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Book Review - Books - Uncategorized

The Duke’s Temptation by Raven McAllen | Blog Tour

October 23, 2017

If, like me, you’re a pretty big fan of historical romances, then you’re really not going to want to miss this one! I’m so happy to part of the blog tour for Raven McAllen’s The Duke’s Temptation today – thank you, Jenny and Raven, for having me – and therefore providing a wonderful opportunity to talk about a book that I very much enjoyed.

So, what’s it about, I hear you ask?

Tortured duke Gibb Alford has vowed never to love again… until a beautiful French knife thrower brings him to his knees

When Gibb Alford, Duke of Menteith, saves a beautiful French knife thrower from the unwanted attentions of a fellow aristocrat he is ill-prepared for the immediate tug of attraction to the beautiful Evangeline. Widowed, he has sworn off love forever, so he can well do without this temptation.

Evangeline certainly doesn’t want the complication of being in the sights of one smoky-eyed Scottish Duke. She’s a lady on a mission, with no time for love or dalliance.

However, fate and life have other plans and gradually Gibb and Evangeline become a couple.

As each struggle with the demons of their pasts, Evangeline finds life in the ton difficult. The spurned aristocrat Gibb saved her from, is not prepared to give in and retire gracefully. And while Gibb fights the man, he also declares war on his own emotions. When Evangeline’s past is revealed to her, everything changes. She has a decision to make.

Fight for Gibb – or flee to a safe but unfulfilled future.

As for her Duke… All is fair in love and war – right?

And here’s why I think you need to read it…

The greatest thing about The Duke’s Temptation for me was our feisty and headstrong heroine, Evangeline. So often in romance novels, the female leads can be rather lacklustre, and, given the historical setting, the role of the women within them can be entirely different from the modern attitudes that we know and accept today. I cannot count the number of times I have grown angry or given up entirely on a romance due to the attitudes and treatment of the female characters, so Evangeline was such a pleasant and refreshing surprise. Rather than constantly playing the role of the traditional ‘damsel in distress’, Evangeline certainly doesn’t need anyone to solve her problems for her, and her knife-throwing skills definitely added to her badass ways! In short, I loved her, and I think you will, too.

I also loved the way the relationship between Evangeline and Gibb, the Duke, developed throughout the novel. Again, doing away with so many commonly seem romance tropes, their’s is a relationship built upon the foundations of friendship. I found this to be so much more realistic and, indeed, relatable, and once again provided a much more modern take on a regency romance relationship. Our protagonists are not without their faults, and watching them struggle with their own personal problems in the face of a blossoming relationship made their eventual romance all the more rewarding for the reader.

If you’re looking for a thrilling and swoon-worthy historical romance, but with a heroine to root for and admire rather than infuriate you, then I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of The Duke’s Temptation – you won’t regret it!

Purchase your copy here! 

Book Review - Books - Lists

5 Reasons to Read Dare to Fall by Estelle Maskame | Blog Tour

July 27, 2017

First thing’s first – happy publication day, Estelle! I’m so excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour of Estelle’s latest YA release, Dare to Fall, and on it’s publication day no less! Already the author of the bestselling DIMILY trilogy, which has been translated in 16 countries, sold over half a million copies worldwide and been shortlisted for the 2016 RoNAs, Estelle is a wonderful Young Adult writer with a glittering career ahead of her, and her latest novel is one that you really won’t want to miss.

MacKenzie Rivers seems like she has it all figured out. She has great friends, she’s doing well in school and her handsome ex-boyfriend is desperate to win her back. But something is missing from her life in Windsor, Colorado. And as much as she hates to admit it, that something might be Jaden Hunter. Tall, blond and athletic, a year ago Kenzie was falling fast for him and his crooked smile.

Twelve months later, everything has changed. A tragic accident has destroyed Jaden’s family and, despite the way she feels, Kenzie has no idea how to talk to him anymore. She is all too familiar with the impact family tragedy can have on the people she loves, and she can’t bear to go through it again with Jaden. She does the only thing she knows how to do: walk away.

When the pair meet again by chance one night, Kenzie realizes that she can’t ignore her feelings for him any longer. But as she is drawn back into Jaden’s life, she finds herself caught between her increasingly volatile best friend, her interfering ex-boyfriend and her own fears about opening up to Jaden.

Will Kenzie dare to fall for the one person she’s so afraid of growing close to?

