Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Top Ten Tuesday | Anticipated 2018 Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is all about our most anticipated releases for 2018, so below are the 2018 releases that I'm really looking forward to!


The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor: I'm looking forward to seeing how Okorafor is going to conclude Binti's story.

Lullaby by Leïla Slimani: This sounds so dark but so good, and is giving me The Hand That Rocks the Cradle vibes (a really good film if you haven't seen it). Set in Paris, a woman goes back to work after the birth of her second child with tragic consequences when the nanny she and her husband hire murders their children.

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas: Set in an America where abortion is illegal and in-vitro fertilization is banned, this novel sounds like it explores motherhood and a woman's right to her own body in a really interesting way and I'm looking forward to reading it.

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar: I keep hearing about this one and I do love my historical fiction, so I have to check it out.


The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara: This is LGBT+ historical fiction featuring pirates and girls kissing. Why wouldn't I want to read it?

All Out ed. by Saundra Mitchell: An anthology of LGBT+ historical fiction. Gimme.

The Sealwoman's Gift by Sally Magnusson: More historical fiction! The only novel I've read based on Icelandic history is Hannah Kent's fantastic Burial Rites, but this novel also sounds fascinating and is also based on true events about a woman who, along with her husband and their three children, are among a large number of Icelandic people who are captured and sold into slavery in Algiers.


The Radical Element ed. by Jessica Spotswood: I'm fairly certain this is an anthology of marginalised heroines, so I'm all over this one.

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton: I ended up DNFing Walton's debut, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, it just wasn't my cup of tea, but this book has witches in it and as soon as a book has witches in it I want it badly.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi: That cover is gorgeous and this book sounds so fun; I love a good 'magic is banned' fantasy story. I'm pretty sure this is African-inspired fantasy and I want to read African and Asian-inspired fantasy after years of being familiar with fantasy settings inspired by Europe.


Leah On the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli: I loved Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and then I loved The Upside of Unrequited even more, so naturally I can't wait to get my hands on Albertalli's third novel.

Macbeth by Jo Nesbø: I haven't been blown away by the Hogarth Shakespeare series, but Macbeth is my favourite Shakespeare play and I will devour any retelling I can. I haven't read any Nesbø before so this'll be interesting!

Not So Stories ed. by David Thomas Moore: Many of us grew up with Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories but, to a modern reader, they can be a little uncomfortable as Kipling was such a staunch supporter of the British Empire. This anthology is giving Kipling's stories to BAME authors to rewrite and celebrate the cultures from which they came. It sounds brilliant.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland: Women of colour fighting zombies in post-Civil War America. YES PLEASE.

On a Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell: This tells the story of three women who survive the Titanic, and reunite twenty years later after a sudden death. I'm very intrigued by this one.

Circe by Madeline Miller: Madeline Miller is probably best known for The Song of Achilles, which I read last earlier this year and fell in love with, and in her new novel she's returning to Ancient Greek myth to retell the story of Circe. I love stories about witches, as you all know, and Circe is one of the oldest witches around so I can't wait to see what Miller does with her. I'm really, really looking forward to this one - in fact this one might just be my most anticipated read of 2018.

Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist: I must thank Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight for bringing my attention this book. It's giving me Blood Red Road vibes so, naturally, I want to read the hell out of it. Also I genuinely have a soft spot for characters called Daisy and Ben, so this one's right up my alley.

Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence: I haven't actually finished Red Sister yet, but I love stories set in nunneries and I want to read more high fantasy so I'll be grabbing a copy of this if I do enjoy Red Sister!


Between Earth and Sky by Amanda Skenandore: A historical murder mystery that delves into America's dark history of its boarding schools set up to 'civilise' the First Nations children. I love historical murder mysteries and I'm fascinated by First Nations history, so this book sounds right up my street.

The Surface Breaks by Louise O'Neill: This is a retelling of The Little Mermaid set off the Irish coast and I'm very excited for it. I've yet to read any of O'Neill's work but I've heard such amazing things about it, and I'm hoping she gives this tale a fantastically feminist slant.

MEM by Bethany C. Morrow: This sounds amazing! It's giving me The Island vibes, another movie I'd recommend if you haven't seen it, and Unnamed Press is a publisher I'm keeping my eye on - they seem to publish really individual books.

The Magpie Tree by Katherine Stansfield: The blurb mentions witches and Cornwall, two of my favourite things, and I'm interested in reading more of Stansfield's work. Like Red Sister, I haven't finished Falling Creatures yet but so far I think I'm going to enjoy it enough to want to read more.


Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers: I will read all of Chambers' sci-fi until the end of time. I love the universe she introduced us to in The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and I will read anything and everything I can set in that universe.


The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager: I enjoyed Sager's Final Girls earlier this year, so I'm interested in checking out their next book!


Toil & Trouble: 16 Tales of Women & Witchcraft ed. by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe: A whole anthology about witches is right up my alley - I'm really looking forward to this one!


The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee: I loved The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, so naturally I can't wait to read about the adventures of Monty's sister, Felicity.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James: I've slotted this one into October because it doesn't have an official release date so I'm hoping it doesn't get pushed back to 2019 because it sounds amazing! It's the first book in a high fantasy trilogy which is being described as African Game of Thrones. As I mentioned before, I'm desperate to read African and Asian-inspired high fantasy so I'm very eager to read this one.

Which books made your list this week?

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Top Ten Tuesday | Santa Claus is Coming to Town (With Books)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is 'Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings'! To be honest I'm not really sure what I want for Christmas this year, although there'll always be books I'd like to get my hands on, so this week I've mentioned some of the books I've included on a wishlist for my bookish secret santa as well as a couple of books I hinted at my parents that I wouldn't mind owning. Whatever I get this year, though, I know I'm going to love it!

And as this is the last TTT before Christmas - MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope you all have a wonderful day, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, and, if you do, I hope Father Christmas brings you everything you wish for.

Prudence by Gail Carriger: I own all of the Parasol Protectorate books, with only Heartless and Timeless left to go, so it'd be nice to have the first book in the follow-up series to hand.

New World Fairy Tales by Cassandra Parkin: I love short story collections based on fairy tales, so I definitely wouldn't complain if I found this book under my tree.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor: All I've read of Okorafor's so far are her Binti books, but Akata Witch has intrigued me for a long while. It's the first book in a duology (I think?) and recently had a makeover with this stunning cover.

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu: I haven't read any Asian-inspired high fantasy and that's something I'd like to change, especially as I've heard great things about Ken Liu's work.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban by J. K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay: I've been collecting these illustrated editions, they're beautiful, and I think this one in particular will be gorgeous - I can't wait to see Jim Kay's versions of Lupin and Sirius!

Pages for You by Sylvia Brownrigg: I've heard lots of very good things about this one, so I certainly wouldn't be disappointed to get a copy this year.

Elizabeth of York: The First Tudor Queen by Alison Weir: I've always been fascinated by Elizabeth of York but I feel like she gets forgotten quite a lot. Whenever I come across a history documentary featuring Alison Weir I'm always interested in what she has to say, so this book is the perfect pairing of two lovely things.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen: This year is the year I discovered I like Jane Austen and Mansfield Park is the novel I know the least about, so I'm very interested in checking it out.

Unicorns: The Myths, Legends, & Lore by Skye Alexander: This book's about unicorns. What else needs to be said?

The Stuart Princesses by Alison Plowden: I read Plowden's Women All On Fire: The Women of the English Civil War recently and enjoyed it, and it's made me want to learn more about the women of the Stuart era. I know very little about the Stuart royal family so I think this will be the perfect book to widen my knowledge.

Which books made your list this week?

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Review | Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

by Mary Robinette Kowal

My Rating: 

Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a version of Regency England where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right–and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

I suppose it's rather fitting, considering 2017 marks 200 years since her death, that this year has been the year I discovered that I like Jane Austen. This year has also been the year that I started showing a real interest in the Georgian and Regency eras in terms of its history, so I've found myself seeking out more fiction and non-fiction set during this time. If you've been following my blog for a while you'll know that I love historical fiction and especially speculative historical fiction so, described as Jane Austen with magic, Shades of Milk and Honey has been on my radar for a while now.

Firstly, if you're looking for something quick and easy to read, this book is for you. I started reading it during an hour-long train journey and by the time I'd reached my destination I'd read a quarter of the book. The beginning moves so quickly without feeling at all rushed, and it's so much fun to read. While reading this book it was so easy to tell that Mary Robinette Kowal had lovingly crafted it from her adoration of Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility in particular felt like real influences here, yet the book didn't feel like a rip-off and it easily could have.

