Top Ten Tuesday #396

Hi everyone! The big news from the past week is that I GOT A JOB. FINALLY. It’s been a long few months of searching since I finished up at the vaccination centre earlier this year, so I’m really glad that I’ve got something now and I’m set to be starting next week, so that’s really exciting. I’ve also got something really fun lined up for tomorrow, I’m going to see Come From Away at the theatre, I’ve been wanting to see it for a while and I had a Theatre Tokens voucher to use. I’ve heard really good things so I’m hoping that I will enjoy it!

Anyway, it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic was meant to be cozy reads, but since cozy reads don’t tend to be my vibe, I decided to go in the complete opposite direction and do Emotional Reads. I have done a similar topic before, back in 2016 but since that was six years ago, I figured enough time had passed to do it again and despite the fact that list was double-length, I still managed to find ten more different emotional reads. What can I say? I really enjoy the sad books! So here we go:

  1. Code Name Verity-Elizabeth Wein

Though I did read Code Name Verity in 2016, I hadn’t yet read it when I made my original list, otherwise it definitely wouldn’t have been on there. Code Name Verity is one of those special books that made me laugh and broke my heart in almost equal measure and it’s a very special book that manages to do that, a lot of sad books just tend to be really bleak, but Elizabeth Wein definitely balanced the sadness with Queenie’s incredible sense of humour (which honestly makes the sad stuff even more sad!). I hardly ever outwardly cry when I read but this book brought me pretty darn close.

2. Rose Under Fire-Elizabeth Wein

I actually did cry when I read this one. The experiences of Rose and the other prisoners at Ravensbruck just punched me in the gut, the characters might have been fictional but the camp certainly wasn’t and knowing that their experiences were based on what happened to real women in that camp definitely got to me whilst reading. The whole middle section of the book which was the part based at the camp had me in bits pretty much the entire time. I generally preferred Code Name Verity as a book, I liked the characters and the story better, but Rose certainly hit me harder.

3. Looking For Jane-Heather Marshall

I never expected this book to be an easy read, it was clear from the description, it was going to cover some tough topics. Evelyn and Maggie’s stories really broke my heart: how abused they were at the maternity home, how they were forced to sign away all rights to their children in order to be allowed to hold them or to be given painkillers after giving birth, how Evelyn was told her baby died in order to stop her from looking for her. If I was going to give anyone any book to convince them of how important reproductive rights are and how vital choice is, it would definitely be this one.

4. The Librarian Spy-Madeline Martin

This year was apparently the year of super heavy historical fiction for me! Ava and Elaine’s story had such an emotional impact on me, particularly Elaine’s. Elaine works as a spy for the French Resistance, and the things she goes through over the course of the book, the loss and sacrifices, the lack of food and the constant fear of being caught by the Nazis, I could never have been as strong as she was. Ava’s part of the story was the weaker for me, but it also had its moments of emotional impact, especially when it came to the stories of the refugees, particularly Otto who had an especially touching story.

5. Know My Name-Chanel Miller

Given the topic of Chanel Miller’s memoir (her experience of sexual assault and recovery), it’s only natural that this was an incredibly emotional read. Listening to the audiobook definitely heightened the experience for me as well, hearing her tell her own story, I think made the emotions I felt even more palpable because I could hear how she felt in her voice as she was reading. I’d already read her victim impact statement when it was released on Buzzfeed, but it was even more powerful hearing it in her own voice at the end of the book. I knew that rape survivors were being failed by the criminal justice system, but hearing Chanel’s experiences really hammered home exactly why reports of rape are so low. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a memoir that’s had as big an emotional impact on me as this one, and I think it will probably be a long time till I find another that hits as hard.

6. The Nobleman’s Guide To Scandal and Shipwrecks-Mackenzi Lee

The Nobleman’s Guide is quite different to the other two books in the series: those were generally light-hearted, despite the challenges Monty and Felicity dealt with, particularly Monty. This book, whilst it does still have its light moments, is centred around Monty and Felicity’s younger brother Adrian, who suffers from pretty severe anxiety and OCD, so naturally his head is not the easiest place to be. His mental health journey is really well handled, there are emotional ups and downs along the way, and the journey he goes on through the book (both literally and mentally) is very challenging, but it was so rewarding in the end!

7. Asking For It-Louise O’Neill

Any book revolving around sexual assault is always a very emotionally charged read and this one was no exception. This book is slightly different from the others on my list though, as though I did find it an emotional read, the main emotion for me reading this one was anger. Which means that Louise O’Neill did her job very well because that’s what you’re supposed to feel: all of the hoops that girls have to jump through to try and prove that they were raped, the ridiculous questions they get asked, the whole “you were asking for it if…..(insert ridiculous reason here), it’s just so incredibly frustrating that rape survivors are still treated this way and that these rape culture myths are still so pervasive.

8. The Diamond Eye-Kate Quinn

Pretty much all WWII books are guaranteed to be emotional, because of the nature of the topic, and this one was no exception. Kate Quinn is always very good at balancing the sadness with humour but it is war and Mila goes through a lot of trauma as a result of her time as a sniper, and from her emotionally abusive relationship with her much older first husband Alexei.

9. Firestarter-Tara Sim

All three of the Timekeeper trilogy books had emotional parts, but it was this, the final book in the trilogy that really tugged at my heartstrings. The whole book was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me, because I felt so hard for the characters that whenever anything happened to them I was on the edge of my seat worrying if they were going to make it. I almost cried at the end as well, it was so perfect.

10. The Alice Network-Kate Quinn

I was torn between this and The Rose Code (honestly I could have included all three of the Kate Quinn books I’ve read), but I decided on this one in the end because of Eve’s story. The trauma Eve goes through during WWI, particularly the scene where we find out what happened to her hands is incredibly harrowing, and probably one of the most difficult parts of a book I’ve ever had to read, I almost stopped listening at multiple points. Quinn is incredibly good at painting a vivid picture of the fear, and desperation and horror of war, and that really shone through in this book.

Do you enjoy reading emotional books? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is a Freebie, and I thought to try something different, I’m going to do Round The World In Books, and see how many different countries I’ve visited through the books I’ve read!

Top Ten Tuesday #395

Hi everyone! I’m back from Scotland now, just got back yesterday and had a really nice time. Mum’s graduation was lovely (if a little wet, she had the bad luck to be graduating on the day with the worst weather out of all the days we were in Dundee) and it was really nice to catch up with Nicola again after so long!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, and time for another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is the annual Thanksgiving Freebie, another one of the ones that it gets harder for me to do every year without repeating topics, as I feel like there’s only so many options, plus I’m British, so all my knowledge of Thanksgiving comes purely from watching US sitcoms!

I did however manage to come up with something, after two years of Covid restrictions, there were a lot of things that I was very grateful to have back when they lifted, so I thought I’d share some of those with you today:

  1. Being able to see my sister for the first time in four years this summer

I’ll start with the most obvious one: Covid put a stop to our planned family reunion in 2020, and though we were hoping my sister might be able to come visit for my Dad’s birthday in 2021, that also wasn’t able to happen. But she was finally able to get back to the UK this summer and it was so nice to finally see her in person and not over a video screen. We’re also spending Christmas in Australia this year, which is our first Christmas as a family for about five years, so that’s going to be great as well.

