Truly MAJESTIC Reads Featuring Royalty – Some of my Favourite Books About Kings and Queens!

The Queen isn’t the only cool royal out there- fiction is full of kickass kings and queens. I’m gonna share a few of them with you today!

American Royals– turns out if America had royals, they’d be the biggest drama queens in the world and I’d be first in line to see the show 😉

My Lady Jane– the only way that the Tudors could be more fascinating is if they could all turn into animals at the drop of a hat… and that’s what this alternate history offers! Sit back, throw historical accuracy out the window and enjoy this royal romp.

I Coriander– another take on history that’s *not quite* what really happened… but if you ask me, this version of the restoration is better 😉

Cinder– what list about royals would be complete without a fairy tale retelling or two? And this sci fi retelling of Cinderella is tons of fun 😊 Speaking of retellings…

Thorn– I love this take on the goose girl, particularly because it shows us what truly regal qualities are.

Abhorsen– I just love how this book engages with the topic of legacy and inheritance and titles. Like the others in this series, it explores the coming of age theme in a really original and emotionally deep way.

Prince Caspian– I may have included this more for Aslan than the titular prince 😉 No one is more royal than a lion!!

Stardust– very much in the vein of a classic storybook royalty- and yet because it’s Gaiman it could never be called anything but unique.

Princess Bride– perfect if you’re looking for a classic swashbuckling tale, featuring kings, queens and (evil) princes (and yes, this is me saying I finally read it!! Hallelujah!)

Iron King– this is one of those stories that starts off with the typical “oh you’re secretly the daughter of the fae king”… but then it goes in a *very* unexpected direction. Don’t be fooled, this YA fantasy is tricksier than it lets on.

Cruel Prince– because not all princes are charming 😉 And yet sometimes when they’re cruel, they’re all the more endearing 😉

Prince of Thorns– on the subject of unpleasant royalty, Jorg really takes the crown! But that’s what makes his story truly grab you. 

To Kill a Kingdom– yeah this is the little mermaid, but wayyyy darker. Because in this version, the siren princess has to cut out the heart of princes… So if you want some more cutthroat royals, then this standalone is for you.

Game of Thrones– you win or you die as they say 😉 Frankly I’d rather take a dragon thousands of miles away from Westeros than sit on that very uncomfortable chair- however there’s clearly plenty of people prepared to fight it out for the pleasure. And my goodness is it fun to read about them doing so.  

The Shadows Between Us– this is a book about a girl who knows what she wants- and what she wants is to be queen… at any cost! A Slytherin love story to die for, this takes scheming royalty to a whole other level.

That went in a much darker direction than I anticipated! What books featuring royalty do you love? Let me know in the comments!

(Some of the) Best Quintessentially British Books to Read this Bank Holiday Weekend!

Yes, I did have to make a list like this because of the jubilee. We are all under strict instructions as British people to make a whole song and dance out of it- or we’ll find ourselves up on tower hill for treason 😉 Better jump into it- chop chop! 😉

Wind in the Willows– let’s be honest, this book is why we all think that the countryside is magical 😉 I for one always encounter talking toads when I’m out walking.

The Hobbit– apart from acting as a mythology for Britain, his books are also filled with the oddities and humour of this island.

Mort– Death eating a curry is the most quintessentially British thing change my mind 😉 Seriously though, Pratchett’s eccentric humour makes it a real winner.

Peter Pan– after all, in this country, we never grow up 😉

Harry Potter- because the best boarding school book is a *magic* boarding school book.  

Remains of the Day– reflecting more of a “classic” part of British culture, but either way this upstairs-downstairs drama definitely makes the cut.

Pride and Prejudice– Austen’s books are full of British charm and habits- but most of all she captures all the different types of people you’ll meet at parties over here. And if you think you’ve never met a Lady Catherine De Bourgh, I’m sorry to say you’re her 😉

Sense of an Ending– this is a new one for me, yet it absolutely captures a sense of Britishness (see what I did there 😉). Partly because it talks about class, but mostly because of how much of a downer it is 😉 (just kidding… sort of).

Oliver Twist– this list wouldn’t be complete without a Dickens book. And, don’t be fooled by the musical version, this one has some particularly gritty and grim elements.  

The Woman in Black– there’s got to be a hint of the gothic on this list- and what more fun than the spooky spectre of this story? 😉 Plus it makes me think of every small town I’ve visited after dark 😉

Armadale– mysterious, evocative and above all fun, this is perfect if you need an intense classic to sink your teeth into.

