Spine-Tingling Thrillers for Spooktober!

spooktacular reads

Well, I don’t know about you, but this time of year definitely makes me drawn to creepier reads. Now, I don’t tend to gravitate towards horror, but a good thriller is right up my street. And having stalked a few lately, I figured I’d share a fast and fun list… before the authorities catch up with me 😉

lock every door

Lock Every Door– in the last couple of months, I’ve quickly become a fan of Riley Sager (as you’ll notice from this list)- and for good reason! I was locked in place with this modern gothic novel. Prepare yourself for a creepilicious, entertaining and addicting read!

death of mrs westaway

The Death of Mrs Westaway- in a similar vein, if you’re looking for a thriller with a claustrophobic feel, look no further! This modern take on Rebecca will lead you to familiar and unfamiliar territory. Expect the unexpected from Ruth Ware’s masterful retelling.

ice twins

Ice Twins– moving north now, this excellent atmospheric read will get you in the mood for winter. Warning: may cause a shiver to run down your spine.

last time I lied

The Last Time I Lied– I read a lot of thrillers last month and this slightly-summery mystery was my favourite! Set after the disappearance of three teenage girls, with an unreliable narrator trying to piece together what happened to them, this will take you down a dangerous path to a killer plot twist!

gone-girl-PB

Gone Girl– speaking of twists, if you haven’t read this already, seriously why not?! This husband vs wife drama is the perfect book for *Spooktober* if you haven’t read it yet!

suitable lie

Suitable Lie– looking for a good domestic noir? Then I have the book for you- this moving and melancholic read will show you dark secrets that can lurk behind closed doors. Rather than taking you a million miles away, this one hits close to home.

mountain in my shoe

Mountain in my shoe– another book filled with realism, this wonderfully written thriller will draw you in and persistently nudge away at you until you turn the last page.

nemesis

Nemesis– for something a little different, there are some strong YA thrillers. This series is by far one of the more memorable books I read as a teen. Pacey and brilliantly executed, this story does not relent from the awakening of the first page!

dark matter

Dark Matter– another book that’s more action-based, this is a blend of sci fi and thrillers. With a sprinkling of interesting themes along the way. Provoking some fascinating discussions, this time-bending book is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

you

You– of course, if you are looking for a different kind of terror, then this horrifying reflection on social media is GUARANTEED to freak you out. You’ve been warned 😉

So have you read any of these? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

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Getting Cosy with Some Mysteries for Autumnal Nights

We’re getting into one of my favourite times of the year! I can’t be the only one settling in for hot chocolates and comfy jumpers. And, of course, what goes better with that than a good book? Well, a cosy mystery that’s what! Let’s see if you can predict where this list will lead…

and then there were none

And Then There Were None– Agatha Christie is the QUEEN of cosy mysteries and this is her crowning glory. Annnd I won’t say anything more about the actual book, because this is definitely the sort of book where you need to go in blind. Even though I haven’t read much of her work (yet) it was still hard to resist the urge to put Murder on the Orient Express on here as well… but I guess I kinda just did that 😉

evelyn hardcastle

The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle– now for something a little more out there! While this is inspired by the legendary Agatha Christie, it is the kind of story where it’s best to have some clue about what’s going on, because it is so unusual. This Groundhog Day murder mystery set at a party is truly one of a kind. I did find it a bit more difficult to get into, but it’s all the more rewarding for the effort!

academic curveball

Academic Curveball– I’m really excited to talk about one of James’ books, cos he’s awesome. And he’s definitely carved out a niche for himself in the cosy mystery arena! Set in a university, this is full of charming characters you can’t help but root for and a plot that’ll keep you hooked!

the secret history

The Secret History– this is another story set on a college campus and is a book I haven’t been able to shake since I read it this summer. Bound to be a future classic, Tartt’s murder mystery told in reverse is riveting, masterful and a must-read.

truly devious

Truly Devious– sticking to the New England school setting, which somehow really works for this genre, I have to share a YA take. This series opener was a pleasant surprise for me this year. Though I’d heard a lot about the author, I wasn’t prepared for quite how gripping this book would be. Based around a cold case mystery, I hadn’t anticipated the dual stories working in tandem. Needless to say I’m excited for the sequels!

dark-places-book-cover

Dark Places– taking a quick step away from YA for a moment, let’s revisit one of bestselling-sensation Gillian Flynn’s works. As much as I love to wax lyrical about the greatness of Gone Girl, I do have to remind myself that the author is not a one hit wonder. This story about a supposedly solved crime will keep you on the edge of your seat. If you’re looking for something with a little more edge, then this is the book for you!