2. Being able to see my friends in person and not over video chat

I don’t know about everyone else, but I got really tired of video chat! Sure we could spend hours and hours chatting over video as we would in person, but it wasn’t THE SAME. I managed to see both my friends a little over the summer and autumn in 2020 between lockdowns but it was so nice once the restrictions were finally lifted properly and we were able to see each other again more regularly.

3. Horse riding

It’s amazing how much my mental health improved once I was able to go riding again over the summer in 2020, sadly, it was short lived due to more covid restrictions in the winter, but when they were finally able to re-open permanently again, it was one of the things I was most excited to have back as it really did help my mood and my general mental health so much to be able to go riding every week, it added a little bit of normality back into my life when things were still all kind of uncertain.

4. Going to the theatre again

I knew I enjoyed going to the theatre but I don’t think I realised quite how much I loved it until I was suddenly not able to go anymore! I’ve actually been to the theatre a lot more in the past couple of years than I did before lockdown, I’d usually see one, maybe two shows a year, but in 2021, I saw four shows and by the end of this year I think I’ll have seen six? Granted I think part of that is now living in London and it just being more accessible to me, but I think since Covid, I’m also more aware of the importance of supporting live entertainment, so I try to as much as I’m able!

5. Having in-person book events and being able to meet my favourite authors and get my books signed, particularly YALC

In-person book events seemed to be one of the last things to come back, they only really seemed to start getting off the ground at the beginning of this year, so naturally my anticipation was very high. I’ve been to a few this year, and it was so nice to finally get to be in the room with other readers again, I don’t think I realised how much I’d missed it until I was back in the room with people at the VE Schwab London event back in March. I can’t even explain how giddy I felt walking back through the doors of Olympia for YALC this year, I think this year’s event had such a special atmosphere because everyone was so excited to be back and I definitely felt like I ended up with twice as many books as usual to make up for the Covid off-years!

6. Being able to spend time in places that aren’t my house

When I tell you I was ridiculously excited to get the job at the vaccination centre last summer just because it meant being able to actually leave my house everyday……

7. Finally being able to move house

This one kind of ties into the last one, our move back to London has been shifted so many times over the past couple of years because of Covid, but we were finally able to do it over the summer and it’s made me so happy! I really love being back in London, it’s allowed me to have more independence because the public transport system is so much better than in Cambridge, so it really doesn’t matter that I don’t have a driving license here, and there’s so much more to do! Everything doesn’t shut at like six o’clock! And you can go to stuff that finishes late without having to worry about missing the last bus home because the buses go after midnight.

8. Going to my first concert in about six years (ish)

Okay this one wasn’t entirely Covid’s fault, there obviously were concerts on between 2016 and 2019 but I was at Uni and couldn’t really afford concert tickets! So it kind of just happened that the first concert I went to in a while was one that was after the Covid shutdown, but it was still really great to get to go to one again and Mum and I had an amazing time at Queen + Adam Lambert. I’d love to say my next one will be whenever Taylor Swift tours the UK again, but having seen the car crash that was the US ticket sales, I’m thinking fat chance of that!

9. Being able to go on holiday again

I’ve been on a couple of UK holidays in the inter-lockdown periods and since lockdown ended, with a couple of trips to Stirling and the spa holiday with my friends last year which was AMAZING. But this year will be my first international holiday since I was in Cape Town in 2020 (and that wasn’t solely a holiday as I was doing volunteer work whilst I was out there, the family holiday part of that trip got stymied by Covid), my parents and I are going out to Australia to spend Christmas with my sister and her partner and I CAN’T WAIT.

10. Getting dressed up again

This is kind of a trivial one, but because I don’t tend to get dressed up much unless I have somewhere fancy to go, I didn’t really get to dress up, put on makeup, the whole shebang during Covid restrictions. So it was just really nice once restrictions finally lifted to get all dressed up, put some makeup on and just feel a little bit special and fancy again!

What have you enjoyed doing again since Covid restrictions lifted in your country? Let me know in the comments!

Next week’s topic is Cozy Reads, which is a topic I’ve done before, and to be honest, I’m not sure I could think of enough books to do it again, my reading tastes tends to lean more towards the heart-crushing than the cozy! So instead, I’ll lean towards what I do well, and share my Favourite Heartbreaking Reads. I think I’ve probably done a list like this before, but I read a lot of books that crush my emotions so it shouldn’t be hard to come up with more!

Top Ten Tuesday #394

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, I’ve got quite an exciting upcoming week, I’m up in Scotland for the week, my mum did a French diploma course over lockdown and she’s graduating this week! I’m also seeing my friend Nicola who I haven’t seen since before Covid, so I’m really looking forward to that too.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, and time for another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic was meant to be Favourite Aww Moments In Books, but since the books I read generally trend towards the sad, or people dying horribly, rather than sweet moments, I thought this wasn’t really one for me. So instead, I’m going completely off base, and doing something I saw Rissi from Finding Wonderland do a while back, and sharing my Favourite Taylor Swift Lyrics. Yes, not really book related, but it’s my blog, I can do what I want! Pre-warning, this will be a long one, I found it hard to narrow down. So here we go:

  1. “And you call me up again just to break me like a promise. So casually cruel in the name of being honest.” -All Too Well, Red (Taylor’s Version)

This line feels like a total gut punch every time you listen to it, it’s one of my favourite lyrics that Taylor has ever written, it’s just so raw and perfectly gets across the pain of the end of that relationship.

2. “You had a speech, you’re speechless. Love slipped beyond your reaches. And I couldn’t give a reason.” -champagne problems, evermore

I could probably have included this whole song because it’s one of my absolute favourites of hers, it’s so gorgeous and sad, and tells such a complete story in just four minutes. I found this line particularly poignant though, I thought it really highlighted the devastation of the guy whose proposal was rejected.

3. “There was nothing left to do. When the butterflies turned to dust that covered my whole room.” -Clean, 1989

I just really love the imagery here, the idea of butterflies decayed into dust is a really great image to portray the end of a relationship.

4. “But I knew you’d linger like a tattoo kiss, knew you’d haunt all of my what-ifs” -cardigan, folklore

cardigan wasn’t originally one of my favourite songs from folklore but it really grew on me when I listened more and appreciated how lovely the lyrics were, I love how ethereal this line is.

5. “So I’ll watch your life in pictures like I used to watch you sleep. And I feel you forget me like I used to feel you breathe.” -Last Kiss, Speak Now

I think you can see now why the original topic was not one that was going to work for me, I clearly don’t like the cute moments, I like the devastating ones that rip your heart out and trample on it! Taylor has written a lot of really sad songs, but Last Kiss is always one of the ones that gets me the most.

6. “And you’ll poke that bear til her claws come out. And you find something to wrap your noose around.” -mad woman, folklore

mad woman was one of my instant first listen favourites from folklore, it’s just such a satisfying song, and I think really built on something she’d been exploring previously but in a more nuanced way. I could have chosen quite a few lines from this song, but this is the one that I always find myself singing slightly more loudly when I listen to it.

7. “You come away with a great little story of a mess of dreamer with the nerve to adore you.” -Cold As You, debut album

Taylor’s written so many songs since she released her first album that it’s easy to forget about her debut, but it has some really killer lyrics on it and this is one of my favourites: very simple but cuts like a knife, like all the best Taylor Swift lyrics!

