New Year’s Resolution Book Tag

Happy 2023 one and all! πŸŽ†

It’s 18 days into the new year now, so it’s not quite so new now but better late than never πŸ˜‚ It seemed only fitting that the first post for 2023 should be the New Year’s Resolution book tag.

This tag was originally developed by Brown Eyed Musings and Embuleeliest.

Get in shape: A book that doesn’t fit on your shelf correctly

Complete Works – William Shakespeare

It’s by far the largest book I own and fitting it on my shelf is an ongoing challenge, especially considering how small my bookshelf is. But it’s worth it for this book, because it’s a great edition from the RSC with wonderful introductions and notes.

Eat healthy: A book you feel was good for you to read

Beauty Sick – Renee Engeln

This book discusses the impact of the Western beauty standard on girls and women. I had a lot of gripes with the very white Western (specifically American) lens that it was written from, but it was an eye opening read and is one of the few books I’ve read that led to me making changes in my life that are still present today.

Since reading this book, my relationship with my self image and my perception of beauty has completely changed. The time I’ve got back in my life and the money I have saved related to these changes is unbelievable. I’m thankful to this book for coming into my life at the right time and kick-starting my reflection on how I perceive myself and my relationship with beauty.

Read more: A book you keep telling yourself to read but haven’t yet

The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson

For 2 years I’ve been saying I want to read this book. Admittedly, a lot of my motivation to read this is coming from pressure from a friend who loves the Stormlight Archives and Sanderson. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the best experience with the other books I’ve read from Sanderson and so I keep procrastinating reading it. The size of the book doesn’t help matters either πŸ™ˆ

Quit smoking: A book you kept going back to even though you had finished it

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid

I was so captivated by this book the first time I read it, it became really all consuming for me. Because of that I kept returning to it. I’ve read it three times and have gone back to specific sections and quotes multiple times.

Save more money: A book you got for a really good price

A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

This isn’t one book I got for a good price but seven! I recently bagged an absolute BARGAIN and got the entire ASOIAF series (the exact edition in the picture above) for Β£5. I was astounded that the entire series was there on the shelf in the charity shop and that they were all in new condition. I couldn’t resist getting them all and when I got them to the counter and was told they were Β£5 I was not just astounded but flabbergasted 😱 the greatest book bargain I will probably ever have.

Be more organised: How do you organise your bookshelf?

My very tiny bookshelf

My bookshelf is tiny since I have limited space, so it’s a square one with four sections. Each section is dedicated to a specific genre – 1. fantasy, 2. classics, 3. historical fiction/general fiction 4. non-fiction/plays/misc and they are organised purely based on size or height order with my favourites at the front. That’s all there really is to it. I’m not really into highly organised and complex systems, as long as I can find everything that’s all that matters.

Be punctual: Shortest time and longest time it took you to read a book

The shortest time it’s taken me to read a book is under an hour for some of the short stories I’ve read. If we’re talking a full sized novel, the fastest is probably one day. The longest is a few of months. I read everyday so if a book is taking me any longer than a few months the chances are I’m not enjoying it, so it’s time to DNF.

Go out more: What book made you isolate yourself from the outside world?

The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien

I was swept away by the world and story of The Hobbit as soon as I began reading it. I fell in love with Bilbo and the episodic format kept me wanting to read the next chapter to see what adventures Bilbo and the dwarves would have next. I absolutely flew through it and had the help of an incredibly immersive audiobook which I read alongside the physical book which quite literally transported me out of the real world and into Middle Earth.

Be unique: What was your favourite book of 2022?

The Monk – Matthew Gregory Lewis

The Monk is my kind of book. You know those books that are so niche and feel like they are made for you? Well this book was that for me. It made it onto my Best Reads of 2022 post, so check out that post if you want more of my thoughts on this book.

Be more personal: What book are you waiting for most this year?

Fools Errand – Robin Hobb

I just finished the third book in the Liveship Traders trilogy and loved it. I can’t wait to continue with Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series, I’ve loved both trilogies so far and I’m particularly excited for Fools Errand because I get to return to Fitz and the Fool πŸ˜„

Really, resolutions?: What book do you promise to read this year?

The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

I started reading it a couple of years back as a buddy read with friends, but they all bowed out due to the length of the book. I also temporarily DNFd shortly afterwards. I’ve always intended to return to it because I enjoyed what I read and think I will love the book, it just wasn’t the right time for me to read it. But I’ve been getting more and more into classics recently, so feel this year will be the year I finally finish.

Happy New Year, I hope this year brings more joy, laughter and love for you all β˜ΊοΈπŸ™ŒπŸ»

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

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Worst Reads of 2022

Where has this year gone? It’s absolutely flown by πŸ’¨ the New Year is almost upon us and of course that means that it’s time for me to share my best and worst reads of the year, starting with the worst πŸ“š

My worst and best reads of the year are my favourite posts to write because it’s fun to take the time to reflect back over the books I’ve read. It can be so easy to read a book and then immediately put it down and forget about it, but writing these types of posts gives me an opportunity to revisit books and remember why I liked or disliked them.

I’ve read a total 42 books and I’d describe my reading year as okay overall. I definitely don’t feel like I have had as good a reading year as I did last year and have read quite a few stinkers that ultimately weren’t for me. As always, I will preface this by saying that these books are not bad books, they simply didn’t work for me on a personal level.

Here are my 5 worst reads of the year in no particular order.

Birthday Meredith Russo

This is a YA coming-of-age tale is dual perspective following best friends Morgan and Eric who share the same birthday and have been raised together since they were babies. It follows them for 5 years on their birthday as Morgan grapples with her gender identity and relationship with Eric.

I picked this up because it was a trans own voices story and I wanted to read more LGBTQ own voices books as part of my reading goals. The trans representation was by far the strongest aspect of this book for me. Russo’s personal experience as a trans woman enables her to write about the experience in such a tangible and emotive way enabling me to empathise with the trans experience in a way I never have before as someone that’s cisgender.

Unfortunately, everything else about this book didn’t work for me. One half of the book reads like a morose and serious literary fiction tale examining the complexities of growing up as a trans person and the toll that takes on mental and physical health; the other half reads like a fluffy teenage romance.

Tonally it gave me whiplash and I really disliked the way that it switched gears so abruptly towards the end. I also found the ending forced and a little too good to be true. It felt like Russo was torn between wanting to tell a serious story about the reality of the trans experience and an affirming story of trans joy, and these two things collided in a way that just didn’t mesh together quite right.

Annie on my MindNancy Garden

This lesbian classic follows teenagers Liza and Annie as their relationship blossoms. That description is about all I can say about the book because that’s all it is. Nothing else happens.

Liza and Annie are undeveloped and dull characters. Their relationship is endearing and I appreciated seeing their struggle in understanding their identities and what it meant for them to be gay in a heteronormative, patriarchal world, but those were really the only redeeming aspects of the book. Liza’s narration was so passive and there was some sub-plot at her school with the council which was so dull, like watching paint dry 😴

It wasn’t a bad book just incredibly boring. I think that my dislike for this book is part of a wider pattern that I’ve noticed: I don’t enjoy YA or coming-of-age stories anymore. I’ve reached an age where I can’t quite relate to that experience and I’m tired of reading about them. If I’d read this book when I was 16, I think it would’ve resonated with me a lot more.

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Does anyone really need a summary of what this book is about? πŸ˜‚ It’s a sci-fi comedy classic that has been adapted too many times to count. It was by far the biggest disappointment of the year for me because I expected this to be a new favourite. My issue with this book is that I JUST DON’T GET IT??????? I really don’t know what it was trying to do. It’s supposed to be funny… I guess?

