Summer lovin’ – fun (& sometimes super emotional) beachy books to read in the sun!

 

It’s that time of the year again- time for us bookworms to be packing up our books to take on picnics/beaches/park benches. Although I gotta admit that the title is a little misleading- cos I don’t know about you, but I love something with a bit of an emotional edge for summer holidays. Something, like, say…

the boy who steals houses

The Boy Who Steals Houses– I. can’t. even. with this book- such an emotional rollercoaster. Read it. Read this incredible Goldilocks retelling. That’s it. That’s all I have to say- this book steals the words right out of my mouth.

words in deep blue

Words in deep blue– if you don’t mind being a blubbering mess in public, then this is the book for you! Seriously though, I absolutely loved this romance about second chances, loss and books!

sisterhood of the travelling pants

Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants– it’s not all sad- I invite you to read this and be terrifically happy! (and then sad again when you get to the last book)

lucky star

Lucky Star– another emotional read, only this time it’s more of a middle grade/younger YA style book. Cassidy is known for her sweet books, but this one always stood out to me as the one that packs the biggest punch. I loved this when I was younger (and, if I’m honest, I still do)

kiss quotient

The Kiss Quotient– moving onto a more mature romance- I read this recently and have been looking for any excuse to recommend this more!!

far from the madding crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd– there had to be a classic on the list and of course this is one of the most romantic. Now, be warned, this is Hardy- it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. BUT I did pick one of his few books with a happy ending- you’re welcome 😉

my lady jane

My Lady Jane– it’s not all doom and gloom though- if you’re looking for a laugh, this will certainly do the trick. An alternative Tudor England (with magic!) this hilarious book is guaranteed to put a smile on your face 😀

wizard heir

Wizard Heir– of course I had to squeeze some amazing fantasy onto the list- and who better to promote than Cinda Williams Chima? I absolutely love her books and this happens to be my favourite. This one’s more of an urban setting than her high fantasy series and I don’t believe gets the praise it deserves.

song of the lioness

The Lioness Quartet– oh and what a surprise- more fantasy! I did actually take this to the beach once and it was exactly the ticket!

charmed life

Charmed Life– okay, let’s be honest, you all knew I’d start stuffing as many fantasy books as I could onto this list 😉 And this is just the epitome of cute and fun and inventive that I couldn’t resist!

Alright, now that I’ve overloaded my book bag, I have to ask what kind of books do you like to take on summer holiday? Let me know in the comments!

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Chill thrills for hot weather!

 

I don’t know about you, but when the summer weather hits, there’s nothing I like more than chilling out with a good book. And what better than a good thriller to keep the shivers running down my spine when it’s hot outside!

ice twins

Ice Twins– of course the clue as to why I picked this is in the title 😉 Evoking the cool atmosphere of wintry Scotland, this book definitely provides a thrill… or two!

gone-girl-PB

Gone Girl– betcha you saw this one coming! Unlike everyone who read this book, cos that was quite the twist! 😉

woman in the window new

The Woman in the Window– on the topic of dark and twisted reads, this book, with its echoes of Hitchcock, will certainly keep you up at night.

big little lies

Big Little Lies– I especially appreciate the slow burn mystery when I’m feeling all lazy from the sun. 

all these beautiful strangers

All These Beautiful Strangers– I do love my summer mysteries and this one deserves some more love 😊

broken things

Broken Things– grim and tragic and utterly brilliant- this mystery will keep you on your toes!

sadie

Sadie– if your version of “chilling” is sobbing your heart out- cos it’s mine! 😉 I especially recommend the audiobook. Speaking of heartbreak…

we were liars

We Were Liars– I mean, I feel a little cruel putting this on here, cos it’s akin to kicking sand in your face and running off- that ending stings. Moving on to the last book of the list… 

the secret history

The Secret History– at the time of writing this list, I’ve just finished this book. And *wow*. I have to talk about this right away, because despite knowing the outcome from the start, it somehow managed to be one of the most riveting reads I’ve experienced in a while. A chilling story of elite students up to no good, this’ll have you breaking out in a cold sweat, even on the hottest of summer nights.

Alrighty then, that’s all for now! What do you think of these? And do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

Favourite Fantasy Worlds I’d Love to go on Holiday To…

 

orangutan list

So, this isn’t the first time I’ve thought of packing it all in and going off to fantasy land- I was feeling the wanderlust last month and went on a jaunt a couple of years ago in January 😉 With that in mind, I’m gonna try my hardest not to repeat too many destinations (and if there are any shockers missing from the list feel free to check out my other posts). Also, these are places I actually want to go- so no Panem or Westeros for me! I’m gonna try and play it safe- starting with…

Faerieland– okay perhaps not the safest first choice. However, I’m often captivated by faerie realms, but few are more intriguing to me than Holly Black’s take in Cruel Prince. I’ll just make sure I take some iron and rowan berries for protection!