broken things

Broken Things– on the surface this is a simple summery thriller about friends accused of murder… but dig a little deeper and this YA delivers some deeper themes. The stories within stories reveal there’s a lot more under the surface.

my plain jane

My Plain Jane– on the topic of metafiction, you can’t go wrong with this retelling of Jane Eyre! Delightful and funny and full of friendly (and not-so-friendly) ghosts, it’s perfect for this time of year.

shadow of the wind

Shadow of the Wind– this is another book linked to the love of books. Even better, the mystery centres on a book and its enigmatic author. Weaving through the near mythical streets of Barcelona, this is the kind of book where the journey is half the fun.

my cousin rachel

My Cousin Rachel– Du Maurier is yet another lady who really knows how to grab your attention- and then send you tumbling to uncertain conclusions 😉 Prepare to find yourself wrapped up in the Cornish Moors, facing a precipice of gothic proportions, wondering if you’ll ever get to the bottom of this story… it’s where I’ve been for years. Because this slightly ambiguous read will keep you guessing long after you’ve turned the last page.

And on that’s where I’ll leave you hanging… Have you read any of these? Do you like them? And what mysteries (without spoilers if you can 😉) have really blown you away? Let me know in the comments!

Where have all the good men (and women) gone? Favourite heroic heroes!

orangutan fairy tale knight in shining armour0003

Truth be told, I happen to have a soft spot for dark/broody/morally ambiguous heroes. I know I’ve tended to talk about villains and anti-heroes in the past- BUT NOT THIS DAY! For today, I thought it would be fun to talk about some awesome heroes (and heroines) that really stand up for traditional heroic values. These are the people who always find a way to do the right thing- no matter what stands in their way. These are the more stereotypical “goodies” as opposed to our more modern, realistic take on heroes. These are basically what I’d call the archetypal heroes. And yeah, as the title suggests, I decided not to just make this about blokes, cos plenty of female characters exhibit the same traits. Let’s get into it:

orangutan list

brothers karamazov

Alexei Karamazov– now I often spotlight Prince Myshkin from Dostoevksy’s the Idiot, but Alyosha is much the same in personality, if not more noble. He’s by far my favourite Karamazov- yes, above even the allure of Ivan- because he’s a pure soul, intent on doing the right thing and standing up for all that is good in the world. (I have heard people say he’s basically supposed to be Jesus as well, which makes sense).

the-lord-of-the-rings-book-cover

Faramir– ahhh Faramir doesn’t have the highs of Aragorn or the lows of Boromir, but he is the most human of all Tolkien’s, well, humans. He is definitely my favourite of the bunch. Yes, he does struggle, but he always chooses the right path. He’s the perfect partner for my favourite LOTR heroine as well…

the_lord_of_the_rings_first_copies

Eowyn– I mean, could I really leave her off the list? Did you expect me to make a post about traditional heroes and heroines and not do more than one Tolkien character? You kinda shoulda seen this coming (so really this is all your fault 😉). Okay, enough kidding around, cos this lady seriously means business! You know what I was saying in the intro about girls being able to have the same traits? Well Eowyn stabs the myth that only men can be heroic straight through the heart/right through Nazghul’s face…

lioness-rampant-9781442427662_hr

Alana/the Lioness- I mean, if you wanna talk about original *girl power* stories, then look no further than Tamora Pierce. This typical fantasy adventure features the very best of heroics and danger in equal measure.

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover

Harry Potter– okay, so I had to resist the urge to let my bias show and choose another Gryffindor for this one. But I think that other than possibly Neville, most of the other Gryffindors have more glaring character flaws. Other than Harry’s random bout of adolescence in Order of the Phoenix, however, he pretty much fulfils the role of good, old-fashioned hero. Sooo that’s why I went with Harry Potter above all the others… or maybe I’m just under the Imperius curse 😉

bear and the nightingale

Vasilisa– Vasilisa is one of my favourite modern heroines! She’s definitely the kind of character that would make the Sorting Hat scream GRYFFINDOR! She stands up for herself, what she believes in and all of Rus!

skyward

Spensa– I recently read Skyward and fell hard for Spensa! She is a kickass heroine- she’s bold and funny and definitely someone you want watching your back!

the martian

Mark Watney– there’s more than one way to be daring in space- and Mark Watney definitely deserves all the awards for bravery! (and also for being a certifiable genius and great wit!)