8. “But I took your matches before fire could catch me, so don’t look now. I’m shining like fireworks over your sad empty town.” -Dear John, Speak Now

Speak Now is my favourite of all Taylor Swift’s albums, most of her other albums have a least one skip for me, but Speak Now is the one where I can say that every song is one I really enjoy to listen to. Dear John is full of brilliant lyrics, but this is the one that I find most satisfying when I listen to it.

9. “Hung my head as I lost the war, and the sky turned black like a perfect storm.” -Clean, 1989

Honestly, I feel like Clean doesn’t get enough credit for how brilliant it is? Lyrically, it’s up there as one of my favourite songs on 1989 and it’s definitely one of my favourite album closers (though I think Long Live may just edge it slightly).

10. “And they tell you that you’re lucky but you’re so confused. Cause you don’t feel pretty, you just feel used.” -The Lucky One, Red (Taylor’s Version)

The Lucky One is another one of those Taylor Swift songs that I really love, but feel is kind of underrated. This line in particular is one I really love because it cuts right to the point of the harsh reality of being famous.

11. “And then the cold came, the dark days when fear crept into my mind. You gave me all your love but all I gave you was goodbye.” -Back To December, Speak Now

Back To December is one of my absolute favourite Taylor Swift songs, it’s really beautiful and again just feels like a complete story set to music.

12. “She would’ve made such a lovely bride. What a shame she’s fucked in the head, they said.” -champagne problems, evermore

champagne problems has one of my favourite bridges of any Taylor Swift song, and this line is one that I just know will be super satisfying to sing back at a concert (not that I have any hope that I will be able to either afford or get tickets when Taylor announces UK dates for her next tour, but a girl can dream!).

13. “How can a person know everything at eighteen, but nothing at twenty two? And will you still want me, when I’m nothing new?” -Nothing New, Red (Taylor’s Version)

I have no idea how this didn’t make it onto the original Red album because it’s such a brilliant song, but in a way I’m kind of glad it didn’t, because I was only 16 when Red originally came out, and I related so much more to this song at 25 than I think I would have back then, especially this line because I genuinely do feel like the older I get, the less I know about what I want from my life!

14. “Darling I’m a nightmare, dressed like a daydream” -Blank Space, 1989

Ah this line just bites so hard and it’s such a great image. Blank Space is just such a great song anyway, I love when Taylor does satire about herself and the way she’s viewed, it’s always so brilliant!

15. “When all you wanted was to be wanted. Wish you could go back, and tell yourself what you know now.” -Fifteen, Fearless (Taylor’s Version)

Fifteen is another one of my all time favourite Taylor Swift songs, I first heard it when I was thirteen and I could relate a lot to the lyrics because of things I was going through at school at the time, and when I listen back to it now, this line definitely hits because I’d love to be able to go back and tell my thirteen year old self that things will work out for her!

16. “You drew stars, around my scars. Now I’m bleedin'” -cardigan, folklore

Again I just really love the image of this!

17. “But people are people and sometimes it doesn’t work out. But nothing we say is gonna save us from the fallout.” -Breathe, Fearless

Breathe isn’t one of my absolute favourite songs but it does have some really gorgeous lines and this is one of my favourites.

18. “Time won’t fly, it’s like I’m paralysed by it. I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it.” -All Too Well, Red (Taylor’s Version)

I did try and keep the All Too Well lyrics to a minimum as I could have put the entire song on here, but this line is one that I have deeply related to in the past, so I just had to include it here.

19. “We were a fresh page on the desk, filling in the blanks as we go.” -Cornelia Street, Lover

As a writer, the whole idea of fresh pages, new starts is definitely appealing!

20. “Maybe we got lost in translation, maybe I asked for too much. But maybe this thing was a masterpiece till you tore it all up.” -All Too Well, Red (Taylor’s Version)

I promise this is the last one from All Too Well! It just has pretty much all my favourite Taylor Swift lyrics ever on it, so naturally it would show up more than a few times.

Thank you for hanging in there for that incredibly long post! I swear I did initially just have 12 for this, but then other lines kept coming to me and I didn’t want to miss anything out. I learned some interesting things in the course of making this list: that I thought Fearless was my favourite Taylor Swift album, but actually most of my favourite lyrics don’t come from there (even though a lot of my favourite songs do!), that Speak Now is maybe my actual favourite Taylor Swift album (which to be fair, it has always been a toss-up between Fearless and Speak Now) and that I really love emotionally devastating songs. I wasn’t too surprised that no Reputation songs made the list to be honest, whilst I like individual songs from the album, it’s never been one of my favourites of hers.

Do you like Taylor Swift’s music? Any particular favourite songs? Let me know in the comments!

We’re back on the book train next week, it’s the annual Thanksgiving freebie. I did struggle to think of something for this as I think I’ve run the gamut of Thankful themed freebies over the past eight years, but then I figured that coming out of two years of Covid restrictions, there’s a lot of been thankful to have back, so that’s what I’m going to do as my topic next week, Things I’ve Been Thankful To Have Back Since Covid Restrictions Were Lifted. It’s not particularly bookish, but oh well, I thought it would be a nice one to do!

Midnights Book Tag

Hi everyone! As has become tradition whenever Taylor Swift releases a new album, I have another Taylor Swift themed book tag for you all. However, this one is a little different, as I’m doing my own prompts for this. There are other Midnights tags out there, but I had some ideas I wanted to use for it, and I thought it would be fun to try and do my own original tag, as I’ve not done one of those in years. I’m not sure if I loved Midnights as much as either folklore or evermore, but I’ve only actually listened to it once through so far, so I’m sure the songs will grow on me as I listen more. My current favourites are Anti-Hero, Mastermind, Snow on The Beach and You’re On Your Own Kid, but honestly, my favourites definitely change around from the first listen, so I’m not expecting that to stay the same the more I listen to the album.

Feel free to use my prompts if you want to, just credit me if you do!

1. Lavender Haze-A book that you felt completely engrossed in

I remember sitting outside on my uni’s campus in Stirling, the weather was really beautiful for once, and I just sat for hours and hours reading this book, I could not put it down. I had to know how the Gangsey’s story ended and I was not disappointed!

2. Maroon-A book that has stuck with you over the years

I first read this book when I was about 11 or 12, and it’s definitely one that has stuck with me over the years. I’m not sure I’ll ever be over the ending of this book to be honest, it was the first book I remember being completely crushed by.

3. Anti-Hero-A book character who is constantly causing problems

I love Lila Bard, but when I first heard the line “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me”, I was like this is Lila to a tee! She’s constantly causing problems and running headlong into trouble, but we love her anyway!

4. Snow On The Beach-A book with an unexpected premise

Life After Life is definitely an unusual kind of story, with the protagonist Ursula Todd, dying and coming back to live her life over and over again, each time trying to avoid the mistakes which killed her in the previous life. It didn’t always work for me, but it was definitely a very different kind of book to what I usually read.

5. You’re On Your Own Kid-A lonely character

Osla was the first character to come to mind for this one, loneliness and her longing for love and family is such a huge part of her storyline in this book and it’s one of the reasons why the girls’ friendship breakup hit me so hard because Osla had finally found the family she longed for and then it all fell apart and she was back to being alone.

6. Midnight Rain-A couple that were too different to work

I never really understood what Ada and Camille saw in each other, they hardly seemed to like each other most of the time! They seemed so ill-suited to each other and they were always so much happier apart than they seemed together, so it was definitely a case of a mismatch of personalities for me.

