My Favourite (Chill) Fairy Tale Retellings

Today, I just wanted to share a super quick list of some of my favourite atmospheric, fairy tale retellings. All of these deliver on the wintry vibes- without you having to the hassle of going outside 😉

snow child

The Snow Child– it’s been a long while since I mentioned this exquisite historical fiction. Set in 1920s Alaska, it draws on the Russian fairy tale by the same name and delivers something utterly unique.

bear and the nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale– also inspired by Russian folklore, this has a more fantastical touch and is set in an authentically medieval setting. If you’re in the mood for high fantasy, then I can’t give you a better recommendation for the winter months.

wolf in the whale

Wolf in the Whale– this is more inspired by a patchwork of different mythologies, stories and histories- which I think qualifies it to be on this list. Plus, it certainly delivers on the atmospheric quota- you’ll need to be nice and snug while you’re reading this, or you’ll catch a chill!

to kill a kingdom

To Kill a Kingdom– if you’re looking for something a bit creepier, then look no further! This deadly little mermaid retelling will cut you to the quick!

hazel wood

Hazel Wood– while not technically a retelling, it does draw on so many fairy tale motifs. Plus, it has a gothic edge to it too.

So, have you read these? Do you plan to? And what retellings give you the wintry vibes? Let me know in the comments!

Best Books of the Last Decade

Hello all! I wanna say something really funky about blogging in a new decade… but let’s be real, it’s gonna be much the same as before, mostly gushing about all the great books out there! And what better way to continue that tradition than with a post about all the best books in the last decade? (at least according to me 😉). I’ve seen a few people do this- so sorry if I don’t remember all the amazing posts out there on the topic- but I was particularly inspired by Kristin Kraves incredible post– so definitely check that out!

Because I didn’t want to overload the post, I tried to keep to just one book per author (I only broke that rule once, but who can blame me when Laini Taylor exists 😉). I’ve not included series that started before the decade either. And also, I feel like I have to point out I haven’t read *all the books* (as much as I’d love for that to be the case 😉), so this is far from an exhaustive list! Here are some of the ground-breaking, game-changing, mind-blowing books from the last decade:

2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone– a forever favourite ever since I read it. Laini Taylor gives lyrical writing a whole new meaning.

A Monster Calls– this graphic novel made me so emotional! I never realised how powerful a graphic novel could be until I read it!

2012

Righteous Mind– such a thought-provoking book and- dare I say it- one of the most important non-fiction books of the decade.

Wonder– a great Middle Grade with a sweet message!

2013

Vicious– this was my introduction to Schwab and it couldn’t have made a bigger impact!

Ocean at the End of the Lane– Neil Gaiman delivers on nostalgia and fantasy in this beautiful book.

2014

Red Rising– what a bloodydamn brilliant book this turned out to be! The way I’d describe this series is basically Romans in space and if that sounds good to you, you simply have to read it!

Shadow of What was Lost– an underrated fantasy book that is the epitomes the best of the genre to me.

Through the Woods– this creepilicious book takes fairy tale retellings to a whole other level!

2015

Carry On– a Harry Potter parody with so much heart- this never fails to bring a smile to my face 🙂

In Order to Live– I read this just last year and it made a huge impact. An important memoir that gives insight into life inside North Korea- and what it means to escape it.

Illuminae– I had to include this because it is such a gamechanger. It took me a while to get used to the unusual format- but that ended up being one of the greatest assets to the story! Plus, it’s thanks to books like this that I fell so deeply in love with sci fi.

2016

Radio Silence– a book that has ended up meaning so much to so many people from different walks of life- and that is an impossibly impressive achievement!

My Lady Jane– this laugh-out-loud alternative history was not what I was expecting- it was better!

Homegoing– weaving individual, intergenerational stories into one seamless narrative is no easy feat- yet Gyasi effortlessly accomplished this with her masterpiece.

2017

Red Sister– another incredible fantasy- this one stands out to me because it doesn’t just have cool world building- it has real heart!

Bear and the Nightingale– inspired by Russian mythology, this exquisite historical fantasy won my heart with every beautiful word.

Strange the Dreamer– okay , I know I said I wasn’t going to put authors on here twice… but Laini Taylor deserves it! And this duology deserves its place on here just as much- its rich world building, lovable characters and dramatic plot all make this a wonderful reading experience.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine– Eleanor Oliphant was not the contemporary romance I was expecting- it was so much more! Quirky and emotive and with hidden depths, it easily is one of the standout books of the decade.