I thought it was a bunch of over the top, ridiculous nonsense. I was lost the entire way through and there was nothing for me to attach myself to. I didn’t get any of the characters, I didn’t follow the story and the humour wasn’t my kind of humour.

So essentially, this book didn’t work for me on any level and I came away from it very confused by how it’s so well-loved. When I feel this way about very popular and loved books it sometimes makes me wonder if I’m just missing something? Regardless, this gets a big thumbs down from me πŸ‘ŽπŸ»

The Invisible Man – H. G. Wells

Another sci-fi classic that requires no summary. I’ll admit I didn’t have many expectations with this one, I didn’t plan to read it and just picked it out from my online library catalogue because I wanted a short audiobook to listen to whilst I cleaned. And let me tell you, this is the perfect example of why I shouldn’t read a book solely because it’s conveniently short and I can listen to it in an afternoon πŸ˜†

Good God, this book was so frustrating to read. All of the characters acted illogically and were laughable. I couldn’t even take the threat of the Invisible Man seriously because it’s simply not the superpower that this book tries to portray it as being.

I’m sure when the book was first published it was probably groundbreaking in the sci-fi literary world, but it doesn’t hold up for me. It was an entertaining read and it had potential to be really great but it was lacking in substance and I was so distracted by how stupid the characters were that I couldn’t take anything seriously πŸ˜‚

Paul Takes the Form of an Immortal Girl – Andrea Lawlor

This gender-bending book is a trans own voices story which follows the title character Paul who has the ability to change gender and alternates between living as a man and a woman. I really wanted to like this book because the concept was so intriguing but it didn’t work for me on any level.

It’s so unique and usually I love that in books, but its uniqueness alienated me from the story completely. I didn’t like the magical realism, I found the characters detestable and there were too many sexually explicit sections of the book which felt gratuitous and vulgar. I really didn’t understand what the author was trying to achieve with the book. The plot was meandering, the characters were underdeveloped and unlikeable and despite the thematic focus on gender, nothing meaningful was done with it.

I finished the book because I’d bought it so felt obligated to but if it wasn’t for that I would’ve put it down within the first 50 pages. It really wasn’t the book for me.

There we have it – my worst reads of 2022.

Unfortunately, I did read quite a few books I disliked this year. I largely put this down to the fact that I’m still trying to work out a method of choosing the right books for me. The broadness of my reading tastes can sometimes make it hard to predict whether I will enjoy a book or not. If you have a strategy for picking your next read, I’d love to hear it πŸ’¬

Look out for my Best Reads of 2022 which will be posted tomorrow πŸ‘€

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

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Winter is Coming Book Tag

Over the last week it’s dropped bitterly cold in the UK and snow is forecasted for the upcoming week which means lots of layers; I have my gloves, scarves, hats and thick socks at the ready 🧀🧣🧦

So of course, today I’m doing the Winter is Coming Book Tag ❄️ β˜ƒοΈπŸ§£πŸ§€(admit it, you read that in Sean Bean’s voice 😝).

Expect a lot of winter/Christmas themed tags in the lead up to Christmas β˜ΊοΈπŸŽ„

This tag was originally developed by Katherine Barka on YouTube.

Snow: it is beautiful when it first falls, but then it starts to melt.

A book/book series that you loved at the beginning, but then realised you didn’t like it anymore.

Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

I owe a lot to the Throne of Glass series. I read the first book in the series in 2019 as a buddy read when I was at the beginning of my journey of rediscovering reading. I was immediately pulled into the series and devoured all seven books within one year. It was one of the earlier reading experiences I had that reminded me just how fun reading could.

However, the more that time has passed and the more books I’ve read, the more I’ve realised that overall I dislike the series. Even at the time that I was reading the series I had a lot of issues with it to the point that I almost DNFd the series on multiple occasions. The YA tone doesn’t appeal to me personally as someone in their mid 20s, the fantasy elements are weak in comparison to other high fantasy books I’ve read, there are a lot of plot holes and there’s way too much romance for my tastes.

I still have fond memories of the series and I’m really thankful to it for helping to get me back into reading and reconnecting with my love for fantasy, but it’s just not the series for me.

Snowflake: something beautiful and always different.

Choose a book that stands out, that is different from all the other books you’ve read.

This is How You Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Read my full review here.

I’ve spoken about this book too many times on this blog but there’s no other book I could’ve chosen for this. It’s the most bizarrely unique book that I’ve ever read. I mean, it’s a sci-fi, sapphic, enemies-to-lovers romance about time travelling soldiers written in epistolatory format with ridiculously over-the-top purple prose. It shouldn’t work but it does with stunning results.

Snowman: it is always fun to make one with your family.

Choose a book that a whole family could read.

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint-ExupΓ©ry

This was a recent read for me and it absolutely lived up to my expectations. This children’s classic follows a prince who travels throughout the universe and meets different people along the way all of whom have a valuable life lesson to teach him.

It’s the type of book that’s timeless and a brilliant read for all ages. It’s accessible for children with cute illustrations but the philosophical themes and humour will connect with adults.

Christmas

Choose a book that is full of happiness, that made you warm inside after reading it.

The House on Pooh Corner – A. A. Milne

Those that follow my blog will know that happy books aren’t my thing. I almost exclusively read serious books that feature hard-hitting topics and themes, so whenever I’m asked to choose a book that makes me happy Winnie-the-Pooh is always my response.

The House at Pooh Corner is the sequel to Winnie-the-Pooh and is the book that introduces Tigger. The short tales of the group always cheer me up and it’s my go-to comfort read. I’ve fallen asleep listening to the audiobook more nights than I can count because it never fails to give me that warm feeling inside πŸ₯°

Santa Clause: he brings wonderful presents.

Choose a book that you’d like to get for Christmas.

At the moment, I’m not buying or asking for books to be bought for me. This is due to my physical TBR growing to an uncontrollable size, a lack of space and my aim to use my local library more. So there’s no book that I want for Christmas this year.

Snowball fights: it can be painful to be hit by a snowball.

Choose a book that hurt, that made you feel some strong emotion like sadness or anger.

This historical fiction tells the story of a family fleeing Syria for asylum in the UK following the outbreak of civil war. I really connected to the characters and their perilous and horrific journey. There were a lot of painful moments and I cried more than once reading this book. It’s definitely a memorable read in terms of the emotional impact it had on me.

Sledging: we all loved it when we were younger.

Choose a book that you loved when you were a child.

A Treasury of Stories & Rhymes

This is a very niche one because technically it’s not a book, it’s a collection of short stories and rhymes including Humpty Dumpty, Cinderella, Aladdin and the Magic Lamp, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Tom Thumb and so many more. I read this book cover to cover everyday as a child loving the combination of stories and rhymes. I also loved the illustrations too. I still have my copy that has my name on it written in pink scented gel pen (I’m the ultimate millennial child πŸ˜‚).

Frostbite: you don’t want to get it

Choose a book that you were really disappointed in.

Anne of Green Gables – L. M. Montgomery

On paper, this book should’ve been an all time favourite because it has so many of the things I love – countryside setting, found family, friendship, a loveable female protagonist – but it fell completely flat for me. I didn’t connect to the characters or the story and was bored reading it.

It felt like such a drab and repetitive book that lacked heart. I’m not sure if it was just that it was the right book but the wrong time, but I definitely wasn’t compelled to read the next book in the series.