7. Question?-A couple who just cannot communicate

I mean, I could have chosen a lot of books for this one, because YA characters always tend have issues with communication, but Laila and Severin from this series have to take the cake! I really hope they managed to get their act together in the final book of the trilogy because reading their endless streams of miscommunication in the second book was a challenge!

8. Vigilante Shit-A character who is out for revenge

This song SCREAMS Marcella Riggins. If I was to try and describe Marcella Riggins as a character to anyone, and I wanted to point to a song that encapsulated what her character was about perfectly, it would be Vigilante Shit.

9. Bejewled-A book cover that really stands out

This is one of my absolute favourite book covers, and I feel like it’s got that slightly shimmery quality that fits well with Bejeweled.

10. Labyrinth-A book that was an emotional rollercoaster

I was warned that this was an emotional read before I read it, and yet it still hit me like a gut punch. But it was a true rollercoaster journey to get to that inevitable end, and I swung between laughing and crying more than once in my time reading this book and was never quite sure which way I was going to go!

11. Karma-A character who got what they deserved

Rene, the main villain of this novel, definitely got what he deserved in the end, and both Eve and Charlie (the protagonists) got the happy endings that they deserved.

12. Sweet Nothing-Favourite Cinnamon Roll Character

Colton is a sweetheart who must be protected at all costs, that is all.

13. Mastermind- Favourite criminal mastermind

Much like “Vigilante Shit” screams Marcella Riggins, I feel like “Mastermind” has Kaz Brekker written all over it. Nothing left to chance, everything planned out in minute detail, and anything that you think is up to chance has actually been engineered by him? Yes, if Kaz Brekker was a song, Mastermind would definitely be it.

14. The Great War-A couple who are constantly in conflict with each other

Ah Enne and Levi. They have such great chemistry, but it is basically impossible to imagine them ever being happy together because they always seem to be involved in some kind of conflict or misunderstanding, or general angst and hardly ever actually seem happy with one another. It’s the kind of relationship which is constantly exhausting because it feels like both parties are always wired at 100, and never seem to calm down!

15. Bigger Than The Whole Sky-A character death that hit you hard

I won’t go into specifically which one here, because spoilers, but if you know you know! To be honest, I’m still not over any of the deaths from this book and I read it a good ten years ago now.

16. Paris-A book set in Paris

I know this song isn’t literally about being in Paris, but I’ve read quite a few great books set in Paris over the past few years, and Enchantee does work with the actual meaning of the song too as a major part of the story is Camille escaping her regular life in the bleakness of 1780s Paris to the glittering court of Versailles.

17. High Infidelity-A book containing an affair

One of the main characters in this book, Greta Lorke, engages in an affair with her later husband, Adam Kuckhoff, for part of this book. I don’t know if the affair has any historical accuracy, I’ve not seen any mention anywhere of Adam Kuckhoff having a first wife, so I imagine that the author maybe invented the affair for dramatic effect, but either way, it works for my prompt!

18. Glitch-A book that shouldn’t have worked for you, but did

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that romance really isn’t my thing. I don’t even know why I picked up The Time Traveler’s Wife, I think my mum and sister had both read it and I was feeling left out? Anyway, it’s generally not the kind of book I would ever read but I ended up enjoying Clare and Henry’s story way more than I ever thought I would (however it is the exception, not the rule, I still largely don’t like romance-heavy stories!).

19. Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve-A Book You Think You Would Have Liked More If You’d Read It At A Different Time In Your Life

When I read Shadow and Bone in 2018, I liked it but didn’t LOVE IT. I do think part of that was having read Six of Crows first and seeing how much Leigh Bardugo had improved as a writer since her debut, but I also think that timing did come into a play a little here. I was 21 when I read Shadow and Bone, and had read a lot of YA fantasy at that point, so it just didn’t compare to other, better books I had read at the time. Had I read it when it came out, when I was 16/17, I reckon I would have had a very different opinion of it than I did at 21.

20. Dear Reader-A book with a diary format

I’m not usually a big fan of epistolary type books, but I did find The Princess Diaries series really fun to read when I was a teenager (I absolutely wouldn’t now, they’re not my kind of thing anymore, but at 14/15, I gobbled these books up).

So there we go, my first original book tag in a while! It was really fun coming up with my own prompts but it did take a lot longer than I expected, so kudos to the people who create tags all the time, it’s not easy!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the tag, and if you would like to have a go using my prompts (and maybe do a prettier design than me, I’m not so good with the graphics, so different coloured fonts was the best I could manage!) then feel free to do so!

Have you listened to Midnights? What were your favourite songs? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday #393

Hi everyone, I hope you’ve all had a good week since last did one of these. I’ve got quite a busy upcoming week, I had a riding lesson today, I’ve got a job interview on Thursday, a book event on Friday and meeting up with a friend on Saturday, so it’s definitely a jam-packed week going on here!

Before I get into today’s post, I wanted to mention that I now have Ko-Fi. If you enjoy my content and are in a position where you feel able to support me financially, then I would be massively grateful to anyone who wanted to “buy me a coffee” as Ko-Fi says! I’m obviously still going to be blogging here no matter what, but any extra support would always be greatly appreciated! You can find my Ko-Fi here:

https://ko-fi.com/iloveheartlandx

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, and time for another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is Series I Need To Catch Up On/Finish and BOY OH BOY DO I FEEL CALLED OUT BY TODAY’S TOPIC! I am so behind on pretty much all my series because I just haven’t really been reading physical books over the past couple of years and most of my series are in physical format, so I don’t want to waste audiobook credits on books I already own. Hopefully next year, I’ll start to get back into my physical books a bit more and see if I can clear some of these from this list, though I’m sure I’ll just replace them with new series I have to finish, as seen by the fact that this is the second time I’m doing this topic, I last did it two years ago and I don’t have any repeats on this list (of course, I’ve only finished two of the series I mentioned on that list in the past two years, but shhh…..). Anyway, here we go:

  1. King of Scars Duology-Leigh Bardugo: Books To Finish: #2

Okay so here’s the story with this one. I read King of Scars back in July 2020, when Rule of Wolves hadn’t come out yet. I pre-ordered Rule of Wolves and got it the following year, but then I was in a huge reading slump in 2021, where all I really wanted to read was audiobooks, and I definitely wasn’t feeling in the mood for incredibly long and chunky books. Cue 2022 and I’m still not really in the mood for chunky books. Hopefully this changes soon as I have a lot of chunky books waiting on my shelf!

2. Noughts and Crosses Series-Malorie Blackman: Books To Finish: #6

I only have the final book in this series left to go, but I still haven’t picked it up. I think partly because I was a little disappointed by Crossfire, but also because I just haven’t really been reading physical books. I do want to finish it because the Noughts and Crosses series was a big part of my childhood and I’d like to see how everything wraps up, but it’s not necessarily a priority for me at this point?

3. The Gilded Wolves Trilogy-Roshani Chokshi: Books To Finish: #3

I only have the third book in this trilogy to go and I really want to make it a priority for next year because The Silvered Serpents left off on a massive cliffhanger that I’ve obviously not yet read the ending of and I just want to see how everything wraps up for Severin and his crew in this series.