The most interesting part of the book for me was the 'glamour'. The manipulation of glamour is seen as yet another skill that an accomplished young lady should master to help her be even more eligible, but they have to get the balance right - as with most things for women in history, too little or too much of anything is something they can be criticised for. For example, some women might use glamour to give themselves straighter teeth or a less crooked nose, but too much glamour will make them look unnatural and will make it obvious that they are using glamour.

Our heroine, Jane, is exceptionally talented at the manipulation of glamour but, not traditionally beautiful like her younger sister Melody, has failed to attract a husband. Now in her late twenties, Jane has resolved herself to spinsterhood and instead tries to help her sister find a husband. There was something very Elinor and Marianne about their relationship, and I liked that Kowal didn't do what I was expecting in regards to Melody; while Jane envies Melody her beauty, we also discover that Melody also admires Jane for her skills with glamour. Melody is pretty, but she's genuinely afraid that she might only attract a husband with her pretty face and have nothing else to offer him, or that she might attract the wrong kind of husband when she believes she has only her appearance to offer.

Having said that, I did grow a little tired of the amount of times Jane and Melody seemed to bicker about the same thing. I didn't expect them to resolve their issues instantly, but I would have liked to have seen them supporting each other a little more throughout the story, particularly as Melody seemed to become a little silly as the story wore on and I thought it was a shame she was reduced to that kind of stereotype.

What I liked most about the novel was how Kowal fit glamour into the Regency era. Magic is a power that comes from within and, such as in Harry Potter (for the most part), it can act as an equalizer between men and women. Women who are exceptionally talented at glamour shouldn't have to prescribe to the gender politics of Regency England, I wouldn't want to mess with someone who can literally alter the folds of the environment around me, but society has made women believe that they use these skills to attract a husband and thus take that agency away from them. Similarly, men who can use glamour well, such as Jane's Darcy-esque love interest Vincent, are praised as geniuses while women are dutiful and desirable. It reminded me of this scene from English Vinglish:

Speaking of Vincent, while I did like him and Jane together I was hoping for something more. For me they seemed to fall in love very quickly, and I would have enjoyed something more drawn out. There were hints of some sizzling chemistry there but there wasn't quite enough there to make the romance anything but nice.

In fact I felt like the entire end of the book was rushed and a little too sickly sweet, but, ultimately, this book is a fun, harmless read. Is it outstanding? No. Do I want to carry on with the series? Yes, I think it's the glamour that really shines in this book rather than the characters and the plot, but as there are four more books in this series I have a feeling they'll both continue to develop. In fact I'm hoping that Kowal will also include more people in this series that Austen excluded from her own work, such as the working class, the LGBT+ community and ethnic minorities - especially as the Slavery Abolition Act wasn't passed in the UK until 1833.

Whether you're an Austen fan, a historical fiction fan or a fan of magic in books, I think this is a story that's worth checking out. I'm planning to pick up the second book in the series, Glamour in Glass, fairly soon!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Top Ten Tuesday | Best Books of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is 'Top Ten Favourite Books of 2017', and it's a topic I'm not quite comfortable with this year. Out of all the books I've read this year not many have wowed me, in fact most of them have left me feeling a bit 'meh, and in all honesty I don't really like choosing the best books of a year before the year is over, just in case I read something amazing in the last few weeks of December, so look out for another post at the end of this month/beginning of next month in which I'll make myself choose my Top 3 books of 2017!

While most books did leave me feeling a bit cold, the more I thought about it the more I realised that, actually, I did read some really fun, really well-written books this year, and I think it'd be doing the books and their authors a disservice not to mention them. So, in the order I read them, here are my top ten books of 2017:

The Good Immigrant ed. by Nikesh Shukla: An essay collection that really opened my eyes to the kind of racism I have contributed to and not noticed in Britain because of my white privilege. That makes this book sound so preachy, and it really isn't, but it made me think a lot of thoughts and, frankly, I think it should be required reading in schools alongside Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Speaking of Adichie, I decided to finally explore some of her fiction with her short story collection this year and loved it. It was so different from everything else I've read and it's made me really excited to read her novels.

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin: One of the most original fantasy stories I've ever read, told in one of the most interesting ways I've ever seen a story told. 

Final Girls by Riley Sager: This twisty and twisted thriller plays around with the 'final girl' trope in horror films and that made it so much fun to read.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli: Be still my beating heart! I didn't think it would be possible to love this book after I enjoyed Albertalli's debut, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, so much, but I think I loved it even more. I found Molly to be such a relatable heroine, something that rarely happens for me when I read Contemporary YA, and the whole story is lovely. This book is like a warm hug.

Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀: After reading The Thing Around Your Neck, this debut confirmed that I really enjoy fiction set in Nigeria and I'm eager to check out more. Whatever Adébáyọ̀ releases next, I'll definitely be getting my hands on a copy; this debut is a fantastic page-turner, so much so that I read it in one sitting, and full of twists and turns. I highly recommend it!

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee: Another really fun read with such a charming protagonist and a romance brimming with chemistry. This novel was so full of character and Lee didn't tone down on the historical accuracy for the sake of romanticising the past and, as a history nerd, I really appreciated that.

All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry: This one took me by surprise. I was expecting it to be more of a thriller than it was, but the story turned out to be quieter than the blurb made it out to be and I really, really enjoyed it. I loved the way it was written and I loved the way the story unfolded - this is a great one to read in the winter!

Persuasion by Jane Austen: Can you believe it? The book that turned me against Austen when I was eighteen has appeared on my best books of the year list eight years later. Pride and Prejudice is fun but, having reread this one, I think I agree with the many other Austen fans who regard this one as her masterpiece. I also watched the 1995 adaptation this year and thought it was brilliant, so I recommend it if you haven't watched it.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: Last, but definitely not least - this one isn't only one of my favourite books of 2017, but has become one of my favourite books of all time. It's a masterpiece. I adored it, and I can't wait to read Circe.

Which books made your list this week?

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Top Ten Tuesday | My Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is 'Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR' - hooray for themed TBRs which, if you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know I love! 

I love reading books set in cold landscapes during the winter, such as Hannah Kent's Burial Rites and Stef Penney's The Tenderness of Wolves, but I also love trying to tackle high fantasy and fat, epic novels that I can totally escape to in the winter, when the nights are dark and the candles are lit.

The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin: I'm half way through The Obelisk Gate at the moment but my reading year's been so poor I've accidentally left it despite having pre-ordered, and now also owning, a copy of The Stone Sky. I'd love to get this trilogy finished because I really enjoyed The Fifth Season and I want to know where this story's going!

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb: Frankly it's criminal that I haven't read any Robin Hobb and I've owned my copy of Assassin's Apprentice for a while now, so it's about time I got to it. I'm looking forward to (hopefully) enjoying a long series in which I can follow one character from childhood through to adulthood.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: My lovely friend Natalie @ A Sea Change really enjoyed this book and it sounds like a lot of fun - I'm all for a heist story, and I liked Bardugo's story in Summer Days and Summer Nights so I'm interested in reading one of her novels.

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence: I tried reading this one earlier this year and, sadly, couldn't get into it, but I want to give it another chance. I've heard such wonderful things about Lawrence as a fantasy writer and I'm always drawn to stories set in nunneries so I'm hoping to, if not love, then at least like this one the second time around.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: Natalie @ A Sea Change also loves this one and I still haven't read it because it's such a beast, but I think it'd be the ideal book to curl up with over winter and experience.

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu: I don't know why I didn't realise it sooner, but over the past year or so I've really begun to notice just how European the high fantasy I'm familiar with is. I'd like to discover more Asian and African-inspired fantasy realms and this series sounds very intriguing - I've heard very good things thus far!

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison: This is one of my favourite books of all time and I haven't reread it yet this year, so I think it'll be fun to curl up with it over Christmas. I love Maia so much.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: I've been meaning to start this series for a few years now, but there are almost ten books in the series now and each one is huge. So many people I know love this series, however, and I'd really like to watch the TV adaptation - I just want to read the book(s) first!

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis: Another chunky book and one that I think at least begins around Christmas time, so it's a fitting read for the winter. This is about a history student who time travels back to the Middle Ages during the outbreak of the Black Death, only to get stuck there. I've heard it's amazing so I'm looking forward to picking it up (hopefully) soon!

Which books made your list this week?

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Review | The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

by Madeline Miller

My Rating: 

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their differences, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

I'm not okay.

The Song of Achilles has been on my radar for a while now, I've seen so many readers from all over the world sing its praises while also warning that it's utterly heart-wrenching. They weren't wrong. I'm writing this review having only finished the book about an hour ago, so I'm a complete emotional mess and I can already feel the book hangover that's about to overtake me. I'm going to be thinking about this book for a long time - it's one of the best books I've read this year, and quite possibly one of the best books I've read period.

