(Most of) My 2021 DNFs!

This is gonna be a weird post this year- because I DNF’d A LOT of books for a change… and then promptly forgot about half of them. That’s right: there has been a serious shift in my reading habits. I have gone from being the shy, timid monkey who would never close a book before finishing it well, (sort of 😉) … to a serial DNFer. It’s meant I’ve read fewer books this year- and yet I’m happier for it and (usually) more satisfied with the ones I do finish. For the most part, I simply wasn’t vibing with the style and would consider picking it up again one day. That accounts for these books:

These, however, earned their DNFs:

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck- oh FFS, I’m no stranger to swear words but this seems excessive, even to me. I wasn’t getting anything out of this. I don’t agree with the premise anyway, so this lost me very early on. I guess I’ll just go on caring too much.

Genuine Fraud– I love the idea of stories told backwards… it’s only a shame that they rarely work for me. I didn’t click with the structure and found it made it impossible to get to know the characters. I was completely lost at 15% and decided to call it a day.

Shadow of Night– mea culpa- I shouldn’t have picked up this book. I’ve no idea why I impulsively bought it (well, except for the fact it was on sale) since I didn’t like the first one. However, I did enjoy the show and really, really wanted to know what happened. Bit silly, because I do still intend on watching it- and I reckon I’ll get more out of it that way.

Such a Fun Age– I was promised humour and didn’t laugh in the first 33%. Not even a wry chuckle or a smirk. Who knows, maybe the last 67% would have me in side-splitting hysterics- but sadly I’m not willing to take that chance.

Cinderella is Dead– the cover and title are amazing, but the book is so full of bitterness and anger. It’s not a mood I enjoy.

Rose Code– believe me, I wanted to love this book. I tried for such a long time. I still consider this author to be great- it’s only sad this one wasn’t for me. I couldn’t put my finger on why, since the only thing I actively disliked was the use of real people. I just wasn’t clicking with the characters or story, so sadly gave up on it.

Gods and Monsters– I don’t care enough to finish this series. Honestly, I shouldn’t have bothered after book 2 let me down.

House of Leaves– I didn’t only find the style unappealing… it was actively off-putting. I don’t see myself ever finishing this, which is a shame, because I love this kind of experimental story. Although on that note…

Lincoln in the Bardo– this is the kind of literary “experimentation” that gets on my nerves.

And that’s all (I remember quitting)! Do you think I made the right choice? Would you recommend powering through any of these? And what are your feelings on DNFing? Let me know in the comments!

Monkey at the Movies – My Favourite Films in 2021!

Hello all! Seeing as I talk about all my other favourites, it’s only fair to share the best things I watched this year (not including rewatches of course!) I’m going to whizz through them, so get your popcorn out and let’s dive in…

Raya and the Last Dragon– somehow I forgot to say how great Raya and the Last Dragon was!! And it was probably my favourite movie of the year! It’s been a while since I’ve appreciated an animated movie this much 😊 It’s very much its own story, with rich characterisation and fun visuals.

Cruella– this was a lot more fun than I was expecting! Yes, it’s somewhat bonkers… but that’s kind of the point! It had a rocking aesthetic and a killer storyline 😉 I don’t know how, but it actually made me root for one of the most baddies of all time.

A Simple Favour– this was the biggest surprise of the year- it was #MuchBetterThanIExpected. Commenting on social media as much as providing a fun thrill ride, this slick story kept me feeling engaged. And I also loved the French soundtrack!

Karate Kid– I’m counting this as a new movie to me, because I literally didn’t remember anything about it. It’s a good old-fashioned stick-up-for-yourself kind of story! I love the messages in this movie and was on the edge of my seat by the end.

Taken– yes, I’m very late to the party. But wow- this was intense! I don’t think I took a breath the entire movie! This is how an action flick should be!

And that’s all folks! Have you seen any of these? Did you have a favourite film this year? Let me know in the comments!

