Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Top Ten Tuesday | Books I Can't Believe I Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl. 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 'Books I Can’t Believe I Read'.

Most of these are books I had to read for school or university, but they're all books I'm proud I managed to force my way through considering how much I disliked them or had trouble getting through them. I'm now much better at DNFing books I'm not enjoying, particularly as I no longer have to read anything for a piece of coursework.

If you don't like reading negative things about books (which is perfectly understandable - it can be a bit of a bummer!) then I recommend you don't read any more of this post...

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller: I'm so sorry to American Literature, but other than Of Mice and Men I did not have a good experience with it in school. This story seemed so unnecessarily depressing and I got so bored of talking about the American Dream in my English Lit classes.

The Withered Root by Rhys Davies: I ended up reading this one while helping to format the eBook at my publishing internship. All I can remember is how much I hated it.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: I loathe this book. I know it's a favourite of so many people's and I totally respect that, it's just not for me.

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie: I did a really interesting module on Victorian Popular Fiction at university where we studied detective fiction, adventure fiction and children's fiction. It was a brilliant module but it made me realise just how twisted the original Peter Pan story is, and something about it made me too uncomfortable to enjoy it.

Wise Children by Angela Carter: This one just felt weird for the sake of being weird and I didn't like it at all when I had to read it in school. I wish The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories had been my introduction to Carter and not this strange novel.

The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart by Mathius Malzieu: If I had to pick the absolute worst book I'd ever read this one might be it. I forced my way through it because it's so short, more of a novella than a novel really, but it's just awful.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler: I forced my way through this retelling of The Taming of the Shrew hoping it would get better. It didn't.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne: I'm very lucky to have been to see the play in London, which I really enjoyed, but the script and story itself I didn't like at all. This story does such a disservice to some of my favourite characters and for me Scorpius was the only saving grace.

The Gift by Alison Croggon: I didn't dislike this one, I just remember it took me a long time to get through it and that it wasn't particularly memorable so I'm surprised I managed to force my way to the end of it.

Requiem by Lauren Oliver: I loved Delirium, and I think even with that ending it would have been a fantastic standalone, then Pandemonium came along and made Delirium just like every other YA dystopian triloy, then Requiem came along and kicked us all in the teeth. I like to pretend Pandemonium and Requiem never happened.

Which books made your list this week?

Monday, 29 January 2018

Review | Prime Meridian by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

My Rating: 

Amelia dreams of Mars. The Mars of the movies and the imagination, an endless bastion of opportunities for a colonist with some guts. But she’s trapped in Mexico City, enduring the drudgery of an unkind metropolis, working as a rent-a-friend, selling her blood to old folks with money who hope to rejuvenate themselves with it, enacting a fractured love story. And yet there’s Mars, at the edge of the silver screen, of life. It awaits her.

I've been a huge fan of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's work since her debut novel, Signal to Noise, became one of my favourite novels of all time back in 2015 so I couldn't let the opportunity to support the publication of her new novella pass me by. I, along with the other lucky backers, were able to receive copies of Prime Meridian in December, but it will be available for everyone else to buy this summer!

I've read two of Moreno-Garcia's novels so far and am currently reading her third, The Beautiful Ones, and I've also read one of her short story collections, This Strange Way of Dying, so I was interested to see her bridge the gap between novel and short story with a novella. Novellas are something I've become more and more interested in lately and there are so many more I'd like to read, and now I'm glad to have this one under my belt.

At this point Moreno-Garcia is already one of my favourite authors so I knew I was going to enjoy it, but I didn't know what to expect from it. In the realms of SFF I lean far more towards fantasy than science fiction and the science fiction I do love is quiet, character-focused sci-fi such as Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. Luckily for me, Prime Meridian is also that kind of sci-fi.

Amelia is a college dropout, forced to quit her academic pursuits to look after her mother before she passed away and now stuck sharing a tiny apartment with her pernicious sister. Now she works odd jobs, from working as a professional friend for the lonely to donating blood to those who believe it will restore their youth, all the while dreaming of a fresh start as a colonist on Mars.