Dare to Fall is certainly set to be the big release of the summer, and if you’re a fan of YA contemporaries, you really need to get your hands on a copy. Here are my top five reasons why you need to reshuffle your summer reading list, make space in your beach bag and settle down with a copy of Estelle’s fantastic latest release:

1. The setting. One of my favourite things about Estelle’s writing, in both Dare to Fall and the DIMILY trilogy, is how excellent the world building is. I can only imagine the hours of research spent pouring over locations, from LA to New York to Colorado, in Dare to Fall, and consequently the settings of her novels are brought completely to life. Estelle well and truly transports you across the pond, and after reading her books my urge to travel there myself grows ever greater!

2. The emotions! Oh boy, you’re certainly going to want to have a box of tissues handy when you read this one! Honest and confronting, Dare to Fall will make make you feel every emotion under the sun – from filling your heart with happiness one chapter to completely shattering it the next, Estelle certainly knows how to pack a well aimed punch right in the feels! (You have been warned…)

3. The topics. So much more than your typical fluffy YA romance, Dare to Fall is a bittersweet contemporary that deals with topics such as grief, guilt, alcoholism, loss, love, and everything in between. All expertly written and masterfully handled, Estelle takes care not to brush over these important themes, and instead gives them the care and page-time that the deserve. Every situation felt so very real, and once again I can only commend Estelle for the amount of time and research that I’m sure must have gone into crafting such a novel that, unlike many YA’s I have read, is unafraid to delve into those topics that we’d rather not talk about.

4. The characters. Once again, all of the characters within Estelle’s books feel so real and relatable, and the many relationship dynamics present an accurate depiction of real life. I loved all of the great cast of characters and reading about the different ways that they each dealt with the difficult situations that they faced, and of course found myself rooting for the relationship between MacKenzie and Jaden!

5. The cover. Of course this had to be one of my reasons – I mean, have you seen that cover?! I can confirm that it’s even more beautiful in real life, so please, do your bookshelves a favour and add this one to your collection – it really is too pretty not to own!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the Dare to Fall blog tour!

Books - Travel

Exploring Karou’s Prague

July 11, 2017

“The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century – or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Mozart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theatre with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet.”

– Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend and I jetted off for an extremely last-minute trip to Prague. We visited for the first time last summer and completely fell in love with the city, and were both eager to return, and this time around I thought it might be a little interesting to visit a few places mentioned within one of my favourite books. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor and Prague itself are two of my greatest loves, so of course I jumped at the chance of getting lost in Karou’s city for a little while. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to find Brimstone’s door, or happen upon a brooding angel with eyes like fire, but I suppose you can’t have it all!

Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge is one of those places that never gets old. Day or night, sun or snow, it’s always different, the view on both banks of the Vltava like something something out of a medieval engraving. On second thought, it actually does get old when it’s crammed with tourists, which is pretty much all sunlit hours for most of the year, but it’s quiet now, just a few scattered folk hurrying both ways between the rows of statues, like running a gauntlet of saints.” – Night of Cake and Puppets

Karou crossed the Charles Bridge many times during her time in Prague in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Zuzanna set up her giant puppeteer here for her end-of-term project, and became a discarded yet amazing marionette doll performing for the hordes of tourists as Mik played his violin. Akiva also watched Zuzanna and Mik’s performance while observing Karou ahead of their very public fight in the streets of the old town, and, more importantly, it’s where everything about the past and the present clicked for him – where he realised the truth about why Brimstone gave Karou the wishbone, and who she really was. Finally, the Charles Bridge was also the setting of the fight between Akiva, Liraz and Haazel, where they exposed themselves as angels as they fought over the fate of the mysterious blue-haired girl.

“Satellites had even been tasked to surveil the Charles Bridge, in case the… visitors… returned.” – Days of Blood and Starlight

Karlova and the Old Town

There was a deceptive tangling of alleys that gave you, gargoyles tiptoeing away, stones like puzzle pieces rearranging themselves into new configurations while you weren’t looking. Prague entranced you, lured you in, like the mythic fey who trick travellers deep into forest until they’re lost beyond hope.” – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Karlova is the main pedestrian route between Charles Bridge and Old Town Square, and where Kaz’s new vampire tour was located. Karou felt someone (Akiva, as it turned out) following her along Karlova, and used her knowledge of the cobbled maze to lure him out, resulting in the mid-air fight that was captured by tourists believing their flying to be part of Kaz’s vampire trickery. Karou’s apartment is also located in the Old Town, boasting a view “over the rooftops of Old Town”.