Iwagoto– aka the world from Shadow of the Fox. I mean, I really want to go to Japan, but a fantasy version of Japan *with* Kitsune?! YES PLEASE! This mythical creation by Kagawa has set my imagination alight and I’d whizz off tomorrow if I could.  

Discworld– well, obviously 😉 My first stop would be the Unseen University, to say hello to say hello to my bestie and stock up on some books/bananas!

Lyra’s Oxford– let’s be fair: real Oxford is a very pretty city. But I have always wanted to have my own daemon and meet Gyptians and witches and armoured bears… so yeah I need to take a trip here. If only I could get my hands on a Subtle Knife…

The Night Circus– I think when people talk about fantasy worlds, this nearly always comes up. And there’s a good reason for that! The Night Circus is a whole other level of captivating magic- and I think most of us would give an arm and a leg to be able to go!

Ravka– oh Russia would be amazing to go to- but how much more so would Grishaverse Russia be?! Preferably with the Darkling as my guide 😉 (he’d be good for tourism, really sells the place 😉)

Narnia– I have to admit, I have checked many-a cupboard looking for Narnia. Alas- to no avail! One day though, I’m sure I’ll stumble into the land that is always winter and meet a friendly lion who will eventually crown me queen monkey… what? It could happen! (also, I wouldn’t say no to a few Turkish Delights- yum!)

Neverland– speaking of the classics, I’d quite like to pop off to Neverland sometime soon. I rather fancy going somewhere I can never get older (even if I’d probably fit in more with the pirates than the lost boys at this stage 😉)

Wonderland– this one might be more of a risk, what with the crazy queen shouting “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!” Even so, I think it’d be worth it to say hello to the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter. Plus, I could always make a beeline for the mushrooms of course…

Ingo– I haven’t seen nearly enough underwater worlds- and none are done as well as this. It’s the kind of story that has an utterly unique feel and I would love to explore it more for real!

Howl’s moving castle– Wynne Jones always had a magical way with her settings- and none more so than Howl’s Moving Castle. She (literally) brings it to life and I couldn’t think of anything more fun than bouncing round the globe in this awesome travel home.

Alright, I didn’t go to deep into the danger zone there 😉 What do you think of my list? Would you like to go to any of these worlds? Is there anywhere else you’d rather go? Let me know in the comments!

Books for Gryffindor/Ravenclaws/Slytherins/Hufflepuffs- *ULTIMATE EDITION*

 

Hello all! I have a *huge* bumper post for you all today! Over the last few months, I’ve seen so many fantastic posts recommending books based on your Hogwarts houses- most recently on the wonderful Weird Zeal‘s blog (do check out her brilliant version for more recs!)- so I thought I’d do it myself.

gryffindor

Gryffindor– Well, this wasn’t too tricky to choose for, since it’s no secret that Gryffindors make excellent leading ladies and gents!

Alanna: The First Adventure– let’s face it, Tamora Pierce is the *QUEEN* of kickass heroines. And who better than the one, the only, the original: the Lioness!

I Coriander– this may be more of an unusual choice, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of finding your courage.

Last kingdom– something about this book screams GRYFFINDOR! I guess it’s all the fighting 😉 Admittedly, Uhtred gets by on his wits just as much as his sword, so this could be suited to brainy-but-still-brawny-Hermione types.

Hunger Games– I mean, I’d be remiss not to mention this, wouldn’t I? Katniss personifies so many of the Gryffindor traits, speaking of which…

Northern Lights– Lyra is the epitome of fearless! Again, this book would easily have broader appeal, but I think Gryffindors will get a kick out of this wild adventure. Be warned though, by the time the series ends, you may end up cowering in floods of tears. Which reminds me…

The Book Thief– I’ll admit, I get almost too emotional thinking about this book. But it’s such a beautiful story about bravery in the darkest of times.   

ravenclaw

Ravenclaw– You’d think that since this is my house it’d be easy for me to choose- not so! I oddly found it more of a challenge to just think beyond what I like to read and pick things with more House-wide appeal- you’ll be the judge of whether I succeeded 😉