daughter of smoke and bone

Karou– like I said, there’s more than one way to be a hero. Karou isn’t the conventional hero- her story is more complicated than that- but she does have the purest intentions and the drive to see it through to the end. She would (literally) die to save the ones she loves.

one word kill

Nick HayesNick is the sort of timeless hero who always tries to do the right thing- wherever he might turn up. Even up against the odds, he finds a way to do the right thing and that’s all you can ask for!

guards-guards

Samuel Vimes– speaking of people who always do the right thing, Vimes might be a little bit rougher round the edges than others on this list, but he has a good heart, the best intentions and is such a fun character to boot!

So those are just a few of my heroes- did you like them? How about some of yours- which fictional heroes do you admire? Let me know in the comments!

Falling for more fun and fluffy books!

Woohoo- it’s Fall!! (or autumn as we call it on this side of the pond)

autumn monkey 2

I absolutely love the autumn. I love getting out my cosy clothes, I love getting ready for winter and most of all I love the excuse to stay in with my books (c’mon, we all do it 😉) And what better books for this time of year than some super sweet fluff!

orangutan list

the flatshare

Flatshare– if you’re after a modern love story then look no further! Cos OMG this quirky romance is the perfect homecoming if you’re still craving something summery 😀

cinder and ella

Cinder and Ella– I know I mention this a lot (because I ❤ cinderella retellings) but man, this book is so good!!

geekerella

Geekerella– yes I am addicted to Cinderella retellings, yes at least one is always bound to end up on this list. And really, you can’t go wrong with this refreshing fandom-themed take on the classic fairy tale! Also, tis the season to get dressed up in funky costumes and pretend to be someone else 😉

kindred spirits

Kindred Spirits– it’s been a long time since I mentioned this adorable novella and it’s very much overdue! This really relatable story features so much geekiness and I am SO HERE FOR IT!

eliza and her monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters– another story that’s super relevant to the modern world, this book is so relevant to the likes of us who like hanging out online… which is everyone here 😉

my lady jane

My Lady Jane– admittedly not modern, this is most definitely a contemporary take on the story of Lady Jane Grey. Hilarious, quirky and with plenty of *magic*- you can’t go wrong with this unique read! (and the next one in the Lady Janies series is good too)

goose girl

Goose Girl– admittedly with sadder aspects, nothing could have a fluffier, happier ending than this Middle Grade retelling. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

ps i like you

PS I Like You– PS I liked this book 😉 Okay don’t let my cheesy joke put you off- this is possibly my favourite Kasie West book because it is SO CUTE!

kiss quotient

Kiss Quotient– I swear Hoang is my new love in the contemporary genre- I can’t count the times I’ve recommended this- and can estimate I’m gonna mention it a lot more in the future!

zenn diagram

Zenn Diagram– with more of a magical realism twist, this book certainly adds up to a good time. And you get a really deep romance and aww-inspiring ending to boot!

And that’s all for now! Have you read any of these books? Do you plan to? And what books do you think make great fluffy reads? Let me know in the comments!

The Most Successful Books About Failure for Friday 13th!

orangutan list

Often, we shy away from the concept of failure in books. But for me, failure is the means by which we learn and sometimes a tragic ending can have more of an impact than a happy one. So, I thought I’d share my list of the most successful books about failure. And what better day than unlucky Friday the Thirteenth to discuss it? 😉

jude

Jude the Obscure– Hardy doesn’t pull his punches with this devastating tome. I can’t think of many other books which have left me so utterly eviscerated emotionally.

idiot

The Idiot– Dostoevsky often explores the notion of tragedy and failure in his books, but this is my favourite in that vein. Dubbed a failed book about failure, this may not have the most satisfying of conclusions, but it’s very apt for this list.

hamlet

Hamlet– I needed at least one Shakespearean tragedy on the list and what I like about this one is that it’s an individual tragedy of a man we can (more or less) respect.

