Finales that disappointed me

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We all know what it’s like: the first flushes of love as we fall for a new series, waiting with baited breath for the next instalment, feeling our heart pound as we near the end… only to feel nothing but an anti-climax. Nothing is more disappointing to a bookworm than a series ender we didn’t love. For me, whether I love a series for eternity can come down to those final pages- so, it’s a lot of pressure, but it’s gotta be made to count. As much as I’ve raved about series endings I enjoy– and more than once!- there are unfortunately plenty that have let me down:

kingdom of ash book cover

Kingdom of Ash– so I’m going to start with one that was far from terrible. In fact, I even enjoyed it for the most part when I read it and had some satisfaction when I finished. AND YET oddly enough when I look back on this, I’m disappointed with how it turned out. Because *spoiler alert* this is the kind of story where all the main characters wear plot armour and only expendable characters die. Despite all the explosions, there was no fireworks and consequently no spark for me. It relied on a series of “eh whatever” plot conveniences that have niggled away at me over time. It leaves me with an empty feeling when I think about it. I will say this could just be a case of me outgrowing a series- yet I can’t help but feel a pang when I think of this series. As much as I devoted time to it, I’ve no desire to reread it and have since unhauled my books… and to me, that’s immensely disappointing.

queen of air and darkness book

Queen of Air and Darkness– this was another book I liked less and less over time AND is another book that put me off a series. In this case, I blame the book. It was just designed to bridge the gap between this and another (clearly more important) series. It was slow and exhaustingly repetitive and made the entire series redundant. I’m annoyed that I ever wasted my time on it.

Breaking_Dawn_cover

Breaking Dawn– as much as I will say I think people are too harsh about Twilight, this book was a trashfire. Aside from all the long-winded and anti-climactic elements, this book has a grown man fall in love with a baby?!?! WHO SIGNED OFF ON THAT IDEA?! Ugh, even all these years later, I still wish I could get that ending out of my head. I rue the day teenage me ever picked up a book on sparkly vampires, because I should’ve known it was only going to be downhill from there.

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows

Deathly Hallows– yep, I was one of those teens that was disappointed with this ending. Largely because I didn’t like the copycat elements from Aslan in Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (…plus a whole bunch of other complaints over the years, which made me develop a complicated relationship with Harry Potter). Now, while I still don’t think it’s the perfect ending, I will say I have (just about) reconciled with my old mate Harry Potter. I think I can get on the same page with this ending now… but I’ll never love it.

shadow study

Shadow Study– I loved where the poison study series started, however hated where it ended up. It went from something startlingly unique to just another generic fantasy- and I can’t quite forgive it for that.

final warning maximum ride

The Final Warning– another series that took off and soared to great heights… before ultimately getting shot down and tumbling to its doom. I get the feeling the author had no idea where it was heading- cos this was just blatantly bizarre. Oh, and in this case, I found out this wasn’t the *final* finale… but let’s be real, I’m never going to read on.

ashes to ashes

Ashes to Ashes– another waste of a series where I felt like the promises were left unfulfilled. Unlike the endings I’ve complained about for being too kind, by contrast I felt this was far too much of a punishing end.

inkdeath

Inkdeath– I loved the concept of Inkheart, but this was just not an ending I enjoyed. Fortunately, unlike a lot of the other books on this list, the first book can be enjoyed in its own right as a standalone.

immortal reign

Immortal Reign– this was wayyy too easy an ending. I know it sounds callous (cos it is) but I prefer my endings to feel like they count and this didn’t.

our dark duet

Our Dark Duet– it’s not just super long series that I’ve dedicated my time to that can disappoint- this duology held a lot of promise in the concept, but I did not like where this went. I particularly disliked the shift in villains. Above all, it felt rushed and unsatisfying.

queen of ruin

Queen of Ruin– ditto with this duology. The more I look back on this, the more frustrated I am that this took such a strong start and let it fizzle out. Somehow this simultaneously managed to be both stuffed with fluff and cut to the quick too fast. Worst of all, the character work was lacking. It decidedly ruined the series for me.