Once again Moreno-Garcia's writing was a dream. This is moody sci-fi at its best, full of equal measures of regret and hope and reminiscent of films such as the 1990 version of Total Recall with elements of early sci-fi novels such as Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars. There's a wonderful Old Hollywood vibe throughout the story, making this the ideal novella for fans of Catherynne M. Valente's Radiance or indeed for any fans of those old classic movies starring beauties like Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren.

But it's Amelia who ultimately steals the show throughout this story. What I love about her is how unspectacular she is. She's a young woman like any other, looking around at her life and wishing for something better in a city where there are no jobs and all the money she does manage to earn has to go on getting by one day at a time. There are so many times when she could settle for what's in front of her, even a relationship with someone who has the finances to keep her in a better place than the one she's accustomed to, but that dreamer in her never quite goes to sleep, never quite gives up, and it's her quiet persistence I loved most.

I'm in the middle of a bit of a change in my own life right now. Next week I'm starting a new job and moving to a new city where I know absolutely no one, and this novella was just the kind of pep talk I needed. Whether you love sci-fi or you're fairly new to the genre there's something in this novella for you, and I implore you to get your hands on a copy later this year.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Top Ten Tuesday | Readfresh My Memory

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl. 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 'Books I Really Liked but Can’t Remember Anything/Much About'. I decided to play around with the theme a little this week and talk about ten of my favourite/most loved books that I'd like to reread because it's been a while since I last read them!

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling: It's been a long time since I last read this series and every year I say I'm going to reread them only to forsake them for newer reads. This year I'd really like to try and get to them because it's been so long since I read them I think it'll be like reading them for the first time all over again.

Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman: This was the first book that made me bawl my eyes out. I'd like to reread it soon, especially as I believe there's finally going to be an adaptation on the BBC!

Sabriel by Garth Nix: I have a copy of Goldenhand that I still haven't read because it's been so long since I read The Old Kingdom series I've forgotten quite a lot about it. I'd love to reread these books because I adored them growing up and Sabriel was always one of my favourite heroines.

Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya: Fun fact! Natsuka Takaya and I have the same birthday. I love the anime and read the manga when I was younger but only read up to around volume 11, so I'd love to reread the series from the beginning and finally finish it.

Witch Child by Celia Rees: Celia Rees was one of the most formative authors of my childhood and early teens, and it's thanks to her that I grew up so interested in historical fiction and books about witches and witchcraft in particular. I loved Witch Child the first time I read it, but I do worry that I might not love it as much if I read it again now.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters: A film adaptation of this one is being released later this year starring Domhnall Gleeson and Ruth Wilson so I'd like to try and reread it before I see the film. It's an excellent book and one I highly recommend if you're in the mood for a ghost story!

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie: I had to read this one during my first year of university and I really, really enjoyed it. I'd love to read it again.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: Another one I had to read for university, although I grew up loving the 1993 adaptation, and another one I absolutely loved. This is probably my favourite children's classic, with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland a very close second, and I think this would be a lovely one to reread in the spring.

Feed by Mira Grant: One of my favourite books of all time and yet it broke my heart so much that I haven't read it from beginning to end again since the first time I read it. I think I might try and reread this one this year!

Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë: My favourite Brontë and one of my favourite Victorian novels. It's a short, quiet book, but I love its exploration of how class doesn't matter if you're a woman - either way you could potentially be treated badly by the men in your life, and that's why it's important to support each other. In my opinion Anne Brontë was the most feminist of the Brontë sisters and I want her to receive far more love than she does.

Which books did you talk about this week?

Friday, 19 January 2018

My 5 Star TBR Predictions!

This post is entirely inspired by Mercedes @ MercysBookishMusings who has invited readers everywhere to pick some books from our TBR that we think we're going to give five stars to - and then see if we're right!

Ratings are such a subjective thing, and a five star rating varies from reader to reader and book to book. Some readers give a book five stars depending on the quality of the writing while others rate a book based purely on enjoyment, and the best thing about the subjectivity of reading is that none of us are wrong. Sometimes I'll know immediately if a book is a five star read while other times I'll go back and change my ratings having thought about the book for a while.