“He was perched on a rooftop in Old Town. The towers of Týn Church reared up like devil’s horns behind the row of buildings across the street, in one of which was Karou’s flat.” – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Jewish Quarter and Brimstone’s Door

“The plain metal door didn’t look like anything special, and in and of itself, it wasn’t. If you opened it from without, it revealed only a mildewed laundry room. But Karou didn’t open it. She knocked and waited, because when the door was opened from  within , it had the potential to lead someplace quite different.” – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Brimstone’s door, and the earthy entrance to Eretz, is located in Prague’s Jewish Quarter, “a medieval ghetto that had given way to a dense concentration of Art Nouveau apartment buildings as pretty as cakes.” The plain and inconspicuous doorway granted Karou access to the vestibule, Brimstone and her adopted family, and was used many times by both Karou and Kishmish on the way to one errand or another. The only time that both in internal and external doors were opened simultaneously was the day Brimstone thew Karou out into the freezing street… and that’s when she noticed the black handprint burned into it, as they were across many similar doorways across the world.

“At the same moment, though Karou didn’t know it, across the world, at every door emblazoned with the black  handprint, fires raged. They couldn’t be doused, and yet they didn’t spread.” – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Prague Castle

“Above it all loomed the castle on the hill, its silhouette as sharp as thorns. By night it was floodlit, bathed in eerie light.” – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Karou’s Old Town apartment had a view that was a direct line over the rooftops to the castle, and Zuzanna’s marionette show on the Charles Bridge had a “photo-perfect backdrop of Prague Castle on the hill”. The morning after Akiva and Karou’s confrontation in Karlova, they flew over the river and towards the castle, where they circled down toward “the cathedral at its heart” to eat their breakfast of still-warm bread.

“‘No. We’re on the cathedral,’ she said again, and he thought he was missing something, some nuance lost in language, but then he realised: She was just amazed. Amazed to be perching atop the cathedral, high on the hill above Prague with everything below her.” – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

“The first time she’d come to Prague, she’d gotten so lost exploring these streets. She’d passed an art gallery and a few blocks later doubled back to find it, and… couldn’t. The city had swallowed it. In fact, she had never found it. There was a deceptive tangling of alleys that gave the impression of a map that shifted behind you, gargoyles tiptoeing away, stones like puzzle pieces rearranging themselves into new configurations while you weren’t looking. Prague entranced you, lured you in, like the mythic fey who trick travellers deep into forests until they’re lost beyond hope. But being lost here was a gentle adventure of marionette shops and absinthe, and the only creatures lurking around corners were Kaz and his cohorts in vampire makeup, ready with a silly thrill. Usually.” – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Have you read the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy? Or ever visited Prague? I hope you had fun exploring Karou’s city with me!

Books - Lists

Top 5 Books On My Summer TBR List

July 5, 2017

As I’ve mentioned previously, when it comes to making TBR lists I’m really not the greatest. I love the thrill of browsing my bookshelves, pulling off titles I’m excited about and reading the first few pages, then stacking them all up in a lovely pile with every intention of getting to them in the not-too-distant future. Unfortunately, despite my best intentions, those little TBR piles often end up sadly neglected and collecting dust, only to be once again returned to the shelves unread and unloved some weeks later.

Yet despite my rather shocking track record of failing to stick to my TBR lists, I thought that it might be interesting to set myself a little summer TBR challenge for the coming months. After much deliberation, I’ve decided upon five books that I’d really, really like to read soon, and I’m determined to do it this time! Seriously, sticking to TBR lists shouldn’t be this hard…

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic, Donna Tartt’s cult bestseller The Secret History is a remarkable achievement – both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.

Yes, I know, I can’t quite believe that I haven’t read this one yet either. I’ve heard so many amazing things about Donna Tartt’s writing, and this book in particular, and so I cannot wait to get stuck into it. I think the length of it has put me off in the past, and the fact that my edition has the tiniest font imaginable, but I’m sure that I’ll fly through it when I do (eventually) give it a read.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

‘She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body. The rivulets and streams of red scarring run across his chest and up around his throat. She’d put her hand on his heart and stopped him dead.’

Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed, and we look at the world in an entirely new light. What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?