Red Rising– this book was a bit of a hatstall to be honest, cos I could easily have put it in any of the houses. It has a similar bravery aspect to Hunger Games, the heroes are all super ambitious, and there’s the incredible Darrow/Sevro friendship at the heart of it… buuut in the end I thought all the strategizing and Ancient-Rome-based world building made it a great fit for us Ravenclaws (to be fair, this could easily have been me being totally biased as a Ravenclaw that loves this series 😉)

Shadow of the Wind– not only is this an excellent mystery for us Ravenclaws to scratch our heads over, but it’s also a story about the love of books. Let me say that again: it’s a story about BOOKS. And we all know how much we love books 😉

Turn of the screw– going the more traditional route, this is a classic, thrilling tale. Even better than a regular scary story, there’s no correct answer here and you’ll be left wondering what just happened? Was the narrator reliable? Who can I trust? Which, you know, is exactly what us geeky types want.

The Waste Land– so. much. intertextuality. You’ll need *all the footnotes* to get every single one of the references. And that works out really well for those of us who love an intellectual challenge!

Crime and Punishment– Dostoevsky is nothing if not thought provoking and this philosophical exploration of a murder really gets to the heart of the human condition. While perhaps some might see this as good for Slytherins looking to (not) get away with murder, I think this will appeal even more to Ravenclaws with a penchant for psychology.

Phantom tollbooth– it’s not all tough classics and mindbendy books for us Ravenclaws! Sometimes we like the quirkier things in life- not least children’s books with jokes about grammar… like this one!

slytherin.png

Slytherin– Despite my earlier banter about this house, I have a deep love for Slytherins (and reckon it’s where I’d have liked to end up if I wasn’t a Ravenclaw through and through). Often misunderstood and definitely underappreciated, I’ve got your back with some *wicked* reads:

Game of thrones– duh. I mean, I think most people in these books (who survive) are hardcore Slytherins. I feel like sometimes this comes across as a How To Be Cunning Guide- which is no doubt handy for a lot of Slytherins 😉

Six of crows– loads of people said this but that’s cos it’s perfect. Kaz and the whole gang are an *awesome* set of Slytherin-style heroes- sure, they may be willing to break the law to get what they want, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about each other! (and will use all their Slytherin wiles to protect each other!)

Prince of Thorns– another obvious one. Prince Jorg is by far one of my favourite Slytherin-types. He is sharp as a blade- in more ways than one- and pretty good at getting what he wants 😉

To Kill a Kingdom– Lira definitely has an edge to her, making her a great fit for this list. Plus, this is a twisted retelling of the Little Mermaid, which is perfect for this house!

Vicious– well, Schwab had to make it onto the list, one way or the other, didn’t she? 😉 And what better pick than my FAVOURITE of her series- the Villains books are complex, different and bold. Also, Victor Vale is *the best* anti-hero imaginable- just sayin’.

The Godfather– anyone that’s read this or more likely seen the films (no judgement! They’re excellent!) will know that the saga of the Corleone crime family is something that will very much appeal to the cunning reader- if only to live out the fantasy 😉

hufflepuff.png

Hufflepuff– This was such a fun house to choose for- perhaps because Hufflepuffs are easy-going, easy to be around and easy to love!

The Hating Game– it may seem surprising to include a book that has “hating” in the title for Hufflepuffs, but appearances are deceiving! Even enemies can become friends and this book shows the benefit of getting beyond first impressions. On that note…

Carry On– Rowell’s parodic vision of Harry Potter provides a very Hufflepuff take on Hogwarts- in the best possible way. Not only does it show that the very best of antagonists can become something MORE, but its cherry-scone-sweetness is a delight for all the mushy hearted people of the world.

Night of Cake and Puppets– one Hufflepuff trait I don’t see mentioned enough is a healthy love of FOOD! (boy, I can relate 😉) and for that reason alone this had to be on my list. But also, I just adore the fact that Taylor went out of her way to award the loyal best friend in Daughter of Smoke and Bone with her own swoonworthy story 😀

The Princess and the Fangirl– what better way to make friends than at a fan convention? In more ways than one, this is about coming together despite differences and I am HERE for it. Also, there’s great romances! (yup, romances, plural!)

Wonder– this could easily be a great fit for Gryffindors, however I felt with its focus on friendship, acceptance and kindness that this was a book that typifies Hufflepuff’s finest qualities.