And that’s all for now- thankfully! Have you read any of these? Do you agree or disagree? And what series disappointed you by the end? Let me know in the comments!

Series I can’t bring myself to finish and books I cannot bring myself to start!

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A long while ago, I saw a fantastic post by Ali over on I Wuv Books about series she cannot bring herself to finish. I was inspired to follow in her footsteps… Only, I have to admit, I don’t have so many open-ended series. It’s not just because I’m a series finisher- but because I’m getting happier to quit series I’m not loving. So, in order that this list has a little more substance, I decided to include books I’m scared to start as well. Time to take it away:

shepherd's crown

Discworld– starting with the big confession (and the big reason I wanted to make this post): I cannot bring myself to finish Discworld. Guys, I basically have Shepherd’s Crown and a couple of others left… and I can’t do it. I’m not emotionally ready for it to be over! In fact, I’ve made up my mind to reread my favourites before I pick up the last one.

final-empire

Mistborn– so, I *loved* Final Empire when I read it a few years back… then instantly heard the second one wasn’t as good. I hesitated to pick it up (partly cos I’d just had an emotionally scarring experience with a different series, where the second one let me down, and the third still wasn’t out…) Now it’s been *ages* and I can’t believe I haven’t finished this series- even though I hear from no end of sources that it ends well! (and I own the rest!) Again, I don’t want to make excuses, but I would rather to reread the first one before making my way to the end.

secret commonwealth

Secret of the Commonwealth– this is another where I’ve heard *not such great things* about it. Plus, the final one isn’t out yet, which makes me slow off the mark (…not that this excuses me much, since I’ve owned this book close to a year now and it’s my very last unread physical book).

goldenhand

Goldenhand– this is a bit of an unusual one, because here Garth Nix resurrected one of *my all time favourite* series. I *adore* Abhorsen, so I would love to savour this addition. Yet, it’s also been such a long while that I think a reread refresher would be helpful! (and also thoroughly enjoyable 😉)

last kingdom

Last Kingdom– I’m really torn about continuing with this series- because while I liked reading the first couple of books, I do feel like I’m enjoying the TV series more and don’t want to read spoilery content. That said, I would like to at least catch up to where the show is at. Plus, what if Netflix cancels it? Then I’ll definitely want to read on!

princess bride

Princess Bride– gosh I love the movie so much, even though I’ve owned the kindle edition for *ages*, and even though the idea of not liking it is inconceivable… I’m still scared to pick it up!

gardens of the moon

The Gardens of the Moon– for this one, it just comes down to the fact that there’s SO MUCH HYPE. I’ve been burned by older fantasy series before and I’m worried I won’t enjoy it… but even more worrying is if I love it, because then there’s a helluva lot of books to get through! #BookwormProblems- amiright?! 😉

And that’s all I’ve got for now! Do you have any series you’re scared to start or finish? Or just books you’ve been putting on the backburner? Let me know in the comments!

Summery Romance Recommendations! Lots of Fun and Fluffy Reads!

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Yes, it’s summer (I know, I can’t believe it either!) so that means I’m whipping out some romance books and looking to catch me some sun! (which, fortunately, has its hat on and is coming out to play- even in the UK!)

unhoneymooners

Unhoneymooners– who doesn’t like a bit of hate to love? This book was a trip on a number of levels and had me thoroughly entertained!

worst best man

Worst Best Man– another book I read not long ago, this also features enemies to lovers. And boy does this couple have reasons to dislike each other… which makes it all the more fun!

When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi– this is in the hate-to-love vein, since it starts out as quite a one-sided affair. But it certainly heats up over the course of the book!

ps i like you

PS I Like You– this book relied pretty heavily on miscommunication, but let me say this clearly: I really liked this book. It left me with a big, dopey smile on my face.