TheGreatGatsby_1925jacket.jpeg

The Great Gatsby– Fitzgerald’s masterpiece about the failure of the American Dream explores both the loss of a dream grander scale and a very personal tragedy. What I like is that this book can be read multiple ways- it’s not just society to blame for Gatsby’s ending, but also the individual (bad) choices along the way.

never let me go

Never Let Me Go– a more modern/futuristic tragedy, Never Let Me Go doesn’t just examine the way society can rob us of our futures, but also how we can self-sabotage and waste time along the way. For all its dystopic elements, it is ultimately a very human tale.

mockingjay

Mockingjay– I know that some people didn’t love the ending for Hunger Games, but for me it will always be perfect. Dystopias can’t end too happily and thus (despite some of the more positive aspects of the finale) it delivers the intended message well.

between shades of grey

Between Shades of Grey– the topic of Soviets sending thousands of people to die in Siberia is not talked about enough. This book does a fantastic job of representing this important issue.

the woman in black

Woman in Black– in a very different vein, this thrilling and captivating ghost story actually holds at its heart darker and more unsettling tragedies.

game of thrones book

Game of Thrones- kind of poetic that a lot of people fail in this book given where the show ended up… In all seriousness, this is a significant in the modern fantasy realm because it doesn’t just give us the happily-ever-after good guys triumph over evil we all crave. As hard as it can be to read, we need books that show us a darker reality.

sadie

Sadie– I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say this is more representative of a failure in society than with “The Girls”. A part of why I put this on the list is that I think when true crime is discussed, the victims are often ignored. I think this does a great job of starting to redress that balance. Also, if you want to weep buckets, read this book.

Alright, so have I succeeded or failed with this list? And do you have any books to add? Let me know in the comments!

Best books set in school

 

orangutan list

Well, it’s that time of year again, summer holidays have been and gone (how?!) and many students/teachers are heading back to school… but fear not! It doesn’t have to be all bad because we have books! And in books, school can be a lot more fun… I mean some of them teach you spells for one thing 😉 I decided to take a mixture of different settings and themes and even share some books set in college. Let’s don our freshly pressed uniforms and boldly go where many people have gone before, shall we?

graduating monkey

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_CoverHarry Potter– let’s be real, Hogwarts is absolute *magic* and everyone’s dream school (yes, even with the crazy teachers, deadly activities and Forbidden Forest)

 

 

groosham grangeGroosham Grange– sure, this might not be the happiest take on schools, but you can’t deny it’s a lot of fun to be swept up in this E-V-I-L education system. I know that, as a kid, I’d have rather gone here than my actual school… (dunno what that says about the English education system 😉)

 

 

wizard heirWizard Heir– such an underrated book!! You guys know I love the author, but any opportunity I get to rave about this story I’ll take. This may be a less positive representation of a school… yet it’s no less fun to read!

 

 

naughtiest girl in the schoolNaughtiest Girl in School– I know a lot of people grew up with Malorie Towers, but for some reason, my mum gave me these… I wonder if she was sending me a subliminal message about how I should behave in school? 😉

 

 

wonderWonder– I just love what a life-affirming story about kindness this is- there aren’t enough of these around!

 

 

 

stargirlStargirl– this is such an important book about being different and how that impacts people in a school environment- a must read!

 

 

 

never let me goNever Let Me Go– okay, in a far, far darker vein, Hailsham may seem like an ordinary boarding school, but readers will soon find there’s more to it than there seems.

 

 

anna and the french kissAnna and the French Kiss– on a lighter note, I just love the setting of Paris and this school seems GREAT! (one thing that I didn’t get about the narrator for ages is that she complains about going here?!)

 

 

always-and-forever-lara-jean-9781481430487_hrAlways and Forever– one thing that the finale for the Lara Jean series did exceptionally well was exploring the challenge that is graduating from school and moving on to college. I thought this was such a great representation, because it didn’t just go the *oh look you get the college of your dreams and life is perfect* route- which is perpetuated by a lot of books/movies but is unfortunately unrealistic for most people. Instead, this was about finding your way, in spite of falling just shy of your dreams (and that maybe, just maybe, things can work out when life doesn’t go to plan).

the secret historySecret History– moving up in the education system, this is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read recently. Its portrayal of college and learning really struck a cord with me… apart from the fact I was completely gripped by the murder mystery aspect of course 😉

 

 

unseen academicalsUnseen Academicals– to be fair, this book is more about football (the most beautiful game in the world) but I had to squeeze the Unseen University into this list somewhere, didn’t I? Plus, this book is a lot of fun, so you’re welcome for the recommendation 😉

 

viciousVicious– alright, admittedly not all of this book is set in uni, but one of the most significant parts is and it deserves a shoutout for being an ambitious book about ambition (also did I mention lately that I love it)

 

 

american pandaAmerican panda– even if the germaphobe aspect wasn’t to my personal taste, one of the things I can safely say this book did best was dealing with the struggles of finding yourself.

