Fun, frothy and fantastical reads for when you’re in need of a distraction!

orangutan list

Granted, that title has doubtless got you thinking about *that thing going on outside*. A bit like playing “the game” (we’ve all just lost the game!) Even so, I think we could all do with a break from impending doom life at the moment- which is why I wrote this list of the ultimate distracting reads! No way you can focus on anything other than turning these pages…

crown of feathers

Crown of Feathers– a book about phoenixes, because WE WILL RISE FROM THE ASHES! (or all go down in flames… 😉)

shadow of the fox

Shadow of the Fox– but if you want to throw yourself into even more mythological, why not take a trip to Iwagoto? See if you can spot some tricksy kitsune along the way…

six of crows

Six of Crows– on the note of tricksters, the dregs will look after you if you’re looking to score (and doubtless pick your pocket on the way 😉)

to kill a kingdom

To Kill a Kingdom– if you need something else with a bit of an edge, then I always recommend deep-diving into this Little Mermaid retelling. No doubt this book siren song is calling to you right now 😉

the young elites

Young Elites– of course, talking of dark YA fantasy, I can scarcely neglect this beauty. Sharp and a little different, it has one of my favourite heroines in the genre.

thief

The Thief– on the note of protagonists I love, Gen’s perspective makes this book a real hidden gem. Personally, I do only recommend the first one, but fortunately it works as a standalone, so you can’t go wrong!

vicious

Vicious– ahh this is my *go to* book if you need something you absolutely cannot put down. This supervillains story is guaranteed to keep you on your toes.

renegades

Renegades– take flight into a world of heroes and villains! With great characters and a riveting romance, I was gripped from the start (incidentally I’m going to be taking my own advice with this one, cos I’ve just ordered the third in the series and will be jumping into the action again soon 😉)

Red Rising Pierce Browns

Red Rising– for something a bit gutsier and adult, you could try this take on Romans in space! (which I am recommending for the millionth time because it’s amazing!)

scythe

Scythe– now I don’t know about you, but beyond entertainment, I’m also craving some depth, and this high concept dystopia is cutting edge in that regard. There are ideas here I’ve not seen in YA before- or dare I say- even in adult!

one word kill

One Word Kill– and if you want mind-blowing, mathematically inspired time travel, then I have the series for you. Dramatic and character-driven, you can whizz through this at the speed of light!

And that’s all for now! Do you agree with my choices? And- more than ever I need your advice- what fantastical books would you recommend for distraction? Let me know in the comments

Hyped Books I’ll Never Read – Spring Cleaning My TBR

orangutan list

Usually I’d never say never, but we are in the End Times- JK! JK! This is a promise to myself- life’s too short- let’s see if I can keep to it.

cursed child

Cursed Child– starting with a book that needs no introduction! When this came out, I picked this up in a book shop and I was pretty unimpressed. I then went and spoiled myself for the plot… annnd I’m glad I didn’t try to read it. Apart from graverobbing the original series, it’s just doesn’t sound like a good story to me.

testaments

Testaments– in case you didn’t see my ranty unpopular opinions post on books I don’t like that everyone loves, I’m no fan of Handmaid’s Tale. I’m not opposed to reading more Atwood- she’s an impressive writer- but I’m not giving this series another try- sorry!

go set a watchman

Go Set a Watchman– this was another BIG RELEASE that I was cautious about and then decided to just read a plot synopsis in advance… and it sounds worse than Cursed Child!! I cannot fully express my fury that this book ruined Atticus Finch’s character- but let’s just say it made me go bananas! To Kill a Mockingbird is a personal favourite and I don’t care how this monstrosity came about- I’m not reading it.

normal people

Normal People– this is the toughest one so far, because while I didn’t like Conversations with Friends, I’ve heard that people usually like one and not the other. So, I am tempted to see if I can find out what the fuss is about this author… and yet, something about her writing style just didn’t gel with me last time and I don’t want to risk it.

raven king

The Raven King– I’ll admit, I was weak and read the first Foxhole Court book after I was to avoid it. I’ve not heard from anyone that shares my views on the first one that it gets better- I’ve got to stay strong and not read it (as much as my eye is drawn to it like watching a car crash…)

chain of gold

Chain of Gold– this is less about the specific book and more that I just don’t plan to read any new Cassandra Clare book. It’s nothing personal, I’ve just outgrown her world and stories that always end up being exactly the same (okay, maybe it is a little personal 😉)

lady's guide to petticoats and piracy

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy– as you may know I was pretty disappointed with Gentleman’s Guide, so as much as the title appeals to me, I just don’t see any reason to continue the series. Plus I wasn’t a fan of Felicity’s character in the first one- I doubt I want to read an entire book about her!

infinity son

Infinity Son– when Silvera announced he was publishing a fantasy book, I was intrigued and a little excited. I’ve enjoyed his books and I’m always up for some fun fantasy. Alas- when I read the blurb, I wasn’t enamoured. The premise just doesn’t light my fire and I could see the twists a mile off (something that reviews have since confirmed). I think it might leave me a bit heated, so I’m gonna give it a miss.

