Twisty Stories Where You Won’t Guess the Ending…

orangutan list

After finishing up the Impossible Times trilogy, I felt like sharing some more books with UNEXPECTED and EPIC endings! Don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers, but these are some of the most twisty books I’ve ever read:

we were liars

We Were Liars– I have to admit, I was lulled into thinking the BIG TWIST had happened. When it comes- *oof*- it hits you right in the gut. Annnd I won’t say anymore for fear of ruining it… Another one I can’t talk much about…

poison chris wooding

Poison– one of the *best* things about Wooding’s fairy tale is how unexpected the twists are. It’s such a fresh and interesting and unique tale! (in fact, I’d argue there’s still nothing else like it, even though this is over 15 years old at this point!)

evelyn hardcastle

The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle- gotta say this Groundhog Day murder mystery is pretty darn unusual. Even better, this is the kind of book where the conclusion really makes the whole story! I for one never could’ve guessed where this was heading.

death of mrs westaway

Death of Mrs Westaway- what’s funny is I came close to guessing the outcome here, yet the author tricked me into thinking I’d got it wrong. Well played, Ware. Speaking of killer mysteries…

murder-on-the-orient-express-agatha-christie

Murder on the Orient Express– of course, this list would have been incomplete without Christie! And, as anyone who’s read her work knows, her endings are to die for!

the young elites

The Young Elites– this has a very different kind of heart-stopping ending. Most impressive though is how it takes the series a completely thrilling and different direction.

thief

The Thief– I really enjoyed this super-smart first instalment in the Queen’s Thief series. I did guess a few of the twists, but I still didn’t get everything and, in this case, I felt a supreme sense of satisfaction seeing how it all comes together.

six of crows

Six of Crows– another super twisty series is the Six of Crows duology. And while the series ender is *emotional* I had to pick this cos of how it turned the tables righhhht when you think you’re safe.

golden son

Golden Son– this entire series was another wild ride- but the reason I picked the ending for the second one is because *WHOA*- it very nearly killed me! Needless to say, I had to grab the next one as soon as possible! (if you try this series, fair warning, make sure you have the finale close to hand!!)

emperor of thorns

Emperor of Thorns– as a series ender, this is so satisfying. Exciting and bold and… I really can’t tell you anything else about it! All I’ll say is I never would’ve expected that!

And on that note… have you read any of these? Do you agree with me? And what books did you find so terrifically twisty that you couldn’t guess the ending? Let me know in the comments!

Incendiary Historical Fiction for Bonfire Night!

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

last kingdom

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

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

the king's general

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

homegoing

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

birdsong

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

private peaceful

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

salt to the sea

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

guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

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

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

daisy jones and the six

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

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

Classic Spooky Reads that *Gave Me the Shivers*

spooktacular reads

Hello all! Just a quick post today to celebrate spooktober! In the last year (and beyond), I’ve been reading quite a few classic spooky read and some of them really hit the spot (and by hit the spot, I mean made my blood run cold, freaked me out and made me duck under my duvet for cover!) Here’s some books you may have heard of that really live up to the hype:

we have always lived in a castle

We Have Always Lived in a Castle– oh man, Shirley Jackson reallllly nailed the creepy vibes with this one. The mystery builds and builds and you don’t get total closure… which is exactly how it should be in the best scary stories! Speaking of which…

turn of the screw 2

Turn of the Screw– this is one of the *best* gothic tales I’ve ever read and there are multiple ways to read it. Ambiguous, brilliantly written and so terrifying I had to turn on my big lights so I could finish it!

the woman in black

The Woman in Black– ooh this one was freaky! This ghost story will definitely keep you up at night. An unsettling mist descends from the moment I turned the first page and doesn’t let up until long after you’ve turned the last. I’m just hoping she never makes an appearance in my life…

rebecca

Rebecca– on the note of enigmatic women, the titular character is too dead to make an appearance in this book, yet that doesn’t stop her making her presence felt 😉 This book has a hint of the gothic and is a wonderfully atmospheric read!

haunting of hill house

Haunting of Hill House– this was another solid book from Shirley Jackson and perfect if you’re too chicken to check out the Netflix version (like me 😉)

wieland

Wieland– this is a weird book… and yet isn’t that perfect for this time of year? A strangely captivating gothic tale, I was taken aback the first time I read it and it still haunts me to this day.

confessions

Confessions of a Justified Sinner– this mad little Scottish classic is a hidden gothic gem and guaranteed to take you to a dark place… which of course meant I had to include it 😉

frankenstein

Frankenstein– in many ways, this isn’t as scary as the other stories on this list. While it does venture into the subject of monsters, it’s more about humanity and hubris and the terrible things we’re capable of… so in many ways it’s the scariest book on this list by far.

jekyll and hyde

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde– coming back to London, this classic tale is pure entertainment and a sign that sometimes the darkest creatures can be closer to home than we think…

And on that note, I’ll be bringing this list to an end… *MWHAHAHAHA*! Don’t know if that’s the most appropriate place for a “MWHAHAHAHA”… Moving swiftly on! Have you read any of these? Do you love any classic scary stories? Let me know in the comments!

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!

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…

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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.

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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!