In this book Madeline Miller tells her interpretation of the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles leading up to and during the Trojan War. Greek Myth is so much fun because there are so many different versions of every legend that there's plenty of room for an author to play around with, and in Miller's tale she portrays Patroclus and Achilles not as cousins, as they sometimes are, but as friends-turned-lovers. That doesn't seem to do their relationship justice, however; put simply, these two are everything to each other.

The gentle and timid son of a harsh king, Patroclus is exiled from his kingdom to the court of King Peleus after he accidentally kills another boy. There Patroclus befriends the king's half-immortal son, Achilles, and a close bond develops between them which, over the years, gradually grows into something more than friendship. I'm not sure how to put into words how much I loved Miller's interpretation of their relationship - it blossoms so naturally throughout the book. Achilles is the first person to give Patroclus the time of day and appreciate his quiet qualities and Patroclus is the only person who sees Achilles as a person rather than a ready-made legend.

What makes their relationship work is Miller's fantastic interpretation of these two figures from Greek Myth as individuals. I loved her Achilles from the moment we meet him, a little aloof and self-assured yet curious, and her Patroclus, whose point of view the book is from, grew on me throughout the story. I was a little unsure of him at first, but by the end of the book I absolutely adored him and it was really interesting to see the kind of all-consuming love we so often see women experiencing in these kind of epic stories being experienced by a man.

With the Trojan War as the eventual backdrop of the novel there are plenty of other famous figures from Greek Myth who grace the pages of this book, from Hector to Odysseus to Apollo himself, and Miller writes each of them wonderfully. It was so easy to tell while reading this story that Miller poured everything she had into it, the research she undertook to write it the way she has written it must been immense and I really admire her for it.

The women, too, are wonderfully realised. Achilles' mother Thetis is so easy to dislike, and yet while she is one of the more villainous characters in the book - but not the villain, in my eyes - we also learn to understand her. Miller doesn't shy away from the often horrific way women were treated in the ancient world, particularly during times of war, and while Thetis is immortal even she has suffered at the hands of men. We also have Miller's interpretation of Briseis, whose tender friendship with Patroclus I loved, and I adored her almost as much as I did Patroclus.

Throughout the story, Miller doesn't try to romanticise Greek Myth; war is portrayed as the horrible thing that it is and she doesn't attempt to 'fix' the strangeness of these legends. Greek Mythology is weird, the Gods play around with mortals as easily as we might play a game of The Sims, but Miller is a wonderful storyteller. Her writing is rich and sumptuous, but easy to follow, and I was swallowed into the world of Ancient Greece in the most wonderful way while reading this book. 

And the ending? I sobbed. I need to take some time to just sit with my grief before I move on to another book. It sounds dramatic, I know, but we follow these characters from childhood through to adulthood and watch them grow and change, it's difficult to watch them running towards the inevitable end of the Trojan War without secretly hoping that things won't go the way you know they're going to. If you're familiar with the story of the Trojan War this story is full of the most heart-wrenching foreshadowing. Read it and weep.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's instantly being added to my list of favourite all-time books and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Circe.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Most Disappointing Reads of 2017

I'm stealing borrowing from Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight today after reading her post about her most disappointing reads of this year. You've probably guessed by how few and far between my blog posts have been this year that it hasn't been the best reading year, which is a shame considering 2016 wasn't the best reading year either, but I feel a little better knowing that a lot of other people haven't read many amazing books this year either. Is it 2017? Probably not, I think I just need to get back into the swing of reading regularly which is something I know I haven't been doing well this year.

These aren't necessarily the worst books I've ever read - if I'm really not enjoying a book I'll DNF it, and it didn't seem fair to include DNFs here - but they're books I was hoping and expecting to enjoy a lot more than I did. These also aren't necessarily books published in 2017, but books I read in 2017 - read on to find out my most disappointing reads listed in the order I read them!

Now to be fair to it, As I Descended is probably the book I enjoyed most of the three on this list - I did give it three stars, after all - but I was hoping to love it. Macbeth is my favourite Shakespeare play, so to find out that Robin Talley, whose debut Lies We Tell Ourselves I loved, was writing a YA lesbian retelling of it incited so much excitement in me. I'd yet to come across any lesbian retelling of Shakespeare (though I'm sure there are more out there) and I've never seen an adaptation of Shakespeare in which Macbeth is a woman (though, again, I'm sure there are more out there). It wasn't terrible but it wasn't as good as it could have been and sometimes that's more disappointing than a book that's simply terrible. Check out my review here!