What I want more than anything is a brilliant story with characters I care about. If the writing's lyrical and beautiful then that's a bonus, but how much I care about the characters and how much they tugged at my emotions is the deciding factor for me.

So, without further ado, below are six books I think (and hope) that I'll love enough to give them five stars!

Ever since I learned about her, I've been fascinated by Joan, Lady of Wales, who was the illegitimate daughter of King John and the wife of Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, and it's so frustrating that we're never really going to know anything about her because she lived so long ago and there's so little record of her. I was in a charity shop when I discovered that Sharon Kay Penman, a highly respected author of historical fiction, had written a book all about her, Here Be Dragons, and I knew I had to have it.

I also came across A Thousand Orange Trees in a charity shop and had never heard of it before until I found it. It has fairly mixed reviews on Goodreads but it sounds like the kind of story that I would love; again it's historical fiction focused on women, this time set in Spain during the inquisition, and it sounds amazing.

Hannah Kent's Burial Rites and Susan Fletcher's Corrag were both five star reads for me, and as Alias Grace is another piece of fiction focusing on a woman accused of being a murderess I'm expecting to love this one, too.

We're going to see a lot of The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock this year, I have a feeling it's going to get the same buzz as Sarah Perry's The Essex Serpent. Usually I'm wary of really hyped books but something about this one makes me think I'm going to love it.

The Shadow of the Wind is another book that I've heard nothing but great things about and one that's been on my TBR for years. One of my colleagues read it last year and loved it, so I'm hoping to love it, too.

To be honest it's exactly the same case with A Thousand Splendid Suns. It's been on my TBR for years and I've heard fantastic things; my dad read it last year and really enjoyed it so I need to listen to his recommendation and get to it soon.

Are there any books on your TBR that you think you're going to love?

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

This Week in Books | 17/01/18

This week I'm joining in with Lipsy @ Lipsyy Lost & Found to talk about the books I've been reading recently!

NOW: I loved the new adaptation of IT last year and decided to try the book, which is also in keeping with one of my reading goals to not be intimidated by the longer books on my shelves, and at 1,166 pages this is one of the longest books I've ever attempted to read. I'm not the biggest fan of Stephen King but I'm enjoying this one so far and enjoying taking my time and making my way through a book. Yes, parts of it are problematic and, no, I don't think I'm going to consider it a masterpiece when I finish it but I'll be very pleased with myself when I finally get through it.

THEN: I finished listening to A Natural History of Dragons in my car and really enjoyed the experience of listening to it. I'd like to listen to the other books in the series but I'll have to wait until I can afford the audio CDs to play in my car - they're so expensive!

NEXT: It's become something of a tradition for me to read a Binti story at the beginning of the year. I believe The Night Masquerade is the final book in this little trilogy and I'm looking forward to finishing the series and seeing how Binti's story ends - I'll probably pick this one up and whizz through it while I'm continuing to make my way through IT.

What have you been reading recently?

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Top Ten Tuesday | 100 Authors of Colour Project

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl. 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 'Bookish Resolutions/Goals'! I haven't really set myself resolutions this year, not like I did last year, instead I've decided to make a '30 Before 30' list - 30 things I'd like to do I'd like to do by the time I'm 30 in 2o21. One of those goals is that I'd like to have read 100 authors of colour by the time I turn 30, so today I'm sharing some books by some authors of colour I've yet to read but would like to read soon.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: This book was everywhere in 2017 and I've heard so many good things that I know I need to read it soon. I'm determined to get to this one this year!

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng: I love stories about mixed race characters, and this story follows a half-English, half-Chinese boy in WW2 era Penang who befriends a Japanese diplomat. I've heard really good things about this one!

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: I've heard so many wonderful things about this one and it's been on my TBR for a while now, so I'd like to read it soon. I have a feeling it's going to make me cry, though.