And that’s all I have for now! But of course, there could be so many more books on this list- what book is most quintessentially British for you? Let me know in the comments!

Great Reads Featuring the Great Outdoors – Travelling the World in Books!

Because we all love travelling vicariously through books 😉 And these are just some of the books that made me feel like I lost myself in the wilds of their pages.

Wild Silence- Iceland– evocative and steeped in history, this treads ancient paths from Cornwall to Iceland. And no one is quite like Winn at bringing landscapes to life. I could practically feel the earth beneath my feet as I went on a journey with this book.

Where the Crawdads Sing- North Carolina– here setting does more than providing backdrop for the plot, it elegantly becomes a part of the narrative, intrinsically linked to the mysteries, romances and character growth.  

East of Eden- Salinas Valley– there’s no disputing the beauty of Steinbeck’s descriptions. Personally they have always made me want to drop everything and see the landscape he speaks of for myself.

Return of the Native- Wessex– because no list about landscapes and the outdoors would be complete without a quick diversion into Hardy’s Wessex.

Island of the Missing Tree- Cyprus– Shafak is a recent discovery for me and I find her writing deliciously vivid. The way she captures the sights, smells and tastes of Cyprus made me long to go there.  

Journey to the River Sea- Brazil– captivating and fairytale-esque, Ibbotson’s writing can transport me anywhere- from Europe to Brazil… which is exactly what this book did.

Snow Child- Alaska

if you’re looking to cool off, this book is perfect. An enchanting tale set in Alaska, it draws on Russian mythology and creates a world of its own. A world you can step into merely by turning a page.

That’s all for now! Hope you enjoyed that quick jaunt! What books make you feel like you’re transported into the great outdoors? Let me know in the comments!

Books Set In Libraries!

Hello all! I have a really fun post today about books set in libraries- because you should all know by now that’s my happy place 😉 And I cannot resist picking up books set there!

Do Not Bring Your Dragon to the Library/There’s a Lion in the Library/Library Lion/The New LiBEARian– okay let’s start off by talking about the *amazing* trend of picture books set in libraries- cos I AM HERE FOR IT! Obviously libraries are just as fun and colourful and full of animals as these books make out 😉

Unseen Academicals– I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t also mention a Pratchett book. And while this is technically mostly set on a football pitch, it does feature the infamous library Unseen University and its library (and my favourite character the Librarian 😉).

Matilda– every book starring a bookworm character has to have a library in it somewhere, so of course Matilda’s lifelong love of reading and her journey to independence from her horrible family begins in a library.

Neverending Story– naturally, all good stories begin in a library- and so it is the case with the Neverending Story. This isn’t a typical fantasy- it is a quest to fall in love with reading.  

Sorcery of Thorns– an adventure in a magical library? YES PLEASE! This such a fun, escapist read for fans of YA fantasy 😊

Lirael– quieter than its predecessor, this coming-of-age fantasy is focused on a heroine who works in a library. And perhaps this is what makes it a more contemplative read.

Midnight Library– this life-affirming, soul-searching story features a very special library indeed. For every book in this library is a life the heroine could have lived if she’d made different choices. Written in Haig’s trademark poignant style, this is a unique exploration of what it means to have a life well-lived.  

Fahrenheit 451– perhaps this doesn’t have a library in the traditional sense, yet what is a library other than a collection of books? Especially when such a collection is strictly banned. This firecracker of a novel is a testament to the importance of books (and indeed libraries 😉)

Book Thief– another unconventional “library” that bears mentioning is the stolen collection of books in this story. Snatched from book burnings, these books become a lifeline in the face of death and destruction.  

Dear Fahrenheit 451– this collection of a librarian’s love letters and break up notes to books doesn’t just give you advice on what books to pick up (and which ones to avoid)- it is full of wonderful library anecdotes and gives the reader an insight into what goes on behind the scenes in the house of books. Plus, it’s also a double whammy for this list, as it’ll give you some more great books set in libraries to check out! (I may be planning to read some of them myself 😉)

That’s all… for now! I definitely want your suggestions- what are your favourite books set in libraries? And are you a fan of any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Confessions of a Library Assistant

Working in a library for a couple of years now has been a real eyeopener. There are so many things that I’ve learnt and really enjoyed doing- so I thought I’d share some of my trade “secrets” with you today 😉 Let’s take a peek behind the scenes and I’ll tell you some of the things I love (and don’t like so much) about working in a library.