And that’s all for now! Do you think I’ve made any big mistakes with this list? Or do you have any books you *absolutely will not* read? Let me know in the comments!

Some Fun Alternative History I Actually Like

orangutan list

As I mentioned the other day- I do like a fair amount of alternative history- which is why I thought I’d share a quick list today!

american royals

American Royals– an alternative history where the Washingtons set up a 250-year dynasty? Yes please! Plus, *bonus points* for all the romance and drama!

my lady jane

My Lady Jane– you guys know how much I love this fun and totally off-the-wall take on Lady Jane Grey. It doesn’t give a hoot about historical accuracy- but at the same time it really manages to cleverly embrace the past- and I love that about it!

what the wind knows

What the Wind Knows– I mentioned this in my last post- because yeah, it’s not super realistic to time travel back to the fight for Irish independence… but it is entertaining as heck!

V_for_vendettax

V For Vendetta– a hallmark dystopic graphic novel, this gives us a view of what a totalitarian Britain might look like.

noughts-and-crosses

Noughts and Crosses– an old one, but a good one- Blackman’s now classic YA series reimagines racial division, intertwining the story with reflections on history and star-crossed lovers.

diviners

Diviners– for something a bit more fantastical, I’m thoroughly enjoying the Diviners series (I’m up to book 2). Set in a more magical and spookier 1920s New York, this is one hell of a wild ride! Also, I’ve recently been listening to the audiobook version and I can’t recommend it enough!

city of masks

City of Masks– sticking with the fantasy, the Stravaganza series gives us a taste of Renaissance Italy, as teens step from one world to the other. What I really like about this series is how it allows each of the characters to grow and come to understand their own issues through their journeys.

ten thousand doors of january

Ten Thousand Doors of January– thinking about other portal fantasies featuring historical elements, this more recent release springs to mind, for the way it balances modern sensibilities whilst maintaining a degree of authenticity. I especially liked the way the otherworldly element became an extended metaphor for finding your place in the world.

missperegrinecover-1

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children– not always a popular book, because it is highly unusual, I stand by how fascinating a take this is on the holocaust, imagining WW2 through the metaphor of monsters and peculiarities.

Have you read any of these? Do you like them? Do you have any alternative history books you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!

My Favourite (Chill) Fairy Tale Retellings

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

snow child

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

bear and the nightingale

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

wolf in the whale

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

to kill a kingdom

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

hazel wood

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

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

Just *Some* of the Incredible Books I Read in 2019…

Before we get to my top ten, I always like to do a little teaser to share some of the other amazing books I read this year. All of these are TOP BANANA- so they deserve some love and attention! Here are just a few of my reading highlights from the year…

Aurora Rising and Cruel Prince were excellent series openers. Soul of the Sword got me excited to read more! Holy Sister and Crowfall were both excellent ways to wrap up a series. Daisy Jones has been playing on my mind ever since I listened to it on audiobook. I got tried Laini Taylor’s delectable Night of Cake and Puppets. Woman in Black was *freaky*. Evelyn Hardcastle was one of the most unique books I’ve ever read! Woke made me laugh out loud! And I fell in love with Cait @Paper Fury’s books this year as well. And, of course, Secret History has been making reminisce ever since I read it.

And that’s all for now! Feel free to get excited about the top ten, because they rock!!

My Most Disappointing Reads of 2019

most disappointing 2019

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

number 9

behind her eyes

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

number 8

gentleman's guide to vice and virtue

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

number 7

immortal reign

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

number 6

queen of air and darkness book

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

number 5

wonder woman

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

number 4

bridget jones's diary

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

number 3

conversations with friend

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

number 2

an inspector calls

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

number 1

atlas shrugged

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

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

Ranking Harry Potter Books!

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

Harry_Potter_and_the_Order_of_the_Phoenix

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

Harry Potter and the deathly hallows

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

harry potter and the half blood prince

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

goblet of fire

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

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_Cover

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

harry potter and the chamber of secrets

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

Harry_Potter_and_the_Prisoner_of_Azkaban

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

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