My 2021 Favourites!

2021 has been and nearly gone- so I thought I’d revive a post I did last year and share some appreciation for some of the great things I’ve discovered this year! I’m going to keep this nice and short- because as usual most of my faves are BOOKS. So, without further ado, here are some non-bookish faves (*ahem*, okay, there will be some bookish things 😉)

#notspon (obviously 😉)

Ariel Bissett– yes, yes, I know where the hell have I been?? But the thing is, I’ve been *obsessed* with her videos this year… and not just for the books. Ever since her “I bought a house video” I’ve been living vicariously through her- because I LOVE watching people do up their houses! I like when people rescue a wreck and give the old birds the TLC they deserve! I’m enjoying seeing everything she’s doing with her home 😊

Lululemon Yoga Mat– this is one of the best purchases I made all year. I was using a really old, thin thing and this has been a gamechanger in terms of comfort (and I’d say performance, but I’m still not great and a mat isn’t going to make that much difference haha!) Anyway, if you’re in the market for a mat, I recommend this one. It’s got two sides for different styles of yoga, it’s easy to clean and I love the style! The only downside is that it has an odd smell to start with, but that fades.

Meditation– this is more of a vague one, because I haven’t settled on an app or style of meditation that I like just yet. I’ve tried Headspace and quite like it, but am usually equally happy with a Youtube selection for whatever I’m feeling. Regardless, I think this has powerfully helped me shift my perspective and get into a better head space 😉 People have been suggesting this to me for years… and what can I say other than they’re right! I’m still a novice and hope to continue practicing (I’m gonna need it 😉)

Diary 2021– this is some fine Waterstones stationery. Honestly, I can’t believe it’s taken me such a long time to get one of these. It really changed my life- to think I used to write Things To Do lists and just scatter them across my desk 😂

Borrowbox/Audible– this was the year of the audiobook for me! Not only have I gone a little wild with Borrowbox, but I also decided to treat myself to an Audible subscription. I kept thinking it was just a temporary thing- however I ended up addicted… and I’m not sorry?! Audiobooks are a gamechanger! They’re fun, they’re entertaining and they mean I can read while I’m on the move/doing other things! 

And finally my sister has a tiger who came for tea…

Annnnd that’s all I have for now! (because most of my faves this year consist of *books*!) What have you enjoyed this year? Let me know in the comments!

Gift Ideas for Bookworms!

Tis the season for fun, food, frivolity… and of course, presents! I’m often stumped for gift ideas- so this is as much for me as it is for you 😉

#1 The new books we won’t stop going on about!!

#2 Your old fave that means so much to you and you just need to share 😊 Because we love sharing the book love!

#3 Special editions and sexy leatherbound classics. Because it makes for the best book porn 😉

#4 Bookmarks- because we can’t get enough of them! Particularly cos I can’t stop losing them dammit! I adore this cutesy Wizard of Oz one and I really love my Klimt bookmark Kat from Life and Other Disasters gave me a few year ago 🙂

#5 Bookish themed games- especially if it involves Thud!

#6 Bookish jewellery- I may or may not have a collection of fairy tale themed jewellery 😉 But I’ll take *any* bookish themed necklaces and one of my favourites is this Alethiometer from Etsy

#7 Book themed notebooks and stationery. I mean, for me stationery is always appreciated.

#8 Book themed FOOD! Any sweets from the wizarding world or Turkish delight… In fact, I’m so obsessed I made a post about this a few years back 🙂

#9 Bookish cuddly toys- unless of course you can’t handle the CUTENESS OVERLOAD?!

And if you can manage it…

#10 Magical bookish artefacts- I would never say no to a book mirror from Echo North, the Luggage or even a Time Turner so I can read more books- I’m not fussy! 😉

What do you think? Do you have any bookish gifts you enjoy? Let me know in the comments!

Books I’d Recommend to Everyone!