4. Into The Crooked Place Duology-Alexandra Christo: Books To Finish: #2

Okay, in my defence on this one, I lent the second book to my friend and we haven’t seen each other in a while so I just haven’t got it back yet. Also it’s been three years since I read the first one, so I don’t really remember what happened. To be honest, that could be the bigger problem here…..

5. Shadow Players Trilogy-Heidi Heilig: Books To Finish: #2 and #3

I have the second book in this trilogy, but don’t have the third yet, I was waiting for the paperback to be released as I have the rest of the series in paperback. I think it is out in paperback now, so I just need to get it and then I’ll have both books I need to finish the series.

6. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder Series-Holly Jackson: Books To Finish: #0.5, #2 and #3

I fully intend to finish the second book by the end of this year, I have started it, but once again my interest in physical books kind of waned this year, but I have a very long flight to Australia at the end of the year, so I’m hoping to be able to knock the second book in this series out during that one. I may even squeeze in the novella before the end of the year as it’s very short. The chunky beast that is Book #3 will have to wait till I’m in more of a chunky beast mood (and have finished aforementioned Book #2).

7. Skulduggery Pleasant Series-Derek Landy: Books To Finish: #14 & #15

This is another case of just not in the mood for chunksters at the minute. I don’t recommend being a fantasy reader not feeling in the mood for chunky books, it doesn’t work well. It’s honestly probably part of the reason I’ve turned to other genres in the past couple of years! I also just don’t trust Derek Landy after Dying of The Light that this really will be the end….he doesn’t seem to like endings!

8. The Trials of Apollo Series-Rick Riordan: Books To Finish: #4 & #5

Honestly I did kind of lose interest in the Trials of Apollo series after The Burning Maze, it does feel like I’m a little too old to appreciate Rick Riordan’s books in the same way that I used to, but at the same time, I got so far through the series, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to just leave it hanging. We’ll see if I feel like I want to come back to it in the next couple of years or not.

9. Market of Monsters Trilogy-Rebecca Schaeffer: Books To Finish: #2 & #3

I really have no excuse for this one at all, I was so excited for the second book after I finished the first that I got it off Amazon the same day I finished, in a very rare move for me because I really do try not to buy books from Amazon (at least not physical books, I’m very attached to Audible). But A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder was our book club read for the book club I’m in on Goodreads and I really wanted to read that, so it was just a case of bad timing. I will admit that I have now forgotten what happened in the first book, but hopefully it will come back to me when I start the second!

10. The Bone Season Series-Samantha Shannon: Books To Finish: #4

This is an ongoing series, and I have read MOST of the fourth book. I got I think like 300 odd pages through and then my Netgalley copy expired and I was reading another book at the time so I didn’t want to pick up another physical book….and well things just spiralled from there. I really don’t want to have to start again, and I roughly remember where I was up to, so I think I may try and pick it back up and finish it before the end of the year, although the next book isn’t coming out till 2024, so I have time!

11. The Dreamer Trilogy-Maggie Stiefvater: Books To Finish: #2 & #3

I think part of the reason why I haven’t picked up the 2nd book in this series yet was that I was slightly disappointed with Call Down The Hawk. However I do want to finish Ronan’s trilogy and now that it’s complete, maybe I’ll find the motivation to do so? Or maybe not…..who knows at this point!

12. Liberte-Gita Trelease: Books To Finish: #2

This one is a victim of length of time between release dates to be completely honest. I loved Enchantee and was so excited for Liberte when I finished it. I think it was originally meant to come in 2020, but then got pushed back because the author needed more time (totally fair) but by the time it came out, it just wasn’t top of my radar anymore? It’s not the author’s fault, and I would much rather authors took the time they needed for their books than put out a rushed one, but it’s just a natural fact of your reading life that a lot of books come out every year and when one gets pushed back, others do tend to take their place. Then when it did come out, I just wasn’t feeling e-books and I had a Netgalley copy that I never got around to downloading, and it doesn’t seem to have an audiobook which right now is probably the most surefire way I’d actually finish it.

So yeah….long story short, I have no idea when I’ll finish this duology. To be honest, Enchantee did wrap up in a way that if I never finished Liberte, I probably wouldn’t feel like I was missing anything. Still I don’t like to leave things unfinished!

Next week’s topic is meant to be Favourite Aww Moments In Books, but honestly I don’t think I could think of many off the top of my head, since the books I read generally don’t lend themselves to well to “Aww” moments. So instead, I’m going to go completely off base (and off books) and share some of my Favourite Taylor Swift Lyrics, I saw Rissi from Finding Wonderland do this as a twist on the Favourite Words topic we did a few weeks back and it seemed like something I’d love to do, so I’m going to do that for my next week’s topic instead.

Top Ten Tuesday #392

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these. I went to a jobs fair on Saturday, so I’m hoping I might have some more success on the jobs front come out of that, though I would be lying if I said the highlight of my afternoon there wasn’t getting to meet Ted the police dog, who was absolutely delightful!

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so time for another Top Ten Tuesday from Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is Unlikeable Characters You Can’t Help But Love and I have to admit, I thought this one would be easier than it was because I love villains…..but then I hit upon a bit of a catch-22 of this topic, which was that if I like these characters then I clearly don’t think they’re totally unlikeable do I? Maybe I was really overthinking it, but once I got into that spiral it was hard to get out of! Anyway, I decided to approach it from the angle of characters who are villains or morally questionable in some way but I love anyway, which was probably more what the topic suggestion was going for anyway, I just found the unlikeable part threw me off a bit. So here we go:

  1. Victor Vale-Villains duology-VE Schwab

I couldn’t do a list like this without including at least one VE Schwab character (and there will be a couple here!) because she is the Queen of villains, anti-heroes and generally morally questionable characters. Victor Vale is quite obviously a terrible person, as is basically everyone in this series, but you can’t help but love him anyway: he’s very upfront and doesn’t apologise for who he is and there’s something very refreshing about the kind of person who knows that they’re a villain but doesn’t feel like they have to feel guilty about it. I also love the dysfunctional little family he inherits and the way that he quite clearly doesn’t really want to have attachments to people, but as soon as Sydney and Mitch come into his lives, he would die to protect them.

2. Nita-Market of Monsters Trilogy-Rebecca Schaeffer

I definitely have a “type” when it comes to female characters I love, those who are morally questionable, are confident in who they are and don’t care about being liked and are generally quite fierce. That’s not to say I don’t love other kinds of female characters too, it’s just a trend I’ve noticed. Nita definitely falls into that type, and I loved her because I so enjoy it when female characters are allowed to be as morally questionable as men and don’t have to apologise for it. I also found Nita really easy to root for because with the position she’s in in the book, it makes complete sense that she would be selfish and just looking out for her own survival: her life is on the line!

3. Lila Bard-Shades of Magic Trilogy-VE Schwab

I honestly tussled with whether to put Lila on here because I love her so much that I don’t really consider here an unlikeable character (this is where I went into the spiral I mentioned in the intro) but she’s definitely a morally questionable one, so she fits this topic on that account. I think there’s definitely an element of “I wish I could have her confidence” as Lila has a level of confidence I think many of us probably wish we did: but she also just fits the type of female characters I’ve always loved: fierce, slightly reckless, funny and does whatever the hell she wants to. I can’t wait to see her back again in the new Threads of Power books!