Reindeer: something that is dear to you.

Choose a book that is of great sentimental value to you.

What Are Friends For? – Sally Grindley and Penny Dann

Another book from my childhood that I’m sure has featured in another post. This is the book I always asked my mom to read me before bed and one that I read over and over. Friendship was so important to me from a young age and I think that I connected to the message of friendship between Jefferson Bear and Twiggy Twosocks. I also loved the illustrations, the characters are so cute.

That concludes the Winter is Coming Book Tag. Happy Winter one and all ❄️

I hope you all have safe, warm homes to keep you sheltered this winter. I know it’s a particularly tough one for so many of us with increased costs of living and various crises across the globe 🀍

Stay warm, my lovelies and keep reading.

Autumn Reading Book Tag

It feels like autumn has arrived quickly in the UK, going from humid summer days to crisp dark autumn evenings in the blink of an eye 🍁

September was the deadline for my dissertation and marked the end of my Masters studies, so I’m excited to enjoy the autumn with some much deserved rest and relaxation. It also means that I have more time to invest into the things that bring my joy like this blog and reading. Autumn has always been a great time for reading. The dark and rainy nights make curling up with a book and hot chocolate almost compulsory πŸ“–β˜•οΈ

With the personal update over, let’s dive into the Autumn Reading Book Tag πŸ‚πŸ“š

This tag was originally developed by Amy Jane Smith on YouTube.

Are there any books you plan to read over the autumn season?

Gosh, there are so many! Some that have been on my TBR for a while and others that I’ve recently seen recommended. I don’t follow a monthly TBR because I generally pick up books based on what I’m in the mood for but I do plan to re-read Wuthering Heights. I also have my eye on Sleepy Hollow, Phantom of the Opera and Battle Royale.

September brings back school memories: what books did you most enjoy studying? And what were your most and least favourite subjects?

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

I read Frankenstein at college not school but have chose it as my favourite because I disliked all of the books I studied at school. Studying Frankenstein was the first time in my life I genuinely enjoyed studying literature and it incited my love for gothic fiction, a love which has only grown stronger with time.

The first time I read it it affected me so deeply because of Shelley’s incredible ability to play with mood and also the horrifying nature of the story itself. Even centuries later the themes of the book – the potential dangers of advancement, alienation, finding our place in the world, belonging – are relevant and hard-hitting.

My favourite school subjects were history and English Literature (which is the most basic and obvious response a reader could give to this question πŸ˜‚). Least favourites were maths and science. I’ve always been more drawn to the humanities because I find more meaning in the abstract.

October means Halloween: Do you enjoy scary books and films? If so, what are some of your favourites?

Films: As Above, So Below and Crimson Peak
Books: The Woman in Black (Susan Hill) and I Am Legend (Richard Matheson)

Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes! I love horror, it’s one of my favourite genres of media. I tend to watch more scary films than I do read scary books but I restricted myself to two films and two books. I shared a post last year recommending spooky films and books that you can check out here to see some of my other favourites.

Found footage is one of my favourite sub-genres of horror and As Above, So Below highlights what really works about found-footage when it’s done well. The first time I saw this film it got under my skin and I’ve watched it twice more since and each time it still affects me. There’s something about this film that plays on themes that play with my emotions and I love it for that because it’s what horror is all about.

Crimson Peak is a film from another of my favourite genres – gothic horror. This is the film version of everything I love in gothic horror, the first time I watched it I actually thought it was based on a book because it has that vibe. The horror in this one is more subtle but it’s still chilling. It has a stunning setting, costuming, mood and a top notch cast. Whilst the plot itself is fairly predictable the journey is worth it.

I’ve already spoken about The Woman in Black (read the review here) and I Am Legend (see the Spooky Book and Films Recommendations post here) on the blog before so won’t go too in-depth. Suffice to say these two books are fairly short in length but very effective horror. I haven’t read too many horror books but of the ones I have read these two definitely stand out in my mind. I experienced genuine discomfort whilst reading them.

With November it’s time for bonfire night & firework displays. What’s the most exciting book you’ve read that kept you gripped?

Warbreaker – Brandon Sanderson

It’s not a spooky book but Warbreaker gripped me from the first chapter and didn’t let go. I was invested in the characters and plot almost immediately and the fast-paced action and mysteries surrounding certain characters kept me wanting to read more. I really flew through this book as a result and was as hooked by the end as I was by the beginning.

What book is your favourite cosy comfort read?

Wuthering HeightsEmily BrontΓ«

It’s an odd choice, I know, but you all know by now the burning passion I have for this book. Most people choose fluffy feel-good books as their comfort reads, but clearly not me πŸ˜‚ The familiarity I feel reading this book and the connection I have to it makes it a comfort read despite its depressing tone and story. I know I’m always guaranteed to be sucked completely into the story and to discover new details that I’ve missed before that elevates my understanding of and connection to the story and characters. It’s also the perfect autumnal read because of its tone.

Curled up with a good book, what is your hot drink of choice?

It all depends on the time of day and my mood. If it’s morning/early afternoon, it’s coffee but if it’s evening it’s a hot chocolate or herbal tea. My current favourite herbal tea is Twining’s spearmint, apple and rooibos with baobab β˜•οΈ

Any plans you’re looking forward to over the next few months?

No specific plans, I’m just going to enjoy spending time doing the things I love like reading, writing, going for walks, spending quality time with loved ones and generally investing the time back into what’s important to me now that I have finished studying.

Happy Autumn πŸπŸ‚

I’m not tagging anyone specific but feel welcome to do it if you haven’t already, I’d love to see people’s responses 😊

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag

It’s June which means we’re half way through the year so of course it’s time for the Mid-Year Freak Out tag! 😱 This is the second Mid-Year Freak Out tag I’ve done (read 2021’s here) and overall, this year has been a slower reading year for me so far.

Currently, I’ve read 24 books which is significantly less than I had read this time last year. Juggling working full-time with studying part-time has left less room for reading. I’ve had multiple reading slumps that I’ve found difficult to overcome and generally found myself unmotivated to read (read my post ‘Reading is HARD!’ here for more insight into this). But recently I’ve had a turn-around and have been enjoying reading again and I’m excited to reflect on what I’ve read so far this year.

This tag was originally developed by Earl Grey Books and Chami on YouTube.

Note:

  • All books on this list are books I’ve read this year (2022) or that I want to read.
  • I have reworded/condensed most of the questions and changed a couple of questions to suit my own preferences. All questions that have been changed are marked with an asterix.

Best book

My Cousin Rachel – Daphne du Maurier

The third du Maurier book I’ve read and one of my most anticipated reads of 2022. This gothic thriller completely gripped me and immersed me into the story. It’s one of those books that just ticked all of the boxes for me: eerie gothic setting βœ”οΈ intriguing mystery βœ”οΈ complex characters βœ”οΈ stunning prose βœ”οΈ suspenseful plot βœ”οΈ I love this book and look forward to reading it again in the near future.

Best sequel

Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow – Jessica Townsend

The third book in the middle-grade fantasy series Nevermoor did not disappoint. This series is the gift that keeps on giving. Its whimsical world, fascinating soft magic system, lovable characters and well-written friendships come together to create a wonderful series. Sequels sometimes have the tendency to decline in quality at points but book 3 continued to build on everything that was established in the first two books whilst also upping the ante and further developing the characters, world and plot. I’m so excited for the fourth instalment which is due to be released in October.