Blackwing– mind-blowing, atmospheric and different- for that alone I would have loved this series. Yet, what makes it special is the complex characters at its heart.

2018

Circe– beautifully written and poignantly thought out, this retelling of the Odyssey is magnificent in that it not only perfectly interprets the original, it also elevates the story to new heights. I doubt we’ll see another retelling like this- unless of course Miller writes another 😉

Sadie– my absolute favourite read last year, Sadie is a gut wrenching and powerful book. I particularly recommend it on audiobook!

Hazel Wood– there’s something very special about this book. A gothic fairy tale, it draws you in to a story within a story and takes you places you could never dream.

Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle– ever since I read this groundhog day murder mystery, I’ve been mulling it over. I didn’t think it was perfect- but it sure as hell stands out!

2019

Daisy Jones and the Six– this was also especially awesome in audiobook form- this book boasts one of the most realistic casts of characters I’ve ever read. And I adored the rock ‘n roll setting.

Wolf in the Whale– a very unusual fantasy that draws on the little known history of Vikings landing in Inuit land- I can safely say I’ve never read anything else like it.

So, what did you think of these? And do you have any books from the last decade you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments!

Bookish (and some non bookish) Resolutions for 2020

Happy New Year! And welcome to the new decade!

fireworks new

Doesn’t 2020 sound like the year sci fi from the fifties is set? Shouldn’t we all be flying round on hoverboards by now?! Ah #goals. Sadly, I am not a scientist in any way, so all I’ve got are some resolutions about books and the like 😉 A lot of them may be quite similar to the last few years, but I find putting them up here helps keep me motivated. Still, there’s also a few new ones thrown into the mix, to keep things interesting. Let’s get into it:

2020 resolutions

Bookish

number 1

Read more non fic!

I’m just gonna recycle my goal of reading 10 new non fic books (though by rights I should probably up this number, after managing 15 last year, but I want to be a bit more realistic about it) Hopefully this year I’ll actually get to Wild Swans!

number 2

Read more challenging books!

Again, I’m using the same rule of trying to tick 10 more books off my challenging reading list. And since I didn’t quite make it last year, seems like it’ll be a challenge (and maybe this’ll be the year I finally read Jung, dammit!)

number 3

Read more poetry!

Okay, this is also the same as last year, however, I’m gonna clarify that I’m including epic poems as well as poetry collections.

number 4

Read more plays!

This one comes courtesy of not knowing what my mum is talking about half the time 😉 I don’t really enjoy reading plays as much as watching them, but needs must (plus my mum has a stonkingly big collection I should really take advantage of 😉)

number 5

Do some rereading!

Self-explanatory really. And I’m keeping to my 5 rereads number as well. Here’s just some of the books I fancy rereading:

Non Bookish

number 6

Do more art!

orangutan artist0003

I’m taking this out my mid year’s resolutions- but this time I want to actually keep track of it- no idea how I’ll measure this though…

number 7

yoga.gif

Do more yoga! Likewise, this was in my mid year’s resolutions- yet I actually want to get through those three yoga challenges! Wish me luck! (I’m gonna need it 😉)

number 8

Start a new writing project!

monkey typewriter

I’m deliberately keeping this a little vague, cos I’m not really sure what I want to achieve in my writing this year. I’d very much like to plan a new project… but I honestly don’t know if this’ll be doable. Plus, I’m halfway through a different project at the moment (so logically speaking my goal should be to finish that- I just feel pretty confident of doing that early in the year without making that a resolution). Soooo I guess I want this resolution to be a kind of place holder for *some kind of writing goal*

number 9

Sort through box of stuff

So, when I moved, my sister found a whole pile of stuff at the last minute that I’d not seen in half a decade… (*sarcastic yay*) which means I gotta sort through it… (*sarcastic yay*)

And that’s about it for now! I also have a bunch of (admittedly not so exciting) personal goals this year… and so I had to really resist the urge to add a bunch more. For now, I think this is a realistic number… hopefully!

What do you think of my resolutions this year? Do you have any resolutions you plan not to do? Let me know in the comments!