Working in a library, I often get asked to recommend “anything”… which as you can imagine is a pretty tricky one to answer! Especially with nothing to go on! But I do my best and here are some of my usual suggestions:

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine– I’m starting with an unusual book that’s universally loved- and for good reason! Before I read it, I thought it was going to be a standard contemporary about falling in love… but this book turned out to be so much more than I expected. In truth, it’s a story about discovering yourself, finding true friendship and overcoming trauma- which I think everyone can get something out of.

A Man Called Ove– I always describe this as an adult version of Up (which I’d also recommend to everyone). This is one of the most uplifting and beautiful books I’ve ever read- and it’s also a great introduction to a wonderful author.

Where the Crawdads Sing– one of the best books I’ve ever read- and I don’t say that lightly- I’d recommend this to *everyone*. It has so much going for it. A story about love, friendship, coming of age, nature, crime… there’s beauty in this that anyone can enjoy.  

A Thousand Splendid Suns– a tremendously moving story about life for women under the Taliban. It’s unfortunately become more relevant in recent months- which makes me want to recommend it all the more.   

Homegoing– Gyasi’s powerful intergenerational epic is highly original and an absolute work of genius. You cannot go wrong giving it a try.

Kindred– because this book is simply glorious. Wonderfully written- it’s different to anything I’ve ever read before. Technically sci fi, it delves more into historical fiction territory, exploring the horrors of the slave trade with a modern gaze.

The Familiars– a subtle story, this historical fiction is cleverly crafted story that seems to be about one thing, but turns out to be something else entirely. While I was expecting a purely witchy experience, this ended up being a magical tale of friendship and family. I’ve absolutely fallen in love with Halls’ work in the last few months and I’m sure other people will enjoy this discovery too.

Wolf Hall– a more human story than I imagined I would be, Mantel’s reimagining of Thomas Cromwell’s journey to power is a masterpiece.

The Huntress– a thrilling example of historical fiction, this book had my heart racing. With two timelines chasing each other, the story tells of the elusive Nazi called the Huntress and those who wish to bring her to justice.

The Nightingale– I don’t read very many WW2 books and here I am recommending two of them! But this is the kind of book that is an emotional hard-hitter and well-loved for good reason. Telling the story of two sisters, who live different wars, this is one that will stay with you a long time after you read it.

The Secret History– utterly unique and absolutely brilliant, this murder mystery told in reverse is a real showstopper.

The Thursday Murder Club– who doesn’t love the idea of old-aged pensioners solving crimes? This quirky crime novel was a delight.

How to Stop Time– Matt Haig is another commonly loved author- and for good reason! His novels are full of joy and sorrow in equal measure- and How to Stop Time is a great example of that. A great introduction to magical realism, it explores the reality of what it might be like to be immortal.  

Song of Achilles– I’ve been told multiple times by people that they didn’t really expect to like it, because it’s not normally their thing, but ended up loving it. And for good reason! Miller is a phenomenal writer! Her retelling of the Iliad is not only beautifully written, but unbelievably emotional. I know that this is an excellent choice if you want to get readers branching out into fantasy (not that I have a hidden agenda or anything 😉).

House in the Cerulean Sea– I’d suggest this to everyone because it’s so damn heartwarming- and I defy you to read this and not have a big fat dopey grin plastered on your face by the end!

The Martian– speaking of books that make me smile, this adventurous book is something anyone can enjoy! Yes, it’s sci fi, but even laymen like me love it! Because beyond all the science-speak in the novel, it’s truly a story about determination and the human spirit!