The recent winner of the 2017 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for FictionThe Power has been everywhere at the moment, and it seems that everyone but me has already read it. While I have heard a few mixed things, I’m interested to see what I think about this one, as the premise certainly sounds intriguing! I don’t usually follow many literary prizes, however the titles included within the Bailey’s prize long and shortlists are always a complete mix of genres and writing styles, and it’s good to step out of my comfort zone and try something new once in a while.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

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.

If you’ve read my latest book haul post you will have seen that I recently picked up a copy of Madeline Miller’s beloved historical fiction novel, and my excitement to read it remains extremely high! Again I’ve heard nothing but great things about it, and as historical fiction is one of my favourite genres I’m sure this one will go down a treat.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers…

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

Daphne du Maurier is an author who I have only just recently discovered, fallen in love with, and vowed to read everything she has ever written. I’ve already managed to tick off both Jamaica Inn and My Cousin Rachel, and I think now the time has come to read du Maurier’s most popular and best loved classic, which again I am certain that I am doing to adore!

Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen by Alison Weir

A Spanish princess. Raised to be modest, obedient and devout. Destined to be an English Queen. Six weeks from home across treacherous seas, everything is different: the language, the food, the weather. And for her there is no comfort in any of it.

At sixteen-years-old, Catalina is alone among strangers. She misses her mother. She mourns her lost brother. She cannot trust even those assigned to her protection.

Katherine of Aragon. The first of Henry’s Queens. Her story. History tells us how she died. This captivating novel shows us how she lived.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket to see Alison Weir at the Edinburgh Book Festival in August, where she will be discussing her the first two titles in her recent Six Tudor Queens historical fiction series. Sadly I am a little behind and am still yet to read either, but I would really like to make a start ahead of seeing Weir at the book festival. I love her non-fiction titles, and am sure that, given the amount of research that she puts into her work, the first instalment in this Tudor fiction series will be just as wonderful as I am hoping that it will be.

Have you read any of these books? What’s currently at the top of your summer TBR list?

Books - Haul

Fantasy, Steampunk, & Some Very Beautiful Editions | June Book Haul

June 26, 2017

It’s no secret that I have a slightly worrying book-buying problem. I seem to be physically unable to pass a bookshop without going in, having a browse and leaving with a book (or three), charity shops are my weakness and I’m usually unable to complete the weekly food shop without adding another bargain paperback to the trolley. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that so far this month I’ve already accumulated quite the stack of books, and am, if I’m being really honest, now struggling to find space on my shelves to keep them. That being said, I’m very happy with my recent book purchases, and despite my already rather large TBR, I really hope to get around to reading these soon.

The charity shop purchases

While out on a little day trip with my boyfriend earlier in the month, we popped into a cute little town full to the brim with charity shops. While the book sections in many left quite a lot to be desired (battered copies of Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?!), I did manage to track down a couple of bargains for just a few pounds each, so of course I had to bring them home with me. The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt has been on my radar for quite some time now, and despite hearing mixed things I’d definitely like to give it a go. I can’t resist a good historical family saga, and this one promises to be a particularly emotional ride. Speaking of historical fiction, I also stumbled upon a brand new copy of Kate Mosse’s Laybyrinth, the first in her popular Languedoc trilogy, which I read (and loved) back in 2011. I adore Mosse’s writing and as I previously read the books on my Kindle, I was more than happy to part with the mere £2 to have a physical copy for my shelves. I’m hoping to re-read the trilogy sometime in the not too distant future, and when I do get around to it I’ll definitely be reading from this 10th anniversary edition.

One of the perks of volunteering in a charity bookshop is getting to take a look at the stock before it goes out on the shelves. A couple of weeks ago I spotted Soulless, Changless and Blamelessthe first three books in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, lurking in a donation bag, and promptly snapped them up. I’ve heard so many great things about this fantasy-of-manners series, and am currently reading and very much enjoying the first instalment. Fun, fast-paced and highly addictive, I’m so glad I decided to give this series a try, and will be on the lookout for Gail Carriger’s other work in the future.

The late-night Amazon order

After many years of believing that they really weren’t my cup of tea, last year I started getting into thriller and crime fiction, and I have to say I very much enjoyed it. I gobbled up Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10, so when I saw that her latest novel The Lying Game was due for release this month, of course I had to order myself a copy. I’ve heard that it’s a little different to her previous novels, but I have high hopes that it will be just as thrilling, and will definitely be reading it soon.