Hitler’s Canaries– it’s very rare for a book about the Holocaust to be uplifting- but this is exactly that. In fairness, the tremendous (and true) acts of bravery by the Danish could easily make this a fit for Gryffindors, but I think the unifying humanity of this story really speaks to lengths people will go for each other, and that reminds me more of Hufflepuff’s unwavering sense of right and wrong. It is one of the most life-affirming books I have ever read and I can’t recommend it enough.

And that’s all for now! This was more fun than I expected! Plus, I had so many more books up my sleeve that this easily could’ve gone on a lot longer! Do you agree with any of these? Do you have any additions I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!

 

My Favourite Mythical Creatures

 

orangutan list

From Tolkien’s elves to Pullman’s daemons, mythical creatures are often the backbone of fantasy. I’ve talked quite a bit about how they can pull me into a story, but I’ve never said which are my *absolute faves*- though never fear, that day is here!

The-HobbitDragons– let’s just get the obvious one out of the way, shall we? 😉 These fire-breathing, war machines are easily my favourites. I will admit that when it comes to dragons, I am biased- for me, the perfect dragon is very Smaug-like. Clever, greedy, possibly evil… but completely badass!

 

girl in the towerGhosts– even though I’m totally afraid of scary stories, I can’t help but be drawn to ghosts in stories (a bit like how I’m scared of heights, but love rollercoasters). I can’t say that I have a definite favourite here, but I did realllly like the version in The Girl in the Tower, possibly because the Russian atmosphere gave me the chills in more ways than one.

 

crown of feathersPhoenix– I mean, it’s another creature that is fiery and can fly. Plus, it’s got powers often linked to resurrection- I think it’s fairly obvious looking at this list why I like them. Now for a lot of people, the first phoenix that will come to mind is the rather lovely Fawkes from Harry Potter, but recently I’ve discovered an even MORE EXCITING representation of this mythical creature… say hello the phoenix riders in Crown of Feathers! This definitely goes above and beyond any other depiction I’ve seen before!

shadow of the foxKitsune– when I first heard about these mythical creatures, I was falling straight down the rabbithole/foxhole of research, because they are so fascinating! Cunning and magical, they easily crept onto the list. And when it comes to the best version I’ve seen- well, that’s obviously Shadow of the Fox.

 

hollyblack-thedarkestpartoftheforestFae/Faeries/Fey– this one is quite on vogue lately- and I am living for it! I had so many options here for examples I could go with- I loved the evil Phaeries in Wooding’s Poison and I was tempted again by Kagawa’s portrayal in Iron Fey. Ultimately though, I decided to go with Holly Black’s Darkest Part of the Forest, for an atmospheric take that falls somewhere in between the two styles. 

And the last one that feels like a bit of a cheat…

circeWitches and wizards– I’m not sure I even count these as magical creatures- especially because their conception is so vast. And yet it would feel remiss not to mention them. Best by far that I’ve seen lately is Madeline Miller’s Circe– she takes the idea of talent and hard work, then melds them together in the most interesting version I’ve come across in recent history.

 

And that’s all I’ve got for now! What do you think of these creatures? And what are your favourites? Let me know in the comments!

Fantasy Tropes I Love

 

orangutan list

Poor old genre fiction is often maligned- even by me 😉 Too often I talk about the downsides of tropes and themes I don’t like- so today, since I’ve got a lot of my Moaning Minnie opinions out of my system, I thought it would be fun to talk about some fantasy tropes I actually love!

hermione witch magic gif*Magic*- especially if there’s too much of it!! Which may sound weird to everyone- cos either you think like me “can there BE too much magic?!” or you think “welllll there are limits”. For me there are no limits! I’m always willing to suspend my disbelief for fantasy and this will always make me excited 😀

rhaegal dragonDragons– all the DRAGONS!! Now, I will admit, I’m a bit more discerning when it comes to dragons- as I said in my least favourite fantasy tropes post I won’t just settle for any old dragon. Still, that comes from a place of love, because I can’t really say it enough: dragons are my favourites!

 

Cgadget manool gadgets/magical artefacts– similar to the dragons, I’m not always into magical gizmo fixes all the problems/needs to be destroyed in order to save the world. That said, I do get a thrill when little magical objects find their way into the story and are shown off in a James-Bond-gets-his-gadgets kind of scene. 

zukoAntagonist turned ally– I just love redemption arcs. So, whether it’s an enemies to lovers twist, or an antagonist turned ally, I am super on board for this trope!! At the same time, I wouldn’t say no to… 

 

walder freyThe *just deserts* being served– as much as I love villains learning the error of their ways, I also enjoy them being punished just as much. Especially cos not all villains are created equal and sometimes it’s satisfying to see the Walder Freys of stories being served their own sons, Titus Andronicus style 😉

questQuests! A huge part of the fantasy genre is the hero’s journey and what better way to get them started than sending them off on a literal journey?! While I think this can easily go wrong or be done badly, I can still be tempted by a jolly jaunt into fantasy land. For me, this will never get old!!

