Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Christmas Gift Guide and Best of 2016!



















Helloo and Merry Christmas! Here's a merry little top 10 of books that would make great gifts this festive season, and are also some of my best reads of 2016. I've tried to pick books across a few genres to cater to different tastes, but as I've read and enjoyed them all there's a lot of magic, myth, great female leads, and thrilling tales! My bookish gift guide from last year also contains some crackers, which would make equally good gifts this year too. Here they are!

The Comet Seekers- Helen Sedgwick

This beautiful book is full of ghosts, comets, family, incest (!) and snow. The hardback is a truly lovely book that would make a wonderful gift! Perfect for readers who loved The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan.

The Graces- Laure Eve

A story of sort-of-witches, which leaves to guessing at every turn, with the enchanting Grace siblings and their charmed life. I loved this book so much. Lovers of Buffy will be into this story I reckon!








And I Darken- Kiersten White

An amazing piece of historical fiction, inspired by Vlad the Impaler, we instead have the fierce and fearless Lada Dracul, who struggles to balance the love for her homeland and her life as a captive of a neighbouring Ottoman Empire. I adore listening to The History Chicks podcast: listeners will love this book too. Basically if you like a bit of history and amazing women then And I Darken is for you!






Riverkeep- Martin Stewart


Dark and grim and gloomy but full of magic and all set on a epic river journey, Riverkeep is one for lovers of adventure. With an ensemble cast of very different characters there's something for everyone in this tale of a quest to save a life.







The Girl From Everywhere- Heidi Heilig


This is a book of adventure, time travel, romance, mystery, map reading, and loyalty all set on a ship and mostly in Hawaii. Another brilliant ensemble cast with a great female lead.








Sofia Khan is Not Obliged- Ayisha Malik

A different kind of book, no magic here, but instead an awesome story of Sofia Khan's adventures in dating in what has been described as "the muslim Bridget Jones." Full of wit and humour, balancing religion and relationships, marriage-obsessed relatives, racists on the tube, praying at work, writing her book,  and joining a Muslim dating site, Sofia's story is extremely entertaining and engaging. 





The Secret of Nightingale Wood- Lucy Strange

A story of a little girl lost in a family post tragedy, who discovers a 'witch' in the woods by their new country house. This beautiful book make me shed a few tears and I even stopped reading it for a few days because I was so angry at the stupid evil doctor. A wonderful gift for an actual child or for a pretend grown up child like me!






Take it as a Compliment- Maria Stoian

A graphic story collection featuring illustrated tellings of harassment, sexual abuse and other fun things like that. Sounds grim, but it's a beautiful book and a brilliant call for action. Inject a little feminist discourse into your Christmas Day why don't you!







How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less- Sarah Glidden


Sarah Glidden's graphic memoir follows her trip through Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, across Israel as she struggles to understand her ancestral homeland. Her artwork is beautiful in this reflective travel memoir. A perfect gift of graphic novel lovers!







One Hundred Nights of Hero- Isobel Greenberg

A beautiful giant book from the creator of the equally beautiful Encyclopedia of Early Earth, which I recommended in last year's gift guide. The One Hundred Nights of Hero is set in Early Earth but with new characters Cherry and Hero, referencing The Arabian Nights with 100 nights of storytelling. You will be in the very good books of whoever you gift this too!







Sunday, 11 December 2016

Books I read in November!: Americanah, Furthermore, Beautiful Darkness, Swing Time, The Secret of Nightingale Wood










I read some wonderful books in November. I read my first Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie book by listening to Americanah on audiobook, which was an epic 17 hours long. I was totally engaged by its story and the characters though so I will endeavour to pick up more of her books. Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi was a weird, wonderful, fantastical adventure set in a very magical world. I finally bought Fabien Vehlmann and Kerasco√ęt's graphic novel Beautiful Darkness, which turned out to be so strange and creepy, and I liked it very much. I also listened to Zadie Smith's Swing Time, which was both super intense and really engaging. Finally I finished the month with the enchanting The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange, which made me cry TWICE.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie



Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi



Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerasco√ęt



Swing Time by Zadie Smith



The Secret of Nightingale Wood by Lucy Strange




Sunday, 4 December 2016

Review!: The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick














The Comet Seekers is the first novel by Helen Sedgwick and I absolutely loved it. The blurb on Goodreads says it is "One Day meets The Time Travellers Wife" but that ain't the book I read. I mean those are enjoyable books, but this had a much different feeling to it.