So, what do you think? Do you agree with my suggestions? And what books would you recommend to everyone? Let me know in the comments! I could use the help! 😊

Books that make no sense- Inspired by Briana @ Pages Unbound

I read an amazing post called “Books I Have Accused of Being Illogical” by the brilliant Briana over on Pages Unbound (which obvs you need to check out!!)- and it made me think about books that I thought made no sense. I hunted through my goodreads and this is what I came up with:

Stags– so this has a “clever” main character who figures out all the clues… and yet makes awful decisions with that information. It doesn’t help that her motivation never makes any sense: she hates toffs, but she wants to spend all her free time with them (an issue which could have been resolved if the author had allowed the mc to have even one undesirable trait, such as jealousy or insecurity, to justify her choices). Add to that a ridiculously over the top reveal and you have a book that’s a little too wild for me. It’s a pity that the lack of logic undid what could have been a fun book.

Instant Karma– I’m choosing this for completely different reasons, just because it gets on my nerves the more I think about how pointless it is. As hinted at in the title, the protagonist inexplicably gets karmic powers… which disappear as randomly they arrive and play no actual part in the plot?! I really don’t understand why this book exists.  

Foxhole Court– I’m including this for a number of reasons. 1) It has the worst fake sport EVER- unless of course you’d like to watch a co-ed football-crossed with hockey-crossed with tennis- which just sounds like a sport made up by someone who was extremely high- speaking of which… 2) This is also a book where young athletes are on drugs and no one cares about that. And finally 3) I just find it amusing how many people who find everything problematic love this rapey book.

Wolf by Wolf– I actually really like this book and would recommend it for the writing style/adventure aspects… buuuut it also has Nazis in kimonos. Cos Nazis definitely would go in for some cultural appreciation lol. As much as I respected the author’s skill and did like this series, I still have issues with a premise where Nazis take over the world and just don’t keep killing indefinitely.  

Divergent– I almost wanted to include a lightning round of YA dystopias, because during the height of that craze, people were just writing dystopias for the sake of it, even if they lacked logic. But I ultimately feel like the culprit responsible for that annoying craze was Divergent. Because this premise- where everyone could only have one of five personality traits- never made sense to me. Then *spoilers for the last book* Roth decided to make it make EVEN LESS SENSE by revealing the reason for this dystopic world was some shadowy-men-in-suits were trying to make people more well-rounded (ergo stuck them somewhere they’d be killed for having the desirable traits… *facepalm*)

Handmaid’s Tale– on the topic of dystopias, while Atwood is a very good writer, I have made no secret of my issues with the world building in this book. The more I think about this book, the more holes I pick in it. Because this is supposed to be a patriarchal society (that materialised overnight with no explanation as to how) and yet the protagonist talks of being separated from her husband and child… but why?!? This is a hyper traditional society. The logical thing would’ve been either to a) make the husband party to the evil regime or b) kill him off (because men are often victims in hyper-aggressive societies that treat women as resources).  

Nutshell– I mean, where is the logic in this story? It’s about a sentient foetus. Which is just the terrible starting point to a terrible retelling of Hamlet (thanks, I hate it).

And that’s all I have… for now! What did you think of these books? Did they make sense to you? What books did you think made no sense? Let me know in the comments!

A Bookworm’s WORST NIGHTMARES!!

In the spirit of the spooky season, I thought I’d share some of my WoRSt BOokISh NiGHtMAreS- WhOooOOO!! Admittedly, some of these may just be my own pet peeves, but I’m sure there’s a few in here that keep ALL bookworms up at night! Enjoy… Or, rather, shudder before me!

Books returned in tatters… or not returned at all! Both of these have happened to me and I swear I’ve never gotten over it.

When someone destroys your beloved book with a bad adaptation– OOF!

Never getting an adaptation… especially if it was promised!! Why did you have to raise our hopes like that?! And on that note…

Sequels that never materialise– not trying to *side eye* any specific authors here- but c’mon!! Waiting for a series finale that’s never coming is a special kind of torture. On the flipside, I don’t exactly enjoy…

Series that never end. You know the bloated book series that just seem to go on and on and on– seemingly without end! It’s a special kind of torture to pick up a new book annnd then realise you’ve read it five times already.

Stickers on books (duh).

