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