New book series you want to start*

His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

Somehow I’ve managed to completely by-pass His Dark Materials my entire life despite how insanely popular it was during my childhood and how popular it continues to be. When the BBC show was released in 2019 it kindled my curiosity and I knew that I wanted to read the books before I watched the show. I recently found the trilogy in a charity shop for Β£3 and was ecstatic to have grabbed such a bargain! I’m really excited to see what I’ve been missing out on and to delve into this series.

Most anticpated read for the second half of 2022*

The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson

It’s been on my TBR for what feels like forever and I’m determined to read it before the end of the year. This epic high-fantasy series is heralded as the pinnacle of fantasy by so many fantasy readers. I enjoyed Warbreaker by Sanderson and to say that I have high-hopes for The Way of Kings is an understatement. Let’s just hope it doesn’t disappoint!

Biggest disappointment

Piranesi – Susanna Clarke

It was my first read of the year and the most disappointing, so really not the best way to start 2022 πŸ‘ŽπŸ» I’d seen a lot of positive reviews and buzz around this short fantasy story that incorporates magic realism and literary fiction. It sounded bizarre and unique and like it would be right up my street. After a friend of mine had read it and loved it, it spurred me to pick it up since she and I have similar tastes in books. I can see why people love this book and I loved the concept on paper, but it didn’t work for me. It tried too hard to be literary and its lyrical writing felt like an attempt to mask the fact that it’s actually a very simple and predictable plot lacking in depth and nuance.

Biggest Surprise

Convenience Store Woman – Sayaka Murata

One of my 2022 reading goals was to read more translated fiction and Convenience Store Woman seemed like the ideal short read for me whilst I was in the middle of a slump. I had no real expectations for it because I read it on a whim but this novella about a convenience store woman in Japan captivated me from beginning to end. It’s a quirky book that’s essentially a social commentary on conformity. It’s a bit like marmite; you’ll either love it or hate it, personally, I loved it and a lot of it resonated with me.

Favourite newly discovered author

Anne BrontΓ«

I’d already read novels from the two other BrontΓ« sisters prior to this year but only got around to reading Anne’s works last month. I read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and absolutely loved it. Anne’s writing style is stunning and her character work is fantastic. It’s widely considered as one of the first feminist novels and it’s one of those books that leaves you with so much to think about. Anne has only one other published novel – Agnes Grey – and I’m really excited to read it even if it generally isn’t as highly regarded as The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

New favourite relationship*

Satoru and Nana – The Travelling Cat Chronicles

So turns out that my favourite new relationship from a book this year is between a man and his cat πŸˆβ€β¬› This novella follows the perspective of Satoru and Nana as they set off on a road-trip to find Nana a new home because Satoru can no longer care for him. Interestingly, this book actually includes Nana’s perspective and reading the perspective of a grumpy, sassy cat was so fun. But mostly this book is just so heart-warming. The love and bond between Satoru and Nana is so well written and reminded me of the relationship I have with my cats.

Book that made you cry

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

In this historical fiction we follow Nuri and his family as they seek asylum in the UK after fleeing civil war in Syria. It’s a harrowing tale that explores the generational and long-term trauma that many refugees endure. There’s so many horrific things that happen in this book and it touched me very deeply, especially knowing it was inspired by the true stories of refugees that the author met and worked with in Athens.

Book that made you happy

Heartstopper – Alice Oseman

I’m not going to lie, happy books aren’t really my thing so I’m so glad that I’ve read Heartstopper this year otherwise I wouldn’t have had anything else to put πŸ˜‚ I probably don’t need to explain what it is because this graphic comic series has soared in popularity since the Netflix adaptation was released last month. It does tackle some serious topics but mostly the story is one of queer joy and I love it for that.

The most beautiful book you’ve bought or recieved

Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Times, Her Novels – Janet Todd

My mom bought this for me from the charity shop for Β£2, an absolute bargain! The cover is pretty but doesn’t do it justice. Inside it’s full of beautiful art, letters and illustrations. It’s just so aesthetically pleasing 😍

A book you want to read by the end of the year*

Maurice – E. M. Forster

Maurice – E. M. Forster

I have been wanting to read this for what feels like forever. But for some reason it’s been impossibly difficult to find. I haven’t been able to find it in any library or secondhand shop (I generally try to avoid buying new books) so I’ve been unable to read it. I finally decided to bite the bullet this week and bought it on Kindle after spending two years trying to track down it down. I’m very excited to read it and hope that it fulfils my expectations now after such a long wait!

Favourite book to movie adaptation

Little Women (2019)

I finally got around to watching the 2019 adaptation of Little Women and really enjoyed it. It’s been years since I read Little Women so I can’t really comment on how well it stands up as an accurate adaptation of the books. However, I really enjoyed it and thought it was a well-made film with a great cast, stellar acting, direction and stunning cinematography.

How is your 2022 reading year going so far? Let me know in the comments!

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

The best books I’ve read according to Goodreads

Can you believe I’m back with another post already? I’m on a roll, my dudes πŸ›Ό (for those of you that have been watching season 4 of Stranger Things, you’ll get the other reference to this emoji too πŸ˜‚). Today I’ll be looking at the top 10 best books I’ve read according to Goodreads and sharing my thoughts on each.

I did a similar post when I did the ‘Goodreads was Wrong’ tag last year, but I thought it would be fun to do a follow up comparing what I perceive to be the best books I’ve read with how they’ve been rated by others on Goodreads. It’s particularly fun because I typically tend to go against the grain a lot with how I feel about a book versus how the general population does πŸ˜‚ I’m genuinely intrigued to see which books will come out on top 😝

The post is inspired by Regan at PeruseProject on YouTube who made a video on this topic. Credit for the original idea goes to Hailey in Bookland on YouTube.

Disclaimers:

  • I won’t be including any Harry Potter books on this list because they obviously are always rated extremely high.
  • I also won’t be including any Lord of the Rings books for the exact same reason.
  • Where multiple books from a series are included in the top 10, I’ll be bunching them together and including them as one.

With disclaimers done let’s get into the top 10 best books that I’ve read according to Goodreads starting with the one that came out in tenth spot.

10. The Sword of Kaigen M. L. Wang

Fantasy readers will have no doubt have heard of this Japanese inspired high fantasy stand-alone. It gained a lot of popularity in online book communities and has been highly praised. The challenge with a standalone high fantasy book is that there’s limited space to fully flesh out the magic system, world-building, characters and plot. There’s a whole lot more that goes into high-fantasy which is why so many of these stories are often book series. Despite that, M. L. Wang does a fantastic job here of being able to craft such a believable world, complex characters and a gripping plot.

On a personal level, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected to but this book is absolutely worth its merit. In terms of fantasy standalone’s it sticks out in my mind as being one of the best written ones I’ve come across. The protagonist Misaki is one of my favourite female leads I’ve read in fantasy. Her perspective as an older woman with children was so refreshing since fantasy is often from the perspective of younger characters or male characters. There are also some truly memorable moments from this book that will always be present in my mind. Although I wouldn’t personally class it as being one of the best books I’ve ever read it’s deserving of its place here.

9. The Final EmpireBrandon Sanderson

Another popular fantasy book with the first from the Mistborn series. This series (and pretty much every Sanderson series for that matter) is included on almost every “best of” fantasy lists so it’s not surprising that it’s made it into the top 10 here. The Final Empire is a very entertaining read with a cool and unique magic system. I really liked the protagonist Vin and the world-building.

