Book Review: The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler!

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler

Books about books are my favourite thing. My favourite cosy mystery protagonist is a librarian. My favourite romance is set in a novel-writing class. I read book blogs daily. Plus, I’m an English Literature student so I spend a lot of time reading critical journals. The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler* is right up my street because it’s a book chock full of passion about books. 

Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead. So begins Christopher Fowler’s foray into the back catalogues and backstories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from shelves.

These 99 journeys are punctuated by 12 short essays about faded once-favorites, including the now-vanished novels Walt Disney brought to the screen, the contemporary rivals of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie who did not stand the test of time, and the women who introduced psychological suspense many decades before it conquered the world. This is a book about books and their authors. It is for book lovers and is written by one who could not be a more enthusiastic, enlightening, and entertaining guide.

I’ve been reading this book for a long time (I started in 2017!). It’s a book where you could dip in and out of with ease. But sitting down for a good long session didn’t quite keep up the charm. So, ironically, I put it to one side and kind of forgot about it until I was doing a declutter. I finished it that day.

You can tell that a lot of work went into the original articles that this book is based off and it pays off. Each author has a neat little biography and the essays were easy and interesting reads. While I raised an eyebrow at some being considered forgotten, I’m sure V.C. Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic haunts many a millennial, it would be impossible not to get excited about the books and the history and reading in general!

Obviously people have different tastes so a book of 99 authors is sure to include some, or many, that I don’t find interesting or recommendable. I wouldn’t personally have chosen to include the overtly racist authors or the prosecuted sex-offender. It felt like Fowler wanted to mention these because he did the research when really these authors could just stay forgotten. Plus, I understand that publishing is, like almost everything, a male-dominated field. But I needed for there to be more diverse choices. It stands at about a quarter female, and very very white.

Overall though, I found myself with a list of authors books to add to my TBR. Some of my picks are From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron, a novelisation of his experience in the run up to D-day. The Wooden Overcoat by Pamela Branch, purely from the description as a mix of P.G. Wodehouse and Ladykillers. Whatever I can find by Lucille Fletcher, a noir suspense writer who seems irritatingly out-of-print. The Dr. Thorndyke detective stories by R. Austin Freeman sound like a more to-my-taste detective stories from the time of Sherlock Holmes. And Eleanor Hibberts vast historical fiction repertoire under the pen name Jean Plaidy.

If you’re like me and you feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of current releases, or publishing trends mean that your preferred style is out at the moment, I think this is a really interesting way to refresh your TBR. You’re sure to get caught up in passion for books if you pick this up.

Waterstones | Amazon | Hive

Do you have a favourite forgotten author? Or someone who deserved to be a classic?

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Books I Read in July & August!

Where has 2020 gone? How is it November? Don’t ask me what happened this year, I simply don’t know! What I do know is that I read some really fun books, and some really odd books at the end of Summer. So here they are!

Wranglestone by Darren Charlton

I love a zombie story. But a lot of them are illogical as far as where people choose to live. Don’t just board up your house in the suburbs, that’s so unsafe! In Wranglestone, they live on little islands on a lake. It’s so smart.
I desperately loved this book for a couple of reasons: the setting of a cabin on stilts in the middle of a lake in winter. Just the idea makes me feel cosy. Then there’s the romance, two awkward teenage boys not knowing how to talk to each other? Adorable. And the twist on the regular zombie story, no spoilers but it’s a really fun read. I can’t wait for the sequel and I’m definitely going to re-read this one.
“-staying awake with your thoughts while the rest of the world slept was a nightmare in reverse.”

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This was one of those books were I probably spent the same amount of time reading about the book, as I did reading the book. It’s an odd one! I thought the whole concept of the underground railroad being an actual physical railroad, rather than a network of people that helped escaping enslaved people, would get more page time! As it was, there was probably only 20 pages on the actual tracks and most was focused on the stops along the way. I wish that was explored more, but Whitehead uses the railroad to throw the main character, Cora, into all sorts of situations that one person might not have experienced if she wasn’t stopping off in all these places.
It covers a lot of things that were happening to Black people, and specifically Black women at the time all over the US.
Any book about this topic is going to be harrowing, and this was no exception. Prepare yourself!

