If you’ve been a member of the bookish community for a time, we’ve all stumbled across what we call “book-snobs”. Those who, for whatever reason, think that at a certain age you shouldn’t keep reading and enjoying YA titles. Of course, as I stress in all parts of my life, we are all entitled to our own opinions, that doesn’t mean those opinions should be pushed on other people.
I wonder if these ideas about YA books being ‘grown out of’ stem from this inherent feeling we all have at certain stages of our lives. As soon as we reach a certain age, we all feel like we should know what we’re doing or we should be at a certain stage in our lives at a certain age. We all base our life goals on our age.
Another factor of this could be what we’re taught at school. I remember in my year 6 English, during a parents evening my teacher told them that I need to stop reading books she saw as written for younger kids. But my parents were amazing and literally said she should be glad that in age of advancing technology that I have a huge drive and interest to read any books at all! I’ve said before that my fondest memories as a kid was going to my local bookstore or library and just seeing rows and rows of shelves stacked as tall as the ceiling with books. Obviously, this desire to read was unusual for my age!
But, if we look at why there are still so many adults reading these YA books, it’s something that should be taken into account too. I love a YA book, it’s like the authors have this leverage to be extraordinarily creative with the worlds and the relationships that develop in these books are so fairytale. But I’ve started seeing more adult themes come into the YA worlds which begs the question; is literature evolving?
Long story short, I don’t think that there is such a thing as unmerited reading. In our day-and-age, any interest in reading is special and something that shouldn’t be belittled based on personal tastes. We should all be encouraging each other to read whatever we enjoy and share with each other our favorite stories without fear of being suppressed.
As the very philosophical character, Dory says “just keep swimming”… or reading.
As we are getting settled into a new year, many are looking at setting their goals or resolutions, be it personal or professional development, even hobbies. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of apps that can track and help with goal setting and sticking to them.
One that is used by millions of readers is GoodReads which, I love because it not only keeps you motivated to read but also allows you to follow friends, family, and social media influencers latest reads, what books they’ve unearthed and keep them motivated to reach their reading goals.
Over the few years I’ve been using GoodReads, I’ve set myself goals that were a roaring success and epic fails. So, to help you keep to your goals, I’ve learnt to start small and build from that.
Last year I set a simple goal of reading 12 books for the year. I’d then keep increasing by 12 every time I reached that goal, and so on. I was reading not to reach a numerical goal, but because I wanted to keep finding my new favourite books. I’ve seen so many people set and reach a goal of reading 100 books in a year, which would be amazing to get to, but by setting such a huge goal, it can either be a great motivator or an excellent procrastinator.
For me, I know I would be demotivated if I set a goal of 100 titles, purely because it’s very daunting to me and it would interfere with my other goals and priorities. But setting no goals would also be a bad idea because then I’d be doing everything else but what I know I love to do; read.
My best advice is to not overwhelm yourself with huge goals, its far better to set small, easily obtainable goals and building from a foundation base. I’ve since increased last years reading goal to 24 titles to read this year but I know that that is something I can do even if personal issues take priority. Another way to reach goals is to set them quarterly, every three months, review your goals and either change those goals so you can (keep) reaching your goals or if they’re not working for you then to either change or break-down those goals.
I wish you all the luck in 2021 and for all your successes, big and small.
As we approach the end of probably one of the strangest years many of us have ever or will ever have, it’s time for me to reflect on all the books I’ve read.
For me, I’ve read some amazing books and discovered new authors that have become a new favourite of mine. I set out this year with an initial goal of reading 12 books… one a month. I definitely did a lot of altering to this! I also started using NetGalley, a place for professional readers to review upcoming releases. And, the best part of my year was setting up Bushtus with my business partner, best friend and best brother, Stewart. A damn-good year despite everything else!