4. Lira-To Kill A Kingdom-Alexandra Christo

Lira is quite similar to Lila in a number of ways (aside from the names!), she has that same fierce confidence, but I think Lira is even more brutal than Lila to be honest (I mean the first line of this book is her telling you that she keeps the hearts of the men she’s killed!). I loved that though this story does see Lira develop compassion and humanity, she doesn’t lose that fierce, brutal streak that made me initially fall in love with her, as happens in so many stories where the villain becomes the hero (or at least anti-hero!).

5. Vianca Augustine-The Shadow Game Trilogy-Amanda Foody

Vianca Augustine is plain terrible. With nearly all the other characters on this list, I would say they at least have some redeeming qualities, but I honestly don’t think I could tell you any of Vianca’s. And yet I love her anyway, probably because of that, to be honest. It’s so rare that female villains are allowed to be just plain awful without any particularly redeeming qualities, and Vianca 100% fits that. Her power of being able to control people is one of my favourites in the book, and I loved the way Amanda Foody contrasted her with the main female protagonist Enne and how they both approach power differently: the way Vianca makes herself more masculine to get ahead in a male dominated world, whereas Enne uses her femininity to her advantage. It’s one of the most interesting parallels between women in the book and I just loved that so much.

6. Henry “Monty” Montague-The Montague Siblings Trilogy-Mackenzi Lee

Ah Monty. Monty is to put it quite simply an absolute dickhead. Why then do I love him so much? Honestly he’s the kind of guy that I would probably hate if I knew him in real life, but love as a fictional character and I think it’s because Mackenzi Lee really nails the balance between his less appealing qualities, and the vulnerabilities beneath the surface. I also think I like that he owns the fact that he can be a bit of a jerk, and that he has quite the sense of humour, it does iron out some of his rough edges!

7. Felicity Montague-The Montague Siblings-Mackenzi Lee

All of the Montague siblings are in some way or another an acquired taste (even Adrian, who is probably the most likeable of the three personality-wise!). Felicity is a very prickly sort of character, she can be quite harsh and quite selfish so she won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved her. It made complete sense to me that a woman in the 18th century who is constantly having to prove herself would become a little standoffish and would need to be selfish about going after the things she wanted because no one else is going to get them for her. I also loved her sense of humour, she has the kind of dry, sarcastic sense of humour that matches quite well with my own!

8. Marcella Riggins-Vengeful-VE Schwab

Is Marcella Riggins a mass murderer? Yes. Do I love her anyway? Absolutely yes. Marcella is just so done with being underestimated by all the men around her, and when she develops these superpowers, uses them to take the power she feels has always been denied her. That kind of confidence and ambition to take what you want is something I’ve definitely always admired in female characters (though I’d obviously never condone murder in real life!) and I thoroughly enjoyed Marcella’s badass antics throughout Vengeful (and felt kind of bitter about the way her story ended, but that would be going into spoiler territory).

9. Ronan Lynch-The Raven Cycle and The Dreamer Trilogy-Maggie Stiefvater

Ronan is definitely a jerk and I didn’t really like him initially in The Raven Boys, but he grew on me over the course of the series as we got to know him more as a character, and you get to see why he is the way he is. I also loved how loyal he was to his friends, it was obvious how much they mean to him and seeing that definitely endeared him to me more and more over the course of the books.

10. Artemis Fowl-Artemis Fowl series-Eoin Colfer

Artemis is pretty awful when we first meet him, a twelve year old millionaire criminal mastermind who will use anything and anyone to get what he wants. Doesn’t sound like the kind of character you’d end up rooting for does he? Except I did, because the journey he goes on throughout the books is brilliant and it’s great to see his criminal genius being used for ever more ambitious schemes through the series, and his slow transformation from outright villain to something a little closer to anti-hero (hero would be a strong word!).

So there we have it, those are some morally grey/questionable/villainous characters that I can’t help but love. Have you read any of these books? Do you like any of these characters? What characters did you have on your list this week? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week for another Top Ten Tuesday, this time we’re talking Series I’d Like To Start/Catch Up On/Finish and I will definitely be going for Series I’d Like To Catch Up On/Finish as I have SO MANY OF THESE.

Top Ten Tuesday #391

Hi everyone, hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these. Not much to report here again this week, though I did have a riding lesson today which I really enjoyed.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday from Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is our annual Halloween Freebie, and I have to admit, after seven years of doing this, I’m starting to run out of Halloween themed ideas for these posts. I’m going very basic today, and just talking about my Favourite Spooky Books. It’s probably going to be a fairly similar list to this Books To Get You In The Halloween Mood list that I did about six years ago, but I have read more books since 2016, so I’m hoping it will be just different enough to be interesting. So here we go, my Favourite Spooky Books:

  1. Skulduggery Pleasant series-Derek Landy

I couldn’t do a Halloween themed list without including one of my favourite spooky series! I mean if you’re a spooky lover, this series has it all, magical skeleton detectives, zombies, vampires and a myriad of other monstrous creatures and there’s no shortage of gore, particularly in the later books. It also has a healthy dose of humour, which is something I always love in my spooky books as it definitely helps balance out the dark stuff.

2. Unwind dystology-Neal Shusterman

I did like Scythe (though I’ll admit, I’ve only read the first book and not the rest of the trilogy yet) but the Unwind series will always have my heart as my favourite of Neal Shusterman’s books. This series is probably one of the creepiest I’ve ever read given the premise of teenagers being taken apart to deal with an organ shortage, and THAT SCENE from the first book will be forever burned into my mind. I was quite surprised that I loved this series as much as I did because it probably leans slightly more towards the horrific than I would usually read, but much like Skulduggery Pleasant, it’s very humorous, which lightens up some of the dark stuff!

3. Stalking Jack The Ripper-Keri Mansicalco

Jack The Ripper tours always seem incredibly popular at Halloween so this seemed like a fitting choice! I’d probably say the second one in this series was the spookiest, but the first book was my favourite, so it’s the one I wanted to include here. Given that the book follows an investigation into a serial killer and the detective is a 17-year old aspiring forensic scientist who carries out a lot of autopsies, darkness is baked right into the book from the start!

4. Not Even Bones-Rebecca Schaeffer

Without a doubt the goriest book on this list! Nita dissects monsters as part of her mother’s business selling monster body parts on the black market, but ends up being one of her mother’s sales when she refuses to dissect a live monster. I really enjoyed this book, it’s full of villainous characters (who are always my favourites) but be warned, it’s not for the faint of stomach as there are quite a few gory descriptions of dissections.

5. Frozen Charlotte-Alex Bell

I don’t know if I’ve just watched too much Pretty Little Liars, but dolls are definitely super creepy! These ones are no exceptions, the Frozen Charlotte dolls in this book basically possess people and make them do super gross things like sticking needles in their eyes. This one was a really good one for me because it was kind of horror-lite, I don’t mind a bit of horror, but I generally don’t love super graphic gore (I know I’ve mentioned a couple of the books on here being gory, but they’re all YA books so aren’t ridiculously graphic) so this worked well for me.

6. The Diviners series-Libba Bray

One of my favourite series discoveries in recent years, the Diviners has it all. Ghosts, supernatural abilities, 1920s New York setting and incredibly creepy atmosphere. The thing I loved most about it though was definitely the Diviners gang, it’s a big cast and they have a great dynamic with each other, it’s one of my favourite found family groups I’ve read about in recent years. I would highly recommend the audiobooks for this series, January LaVoy does such an excellent job of creating the dark, creepy atmosphere!