Unfortunately, I just don’t see the hype with this series and this book fell completely flat for me. In terms of writing style, Sanderson is not my cup of tea. Although he has incredible ideas his execution leaves something to be desired. His writing is so clunky and clumsy that it pulls me out of the story. Despite popular opinion, I’d say this is far from one of the best books I’ve read, even as far as fantasy goes it’s pretty far down the list.

8. In the Dream HouseCarmen Maria Machado

Read the full review here.

I wasn’t expecting to see this one here but I’m so happy that it is. This autobiography explores the authors experiences of domestic abuse in her relationship with her ex-girlfriend. The narration style is so unique and other-worldly but works incredibly as a tool for exploring domestic abuse through the lens of queerness and feminism. Machado’s voice shines through so strongly and her personal experience and perspective offers so much value to this topic. It provides so much insight into domestic abuse from an intersectional perspective centring sexual orientation, gender, race and culture within the wider framework of domestic abuse research.

Although this is an autobiography, it reads like a story, immersing the reader into the twisty-turvy of the Machado’s inner world. I found it to be a very impactful and awe-inspiring, and it was by far one of my favourite reads of 2021. It’s without a doubt worthy and deserving of being included in this list and I’m so happy to see that a book like this has also been highly rated by other readers.

7. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoTaylor Jenkins Reid

Read full review here.

No surprise this is here. I feel like most readers have read it or have at the least heard of it. I love this book, it’s one of my favourites. The 1950s Hollywood vibes are just *chefs kiss* and I love the way that Taylor Jenkins Reid is able to create drama that I thrive on. I was also pleasantly caught off-guard with the depiction of bisexuality (read my post ‘Queerness and Bisexuality: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo here) and loved how it completely subverted all my expectations on my first read.

Unfortunately, like any book that explodes in popularity and is so well-loved it runs the risk of becoming overrated. I’m sure many do think it’s overrated but me? Never. I think it’s an absolutely wonderful book and deserving of all of the love it receives. I’ve read it twice and loved it as much the second time as I did the first. If I was composing my own personal list of best ever reads, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo would probably be on there so it’s quite fitting that it’s here.

6. The Heart’s Invisible Furies

I really didn’t expect this to make the top 10 so I’m absolutely delighted it’s made it to the sixth spot πŸ₯³ This literary novel follows the trials and tribulations of Cyril a gay man born in Ireland in the 1940s. Spanning decades and multiple generations, this is a heavy and emotional story that uncovers the trauma Cyril endures as a result of his sexuality and wider issues in the LGBTQ community such as the AIDs epidemic of the 1980s.

I absolutely loved this book. It was one of my favourite reads of 2021 and hit almost everything I look for in a book in terms of character work, plot, themes and writing style. I love books that explore dark, emotional themes and act as intense character study into the protagonist’s internal and external world. And that’s exactly what this book is. It’s a powerful story and an example of groundbreaking literature. I’d go as far as to call it a masterpiece. So without a doubt it deserves to be on this list and again, if I was making my own list this would definitely be featured.

5. The Hate U GiveAngie Thomas

The Hate U Give has gained so much traction in the book community and also with mainstream readers, particularly since Black Lives Matter. Since then it’s been added to the school curriculum in many schools in the UK, exposing it to wider audiences of young people. The story follows Starr a young black girl who witnesses the shooting of a friend by the police at the start of the book. What follows is an exploration of Starr’s family and community as they deal with this tragedy and stand against injustice.

This is one hell of a powerful book that provides insight into such a deeply traumatising but very real evil that exists in our society. It explores racism through the eyes of a young teenager, making it accessible for other teenagers. Starr’s family are so well crafted and the dynamics between them feel very authentic. Similarly, Starr’s struggles and emotions are very relatable. Personally, I didn’t feel I was the target audience of this book reading it as an adult in my late 20s so wouldn’t necessarily include it in my best reads (particularly because I feel I’ve read other books that explore similar themes better), but the value and impact of this book cannot be understated, especially for younger audiences.

4. Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan CrowJessica Townsend

This is the third book in the middle-grade fantasy series Nevermoor. It follows the adventures of Morrigan Crow, an 11 year old girl who is transported to the magical world of Nevermoor. The series has been compared to Harry Potter (which middle-grade/YA fantasy isn’t?) but this one genuinely does give Harry Potter vibes. The only catch is that Nevermoor is so much better. In terms of characters, world-building, plot, entertainment, writing style, it’s all done so well and comes together with an amazing end result. Being the third book in the series, Hollowpox steps it up in terms of the stakes, plot and character development. It also has the advantage of telling a story about a pandemic released at a time when we were all living through a global pandemic, making it extra relevant and relatable.

Nevermoor is one of my favourite fantasy series I’ve read in a long time and Hollowpox has been the strongest instalment in the series so far, so I feel it’s deserving of a spot on this list. In terms of new fantasy series that have been released in recent years, it stands out as being one of the best and for the younger generations, this genuinely has the potential to become what Harry Potter was for millennials like myself.

3. McFly: Unsaid ThingsMcFly

Well…I guess I’ve outed myself now: yes, I am a McFly fan 🀣 growing up, I was McFly obsessed. I read this as a young teen and it’s actually one of the first books I marked as read on Goodreads. To date, it’s the only autobiography McFly have released and it provides an intimate into their lives as individuals and as a band with alternating sections written by each of the band members. It’s a very honest account of the personal issues and struggles the guys have had but it suffers the same issues any autobiography written by multiple people does of lacking flow and feeling very choppy. In terms of literary merit, this obviously doesn’t constitute as a best read and shouldn’t be on this list, but as a McFly obsessed teenager, it came pretty close πŸ˜‚

2. Kingdom of Ash & Empire of StormsSarah J. Maas

These are books seven (Kingdom of Ash) and five (Empire of Storms) in the popular YA/NA fantasy series Throne of Glass. Again, this series is one of those that you’ve probably heard of even if you haven’t read the books yourself. I was introduced to this series through a buddy read I did with friends. It was in the early days of my getting back into reading and fantasy, and this binge-worthy and entertaining series sucked me in.

Ironically, these two books specifically were two of my least favourites in the series. My Goodreads review for Empire of Storms was a rant about everything in the book that frustrated me and my review for Kingdom of Ash was summed up as being a major disappointment πŸ˜‚

These books do deliver high entertainment value for readers that enjoy fantasy romance, drama and action, but in terms of best reads I definitely wouldn’t include it on this list. Like The Final Empire this popular fantasy series just isn’t for me personally.

1. Heartstopper Vol.4, Vol.3 & Vol.2Alice Oseman

Not one, not two but THREE of the Hearstopper comics made it into first place. With the Netflix series recently being released, I’d imagine there’s been an influx of people reading Heartstopper and falling in love with it but even prior to the series release, it was a very well-loved series. For the benefit of the few that haven’t heard of Heartstopper, it follows two characters – Charlie and Nick – and the evolution of their relationship and self-growth. It’s a heartwarming LGBTQ story that has made a lot of people feel seen and safe.

I’ve read all volumes in the series and really enjoyed them. The storytelling is beautiful and Alice Oseman has done something so refreshing with this series by creating a positive and uplifting queer story. Too often queer stories focus on trauma and whilst that might be representative of the lived experiences of a lot of queer people, we also want happy stories just like anybody else. So I’m happy this series is on the list although I definitely wouldn’t have given it top spot.