Top 10 Reads of 2020
I’m finding it so difficult to pick my favourite reads this year. There’s just been so much discovery for me! But, to make it easier on myself I’ve made it a rule to only allow an author to be on the list once. So, without further a-due, here are my top ten reads:
Awakening the handsome prince is supposed to end the fairy tale, not begin it. But the Highvalley witches have rarely done things the way they’re supposed to. On the north Pacific island of Eidolonia, hidden from the world by enchantments, Prince Larkin has lain in a magical sleep since 1799 as one side of a truce between humans and fae. That is, until Merrick Highvalley, a modern-day witch, discovers an old box of magic charms and cryptic notes hidden inside a garden statue. Experimenting with the charms, Merrick finds himself inside the bower where Larkin lies, and accidentally awakens him. Worse still, releasing Larkin from the spell also releases Ula Kana, a faery bent on eradicating humans from the island. With the truce collapsing and hostilities escalating throughout the country, Merrick and Larkin form an unlikely alliance and become even unlikelier heroes as they flee into the perilous fae realm on a quest to stop Ula Kana and restore harmony to their island.
Well, this was unexpected!
I’ve never read, or heard of Molly Ringle and her novels and, as per tradition around here, I’ve been missing out!
The book starts with the perspective of our dashing Prince, Larkin and the events that eventually lead to his magical long sleep in 1799. 200 years later (sometimes I wish I could sleep that long!) we then meet Merrick (the distant relative to the witch that put Larkin in his long sleep) who seems to do a spectacular job at getting things wrong… I like him already! When he finds a hidden portal to the place the sleeping Prince Larkin is kept, he feels compassion towards him. But by simply brushing away dust, Merrick wakes him and, inadvertently, Ula Kana who wreaked havoc on Eidolonia 200 years ago because of hate towards humans.
The character building in this was amazing and the relationship development between Larkin and Merrick was one I became very invested in very quickly! Even though the final plot was somewhat predictable, the twists and turns that this took left me hooked. The world-building was great, the imagination of these realms in the fae world were so much different to what I was expecting.
I think my favourite part of this whole tale was the references to the real world and cultures. She also used words from native languages to create character names which shows not only her incredible imagination but the respect of real history.
If you have your eye on this book, get it! If you’re a fan of the Folk of the Air series by Holly Black, you’ll find this a great read.
A huge thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Central Avenue Publishing, for the opportunity to read this in advance!
After 2020’s string of amazing releases, it’s going to be difficult to compete. But I can’t help but look ahead to see what wonders are coming next because you never know when you’ll find your next favourite book!
I am guilty of pre-ordering all of my anticipated titles which can be a bit of a gamble since there’s not many reviews out until around the week of release. It’s better to have a really good idea of what your preferences are if you’re going to pre-order so far in advance.
If you find you’re interested in any of these titles, I’ll include links to my favourite book sites and the release date.
Let me know either in the comments or on social media if there are any titles I’ve mentioned that you’re interested in or if there are any that might have been off my radar that you thing I would be interested in! I can’t wait to hear from you!
Far beneath the surface of the earth, upon the shores of the Starless Sea, there is a labyrinthine collection of tunnels and rooms filled with stories. The entryways that lead to this sanctuary are often hidden, sometimes on forest floors, sometimes in private homes, sometimes in plain sight. But those who seek will find. Their doors have been waiting for them. Zachary Ezra Rawlins is searching for his door, though he does not know it. He follows a silent siren song, an inexplicable knowledge that he is meant for another place. When he discovers a mysterious book in the stacks of his campus library he begins to read, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, lost cities, and nameless acolytes. Suddenly a turn of the page brings Zachary to a story from his own childhood impossibly written in this book that is older than he is. A bee, a key, and a sword emblazoned on the book lead Zachary to two people who will change the course of his life: Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances. These strangers guide Zachary through masquerade party dances and whispered back room stories to the headquarters of a secret society where doorknobs hang from ribbons, and finally through a door conjured from paint to the place he has always yearned for. Amid twisting tunnels filled with books, gilded ballrooms, and wine-dark shores Zachary falls into an intoxicating world soaked in romance and mystery. But a battle is raging over the fate of this place and though there are those who would willingly sacrifice everything to protect it, there are just as many intent on its destruction. As Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian venture deeper into the space and its histories and myths, searching for answers and each other, a timeless love story unspools, casting a spell of pirates, painters, lovers, liars, and ships that sail upon a Starless Sea
After ten years of waiting for fans of Erin Morngenstern’s hugely successful debut The Night Circus, we’re transported to another wonderfully fantastical world of magic doors, mythical libraries and legendary stories.