The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey

This is the first Tey I’ve read and I found it absolutely charming. Rather than the usual murder mystery, two slightly oddball women are accused of kidnapping a girl and trying to force her to be their maid. And the main character doing the investigating is their lawyer, which I’ve never read before.
The investigation that happens in response was really nicely paced, there are always strands being unravelled and complications arising. Add the tiniest dash of romance and a love for the English countryside and you’ve got yourself my dream mystery. I can’t wait to read more of her books!
“The gardens were small miracles of loveliness; each succeeding one a fresh revelation of some unsuspected poet’s heart.”

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

This 2020 debut is just plain weird. In a good way. But also a confusing way. I originally described this as Skins (the UK TV show) mixed with Wuthering Heights and I still think that’s pretty accurate. It’s a book full of atmosphere and depressed students. You just need to add in some science-magic.
I think I’m going to re-read this as an audiobook, as Linda really enjoyed it in that format. I think I struggled with it mostly because I was struggling with reading physically at the time.
“As we walked by the windows that looked out onto the black yard, our reflections drifted like spirits over the glass.”

XX by Angela Chadwick

I really liked the first few chapters of this one but the rest was just too- something…. I can’t put my finger on it but I found myself rushing through because the story was interesting but the characters felt quite one-dimensional. It would’ve been a better read for me if there was less of our MC debating how she’ll love a child and more depth on the really interesting concept of two-mother-babies.
“I lost her when I was only a baby and simply don’t have the memories to wrap in sorrow.”

The Inimitable Jeeves, Carry on, Jeeves, Very Good, Jeeves and Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

I can’t remember a single dang plot from these books specifically. They all merge into the general storyline of Bertie getting himself into trouble, thinking he can get himself out, only to find that Jeeves has fixed it all from the sidelines. They’re wonderfully funny books, and a must for tired brains.

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these?

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Hallowreadathon Prompt Fill Recommendations: A Book featuring an Important House!

I’m back with some more books that will fill the Hallowreadathon 7 prompt: a book featuring an important house. I gave you ten options last week and now I’ve got seven books that I’ve personally read and recommend!

Starting with classics of various genres and ease of reading!

Despite it looking average sized, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is actually a short novella. It’s about a governess that goes to look after two children in a house in the countryside. Only to find the house comes with some surprises. This is also the basis of The Haunting of Bly Manor, the follow-up to The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix.

The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey is a golden-age crime novel about two women who live in a huge house in the English countryside. They’re then accused of kidnapping a teenage girl and trying to make her their servant. It’s a good example of the crime novels that inspired modern-day ‘cosy mysteries’, and a great option for a slightly less creepy read.

Will I ever be able to forget Cathy’s ghost at the window in the beginning of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë? Absolutely not. If you’re feeling confident with your time management for the Hallowreadathon, this is a great chunky option for you. The old house on the barren moors is the setting for this toxic love story.

Next we have Young Adult books…

If you’re after vampires, I think Glass Houses by Rachel Caine is a great option. Not only does it have house in the title, our main character ends up living off-campus in a mansion described as “Gone With the Wind meets The Munsters” with an… interesting array of roommates!

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson was actually one of my Hallowreadathon reads last year. The important house is broken down and abandoned, and where our main character does her witchcraft. Only to bring her friend back from the dead! I love this one.

If witches are your thing but you want ghosts, instead of zombies, How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather is for you. The story of a girl that moves into a old, slightly-haunted house in Salem… Only to find that the local descendants of witches aren’t thrilled with her being a Mather.

And finally, my slightly oddball pick for those of you that like strange

The 2020 debut, Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas. I couldn’t explain this and do it justice but I originally described it as ‘Wuthering Heights meets Skins’. Not sure if that helps but this is a must-read for anyone who likes weird books.

Have you read any of these? Will you be reading any for the Hallowreadathon next weekend?

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Hallowreadathon Prompt Options: A Book featuring an Important House!

When I posted the prompt list for this years Hallowreadathon, I had one book in mind for this prompt. Therefore, it was only when I was putting my recommendation list together (coming soon!) that I realised… this is slightly more specific than usual and it might be quite tricky to find a book that fits! So here are ten options that fill the prompt of a book featuring an important house. These aren’t books that I’ve personally read but they all look wonderful. I can tell some of these are going to make their way onto my shelves at some point. Some are scary, some are charming, hopefully there’s something for everyone!

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

When glamorous socialite Noemí Taboada receives a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging to be rescued from a mysterious doom, it’s clear something is desperately amiss. Catalina has always had a flair for the dramatic, but her claims that her husband is poisoning her and her visions of restless ghosts seem remarkable, even for her.
Noemí’s chic gowns and perfect lipstick are more suited to cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing, but she immediately heads to High Place, a remote mansion in the Mexican countryside, determined to discover what is so affecting her cousin.

Waterstones | Amazon | Book Depository | Hive

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

High on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the loss of Lily, mother of twins Eliot and Miranda, and beloved wife of Luc. Miranda misses her with particular intensity. Their mazy, capricious house belonged to her mother’s ancestors, and to Miranda, newly attuned to spirits, newly hungry for chalk, it seems they have never left. Forcing apples to grow in winter, revealing and concealing secret floors, the house is fiercely possessive of young Miranda

Waterstones | Amazon | Book Depository | Hive

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, its owners – mother, son and daughter – struggling to keep pace. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become entwined with his.

Waterstones | Amazon | Book Depository | The Works | Hive

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.
When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

Amazon | Hive

Hell House by Richard Matheson

Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is going die. But when Deutsch, a wealthy magazine and newpaper publisher, starts thinking seriously about his impending death, he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums, one physical and one mental, $100,000 each to establish the facts of life after death. 
Dr. Lionel Barrett, the physicist, accompanied by the mediums, travel to the Belasco House in Maine, which has been abandoned and sealed since 1949 after a decade of drug addiction, alcoholism, and debauchery. For one night, Barrett and his colleagues investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townfolks refer to it as the Hell House.

Amazon | Book Depository

The Good House by Tananarive Due 

The home that belonged to Angela Toussaint’s late grandmother is so beloved that townspeople in Sacajawea, Washington, call it the Good House. But that all changes one summer when an unexpected tragedy takes place behind its closed doors . . . and the Toussaint’s family history – and future – is dramatically transformed. Angela has not returned to the Good House since her son, Corey, died there two years ago. But now, Angela is finally ready to return to her hometown and go beyond the grave to unearth the truth about Corey’s death.
Could it be related to a terrifying entity Angela’s grandmother battled seven decades ago? And what about the other senseless calamities that Sacajawea has seen in recent years? Has Angela’s grandmother, an African American woman reputed to have “powers” put a curse on the entire community?

Amazon | Book Depository | Hive

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.
In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone.
Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims?

Waterstones | Amazon | Book Depository | Hive

In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado

For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.

Waterstones | Amazon | Book Depository | Hive

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas

At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, is the Finch House. For years it has remained empty, overgrown, abandoned. Soon the door will be opened for the first time in decades. But something is waiting, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests…
When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt will become a fight for survival. The entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them a part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creek.

Amazon | Book Depository | Hive

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss–a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten–by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family. 
What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare–one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Waterstones | Amazon | Book Depository | Hive

Have I missed any of your favourites? Let me know!

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#Hallowreadathon 7!

I can’t believe this is the seventh Hallowreadathon! And the second with my lovely co-host Asha! And, for the first time ever, a three-day readathon rather than two days. This is for a couple reasons; Halloween is on a Saturday so we thought it would be nice to have Friday to get excited, Saturday to enjoy the best day of the year, and Sunday to wind down and extend the vibes that little bit longer. Plus, y’all voted for this! Make sure to follow us on Twitter to keep up to date on all that.

A kitten sat on a book looking at a pile of pumpkins

So how about some prompts…

1. Read a book featuring an important house!

Of course, we have no idea how the world will be by halloween but personally I’ll be staying home. And how better to make sure my socially-distanced halloween is as scary as possible by reading a book where the house is an important part of the story. This can obviously range from a cosy closed-room mystery, to the kind of gothic horror that will make you jump at every creak of a door and scratch at the window. Is it just a branch in the wind? Or something more nefarious? Curl up under a blanket and read instead of going out to check!

2. Read a book that’s been haunting your TBR!

You know the book. It’s been sat there and every time your eyes pass over it, there’s a shiver up your spine because you know it’s been there for way too long. Maybe you’ve picked it up a couple times and never made it past the prologue. The way this book is haunting your TBR is up to you,  this is your push to read it!

3. Read two books!

Despite extending the readathon to three days, we still want it to be a relatively calm experience. It’s been a weird year! Curl up with some cocoa, a cat on your lap, and eat all the candy yourself while you lose yourself in two wonderful stories.

So make sure to join us from the 30th of October to the 1st of November, using the hashtag #hallowreadathon and keep checking back for lots of recommendations to fulfil those prompts. See you then!

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The 5 Books I Need to Read in the last 5 Months of 2020!

With five months left in 2020 *gulp* I want to make a small to-be-read pile of books that I’m determined to pick up before the year is over. I’m a massive mood reader but I thrive when I have a reasonable stack of priority books to read rather than trying to pick from all my books!

1324, Kilkennie: A time of suspicion and conspiracy. A place where zealous men rage against each other – and even more against uppity women
A woman finds refuge with her daughter in the household of a childhood friend.
The friend, Alice Kytler, gives her former companion a new name, Petronelle, a job as a servant, and warns her to hide their old connection.
But in aligning herself with a powerful woman, Petronelle and her child are in more danger than they ever faced in the savage countryside…

This book has featured on not one TBR post, not two TBR posts, but three TBR posts so really I need to actually read it. I really want to! I don’t know why I haven’t apart from my piles and piles of other books. I tend to lean more towards royalty in historical fiction. But the more I read about witches, the more I want to know the trials. I don’t know if these characters actually identify as witches but either way, I’ll hopefully learn more about the Kilkenny Witch Trial.

The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams*

Since this is a sequel, I won’t post the spoiler-y blurb but here’s my spoiler-free review for The Ninth Rain.

I loved The Ninth Rain with my heart and soul. The only reason I haven’t read this is just that I’m just a massive coward when it comes to both sequels and chunky books. I did not, as I said in my review, immediately pick up The Bitter Twins. I let it sit on my shelf. It doesn’t deserve that! And I deserve to read books that I know I’ll love!

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow*

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the three Eastwood sisters join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote – and perhaps not even to live – the sisters must delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

This book hits a lot of the notes of things I enjoy: witches, suffragists and the late 19th century. I’ve picked this up a couple times but put it down because stress was getting in the way of my reading and I knew about ten pages in that this was something special. I want to savour it. But I also want to savour it soon!

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Born on the fringes of Bethel, Immanuelle does her best to obey the Church and follow Holy Protocol. For it was in Bethel that the first Prophet pursued and killed four powerful witches, and so cleansed the land.
And then a chance encounter lures her into the Darkwood that surrounds Bethel.
It is a forbidden place, haunted by the spirits of the witches who bestow an extraordinary gift on Immanuelle. The diary of her dead mother…
Fascinated by and fearful of the secrets the diary reveals, Immanuelle begins to understand why her mother once consorted with witches. And as the truth about the Prophets, the Church and their history is revealed, so Immanuelle understands what must be done. For the real threat to Bethel is its own darkness.
Bethel must change. And that change will begin with her…

Another witch book. I’ve created an accidental theme. This was a pre-order that I have stayed hyped for since ordering. Instead of letting it drift to the back of my mind, I checked the release date a bunch of times. Spirits? Diaries? Sinister churches? Count me in. Linda suggested I read this so I have high hopes!

Three Men on the Brummell by Jerome K. Jerome

Three Men on the Bummel records a break from the claustrophobia of suburban life some ten years later; their cycling tour in the Black Forest, at the height of the new bicycling craze, affords Jerome the opportunity for a light-hearted scrutiny of German social customs at a time of increasing general interest in a country that he loved. This account of middle-aged Englishmen abroad is spiced with typical Jeromian humour. 

I read Three Men on a Boat in February. It was actually my first time not listening to the abridged version of the audiobook… Although I did listen to that right after because Hugh Laurie does such a fantastic job. So the sequel has been one of those things that I’ve been absent-mindedly thinking about reading for a while now! 

What are you hoping to read in these last few months? Have you read any of my picks?

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Books I Read in May & June!

As of the beginning of June, I handed in my last assignment for this year of university! So for May, I was working pretty hard on that, but I managed a surprising amount of reading done. Then once it was handed in, I really went wild! These are the books that have kept me company during a truly odd time in the world.

Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson
This is such a strange little book that Asha very kindly sent me! The main character is a meat-eating, leather-shoe loving PETA member, a Republican, so straight she could be a ruler, and a newly turned vampire. But don’t worry! She isn’t “Madame Slut” because she’s only slept with three people (at the beginning of the book anyway). My search for my new Sookie books continues but Betsy isn’t her, although I don’t regret my brief time with her.  She’s a very funny oddball.
“Did I tell you I throw up solid foods?”
“A fine party trick-“

Real Murders by Charlaine Harris
So, it’s been 6 years since I first read Real Murders! I really love this world and re-reading it felt like a hug from an old friend. I’ve been watching the Hallmark movies on Amazon Prime and Channel 5 so I knew the story pretty well, but I still had a blast.

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
I was a huge Enid Blyton fan as a kid. I can still imagine the dormitories of St. Clares so vividly! So I was really excited when the wonderful Jemma sent this to me and couldn’t let it languish on my shelves for longer than a week. Overall, I really liked the Enid Blyton/ Agatha Christie mash-up vibes. It is exactly the kind of thing I would’ve loved to read as a kid (and still enjoyed as an adult).
Despite this being a literal murder mystery, I was still quite jarred by the repeated mention of suicide though. I didn’t expect it, I guess?

The Game Weavers by Rebecca Zahabi*
This is a debut that I’m going to write a full review on!

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
These were a re-read for me and I loved them all the more as a 26 year old! I’ll be doing a full blog post talking about them so keep an eye out for that!

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
This was probably my most anticipated release of 2020 and I’m still a little unsure on where I land with it. I’m really glad that I’m not doing star-ratings for books this year because it would’ve been an impossible task. 
A lot of people were concerned that it was going to try and redeem Snow but I don’t think it does. It’s just the point of view of the bad guy doing bad things which I think is sometimes more interesting!

Jane by Aline Brosh McKenna and Ramón Pérez
I think something that helped me enjoy this more than the average person picking this up was the fact that I loathe Jane Eyre. So the fact that this modernised graphic novel adaptation didn’t stick to important aspects of the original novel; no orphanage, no plain main character, 200 pages of art instead of 500 pages of tiny words, didn’t bother me as much. But it also left no real impression. 

My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Are these stories massively outdated, a little classist and almost identical plot-wise? Absolutely! Have these books been all I’ve wanted to listen to? Also yes. Essentially, Bertie gets into some kind of pickle, and Jeeves fixes it and earns himself some extra money. The perfect entertainment for a tired brain.

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of these?

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2020: Mid-Year Freak Out Tag!

I can’t believe that it’s July. I don’t think there’s been such a weird year in my entire life. So when the lovely Anne from Rooting Branches tagged me in the Mid-Year Freak Out tag, it seemed like a good way to look back at the books I’ve been reading in 2020 and take stock before looking forward!

1: Best book you’ve read so far in 2020!
It maybe shows how 2020 is going, but it’s The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It was just a really honest depiction of depression. I can see myself coming back to it over and over in the future.

2: Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020!
I haven’t actually read many sequels so far this year. Although, Katherine Howard: The Tainted Queen by Alison Weir* is the fifth book in the Six Queens series and it was another great addition to the series. I do want to read more sequels, it’s really nice to get a new plot with all the world-building already done in your mind.

3: New release you haven’t read yet, but want to!
I’ve been pretty good at actually reading my pre-orders this year so I don’t have any unread at the moment. But, my copy of My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell is currently in quarantine at Waterstones and I’m having to balance my want to read it with my fear of actually going to get it. Truly a 2020 problem!

4: Most anticipated release for the second half of the year!
I’m so keen to get my hands on Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. The news of the publishing date push-back ruined my whole day when I found out. At least an October release date makes it perfectly timed for Halloween season!

5: Biggest disappointment!
Not an individual book, but more a feeling I’ve had when reading. It seems to be getting harder and harder to immerse myself in a book. Hopefully it’ll pass soon.

6: Biggest surprise!
I knew I was probably going to enjoy How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather but I didn’t think I’d love it so much! I didn’t know much going in and was expecting the usual fun YA that’s mainly action and romance, but it ended up being a really smart and impactful story about bullying.

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

7: Favourite new author! (Debut or new to you)
Valerie Valdes’ debut, Chilling Effect* was an absolute romp of a space opera and I’m dying to get my hands on the sequel. Space cats!!!!

8: Newest fictional crush!
I’m not sure it counts because it’s more a I-want-you-in-my-life crush rather than romantic but I love Jeeves! I just finished My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse and immediately moved on to The Inimitable Jeeves. They’re such fun books and I want Jeeves to fix all the problems in my life.

9: Newest favourite character!
Hazel from Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens was a treasure. I really enjoyed the way that she wasn’t the leader of the detective society, so she got dragged into a lot of drama. I related to her a lot.

10: Book that made you cry!
I don’t really cry at books, I’m afraid! I did get a little choked up at Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, but who didn’t?

11: Book that made you happy!
I don’t know about anyone else but it has been so stressful lately that almost no books have been making me happy. However, Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome will always pull a laugh from me.

12: Favourite book to film adaptation that you’ve seen this year!
I’m not sure I can claim this since I’ve never read the books, but the Netflix series Virgin River has been an absolute delight. I found myself wanting to read a romance which is not really my genre. Maybe I need to ease myself in with some paranormal romance and see how I get on.

A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy

13: Favourite review you’ve written!
I’ve only written one full review this year- yikes! But I was very fond of A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy* and really liked my review.

14: Most beautiful book you’ve bought (or received) this year!
I was blessed by the ARC angels and got my hands on an early copy of The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow* and that cover? Every time I look at it, I swear I find something else I haven’t noticed before. Hopefully the book inside is just as beautiful.

15: What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
I don’t really need to read anything but I’m trying to keep up with all the books I’m purchasing… which is more than usual in lockdown! Top of my TBR is Wranglestone by Darren Charlton, Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett and The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin!

That’s all folks! I think everyone and their mother has done this tag by now so if you haven’t, I tag you!

What books are you looking forward to in the tail end of 2020?

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Currently Reading #3

Cat rubbing agains Small Island by Andrea Levy

I’m bringing back an old post format from 2016 today, because I find myself reading too many books. I’m in a bit of a slump so I’ve been picking up a bunch of different things and not finishing them. So I’m hoping this’ll be a fun way to sort it out in my mind while being able to talk about some books with you all! Plus, check out what I was reading in #1 and #2! It’s the best kind of throwback.

Pile of books

Small Island by Andrea Levy
Recent events have made me want to pick this one up and I can’t remember if I read it as a kid, but it’s been on my shelves for years and years so it’s about time I revisit it. Small Island is set post-WWII from the point of views of two Jamaican immigrants and two white Brits. It looks at England’s past and it’s wonderful so far. I’m mostly listening to the audiobook read by Andrea Levy as it’s a really wonderful performance.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
I read my first Pat Barker last year and it was one of my favourites of 2019! The Silence of the Girls is the Iliad from the point of view of the queen, Briseis. I’ll admit, I know next to nothing about the Iliad so it’s quite a learning curve. I’m tempted to borrow the audiobook from my library as it’s quite tough to get into.

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
Every now and again I feel the need to dip into some Middle Grade and the lovely Jemma sent this to me just a couple weeks ago! I’ve been reading this exclusively this morning and I’m loving the Enid Blyton/ Agatha Christie mashup vibes. I wasn’t expecting the mentions of suicide though, and that’s a little jarring!

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
This was a recommendation from the wonderful Linda and I’m already eyeing up the sequel. It’s a fun mix of urban fantasy and speculative fiction- a monster hunter story set on a Native American reservation in the world of a climate apocalypse. I can’t wait for the main character and her new companion to fight some monsters- and maybe fall in love? Fingers crossed.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
This is the last Austen novel I have to read and I’ve hit a bit of a wall with it because they’re putting on a play and that is a plotline I can’t stand in any novel. I know it doesn’t last forever but I can’t bring myself to force through it at the moment. Maybe once I’ve finished some of these others!

My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Sometimes I just need a bit of Wodehouse. And when I’m struggling to sleep in the midst of a global pandemic, that is his time to shine. These are short stories, half about Jeeves and Wooster and half about the character who was an early version of Wooster. And all are funny, sweet and almost identical in storyline so not hard to follow at all!

What are you reading at the moment? Have you read any of these?

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Books I Read in March and April!

It has been, unsurprisingly, a weird time over the past couple months. What with the pandemic and all, and my reading has been all over the place as a result. I’m not one of those people who have been devouring books as an escape, although I’m very jealous of them. Instead, I’ve been struggling to actually sit down and read without being incredibly aware of the fact that I’m reading and it being a struggle. So these are the books that I haven’t just thrown back onto my to-be-read pile within ten pages!

Pile of the books reviewed in post

Sweet and Deadly by Charlaine Harris
This is my favourites author debut and I didn’t love it. Charlaine Harris is my go-to. But it took her a couple go’s before she got the voice that I love so much now. It definitely makes me think I should give some other authors another try if I didn’t like their debut…

Atlas Alone by Emma Newman*
This was what I wanted from Ready Player One by Ernest Cline; immersive video games, post-nuclear apocalypse, real life consequences. It’s great! I read Planetfall last year and Atlas Alone really solidified how Emma Newman is one of those writers, like Charlaine Harris, where I seem to match with them. I just love their writing style so much that I will follow them anywhere.
I did have some weird feelings about the representation of asexuality in this one though. But I’m not asexual and that isn’t my place, so I went searching around and found some own-voices reviews. Please check them out for further detail; Sarah didn’t like the rep (spoilers in this one), Mairi did like the rep (spoiler-free).
“It’s the sense of total mental absorption that I love, the fading of my own noisy mind into the background with only the work filling the space.”

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes*
This is the first space opera style novel that I’ve enjoyed! I really want to like the sub-genre. I’ve tried many a different book in attempt but I’ve never found one that has done it for me. But space cats? I had to. So when I was sent this, it took me a couple of weeks to build the courage to pick it up. I’m going to do a full review on it and I am so looking forward to the sequel!  
“Favours are delicious,” Pink said. “I ask myself, ‘Dr. Jones, what do you want to eat for lunch?’ and favours are the first thing-“

Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salib
This is required reading for my last essay of my term at uni and I can’t say that I enjoyed reading it. However, it’s pretty interesting to read about. The author specifically chose to work with the stereotypes that both the West and the East have of Arab-Africans. So its the perfect book for an essay based on subverting readers expectations. It’s just a little unfortunate that it didn’t subvert my expectations that I wouldn’t have fun reading it. Post-modernist texts are not my favourite.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Stress has been making it hard for me to focus and enjoy reading, as weird as that may seem in a wrap-up of seven books. But it has, at times, felt like a bit of a chore. So I listened to the audiobook of The Bell Jar on a weird hunch and yeah, Plath describes the exact feeling. I loved this completely. And want to re-read it and do a full review on how much it meant for me in these weird times.
“The letters grew barbs and rams’ horns. I watched them separate, each from the other, and jiggle up and down in a silly way.”

The Book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler*
I have a full review of this one coming soon! 

Lady Susan by Jane Austen
This may be a controversial opinion, because when I asked the question: what Jane Austen should I start with? Nobody said Lady Susan. But over the past couple years I’ve read Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey in one month, and Persuasion. So I feel pretty confident in saying- Lady Susan is a good starter Austen.
It’s an epistolary novel, so told in letters. And it’s about a truly awful society woman who is trying to get her daughter, and herself, married again. At less than 100 pages you get a real glimpse into Austen’s style without the pressure of staring down 500 pages of prose.
-for the pleasure of learning that the danger is over, is perhaps dearly purchased by all that you have previously suffered.”

What books have you been reading lately? What do you think of my new blog design? (please bear with me as I get my footing)

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