#1 Whenever someone takes out a book like A Thousand Splendid Suns, my heart gives a little squeeze and I think “good choice”. I just love seeing great books go out and always think how lucky the person is to get to experience them for the first time!

#2 I love the process of suggesting a book, putting it on display and seeing it go out! The most recent “victim” of this was Ivies by Alexa Donne- it just made me so happy to see that teens are actually taking it out 😊  

#3 Of course, as much as I am inclined to promote books I like, I do (shocker) put books on display that I don’t like because I know other people will like them (I may be biased but I’m not that biased). The blog is where I show my personal taste.

#4 Let’s be real though- a lot of the time books just end up on displays cos they have a pretty cover 😉

#5 I have not read all the books. Ergo I cannot actually help you with all your super specific requests 😂 Especially if it’s horror- I’m gonna struggle to find you a recommendation there! Honestly, I think that the reader is the expert in their own taste, so I’m not keen in pushing people to read things they probably won’t like. And on that note…

#6 Please for the love of god be more specific when you ask for suggestions. Saying you like “anything” is never actually true- and I can tell when you wrinkle your nose at what I then suggest that you didn’t actually mean it.  

#7 As much as I enjoy conversations with readers, sometimes it is hard to be diplomatic! Often they can suggest things to me that I already know I didn’t like… and it’s hard not to tell them so (particularly when they’ve just told me they hate a personal fave). I (hope) I have mastered the art of smiling and nodding (though I doubt it 😂).

#8 Literally every job involving books is dangerous to bookworms. I am tempted by the new books. I am tempted by the returns. I am particularly tempted by the long waiting lists. So yes, even if I never thought I’d read a book, seeing a long queue of people reading it will pique my curiosity. The great thing is that I’ve found many great (and unusual) books this way… the only problem is my book addiction is getting out of hand!!

#9 Weeding (the process of deleting books) is simultaneously the saddest and most interesting jobs. I still haven’t quite been able to come to terms with saying goodbye to tatty, old books- even if it does help to know that this means making way for new books! Still, there are perks! Not only do you come across all kinds of weird and wonderful books that you might never have read (think Crap Days Out), but you get to put on your detective hat and find out what people are actually checking out over the years. Oh, and in my down time, I have read an entire book I wasn’t sure about deleting, before inevitably deciding that it totally made sense no one wanted to read it.

#10 Most of us prefer the bustle of a busy library and do not spend our days shushing people! Times have moved on a little bit 😉

#11 If you don’t have OCD before working in a library, let’s just say there’s a strong chance you will develop it… annnd I’m just gonna leave that statement at that 😂

#12 Annnd this one is just a “me” thing- but I like looking at people’s names. I won’t put any examples here (for obvious reasons) just know that if you have a cool name, I’ve probably clocked it 😉

#13 Picture books are the best. Obviously new books are one of the greatest joys of working in a library- you get to discover what’s new and of course borrow a ridiculous amount of them. What I didn’t expect, though, was the secret delight of finding colourful and playful new picture books in the pile. Because of this, it really opened up my eyes to what a delight picture books really are. Just look at these bad boys:

And that’s all for now! Hope you enjoyed that little insight into the inner-thoughts of library staff!  

Deliciously Dark Thrillers

As the sun comes out, I can’t help looking for darker books 😉 Psychological thrillers and sunshine are an odd delight. Of course, it’s hard to talk about these without spoilers, so I’m going to be light with my descriptions. Just know that if you’re looking for a good thriller to read this summer, then look no further.

What Lies Between Us– a locked in thriller, featuring a mother and daughter relationship gone *really* wrong. The warped perspectives and endless twists had me on the edge of my seat. I actually walked away from this one a little bit disturbed- you have been warned!  

The Family Upstairs– Jewell knows how to delve into the truly disturbing- and this one is the creepiest by far. Honestly, the family dynamic gets a little sick and twisted. I don’t recommend this for the faint of heart.

The Maidens– this takes dark academia to another level. The secrets in this one leave you feeling the cold.

The Ice Twins– it’s not just the location of this one that’s moody- but themes of loss that will chill you to the bone.

Sharp Objects– frankly, this one is graphic to the point where I felt queasy. This small town secrets story has a dark edge.