Told across moments in history when comets could be seen from the earth, we meet the past and present family members of Francois, who grows up in France, and Roisin, who grows up in Ireland. Beginning on a research trip in the Antarctic, where Roisin and Francois first meet, we are taken back through their histories to Roisin's childhood in a small Irish village spent gazing out to the stars with her cousin, and Francois' childhood in Bayeux with his mother, who talks to the ghosts of their ancestors.

There are characters who feel too linked to their homes to leave, and characters who feel compelled to get out and explore the world. A book of comets and ghosts, staying and leaving, looking to the skies and looking to the earth. Also there's a chapter that features Blackford Hill, which I grew up next to, so that felt special. A perfect autumnal/winter read. Can't wait to see what comes next from Helen Sedgwick!





Saturday, 3 December 2016

Books I read in October!: The Essex Serpent, How To Understand Israel, Where Am I Now? The Muse, Fly on the Wall, The Comet Seekers














It's been a crazy busy month and this is sooo late, but if you'll forgive me here be the books I read in October. I finished listening to Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent on audiobook, which was a dark and gloomy and exciting tale. I finally got Sarah Glidden's How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, which has been on my list for actual years, and really enjoyed it (her next book Rolling Blackouts is out now too.) Mara Wilson's Where Am I Now? was very enjoyable as an audiobook, narrated by Mara herself, talking about her life as a child star and what has happened to her since. The Muse by Jessie Burton had been languishing on my TBR pile all summer so it was good to get into it and enjoy its twists and turns. Fly on the Wall was a fun quick read by the absolutely wonderful E. Lockhart. And finally I adored Helen Sedgwick's The Comet Seekers, with its ghosts and star gazing and a spot of incest too. I'll get full reviews for a few of these up asap, which may also  be in ages but its a busy time of year forgive me!

The Essex Serpent- Sarah Perry



How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less- Sarah Glidden



Where Am I Now?: True Stories of Girlhood and Accidental Fame- Mara Wilson



The Muse- Jessie Burton



Fly on the Wall- E. Lockhart



The Comet Seekers- Helen Sedgwick





Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Top 6 Autumnal Reads! The Graces, The Sun is Also a Star, Through the Woods, Uprooted, The Comet Seekers, Prisoner of Azkaban


















Helloo! Here is a fine selection of autumnal reading recommendations for you. The nights have well and truly drawn in now, so there is ample opportunity to curl up with a warm drink and a good book. I've chosen some witchy reads, like The Graces and Uprooted, one perfect fall day with The Sun is Also a Star, spanned a vast history of star gazers and ghosts in The Comet Seekers, re-thumbed the well worn pages of childhood with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and delved into some gruesome tales in Through the Woods.

The Graces by Laure Eve

The Graces by Laure Eve is a witch story set in a small seaside town, where The Graces are a rich, successful, beautiful family rumoured to be witches. Siblings Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace have a magnetism to them that keeps most of the high school population fascinated and enthralled. Our protagonist River is obsessed possibly more than anyone else, and being relatively new to the school and town has been learning all she can about the family and their rumoured magic. River has had a troubled past and when she finds herself welcomed in to their inner circle she is desperate to discover the secret of their magic to find out if it can help her fix past mistakes.


Perfect autumnal read- don't go in expecting full blown magic and fantasy- think garden variety high school wiccans and then prepare to be surprised.