Miss-marketed books– why tell me it’s one thing, if you plan on selling me something totally different? I might have even liked what you were trying to sell me if I knew what I was getting into. Please, just stop trying to make me read things like slasher fic masquerading as rom coms, thanks!

SPOILERS! Especially if you don’t have the decency to warn me first (but if you are warning me to my face, don’t say “spoiler warning”, then blurt it out before I can tell you not to!!)

Your kindle battery dying… just as you get to the end!! Because this is just a cruel cosmic punishment.

And lastly, one that may be very specific to me…

Books curled into weird angles and spaces so that they can fit into a box (usually picture books). Don’t tell me you couldn’t lie it flat because I GUARANTEE you could have lain it flat!! Stop rolling up books!! I break out in hives just thinking about this!

And that’s all for now! Did any of these make you shiver?! And what are some of your bookish worst nightmares? I’ll be cowering in the comments section waiting to hear your answers…  

My Top British Thrillers

I sometimes get specific requests at the library- and this is one of my favourites to find. Someone came in looking for audiobook thrillers for their elderly father… who only wants British authors. And since I was thinking about this topic, I wanted to share some of my favourites with you! (I will admit they all happen to be written by female authors- this was not intentional, it just worked out that way!)

His and Hers– I love everything Alice Feeney writes, but this is a great place to start. Twisty and tense, this small-town thriller hides a lot more than meets the eye.

The Death of Mrs Westaway- I always enjoy Ruth Ware’s books as well, yet I had to shine the light on this modern take on the gothic classic Rebecca. I not only love the atmosphere, but how it captures the British coastal setting. And it’s got everything I look for in a thriller: dark secrets, an intriguing narrator and a dramatic finale.

I Found You– Lisa Jewell is one of my newest favourite thriller writers. Her books are often wonderfully weird, dark and simultaneously empathetic. There is a lot of depth and deep character work that I often don’t find in this genre. I think it has something to do with the fact she’s written a lot of contemporaries as well. I chose this one because not only is it the most moving example, but it bridges the divide between contemporary and thriller especially well. It may not be the kind of book that keeps you on the edge of your seat, but it may make you shed a few tears for the characters.

The Guest List– this location wedding takes a very unexpected and murderous turn- which just makes it a helluva a lot more fun than your average wedding! The two main reasons I love this and can’t stop recommending it is: a) the setting and b) it’s just a lot of fun!

Exquisite– this exquisitely executed thriller has one of my favourite motifs: it’s a book about writing! Plus, it has a crazy stalker- which certainly spices things up!

Ice Twins– I adore this book- it is the perfect spooky and atmospheric thriller to get wrapped up in as the temperature cools. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the stunning Scottish setting takes centre stage and acts as a character in its own right.  

The Weekend Away– finishing off with a transatlantic choice, this LA-based author knocked it out of the park with this thriller. It’ll just take you a weekend to whizz through this pulpy and entertaining story- where not everything turns out for the best!

And that’s all for now! Have you read any of these? Do you have any suggestions? The reader will be very happy indeed if you give me more suggestions! Let me know in the comments!

Some Things Never Change… Books That Will Always Be Good for Autumn

The seasons changing is one of life’s simple pleasures 😊 And as you may know, I’m a big fan of autumn. So, I decided to share some autumnal reads that are creepy, cosy and cosily creepy- enjoy!

Coraline– thinking of this book still makes me shiver. Gaiman’s book may technically be middle grade, but it’s creepy af. I defy adult books to make you as scared as this!

Raven Boys– for people who favour YA and atmospheric vibes, this is the dream series for this time of year! If you’re prepared to settle in for the long haul, then you’ll become fast friends with the amazing characters this series has to offer.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children– I will always love this odd little series. I know it can be a bit hit or miss, yet I really appreciate how it captures peculiarities and unusual tales in a totally unique way.