We follow Zachary Ezra, our protagonist. During his regular visit to the local library, he stumbles upon a book full of fantastical short stories that looks to be very old. As he flicks through this mysterious book of tales, the is a tale of romance involving what is called the starless sea in an underground world. But as he continues reading, he finds one that reads like a very unusual moment in his life. In perfect detail. Can he find out who wrote about this moment in his life? Will he find the starless sea?
I loved The Night Circus and became a die-hard fan of Morgenstern’s from its last page. So, when I saw she was finally coming out with another title, I was beyond excited!
As I began to read, I discovered why it took so long between publications. This book is impeccably crafted. Not only do we have a wonderful, beautiful and captivating main plot with excellent character-building, but we find that this is just book-inception. The short fairy tales are published inside the main story, giving it even more unique qualities. But these extra tales aren’t rushed, far from it. They are immersive in-and-of themselves. If she published a book with just the short tales, I’d be throwing my money everywhere!
I loved her descriptive writing of this world and the magical painted doors, I really felt I could see everything and just wanted, desperately, for someone to invent a way to travel to these fictional worlds, to hear, see and smell the surroundings.
Despite all that, I became a little annoyed at the amount of filler-words there were (more specifically the word ‘and’). I ended up skipping over these words so often because they really were over-used and took me away from the story. This AND this, AND this… it just got annoying.
But for a negative, it’s a pretty minor one which I can easily look past (literally) because the level of craftsmanship was staggering.
This really made me feel festive, for some reason. Maybe something to do with when I ordered it? I can’t recommend this more and Erin Morgenstern remains one of my all-time favourite authors.
The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed. But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast. And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
I may have stayed up until 3am to finish this book… it’s only taken me a day to read.
I first came across Lucy Foley’s writing with The Hunting Party that was gifted to my better-half for Christmas and had to read it as soon as possible… I read it first (sorry, honey!) and I instantly fell in love with her writing and immersive storytelling with the tang that this could really be real life.
Needless to say, after I read her first book I immediately jumped online to see if there were any new books on the horizon. Sure enough there was. INSTANTLY PRESSED THE PRE-ORDER BUTTON! (Yes I’m using capital letters to get across my child-like excitement).
I was nervous once I received my copy in fear that it wouldn’t match the excitement and suspense of her first book… I WAS SO WRONG! (it’s tempting to use multiple exclamation marks to try and drive home my excitement a little more, but I’ll stick to the capital letters for now). I don’t know how but it was better than I could have ever expected. It had the same formula as The Hunting Party but it didn’t feel like a formula at all. I was (literally) hooked from the first page. The only time I put down my book was to eat.
The descriptive writing about this perfect island away from the rest of the world with beautiful places to explore and staying in a grand hotel. Similarly to The Hunting Party, we follow multiple perspectives and jump a few days into the future until it all collides at the apex of the book.
Every character was so well fleshed out and our key players were exceptionally crafted. Some I loved, some I hated, envied or didn’t trust. The very last chapter just left me clawing for more!
It’s now 4am while I’m writing this because I just can’t help but want to rave about this book. I cannot contain my excitement and adoration until morning.
Needless to say, I will be keeping a very close eye out for any new books to be released by this extraordinarily, talented writer. (Do you think my partner elbowing me in the face while he’s sleeping is a hint to go to sleep?)
Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned. Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony. The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made. And love makes fools of us all.
This title just blew up in the book world. I’m guilty for purchasing this purely because of the hype!
I’m noticing a trend where witch-themes are making a come-back in publishing and Ms. Mahurin chose a great time to have this published. Many of the YA-fantasy Royals have reignited this adoration.
Set in a some-what historical setting in France during the time of the witch-trials, this added a layer of romance and gothic feel. Louise le Blanc is a young witch, running away from her mother and her coven after years of mistreatment from them. When she is found by the Chasseur, Reid Diggory, she uses her magic to coerce the archbishop to wed the pair and wipe her true identity from knowledge to protect herself from the Chasseur and her mother.
Louise and Reid’s relationship goes from indifference and distrust to love ad romance. Though this was really well written, I don’t tend to enjoy this trope. However, as I said, this relationship development was really well written where it felt organic and not something the author is forcing.
The main plot-point took a good chunk of this book before we get to the climax. But, since this is a series of two books (with a promise of a third) I kind of expected this.