Sisterhood_of_the_Traveling_Pants_book_cover

Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants– an old ’un, but a good ’un! If you’re craving summery feels, with all kinds of relationships, then this is the series for you! Plus it’ll feed your wanderlust- and on that note…

love and gelato

Love and Gelato– a sweet, summery read set in Italy- this has all the right ingredients for a top-notch romance!

with the fire on high

With Fire on High– speaking of delicious reads, I read this recently and couldn’t get enough of it! I practically devoured this unique contemporary about an aspiring chef!

the boy who steals houses

The Boy Who Steals Houses– as with the last one, this leans a little away from romance, focusing more on family… (luckily though there is still some love in the air and ach-gosh-darn it’s so adorable!!)

second chance summer

Second Chance Summer– I know, I know, I’ve mentioned this book so many times before… that’s just cos it’s such a fab summer’s read! Just make sure you have some tissues handy! And with that in mind…

song-of-achilles

Song of Achilles– oh boy this’ll make you weep. While perhaps not as obviously summery as the other books on this list, I do feel the setting of Ancient Greece and Troy gives it that summer feel. Plus, the romance gets a little heated 😉

heartstopper 1

Heartstopper– and finally ending on something super-cute to cleanse the palate. These graphic novels are a light and delightful romance read!

And that’s all I’ve got for now! Have you read any of these? Do you plan to? And do you have any romance recommendations for me? I’m dying to hear them, so let me know in the comments!

Great books I don’t talk about often- a slightly summery edition!

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I don’t know about you, but I tend to go on a lot about the same old favourites again and again, because, well, they’re my favourites. Yet this means I often don’t talk about all the other books I enjoyed. This was one of those Top Ten Tuesday topics that I missed… and am deciding to do months later, cos why not? 😉 It should never be too late to revisit a topic or books you enjoyed- and with that in mind, let’s get right into my first choice:

brideshead revisited

Brideshead Revisited– it’s been a while since I paid a call to Brideshead and that was remiss of me. A nostalgic read, much of the story takes place over a single summer before the onset of war. The novel has a note of both indulgence and impending tragedy.

persepolis

Persepolis– okay, other than the climate of Iran, this doesn’t have much that relates to summer, BUT this memoir set around the revolution and its aftermath is such a powerful book and I definitely don’t talk about it enough!

summer that melted everything

Summer That Melted Everything– another historical setting, this time focusing on the AIDs crisis, the novel has elements of magical realism and an unusual plot. Also, the writing is *on fire*.

summer of impossible things

Summer of Impossible Things– another magical realism story with exquisite prose, this tells the story of leaping across time to save someone you love.

astonishing colour of after

The Astonishing Colour of After– I will admit, this has very rich, purple prose. Yet there is a lot that is *astonishing* about this summery read, as it evokes strong feelings of grief. Plus, it strongly ties culture to character development and world building- which I loved!

bridge to terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia– another book about loss, this is phenomenally moving and great for both children and adults. Also, the imaginative world of Terabithia and the evocative feel of childhood in the story gives me strong summer vibes.

list of cages

List of Cages– I don’t know why, but contemporaries just work for me in the summer. Plus, I’m genuinely surprised I haven’t mentioned this book much before! This was an emotional and beautiful book.

aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe– another beautiful book that I can’t believe I don’t talk about more (I’m actually really shocked about it- cos I’ve not even mentioned it once before). Lyrically written, this coming of age romance definitely gets heated. And it doesn’t hurt that a lot of this takes place in summer- which makes it perfect for this list 😉

what if it's us

What If It’s Us– rom coms also really work for me in summer- and this book is a great one for that! With some fantastic characterisation from both authors and some strong subplots, this delivers on some showstopping cuteness! I will admit this does have a tinge of sadness to it- yet ultimately, I was happy with the ending.

nomad partridge

Nomad– I wanted to end on a more joyous note, which is why I chose this comedic parody of a celebrity going on a ramble… which it’s absolutely the weather for!

And that’s all for now! I’ll definitely come back to this topic- I have so many more to talk about! But for now- I want to know, have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them? And do you also forget to talk about some of the great books you’ve read? Let me know in the comments!

