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!

Best fictional rivalries

Ok, I didn’t intend on this being about a whole lotta love, but I couldn’t help it. For me, the best rivalries often end in romance! Let’s just get into the list, shall we?  

Nimona– I love the rivalry in this- it’s so much fun!! Yes, this may seem like a typical villain vs hero story- but appearances can be deceiving 😉

Renegades– the whole dynamic of the heroes vs villains is perfect!! Throw in a forbidden romance and this series is the bomb!

Carry On– a parody of Harry Potter that focuses more on what’s really going on between Draco and Harry 😉

Cruel Prince– I almost love Cardan vs Jude MORE than Cardan with Jude. Their snarky chemistry worked so well in book 1! I think they enjoyed being rivals!

Game of Thrones– specifically the Starks vs the Lannisters. For me, this straightforward I-want-to-destroy-your-house-and-family rivalry is what made the series spectacular at the start. Of course, as the series goes on, we see that there’s a deeper divisions and more important conflicts, but they almost pale in comparison when I think of the original rivalry of the series.

This is How You Lose the Time War– I just loved the concept of this: two people on opposite sides of a time war fall in love. Swift and beautifully written, this book is full of contrasting emotions. 

Night Circus– these characters are destined to fight to the death… so they really shouldn’t develop any feelings for each other…

Hating Game– sometimes office competition can be sexy 😉

Tweet Cute– some rivalries are just completely cheesy- and this book certainly brings the BIG CHEESE factor! Cute and fun, this rivalry roasts all the competition.

Beach Read– the main reason I’m putting this on the list is not for rivals-to-lovers conflict, but for the classic conversation about contemporary romance vs literary fiction! I love that a central theme of the book is these two genres duking it out! Let the battle commence and may the best books win, I say!

East of Eden– playing out the themes of Abel vs Cain from generation to generation, this story isn’t just about rivalry, but also about family ties and difficult relationships.  

And that’s all for now! Are you a fan of any of these? What are your favourite fictional rivalries? Let me know in the comments!

Bookish Heartthrobs I Don’t Love- Inspired Fran Laniado

As much as I enjoy hate to love romances, there are just some love interests I LOVE TO HATE. I was completely inspired by Fran’s fantastic post on non-crushes and decided to share some bookish heartthrobs I’d rather not engage with!

Angel from Tess of the D’Urbervilles– yes, I love this book, and yes, I think it’s awfully romantic… but there’s an emphasis on the awful part. As much as I don’t agree with the criticism saying Angel’s worse than Alec, I *do* think there’s some credence to the idea that Angel’s not so angelic in his treatment of Tess. And (spoiler alert) it doesn’t make it better that he ends up with her sister. It kind of makes him seem more self-serving and selfish. But I don’t really have a problem with this, cos Hardy’s romances are supposed to be tragic. 

Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre– again, this doesn’t stop me loving the book- but would any woman really want to end up with a guy who already has a wife in the attic? I don’t care how nuts you claim she was- that’s some seriously dodgy shit and all that gaslighting doesn’t make it better mate.

Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights– obvs. Although to be fair, I don’t see him as someone who is supposed to be a romantic heartthrob. He’s more like the warning tale of what a bad boy really looks like.

Jacob Black from Twilight– it’s amazing that Meyer created two love interests so terrible that decades later we’re still quibbling over which one is worse. And yet, for me, it’s got to be Jacob. I know there are still Jacob defenders who say that he was a good character, but was ruined in later books… However that doesn’t stop him being the pushy douchbag perve of the later books. Taking him as a whole, he’s just a weirdly possessive and stalky… only he’s doing that to a minor. Great.

Travis Maddock from Beautiful Disaster– this guy is a shitshow not a heartthrob. RUN (don’t walk) in the other direction if you come across anyone like Travis.

Chaol from Throne of Glass– I will stand by the fact that he’s an awful character. He’s mildly abusive, bullying people for being who they are, constantly critical and borderline controlling. But hey, he’s fit, so that’s all that matters, right?

Prince Rhen from Curse So Dark and Lonely– he’s too aggressive and volatile for me. And I only really liked the book that he was barely in (Grey’s great by contrast!) so yeah, not a fan.