As you read this, I’ll be getting ready to jet off on a little spontaneous holiday in Prague with my boyfriend, so of course I had to pick up a few novels set in the city to take along with me. I have also previously read Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, but decided that the time had come to invest in a physical copy, and I’m looking forward to taking this away with me and reading it while on holiday. In a similar vein, Prague Nights by Benjamin Black is a recently released historical mystery/thriller that I have been eagerly anticipating for many months now, and what better time to treat myself to a copy than before heading off to explore the city in which it is set! Fingers crossed our holiday won’t be quite as gruesome…

On to a few literary fiction titles that again I’ve had my eye on for a while, but only recently decided to purchase. Earlier in the year I read Robert Seethaler’s A Whole Life, which I very much enjoyed, so I was eager to read his latest release The Tobacconist, a historical fiction novel set in Vienna at the time of the Second World War. Having recently watched Elena’s BookTube review of Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, I was well and truly convinced that this was a book I needed in my life. I love Elena’s reviews and we have a very similar taste in books, so I’m confident that I will enjoy it. Finally, following the recent release of the television adaptation, I decided to pick up a copy of Margaret Atwood’s beloved dystopian, The Handmaid’s Tale – yes, I am slightly ashamed that I haven’t read this yet! Earlier in the year I read Louise O’Neill’s young adult retelling, Only Ever Yours, so I’m very much intrigued to see the similarities and differences between the source material.

Last but by no means least, I treated myself to a copy of Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs, creator of The Snowman. It’s only been within the last year or so that I’ve started to read graphic novels, having previously been a little intimidated by them, and even then I’ve only read a handful. Having watched the beautiful film adaptation of Ethel and Ernest when it was broadcast over Christmas, I’ve been wanting to read the book on which it was based for some time, and I’ve recently been hearing so many great things about it that I decided now was the time. It’s a relatively short little book and the illustrations within are absolutely beautiful, as you would expect from Raymond Briggs, so I’m looking forward to spending an evening curled up with this one and devouring it all in one sitting.

The beautiful special editions

The Harry Potter series and the His Dark Materials trilogy have, and will always remain, two of my very favourites. I have read them many, many times each, and already own a few editions of the books. However, when Bloomsbury announced the release of these special edition house copies in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I thought it was my duty as a Ravenclaw to pick up this beautiful bright blue paperback edition to add to my collection!  Not only is the cover design completely magical, but these new editions contain many other extras, such as chapters on the history of the houses and their founders, their ghosts and notable students, as well as a note from J. K. Rowling herself alongside some new illustrations. I’m not going to lie, I am quite tempted to pick up the other house paperback copies to complete the set, but I think that might be going a little far even for me!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I cannot wait for the release of Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage in October, the first in his long-awaited Book of Dust series. In preparation, I’m hoping to reread His Dark Materials over the next few months, something that I haven’t done in a good few years. I’ve been eyeing up these 20th anniversary editions of the books for about a year or so now, and finally – and inevitably – I caved! I love the design and blue foiling on this paperback copy of Northern Lights, and the design of The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass are just as beautiful. Don’t be surprised if you see them pop up in a future haul – I’ll try to have some self-retraint, but when books are concerned, I can’t make any promises!

Have you read any of these books? What have you been buying in June?

Books - Tag

The Mid-Year Book Freak-Out | TAG

June 22, 2017

1. The best book you’ve read so far in 2017?

I’ve read quite a number of books that I have loved so far this year, a few of which I’m sure will remain among my favourite books for many years to come. However, if I have to choose just one, I think I’ll go with Not Forgetting the Whale by John Ironmonger, an absolutely beautiful literary dystopian novel that will completely restore your faith in humanity. It really touched me, and I have found myself thinking about it a lot, despite having read it towards the beginning of the year. It’s definitely a book that I’d like to return to soon, and one that I’d highly recommend to all.

2. The best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017?

I’m not too great at reading series, often waiting quite some time between instalments, and consequently I haven’t read too many sequels so far this year. The best from the small pool that I have read, however, is Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb, the second in Hobb’s exceedingly popular Farseer Trilogy. Despite it’s rather mammoth length (around 650 pages!), I loved following Fitz’ story, and I’m hoping to read many more of Hobb’s novels in the coming months.

3. A new release that you haven’t read yet, but want to?

I cannot wait to read A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas, the third in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, yet for some reason I haven’t quite got around to it yet. Despite pre-ordering a copy ahead of it’s May release way back at the beginning of the year, it’s still sitting there unread on my shelf, and this is definitely something that I must rectify soon. I’d also like to reread, if possible, A Court of Mist and Fury before moving on to ACOWAR, so that’s definitely a plan for the summer!