The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Set on one fall day in New York City, this love story is about fate, destiny, the Universe and all those sickly sweet things. Natasha believes in science and facts and is definitely not sold on love and fate. On this particular day she is half a day away from being deported with her family to Jamaica. Having come to the United States as a child and with college less than a year away, Natasha is spending the day fighting for one last appeal to remain in New York. Daniel is a poet at heart but as the son of Korean immigrant parents he is expected to follow a very specific path to Yale and med school. In the city for an alumni admission interview for Yale later that day, Daniel is on his way to get his pony tail hair cut when he comes across Natasha deep in a headphone moment.

Don't be put off by the one-day-love-story premise, this is a clever, thoughtful, emotive book that was such a joy to read.


Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
This beautiful graphic novel has such a nice spooky, autumnal cover and the stories within are so dark, magical, gruesome, and wonderfully told. I remember reading His Face All Red, the story about the two brothers, online quite a while ago and was definitely intrigued then. There is beautiful artwork throughout, with copious use of blood red for all the gore. Possibly not for the faint of heart. Definitely get Through the Woods for your collection, it's a beautiful book and will only maybe give you nightmares. 




Uprooted by Naomi Novik
This book is so much more than its blurb, which focusses on the wizard known as the Dragon, who chooses one young woman every ten years to serve him in his tower. The main character Agnieszka becomes his unlikely choice and a much bigger story unfolds from there. This is a book about magic in its many forms, magic you can learn from spell books, and magic you can summon from within. The world building is wonderful and rich, drawing on folk stories and fairy tales. I loved watching Agnieska learn about her new found powers and navigate the courts as an outsider, and use her outsider knowledge to discover more about the true villain of the book, the enchanted and evil Wood, which is slowly but surely taking over the whole kingdom. So spellbinding. Wonderful world building. Great magic. So much more than its blurb. And I really liked the ending.

The Comet Seekers

The blurb on Goodreads says The Comet Seekers is One Day meets The Time Travellers Wife, but that ain't the book I read. Told across moments in history when comets could be seen from the earth, we meet the past and present family members of Francois, who grows up in France, and Roisin, who grows up in Ireland. There are characters who feel too linked to their homes to leave, and characters who feel compelled to get out and explore the world. What makes it extra autumnal are all the ghosts. A book of comets and ghosts, staying and leaving, looking to the skies and looking to the earth. Also there's a chapter that features Blackford Hill, which I grew up next to. A perfect autumnal read.


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Harry Potter books are usually set over a whole school year, so we get a taste for all the seasons, but there is something particularly autumnal about the Prisoner of Azkaban. There's a secret werewolf, dementors descend on Hogwarts Castle, a murderer is on the loose from Azkaban, and The Grim just keeps on appearing in Harry's tealeaves. 

Snuggle up with your patronus and some chocolate just in case.






Sunday, 23 October 2016

Review!: The Graces by Laure Eve

















The Graces by Laure Eve is a witch story set in a small seaside town, where The Graces are a rich, successful, beautiful family rumoured to be witches. Siblings Fenrin, Thalia, and Summer Grace have a magnetism to them that keeps most of the high school population fascinated and enthralled. Our protagonist River is obsessed possibly more than anyone else, and being relatively new to the school and town has been learning all she can about the family and their rumoured magic. River has had a troubled past and when she finds herself welcomed in to their inner circle she is desperate to discover the secret of their magic to find out if it can help her fix past mistakes.


There is very little actual magic, which I think has disappointed a lot of people, but I found it to all the more enthralling to spend the book trying to figure out whether magic is even real in this world. There are loads of moments where you wonder if they really are witches at all. River is fairly unlikeable at times but also sympathetic; she's obviously very messed up by her past and her own relationship with the idea of magic. I very quickly found the beautiful Graces siblings to have the same sort of mystique that the beautiful Cullen siblings have, especially in their simultaneous transcendence and compliance in the high school popularity hierarchy. This is not Twilight though, it's much darker, the stakes feel much higher, and River may be much more mysterious and dangerous than all the Graces put together.