Patch from Hush Hush– all I remember from this series is how much I wanted to punch Patch. He’s the quintessential bad-boy-dirtbag- and I hate him.

Daisy Buchanan from Great Gatsby– I decided it was a little unfair to only talk about male love interest, so can we talk about how awful Daisy really is? Not only did she choose to marry (and stay with) Tom, but her other love choice of man isn’t all that to write home about. Plus, she’s also a superficial narc who doesn’t care about her own kid and treats other people like accessories.

Alaska from Looking for Alaska– I’m not really one to label female characters as manic pixie dream girls… but boy if there was ever an example of a manic pixie dream girl, it’d be her. Plus, she’s only really there to help our main character grow (from her death I might add) so she’s basically as rubbish a love interest as you can get.

So, do you agree with any of these? And what are the bookish heartthrobs you don’t vibe with? Let me know in the comments!

My Worst Books of All Time (books I hate so much they make me feel like I’ve reached rock bottom)

You know, I genuinely wish I’d forgotten all the bad books I’ve ever read. And to be honest, when I go back over my “most disappointing” lists, I generally don’t remember (or care about) most of the books on there. Yet sometimes there are books so frickin AWFUL that they’re seared into my memory and I can’t forget them even though I’ve tried!! (Of course, usual disclaimer that this is just my opinion and what technically constitutes a bad book is subjective… although, for some of these, if you tell me they’re not technically bad, I just want to ask: who hurt you?!) ANYWAY, in no particular order (cos it feels too much like sifting through shit), these are the books I hate most in the world:

Fifty Shades of Grey– oh my, I can’t believe I actually read this book. I mean, no “worst books” list would be complete without it- but why oh why did I have to read it?! I blame myself for getting all caught up in the fact everyone was reading it. This (should’ve) been the moment when I realised never to listen to hype. And unfortunately, it’s forever scarred into my memory. There’s no two ways about it: this book blows. 

Nutshell– in a nutshell, this book is nonsense. Unless of course you believe a foetus can monologue reams of conceited drivel. And of course that little synopsis would be bad enough on its own, if it wasn’t masquerading as a Hamlet retelling… (seriously, how do some books exist?)

As I Lay Dying– this book makes me want to die… ahhh I’m not even being melodramatic. It’s been years since I was forced to read this for uni and I’m still not over this insipid advertisement for postmodern bullshit. Amazingly, I’m not impressed by people that pontificate on whether words can truly convey emotion. I wish the self-indulgent wankers who engage in such discussions would just go off to baa in some field somewhere and leave the rest of us in peace.

Wideacre– just gross. I’m disturbed that this was recommended to me, because, WHY?!?! If you don’t know the book, then maybe shield your eyes, stop reading and be grateful in the knowledge that you have been spared from this abject horror. For the rest of us, we have to know that a “feminist” book about incest exists… It’s the book no one asked for/needed/wanted. Yay. Now excuse me while I vomit.

Conversations with Friends– this book is memorable for all the wrong reasons: the pretentious writing style, the characters, oh and did I mention the characters?! I loathe everything about everyone in this book. They’re not only up their own arse, they frequently get far too intimate with other (arsey) characters who happen to be married. And they have no emotions about it cos they’re sociopaths. Cool. Love this kind of thing.

Inspector Calls– technically a play, but I’m counting it. I don’t know why but there’s something endlessly irritating about this precious little play and it’s non-stop moralising. All the “characters” are so flat they may as well be made out of cardboard. And the writing has a sickeningly saccharine edge to it, as it dictates the ways of the world in oh-so-simple terms that even mere mortals such as you or I could understand… Luckily for Priestley, he was preaching to the choir (that choir being the Soviet Union… great- just the kind of regime you want endorsing you).

Dishonourable mentions that I don’t want to waste too much breath on:

The Fault in Our Stars– I wouldn’t care anymore if not for that awful scene in Anne Frank’s house.

Atlas Shrugged– I’d rather thump myself over the head with this gigantic book than talk about it.

Foxhole Court– why is this book?

Girl Woman Other– because there is nothing wrong with a full stop.   

And that’s all… for now! Though I hope I never have to add to this list! Dare I ask- what do you think of these books? And what are your worst books of all time? Let me know in the comments!