Some HAPPY Books to Brighten Up Your Day!

orangutan list

You know me, I love my dark books. But today, I figured it was about time I shared some books with a lighter touch. These are just some of the books that make me happy:

the martian

The Martian– starting with a book based around the catastrophe of being stuck on Mars with a depleting air supply, I absolutely expect you to read that synopsis and think has this monkey gone bananas? Why has she put this on a happy books list? Well, for all the tension in this book, there’s an equal amount of humour, thanks to the hilarious protagonist Mark Watney! I guarantee if you pick this up, you’re in for a bundle of laughs

the hating game

The Hating Game– with a book title like that, you might not expect to see it on a list like this- but this quirky, funny contemporary is practically the definition of a HAPPY book 😀

isla and the happily ever after

Isla and the Happily Ever After– the clue is in the title 😉 I am a sucker for “happily ever afters” and this delivers for sure!

to all the boys

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before– Lara Jean and her family never fail to bring a smile to my face.

simon vs the homosapien agenda

Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda– do I really need to give any introductions for this book at this point? While this deals with some serious issues, Albertalli’s lighthearted touch make Simon a pleasure to read.

carry on

Carry On– I mention this book *a lot* but I can’t help it if this brilliant parodic fantasy fills me with the utmost joy!

going postal

Going Postal– One of my favourite Discworld books- need I say more? Also, it happens to be one of the funniest.

nimona

Nimona– this is a newish one for me- but as another twist on its genre, I thought it fit perfectly. Playing with ideas of supervillains vs superheroes, this graphic novel is a whole lotta fun!

my lady jane

My Lady Jane– I adore this fresh take on alternative history. A completely unexpected ride, this doesn’t just toy with historical accuracy, it laughs in its face and rewrites the history books- in the best possible way!

Emma_Jane_Austen_book_cover

Emma– I mean, it’s Austen- do I need a reason? I also happen to love Mr Knightley the most of all Austen’s male leads (oh and there’s great character development- but pff- we’re talking about what makes me smile)

little women

Little Women– rounding off with possibly an unusual choice, this certainly has its poignant and sad moments- HOWEVER for every bit of sadness this book brings, it also delivers its equal parts of joy. I would have felt remiss not to include it.

So do any of these books bring you joy? And what are your favourite happy books? Let me know in the comments!

Books Guaranteed to Make you SMILE :D

sun has got his hat on

It’s been a lovely week, all sunny and summer-like (and okay it was overcast today, but whatever, can’t win em all). Anyway, moving on, I thought I’d share some fun books which made me happy, in the hope that they will make you smile too!

carry on

Carry On– I mention this book *a lot* but some books just deserve to get mentioned all the time- and this one just so happened to make me smile from ear to ear! And yes- it’s a satirical take on Harry Potter– that’s why it’s similar.

wonder

Wonder– this is a “happy” in a life affirming kind of way. This is seriously moving, yet will also undoubtedly make you crack a smile for sure!

howl's moving castle

Howl’s Moving Castle– despite not enjoying the sequel as much, I can’t deny how much I adored the original. The characters and world are so vivid! And of course, like many of Diana Wynne Jones’ books, it made me exquisitely happy.

northanger abbey

Northanger Abbey– I can’t have a list about books that made me happy and not include Austen on it. I absolutely adore the romance in this one and it makes for a fabulous subversion of the gothic tropes.

isla and the happily ever after

Isla and the Happily Ever After– I mean the clue is in the title 😉 I kinda had to include it on this list- it’s such a delightful contemporary.

the hating game

The Hating Game– this is another romance that made me stupidly happy. I didn’t expect to love this quite as much as I did, but it had me laughing the whole way through and I couldn’t stop reading this addictive book.

my lady jane

My Lady Jane– I read this really recently and haven’t done the review yet, but I guarantee it will be positive, cos this book was SO GOOD and made me SO HAPPY. Yes, it was totally out there as a historical retelling, but that’s what made it so brilliant.

the martian

The Martian– a story about getting stuck on Mars- how can that make you *smile*? I hear you ask. Well, that’s thanks to the indomitable Mark Watney! His fantastic sense of humour could make even potato farming in space interesting!

blithe spirit

Blithe Spirit– this is another weirdly happy story- it’s a play about a man whose dead wife comes back to haunt him and it is SO FUNNY. Yup, you read that right, a play about being haunted is funny. I recommend the 1945 film as well 😀

going postal

Going Postal– on the topic of eccentric British work, I could hardly neglect to include Pratchett. This is one of my favourites and happens to be one of the funniest- need I say more?

And last but not least…

 

 

We Go to the Gallery– Yes this may look like picture books, but they are in fact adult picture books! Which is totally different, cos, well they’re hilarious! Definitely recommend checking the series out and plus they make a really great gift if you’re ever stuck for something 😉

So have you read any of these? Did they make you smile? And what books have made you smile in the past? Let me know in the comments!