All in all, I did enjoy this. It was a good read but wasn’t something to write home about.
Similarly to my previous discussion of the pro’s and cons of eBooks vs. physical books, there’s another discussion that’s been around for decades; are paperbacks better or are hardcovers?
When I was growing up I almost exclusively read paperback novels and rarely got to buy a luxurious hardcover. I think one of the reasons why was because of how many titles I went through in such a short time so it was more economical, giving more money to buy many rather than a few. The other reason I mostly read paperbacks were because these are, to this day, much more readily available and easily mass-produced. Whereas any hardcover requires a lot more cost in publication and less in the was of profit. And they aren’t overly budget friendly for most of us.
Paperbacks, as I said are much easier and cheaper to mass-produce meaning that its then cheaper for the consumers. They’re easier to carry around in your pocket or bag and are far easier to hold. But they have less of a life-span, these days more than decades past. We live in an economy where the cheaper it is, the less robust they are and the more you spend the better the quality… sometimes.
So, why are hardbacks still available if they are more costly? If you’re like me and buy books in the hopes to not only practically live in a library but to also share with your future generations, a hardcover is far more likely to survive decades unscathed. But they do come with a higher price tag and are usually come as a collectable or special edition.
The way a paperback and hardback are bound is similar in that the pages are glued. But paperbacks are literally just that, glue and a softcover to protect those precious pages. Whereas a hardcover is made of a slightly tougher glue and the board gives it an extra layer of protection. If you’re looking for any of your favourite titles to last centuries and not just decades, a library binding is far superior. They not only are a hardcover with a strong adhesive but they are also sewn. Each text has a wedge of pages stacked, called signatures, that are then sewn to each signature, then glued together to add another layer. After that they are bound in a board-cover and secured in place by the end-pages. Cool right? The reason a library bound book is so much more durable and thought about is because of the amount of hands it exchanges, the amount of people that have turned its pages, dropped it, shoved it in their bag – you name it. So to make the overall costs lower on the libraries, they invest in a higher quality binding.
So really, the differences between a paperback or hardcover are slight. The lux of owning a hardcover still stands and feels more substantial. I personally prefer pre-ordering a hardcover, if they are available, in a special edition binding or of that nature because, even though they cost more to make, they are usually for a limited run so then there is a slight dip in the environmental impact. And most of the time, the books I buy I love or pass on to friends, family or my local library.
Much like the entirety of the publishing world, it’s all down to personal preference. If you buy a paperback copy to just indulge your need for literature or you splash-out on a hardcover so you have something to treasure for years to come, its all up to you. All that really matters is that you’re reading and that you’re enjoying it!
December 1938, and storm clouds hover once again over Europe. Josephine Tey and Archie Penrose gather with friends for a Cornish Christmas, but two strange and brutal deaths on St Michael’s Mount – and the unexpected arrival of a world famous film star, in need of sanctuary – interrupt the festivities. Cut off by the sea and a relentless blizzard, the hunt for a murderer begins. Pivoting on a real moment in history, the ninth novel in the ‘Josephine Tey’ series draws on all the much-loved conventions of the Golden Age Christmas mystery, whilst giving them a thrilling contemporary twist
Despite this being a tale from the Josephine Tey series, and not actually reading any of the previous works; this can be read as a stand-alone.
Why are all festive murders set in the countryside?! I love the beautiful language that can be used to describe the picturesque surroundings but I doubt that there are that many horrific murders in small communities!
On a serious note; this was a really well written, gruesome depiction of historical events. Yes, our leading lady Josephine Tey and her counterpart are fiction but the main scenarios were based on actual people. If you’ve seen my other reviews, I love crime/thrillers. I love watching and reading true-crime and learning the techniques used to uncover the truths of some grizzly events. When I’m reading any crime novel, I make mental notes of the characters inconsistencies, motives and means.
With this one, I did manage to figure out the plot-point but it was still a great read! It also shed light on personal histories of those that are referenced and past, forgotten crimes and their victims… The more I review books the more I notice how strange my mind is!
Though this was a fun read, I struggled to remember who was who in the story, it felt as though further research and mapping was needed to really sell these interpretations. Despite that, I will be looking into more of this authors works, hopefully in the near(ish) future!