The Very Best Books About Books and Stories Within Stories

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One of my absolute favourite tropes in books is stories within stories and today I’m gonna share some of my faves!

NeverendingStory1997Edition

The Neverending Story– I don’t talk about how much I *love* this book often enough. This fantasy does more than take the reader on a journey through a story- it brings life to the idea of falling in love with reading.

fahrenheit-451

Fahrenheit 451– starting with a sizzling read about how books can set you free, this is easily one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.

guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society– this heartfelt story tells of how books can bring people together in the darkest times.

book thief

The Book Thief– clue’s in the title 😉 One thing I love about this book (and there’s a lot to love) is how it shows the redemptive power of books. What starts as book thievery soon becomes so much more- it becomes a reversal of the quote: “Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn human beings too”.

shadow of the wind

Shadow of the Wind– this is more than a mystery- it’s a mystery that revolves around a book. A love affair with a book that starts in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, this is an utterly unique tale that’s perfect for any reader.

broken things

Broken Things– likewise, this is a mystery. Yet, in this case it’s a fundamentally personal story of how you can be bonded through a shared narrative and how you can grow up with an idea. The book itself is woven so tightly with the fictional novel that you’ll scarcely know where one begins and the other ends.

hazel wood

Hazel Wood– another case of a fictional collection of stories, here we get to explore these complex gothic fairy tales. Though written for this book, the Hinterland stories have their own authenticity. They are, in their own right, cleverly constructed and rich in meaning.

ten thousand doors of january

Ten Thousand Doors of January- here, the book within the book has a special purpose. It opens up worlds within worlds. What’s special here is how it adds another layer to an already layered tale. Ultimately, these stories mean more than you might first realise.

eliza and her monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters– I’m changing things up with a web comic that marries fantasy and reality. Eliza is a special book for many reasons- not least the fun illustrations. What I really liked was how this comic allows more themes to enter the story- including mental health awareness and how the internet can collide with the outside world.

radio silence

Radio Silence– in this generation defining book, the fictional show brings thematic depths and creates conflict. It’s a brilliant way to use a story within a story.

words in deep blue

Words in Deep Blue– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is so much more than a regular contemporary. Using references to books, characters grow and connect within the story… leading us to connect with them in turn.

reading lolita in tehran

Bonus: Reading Lolita in Tehran– thinking of other books that bring people together, this memoir talks about a book club in Tehran. I read this recently and really liked both the analyses and how the books can intersect with life experience.

And that’s all for now! What are your favourite stories within stories? What books within books have a special meaning for you? Let me know in the comments!

Books Featuring Kindness – Mental Health Awareness Week

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We’re moving into mental health awareness week and I have to confess it’s a subject that’s been on my mind lately (tbh not something I typically talk about, but let’s just say I was doing ok… and then a global pandemic came along and laughed in my face!). And with the theme this year being kindness, I thought it was a worthy subject to highlight in books. Now is a time, more than ever, that we could do with a little bit more kindness in our lives!

wonder

Wonder– an impactful story that focuses on friendship and kindness. I love how this isn’t just one individual’s struggle for acceptance, it’s about other people learning to be accepting.

stargirl

Stargirl– a story that seems to be about first crushes and friendship, it ends up being so much more.

anne-of-green-gables

Anne of Green Gables– what I love about this is not only how it begins with an act of kindness, but how it continues to assert the importance of kindness across the series and has one of the most good-natured heroines in literature.

the morning gift

The Morning Gift- Eva Ibbotson’s characters are fundamentally kind- some of the kindest I’ve read. So, of course I knew I had to include one of her books. The reason I chose this is not just for the heroine’s unwavering goodness, but because in this case, the love interest’s act of kindness is not just generous, but a lifesaving act.

hitler's canaries

Hitler’s Canaries– similarly, this is a story of lifesaving kindness. Hitler’s Canaries is an inspirational and incredible story of enduring humanity- and it’s based on real events. If you are looking for a positive WW2 story, then this is perfect.