 

Mirkwood_Peek_01Going into the *wilds* and coming back transformed– this is an age-old trick in folklore, which Tolkien drew on and famously made a part of the genre. It’s very typical to read a fantasy novel where the main character ventures out into the unknown (most often represented as forests) and learns something dark and twisted about the world or themselves. It’s a stalwart part of the genre- and I can’t get enough of it.

got-credits-picMysterious libraries/castles/schools– naturally, adding magic can make the mundane more special- who knew? 😉 Seriously though, some locations blend better into the fantasy realms. Personally, I really appreciate when buildings are transformed into something creepier and more enigmatic. Speaking of which…

casperGhosts and necromancy– blame Garth Nix’s Sabriel for cementing my love for this one 😉 Funnily enough, I’m easily creeped out, yet I still firmly believe the ability to bridge the divide between life and death is one of the best things about fantasy. It’s such a great opportunity to explore interesting and unearthly themes. I can’t quite get enough of fantasy books which draw up the veil and dance over this line.  

helms deep rohirrimAll hope is lost… oh no wait it isn’t! Also known as the “here comes the cavalry” twist. Maybe I’m a masochist, but I get all jittery when the author makes me truly believe we’ve reached the end of the road and then *DADA* reinforcements come at the last second.

 

And that’s all I have for now! What do you think of these tropes? Do you have any favourite fantasy motifs of your own? Let me know in the comments!

What makes me pick up a book?

 

orangutan list

Well, the simple answer is that it is book shaped and contains a story 😉 Just kidding! I have all sorts of *actual reasons* (beyond just that bookworm impulse to see books and shout GIMME!!!)

book love belleCover Love! I’m just gonna get this out the way first because a) we all do it and b) I’m as guilty as the next person 😉 And boy this can set off the book lust!

 

book loveA sexy blurb– naturally. As I’ve mentioned before, I can be tempted to read pretty much any genre, and a compelling blurb will definitely do that.

 

Yall of youou guys! It’ll come as no surprise that I take reviews very seriously. I definitely pay attention to what other bloggers are reading/what I might have missed/what’s lived upto the hype. Speaking of which…

 

book pusherRegular peer pressure also works. As much as I like to tell myself it doesn’t, hype can definitely push me towards a book. And that’s not the only type of browbeating that can get me on board. Nagging family, friends, a persistent librarian, a list titled “must read before you die”, a throwaway comment… if someone insists loud enough that I should do more reading, who am I to argue? 😉

 

choose booksAlso, I can’t resist books by my favourite authors. I mean this one’s self-explanatory- if I love a book by an author, I’ll keep coming back for more 😊 I could say the same for genre, but I think I get a bit more specific there…

 

dragon gifMythical creatures capture my attention! But most specifically DRAGONS! Granted, this can be hit or miss, because let’s just say I’ve been burned before 😉 Still I can never resist hoarding shiny new dragon books!! And it’s not just magical creatures that tempt me…

 

magicMAGIC will always lure me in! Beyond all the creatures, I can’t get enough of the worlds, the quests, the spells… I am here for it all!! The whisper of magic will have me intrigued; a bold new fantasy system will make me want to shout from the rooftops! Although, I’m not gonna pretend to have the most discerning palate all the time- a good banana is a good banana no matter where it’s been imported from 😉 While I do appreciate a little different, I’m gonna be happy if you put that banana in a banana split or banana bread 😉 (jeez that might be the worst analogy I’ve ever used 😉) Point is fantasy is my jam, whether it’s something wildly different, or something samey done well.

 

lily and jamesRomance– errr yeah I’m gonna admit to being one of those readers who prefers a hefty dose of love in my literature. Though I won’t say I need it in everything I read, a little romance is always a plus for me 😀 Speaking of romance, I can never say no to a few…

 

Beloved tropes– aka romantic tropes I die for. I absolutely adore hate to love and fake boyfriends in particular- and they’ll definitely have me reaching for a book!

And finally…

shameIt’s been on my tbr so gosh darn long that I’m beginning to feel guilty… although this isn’t always the most compelling reason 😉 (see all the books on my tbr I’ve failed to read glaring at me).

 

So do you relate to any of these? What makes you pick up a book? Let me know in the comments!