4. Your most anticipated release for the second half of 2017?

La Belle Sauvage, the first in Philip Pullman’s long awaited Book of Dust series, of course! I adore His Dark Materials, and have read the trilogy multiple times both as a child and as an adult, so of course I can’t wait to get my hands on this ‘equal’ series that we’ve all been waiting years for! I’ve already pre-ordered my copy, and am hoping to squeeze in a re-read of His Dark Materials ahead of the October release date. If you’re interesting in reading an extract from La Belle Sauvage, you can find a little sneak peak over on at the Guardian here.

5. Biggest disappointment?

I must confess that, despite the huge amount of hype that surrounds this series, I found City of Bones, the first in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, a bit of a disappointment! I’ve heard so many amazing things about this series and the spin-off books, particularly Lady Midnight, so I finally decided to take the plunge and get acquainted with the Shadowhunter world. While it was an enjoyable enjough read, it certainly wasn’t as great as I was expecting, so I really hope that the next few books pick up a little.

6. Biggest surprise?

Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories by Alexander McCall Smith is definitely the biggest surprise I’ve had so far this year. Not only was McCall Smith a new-to-me author, I’m not typically the biggest fan of short story collections, as I often only like a handful of those included within the volume. However, this little collection of stories, each one inspired by a black-and-white photograph that the author chanced upon, was an absolute delight. I loved every single one, and even now, many months after reading, I can recall them all. One story in particular even moved me to tears, and it’s definitely one that I’ll be returning to time and time again.

7. Favourite new author?

Could I really pick anyone but the wonderful Daphne du Maurier? Of course not, and I cannot fathom why I haven’t picked up her books sooner. So far this year I have read Jamaica Inn and My Cousin Rachel, both of which were absolutely outstanding, and again will be among my favourite books for many years to come. I have quite the number of du Maurier’s books on my shelf waiting to be read, including the beloved Rebecca, and I plan on making my way through the entirety of her backlist in the months to come!

8. Newest fictional crush?

Unfortunately I think I must pass on this one, as nobody in particular comes to mind!

9. Newest favourite character?

Rachel Ashley, the antagonist of du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel, is certainly not the most likeable of characters, but she’s definitely one of the most interesting and intriguing characters that I’ve read about in a long time. For the majority of the novel you’re not quite sure where you stand with her, and her complex personality made her so enjoyable to read about.

10. A book that made you cry?

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi is one of the most heartbreaking books I think I’ve ever read, and made me cry many times while reading. This extremely moving memoir chronicles Kalanithi’s career as a neurosurgeon, and his eventual diagnosis of inoperable lung cancer, with his account sadly being left unfinished and the epilogue penned by his wife Lucy. Kalanithi’s musings on life were so fascinating, and the book in general gave me such a lot to think about. The last 50 pages of so in particular had me in floods of years, and although this is deeply sad and emotional read I think it is an important one, and believe that it should be read by all.

11. A book that made you happy?

Mhairi McFarlane’s It’s Not Me, It’s You is easily one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read this year, and it definitely made me very happy while I was reading. Warm, witty and downright hilarious, this is women’s contemporary fiction at its finest, and I can’t wait to read more of McFarlane’s work as I’m sure I’ll love it just as much as this offering.

12. Favourite book-to-movie adaptation you’ve seen this year?

Does the recent live action remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast count?! It’s always been one of my favourite fairytales, regardless of medium, but this latest adaptation made me love it so much more than I already did. Every single element was perfect, and I’m counting down the days until it is released on DVD in July, as you can be sure that it’ll be playing on repeat!

13. The most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year?

I was very kindly gifted a copy of Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale for my birthday back in February, and it’s definitely the most beautiful book that I have acquired so far in 2017. The cover design is stunning, and looks more like a work of art than simply a book cover. I really must get around to reading it soon, and I hope that the story within will be just as beautiful as the exterior.

14. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

I recently booked tickets to see the wonderful Alison Weir at Edinburgh Book Festival later in the summer, where she will be discussing the first two titles in her recent Six Tudor Queens historical fiction series. I’m a bit fan of Weir’s non-fiction work, and have read one of her previous fictional titles, however despite owning beautiful hardcover copies of both I am still yet to read Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen and Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession. These are both very high on my TBR list, as I’d love to read them before the festival and, hopefully, get my copies signed by Alison Weir herself. They are quite lengthy books, which I think may have been putting me off a little, but I’m sure that I’ll love them so I really must get on with it and read them soon!