goodnight mister tom

Goodnight Mister Tom– this evacuation story is so moving on multiple levels, not least because it is about finding love and support in an unexpected place.

guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society– I have such a deep love for this book, because it shows people coming together and supporting each other in the darkest times. It is about going above and beyond for the sake of humanity- and that is simply wonderful.

eleanor oliphant is completely fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine– I thought this was going to be about romance, but it’s a lot more about the redeeming nature of friendship- and it is all the more beautiful for it.

a man called ove

A Man Called Ove– if you told me about Ove, a crotchety and depressed old man, I’d expect I wouldn’t like it. Yet, for its really dark subject matter, it actually ends up being a surprisingly redemptive read, showing how we can save each other from ourselves. In this heartrending tale, we can see what we owe to each other.

christmas carol

Christmas Carol– speaking of redemption, Dicken’s classic is one of the most famous examples. Here is a story about how realising that human connection is more important than profit- and that’s perfect for any time of the year.

five people you meet in heaven

The Five People You Meet in Heaven– surprisingly for its subject matter, I found this a light and life-affirming read, showing the positive impacts we can have on each other’s lives- without even knowing it!

before I fall

Before I Fall– more than just a contemporary, this was an unexpected story for me. It showed how people can have hidden depths, how friendships can be more important than we realise and how (ultimately) it is vital that we do the right thing.

eat pray love

Eat Pray Love– this is more than just a physical journey around the globe and I got a lot more out of it than I expected. Yes, the author is giving and promotes positivity. Yet what I liked the most was how it was just as much about being kind to yourself, as others.

And I’ll end on that note! What did you think of these books? Do you plan to read them? And what are some of your favourite books featuring kindness? Let me know in the comments!

Book Characters I’d Love to Spend Isolation With… And Ones I Wouldn’t!

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Lately, I’ve been thinking not just about the books I want to read in lockdown, but who I might want to spend it with… and who I wouldn’t! When it came to the latter, I thought not just about villains, but the kind of characters who would get on my last nerve. Enjoy!

 

Best case scenario…

matilda books

Matilda– I mean, she’d be a really quiet house guest who just wanted to read. Bonus points for the fact she can fly me over some snacks with her mind!

bilbo baggins

Bilbo Baggins– cos he’s nice and chill and could provide plenty of food from his pantry.

night of cake and puppets

Zuzana– she’d make the best friend! Also, we can share our love of cakes. Speaking of…

lara jean covey baking

Lara Jean Covey– not only is she phenomenally sweet, she’s also an amazing baker and seems to have an endless supply of crafts. Oh, and she likes old romance movies. Basically, she’s the best person to be stuck indoors with!

witches greebo

Greebo– yes, he can be grumpy, but at least he doesn’t talk!

royal assassin

Nighteyes– are you sensing a theme? Just not sure I want to be around humans anymore!

mrs tiggy winkle

Mrs Tiggy Winkle– yeah, she’s prickly, but at least she’ll do my laundry!

cinderella cleaning

Cinderella– I’m not saying I’d make her do the cleaning… buuut maybe she could get some of those mice on board? Plus, she seems like a cheerful sort (though maybe she can tone down the singing a bit). On that note…

mark watney

Mark Watney– he’s the kind of person who can perk you up, even in the most dire situations!

magnus bane

Magnus Bane– cos he’s fun and he has magic and I’m in dire need of some entertainment! I’d sell my soul for it in fact! (tbh I was going to pick Satan, but I thought he might fob me off with an apple 😉)

Worst case scenario…

thewitches

The Grand Witch– she’d probably turn me into a mouse and get the other people to squash me.

dolores umbridge

Dolores Umbridge– Dolores company would be punishing at the best of times- but if we’re locked in a house together?! Oh hell no!

ramsay bolton

Ramsey Bolton– for obvious reasons. Actually, there’s a whole bunch of GOT characters that would fit on this list, but he’s the absolute worst.

mrs danvers

Mrs Danvers– not the kind of person I’d want to be cooped up with at the best of times- but under government-imposed quarantine?! I can practically hear her “go on, go outside and contract Covid-19, I know you want to…”

mr rochester

Mr Rochester– I don’t fancy spending quarantine in an attic!