Another book that didn't meet my expectations after enjoying previous work from this author. Seanan McGuire also writes as Mira Grant and if you've been following my blog for a while you'll know Feed is one of my favourite books ever, and I also really enjoyed her horror novella Rolling in the Deep - I'm looking forward to reading the novel-length sequel, Into the Drowning Deep, hopefully soon! I adore the concept of Every Heart a Doorway but sadly this novella didn't work for me. The story became something of a murder mystery that isn't particularly difficult to solve and I didn't think it needed to be taken over by that story when the characters themselves were interesting enough to follow without an overarching plot. Not for me sadly - check out my review here!

Cornwall is one of my favourite places in the UK and I love fairy tales, folklore and mythology, so when I discovered Lucy Wood's debut collection, Diving Belles, was a collection entirely inspired by Cornish folklore I knew I had to get my hands on a copy. Unfortunately I didn't like it anywhere near as much as I'd hoped. To me the stories often felt like they weren't really going anywhere and, had I not known Cornwall was the inspiration, I don't think I would have picked up on that while reading it. The folkloric creatures Wood chose to feature in her stories are the kind of creatures I do associate with Cornish folklore, but she didn't play around with Cornish dialect or the Cornish language and there was no mention of Cornish place names. It felt a little like she'd been inspired by Cornwall but didn't want to make it too Cornish in case people couldn't relate to it, but it was the promise of that Cornishness that made me want to read it most. Sadly I only gave this one two stars in the end and you can check out my review here!

Now that I've got that off my chest, hopefully the rest of 2017 and all of 2018 will be full of amazing books that stay with me. What have been some of your most disappointing reads this year?

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Top Ten Tuesday | Give Me Some Space, Man

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!

This week's theme is 'Top Ten Books I Want My Future Children to Read (Or nieces and nephews, Godchildren, etc.)' - I actually kind of did this topic back in May and I don't really want to repeat myself, but I also didn't want to miss another week of TTT!

I have a nephew and four nieces - yes, four! Christmas shopping is a nightmare! - and my oldest niece is a bookworm, too, which is lovely, but there are some things I still definitely need to teach her. I live in South Wales while my older sister lives in North England so I don't see my oldest niece or her brother and sister that often, and when I saw her a few months ago I just so happened to be wearing a Star Wars t-shirt. She told me I shouldn't be wearing it because, and I quote, 'Star Wars is for boys'.

I'm sure you can imagine my horror.

So today I'm going to talk about the sci-fi books I'd like my niece to read when she's a little older to help her learn that Star Wars, and science fiction, is for everyone. She doesn't have to like science fiction, but I don't want her thinking it's a genre she's not allowed to participate in.

(Just as a sidenote, I don't tend to read as much sci-fi as I'd like to so the sci-fi experts amongst you probably have even better recommendations than I do - please feel free to leave them down below!)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: When eighteen year old Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley penned this haunting tale she set up the foundations for the genre we now know as science fiction. What better way to realise it's a genre that was never meant for boys alone?

Feed by Mira Grant: One of my favourite books of all time, this book broke my heart into teeny tiny pieces and made me sob. I love this one because it's a zombie story that isn't really about zombies in the way traditional zombie stories are, and when my niece is older I hope she'll enjoy its commentary on politics and the media as much as I did.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: Another one of my favourite books of all time and one I can't praise highly enough. Its discussions of gender, sexuality, race relations, family units and what it means to be human will stay with me for the rest of my life and I think anyone who reads this novel can learn something from it while also enjoying a beautiful story.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood: I still haven't read this one myself (I know, I know, the shame!) but I swear I'm going to get to it soon and I think a book like this one would be the ideal story to get my niece thinking about feminism when she's a bit older.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor: Another sci-fi story that discusses race relations and the validity of cultures both familiar and alien (hurr hurr) to us. As my niece will sadly be growing up in post-Brexit Britain, I hope she reads lots and lots of stories about why it's important not to dismiss another culture simply because it's different to her own.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: As much as I got sick of the genre, YA dystopian fiction is such a good starting point into science fiction, at least one strand of science fiction, especially for people like myself and my niece who aren't huge sci-fi people. Katniss Everdeen is one of the fiercest heroines around; my niece will be able to learn a lot from her, I think.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver: On the other end of the scale is a quieter dystopian tale, but an equally powerful one. One of the things I loved most about this book is that the heroine, Lena, is more traditionally feminine than a lot of the YA dystopian heroines out there, and unfortunately I think a lot of heroines were distanced from traditionally feminine things because how can a girl possibly be feminine and kick-ass? Thankfully there are different ways to be 'kick-ass' and Lena and Katniss are both prime examples of that.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: I think this could be a particularly good starting point for my niece when she's old enough to start reading YA. I love this series, and the fact that all of the books in the series are retellings of fairy tales means that they're accessible for readers who might be familiar with the fairy tales but find sci-fi a little intimidating. It worked for me! (Also can I take the moment to have a mini rant and say that it really annoys me when I see this series being described as a dystopian series - not every YA sci-fi book is dystopian!)