My Top Ten Books for 2019

top ten 2019.png

As ever, I’m tremendously excited to talk about my favourite books from this year (pretty much bouncing off the walls!!!). And as ever, this is a really mixed list in terms of genre- though all of them are top quality! Of course, not all of these were released in 2019, though there are a few! And of course, I’m not including rereads. All book covers link to reviews as well. Okay, I think I’ve covered all my bases- let’s just jump into it and talk about some *brilliant books*!!!

number 10

skyward

Skyward– here’s a joyous read to kick off the list. Spensa has stolen my heart and become one of my all-time favourite heroines. This was so much fun and drama from beginning to end- really recommend this space opera and can’t wait to continue with the series!

number 9

wolf in the whale

Wolf in the Whale– this deliciously dark and highly unusual captured my imagination. A wintry fantasy, where Vikings meet Inuit culture, has been a bit of a divisive new release this year. And I get why- some of the events were pretty chilling, so obviously it’s not going to be for everyone. Yet, I found this completely absorbing and was impressed that it wasn’t afraid to show the past as it really was.

number 8

wayward son

Wayward Son– this very late addition was another book that brought me joy (though not always joyful). Really though, given how I’ve carried on about Carry On over the years, is it any surprise I had a soft spot for this second Simon Snow story? Guaranteed to satisfy long term fans and make you smile- even through tough times.

number 7

radio silence

Radio Silence– this book just meant so much for me. I know that there a lot of people who say “this book spoke to me”, but guys, this book really felt like it was speaking to me. That’s the magic of a truly relatable story- somehow it connects with so many different people, from all different backgrounds.

number 6

Impossible Times trilogy– aka One Word Kill/Limited Wish/Dispel Illusion– yeah, yeah, I know I’m cheating by counting this as one book, but I do it every year, so are you surprised? 😉 Also, you can whizz through them so fast you may very well feel like it was one book/you have a time machine 😉 To be honest, every book in this series earned its place here. No other book series has entertained me as much as this in 2019! And I was blown away by the cleverness. I know that in the future, I’m gonna look back on this with nothing but happy memories 😊

number 5

winter of the witch

Winter of the Witch– Arden *one hundred percent* managed to stick the landing. The Winternight series has easily become one of my favourite series of all time. A perfect ending to a perfect trilogy. What’s amazing is how good the other books were to beat this out of the top three. Any other year and this easily could’ve taken the number 1 spot, which is just my way of telling you to get excited about the books that are above this on the list 😉

number 4

beowulf

Beowulf– I loved every second of this. I’m so happy I finally picked this up- but even more grateful I read the Seamus Heaney version, thanks to Joelendil, because it truly was a masterclass in translation.

number 3

in order to live

In Order to Live– now we’re getting to books that made me emotional. I don’t have a full review for this one, because I just struggle to find the words, so I’m gonna try my best to describe how poignant, powerful and important this book is. This memoir was a memorable portrayal of life in North Korea. I learnt so much from it and was moved to tears. It’s just one of those *must-read* books, so you must read it if you haven’t already!

number 2

the man in the white sharkskin suit

Man in the White Sharkskin Suit– this is another book which made me cry. It’s the story of the 1950s Jewish Exodus from Egypt, told in a very personal way, where Lagnado really showcases her relationship with her father. Rather sadly, Lagnado passed away this year, after a lifelong struggle with cancer. Her voice survives in this beautiful book.

number 1

sadie

Sadie– ahh this book- I can’t seem to stop recommending it! Beautifully told and immensely powerful, the reason this book is so good is because too often serials/podcasts/true crime focuses on the perpetrators. I think it’s time we gave the victims a voice and no book could have done a better job than this. It also introduced me to the wonders of a well-done audiobook- for which I am immensely grateful. And yes, it made me cry (a lot).

So, have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? And what was your favourite book(s) of 2018? Let me know in the comments!

My Most Disappointing Reads of 2019

most disappointing 2019

As you may well see in my next few posts, I have had an *amazing* reading year. Thanks to blogging (and possibly growing up 😉) I’m getting better at picking reads I’ll actually enjoy. That said, there are always a handful of stinkers… though that’s not what this list is about (for the most part 😉). I’d say about half of these aren’t bad books by any stretch of the imagination. Most of these aren’t even the worst books I read this year- cos a couple of those I’ve forgotten by now- these are, as the title suggests, the ones I was most disappointed by. And the biggest change this year is that I only have 9 books for the list– I just didn’t see the reason to squeeze extra books on that didn’t deserve a spot (that’s right, I’m not just being a negative Nancy for the sake of it! 😉 ). These books could’ve been great, yet all ended up as misses for me… and that’s enough of the preamble- let’s just get into it!

number 9

behind her eyes

Behind Her Eyes– this started out so well… and then nosedived in the last few chapters. Here’s the thing, it’s really not fun to read a psychological thriller that flips the switch at the last second and becomes a paranormal thriller. I’ve read a few other genre-bending books this year- and they all worked because there was proper set up for the payoff! It all felt like it was done to say “betcha didn’t see that coming!”- and no, obviously I didn’t see that coming, cos I’m not a psychic.