Throne_of_Glass_UK

Celaena Sardothien– don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the anti-Celaena camp and found her entertaining in the books. BUT she’d get on my last nerve in lockdown! Just put away your weapons, stop showing off and sit your ass down!

selection

America Singer– she was basically already in isolation in Selection and we know how she acted: “ohhh who do I pick” *whine whine whine*

eclipse

Edward Cullen/Jacob Black/Bella Swan– all of them together, specifically.

alec d'urberville

Alec D’Urberville– just about the biggest perv on the planet. And on that subject…

wideacre

Beatrice Lacey– she’d probably get a ridiculous attachment to my house and try to kill me so she can take it off me (jokes on her, cos I’m renting!)

Okay this house is getting realllly crowded! I’d better stop! Do you agree or disagree with any of my picks? Who would you like to spend isolation with? Who would you hate?? Let me know in the comments!

Does My Taste Follow the Crowd? Discussing My Top Ten Highest Rated Books I’ve Read (And Beyond) – Inspired by Thoughts of a Reader

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Over on the *terrific* Thoughts of a Reader, I saw this brilliant post comparing her highest rated on Goodreads with her own ratings. It immediately got me thinking about whether my own taste lined up with the highest rated books I’d read. After my discussion on the Goodreads Choice Awards, I figured it could be a fun “does my taste follow the crowd 2.0”. Of course, what I soon discovered was that a lot of the same popular authors/series came up repeatedly, which skewed the results a little and is why I didn’t exactly stop at ten. Let’s get to it:

court of mists and fury

A Court of Mist and Fury– 4.65- I personally gave it 4/5, so I get it, but I also think this comes down to some very loyal fans (Maas *dominates* this list).

heartstopper 2

Heartstopper 2– 4.66- I gave it 4/5- and I definitely understand why this has a high rating. It promises cute and fun and romantic- and it delivers!

march 3

March book 3– 4.64- again, my rating was 4/5 bananas (this is becoming a trend). I found this whole series pretty moving and, given the subject matter, think the rating is deserved.

crooked kingdom

Crooked Kingdom– 4.60- I gave it *all the bananas*- it’s safe to say, I’m fully on board with this one.

kingdom of ash book cover

Kingdom of Ash– 4.60- hmm I have more reservations about this one. I gave it 3 ½bananas 3.5- I was pretty satisfied at the time, but I feel less so over time. Unfortunately, this was the kind of finale that made me fall out of love with the series a little bit.

CLOCKWORKPRINCESSCOVERSPECIAL2-265x400

Clockwork Princess– 4.58- my rating was 3/5, so I guess I’ve got to be one of the few people on the planet who didn’t love the resolution to the love triangle. That said, this is still my favourite of Clare’s series and I get the hype.

The_Wise_Man's_Fear_UK_cover

Wise Man’s Fear– 4.57- oof I’m not feeling this one, I only gave it 2/5 bananas. This sequel just didn’t work for me at all. *Fingers crossed* for the finale though.

queen of shadows

Queen of Shadows– 4.57- I liked this one (my rating was 5/5) though it wasn’t my fave (funnily enough, for all the Maas books on here, that one didn’t make the cut).

harry potter and the half blood prince

Half Blood Prince -4.57 -my rating was 5/5 bananas- which kinda surprises me cos I had some issues (actually it surprises me even more that, by this reckoning, this is seemingly the most popular Harry Potter book? The next highest rated is Goblet of Fire and tbh I get that more… which I guess is just my own bias showing).

heartstopper 1

Heartstopper 1– 4.57- as with the second one, I gave it 4/5 bananas 😊

And because there were so many repeats, I decided to do some honorary mentions for high rated books where I get the hype:

Becoming– 4.55- I gave it 4 and completely get the hype (especially for the audiobook). It was very insightful, though I wanted more from it in some areas (but I get why there were gaps).