Lullaby by Leïla Slimani: This The Hand That Rocks the Cradle-esque thriller has just been released this month and it sounds deliciously dark.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee: Another book I meant to get to in 2017 and didn't. This is a family saga which explores the relationship between South Korea and Japan - I know very little about that history and I'd like to learn more so I'm hoping this book will be a good introduction.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: In this novel Whitehead has reimagined the Underground Railroad as a literal railroad and follows a young girl, Cora, as she escapes slavery in pre-Civil War America.

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng: This debut follows a young woman in search of her brother after he goes missing in Arcadia, the land of the fae.

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu: I was very kindly given a copy of this for Christmas by the lovely Lorraine @ Insanity Sandwich and I've been eager to read Asian and African-inspired high fantasy for a while now so I'll definitely be crossing this one off my TBR this year.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi: Speaking of African-inspired high fantasy, this book is due out in March and, as well as having a beautiful cover, sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun.

Djinn City by Saad Z. Hossain: This novel is set in Bangladesh and features genies. It sounds like a lot of fun and is giving me Haroun and the Sea of Stories vibes, so I'd like to read this one this year.

What did you talk about this week?

Friday, 12 January 2018

BIG Books on my TBR!

When I was younger I was never intimidated by big books, but I suppose 'big' is very subjective. For me, a really big book is anything that's 600 pages or more, and yet when I was younger reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was nothing, nor were the chunky latter two books in Cornelia Funke's Inkworld trilogy. Lately the biggest book I've read is the conclusion to Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles, Winter.

For some reason, as I've gotten older, I've begun to find larger books incredibly intimidating and I'm not 100% sure why. I think I've been so eager to read as much as I can in one year because there's always so much I want to read and too little time to read it all in that I've let the big books on my TBR gather dust. Well not anymore! Some books have been on my TBR for far too long, and if I could cross even one of these books off my TBR this year I'd be a very happy bunny.

My lovely friend Natalie @ A Sea Change has sung the praises of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell many times, but I still haven't read my copy despite owning it for a few years now - it has footnotes, for Heaven's sake! I've heard so many readers praise it as a masterpiece, however, so I need to read it soon.

I'm not the biggest fan of Stephen King's writing, especially when he writes about the supernatural - so far Misery is the book of his I've enjoyed most - but I adored the 2017 adaptation of IT so much that I'd really like to give the book a shot. It's just so huge...

This year will mark nine years since I bought my copy of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. Nine years. I love a good ol' revenge story and I've actually tried to read this one a couple of times and haven't been able to get into it. One of these days I need to give it another try and, if it still isn't for me, it's time to send my edition off to a more loving home.

Despite being a proud northerner and a lover of Victorian literature, I'm ashamed to admit I've yet to read any Elizabeth Gaskell. One of these days I'm going to read North and South because I love the 2004 adaptation starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe, but Wives and Daughters is the one that's really calling to me because I've heard so many good things about it. I particularly like that it features a friendship between two stepsisters at the centre of it - step-families have something of a bad reputation in fiction!

I fell in love with Italy when my friend Elena and I visited Rome in 2015, and I've since been lucky enough to visit Florence and Bologna, too. Italo Calvino has selected and retold a variety of stories in Italian Folktales - there are just so many crammed into one book that the idea of starting it makes me feel a bit nervous! I think it's a book I might have to work my way through over an extended period of time.

I've said time and time again how much I want to start Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, particularly as I'd like to watch the TV adaptation, but the series is so long and each book is so big that it seems like such a huge commitment. One of these days, though, I'd at least like to cross the first book off my TBR and see what I think of the series.

The shortest book on this list, Ken Liu's The Grace of Kings is still a fairly chunky one at just over 600 pages. I was very kindly sent this one for Christmas by Lorraine @ Insanity Sandwich and was thrilled to receive it as I'm very eager to explore more Asian and African-inspired high fantasy. This is one I'm hoping to cross off my TBR very soon!

