ashley, no more sci-fi! BUT NO. THERE’S ALWAYS MORE. The Lunar Chronicles is another fun series which takes something people love (fairytales) and turns them into something else. I mean, the series pretty much has everything necessary for a good movie – a kooky cast of friends on the run, an evil queen determined to take control of the universe, multiple super shippable-ships, a sassy ship AI, solid ethnic diversity, political intrigue, mystery and some badass women. Honestly, I bet everyone would be along for the ride on this one. They’re also the kind of books where they’d be able to cut down for time without damaging the story too much.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

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Media: TV Series

Okay, I know I said I’d be avoiding ones that’d be too difficult to do, but eh. This one would need a hell of a scriptwriter and an absolutely fabulous director, but if they managed it, boy, would it make an interesting mini-series. Shot in the style of an Agatha Christie mystery (but of course, with the fantasy element), I think this would work really well. I’m just imaging the large, talented cast (much like the And Then There Were None adaptation) and the beautiful cinematography to show off the crumbling manor house.


Which book would you most like to see as a TV series or movie? Why do you think it’d work?