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 2021: My Favourite Reads of the Year

It’s the final day of 2021 and that means the time has come to rave about the best books I read this year. In 2021 I read 60 books and, like last year, I had a lot of middle-of-the-road, 3-3.5-ish star reads. This meant that the books I loved (and the ones I didn’t) stood out a lot more than they would have otherwise. Yet, it also means I didn’t have as many 5 star reads as I would have liked. In fact, in 2021 I only rated 2 books 5 stars. Sad, but true. However, I did have a handful of 4.5 star ones, which is nothing to turn my nose up at either. And so, here are my 10 favourite reads of 2021…

Special Mention: Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir | Review

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I went back and forth for ages over what to rate this book. It came so close to getting an entry on this list so I feel I’d be remiss not to mention it because I had such a good time while reading. PHM follows a man named Dr. Ryland Grace who wakes up from a coma onboard a spaceship with no memory of who he is or how he came to be there. As he starts to piece things together, he realises he’s on a mission to save humanity. While there’s a lot of science-speak and Ryland does bear similarities to The Martian‘s Mark Watney, the story is super engaging from start to finish and full of questions you can’t help but keep flipping pages until you reach the answers for. There’s also a surprising and wholesome friendship that became one of my favourites of the year. Good to know that Andy Weir is back on form.

10. The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter

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I used to read a lot of crime books back in high school but since then I’ve tended to pick them up a lot less. Karin Slaughter is one of the bigger names in the genre and has been successfully publishing for around 20 years. Now, having finished The Good Daughter, I understand why because her writing is exceptional. The overarching crime plot of the book (a school shooting) is engaging enough and maintains a good sense of momentum, however, the depth and strength of her main characters, sisters Charlie & Sam, are where it shines. I really appreciated the way the book slowly dug into their childhood trauma and how the events surrounding their mother’s death affected them into adulthood. I also liked the way it dealt with the complex nature of their familial bonds. It’s a dark and violent read at times but worth the time investment if you can handle the themes. I’ll be making sure to check out more of Slaughter’s backlog in the future.

9. A Ladder to the Sky – John Boyne

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The true winner of my 2021, it seems, was John Boyne with not only one but two books on this list! A Ladder to the Sky was one of my 5 star predictions and while it just fell short, I thought it was fantastic. It’s about an attractive & charming aspiring novelist named Maurice who possesses great writing talent but little creativity for coming up with original ideas. And so, he climbs the literary fame ladder by getting close to, manipulating, and stealing the stories of others. As time goes on, he has to go to greater lengths to stay in the spotlight. The dialogue in this book is great and I really enjoyed its criticism of the literary world. I loved the moral greyness of the characters, the dark humour, and that the shifts in time and narration kept me on my toes as to what would happen next. If you enjoy love to hate characters, this will be right in your wheelhouse. Even the ending was unexpected perfection. Aside from a couple of slower points, pretty darn good.

8. Crying in H Mart – Michelle Zauner

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I finished this beautifully written and heartbreaking memoir in under two days. I’ve never really been a fan of Japanese Breakfast’s music but after hearing so many wonderful things about singer/songwriter Michelle’s book, I knew I had to read it. I completely understand why this was picked as Goodreads’ best memoir & autobiography for the year. It details Michelle’s complicated relationship with her mother and the deep pain of losing her to cancer when Michelle was only 25. The sections outlining Michelle caring for her mother and worrying about having lost her link to her Korean heritage following her mum’s death absolutely broke my heart. I also loved reading about Michelle’s bond with food and how important it was in connecting with her mum and her Korean identity. I’m not sure if this book made me want to curl up into a ball or eat until I explode. Probably both.

7. The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

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I wasn’t really sure what to expect with THIF. All I knew was that it was immensely well-reviewed and deservedly so. The book follows a gay man named Cyril and tells the story of his life in Ireland in the decades prior to the legalisation of homosexuality. As you can imagine, the story deals with some tough topics such as the religious and public persecution of LGBTI people as well as the AIDS crisis. Boyne’s writing is fantastic and perfectly straddles the line between comedy and tragedy. The style is a little absurd at times, especially the characters’ interactions, but if it’s something you can gel with you’ll have a lot of fun (well, with plenty of pain, too). I loved following the characters over a large part of their lives, although I do feel like I missed out on some things due to the time jumps. Still, this was an amazing read and I’ll be looking to pick up more of Boyne’s books in 2022.