 

 

FangirlWIPFangirl– another fantastic book about finding out who you are in a modern college setting, Rowell’s story will feel relatable to a lot of young adults.

 

 

 

180 seconds180 Seconds– and finally, I’m off the list with a super sweet and yet emotional rollercoaster of a romance! Set in college, this definitely delivers when it comes to *feels*.

 

 

radio silenceAnd just when you thought “this post can’t get any longer”, I have to add a bonus book I recently finished and was well worth the hype: Radio Silence! What a fantastic story about school, growing up and being creative!!

 

 

So do you agree with any of my choices? Do you have any books set in school you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments!

Gateway Sci Fi Books

 

When it comes to sci fi, I hardly consider myself an expert. I’ve just not been reading it all that long and haven’t ventured that deep into this space yet… which is (funnily enough) why I do think I’m in a good position to tell you what worked as gateway books to get me into the genre! Here are some of my first forays sci fi and the books I think newbies will get the most out of:

the martian

The Martian– this was one of the first books I ever read in the genre where I thought “huh I could really get into this”. Led by a strong voice and plenty of humour, this “oh shit I’m stuck on Mars let’s plant potatoes” book was a very pleasant adventure into outer space. While it will satisfy diehard sci fi fans with its scientific accuracy (or so I’m told), I personally was blown away by this character driven story and fell head over heels for the protagonist Mark Watney. From there, there really was no going back!

ender's game

Ender’s Game– after that I realised I had to try this classic bad boy and I wasn’t disappointed. If you’ve not read much of the genre, this classic is a great place to start. It definitely helped me find my footing (which is pretty hard to do when there’s less gravity about 😉 )

war of the worlds

War of the Worlds– okay I’m not exactly going in order of when I read them now, cos this might have been the first sci fi I picked up. Admittedly, I think this is very light on the scientific elements, but it more than makes up for that in its (rather advanced) philosophical musings.

shades children

Shade’s Children– going back in time further to a childhood favourite, this futuristic setting features kids just trying to survive in a bleak landscape… annnnd I don’t want to tell you anything more than that, because the twists and turns of the plot really make this story magnificent. But of course, it’s by the master himself, Garth Nix… so who’s surprised?!

scythe

Scythe– speaking of great concepts, the world building for this series has totally blown me away. I always appreciate a good dystopia and this is a particularly interesting take. Aside from great characterisation and plot, this does the job all speculative fiction should do by really making you think!

cinder

Lunar Chronicles– on a lighter note, these retellings are perhaps more in the fantasy realm… which is why I think they make the perfect gateway drug for more YA fans. Plus, there’s loads of adventure and romance- can’t go wrong!

illuminae

The Illuminae Files– I think this series is single-handedly responsible for opening up the YA doors to a lot more sci fi- which is fantastic! Writing duo Kauffman and Kristoff really knocked it out of the park with this one- the layout alone is one of the most unique and brilliant experiences I’ve ever had with a book series. Totally worth the hype!

aurora rising

Aurora Rising– at this stage, I can’t really talk about one series without giving a mention to the other. For me, the more traditional format allows for some *out of this world* characterisation- I ended up completely digging the new gang! Plus, the story is action packed and explosive and everything you’d want in a space opera!

Red Rising Pierce Browns

Red Rising– on the topic of space adventures, you can’t go wrong with Brown’s series! Also, gonna point out it’s ROMANS IN SPACE- what more could you ask for?! I live for this series and cannot wait to read the next one!!

skyward

Skyward– this is one of the newest books on the list and I’m SO EXCITED to talk about it! I loved the first instalment and have such high hopes for where it’s headed! I also can’t stop singing the praises of the lead- Spensa is one of the best protagonists I’ve read in a long time- she’s such a knockout character! After this, I think it’s high time I read more Sanderson!

one word kill

One Word Kill– this is another newer series- but fortunately (for us fans) there are two books out already (and another set to come out in autumn- *squeeess*!!!) I’m loving every second of this dungeons and dragons themed time travel romp- not just for the characters and plot but for the complexity! It’s definitely opened the portal for greater interest in time travel books!

dark matter

Dark Matter– now this is quite similar with its time travel theme- and yet it’s handled so differently- it really does represent how multi-versed this subject is! And that leads me onto why sci fi is so great in the first place: there’s endless potential for something new out there!

So, what do you think about this list? Are you tempted to try any gateway sci fi? Have you got any books of your own to recommend? Let me know in the comments!