Home Before Dark– exploring the bleak truths of childhood trauma, this book won’t let you rest easy. It’ll keep you up long after dark.

Rock Paper Scissors– sometimes marriage is made in heaven… other times it’s made in hell. This one is the latter. If you’re looking for a romance that’s all sunshine and rainbows, I suggest you look elsewhere.

Sometimes I Lie– I didn’t know where I stood with this book. Getting stuck inside the narrator’s brain took me to a very dark place indeed. 

Exquisite– there’s something so intense about this book that made me obsessed… much like the stalker in this book 😉

You– speaking of stalkers, this unsettling read freaked me out all the more because the set up reminded me more of a rom com than a typical thriller… and that’s just horrifying!

What do you think of these books? Do you plan to read any of them? And what deliciously dark thrillers can you recommend? Let me know in the comments!

I Lied to You – All the Books I Promised I’d Give Away… But I Actually Kept!

Nearly two years ago I did my harshest unhaul yet and was really proud of myself for getting rid of a ton of books… Annnd then I decided to keep a bunch of them! 😅 While I was spring cleaning this year, I discovered a lot of them were still in storage and (clearly) I have little-to-no-intention of actually giving them away. I do think there are some in this secret stash I might get rid of some day… but it is not this day! 😉 Let’s discuss why I went back on my word, shall we?

Kingdom of Ash– okay I’m still pretty torn about this one. On the one hand, I didn’t like the lacklustre ending in this book and have consequently fallen out of love with the series. On the other hand, I do like a nice signed copy and the memories I have of going to the book event where I got it still excite me on some level. I’m just so undecided over whether I will get rid of this one day!

Apocalypse– again, this is a case of “it’s signed and I remember getting it signed”. Even if I never loved this book (heck I don’t even like it) I just can’t bring myself to get rid of it right now. Also, as I was going through these books, I had a weird urge to reread it and see if it has any merit that my teen-self missed… Although- with that in mind- I may actually need to get rid of this book to prevent myself from doing anything stupid 😉  

Blood Bones and Body Bits– yeahhh this is definitely a case of being overly sentimental with this one. HOWEVER, in my defence, it was my first ever signed book!! And let’s face it, the Horrible History/Horrible Science series still slaps (I may just give it to my nephews).  

Deenie– I kept for sentimental reasons. I LOVED Judy Blume books as a teen and I still have so much respect for her as a YA writer, doing so much to normalise what it’s like to go through puberty as a girl in particular. I’m holding onto the fond memories I have of reading all her books, so I won’t be letting go of this book for the time being.

Nemesis– I don’t feel remotely guilty about keeping these books (okay, maybe a little bit). At the time of the Great Unhaul (That Wasn’t Quite So Great) I said I was unsure about these ones. Turns out, I didn’t want to part with this series. I LOVED these books back when I read them. And sure, I might be older (though sadly not wiser), but I can’t seem to outgrow my love for this completely underrated YA series! I just had way too much fun with it!

And that’s all for now! I’m going to go and hang my head in shame and think about what I did! But I want to hear your thoughts before I hide away from the world. Have you ever changed your mind about an unhaul? Or do you think I’m being overly sentimental here? Let me know in the comments!  

Recent Reads That Fill Me With Joy!

Because we all need a little burst of happiness sometimes!

Get a Life, Chloe Brown– this is the book that inspired me to make this post! It’s the kind of fun, funny and sweet story I will always gravitate towards (just like how I like my love interests 😉).

Tweet Cute– I don’t talk about this book enough!! This hate-to-love YA is full of friends, family, romance… And most importantly: it comes with EXTRA CHEESE!

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry– okay yes, that title doesn’t sound joyous, but it’s filled with positive messages about hope and love and being truthful. I loved the way the characters come together as a family and find their place in this messy world of ours.

Anxious People– this may seem like an antsy novel about a bank robbery- and it’s a story that speaks to the intrinsic value of humankind. Believing in the basic humanity and goodness of us all, this inherent optimism is what makes this book memorable.

House in the Cerulean Sea– quirky and fun and uplifting, this is more than just a fantastical romance. It’s about finding and creating an oasis of love in the world- and picking up this book transports you there!