6. Twice Shy – Sarah Hogle | Review

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The fact that this book was not read by more people is a crime because it’s SO LOVELY. At this point, I’m starting to think Sarah Hogle is one of those authors who could write a shopping list and I’d read it. TS is about optimistic and romantic, Maybell. She inherits a large house after the death of her great aunt with plans to turn it into a hotel only to find she’s actually co-inherited it with the grouchy groundskeeper, Wesley. The two then work together to fix it up but with different end goals in mind. Gotta love that forced proximity trope. It’s a little corny at times but so darn adorable and uplifting. I loved the characters, their romance (especially the grumpy-sunshine dynamic), and that they handled their issues in such a non-annoying way. It wasn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as Sarah’s debut but I was okay with that. The perfect medicine for a rubbish day.

5. The Love Hypothesis – Ali Hazelwood

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I went into this fully prepared for it to be an overinflated product of the hype train. Guess the joke’s on me. This book was the perfect bundle of sweet, trope-y, sunshine-y fluff and I had so much fun. It’s about a grad biology student called Olive who starts a fake dating ruse with one of the university’s grumpy professors, Adam, to convince her best friend she’s over a guy. The banter and chemistry between Olive & Adam was so enjoyable and comforting, and I was super eager for them to finally get together. The STEM setting for the book was also great and felt developed & believable (probably because of Hazelwood’s science background). The miscommunication trope was utilised a touch too much for my liking but I lapped up the book’s self-aware approach to the ample other romance tropes included. Easily one of my favourite romances of 2021 and I would 100% reread it.

4. Empire of the Vampire – Jay Kristoff | Review

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When you’ve been waiting over 2.5 years for a book, expectations get high. To my immense relief, EotV mostly managed to meet them. JK has brought scary, rip-your-throat-out vampires back in a big way. The book is set in a world in which the sun has disappeared and vampires now rule. Gabriel de Leon, last of a holy order, awaits execution and is compelled to tell his life’s story to a vampire historian, including his journey to find the holy grail. It’s full of gore, violence, smut, foul language, moody-vibes, religious themes, revenge, and emotional moments, and I had a blast (well, except for when my heart was being crushed at the end). The world-building is fantastic, pacing spot on, and although I started out on rocky ground with some of them, the characters grew on me a lot. There are a couple of questionable things that let the book down a little, but overall, an amazing blend of action, adventure, romance, horror and drama. Give me the sequel, stat!

3. The Burning God – R F Kuang

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I really wish I wasn’t this predictable but here we are, with another entry from The Poppy War series. After books one & two took out spots on my 2020 and 2021 lists, I don’t think any of you are surprised to see The Burning God here. I was massively looking forward to this last installment in the series and while it wasn’t a perfect read, I wasn’t disappointed with the final experience. There were a couple of plotlines that I wish had played out a little differently but this was still such a fantastically action-packed, twisty, exciting and heartwrenching book. The ending wasn’t what I was expecting but still fit the trajectory of the series, despite its shocking nature (my brain literally had trouble processing it). I can safely say that TBG secured The Poppy War trilogy as one of my favourite series of all time and I’m excited to go back and reread it all one day.

2. The Push – Ashley Audrain

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Back in August, I was starting to get worried about the state of this list. Then The Push came along and holy hell. This book just breezed right on in and not only captivated me from start to finish but sent me on an absolute emotional rollercoaster. It’s about a woman named Blythe who becomes convinced that there’s something…off about her daughter, Violet. When tragedy strikes, Blythe believes Violet to be the one responsible. But is it all in her head? There have been quite a few books revolving around an ‘evil’ child dividing parents but it’s done so well here. The writing is just *chef’s kiss* – raw, stunning perfection. The Push seems to have been marketed as this big twisty thriller but it’s more of a psychological drama that explores things like grief, mental health, societal expectations, and family life. It also delves into this complex and often brutal idea of motherhood in contravention of stereotypes. It’s short, memorable, crushing and so worth a read.

And now for the big one.

My favourite read of 2021 is….