Why I’m Happy to Suspend My Disbelief for Fantasy

Magic systems seem to be a big deal to a lot of fantasy fans and for many a well explained system can make or break a book. Now, this may shock some people, but it really isn’t a big deal for me. Naturally, I appreciate the beauty of an intricate magic system (who doesn’t have infinite admiration for Sanderson’s allomancy for instance) but if something is left in broad terms or defined simply as *magic* I genuinely won’t care and here’s why:

confessionsIt is the genre of the unexplainable– *crazy* idea BUT there is a reason why many supernatural forces are left unexplained in fantasy. It creates an atmosphere of mystique, eeriness and unfathomability. Here is where fantasy is haunted by the hallmarks of gothic literature. Feeding into the uncanny plays with the unwritten rules of the universe and allows the writer to explore hidden corners of the human psyche. And isn’t exploring *what we don’t know* what fantasy is often all about? Obscuring the logic of a world is valuable in its own way.

simarillionSometimes, however, there is a hidden explanation, even if we don’t know it– I know I’ve seen *loads* of people criticising Lord of the Rings for its “lack” of magical explanations. My answer to those people is that there are plenty of Tolkien’s notes you can look into if you’re unsatisfied with the reasoning behind his world building. Which goes to show, just because you don’t know the reason for something, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Plus, if you need an origin story, look no further than The Simarillion. But really, ultimately, it’s important to note where Tolkien got his ideas from…

grimmsBorrowing from literary predecessors deserves praise not censor. Personally, I value stories that are self-aware and acknowledge where they’ve come from- for a story to revive its forefather’s memory and offer us something new is a very special thing. When it comes to fantasy, I’ve already mentioned fantasy’s connection with gothic literature, yet the modern genre has more than one forefather. It is very much rooted, thanks to Tolkien, in the oral tradition and fairy tales. There is a lot of borrowing going on between these genres, including the educational element. Following in the steps of fairy tales, supernaturalism is often far from the main message of the story. In reality…

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_CoverMagic is often a tool to get us from a to b. A very beautiful, interesting tool- but a tool nonetheless. That’s why, there really is nothing wrong with the *because it’s magic* explanation. I know, I know, that’s an extremely unpopular opinion in the fantasy world and I will probably have my fantasy fangirl status revoked for saying it, but hear me out. The truth is, no matter how far you get under the skin of any given magic system, the answer at some point will always be *because it’s magic*. Most of the time, we see an elaborate system on the surface and do not question why it works. Yes, I know there are some people who are not satisfied with the Harry Potter world building, for all its wonder and intricacies, but really do those people seriously think that diverting the plot for a “scientific” explanation of witchcraft and wizardry would have made those books better? (I will stupefy! anyone whose answer is yes to that) We have the surface details and that’s all we need!

the martianAt the end of the day scientific discussions mean nothing to me. Yeahhh in case it isn’t obvious I am not a scientist and the mechanics of how things work rarely holds my attention. I did love the Martian, but that was in spite of the explanations (where, let’s be honest, my attention glazed over) not because of them. So if an author is going to go into a huge amount of detail about how their world works, it’s not going to light my fire, in fact…

The_Eye_of_the_World_UKI find overlong explanations or infodumps boring. There I said it. If a book goes on a long tangent explaining something *made up* to me that I really don’t need to know, I’m gonna get bored fast. Everyone that’s read my review of Eye of the World can’t be surprised by this- cos that’s the perfect example of exposition getting out of hand (no Robert Jordan, I don’t care if you came up with a really interesting backstory to some backwater village, if it’s not plot relevant now, I don’t need 5 pages of explanation).

question mark bookAnd finally… it would make me a hypocrite. Okay, so I don’t normally refer to my own writing, but I hope you don’t mind my self-indulgence here, cos it’s relevant. I try to write things I’d like to read- so a lot of the reasons I do not often include explanations is because of a combination of the above (ie it’s not always relevant in the moment, I hate infodumps and I like to borrow from other genres). But to give a more concrete example to how important hidden explanations are, I’m currently working on a trilogy where in book 1 magic is more of a blunt tool (because, bless their little hearts they don’t know any better), book 2 explores some of the costs, and book 3 (which I’ve started working on now) is all about the big reveals. It would fundamentally destroy the setup of the story if I’d just given everything away in book 1.

So those are my reasons for why I don’t get too bogged down with magic systems. I know this will divide readers- and that’s a-okay- different opinions are the spice of life! Let me know which you prefer!

A Layman’s Perspective of The Martian

the martian*Taking a break from my tag week to tell you how great The Martian is!*

(and rambling on about how I don’t usually read Sci Fi)

Now this was a fabulous book. All the way through, I just kept thinking “YES!” It was fist pumpingly good. Honestly, even with all the rave reviews, I had not expected it to be as good as it was.

That’s probably due to the fact that it’s Sci Fi and therefore not something I usually read. But I was glad I gave it a chance. And, since my brain is not attuned to Sci Fi at all, all the twists and turns the plot took were delightfully unexpected. But these plot twists weren’t just surprising- they were also heart-warming insights into the nature of shared humanity and human endurance. Which was a beautiful. And I definitely had not expected that.

On top of all that- it was funny as well. The characters really shone through with the humour. In terms of the writing, I thought it was pretty solid. The only thing is, not being a massive Sci Fi nerd, I found myself skimming quite a bit of the super-sciencey bits. Although, even as a layman, I was entertained for huge parts of it, so I can’t criticise it too much for that.

Since I’m not familiar with the genre, there’s not much I can say about how it measures up in comparison to others like it, but I can tell you from a complete layman’s perspective that this is well worth reading. In fact, it reached for the stars, so I feel a bit funny awarding it bananas. Sorry I have no good puns for this, I’m all spaced out. (Did I mention I don’t read Sci Fi? Just kidding!)

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

half bananahalf bananahalf bananahalf banana  half banana

How about you? Are you an expert than can give a more insightful interpretation?

Or are you a layman like me, but somehow swept up in this phenomenal book?

Let me know in the comments below!