Incendiary Historical Fiction for Bonfire Night!

Well, hello, hello! In case anyone doesn’t remember (or know) tonight is Bonfire Night in the UK. The night to celebrate when the gunpowder plot was foiled and parliament wasn’t blown up (so we set off fireworks and burn things… yeahhh the logic in that is weird…). Given the historic significance, I thought it would be fun to talk about some *EXPLOSIVE* historical fiction. I wanted to keep this to 5, for symmetry’s sake, but this topic was such *dynamite* I had to do more! I did try to cover a broad spectrum of (mostly British) time periods though…

last kingdom

The Last Kingdom– there are many things to love about Cornwell’s Saxon Stories– the plot and protagonist alone are to die for! But what made me especially excited by this story was how it explores the Norman and Viking period- a part of history often overlooked in British schools- which is a crying shame cos it’s FASCINATING!

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At the Sign of the Sugar Plum– speaking of more random parts of English history- although this one does come up in high school- this is a YA historical fiction about the plague. Yup, there’s a cheerful topic for you… sooo don’t go into this looking for all sunshine and rainbows- even if this is set in a London sweet shop. Also, the sequel is about the Great Fire of London, if I haven’t scared you off with the Black Death 😉

the king's general

King’s General– while not my favourite of Du Maurier’s books, I do really like this take on the English Civil War. Romantic and poignant, this not only tells the story of lost love, what I remember most about this book is the powerful way it captured the country’s divided loyalties and how it felt to be caught in the middle of conflict.


Homegoing– this is one of the most unusual books on the list, because it spans a huge amount of time. Each chapter is a different member of the family, this story spans centuries, exploring the true horror of the slave trade and its impact. It’s remarkable how well this works and how heart-breaking it manages to be with this structure.


Birdsong– I had to really think which Sebastian Faulks book to choose and ultimately went with his story set in WWI. This wasn’t perfect- frankly I wasn’t a fan of the flashforwards to present day- but this wonderfully written story does do a great job of spanning before, during and after the war.

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Private Peaceful– sticking to WWI, nothing punches me in the gut emotionally more than this. Even though it’s a children’s book, it doesn’t hold back.

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Salt to the Sea– exploring the fate of the Wilhelm Gustoff in World War II, this is not your normal war story. It isn’t about great battles or the people fighting, it’s about the people stuck in the middle. This is a YA historical fiction that will truly have an impact.

guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society- moving slightly ahead in the timeline, Guernsey does explore the issues of WWII, yet in an epistolary, retrospective way. Set in the aftermath of the Guernsey occupation, this is about uncovering the mystery. Be prepared for some *explosive* revelation, *unbelievable* characters who will touch your heart and, of course, all the *feels*.

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Sweet Clarinet– thinking more about WWII, it’s kind of amazing to note that I’ve never mentioned this book on my blog before, even though it had a profound effect on me. Set during the blitz and exploring the consequences of wartime wounds, this poignant tale tells of trauma and recovery. Most notably, it explores the idea of music as therapy.

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Daisy Jones and the Six– and finally, darting across the pond for the last book, I thought I’d end with a book that is THE BOMB for totally different reasons! Like Sweet Clarinet, this is about music. Daisy Jones and the Six explores the 70s rock scene- which is an utterly unique part of history for a book and I am DOWN for it! Unfortunately for us all, they’re not a real band, but if you read this, you’ll wish they were as much as I did!

So, do you like any of my choices? And do you have any other *highly charged* historical fiction you think I was mad to miss? Let me know in the comments!

Explosive Books For Bonfire Night!

Remember, remember the fifth of November…


Yup- tonight is Bonfire Night in the UK!! And one of the best things about living in a flat is that I’ve been getting a free firework display out my window all week! 😀 Anyhoo, in the spirit of the season, I’ve decided to write a quick post celebrating some explosive books (very quick, since I’m currently burning the candle at both ends with my Nano plans… but more on that another time 😉 ) Here we go…

Jude the Obscure– let’s start of nice and gently… WITH THE MOST DEVASTATING BOOK OF ALL TIME!! (what did you think this was going to be a sparkler- NOPE this is a firecracker straight through the heart- you’re welcome 😉 ) Jude was shocking back in the day, but to my mind I can’t see a future when this will cease to have an impact.


Engleby– who likes a good thriller? Me! And this has a killer of a plot twist and like one of those fountain-thingys is seriously underrated.


Gone Girl– speaking of thrillers, I could hardly fail to include Flynn’s masterpiece, since this book officially has the BIGGEST plot twist EVER! Now I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it there (just know it’s an *epic* book and well worth a read!!)


Game of Thrones– moving onto fantasy, everyone knows by now that Martin is the king of the plot twist- and let’s be honest, no one saw that first main character dying way back in the day…game of thrones book

Young Elites– I was pleasantly surprised by this dark book for loads of reasons- not least because it had the most incendiary, unexpected ending!! It popped up out of nowhere!!

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Crooked Kingdom– okay do I really need to let you know how much I love this book after raving about it last week?! This book is DYNAMITE from beginning to end (and man, that ending really blew everything up *sobs*)

crooked kingdom

Checkmate– alright, so being more literal now, this book centres round a bomb plot, that may or may not go off… It’s high stakes and tense stuff. And the whole book being will she/won’t she really reminds me of a Catherine Wheel (Also, if you can’t tell I really want to bring this series circling back 😉 )


Illuminae– and speaking of a explosions, that’s just how this starts. And if you think it lets up at any point in the story, you would be WRONG! From beginning to end, this book’s a meteoric ball of excitement! Speaking of which…


The Martian– AHH this book is a rollercoaster of emotions- it makes you feel simultaneously stressed and excited and awestruck! And if rockets are your jam, then this book will send you to Mars!

the martian

Golden Son– I really I could have said any of the books in the Red Rising trilogy, but if you know how this ends, then you know that this second instalment in particular BLOWS ALL THE OTHERS OUT OF THE WATER!!

golden son

Okay, I sincerely apologise to you for any harm done by my godawful puns in this post 😉 Hopefully I’ve not scared you away 😉

While we’re on explosive topics, I wanted to announce on my blog (in case you missed it over on twitter) that the winner of my giveaway was Daley Downing– I’m so excited because she’s an amazing blogger and author!! So please do check her out here!!

And that’s all for today- do you have any *explosive* book recommendations? And do you celebrate Bonfire Night? Let me know in the comments! And have a great rest of the weekend!!