Blood Red Road by Moira Young: More post-apocalyptic than dystopian, this book is just so much fun and yet another book with a very interesting heroine; Saba's even fiercer than Katniss, I think, and I hope it would show my niece just how fun and versatile this genre is.

Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Various Artists: Because let's face it, if my niece thinks Star Wars is for boys she probably thinks that about Marvel, too. Who better than Ms. Marvel herself to show her otherwise?

Which books made your list this week?

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Top Ten Tuesday | Playing Dress-Up

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books which coincide with that week's theme. You can find everything you need to know about joining in here!


Christmas will always be my favourite holiday, but Halloween is a very close second - which is probably why I love The Nightmare Before Christmas so much. Today's theme is a Halloween freebie and, while I thought recommending you some Halloween reads would be fun, I thought I could do something a little different: today I'm going to talk about couples in books, and who I think they should dress up as, from another book/movie, for Halloween!

Molly and Reid from Becky Albertalli's The Upside of Unrequited as Arwen and Aragorn from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings: Given that Reid is the ultimate Tolkien superfan, I'd be very surprised if he didn't want to dress up as Aragorn with Molly beside him as his beautiful elf queen.

Aileana and Kiaran from Elizabeth May's The Falconer as Titania and Bottom from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream: An opportunity for Aileana to be a faerie queen and dress Kiaran in donkey ears - why would she say no?

Cress and Thorne from Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles as Leia and Han from Star Wars: Honestly, can't you imagine Thorne taking great delight in dressing up as Han Solo? And if it meant he got a chance to see Cress dressed as Princess Leia, he'd definitely be all for it. Besides Cress loves make-believe, she loves pretending to be someone else, so I think she'd have a lot of fun pretending to be the galaxy's greatest princess and general.

Nix and Kashmir from Heidi Heilig's The Girl From Everywhere as Elizabeth and Will from Pirates of the Caribbean: From one pirate ship to another, I think Nix and Kashmir are both accustomed to having to pretend to be someone else and they'd enjoy playing the part of these two. Then again, Kashmir might think of himself as more of a Jack Sparrow than a Will Turner...

Bella and Edward from Stephenie Meyer's Twilight as Mina and Dracula from Bram Stoker's Dracula: If the two of them never do this then they're missing out on the one good opportunity their relationship can give them.

Pei and Ashby from Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet as Zoe and Wash from Firefly: TLWtaSAP has been compared to Firefly a lot, and I can understand why - I think Ashby would be missing a trick if he and Pei didn't dress up as these two.

Maxim and Mrs. de Winter from Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca as Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre: I've always wondered if du Maurier was a little inspired by Jane Eyre when writing Rebecca, and I don't want to say much more than that - if you haven't read either novel I don't want to spoil them for you, but they're both great books!

Meche and Sebastian from Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Signal to Noise as Anne and Captain Wentworth from Jane Austen's Persuasion: I can't imagine Meche is a big fan of Austen, but given he's much more of a reader than Meche is I like to think Sebastian has read some Austen and would get a lot of fun out of seeing Meche in a bonnet. Both these novels share the theme of second chances, something I think Sebastian, at least, might appreciate.

Alexia and Conall from Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf: If I was married to a werewolf, I'd take great pleasure in dressing him up as the Big Bad Wolf for Halloween, and I'd be disappointed if Alexia never thought of doing the same to her husband.

Sue and Maud from Sarah Waters' Fingersmith as Carmilla and Laura from J. Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla: Carmilla is one of my favourite pieces of Victorian literature, a vampire story that pre-dates Dracula and has some serious homoerotic vibes. Given that Sue and Maud are also lovers from the 19th century, I think they'd have a lot of fun pretending to be these two.

What did you talk about this week?