number 8

gentleman's guide to vice and virtue

Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue- this may well be the most unpopular choice for the list- but here’s the thing, this is a list of books I was disappointed by and I was enormously disappointed by this book. I had really high expectations going in because it was so hyped and it’s the kind of thing I really love- but it just fell so flat for me. The main issues for me were that I didn’t fall for the characters and wasn’t convinced with the supposed “18th century” setting. So, not for me, though I do feel there’s enough potential in the idea that I could enjoy the upcoming adaptation.

number 7

immortal reign

Immortal Reign– again, this was by no means the worst book I read this year- BUT I’ve been reading this series a long time and I just wasn’t satisfied with how it turned out. Part of this could be that I fell out of love with it a couple of books back, yet to be honest, not enough was done with the story to elevate that ending. Everything was resolved a little too easily and the emotional payoffs just didn’t land.

number 6

queen of air and darkness book

Queen of Air and Darkness– the more I think about this, the more disappointed with it I am. While I liked parts of it when I was reading, it’s the kind of book I like less and less over time. I think as I wrote the review I realised quite how dissatisfied I was with it (hence the disjunct between my rating and my thoughts). I had an existing fondness for the series… but I feel like all that was thrown away here. As cool as some of the concepts were, a lot of it was recycled from other series and the rest was just set up for another. I can’t get behind a book of this length that merely exists to sell another book. So yeah, I was disappointed with this, to say the least.

number 5

wonder woman

Wonder Woman– I pretty much summed it up in my review: this is a cashgrab. I don’t recommend this for anyone- whether you’re a fan of superheroes or not. It’s not worth your time and not worthy of the author’s talent. Highly recommend you read anything else by Bardugo instead!

number 4

bridget jones's diary

Bridget Jones– this isn’t something I was anticipating or had high hopes for in any way, so I’m breaking my own rules putting this on here, but I just hated the writing style so much that it earned its spot here 😉 It’s full of fragmentation. All the time. Every. Single. Sentence. Ugh.

number 3

conversations with friend

Conversation with Friends– ah one of those massively acclaimed books… that I didn’t get at all. I should’ve guessed from the shite title it’d be wanky and a waste of time- cos that’s exactly what it was. It was so boring that I’m already bored talking about it again… so I won’t bore the rest of you and I’ll move on!

number 2

an inspector calls

Inspector Calls– ooh this came so close to winning the top spot- because there are a lot of reasons Priestley’s pretentious garbage deserves it! It’s badly written, filled with crap characters and moralising to boot! Don’t expect deep philosophy from this though- you’ll get more depth out of a toddler’s toys.

number 1

atlas shrugged

Atlas Shrugged– it’s kind of fitting that out of my two worst reads this year, one is left wing and the other right. This one edged out Priestley’s preachy play by a whisker. The reason this “won” top spot was twofold: 1) from what I’d heard of it (only that it was a seminal work of American literature) I had higher hopes for this and 2) it made me suffer longer. Boy did I make a huge mistake (a-1168-page long mistake) reading this! I guess now it’s time to shrug it off and move on!

So- dare I ask- what do you think of these? Have you read any of them? And what were your worst books of 2019? Let me know in the comments!

My Favourite Food in books- a Feast for the Eyes…

orangutan list

Tis the season… to stuff our faces 😉 Okay, that’s probably not the point of the season, but that’s what I’m going to be doing 😉 And since I’m thinking about food, I thought I’d share some of my favourite foody books!

The Hobbit– because Hobbits reallllly understand the importance of tea… and breakfast… and second breakfast… and elevenses… It doesn’t hurt that one of the first scenes in the book is a party, where poor Bilbo’s pantry gets raided, either!

Chronicles of Narnia– because it gave me a craving for Turkish Delights… I guess the White Witch would’ve had me eating out of the palm of her hand 😉

Alice in Wonderland– more tea? Okay, admittedly, the food in Wonderland often comes with a cost… but that doesn’t mean it’s not tempting 😉

Heartless– I’ll admit this book didn’t blow me away quite as much as Meyer’s other books or the original- but gosh darn it, I got pretty peckish reading it!

Harry Potter– I mean, I wouldn’t be a real millennial if I didn’t mention Harry Potter 😉 And let’s be real, Rowling definitely got me started on my craving for fictional food! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- I wish all the food in this series was real!! Everything from Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans to Fizzing Whizzbees to Chocolate Frogs to Butterbeer to Pumpkin Pasties… I want to try it all!