Another one I've had on my list for a few years now, as a historical fiction fan I'm ashamed to admit I've yet to read any Sharon Kay Penman. Here Be Dragons is a novelisation of Joan, Lady of Wales (also known by her Welsh name, Siwan) who was the illegitimate daughter of King John and was married to the Welsh Prince Llywelyn the Great (or Llywelyn ap Iorwerth). I've been fascinated by her ever since I learned about her which is particularly frustrating because so little about her is actually known. This is another one I'd like to cross off my list sooner rather than later!

Are you intimidated by big books? Which larger books would you like to cross off your TBR?

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Top Ten Tuesday | Oops! I Did(n't read) It Again...

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 'Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn't Get To (and totallyyyy plan to get to in 2018!!)' - books I meant to get to and didn't is the story of my life, particularly in 2017. There are so many books I could have mentioned, but I decided to go with the 2017 releases I hoped to get to, couldn't find the time to and really hope to get to this year. Without further ado, here are my top ten!

The Women of the Castle by Jessica Shattuck: I love the sound of this one because it's WW2 fiction told from within Germany, which is a perspective we don't get often - the most famous example is The Book Thief. Hopefully I can cross this one off my TBR this year.

The Witchfinder's Sister by Beth Underdown: I have a big interest in the history of witchcraft and witch trials and love the sound of this novel told from the point of view of Matthew Hopkins' sister. In my opinion Hopkins is one of the most cruel men in history and I'm hoping to read this one soon as I believe it's going to be adapted for TV.

The Good People by Hannah Kent: You probably all know by now how much I loved Kent's debut, Burial Rites, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of The Good People, but I was never quite in the mood for it in 2017 and I'm very much a mood reader. I really want to try and get to this one this year!

The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig: I loved Heilig's debut, The Girl From Everywhere, but still haven't read the sequel. I think I'll try to get to this one in the summer.

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: I'm so disappointed for not getting to this one in 2017. I've started this one and I really like what I've read so far, but I was in a bit of a slumpy mood while reading this one and I didn't want my mood to effect my enjoyment. Hopefully I'll get back into this one soon!

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng: Yet another one I started and just wasn't quite in the mood for but I love the sound of it and I'd really like to get to it this year.

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge: I've yet to read any Frances Hardinge but I couldn't resist picking up a copy of this at the end of last year. I haven't owned this one for as long as some of the others on my list so I'm not beating myself up about it that I didn't get to it last year, but I'd like to get to it this year if I can - I've heard lots of good things about Hardinge's work.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant: My lovely friend Natalie @ A Sea Change bought me this one for Christmas and I'm very excited to read it. I've been in the mood for a bit of horror recently and I've been looking forward to this sequel since I enjoyed Rolling in the Deep.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: Everything I Never Told You was my favourite book that I read in 2016 so I couldn't wait to get my hands on Ng's next novel and, so far, I've heard nothing but amazing things about it. Unfortunately I was never quite in the mood to pick this one up last year but, as with all of these books, I'm hoping I can get to it soon.

Florence in Ecstasy by Jessie Chaffee: I visited Florence in 2016 and fell in love with it, it's my favourite European city (out of the ones I've seen so far, anyway), so I couldn't resist picking up this novel which is set there and sounds fascinating, especially when I saw Katherine Howe, author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane which I like a lot, singing its praises. This is another one I'd like to get to in the summer.

Which books made your list this week?

Monday, 8 January 2018

My 2018 Reading Resolutions!

Last year I made a fairly substantial list of resolutions and, sadly, three of them I failed: I didn't manage to read a series (although I tried); I didn't read the rest of Shirley Jackson's novels; and I completely failed at not buying any books that weren't published in 2017, although that was always going to be tricky. I did, however, manage to go cruelty-free with my makeup, read more than twelve authors of colour and my work/play balance was much better than it was in 2016.

This year I'm not really giving myself any strict resolutions because they just don't work for me - even going cruelty-free was more of a life choice than anything else - but there are a couple of things I'd like to do that I thought I'd talk about now that 2018 is officially here!