Rock Paper Scissors– I read this seriously twisty thriller recently- and oh boy it’s cutting edge! I love how it plays with the character’s choices and the reader’s mind! And it doesn’t hurt that it’s set in the Scottish Highlands and I associate Scotland with autumn!

Ninth House– I don’t know about you, but I love books centred around schools in autumn. So what could be more perfect than Bardugo’s horror take on dark academia?

Shadow of the Wind– one of my all-time-favourite books, I highly recommend snuggling up with this mystery about book-lovers this autumn! The languidly atmospheric setting makes it gorgeous for this time of year as well.

Familiars– this historical fiction with a witchy feel was enjoyable from beginning to end. While there were dark themes, it ultimately felt as comforting as a big cup of cocoa!

Wicked Deep– witchy and set when seasons change- how could I not pick Ernshaw’s debut?! To be honest, with her exquisite talent for writing, I was tempted to put both her books on this list (so go and read them both!!)

House of Hollow– the UK setting makes me biased in my love for this book. I just adore how CREEPILICIOUS this is… even though I don’t normally do creepy (save for this list clearly 😉)

Once and Future Witches– my best book from 2020 and an absolute delight of a read. I was completely bewitching by the writing, the characters and the story. It’s MAGIC in book form.

Hazel Wood– okay, yes, I will die on the hill fangirling for this book someday. But, on the off chance you haven’t heard my incessant rambling about how gosh-darn-brilliant this book is, then allow me to introduce you to a savagely well-written, fairy tale inspired novel.

Uprooted– personally I think fairy tale themed books work really well at this time of year (and every other time of year 😉). And for me, this Russian-inspired Beauty and the Beast retelling is eerily good. With lovely writing, intriguing characters and a hate-to-love romance… what’s not to love?

Nevermoor– charming and a little bit different, this magical middle grade delivered a HELLUVA lot more than I was expecting.

It was a Dark and Stormy Night– and finally my mum’s suggestion- just cos! (To be fair, she’s not wrong!)

And that’s all for now! Do you agree or disagree with my choices? And what books do you like to cosy up with in autumn? Let me know in the comments!

Books for the Good Times!

Cos the good times never seemed so good!! Which is why I’m sharing some feel-good books to make you smile 😊

Anne of Green Gables– okay, yes, this will also make you cry, but you’ll be smiling through tears by the end!

The How and the Why– an underrated YA contemporary about friendship and family, this book ticks all the boxes and made me so happy.

A Kind of Spark– I’m not going to shut up about this book! It is so good if you’re into MG! I loved the main character’s journey, fighting for the past and for her own future.

Summer Job– I don’t know about you, but I’m still feeling the summery books at this time of the year. And this romance, set in the Scottish Highlands, is perfect for cosy weather.

Beach Read– with a summery feel, this fluffy contemporary made me feel all warm inside. And it’s got the added bonus of writer characters!

House in the Cerulean Sea– this was a very recent read for me that absolutely brought a smile to my face! This quirky fantasy ticked all the boxes!

The Humans– if you’re looking for something else a little *out there* then allow me to suggest Haig’s take on aliens! It is as unusual a concept as he usually writes- with his typical flair and enjoyable characters. Personally this was my favourite of his books (so far)!

The Switch– Beth O’Leary is the queen of feel-good rom coms. This book particularly hits the right notes, by switching things up, giving some attention to a silver romance.

A Man Called Ove– speaking of the elderly, this is an unexpected delight, showing there can be a happy-ever-after even when everything seems to be all over.

Pumpkinheads– three guesses why I’m recommending this book in the autumn 😉 It’s easy to fall for this graphic novel- with its gorgeous illustrations and super sweet story!

The Tea Dragon Society– and of course you can’t get a cuter book than this! Just look at those faces!!

And that’s all for today! Do you agree with any of the books on my list? And which feel-good books do you recommend? Very eager to hear your suggestions! Let me know in the comments!