*DRUMROLL*

1. If We Were Villains – M. L. Rio

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Dark academia reigns supreme this year! I have no idea how to explain why I’m so obsessed with this book, but I am. Literally, the minute I finished, I wanted to reread it. IWWV follows a group of acting students studying the works of Shakespeare at a prestigious college. Their friendships and lives implode after one of them dies under tragic and mysterious circumstances. It’s a bit pretentious but, apparently, I’m into that. The book explores the ideas of life imitating art & art imitating life. I loved the way the story was structured like a modern tragedy, the characters were designed like theatre role stereotypes, and that the plays performed tied into the group’s reality. Even though it’s a mystery/thriller, what I was most enthralled by was seeing the secrets, guilt, jealousy, and love eat away at the characters and their relationships. I loved exploring their strengths, insecurities, and desire to change the way they’re perceived. However, I really wish I were better versed in Shakespeare’s works to fully appreciate all the nuances and subtext because I’m sure there’s so much that I’m missing. Ugh, this book was just so GOOD. I loved it so much, and that’s why it takes my number one spot.


And that’s it from me for another year. I hope you’ve all had a fantastic 12 months full of wonderful books and that many, many more are in store for you in 2022.

What were your favourite reads of 2021? (So I can add them to my enormous TBR).

Top 10 Tuesday: Book Titles that are Complete Sentences

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

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


Titles I’ve Read

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

Titles on My TBR

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my 2021 Winter TBR

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

Just Last Night – Mhairi McFarlane

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


A Ladder to the Sky – John Boyne

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


The Maidens – Alex Michaelides

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


The People in the Trees – Hanya Yanagihara

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


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

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


Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir

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


All of Us Villains – Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

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


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

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


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

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Book Openings

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

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

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

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

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

Red Rising – Pierce Brown

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

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

It – Stephen King

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

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

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

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

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

Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir

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

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

Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

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

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

Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen

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

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

Beartown – Fredrik Backman

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

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

The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

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

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

The Hobbit – J RR Tolkien

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

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

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

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

A Darker Shade of Magic – V E Schwab

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

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

Scythe – Neal Shusterman

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

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

The Martian – Andy Weir

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

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

Emma – Jane Austen

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

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


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

Top 10 Tuesday: Books on my 2021 Autumn TBR

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

Our Year of Maybe – Rachel Lynn Solomon

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

She Who Became the Sun – Shelley Parker-Chan

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

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

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

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

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

Take a Hint, Dani Brown – Talia Hibbert

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

Layla – Colleen Hoover

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

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

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

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars – Christopher Paolini

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

The Soulmate Equation – Christina Lauren

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

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

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


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

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

And That’s a Wrap 2020: Top 10 Favourite Reads

Here we are, both the last day of 2020 and my final wrap up post of the year! Today is the day that I get to gush about the amazing books I read this year *happy dance*.

According to my reading tracker, my most frequent ratings for books this year were 3 and 3.5 stars. I also did quite a few re-reads in 2020 (which I exclude from these types of lists). With these two things in mind, picking my top 10 this time around wasn’t as difficult as it has been previously. However, it also means that this list only includes a couple of books that I actually rated 5 stars. For those who saw my mid-year favourites post, you’ll notice some familiar faces here.

Like in 2019, I’ll be ordering this list from the bottom to my top read of the year. Now, let’s start the count down!

10. To Be Taught, If Fortunate – Becky Chambers

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This fantastic, little novella swept in at the last moment to score a position on this list. For something so short (only 135 pages, in fact), it crafts such a wonderfully immersive journey. The story follows a four astronaut research team sent to explore far off planets and study their local lifeforms. It’s a quiet, gradual story, more focused on scientific discoveries, the joy of exploration, and the bonds between the characters than action or high speed adventure. The writing can be quiet science heavy at points but it really does add to the believability of it all. I loved how diverse the cast was, both ethnicity and LGBTI wise, and how hopeful the story felt. However, I do wish that the mental health of the astronauts had been dealt with in more depth, especially during one troubling part of their mission. As a whole though, beautifully done.


9. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

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Classics usually aren’t my thing, even the modern ones. In the interest of trying new things I decided to give The Secret History a go hoping to find some murderous, dark academia magic. Shockingly, I really enjoyed it. I’m still kind of mystified as to how it happened really – slow pacing, unreliable narrator, characters who are all shitty people, general sense of pretentiousness, and YET it’s so good! The best way I can summarise it is: a group of university classics students who try a Bacchian rite end up killing someone and have to cover it up. Dark, immersive, mysterious, over the top, tension-filled…insert a multitude of other adjectives here. The only reasons I couldn’t rate it higher on this list are my complicated feelings about the ending and a slight lull in the middle. Still, I can definitely see myself re-reading it in a few years time to see what I missed.


8. Boyfriend Material – Alexis Hall

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I confess, I picked this book up because it gave me serious Red, White and Royal Blue vibes. In the end, it was different but wonderfully enjoyable all the same. It’s about the son of a rock legend named Luc who, in an effort to clean up his public image, makes a deal with a barrister called Oliver to fake a relationship for the press. Although it was super sweet, Boyfriend Material was also so much funnier than I expected it to be. The banter and chemistry between Luc & Oliver was fantastic but the supporting cast was hilarious as well. While a plotline involving Luc’s dad didn’t really end in a satisfying way, I didn’t mind so much because of how much I loved the way the opposites attract relationship developed. Easily one of my favourite romances of the year.


7. Know My Name – Chanel Miller

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Many of you will be aware of the Stanford Rape Case in which swimmer Brock Turner was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster during a frat party. For years, this woman was known only to the world as Emily Doe but, in fact, her name is Chanel Miller. In this memoir, Chanel tells her story in her own words. It’s so difficult to rate and review memoirs, especially one as difficult to put to paper as this would have been. However, this is honestly one of the most beautifully written, raw and powerful things I’ve read. I was expecting this to be a hard book to read, what I wasn’t expecting was how fantastic a writer Chanel would be. Everyone should read this and I cannot recommend it highly enough.


6. Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin

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I’ve been raving about this book all year (to the point where I think you guys are glad it’s almost 2021 just so I’ll finally stop). As if it wasn’t going to make an appearance on this list. Wolf by Wolf is an alt-history story set in a world where the Axis won WWII and now hold an annual, deadly motorcycle race across the world. Yael, a shapeshifter, survivor of Auschwitz and member of the resistance enters the race as part of a plan to assassinate Hitler. I’m not usually big on journey narratives but I love a good competition plot and this one was handled fantastically. The pacing is good, the MC is strong yet vulnerable and well developed, the story itself is engaging, the romance is subtle and there’s a great cliffhanger ending. If only the second book had been this good but hey, it was a high bar to overcome.


5. Becoming – Michelle Obama

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By the looks of my top 10, I should be reading more biographies/memoirs. Becoming is a fantastic autobiography and I’m so glad I decided to go with the audiobook. What could be better than Michelle herself telling you her story? I really enjoyed learning about Michelle’s life, all the way from her childhood on the second floor of her great-aunt’s house in Chicago to her time as FLOTUS in The White House. In retelling her journey, Michelle touches on so many important topics such as politics, parenting, relationships, the experiences of Black Americans, and the difficulties of the working class. This is the kind of book I believe anyone could take something away from. I know I certainly learnt a lot. Even if you’re not a Michelle Obama fan, it’s a thumbs up from me.


4. Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney

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As I mentioned in my surprises and disappointments wrap up, I did not expect to love Conversations with Friends as much as I did. This little book came out of nowhere, stole my heart and I’m still shocked. The characters are largely unlikeable people and yet they’re complex and just feel so real and human. The book deals with love, intimacy, monogamy, loneliness, and youth, and I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about it for days afterwards. It’s about a college student named Francis and her ex-girlfriend Bobby who are 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. 


3. Starsight (Skyward 2#) – Brandon Sanderson

Another entry from my mid-year favourites list which managed to make its way onto my end of year list. As soon as I finished Starsight, I knew it would be sitting on this top ten somewhere. Skyward was my number one pick of 2019 so I was incredibly relieved that the sequel was so darn good. While it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting and very different from the first book in terms of narrative, pacing and characters, it was still a really engaging and entertaining read. I loved the expanded world building and additional character development, and I am crazy excited for the next book in 2021.