Rather than giving myself resolutions I've decided to make a '30 Before 30' list which, as the name implies, is a list of 30 things I'd like to do before I turn 30 in 2021. Some of them are little things - such as baking a rainbow cake - and some of them are a little more challenging - such as visiting every continent, which is mainly going to come down to whether or not I can afford all those holidays. The answer: probably not, but a girl can dream.

The main bookish challenge I've set myself, though, is to have read 100 authors of colour by the time I reach 30. I recently went through my Goodreads shelves and realised I haven't even read a quarter of that amount which, considering I'm 26, is appalling and really makes me realise just how white my childhood reading was. Thank goodness diversity in children's books is being promoted so much more now.

I've made a list here and, each time I read a new author of colour, I'm going to add them to that list so I can keep track of my progress. This is for individual authors, not for books written by authors of colour, so I need to have read 100 different books by 100 different authors of colour. That's not going to stop me from reading more work from authors of colour I already love, of course!

My only other resolution, which is something I'd like to do this year and beyond, is to stop being intimidated by the bigger books on my shelves. It's so easy to become obsessed with the amount we read and ticking as many books off our TBRs are possible, but I want to really enjoy reading again and I want to go back to being the kind of reader who would see a 700 page book and get excited, not nervous that it would take up too much time and halt my reading progress.

There are quite a few books on my shelves that have been waiting to be read for a while now and I keep putting them off for shorter books, but not this year! I'm going to be talking about some of those books in another post on Friday, so come back then if you'd like to know more about them, and if I can cross even one of those off my TBR this year I'll be a happy camper.

And if I don't read any big books or I don't read as many authors of colour as I'd like to (though I hope I will!) I'm not going to beat myself up about it. Reading's supposed to be fun and reading challenges are supposed to be fun, too.

Have you made any bookish (or non-bookish!) resolutions for 2018? What are your reading plans for the year? Let me know down below!

Friday, 5 January 2018

Winter Reading Recommendations for Historical Fiction Lovers!

Happy New Year!

I don't know about you, but I love reading books set in cold, barren landscapes during the winter months - particularly after Christmas. In the run-up to Christmas (if it's a holiday you celebrate) it's so easy to take refuge from the miserable weather when you have time off work to watch your favourite festive films, eat lots of food that's incredibly bad for you and maybe curl up with a hot chocolate, a warm blanket and a holiday-themed romance.

Then the thrill of Christmas and New Year pass into long, dreary January and it's time to go back to work against a backdrop of adverts for work-out DVDs and the latest diet. Apologies to anyone with a January birthday, but January is probably my least favourite month of the year because the world becomes Narnia - always winter, never Christmas - without all the talking animals to make it exciting.

One thing the cold, Christmas-less months of January and February are great for is reading wintery books. I'm sure you all know by now how much I love historical fiction, and the kind of historical fiction that unravels amidst a bleak, snowy landscape is the kind of fiction I love to read at this time of year. There's nothing more atmospheric than reading a book set in winter when the weather outside is frightful.

So if you're in the mood for a wintery book, some historical fiction or you have no idea which book you should pick up first this year, below are three books I would highly recommend reading before spring arrives!

I've mentioned Burial Rites a lot on my blog and that's because I found it so powerful. In this debut novel Hannah Kent explores the final days of the last woman to be executed in Iceland, Agnes Magnúsdóttir, who was beheaded on the 12th January, 1830. Kent captures who Agnes might have been wonderfully, but the most memorable character is the bleak, isolated Icelandic landscape itself. I went to Reykjavik in December and visited the National Museum of Iceland where I happened upon the block and axe head that were used to execute Agnes. I left that museum feeling quite hollow.

I always find it difficult to explain the plot of The Tenderness of Wolves. The simple explanation is that a woman in 19th century Canada goes searching for her son when it appears he could be guilty of the murder of one of their neighbours. In reality, though, the novel is about the entire community and weaves several different story threads into one overarching plot; when I finished this book I didn't think I'd enjoyed it that much, but it's a novel that I'm still thinking about even though I read it two years ago. The setting makes it the perfect book to read during the coldest months of the year - especially if you have a cosy fireplace to snuggle up in front of.