There we have it – the best books I’ve read according to Goodreads! That was fun πŸ˜„

Surprisingly, I agreed with a lot of these books being on the list. Books like The Heart’s Invisible Furies and In the Dream House were pleasant surprises for me because they’re not the type of books I’d expect to be popular with wider readers but books that I’d definitely consider to be two of the best I’ve ever read. Other books were pretty predictable and ironically, those ones that are super popular are the ones I probably wouldn’t have included on my personal list πŸ˜…

Do you know what Goodreads considers to be the best books you’ve ever read? Have a look and see, and let me know your results in the comments!

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

Spring Flowers Book Tag

Spring is here! That means little lambs in the fields, the clocks going forward, lighter mornings and evenings, sunshine, gardening, Easter, leaves regrowing on the trees and flowers coming into bloom 🌸🌼🌺 and what better to mark this than the Spring Flowers book tag? It’s been a while since I did a book tag (the last one was the Spooky Scary Book Tag from October) and they’re always a great way of incorporating and chatting about a range of books into one post that I wouldn’t necessarily otherwise get chance to speak about.

This tag was originally created by Dreaming of Ink and Paper, but their blog is no longer available. I found it at Zee Zee With Books, where you can find all of the original questions for the tag. I changed one of the questions to better suit myself, that’s marked with an asterisk.

Daffodil

A book about found family*

Nevermoor – Jessica Townsend

Nevermoor The Trials of Morrigan Crow is the first book in a charming middle grade fantasy series. I’ve read the first two books in the series and love how much emphasis is placed on found family. The main character Morrigan is estranged from her parents and when she’s swept away to a magical world, she has the opportunity to create a family of her own. The relationship Morrigan has with her adopted father, Jupiter is so heart-warming. Likewise, the friendships that Morrigan builds with the other characters and the roles the characters take on in her life are so lovely to watch develop. This is a must-read series for readers that love reading about found family and friendship.

Foxglove

A book you pretended to like

The Lord of the Rings – J. R. R. Tolkien

I never pretend to like books, because I don’t see the point. If I don’t like something, I don’t like it and I’ll always be honest about that. So I didn’t necessarily pretend I liked The Lord of the Rings but I certainly acted like I liked it more than I actually did simply because I WANTED to love it so much. I’m the biggest fan of the film trilogy and so when I read the books only a couple of years ago in my mid-twenties, I wanted to feel that same spark of passion and love. When I didn’t have that feeling, I felt like I’d somehow betrayed the series or that I wasn’t a “true” fan. But as groundbreaking as this story is, it simply didn’t click for me. I plan to do a re-read in the future to see if my perspective changes, but my first read left me feeling very Luke warm.

Lilac

A book about first love

My Cousin Rachel – Daphne du Maurier

Not necessarily the book someone would expect to see for this particular prompt, but that’s exactly why I wanted to include it. My Cousin Rachel is a domestic thriller/mystery/gothic romance/historical fiction and combines all of this so incredibly. Rachel is the object of affection for the main character Philip who falls hard and fast for Rachel, who is the first and only woman he has ever loved. Unfortunately for him, Rachel comes with a lot of mystery and secrets. This romance is not plain sailing and is wrapped up in one of the most suspenseful plots and intense writing I’ve read in a long time. Daphne du Maurier once again shows her talent for crafting an intriguing romance amidst a genuinely captivating mystery.

Hyacinth

A book with a sad ending

Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin

I’m such a sadist and revel in reading emotional and sad books, so there are so many books I could’ve put here πŸ˜‚ Giovanni’s Room sticks in my head as having a particularly sad ending. After reading it, I kept thinking about it and then recommended it to my manager. He read it soon after and I woke to a text from him at 1am on a Saturday telling me he’d just finished and couldn’t stop sobbing at the ending, which really says it all. This book is a phenomenal exploration of sexuality, identity and love and doesn’t hold back any punches. James Baldwin is not afraid to push against expectations and to remain true to the story’s ending, no matter how sad it is and it’s an ending that’s raw and real, and feels fitting for the overall narrative even if it’s not the happily ever after readers typically want.

Peony

A book that made you feel embarrassed

Call Me By Your Name – AndrΓ© Aciman 

Now, I know this is a very popular and well-loved book in general, but I really didn’t like this book. Despite stunning writing, I couldn’t see beyond the absolutely CRINGE sex scenes. I mean the whole thing with the peach πŸ‘…just no (if you’ve read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about, if not, count yourself lucky 🀣). I understand that young adulthood can be a time for blossoming sexuality and that Elio’s attraction to Oliver is very potently physical and sexual, but the way it didn’t float right for me, and instead of finding those scenes sexy, they were just cringe and awkward.

Tulip

A book with the most beautiful declaration of love

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

I know, I know, I’m predictable πŸ˜‚ But of course I had to choose Wuthering Heights because this book has the most beautiful and heart wrenching declarations of love that I’ve read in literature. The intensity of Cathy and Heathcliff’s love and how entangled they are is felt with every declaration of love. Quote time!

“My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff’s miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.”

He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I can not live without my life! I can not live without my soul!

Their declarations of love are melodramatic and show their devotion to each other to the point of loss of self. It’s not the type of love people should strive for because it’s toxic, codependent and unhealthy, but the power of their love is undeniable and these quotes are stunning and some of my favourite book quotes of all time.

Crocus

A book that made you laugh out loud

This is Going to Hurt – Adam Kay

This biography from junior doctor Adam Kay covers a lot of very raw and heavy topics related to the UK’s health system and the reality of working as a doctor in the NHS. But amongst the sadness and seriousness, there were some truly hilarious moments in this book. I listened to the audiobook and always find that comedic moments come across better because of the tone of voice and manner in which it’s verbally performed. Since Adam Kay himself narrated the audiobook that I listened to, he knew just how to make the comedic moments hit right and I tittered out loud more than a few times. Whether it was spending his hours signing people’s passports or trying to educate a man who believed his wife would gave birth via her uretha, Kay plays on the ignorance and lack of education around gynecological health utilising irony and dry humour.

Pansy

A book that challenged you to think about a heavy subject

The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid

Set in a cafe in Lahore, this book explores complex themes through a monologue from the main character, Changez. It was such a hard-hitting and thought provoking which focused on topics of imperialism, racism, Islamophobia, white privilege and the conflict between the East and West. As a Pakistani man and Princeton graduate, Changez’s intersectionality of privilege and inequity provides a fascinating perspective with which to discuss the impact of the aftermath of 9/11. His love and abhorrence for the US is tangible and the internal conflict that wages inside him as someone that has benefitted from the US’ promise of the American dream but that has also has suffered from their imperialism and the destruction that the US has brought to his home country.. As a white British person that has never lived through war, this book helped me to connect to these issues on a new level and was invaluable to me.

Daisy

A book about a strong female friendship

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini

There is no other book I could’ve chosen. This is the greatest example of female friendship, love and solidarity that I have ever read. It’s the story of two women who from their first meeting are set in opposition to one another as wives of the same husband. Yet their shared suffering, abuse and tragedy bonds them so deeply and their relationship eventually blossoms into something so beautiful. They are one another’s strength; they carry each other through the hard times and although circumstance and tragedy is what initially bonds them, their relationship becomes so much more. It’s a complex relationship characterised by loyalty, honour, sacrifice and devotion. This story shows the power of female friendship unlike any other book I’ve read and how it can quite literally save women’s lives in certain circumstances.

There we have it – the Spring Flowers Book Tag. If you’d like to do this on your blog, please do, the more the merrier 😊 I hope you’ve found time to enjoy the spring sunshine as much as I have this week. I’m so excited for spring this year and was so content to have seen the blossom on the trees for the first time ☺️

Happy Spring, my lovelies and keep reading.