2. A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

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This is another book that I haven’t shut up about this year so no one should be surprised to see A Little Life in the number 2 slot. With its very difficult content and 700+ page count, this definitely isn’t a book for everyone. But despite the fact that it completely wrecked me emotionally, I adored it (clearly I’m a masochist). The book follows a group of four university friends who move to NYC together and showcases the highs and lows of their lives over several decades. I loved the writing and have a special place in my heart for the characters. I don’t know if this is a book I can recommend exactly but I can say that I thought it was beautiful, memorable and worth all the tears.


Okay, time for the big one, my favourite book of everything I read in 2020…

1. The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War 2#) – R. F. Kuang

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Yes, that’s right. While The Poppy War may have cracked the number three spot in my top reads of 2019, it’s The Dragon Republic which takes out the number one for 2020. When the first book in a series is amazing, I always get super nervous about the sequel but this one blew me away. I loved every minute of its 650-ish pages. The world is amazing, characters fantastic, battles engrossing, and the plot is the chef’s kiss, it’s so, so good. There’s so much action but Kuang manages to balance it out perfectly with emotional content and character development. I easily consider this series among my favourites now and I cannot wait to read the final entry. Perhaps it’ll take out the crown in 2021?


And that’s it for 2020! For those who’ve been following my blog for a while now, thank you for your continued support, it means the world to me. To those who discovered me this year, welcome! I hope my little blog has, at the very least, helped take your mind off what’s been a troubling year for many people. I’d like to wish you all and your families a very happy new year and plenty of five star reads for 2021.

My other wrap ups for 2020:

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Covers that Make me Happy

Let’s be real – 2020 has been a dumpster fire of a year. Every time I watch the news, I’m hit with a constant stream of misery and awfulness occurring somewhere in the world. Considering the mental health stats at the moment, everyone is having a rough time. So, with that in mind, I’ve decided to use this week’s TTT cover themed freebie (hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl) to showcase some book covers that bring me joy and elevate my mood. Sometimes it’s the colour and others it’s the imagery. Ten seems pretty short for this post (especially since I’m literally just copying book covers like the lazy person that I am) so I’ll do 12 this week.

I hope that this post lifts your spirits just the tiniest bit (and yes, there are quite a few YA contemporaries here).

What book covers give you a burst of joy just by looking at them? Spread the happiness around.

My Favourite Reads of 2020 (So Far)

Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a few years now (you poor souls) will know that I like to do a mid year check-in of sorts with regards to my favourite reads. The main reason being that it’s always fun to compare the halfway year list to the final top ten books at the end of the year – what’s come out on top, what’s been bumped off by something I enjoyed more, and so on. To keep things fair, re-reads are excluded because how boring would that be?

Now, by this time last year I’d read 39 books which was a decent number to pick a top 10 from. In 2020, so far, I’ve read…err..well…27 books. Yes, I know. But hey, I did say at the beginning of the year I was going to take things at my own pace. So no complaints. However, with a lower number of books to select from, instead of doing a top 10 this year I’ll be doing a top 6 for my mid-year post.

Here they are, in no particular order:

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara | Review

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If you’ve read my review for this book, you won’t be surprised to see A Little Life on this list. I loved this novel, which is such a strange word to use considering how difficult the content is and the fact that it broke my heart into a million pieces then drove a steamroller over them. The book follows a group of four university friends who move to NYC together and showcases the highs and lows of their lives over several decades. The writing is stunning and the characters are beautifully crafted. Although it’s a long book and has a couple of issues, it’s definitely worth the time investment and boxes of tissues you’ll go through in the last hundred or so pages.


Starsight – Brandon Sanderson | Review

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Skyward was my favourite read of 2019 so the fact that I enjoyed Starsight as much as I did was an enormous relief. It’s quite a different story from the first book in terms of the narrative direction, pacing and characters but still super engaging. Sanderson massively expanded his universe in this book which would ordinarily be a bit of a worry for me, but here it was done in such an interesting and logical way. I also really appreciated the growth and development of Spensa, the MC, in this book and I’m really excited to see how this continues. These books are quickly becoming one of my favourite series. I’m just ridiculously mad that I have to wait over a year for book 3, especially after THAT ending.


Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin | Review

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I’ve praised Wolf by Wolf repeatedly since I read it back in March (only because it’s so good!), so the fact that it’s showing up on this list isn’t a shock to anyone. I love competition narratives, historical fiction, fantasy, strong heroines, romance that doesn’t completely take over, and tragic backstories, so this book has pretty much everything I could possibly want. Set in a world in which the Axis won WWII, the book deals with an epic motorcycle race which our shapeshifting lead, Yael, enters in the hope of getting close enough to Adolf Hitler to assassinate him. The pacing is good, the story engaging, the characters likeable, and it ends on a twist that definitely makes me keen for book 2.


The Dutch House – Ann Patchett

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I would never have expected to enjoy this book as much as I did. Like A Little Life, The Dutch House is set over a period of several years and more about characters than plot. It’s a slower, quieter read which unfolds very much like a modern fairytale (wicked stepmother included). The book revolves around the relationship between a brother and sister and their connection with their childhood home, the titled Dutch House. It’s very well-written, with some of my favourite scenes consisting of Maeve and Danny simply sitting and talking with one another. Also, having listened to the audiobook, I can definitely vouch for the narration of the wonderful Tom Hanks.


The Diviners – Libba Bray

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I’m really mad that I put off reading this for so long because it was such an enjoyable read! The Diviners is so different from a lot of the other young adult books I’ve read which was super refreshing. The 1920s setting is wonderfully vivid, full of life and easily one of my favourite parts of the book. However, it also has a dark and engaging story and a diverse group of characters that are layered, rich and likeable. Also, my magic/special ability loving little heart was very much in her element with this one. I definitely see why this is such a popular series and I predict I’ll be giving the sequel a go some time in the next few months.


Becoming – Michelle Obama

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This is another book I read early in 2020 and have mentioned my love for several times since. Becoming is a fantastic autobiography (I say with my very limited experience of biography reads). I really enjoyed learning about Michelle’s life all the way from her childhood on the second floor of her great-aunt’s house in Chicago to her time as FLOTUS in The White House. In retelling her journey, Michelle touches on so many valuable topics and she does it with such grace and engagement. This is a book I honestly think everyone would take something away from. Even if you’re not a massive fan of Michelle Obama, I would have no hesitation in recommending it.


What are some of your favourite reads of 2020 so far? I hope that while the events of the year have been downright awful, your reading has been the complete opposite. Here’s to many more amazing books in the next six months!

Top 10 Tuesday: Fantasy/Sci Fi Sequels I Enjoyed More Than the Original *Gasp*

This week’s TTT topic is a genre based freebie so I’m looking at books which managed the impossible – they impressed me more than the original book in their series. Shocking! I know. Here are 10 sequels that made the cut.

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

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I could have comfortably listed either Golden Son or Morning Star on this list but I’ve decided to go with entry 3 because it’s my favourite book of the original trilogy (before Pierce expanded the series). I’ve mentioned my love of these books quite a few times on this blog, recently even. So, why not mention it again for the zillionth time? I really like Red Rising, it’s fantastic, but it’s always those pages at the beginning which let it down. A 4.5 instead of the full 5 stars. Morning Star is just amazing from start to finish. Action, humour, friendship, THE EMOTION… There isn’t a dodgy sequel in sight with this book. Basically, if the series had ended here, I would have had no complaints.


A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR 2#) – Sarah J. Maas

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This entry will be a shock to absolutely no one. As I’ve said before, when I first read A Court of Thorns and Roses, I liked it, it was fine, but it wasn’t exactly my new obsession. I only continued with the series a good while later (after a re-read of book 1) because of how popular the sequel was. I ended up being so glad I did because I really loved it. The characters are so loveable and the dynamics between them are great. Also, the expansion of the world beyond the Spring Court was a lot of fun. And need I mention the romance? It’s awesome. Fictional ship gold right there. Mutual respect, passion, banter – I’m in love.


Siege & Storm (The Grisha Series 2#) – Leigh Bardugo

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Like ACOTAR, this is another series where I didn’t mind book one but I wasn’t blown away. In the end I decided to keep going with the series because (a) I liked the villain, (b) I loved the Six of Crows duology and, (c) I was determined to meet the famous Nikolai Lantsov. I ended up having a great time with Siege & Storm. There was a good amount of action and the book kicked into gear quickly. I appreciated certain characters a lot more and Nikolai was, well, everything people said he was. This book is easily my favourite of the three.