All the Truth That's in Me is similar to the previous two in that it's also set in the 19th century, this time in the United States, and it also includes a crime. In Burial Rites we have the story of the criminal, in The Tenderness of Wolves we have the story of the outsiders, and finally in All the Truth That's in Me we have the story of the victim. Judith becomes something of a pariah in her community when she returns home after being held hostage for four years, a time in which her best friend was murdered and she was left without her tongue. What follows is Judith trying to tell her story, trying to learn how to speak again, and trying to learn how to fit back into her community. The story is told in second person as Judith addresses Lucas, the boy she loves, throughout and I fell in love with the way it was told. Like the previous books this is a slow, quiet story, and I loved it a lot more than I thought I was going to.

Have you read any of these? What kind of books do you turn to in the winter?

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

This Week in Books | 03/01/18

This week I'm joining in with Lipsy @ Lipsyy Lost & Found to talk about the books I've been reading recently!

Now: I tried reading Marie Brennan's A Natural History of Dragons a few years ago and couldn't get into it, but recently I've started listening to the audiobook in my car to and from work and I'm enjoying it so much more this time around. I don't know if it's because my tastes have changed or simply because I enjoy the book more when it sounds like Lady Trent herself is talking to me but I'm not complaining!

Then: My first read of 2018 was this little novella by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Prime Meridian, which is officially being published in the summer but I was lucky enough to get a copy of in December because I backed the campaign to get it published. As always I loved Moreno-Garcia's storytelling - look out for my review!

Next: Owen Davies' Grimoires: A History of Magic Books was a birthday present from one of my closest friends who knows how much I love the history of witchcraft. It's been calling to me recently, I'm really in the mood for some non-fiction, so I think I'm going to start it soon.

What are you reading?

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Top Ten Tuesday | New Year, New Authors

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!

Happy New Year!

This week's theme is 'Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2017' and I'm going to interpret this as authors I read for the first time in 2017, not necessarily authors I first heard about or came across in 2017. On with my list!

Alison Plowden: I read Plowden's Women All On Fire: The Women of the English Civil War in 2017 and have since picked up copies of Henrietta Maria: Charles I's Indomitable Queen and The Stuart Princesses. I'm a huge history nerd, particularly of women's history, and the Stuart era is an era I'm starting to develop much more of an interest in. I think Plowden's work is going to help me learn so much more about this period of history.

Mary Robinette Kowal: I didn't love Shades of Milk and Honey, but I enjoyed it enough to want to seek out more of Kowal's work in future.

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀: Stay With Me was one of my favourite reads of 2017 and I can't wait to get my hands on whatever Adébáyọ̀ releases next!

Julie Berry: All the Truth That's in Me was another of my favourite reads of last year, I loved the way it was written, and I'm interested in reading more of Berry's work.

Camilla Grudova: The Doll's Alphabet is probably the weirdest short story collection I've ever read, full of grotesque, unpleasant stories that were so well written I'll definitely picking up whatever Grudova releases next.

Riley Sager: I don't read many thrillers so, when I do, I tend to enjoy them a lot which is exactly what happened with Final Girls. I'm looking forward to the release of The Last Time I Lied this summer!

Mackenzi Lee: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue was so much fun, I loved Monty and Percy so much, and I can't wait to read The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy and Bygone Badass Broads later this year.

Madeline Miller: I finally read The Song of Achilles in 2017 and it easily became one of my favourite books of all time. I'm so excited for the release of Circe this year.

N. K. Jemisin: I've been slowly getting back into high fantasy over the past year or so and have been especially keen to read high fantasy books written by BAME authors. I picked up a copy of The Fifth Season after seeing so many good reviews and now understand why it has so many good reviews. Jemisin's writing and world-building is exquisite and I'm looking forward to reading more of her work.

Kirsty Logan: A Portable Shelter was one of the best short story collections I read in 2017 so I'm hoping to read Logan's other collection, The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales, very soon.

Who did you talk about this week?