Spooky Scary Book Tag

It’s Halloween Eve so in keeping with the spooky season I’m bring to you the Spook Scary Book tag πŸŽƒπŸ‘»πŸ§›πŸ’€πŸ¦‡πŸ˜ˆ

As always, I couldn’t resist switching things up a tad and adjusted some of the questions and added a couple of my own. All the prompts I edited or added are marked with an asterix. For the original prompts check out the original creator of the tag, Clever Fox on YouTube.

Also let’s take a moment to appreciate that this is the second post I’ve shared in this week – your girl is on a roll!

What goes bump in the night?

A book that has legitimately scared you while reading it

The Woman in Black – Susan Hill

Whilst on the surface this is a typical haunted house story, the isolation and slow building of tension and suspense crept up on me. The way Susan Hill crafts the story makes the supernatural elements feel realistic and Arthur’s terror is palpable. It made me feel like something that could actually happen. Reading this alone at night in a hotel on a stormy autumn night also probably added to the creep factor of my reading experience.

Jack O’ lanterns and classic costumes*

Recommend a book to read at Halloween time

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stephenson

It’s short, it’s snappy and it’s a classic. Although it’s not set on or around Halloween, the gothic elements and chilling nature of the plot and its moral message make it a must-read during the spooky season.

Black cats and bats*

Favourite animal character in a book/series

Pooh Bear – Winnie-the-Pooh

So Pooh is as far from Halloween that you can get, but I couldn’t choose anyone else for this one. Pooh’s optimism, naivety and endless loyalty to his friends makes him one of the most loveable characters ever written.

Witch’s brew

Favourite witch character in a book/series

Minerva McGonnagall – Harry Potter

Who else could I choose for this than the bad-ass Minerva? Not only is she a powerful witch, but she’s confident, out-spoken and sassy. Whether she’s taking down Umbridge with some one-liner, offering her students biscuits or defeating Snape with a flick of her wand, she’s one hella awesome lady.

Ghouls and ghosts

A book that still haunts you to this day (good or bad)

Dark Matter – Black Crouch

This mind-bending sci-fi thriller is oddly disturbing. Set in a world of multi-universes, this tale takes endless twists and turns and is unpredictable. Sci-fi as a genre is meant to push the boundaries and poses heavy philosophical and moral questions, and Dark Matter poses some of the toughest ones.

Haunted graveyard

You’re alone in a haunted graveyard, you get one book to give you comfort, which is it?

Winnie-the-Pooh – A. A. Milne

It’s charming, it’s warm, it’s happy and it’s a piece of my childhood. I’m certain that this book would help combat all those pesky ghosts and keep me somewhat sane whilst trapped in a haunted graveyard alone.

The Undead

Favorite supernatural creatures to read about

Vampires

It’s a predictable answer, but I can’t deny my fascination for vampires. These blood-sucking fiends are addictive to read about and embody so many hidden depths. The creation of vampires in folklore gives voice to human’s attempts to make sense of death, disease, grief and in more modern times, capitalism, politics and sexuality. There are various takes and perspectives on vampires with authors putting their own spin on the vampires they create, which keeps the genre somewhat fresh.

Trick or Treat*

A book that took you by surprise (good or bad)

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman is a widely loved author and I’d heard great things about Coraline prior to reading it, but I was surprised by how much I disliked this book. The suspense was built up well, but with little reward. It was anti-climatic and I didn’t fully grasp where the story was going or why.

Devils and Demons*

Favourite antagonist from a book/series

Heathcliff – Wuthering Heights

So technically, Heathcliff is an anti-hero, but I consider him to be more a villain than a hero hence why he’s made it here. The fact that Heathcliff is even regarded as an anti-hero reveals how incredibly written he is. Despite being cruel, selfish, abusive and vengeful, Heathcliff is a character that is strangely sympathetic and pitiful. His complexity is exactly what makes him easily my favourite villain that I’ve ever encountered in literature.

The Grimreaper*

Most shocking character death in a book/series (warning A Game of Thrones spoilers)

Eddard Stark – A Game of Thrones

George R. R. Martin defied all expectations when he brutally murdered the protagonist of A Game of Thrones. It’s unpredictable, it’s shocking and it shook me to the core the first time I read it. There’s no other book I’ve ever read that subverts expectations surrounding character deaths like the A Song of Ice and Fire series. There are many more deaths from the series that could’ve taken this spot but I decided to go with the OG major character death.

Happy Halloween, my lovelies and stay spooky πŸŽƒπŸ‘»πŸ§›πŸ’€πŸ¦‡πŸ˜ˆ

Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

It’s been a while since I posted here, almost a month to be exact πŸ™ˆ Life has been busy which has left little time for reading and blogging. I was recently offered a new job starting in September and I’ll be going into my final year of my MA, so I’ll be a busy bee 🐝 but I’m hoping to read more this month and get back to posting at least once a week. Today I’ll be doing the Unpopular Opinions Book Tag.

This tag was originally created by The Book Archer on YouTube.

A popular book or series that I disliked

The Wayward Children Series – Seanan McGuire

I’ve seen this series recommended everywhere. It’s actually what led me to pick up the series. Whilst the concept was cool, the first two books I read completely lacked depth and I simply didn’t care enough about the world’s to continue reading. Even with them being short reads, I still didn’t feel compelled to spend any more of my time reading on.

A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but I love

I don’t have an answer for this one. I feel like generally, all of the books or series that I love are well-liked.

A love triangle in a book or series where the main character ended up with the person I did not want them to end up with

Twilight – Stephanie Meyer

Remember the days of Team Edward vs Team Jacob that quite literally defined most millenials teen years? Well, I was always in the latter camp waving the Team Jacob flag. I recently binged the Twilight movies on Netflix and it propelled me back to my angsty, teenage, Twlight-obsessed years and reaffirmed that Jacob and Bella make so much more sense to me than Edward and Bella. Let’s clarify, that both of these relationships have issues but Bella and Jacob’s connection is built on friendship and builds slowly over time, rather than being lust at first sight. He doesn’t control her or endanger her to the extent that Edward does and treats her like a human rather than a fragile doll that must be protected. I also find Jacob and Bella’s chemistry more natural and less forced.

A popular book genre that I hardly reach for

Thriller

Every now and again I’ll pick up a thriller novel on the slim chance that this will be the time where I’ll actually enjoy it, but unfortunately, it’s very rare. I find thrillers to generally lack in character development, substance and suspense. The main appeal hinges on the mystery itself, but very often the answers are either predictable or so damn hard that it’s impossible to play along as the reader. In the past, I’ve read thrillers that I have enjoyed only to be completely let down by the ending. Agatha Christie might be the exception to this rule, since And Then There Were None is by far the best thriller I’ve ever read, but it’s still not a genre I generally reach for.

A popular or beloved character that I dislike

Hermione Granger – Harry Potter

I know, I know. Shocking, right? Here’s the thing, I love Hermione. I really do. She’s such a complex, dynamic and well written female character that has had such a huge impact on young girls of all ages across the world. However, as a character, I just don’t like her. All of the flaws that Hermione has make her annoying rather than endearing to me. There’s no denying she’s a well-written and incredible character, but on a personal level she’s not my cup of tea.

A popular author that I can’t seem to get into

Brandon Sanderson

As a fantasy reader it feels like you can’t be part of the club unless you’ve read everything Sanderson has ever written because he’s so loved in fantasy circles. So far I’ve read Warbreaker and The Final Empire, and attempted Elantris. I really enjoyed Warbreaker but generally I find it so difficult to get along with Sanderson’s writing style. It’s so basic, clunky and completely lacks flow. His writing actually pulls me out of the story he’s trying to tell because it’s so glaringly bad at times. I’m still planning to read The Way of Kings, but itf it doesn’t go well, it might be time to call a day on Sanderson.