Legendary (Caraval 2#) – Stephanie Garber

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If you’ve read my re-read review of Caraval, you’ll know that despite liking the setting & atmosphere, and progressing through the book quickly, I had a few issues with the story, characters and world building. I never saw myself continuing the series but after seeing book 3 pop up everywhere on release and hearing that people with the same Caraval problems as me had enjoyed Legendary, I decided, stuff it, I’ll try it out. As it turned out, people were right. I liked Tella as a protagonist much more than Scarlet and the world building in this book was miles ahead of Caraval. Plus the introduction of Jacks was a lovely surprise. I’m almost tempted to read Finale. Almost.


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter 4#) – J. K. Rowling

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Everyone who follows my blog will know by now that I’m a major Harry Potter fan. But in a series of seven books there’s, of course, going to be some you like better than others. While I love The Philosopher’s Stone, it’s the book that made me fall in love with the characters and world after all, Goblet of Fire has always been my favourite of the series in all it’s beautiful, chunky glory. A magical competition, dragons & merpeople, more wizard schools, and a Big Bang ending that completely changes the direction and mood of the series going forward. I’ve read it a hundred times and could probably stand to read it a hundred more.


The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air 2#) – Holly Black

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I really enjoyed The Cruel Prince when I first read it and I was certainly one of those people who eagerly awaited the release of The Wicked King before quickly going out and buying it on release day. Book two is definitely my favourite book in this series. I love the sense of momentum, plot twists, romance, and more morally grey characters doing questionable things. This book made me appreciate Jude as a protagonist a lot more which then translated over to my re-read of book one later on. Also, as a writer, if you’re looking for a way to end your novel that basically guarantees your audience will be desperate for the next one – this book is a prime teaching material.


The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle 2#) – Maggie Stiefvater

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After reading three books in The Raven Cycle, my response to this series is still somewhat apathetic but I’ll willingly admit that The Dream Thieves was the entry I enjoyed the most. I feel like I got to know the characters much better in this one which was nice. My favourite element of the novel, however, was Maggie’s inclusion and development of Ronan’s dream based abilities which made for some interesting plotlines and an exciting climax in seeing those powers tested against that of someone else’s. Overall, I liked the book enough to want to continue to book three and was a little sad I didn’t have the same level of engagement going forward.


A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes 2#) – Sabaa Tahir

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In all fairness, this is only the tiniest bit higher than book one but we’ll take it because I love it when a sequel does well. Book two is fairly different to book one. It really feels like a proper adventure and I enjoyed the cat and mouse dynamic between Elias and Helene. As Helene is probably my favourite character, I loved getting to see her given more presence & independence with her own challenges and plotlines. There’s a great level of political drama with the new emperor in charge and the Commandant pushing for power. Also in its favour is an exciting prison break sequence and a few major things happen with big consequences in book 3.


City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments 3#) – Cassandra Clare

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I was obsessed with this series in high school. I wanted all of my friends to read them and almost jumped out of my skin when I finally got to hold City of Glass on release. Back in the day, this book was my favourite of the bunch mostly because of the high stakes of it all and the fact that some of the other characters got more of a chance to shine. After re-reading the first four books in recent years, while books 1 & 2 have slightly diminished with time (we don’t talk about City of Fallen Angels…), City of Glass hasn’t and it’s still my favourite of the series (later additions included, even though I still haven’t read book 6. But let’s face it, there’s no way it’d be better than City of Glass).


The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & The Olympians 5#) – Rick Riordan

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Percy Jackson is another one of those super popular series. It’s also happens to have quite a few books, ergo there’s always a favourite among the bunch. As a whole, I liked PJ&O – they were fun, creative novels full of adventure, mythology and likeable characters. Yet, being intended for a middle grade audience, they did feel on the young side for me in my mid-twenties. However, I really, really liked The Last Olympian. In fact, many of my reasons for this are similar to City of Glass – action packed & dramatic battles, real stakes, and more characters in the spotlight. With the characters around 16 at this point, the book also read much older, which I appreciated. Major points to an author who can grow with their audience.