7. City of Ghosts-VE Schwab

I could have gone with quite a few of VE Schwab’s books for this one, as she definitely likes spooky atmospheres in her books, but this felt like the most obvious one given that the whole book revolves around ghosts and ghost hunting. I’ve not really read much middle grade in the past few years, but this was a really fun little book, and I’m excited to finish off the series (for now) with Bridge of Souls whenever I get around to it.

8. The Raven Cycle-Maggie Stiefvater

This series basically has spooky written all over it. You’ve got psychics, you’ve got talking trees, you’ve got dead people and dream creatures, what more could you possibly want? This definitely fits more into the spooky/atmospheric vibe than outright horror but then that is generally what I prefer to read!

9. Ninth House-Leigh Bardugo

I’ll admit I didn’t find this one as gruesome as I was expecting from reading some of the reviews, there’s definitely some dark themes, but it generally wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle (which I’m glad about!). However it certainly fits into the spooky book category, with the main character’s ability to see ghosts and all of the supernatural goings on at Yale’s magical secret societies. I will admit, I hardly remember what happened in this one though as I read it three years ago, so good luck to me when the sequel, Hell Bent comes out next year!

10. Daughter of The Burning City-Amanda Foody

This is a murder mystery, but not your regular murder mystery…..the victims are all illusions created by the main character, who shouldn’t be able to be killed, because they’re not real and therefore shouldn’t die! I really enjoyed this one, it was incredibly atmospheric & the whole idea of setting a murder mystery in a circus and having illusions be the victims was really cool.

So there we go, those are some of my favourite spooky books! Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them? Do you also find it hard coming up with Halloween themed topics? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week for another Top Ten Tuesday, we’re talking Unlikeable Characters You Can’t Help But Love and if there was a topic made for me, it’s this one! I love a good villain!

Top Ten Tuesday #390

Hi everyone! Hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these, once again, not much to report here, it’s been a fairly quiet week.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so time for another Top Ten Tuesday from Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is Favourite Words. I’m not much of an etymologist, so I’ve mostly not chosen words based on meaning, more that I just find them fun to say! I’ve also mixed in a couple of words from other languages I know a little of, because no one said this just had to be English words. So here we go:

  1. Shenanigans

Tell me you can say this word without smiling? Go on, I dare you. Okay, I will admit, part of my love of this word probably comes from the scene in Moulin Rouge where the Duke is threatening Zidler that he will kill people if there are any “shenanigans” involving Satine and I know it’s meant to be threatening, but it makes me laugh every time! (Yes, I’m aware I’ve seen this movie so many times, I can pick out scene level details, and I’m not sorry about it!).

2. Schnupfen

The German word for cold. I don’t know what it is about the “sh” sound that I like so much, I just find it very pleasing! I remember when we were doing the health topic for our German GCSE, I would always use this word because I just found it so fun to say, so I must have seemed like I had a lot of colds!

3. Hodgepodge

Again, it’s a really fun word to say and I love words that sound like what they mean: a hodgepodge is a confused jumble of things, and the word definitely sounds like a confused jumble!

4. Spiegel

A little bit more German making an appearance: Spiegel is the German word for mirror. This is another one that I just find really fun to say.

5. Scallywag

I know this isn’t really a word people use anymore and is more commonly associated with pirates than 21st century speech, but much like “shenanigans”, it’s a word that I can’t help but smile when I see or hear it.

6. Meerschweinchen

I think I like this one because I was always pleased that I could actually manage to say it. Another German word, this one means “Guinea pig” and literally translates to “little sea pig” which I’ve always thought was really sweet. I’m not really sure where that comes from, I’m guessing that before they were domesticated, maybe guinea pigs were found near the sea, but either way, it sounds nice!

7. Pudding

I’m British, so we’re talking dessert in general here, not the American use of the word “pudding” because generally I hate those kinds of pudding! Again it’s just a fun word to say and always makes me happy because I’m a big dessert person.

8. Estrella

The Spanish word for star, I really love this word because I think it sounds really pretty and has a nice meaning.

9. Superfluous

I love this word because again it’s really fun to say, and much like hodgepodge, the word itself kind of matches its meaning: what is more unnecessary than a long word meaning unnecessary?!

10. Aurora

Another word that I just find very pretty and it seems very fitting to describe such a beautiful natural phenomenon with a very pretty word.

So there we go, some of my favourite words across three different languages (don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not fluent in either Spanish or German, I just studied them at school and remember some of the words! I’ve been trying to improve my Spanish, but I’m still a long way off!). What are some of your favourite words? Do you speak any other languages? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, and yes, it’s once again time for our Halloween Freebie. I definitely feel like I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point after seven years of doing Halloween topics, so I’m just going to go incredibly basic this year, and do Favourite Spooky Books. It’s kind of similar to a topic I’ve done before, but that was six or so years ago, so hopefully I’ll have found some new ones since then!

Top Ten Tuesday #389

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these. I don’t have much to report this week, it’s been a fairly quiet week but I did have a riding lesson today which was great.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so time for another Top Ten Tuesday courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic was meant to be Books I Read on Vacation, but since I’ve already done that topic (twice actually!) and haven’t really been on holiday much in the past two years for obvious reasons, I’m going to be doing a different topic today. I saw the topic, Book Titles Beginning With The Letter “A” on someone else’s blog a couple of weeks ago, and it seemed like a fun challenge, so I thought I’d do that one today. I’m not going to include any titles which start with “a” (the word rather than the letter) or start “the” with the next letter being a. I will however include books in series. So here we go:

  1. Ace of Shades-Amanda Foody

The first book in the Shadow Game series, I really highly recommend this series, it’s so much fun, it’s a brilliantly fun world, an early 20th century Atlantic City inspired fantasy world, with gangs and casinos and a really broad magic system with “blood” and “split” talents inherited from each of your parents. The first book actually wasn’t my favourite in the series, but this is definitely one that builds and gets bigger and bigger with each book.

2. After The Storm-Lauren Brooke

One of the many books in the Heartland series which I loved when I was a pre-teen (and only recently realised that Lauren Brooke was a pseudonym for Linda Chapman who wrote the My Secret Unicorn and Stardust Spirits series that I was obsessed with as a kid, so no wonder I loved Heartland so much!).

3. Aftershock-Mark Walden

This is one of the books in the HIVE series which I really enjoyed as a teenager (I think the final book is finally out but I still haven’t read it). I have to admit, it’s been so long since I read this one that I can’t really remember what it was about, but I remember enjoying it at the time!

4. Alex and Eliza-Melissa De La Cruz

I really hated this one but it did fit the topic at hand! There were so many historical inaccuracies that I just couldn’t take the plot seriously at all, and whilst obviously historical fiction writers will take some creative liberties, it still needs to be somewhat believable.

5. Allegiant-Veronica Roth

I wasn’t keen on the ending to the Divergent trilogy, though not for the reasons everyone probably thinks! No, I had more of a problem with just how boring and slow the book was, if anything, the controversial part of this book was one of the few things I enjoyed about it!

6. Almost Love-Louise O’Neill

I wasn’t a big fan of this one, but it did fit the topic. I just really couldn’t stand Sarah, and it’s very difficult for me to get into a book when I’m not keen on the main character. I appreciate what the author was trying to do, by showing an obsessive, toxic relationship and how it affected this woman, but I just couldn’t really connect to it.