Those of you that made it to the end, consider yourself tagged! I had such fun writing this post, and I’d love to read your answers and hear around how your reading has been going so far in 2017!

Books - Lists

5 non-fiction books on my TBR list

June 18, 2017

At the beginning of the year, I set myself the goal of reading more non-fiction. I’ve always enjoying dipping my toe into the world of non-fiction here and there, more often than not in the form of a good historical biography, however over the course of my time at university, reading anything but easy-to-consume fiction became increasingly rare. Despite regularly choosing to spend my time getting lost in one fictional world or another rather than a non-fictional tome, I’ve collected quite a number over the years that, despite being interested enough to spend my money on them, have sadly been left unread, collecting dust.

While I haven’t quite met my 2017 goal of reading one non-fiction title each month, I have been reading more than previous years, which I definitely count as an improvement. Just this morning I finished listening to Helen Russell’s The Year of Living Danishly: Uncovering the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country , which I very much enjoyed, and having ticked another non-fiction off my TBR list it inspired me to take a look at the other titles on my shelves that I’d like to get to soon. I’m certainly not making any promises, but I very much hope that by the end of the year the following five titles will, at last, have been read – wish me luck?!

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is an extremely popular writer within the realms of non-fiction, having penned a number of books covering topics such as history, travel, science and the English language, to name but a few. In One Summer, Bryson documents the summer in which ‘America came of age and changed the world for ever’, with the blurb promising ‘a tale of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy’. As I mentioned, I love reading history non-fiction, and this offering from Bryson seems to be unique within the field of popular history. As summer is upon us once more, I think this would make for a highly enjoyable seasonal read, and although the exceedingly long page count is admittedly a little off-putting, I’m determined to give it a good crack.

Ice Cream for Breakfast: How Rediscovering You Inner Child Can Make You Calmer, Happier, and Solve Your Bullsh*t Adult Problems by Laura Jane Williams

First of all, who wouldn’t want to read a book with a title – or a cover – like that?! Sold! Although I am still yet to read Laura Jane Williams’ previous book, Becoming, her latest release certainly sounds right up my street. For the most part I’m not typically one to gravitate towards the self-help genre, however having recently read How to Be a Grown Up by Daisy Buchanan, another recent release in a similar vein, I decided that I needed this in my life. It promises to be a fun, light-hearted and ultimately reassuring read, and if the glowing praise that I’ve heard is anything to go by then I’m sure I’m going to love this one.

Over the Hills and Far Away: The Life of Beatrix Potter by Matthew Dennison

It’s no secret that I am a great fan of Beatrix Potter. Not only have I adored her books and illustrations since childhood, I have great respect for her as an individual, particularly in regard to her work within the Lake District, a topic that I chose to explore in greater detail for my undergraduate dissertation. Through my studies I have read a number of books about Beatrix Potter, and have quite a collection on my bookshelves, however I couldn’t help but snap up a copy of Dennison’s latest biography. Not only is it beautifully designed, I’ve also heard that its highly readable, and paints a fantastic portrait of the famed children’s illustrator. While I’m not expecting to learn anything new from this one, it will be interesting to read another take on the life of Beatrix Potter, and given the subject matter I’m sure that I’ll enjoy it.

Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed

Following the release of film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon as author Strayed back in 2014, it seems that everyone has either read, or heard of, this travel memoir. I picked up a copy last summer, intending to read and participate in a book club discussion, however I failed to get around to it by the time of the meeting, and have been resolving to give it a go ever since. I’ll be honest, the tiny font in my edition puts me off a little, but I know that is a rather silly excuse not to read a book that so many people seem to love. I’d also really like to watch the film, but feel that I must read the source material beforehand, so hopefully I’ll be able to enjoy the story in both mediums within the coming months.

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

Miranda Hart is a woman who never fails to bring a smile to my face. She is, quite simply, an absolute delight, and I cannot believe that, despite my love for her, I’m still yet to read any of her books. Her first title, Is It Just Me?, is a collection of musings on topics such as music, hobbies, beauty, dating and Christmas, sprinkled with personal stories and anecdotes throughout. It sounds lovely, and given my love for Miranda, I have no doubt that this one will keep me giggling throughout!

What are your thoughts on non-fiction? Are there any titles that you’d recommend?