Carry On– as a parody of Harry Potter, it certainly didn’t hurt that Rowell kept up with the foody descriptions. Sure, the foods were all a bit more real-world-y (cherry scones… yum!)– but that’ll only serve to make your hunger pangs worse!

Night of Cake and Puppets– this was yet another delectable read from Laini Taylor. Her writing is always scrumptious and her romance was super sweet, yet here she excels in the foody descriptions as well!

To all the boys– there are so many things to love about this adorable series. One of my favourite parts is all the wonderful treats Lara Jean bakes over the course of these books- not to mention other food along the way- this is definitely guaranteed to make you hungry! 😀

Chocolat– I can barely think of this book without salivating! This book about a confectionary shop in a remote French village is the kind of book that titillates the senses in every way!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory– this is a classic for a reason- and I bet I’m not the only one who had dreams of getting my very own Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory when I was young! (though admittedly, I’d probably have failed very early on, because how does one resist a chocolate waterfall?! 😉)

And that’s all for now! What are your favourite foody moments in books? Let me know in the comments!

Ranking Harry Potter Books!

I saw this over on Mystery Date with a Book’s booktube channel and just thought it would be good to do for this time of the year, because I always  😊 Now, many of you will already know my complicated relationship with Harry Potter (and consequently be able to deduce this) but I thought it would be fun to spell it out 😉 As much as I’ve been all over the place with this series, but the order always ends up the same. I honestly can’t believe I haven’t done it before! Obviously, no disclaimers are needed that this is just my personal opinion, yada yada yada… (if you want my full opinions, all reviews are linked to covers)… onto the rankings!

Harry_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_Phoenix

Order of the Phoenix– because Harry Potter loses it and story sags for a few hundred pages. Still, THAT DEATH made me the most emotional, sooo it still has its upsides 😉

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows

Deathly Hallows– like Order of the Phoenix, this one makes me cry too. Normally, that would make me love a book- but that should tell you something about the quality of the rest of the series. To be honest, I was disappointed by the ending. I know it’s hard to round off a series like this, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the copycat Aslan Harry’s resurrection scene. Despite all the deaths, it just seemed a bit tamer than I’d been looking for. Then there was the epilogue- which I’ve always been on the fence about. Now, I’ve made my peace with it (more or less) in the last few years- especially after rereading it more recently. Needless to say, it’s still not my favourite ending.

harry potter and the half blood prince

Half Blood Prince– I went into quite a bit of depth with this when I reviewed it, but quite simply I’m not crazy about some of the ways it tackles the topic of evil. I just really dislike anything that leans into BORN EVIL for starters. It also ended up conflicting with some of the (better) ideas from earlier in the series. The awkward romantic subplots really don’t help either. So, not my favourite, though there are some interesting plotlines (love where Rowling takes Draco’s story).

goblet of fire

Goblet of Fire– it feels really strange putting this in the middle of the list, because I’ve always loved this book. While there are a couple of plot points that I don’t like as much, like SPEW, this book *wowed* me by taking the series to an unexpectedly dark place. To me, this is where the overarching plot peaked. It was also the first book I read when it came out- so I have magical memories of anticipating it as well 😊

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover

Philosopher’s Stone– there’s no reason for this being in spot three, other than the fact I like others more. It’s still great on its own and I always enjoy the reread 😊

harry potter and the chamber of secrets

Chamber of Secrets– I just love book 2- which is weird, because it always creeps me out. Normally, I’d avoid anything like that, but in this case it’s just such a strong mystery and entertaining book. I love how it builds on the characters and it’s just perfect!

Harry_Potter_and_the_Prisoner_of_Azkaban

Prisoner of Azkaban- I spent a huge amount of time agonising over which book was my favourite, cos I’ve never been able to decide (which is probably why I’ve never done this before 😉 ). Yet, in the end it was easy: I just thought of the one which makes me feel all *warm and fuzzy* inside. Reading this is like being  hit with a Cheering Charm. I adore this book. Sure, Time Turners aren’t the best- creating plotholes galore- but I DON’T CARE! Not only is it the introduction to Hogsmeade, but we also get to meet the Marauders (my favourite characters). For me, this is the most magical book in the entire series.

And that’s it- we’ve run out of books (unless you count Cursed Child, which I don’t 😉). Clearly, I’m a bigger fan of the first four, but I am really curious to hear what your rankings would be? I know a lot of people have the exact opposite opinion and I wanna hear from all of you! Let me know in the comments