Don't go in expecting full blown magic and fantasy- think garden variety high school wiccans and then prepare to be surprised.


Monday, 17 October 2016

Review!: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon















Following on from the awesome Everything Everything I was incredibly keen to read Nicola Yoon's next novel The Sun is Also a Star. Set on one day in New York City, this love story is about fate, destiny, the Universe and all those sickly sweet things. However this story is so powerful and unexpected that even the insta-love didn't bother and usually that REALLY bothers me. Natasha believes in science and facts and is definitely not sold on love and fate. On this particular day she is half a day away from being deported with her family to Jamaica. Having come to the United States as a child and with college less than a year away, Natasha is spending the day fighting for one last appeal to remain in New York. Daniel is a poet at heart but as the son of Korean immigrant parents he is expected to follow a very specific path to Yale and med school. In the city for an alumni admission interview for Yale later that day, Daniel is on his way to get his pony tail hair cut when he comes across Natasha deep in a headphone moment.

The love story that follows takes place across the next twelve hours, with point of view switching between Natasha and Daniel, with extra chapters of backstory on seemingly non important characters they encounter through the day. It's a testament to Nicola Yoon's writing that reading about two 18-year-olds falling in love over the course of half a day was not cringey, or eye-roll-inducing. The stakes felt real and high with Natasha's deportation looming and with it all her visions of her future. With Daniel thrown in the mix this felt like an even more cruel twist of fate.

If you loved Everything Everything I think you'll love this too. Don't be put off by the one-day-love-story premise, this is a clever, thoughtful, emotive book that was such a joy to read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Review!: Desolation (The Demon Road Trilogy Book 2) by Derek Landy
















Desolation is the second book of The Demon Road trilogy. Sooo spoilers ahead if you haven't read part one yet! We pick up where we left off with Amber and Milo on the run from the Shining Demon Astaroth who has the Hounds of Hell hot on their tails, and also her parents who are not pleased with how things went down in New York. They head to Desolation Hill, which is a tiny isolated town full of very unwelcoming people, but has the bonus of being out with Astaroth's reaches. Safe within the town's borders, with the hell hounds waiting just outside, they soon learn that something called Hell Night is only a few days away and they have been asked not so kindly to leave before then.

I thought this was a great follow up to Demon Road, less of a road trip this time, with most of the story's action taking place at Desolation Hill. We see Amber still battling with and coming to terms with her demon self, with some moments of genuine friendship forming between her and Milo. The introduction of the van full of young people, a Scooby gang homage complete with a dog, who travel the demon road as do-gooders battling all manner of demons, is brilliant. Kelly, Warrick, Linda, Ronnie provide a moral compass for being 'good' while Amber's parents and other demons are of course on the side of giving in to the 'bad'. The story is told from multiple points of view this time, with retired actors Virgil and Javier providing some comic relief and insider knowledge of the town.

The book culminates in an epic and quite frankly gruesome battle with so many moving parts it was almost too hard to keep up. There's quite the twisty ending so I am very much looking forward to reading the final part of the trilogy, which is out now!


I received a copy of this book from the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Books I Read in September: Desolation, The Sun is Also a Star, The Graces, With Malice, Lucky Penny











Here be the books I read in September! I've decided to shake things up a bit in my blogging format to give each review I do its own post to make it feel extra special. I started this blog to keep track of what I was reading, keep a record of my thoughts after reading, and to encourage me to read more. Now I get a lot of books to review, which is fun, and I feel I should give those reviews their own posts because that's more helpful for everyone I think. Also the books I read within a month don't always go together as a nice curated set so they can be a little weird reviewed next to each other. I mean I'm just making myself more work but oh well!

So from now on the monthly round up will still exist as a nice list of the stuff I've read each month. Maybe I should put book hauls here too? Do people like book haul posts? Hmm who knows.

Anyway! This month I read:

Desolation (The Demon Road book 2) by Derek Landy

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

The Graces by Laure Eve

With Malice by Eileen Cook

Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsh