Books I took to Copenhagen!

Copenhagen wasn’t really my kind of city. There wasn’t a lot of places to eat if you don’t eat meat and fish, and I didn’t end up finding much to do while I was there. On the other hand, the city was really beautiful and I actually managed to take a reasonable amount of books for once! So what did I pack…

Fighting Proud by Stephen Bourne
In this astonishing new history of wartime Britain, historian Stephen Bourne unearths the fascinating stories of the gay men who served in the armed forces and at home, and brings to light the great unheralded contribution they made to the war effort. Fighting Proud weaves together the remarkable lives of these men, from RAF hero Ian Gleed – a Flying Ace twice honoured for bravery by King George VI – to the infantry officers serving in the trenches on the Western Front in WWI – many of whom led the charges into machine-gun fire only to find themselves court-martialled after the war for indecent behaviour. 

I’ve talked about Fighting Proud a couple of times on my blog; when I bought it, its part in researching my Camp NaNo project and how I need to actually finish it after starting it on the plane. This is a really interesting read but I have to be in the right headspace for it because injustice can be exhausting. Probably not the best holiday read thinking about it!

Planetfall by Emma Newman*
Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.
More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.
Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.
The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…
I was lucky enough to get my hands on Planetfall at the Gollancz event for book bloggers and boy, I was sold on these books almost immediately when Stevie talked a little about them. I started Planetfall while I was away and really enjoyed the diversity, the f/f relationships, and the world! I’ve since finished it and bought the next book in the series.

Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs
Bagged and discarded, the dismembered body of a woman is discovered in the grounds of an abandoned monastery.
Dr Temperance Brennan, Director of Forensic Anthropology for the province of Quebec, has been researching recent disappearances in the city.
Soon she is convinced that a serial killer is at work. But when no one else seems to care, her anger forces her to take matters into her own hands. Her determined probing has placed those closest to her in mortal danger, however.
Can Tempe make her crucial breakthrough before the killer strikes again?

I bought this in Winter and haven’t picked it up yet. I just haven’t been in the mood for crime lately, it’s been a lot of YA being pulled off my shelves which is quite unusual for me. Although I so always take a crime book with me when I travel out of habit. They’re my version of a ‘beach read’!

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
A new King Arthur has risen and she’s got a universe to save.Coming to terms with your identity is always difficult. But for Ari, the 42nd reincarnation of King Arthur, it just got a whole lot more complicated. Gender-bending royalty, caustic wit and a galaxy-wide fight for peace and equality all collide in this epic adventure.
With an awkward adolescent Merlin and a rusty spaceship, this is the Arthurian legend as you have never before seen it.

Once & Future got a lot of hype when it first came out and now the dust has settled, I’m looking forward to seeing what I think of it. There have been some conflicting reviews! I was never big on the King Arthur legend but I love sci-fi and queer representation so hopefully I side with the hype-wagon.
You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman
Senior Ariel Stone has spent his life cultivating the perfect college résumé first chair violinist, dedicated volunteer, active synagogue congregant, and expected valedictorian. He barely has time to think about a social life, let alone a relationship… until a failed calculus quiz puts his future on the line, forcing Ariel to enlist his classmate, Amir, as a tutor.
As the two spend more time together, Ariel discovers he may not like calculus, but he does like Amir. When he’s with Amir, the crushing academic pressure fades away, and a fuller and brighter world comes into focus. But college deadlines are still looming. And adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push Ariel past his limit.
This was the only book I started and finished while I was away and I really liked it. I’ll go into it more in my review but this is less of a m/m romance and more about the academic pressures teens put themselves under. It was relatable and heart-warming while also being quite an easy read.
Her Kind by Niamh Boyce*
A woman seeks refuge for herself and 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.
Before long Petronelle comes to understand that in the city pride, greed and envy are as dangerous as the wolves that prowl the savage countryside. And she realises that Alice’s household is no place of safety.
Once again, Petronelle decides to flee. But this time she confronts forces greater than she could ever have imagined and she finds herself fighting for more than her freedom…
Tense, moving and atmospheric, Her Kind is a vivid re-imagining of the events leading up to the Kilkenny Witch Trial.
There are so many amazing books about witches coming out this year and Her Kind is one of them, although, not about witches as much as history’s “witches”. Either way, I didn’t get around to this but I’m still so excited to read it. I can’t think of the last book I read set in Ireland!

Have you been to Copenhagen? Have you read any of these?
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Book Unhaul #6

It’s unhaul time again! I own too many books and I think if I piled them all up, they could definitely fall and kill me. So that’s a weird thing to think that I now find very stressful. So let’s unhaul twenty books in one quick go. These’ll be making their way to my nearest charity shop where they’ll hopefully find a new person to read them.

Girls in TearsHow to Survive Summer CampLola RoseThe Diamond GirlsLove Lessons, Dustbin Baby, and Midnight by Jacqueline Wilson
I found a bunch of these while going through my family’s storage unit and decided these seven can go. Jacqueline Wilson dominated kids books ‘for girls’ ten years ago so I read a lot of them. They deal with kids in difficult situations which I really wasn’t at that age, this might’ve helped me be a little bit more empathetic and they are pretty diverse. But boy, flicking through them as an adult can be an uncomfortable experience. Love Lessons has straight up victim-blaming and acceptance of a teacher-student relationship that has kids online talking about how they want the teacher to leave his wife for the 14-year-old… Yikes. Becky from Becky Bedbug also has some interesting thoughts on these books as well.

I kept a few of them that I have stronger nostalgic attachments to but I’m never going to re-read these so they can go. And the others might end up joining them.

Dead Until Dark, Living Dead in Dallas, Club Dead x 2, Dead to the World x 2, Dead as a Doornail, Definitely Dead, All Together Dead, From Dead to Worse, Dead and Gone x 2 and Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

We all know I love Charlaine Harris and Sookie Stackhouse, so much that I actually own several copies of the first ten books in the series. I briefly thought I was going to collect the cute Orbit covers as well. But I much prefer the newer covers I own, and I’m not a multiple copies kind of person really. Thirteen books take up so much shelf space! 
Havve you read any of these? Do you have mulitple copies of certain books?
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Author Post: Eva Seyler on her Research Process!

Imogen checking in here to say I’m so excited to introduce you all to Eva Seyler and how she researches her historical fiction books. I’m currently working on a historical fiction project so this post has been truly invaluble to me, and hopefully will be for you too! Anyway, enough of me…

I’ve been asked to write a guest post about my research process! I’ve written three books since late 2017 (two not being out yet), and all three of them have had their own individual research approach, so this will be fun.
I begin all my historical projects the same way: by reading all the relevant nonfiction I can get my hands on. I see what my library has, and once I’ve exhausted their supply, I’ll start trolling AbeBooks for used copies of books that look useful. One book invariably leads to another. 
I’ve had to rein myself in a lot. I went absolutely nuts buying WWI books during the writing of The War in Our Hearts, and I justify it to myself by saying that I’ll be writing more about it in the future (I do have at least two other WWI-era stories in mind). So I’ve stopped buying books unless I literally cannot get them any other way, but even so, I do not necessarily read them all cover to cover. That would just be impossible! I’m a bit of an obsessive hurricane when I write, so unless the entire research book is relevant (and it’s often not), I come to a point during my projects where I’ll just go to the index and browse all the pages mentioning a certain topic and take notes that way. 
Here are some example photos from the notebook in which I compiled all my trench warfare notes. For what it’s worth, doodling on my notes for TWIOH got me into the zone a bit, because Aveline (one of my main characters, a 13 year old orphan girl) draws on everything. It seemed to be what she’d have done. Also, have an exclusive peek at a SuperTechnicallyAccurate(™) map that I drew of the setting of my book!


For my post-WWII-escaped-Nazis-in-Argentina WIP, I’ve had a number of topics I needed to research fairly intensively, and I decided to try the Colour-Coded Index Card Approach. Here’s my master list of topics and what colour I designated for each one:
And some examples of how I took notes on the cards:
At the bottom of each card I put the title of the source material and the author’s name (or initials), because otherwise there is no way I’ll remember where I got specific facts by the time the book comes out! And I like to have lists of related/recommended reading I can put on my website for people who want to learn more.  
Finally, for my middle-grade novel set in 1925 Turner, Oregon, I was able to do most of my research on-site. In fact, I had really no other option! Turner is a tiny town, and there’s very little written material available to turn to for such niche research. So I went to the library in Salem (our state capital, about eight miles from Turner and about an hour north of where I live) and I spent several Thursdays combing through microfilm of 1925 newspapers. I went to the Willamette Heritage Centre, and they helped me dig up a telephone directory for Turner. 
I contacted the principal of the elementary school (which was opened in 1922), who gave me a tour, allowed me to dig through nearly-century-old records, and hooked me up with the Turner mayor. The mayor, in turn, connected me with a gentleman in his 90s who has spent his entire life in Turner. Thanks to the school records and the telephone directory, I had a fairly comprehensive list of every resident of Turner in 1925, and this man was able to go down that list and tell me about a lot of them in an epic 3-hour visit. There was no way I could take notes and listen too, so I used my recorder: 
Listening to and transcribing three hours of chat afterwards was a bit exhausting. But it was worth it. 
Of all these methods, I think the most practically useful has been the colour-coded index cards. It’s been a quick way to access a specific bit of research when I’m editing or writing a specific part of my WIP. 
The on-site research is the most fun, but not so practical, because it’s one thing to drive one hour north for an afternoon, and completely another thing to hop on a plane and fly to Argentina for six months. Fortunately, there are sites like TripAdvisor.com that have SO many photos you can flip through of almost any place on earth and, if you’re lucky, information about the weather at a given time of year or such like, to help add authenticity to your setting, if it’s not somewhere you can easily go. 
I should also mention that I have one of those accordion-style expanding folders that I store all my notes and general materials in (early drafts, either handwritten or printed out and marked up; timelines; any of the abovementioned notecards or other notes). 
So, that’s how I conduct and organise my research when I’m writing. 
Thanks for having me, Imogen! <3 <3
–Eva Seyler

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The Non-Fiction Books I Need to Finish!

Non-fiction is a bit of an odd genre for me because I love documentaries and regularly start books about subjects I’m interested in, but I almost never finish non-fiction books. So I went hunting through my book piles and picked out the three I found the most interesting, and I’m going to try and finish them this Summer!



The True History of Chocolate by Sophie and Michael Coe*
Chocolate – ‘the food of the Gods’ – has had a long and eventful history. Its story is expertly told here by the doyen of Maya studies, Michael Coe, and his late wife, Sophie. The book begins 3,000 years ago in the Mexican jungles and goes on to draw on aspects of archaeology, botany and socio-economics. Used as currency and traded by the Aztecs, chocolate arrived in Europe via the conquistadors, and was soon a favourite drink with aristocrats. By the 19th century and industrialization, chocolate became a food for the masses – until its revival in our own time as a luxury item. Chocolate has also been giving up some of its secrets to modern neuroscientists, who have been investigating how flavour perception is mediated by the human brain. And, finally, the book closes with two contemporary accounts of how chocolate manufacturers have (or have not) been dealing with the ethical side of the industry.

Chocolate is a good chunk of the food I eat so when I started reading this during Lent after I gave up chocolate, this book felt a little like torture. I’ve spent hours wandering the chocolate museum in Köln and find the whole process fascinating so I’m looking forward to taking a really deep dive into it’s history, as well as the current market and ethics. What I’ve read so far is wonderfully written and ideal for reading with a cookie or five.

Please Take Me Home: The Story of the Rescue Cat by Clare Campbell
In Please Take Me Home, Clare Campbell takes us on a journey with the nation’s rescue cats, from being treated as pests throughout history to being the pet of choice today.
For a long time, stray cats in Britain were seen as a nuisance and hunted down as vermin. Having invited this wild, independent creature into our homes, humans did not extend their welcome for long. Over time, thousands of cats were subsequently abandoned and left to live on the margins of survival.
There were, however, the kind few who sought to help. But these good spirited people were often scorned, even derided as ‘mad’. A Princess of Wales was even told to stop helping lost cats in order to avoid a royal scandal; the story was kept a secret of state for years. It would take over a century for strays to become the beloved rescue cats of today, with some now gaining celebrity status, such as Downing Street’s Larry or Street Cat Bob.
Please Take Me Home is a fascinating and insightful history through the ages of the struggle for cats to exist in domesticity alongside mankind.


I began fostering cats in 2017 and since then, it’s become about 70% of my personality. I’ve literally had to stop writing this post three times because of kittens climbing onto my desk and standing on my keyboard (look at this silly boy). So I’m really interested in the history of the rescue cat and the people that began the charity work I do now! I have a feeling this is going to fill me with righteous indignation about the ten-and-a-half million cats estimated to be on the UKs streets, and how it’s all humans fault.

Fighting Proud by Stephen Bourne
In this astonishing new history of wartime Britain, historian Stephen Bourne unearths the fascinating stories of the gay men who served in the armed forces and at home, and brings to light the great unheralded contribution they made to the war effort. Fighting Proud weaves together the remarkable lives of these men, from RAF hero Ian Gleed – a Flying Ace twice honoured for bravery by King George VI – to the infantry officers serving in the trenches on the Western Front in WWI – many of whom led the charges into machine-gun fire only to find themselves court-martialled after the war for indecent behaviour. Behind the lines, Alan Turing’s work on breaking the ‘enigma machine’ and subsequent persecution contrasts with the many stories of love and courage in Blitzed-out London, with new wartime diaries and letters unearthed for the first time. Bourne tells the bitterly sad story of Ivor Novello, who wrote the WWI anthem `Keep the Home Fires Burning’, and the crucial work of Noel Coward – who was hated by Hitler for his work entertaining the troops. Fighting Proud also includes a wealth of long-suppressed wartime photography subsequently ignored by mainstream historians. This book is a monument to the bravery, sacrifice and honour shown by a persecuted minority, who contributed during Britain’s hour of need.

I actually got this for a story I was planning on writing for my creative writing module and needed to do some research about the gay men who served in WWII. Now it’s stemmed into the whole idea behind my Camp NaNoWriMo project so, unsurprisingly, it’s really good. My only issue is that I can get really sad reading some of the stories that don’t have the happiest endings so I have to take it in small chunks. It’s a really powerful and important book.

Have you read any of these? What are your favourite non-fiction books?
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Books I Read in November!

I’m going to catch up on these monthly wrap-up posts, I swear. Starting with November when half the books I read were co-written, which is an odd little coincidence! I really liked most of the books I got around to in November and even now, months later, really want to re-read at least two of them because of how much they impacted me. So!

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
I listened to the audiobook of this and it was so dang good even though I knew whodunnit (the BBC show was great too). I was genuinely spooked as it ramped up towards the end and the atmosphere was just so well-developed. The narrator, Hugh Fraser, does a lot of Agatha Christie audiobooks so I’m really looking forward to listening to some more when Autumn rolls around, which is really the perfect Christie season.

Magisterium: The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
I agree with my initial review on my re-read of this! Although I did rate it slightly lower; four stars rather than five, as I find that ramped up cliffhangers tend to make me rate books slightly higher the first time around. Plus, with the reading one right after the other, I found a continuity error and that is the kind of stuff that bothers my nitpicky soul when it comes to entertainment.


Magisterium: The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
I posted my full review of this just a few weeks ago here!
Sometimes he forgot how small she was because her bravery loomed so large in his mind.

Magisterium: The Golden Tower by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
Unsurprisingly, I loved the final book in this series and it even had me laugh out loud at some points. Everything was tied up and rounded out well, it’s what you hope for in a final book really.
My main problem with the series and this book, in particular, is just how rushed it all feels. On one hand; they’re both pretty busy authors, Holly Black has her new series and Cassandra Clare seems to have a couple series on the go. And the Magisterium series didn’t get much attention after the first book had its week on YouTube. On the other hand, I just wish they had taken their time with it a bit more. I gave books two to five, four stars and I genuinely think they could’ve all been as good as the first book with just a little more fleshing out.
I do hope Holly Black and Cassandra Clare work together again in the future. I’d love a companion series set in this world that delved into the European mages and their hatred of Chaos magic.


Persuasion by Jane Austen
Literally everyone I spoke to when I was starting to read Austen’s works said that this was their favourite, even my mother who has pretty great taste. But it was my least favourite of the five I’ve read so far. I just didn’t connect with these characters at all and it really lacked some of the playfulness that her other works have. Maybe I’ll re-read it in a few years and my opinions will change but I’d much rather dive into Sense & Sensibility again.


Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
Fun fact about me: Ebooks trigger my migraines so I mainly borrow them from the library as a way of deciding if I want to buy a physical copy. I also don’t read very fast. I dip into books in short bursts rather than long stretches. I read this book in ebook form, in one night. And ended up buying a physical copy too.
I’ll be doing a full review of this one because it blew my mind.


Christmas with the East End Angels by Rosie Hendry*
You can read my full review here!

Heartstopper: Volume 1 by Alice Oseman
I really like the Heartstopper comic, I read it online and decided to back it on Kickstarter and now it’s traditionally published! It’s adorable but, maybe because I read a lot of comics, I just don’t think the art translates well in print.

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris
I love Charlaine Harris but alternate history Wild West stories might not be the genre for me. The main vibe of the book that has stayed with me is an uncomfortable relationship with sex throughout. You’ve got an older male character ‘waiting’ until a female character is old enough to sleep with, and while there is an openness about sex work, the term ‘whore’ is thrown about. I guess because of the time? I’ll still probably read the next book. I can’t just not read a Charlaine Harris.
“-I stood looking up, seeing the vastness above me, nothing between me and the hereafter. I had my place, standing here on this dirt.”

Have you read any of these? What did you think?
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Book Review: Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir!

There are a few series which I never stop talking about; this is one of them! I loved book one, impatiently waited for book two, loved book two, impatiently waited for book three and took it on holiday where I read it in three days. You know I love a series where there’s a paper trail on my blog that I can link you through!

Ever since she was a child, Jane has longed for a cloistered life as a nun. But her large noble family has other plans, and, as an adult, Jane is invited to the King’s court to serve as lady-in-waiting for Queen Katherine of Aragon. The devout Katherine shows kindness to all her ladies, almost like a second mother, which makes rumours of Henry’s lustful pursuit of Anne Boleyn—who is also lady-in-waiting to the queen—all the more shocking. For Jane, the betrayal triggers memories of a painful incident that shaped her beliefs about marriage.

But once Henry disavows Katherine and secures his new queen—altering the religious landscape of England—he turns his eye to another: Jane herself. Urged to return the King’s affection and earn favour for her family, Jane is drawn into a dangerous political game that pits her conscience against her desires. Can Jane be the one to give the King his long-sought-after son or will she meet a fate similar to the women who came before her?

I have to start by saying… Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen* was my least favourite book so far. I only rated it… four stars. Shocking, I know! I’ve loved this series so much that this was a surprise to me, even though I still really enjoyed it. I guess not everyone can be a Katherine of Aragon or an Anne Boleyn. Jane may have been Henry’s favourite but she isn’t mine.

It’s just that Jane as a character is just a little bit boring. The book doesn’t reflect this because it’s really interesting but as a character… Everything happens to her, which, yeah, she was a woman in the 1500s but rarely is a decision made that she actually sticks to. Then she’ll blame someone else. And her relationship with the King! She literally says at one point that “no sane woman would want to entangle herself with such a man” but goes on to talk about his vulnerability. She’s that friend you have that keeps going back to her ex even when he’s clearly a terrible person.

Reflecting, I’m not a huge fan of the choice to add the supernatural aspect of ghosts to the story. It was interesting, but it strays a little too far into the fictional side of historical fiction. It’s my pet peeve in science-based crime-dramas on TV when they do this and it’s always such a jump-the-shark moment for me, especially since there’s no historical base for it. If she had written a letter mentioning a ghost, sure, but as you can tell from the title, this Haunted Queen kind of overshadows the actual person.

As always though, Alison Weirs Author’s Note is truly fascinating as she goes into her method of writing historical fiction; her sources and choices. It makes me wish more authors would go into their thought processes and writing methods, it’s fascinating. I really have to pick up one of her non-fiction books these days.

Have you started this series yet? What do you think?

*I was sent a proof copy of this book. I bought the hardcover myself.
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Book Review: A Clean Canvas by Elizabeth Mundy!

It’s been a while since I read a really good cosy crime novel so when the opportunity to be on the blog tour for A Clean Canvas* came up, I jumped at it. And I’m so glad I did because this was a blast. So much so that I’ve asked my local library to get in the first book because I really want more of Lena and her investigations.

Crime always leaves a stain…

Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner, dusts off her detective skills when a masterpiece is stolen from a gallery she cleans with her cousin Sarika. But when Sarika goes missing too, accusations start to fly.

Convinced her cousin is innocent, Lena sweeps her way through the secrets of the London art scene. With the evidence mounting against Sarika and the police on her trail, Lena needs to track down the missing painting if she is to clear her cousin.

Embroiling herself in the sketchy world of thwarted talents, unpaid debts and elegant fraudsters, Lena finds that there’s more to this gallery than meets the eye.

A Clean Canvas is the second book in the Lena Szarka mysteries with a Hungarian cleaner solves crimes in London, and if that doesn’t appeal to you then I don’t know what will. There’s something about reading about cleaning and a main character who genuinely enjoys it that just inspired me to do a bit around the house. I even found myself running a wet rag over the skirting boards! I’ve read a cosy crime series about a cleaner before (the Lily Bard series by Charlaine Harris) and this was so much more realistic to me.

I’ll admit, even with a good many detective books on my shelves, I didn’t see who the thief was until the very end. I had many theories along with Lena and it felt like we explored them together rather than being led down a path then told it was a dead end. There were twists and turns and lots of intersections with other life events crossing over our main storyline. It’s a great example of cosy crime and why I tend to reach for it more than other styles of crime books.

I liked that even in a light-hearted read, there was still a fair bit of social commentary on how the middle-classes treat people who work for them, especially immigrants. When something is stolen, it seems like everyone’s first thought is Lena and her cousin. When things go missing from a clients house, the suspitions are immediately aimed at Lena. It was interesting to see that addressed and not treated as a joke.

The only thing that didn’t work for me was the portrayal of OCD. I felt it came across as quite stereotypical, like a caricature of a person with OCD. However, at 280 pages, I imagine it would be quite difficult to dive into it. The rest of the book was so wonderfully diverse that it really was the only blip.

You can find A Clean Canvas here, and the first book in the series; In Strangers’ Houses here!

“Coffee is terrible everywhere in this country… But at least it is not tea.”

Do you like cosy crime?
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Book Review: Magisterium: The Silver Mask by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare!

While this is a spoiler-free review for book four, it might contain spoilers for book one, book two and book three so beware!

A generation ago, Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn’t succeed… but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt. 


Now Call is one of the most feared and reviled students in the history of the Magisterium, thought to be responsible for a devastating death and an ever-present threat of war. As a result, Call has been imprisoned and interrogated. Everyone wants to know what Constantine was up to- and how he lives on. 


But Call has no idea. It is only when he’s broken out of prison that the full potential of Constantine’s plan is suddenly in his hands… and he must decide what to do with his power.

I’ve been a fan of this series from the word Go. I think it’s one of, if not the best middle-grade fantasy series and I even re-read the first four books which is pretty unusual for me! Plus, as this was my second read of this book, I’ve started picking up on the little things Holly Black and Cassandra Clare have added as foreshadowing and it just showed how cleverly written they are.

I love the character development that’s happening book-to-book. The kids are kids but they’re slowly growing up at a reasonable rate, and it’s just such a realistic timeline. There’s no jumps to suddenly being a grown-up, like some other books I’ve read. I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that the Jasper/Callum friendship is a treat and it continues to be great, they’re kids being kids!

“You’re the only one I can talk to, Call,” said Jasper.
“You mean because I’m chained to this floor and can’t get away?”
“Exactly.”

I really appreciated the addition of queer representation in this book as well. An established character told the story of falling in love and it wasn’t a big thing. It was just a man loving a man and it was so normalised. More of this, please. Although, I still wish there were a few more female characters. It’s really the only thing that lets down the series for me, but we’re talking two female to five or six male characters and I really hoped in my review of the third book that this would even out. It hasn’t, which is a bit disappointing.

Since starting, I’ve always been waiting for these books to go full Harry Potter dark on me, but I’m pleased to say that they haven’t. They keep up their overall optimism and I love them for it. They even balance out the sadness with some comedy which made me laugh out loud.

What’s your favourite middle-grade series? Have you read the Magisterium books?
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My Winter Book Haul!

For the past couple years I’ve been trying to curb my book buying habit. No more book hauls where I never end up reading the books, no more TBR that could crush a human, no more! Then this year, I said no more to that. I told myself that as long as I read them, I could buy them. So…

I haven’t read many of these yet… but I’m working on it!

Starting with the oddballs, Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews has been on my radar for a while and I decided to finally pick it up after finding myself craving urban fantasy.
Déjà Dead by Kathy Reichs on the other hand, was just because I was catching up on Bones and boy, did it jump the shark. I’m hoping that the source material has the vibe that I fell in love with the TV show for.
And Collected Stories by Vladimir Nabokov was because I’m studying Creative Writing and I needed to read some short stories for reference. And I love Nabokov’s Lolita so he was an obvious choice.

I love-love-loved The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams after reading it last year so, of course, I needed her first trilogy. The Copper Promise, The Iron Ghost and The Silver Tide by Jen Williams are at the top of my TBR right now and I’m even thinking about doing a reading vlog because I have a good feeling they’re going to be one of those series that I’ll always wish I could read for the first time again.

I’ve always found military history interesting and lately I’ve been curious about the LGBT+ soldiers. After searching around, I found the non-fiction Fighting Proud by Stephen Bourne and the fiction The Charioteer by Mary Renault. I’m really excited to get to both of them once I finish Regeneration by Pat Barker, a book I already owned that got me interested in the topic.

More LGBT+ books that made it to my shelves this season were The Heart Begins Here by Jacqueline Dumas, Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall and Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. I actually read Autoboyography last year and loved it so much that I needed my own copy, and needed more like it, which is why I bought Been Here All Along, another M/M YA romance. In comparison, The Heart Begins Here is an adult book about a feminist bookstore run by a lesbian couple at a time when independent bookstores started feeling the heat of chains and the internet.

Have you read any of these? What do you think of my picks?
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Books I Read in October!

I’m slowly catching up on these reading wrap-ups and I have to say, October of last year was a pretty amazing reading month for me! It definitely helped having a holiday to Iceland but I was just really enjoying picking up books and reading in October. I think as the seasons change, I’m more inclined to curl up on the sofa with a blanket and enjoy a good book with a cup of cocoa.

Pile of books in front of a patterned background

Dominion by Jennifer Ridyard and John Connolly*
This took me a good couple years to get to. I loved the first two books in this trilogy so much that I got stage fright when it came to the final! I built it up in my head that it felt near impossible that it would reach my high expectations. Despite this, it did.
I cringe from the word ‘banter’ but there really is no other way to describe the charming back-and-forth between the cast of characters. An entire cast who are all fleshed out with insights into their backstories and personalities, no matter how minor. There are no throwaways here. But the thing that stands out the most to me is the use of time. It was impossibly clever but impossible to go into without spoiling the first two books so look out for that in my series review. These books are truly the best YA that I’ve read and I recommend them to everyone.
The clear water still lapped in her mind like all the tears ever shed in the universe, and she found her tears were wet with it.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare*
I decided to re-read the Magisterium series when the fifth and final book came out for a couple reasons; I actually read along with the release dates for the most part so it’s been quite spread out, and I never finished my full review of the fourth book and I wanted to refresh my mind a little before I got to it.
I wrote a full review of this book back when I first read it three years ago and for the most part, I still agree. If anything, I love it more! No longer do I find the tunnel school creepy, but charming and I actually prefer this world to Harry Potter. And the foreshadowing? Incredible.


The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare*
In my initial review of this I wrote: “I think it has great re-readabiliy” and y’know what? I was right! Go read that review because everything I wrote there stands up three years later including for when I found this hard to get into at the start. It was still a little tough for the first couple chapters.
“I always have a plan”, she said, raising her eyebrows. “Sometimes even a scheme. You should take lessons from me.”

Service with a Smile by P. G. Wodehouse
I’m truly so impressed with how the threads of Wodehouse’s plots tangle and untangle over the course of the book. He is a master even if it does get a bit repetitive. At least if he’s self-aware;

-it sometimes seemed to her that Blandings Castle had Imposters the way other houses had mice-

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
I had a go at reading this in Summer last year, but didn’t get very far and moved on to other Austens. However, in October I discovered that Audible had released the audiobook read by Rosamund Pike, who read Pride and Prejudice to me last December which I loved! She really brings the characters to life.
And y’know what? I really liked this! I wish the relationships ended up a different way than they did but it was really funny and I might actually prefer it to Pride and Prejudice as my favourite Austen. I’ll have to re-read both at some point to see. 

-with them, to wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect.


Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
This felt too much like two separate books for me to love it. The Bath section and the Northanger Abbey section felt so distinctly different that while listening to the audiobook, I was convinced I had skipped chapters or something. However, I very much enjoyed the novel-adoring heroine and her paranoia coming from reading too many scary stories reminded me a lot of my personal fears following my reading of It by Stephen King last year. 
Nothanger Abbey has the added benefit of Austen’s comments on writing, which I really enjoyed! She speaks to the reader about common opinions on novels at the time she was writing and maybe it’s the English Lit student in me but it was really interesting.
“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not the pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

Have you read any of these? What did you think?
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