Maus– 4.55- totally worth the hype OMG- one of the best memoirs of all time!

House of Hades– 4.55- this might be my favourite Rick Riordan books!

Storm of Swords– 4.54 definitely the best Game of Thrones book- so I get it!

Skyward– 4.54- Sanderson is another popular author on GR and I *totally* get it! All the bananas!! And beyond!

In Order to Live– 4.48- another brilliant memoir!

Winter of the Witch– 4.51- this is one of the most satisfying series enders I’ve ever read! Safe to say, if you liked Bear and the Nightingale, you’ll likely love this.

To conclude, I’d have to say my taste doesn’t deviate much from the crowd. Sure, I may not always rate something as high and perhaps would’ve loved to see more favourites make it on here, but I rarely seem to disagree entirely.

So, if you’ve read these books, do you agree with the high ratings? Do you find your taste generally follows the crowd? Or are you a total rebel? Maybe you don’t even use Goodreads… 😉 Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

(Claustrophobic) Thrillers to Help you Escape!

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I don’t know about you, but I’m lapping all the lists about *distracting books* to read right now- so I thought I’d throw (another) one into the mix! Today, I’m going for some claustrophobic thrillers to help you escape- let’s get stuck in!

the guest list

The Guest List– this was pure escapism and I loved it! A bunch of people (most of whom have beef with each other) stuck on an island together at a wedding- that’s an unmissable event! 😉 And speaking of feeling trapped…

lock every door

Lock Every Door– just about anything by Sager will do! But for some reason, being cooped up, I find my mind drawn to this claustrophobic gothic (maybe it’s a case of schadenfreude- no matter how bad quarantine is- at least it’s not as bad as staying at the Bartholomew!)

death of mrs westaway

Death of Mrs Westaway– if you’re looking for something else with a gothic atmosphere, then look no further! I personally love this for how it takes inspiration from Rebecca, while not being a direct retelling. And it’s got some killer twists and turns to boot!

turn of the screw 2

Turn of the Screw– of course, if you want to go more of the classic route, then this is one of my favourites and the best scary story I’ve ever read (incidentally, Ware’s Turn of the Key is an excellent take on this, it just happens to have a trope for the final twist that I don’t like- but I still recommend it!)

the woman in black

The Woman in Black– likewise, this may be an older read, but it never fails to shock and chill readers to the core!

dark-places-book-cover

Dark Places– and if you can deal with going to a very dark place right now, then this is worth a look. Plus, it’s written by Flynn, so the writing’s top notch!

sometimes I lie

Sometimes I Lie– get tangled up in this for a few hours and I guarantee you’ll be transported to a very different kind of dark place. You’ll go on a journey through the dark recesses of the mind, until you won’t be able to trust your own interpretations. You’ll be stuck in someone else’s brain- and that person is likewise trapped in their own mind. I’m still not sure what to entirely make of it- but I know that it took me out of my own head for a bit and that’s always a good thing!

evelyn hardcastle

Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle- this one will transport you much further you think- into something of a supernatural realm (you’ll see once you get started!). This is a bit of a head spinner, so it’s not going to be for everyone and you’ll have to figure out for yourself what you make of this groundhog day murder mystery- but one’s thing for sure, you won’t be able to think about the real world until you get to the end of it.

the martian

The Martian– for more of an out of this world experience, you can’t go wrong with this surprisingly funny stuck-on-mars story. Now’s the perfect moment to lose yourself in this race against time!

big little lies

Big Little Lies– closer to home, this murder mystery will take you to a (seemingly) quiet seaside town. Utterly absorbing, this was more than a simple thriller to me. I felt like I bonded with the characters and really entered their world.

godfather

The Godfather– I may be one of the few people on the planet who happens to like the book as much as the movies, but there’s a reason for it! It’s a delightfully distracting read and completely took me out of my comfort zone.

nemesis

Nemesis– this YA series combines a whole bunch of different thrills- amnesia, small towns, crime, a great BIG mystery… it’s got it all! If you’re looking for sheer entertainment, this’ll hit the spot!