The Salt Path– a memoir about homelessness is perhaps not the kind of book you think of when you want something joyful… and yet a story about finding the drive to persevere, even in the toughest circumstances, is truly awe-inspiring. This, coupled with the descriptions of nature, fill me with a quiet kind of wonder and delight. A book like this gives me such a hunger for life.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse– speaking of hunger, I’m putting this on the list just for the cake 😉 Plus, reading this book was like getting a great big hug from the universe!

And that’s all I have for today! What do you think of these books? And what books fill you with joy? Let me know in the comments!

My Really Late “Books I’m Excited for in 2022” Post!

Because it’s never too late to gush about books you’re anticipating like mad!! These are (nearly) all of the books coming out this year where I’ve thought “yes please, gimme now!” The good thing about doing this post super late is that I don’t have nearly as long to wait for some of these (and some are already out). Without further ado (cos this post is already three months late), here are some books I’m crazy excited for!

And that’s all… for now! Are you excited for any of these? What books can you not wait to read?! Let me know in the comments!

Just a Few Unusual Fairy Tale Retellings

I know we’ve been over this before, but I’m here to say it again: I love a good retelling! Fairy tales and myths are some of my favourite stories. They are timeless and transformative and irresistible- which is why I will always love fairy tale retellings. I’ve shared some cool ones before and now I’m showcasing even more! This time, I’m going to be focusing on some unusual ones that feature tales we don’t see being adapted often (and hopefully a few you haven’t come across before!) Let’s get to it!

Echo North– one of the best books I read last year, this gorgeous book combines two fairy tales: Beauty and the Beast and East of the Sun West of the Moon. And as I’m not particularly familiar with the latter, it felt even more fresh and dazzling. With original concepts and a unique way of characterising the female lead, this wasn’t your every day YA.

Uprooted– it’s hard to make Beauty and the Beast seem new and original- and yet Novik’s immersive Russian take does exactly that. Hate-to-love at its finest, this is unquestionably stunning.  

Bloody Chamber– for something a little bit more adult, I have to insist on trying this creepy collection. Simultaneously deconstructing and venerating the originals, this divinely written work is well worth a read.

Winter Rose– a retelling of Tam Lin, this atmospheric book had me sold from the start. I felt wrapped up in the tendrils of this enchanted forest setting. It’s simply beautifully written and reimagined. 

Owl Service– drawing from Welsh folklore, this is one of the most unusual books I’ve ever read. Uncanny and different, it’s like it was possessed by mythology rather than simply retelling an old tale again and again. This is trippy in the very best of ways.

Medusa– okay this one’s not a fairy tale per se, but it fits into the mythic theme and is definitely a book that springs to mind when I want to talk about newer retellings. Aside from the gorgeous illustrations, this is one of those retellings that manages to make us genuinely sympathise with the villain. Using real elements from history, this transforms the original story of Medusa into something every girl can relate to. It has a distinctly modern feel, whilst also being true to the realities of ancient Greece. I just love how this allows us to see the gorgons with new eyes and a modern vision.

Thorn– goose girl is one of those stories that doesn’t get adapted nearly as often as others- and this adaptation also happens to be an absolute delight. What I especially like is how it explores the question of the heroine’s victimhood and challenges our very perceptions of passivity. This isn’t a story about yet another kickass heroine punching her way to victory- but a quieter more profound story of what we are willing to sacrifice for others. I feel like its distinctive morality strikes to the heart of what fairy tales are really about.

The Princess and the Fangirl- every instalment of the Once Upon a Con retelling series is thoroughly enjoyable! Give me all the geeky fairy-tale-inspired stories please! The reason I chose this one is not just because it features a sapphic romance, which doesn’t come up enough in retellings, but because it also happens to be a retelling of the Princess and the Pea… and how often do we get to read one of those?! This is a particularly perfect retelling as well- which is nothing less than I’d expect from a story with a perfectionist theme 😉

The Boy Who Steals Houses– I have never come across another Goldilocks retelling- and it couldn’t have been better- because this one was just right! With a main character you will want to protect with your life and a found family you’ll want to adopt, Boy Who Steals Houses *absolutely* stole my heart!!

Call it What you Want– I don’t read many contemporary retellings OR takes on Robin Hood- and this does both! Not only is it unusual, it’s also extremely well done, with deep character work. It’s my favourite of Kemmerer’s work to date!

And that’s all for now! I’m definitely on the hunt for more! What retellings do you think I should check out next? And what do you think of these? Let me know in the comments!