7. American Monsters-Derek Landy

The third book in the Demon Road trilogy, and probably my least favourite of the series. I really enjoyed the first book, and I liked the second. However, the third book felt like it was rushing to wrap up the series, so the plot was a bit all over the place and slightly confusing, and for the end of a series, everything just felt a bit anti-climactic, it certainly didn’t go out with a bang like I expected.

8. And I Darken-Kiersten White

I really wanted to love this one more than I did, because it sounded like something I would really love. Sadly, it just wasn’t quite what I was expecting: I was expecting something action packed and stabby but instead it was a slow-meandering plod through court politics and was a lot denser than I was expecting. Suffice to say, I didn’t read either of the other books in this trilogy.

9. Artemis Fowl-Eoin Colfer

This series was one of my absolute favourites as a teenager (DO NOT WATCH THE MOVIE, IT’S TERRIBLE), it’s so much fun, Artemis Fowl is one of my favourite anti-hero protagonists I’ve ever read and I love the world that Colfer created in this book, there are all manner of wonderful mythical creatures. If you like Percy Jackson, I definitely feel like Artemis Fowl would be up your street!

10. Asking For It-Louise O’Neill

I struggled to get into this book initially, but I ended up finding it a really important and insightful read. It’s the kind of book that I would recommend particularly to teenage boys, because it gives such a great look at rape culture and consent. I can’t think of many more books that made me as angry as this one though, knowing that so many women and girls have been through, and continue to go through the same kinds of things that Emma does in this book.

So there we go, some books with titles beginning with “A”. Have you read any of these books? Are any on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, it will be my 400th one! Next week we’re talking “Favourite Words” which should be a fun one for my writer brain to do!

Top Ten Tuesday #388

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week since I last did one of these. As I mentioned in my last post, I went to see the stage show of Moulin Rouge on Thursday and it was INCREDIBLE. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t live up to the film for me, but it was a *pardon the awful and niche pun* spectacular experience, the cast were amazing, the staging was incredible and some of the songs that I wasn’t quite sure about what they’d done with them from listening to the cast album actually turned out to be some of my favourite moments in the show, which just goes to show you really do need to see the live thing before you judge! I definitely left the theatre feeling like I just wanted to go back in there and experience it all over again, which is always the sign of a great show.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday, so time for another Top Ten Tuesday, courtesy of Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today, in honour of National Bookshop Day (which was on Saturday here in the U.K.), we’re talking about our Favourite Bookstores/Bookstores We’d Like To Visit. I did a post on Bookshops I’d Like To Visit a few years back, so this list will mainly be my favourite bookshops, but I didn’t have quite enough, so I added a few extra bookshops I’d like to visit that I didn’t feature on the previous list of them I did to make up the full list of 10:

Favourite Bookshops:

  1. Foyles Charing Cross Road

Every time I step into this bookshop, it just feels like coming home. It’s basically bookworm heaven, there’s such a massive selection of books, whatever you’re in the mood for, you can find it here. I also really love that they get in some US releases that haven’t got a UK publisher, as it’s meant I can get books I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. Whenever I used to come down to London from Cambridge, I would always try to make a stop here, and now I live in London, I can literally just get the bus there whenever I want (which of course means I haven’t been in since I moved! Must change that soon!).

2. Waterstones (Sauchiehall Street), Glasgow

Am I a bad book lover if I say I love this Waterstones more than the one in Piccadilly? Whenever I go to Glasgow, I always make it a point to stop off here as it’s one of my favourite places. It’s such a beautiful shop, it’s MASSIVE so there’s a wide range of choices, no matter what your reading tastes and I could happily spend hours and hours in there. There are several Waterstones in Glasgow, but this is definitely the best one!

3. Waterstones, Piccadilly

Okay so when I say I love the Waterstones in Glasgow more than this one, it is a really close competition as I do love this one a lot too. Waterstones flagship London shop is basically book lover paradise, it’s the BIGGEST bookshop in EUROPE and basically everything you could ever want can be found in here. It’s another place that I always made sure to stop off in whenever I was in London, and again, I would love to go more now that I live here (though it is much quicker to go to the admittedly smaller Waterstones that’s just down the street from me!).

4. The Book Nook (Stirling)

I so wish this place had been open when I’d still been at uni in Stirling because I don’t think I would have ever left it! Still, in my couple of trips back since the shop opened two years ago, it’s been a place I’ve made a point to visit because it’s so lovely! It’s a second hand bookshop/cafe, with a reasonably wide selection of books and they do fabulous hot chocolate and cakes. I’m still kicking myself for not buying the hardcover edition of Vicious they had the last time I was in!

5. Transreal Fiction (Edinburgh)

This is one of my favourite independent bookshops, it’s a specialist Sci-Fi/Fantasy shop, so you can imagine the field day I have when I go in here! The first time I went here, I managed to find copies of VE Schwab’s The Archived and The Unbound which I don’t think were published in the UK at the time (they had the US paperbacks, I think), so as you can imagine, that instantly endeared me to the place. Edinburgh is brilliant for bookshops and if you’re a Sci-Fi/Fantasy fan, I really do highly recommend this one as they have a great selection.

6. Blackwells South Bridge (Edinburgh)

Yes, I had to make the distinction as there is more than one Blackwells in Edinburgh! This one is the one that has fiction books, I think the other is an academic bookseller on one of the university campuses. I really love this shop as it’s so neat and well organised, and everything is really easy to find. It’s got a really nice size YA section, and there’s a Cafe Nero in there as well, so it’s a good place to go around lunchtime as you can instantly resolve it if you get hungry!

7. Heffers, Cambridge

Honestly, I’m not sure when or why I started going to Waterstones in Cambridge more than Heffers as Heffers does have a bigger selection of books. Still I have really great memories of this bookshop as it’s where my dad used to take me to get books when I was younger, whenever I got a treat for doing well in school or something like that, we’d always go to Heffers and I always really enjoyed myself, so yeah, fond memories.

Bookshops I’d Like To Visit:

8. Goldsboro Books (London)

Every time I see one of their gorgeous special editions, I’m always tempted to go and visit Goldsboro Books, but I never have. I think it’s in a similar area to Foyles though, so maybe the next time I go there, I might try and make a stop in here too? It looks like a really lovely shop, so I definitely want to try and visit.

9. Topping and Company (Bath)

I have been to Bath but for some reason we didn’t stop into this shop when we were there (I guess we were only there a couple of days and had other things we wanted to do!). I’ve heard amazing things about this particular shop, so I really want to go and check it out in person, maybe I’ll go back to Bath one day and do another Bookshop tour in a similar style to the one I did for Edinburgh a few years back?

10. BookBar (London)

I heard about this shop, I think maybe last year, and it sounds so cool! It’s basically a bookshop/wine bar which sounds like the perfect combination to me and it looks like a really cute shop. It is on the other side of London to where I live, but I’m sure I could make the trip out one day.

So there we go, those are some of my favourite bookshops, and some bookshops I’d still like to visit. Have you been to any of these bookshops? What are your favourite bookshops? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back next week with another Top Ten Tuesday, though I will be changing the topic once again, as the original topic, Books I Read On Vacation, is one that I’ve already done here twice, and I’m not sure I have anything more to add on it seeing as I’ve not really been on holiday much in the past two years! So instead, I’m going to use a topic I saw on another blog recently, and do Book Titles Beginning With The Letter “A”.