A popular book trope that I’m tired of seeing

The Chosen One

Do I really need to explain? It’s not only over-done, but annoying because as a concept it’s unrealistic. There are no “chosen ones” in real life. This idea that someone is destined for greatness and is naturally gifted at everything, adored by everyone and wins by default because they’re the Chosen One, is difficult for me to get behind..

A popular book or series that I have no interest in reading

Six of Crows

I think if I’d read this book when I was a teenager, I would’ve loved it. But as I’ve grown up and my reading tastes have evolved, I’ve really shifted away from YA fantasy. I just don’t think I would vibe with this book now. But hey, never say never.

A movie or TV show adaption of a book or series that I like more than the book/s

Dexter

Dexter is one of my favourite shows of all time (yes, even with that finale haha), but my experience of reading the books just didn’t live up to the show. The show is thrilling, suspenseful, fast paced but the books were dry. Generally, Dexter works so much better as a show because it’s visual and Michae C. Hall brings Dexter’s character to life brilliantly.

What are some of your unpopular book opinions? Share in the comments!

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag

So, we’re half way through 2021. Where has the time gone?! I don’t know about anybody else, but this year has flown by for me. We’ve been living with COVID for over a year now and it’s been good to see the UK slowly getting back to some normalcy. I celebrated my 27th birthday just over a week ago and will be setting off on a UK caravan holiday this weekend (hoping for lots of sunshine and looking forward to dipping my toes in the sea for the first time in over 8 years!). But enough of that, today I’ll be doing the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag. I’m excited to reflect on what I’ve read so far this year and share t with you all.

This tag was originally developed by Earl Grey Books and Chami on YouTube.

Note:

  • All books on this list are books I’ve read this year in 2021 or books I want to read.
  • I have reworded/condensed most of the questions.
  • I’ve changed a couple of questions to suit my own preferences. All questions that have been changed are marked with an asterix.

Best book

The Heroes – Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie is one of my favourite fantasy authors and The First Law one of my favourite trilogies. The Heroes is the second stand-alone novel set in The First Law universe and it blew me away. Spanning a three-day war, this book is a meticulous examination of the damaging impact of war. Abercrombie’s stellar character work shone as always and although it was a slow started, the action and plot was built up fantastically with an explosive conclusion.

Best sequel

The Dragon Republic – R. F. Kuang

The Poppy War was one of my favourite books of 2020 and The Dragon Republic had a lot to live up to, but it accomplished it. It built upon the world, characters and plot that was established in the first book and elevated it to the next level. I didn’t love it as much as The Poppy War, but the ending will be a moment that will stay for me for a long time #PlotTwist. You can read my full review of The Poppy War Trilogy here.

New book series you want to start*

Stormlight Archive – Brandon Sanderson

As a fantasy reader, I feel like a fraud for having not read the Stormlight Archive. Sanderson’s works are raved about in every corner of the fantasy community and this series is championed. One of my close friends adores this series and is constantly begging me to read is so I can jump on the Stormlight train. I’m excited to learn about the characters I’ve heard so much about like Kaladin and Dalinar. I just hope that it meets my expectations, which are very high based on the great things I’ve heard.

Most anticpated read for the second half of 2021*

The Sword of Kaigen – M. L. Wang

The Sword of Kaigen exploded in the fantasy community this year. It’s a self-published stand-alone fantasy which has been highly praised by readers and reviewers. I recently starting reading it but have put it aside to focus on other books I’m currently reading, but I am beyond excited to sink my teeth back into this and have a feelng it will be a favourite 2021 read.

Biggest disappointment

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe – Fannie Flagg

This had been on my TBR for a while and I was expecting feel-good small town vibes with friendship, found family and romance. Although I did like this book, it just wasn’t what I wanted or expected going into it. It reads more like a historical drama and the disjointed timeline and wide cast of characters was difficult to follow at times. Generally, it was an okay read but rather forgettable.

Biggest Surprise

Ballad of Reading Gaol – Oscar Wilde

I’m not a poetry reader. As much as I’d like to be, I struggle to connect to or understand poetry. Quite frankly, I feel too stupid for it. However, I adore Oscar Wilde’s writing style so decided to listen to the audiobook on a whim through my library and fell in love. Wilde’s use of language and ability to craft an emotive, complex and rounded story of his time in jail through poetry was staggering. Having the audiobook to set the rhythm of the poetry helped me to become immersed in it completely and I’d like to read more poetry in the future in this format.

Favourite newly discovered author

Robin Hobb – Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy)

Despite having only read one of her books so far, I can already sense that Robin Hobb is an author I’m going to love. Her world-building and character work immediately pulled me in. Whilst Assassin’s Apprentice was slow paced, I appreciated Hobb’s attention to detail and the time she took to flesh out her characters and allow the reader breathing space to become anchored in the world.

New favourite relationship*

Rin and Nezha – The Poppy War Trilogy

I know I’ve already spoken about this trilogy, but it deserves to take another spot on this list. The enemies to friends to lovers to enemies relationship between Rin and Nezha was compelling and I became deeply invested. Kuang created such an intruiging, complex dynamic between these two characters and developed it well. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the way the relationship was concluded, but nonetheless enjoyed following their relationship a lot.

Book that made you cry

We Can Do Better Than This: 35 Voices on the Future of LGBTQ+ Rights – Amelia Abraham (editor)

We Can Do Better Than This is a collection of essays from LGBTQIA+ individuals who share their experience of their queerness and their hopes for the future of LGBTQIA+ activism. The diversity and breadth of voices in this book was beautiful but the topics that explored were hard hitting and made me cry multiple times, sometimes with sadness and sometimes with joy. It was a very impactful read and the words and stories in this book will always stay with me.

Book that made you happy

Emma – Jane Austen

Emma is one of those books that could cheer me up no matter what mood I was in. It’s light-hearted, fun and dramatic. Emma as a character is incredibly flawed but endearing and her incessant meddling is entertaining to watch. You can read my fulll review of Emma here.

The most beautiful book you’ve bought or recieved

Wuthering Heights – Emily BrontΓ« (Folio Society Edition)

My brother bought this for me for my birthday and OMG, I’m in love. The illustrations in this book are stunning and although I already own two copies of Wuthering Heights, my motto is you can never have too many copies of your favourite books.

A book you want to read by the end of the year*

Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow – Jessica Townsend

I love the Nevermoor series and have enjoyed the first two books immensely. The world is whimsical, fun and charming. These books are like a warm hug. It’s one of my favourite fanatasy series currently and I’m excited to dive back into the world and follow Morrigan’s adventures. The only reason I haven’t read it yet is because I have to wait until October 2022 for Book 4 and I want to reduce the wait as much as I can.

Favourite book to movie adaptation

Wuthering Heights (1939)

I’ve made no secret of my love for Wuthering Heights and because of how much the book means to me, I didn’t have much faith that I would enjoy an adaptation of it. This film does get a lot of things wrong and isn’t a very accurate portrayal of the book, but I still really enjoyed it. The acting was strong and the relationship between Cathy and Heathcliff was encapsulating. I generally don’t watch classic films, but really enjoyed the old-school style and felt that it being in black and white fit with the tone and the setting of the moors perfectly.

Stay safe, my lovelies and keep reading.