So, have you read any of these? And what thrillers help you escape? I could definitely do with some recommendations right now! Let me know in the comments!

My Favourite Magic Systems

orangutan list

Okay it’s time for a little hocus pocus, cos I’m gonna be talking magic systems today. I was very much inspired by Merphy Napier’s video– which I *definitely* recommend, if you’re looking for hard magic systems (and excellent content in general) especially since I lean more towards soft systems. For some reason, the mysterious fantasy of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones have always appealed to me more (although, for various reasons, those magic systems didn’t quite make the list, soooo that was a quick honorary mention 😉). Also, there will be other notable series missing- either cos I’ve never read or didn’t get into the series enough to see it develop (don’t expect Wheel of Time for instance). Alrighty, *abracadabra* *allakhazam*, without further ado- onto the list!

final-empire

Mistborn– I’m starting off with one of the few hard magic systems on the list. I’ve only read a few of his books, but I can already state that Brandon Sanderson is a master at world building. Allomancy is an ingenious magic system, based around metals, and entirely convinced me of Sanderson’s skill in creating convincing fantasy.

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover

Harry Potter– not the most mature system, yet it still charms me to this day 😉 Whimsical and fun, there’s a reason this made a generation of children want to be witches and wizards!

red sister

Book of the Ancestor Trilogy– this is quite a straightforward system, with four inherited powers, yet it has some cool complexities to it. While it seems simple enough, what makes the magic system in the Book of the Ancestor series appeal to me is because of how characters can inherit one type of power. It especially works for me that Nona gets most of the abilities- yet not all. I won’t spoil anything, but this ends up playing into the chosen one trope in a very clever way.

assassins apprentice

Farseer Trilogy– I very much like the way Hobb layers up different types of powers, constantly expanding the magic and the world. However, I particularly like how it starts with a clear conflict for the main character’s magic, with Fitz inheriting both the socially acceptable Skill and the stigmatised Wit. That conflict works brilliantly within the plot.

name of the wind

The Kingkiller Chronicles– okay yes, this is completely a trend: I like having numerous systems in one book. In this series there’s two types: sympathy and naming. What I especially like in the Kingkiller Chronicles is how one system is hard (sympathy) and the other soft (naming), making them work together in tandem.

magician's guild

Black Magician– I could be putting this on here because I’m fuelled by nostalgia- but I don’t care, it’s my list 😉 As I said, I like layered systems- and this does that achieves that twice over! Firstly, because magicians have many skillsets they can learn. And secondly, because while the main system is a hard one, it also has a contrasting soft power (called Black Magic). I also really love the way this one works because it also pits the hard system (which is less powerful, but easier to control) against the soft one (which is more dangerous, yet also more powerful). I also appreciate how it develops across the course of the series.

diviners

Diviners– I’m a bit spellbound by this series at the moment. The basic concept is quite simple: there are Diviners who have powers that they’ve kept hidden from the rest of the world. What makes it special to me is how each book allows the characters to grow with their powers in each book. The fact that it’s not static makes it all the more exciting to me. While it’s quite simple, I very much appreciate how it pushes against the boundaries and increases its scope with the story. Also, pro tip, for full immersion, try the audiobook- it’s divine 😉

raven boys

The Raven Cycle– there are a few types of magic in this world, yet the one that really appeals to me is dream stealing- which is basically magic ever invented! For that reason, I particularly liked Dream Thieves (and to a lesser extent Call Down the Hawk), since that’s where it features most prevalently. Still it’s worth bringing up the whole series since, as I’ve mentioned, I do like my multiple magic systems 😊

And that’s all I’ve got for now! Do you agree with me about any of these systems? Do you have any you’d add? Let me know in the comments!