Dragons and Jetpacks, Top Lists

Most Disappointing Dragons & Jetpacks Books

Since 2013, I have run a book group called Dragons & Jetpacks on Goodreads. Originally set up with a couple of friends from university, we now have several other moderators on board and over 1300 members, all avid lovers of science fiction and fantasy. Most of the time, our monthly reads (one sci-fi and one fantasy, and a bi-monthly Mod Pick) are fantastic choices, and I frequently discover books I love and may have otherwise never heard of because of the group. But there are occasionally times where books chosen by the group just don’t work for me at all, and those are the books I wanted to discuss today.

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

  • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick – I normally love PKD’s work, but this one just wasn’t for me. And interestingly, quite a lot of the group did not get along with it either. Although it was a clever idea, I found myself having great difficulty concentrating on it and taking in what happened.
  • Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy #1) by Brian McClellan – When I finished this and ultimately found it was not really at all what I’d expected, that I hadn’t enjoyed it and had barely focused on it at all, I blamed it on my mood at the time. I’d been studying a lot, I didn’t feel like reading that kind of fiction at that point… and more excuses. So I kept my copy with the intention of giving it a re-read at some point in the future, because I thought I’d enjoy it a lot more then. However, a few months later when sorting out my books, I got rid of it. I’d decided it was nothing to do with my mood – however much I wanted to deny it, I just wasn’t going to get along with this series.
  • Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie – I honestly don’t understand how this has won so many awards, and how so many people love it. I found it boring as hell. And at the time that the group read it, I thought I was the only one – but now, looking at my Goodreads friends’ reviews, I’m definitely not.

  • The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher – This makes me so sad. I really don’t know what happened here but this book sounded amazing. And then it was just… eh. It was a huge disappointment after a massive build up, and months of waiting to read it.
  • The Way of Shadows (Night Angel #1) by Brent Weeks – Very, very generic feeling fantasy. I’m sure Brent Weeks’ other series are excellent but I’m kind of hesitant to pick them up after this.
  • The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell – Oh, how it dragged. How little sense it made. Basically, the best bits of this book were the ‘normal’ everyday things.

The Martian by Andy Weir

  • NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – This wasn’t a bad book, so much as it made me feel very uncomfortable. It was not a nice experience.
  • Blood of Elves (The Witcher #3) by Andrzej Sapkowski – So apparently whilst this is the third book in the series, it also works as a standalone and is fine if you’ve not played or even heard of the games. I have played the games, and I didn’t always know what was going on… I definitely felt like something was missing, so perhaps this isn’t so much the book as the fact that it shouldn’t be advertised as a standalone.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir – Controversial! Everyone loves it! And the film was great. This is one of the rare instances where I loved the film a LOT more than the book. However, I do plan on re-reading this at some point – I read it on my Kindle, which always changes my reading experience slightly.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

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Top Ten Tuesday #7: 2016 Releases I WILL Read This Year!

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is new book releases you meant to read in 2016, but never got round to… and definitely plan to read in 2017! As I’m a bit of an expert on hoarding books that I will ‘read next’ for several years, I thought this might be a good one to do.

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Five of the six books above are sat on my bookshelf, waiting to be read. I remember buying them eagerly, knowing that I’d soon be lost within them. And did I pick them up straight away? Nope. One was sent to me, Cloak of War, and I’d planned on reading it during Sci-Fi Month 2016 as I absolutely loved the first book, The Empress Game, which also took me ages to get around to. And the remaining book, A Closed and Common Orbit, I am DESPERATE to read, but I want to buy it – and I want the paperback. Which actually isn’t available until April so… that’s my excuse. I just really don’t like hardbacks, okay?! 😉

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I own both Time Siege and The Crown’s Game from the four books above, but still haven’t touched them. I’m also waiting for the paperback of Truthwitch, which I believe comes out in June!

What 2016 releases do you still need to read? Would you recommend any of the books on my list?

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Top Books of 2016

Top Books of 2016

It’s the end of the year, and that means it’s time to share my top books of 2016! For Sci-Fi Month I always share my top science fiction novels of the year, so this list won’t include any unless they were read in November or December. Otherwise, this list includes anything read for the first time this year, published at any time. And because I’m not very picky with my ratings and really bad at deciding top tens, I actually have a top fifteen, and would have gladly made this a top twenty or twenty-five…

This Savage Song The Road to Little Dribbling Uprooted

  • This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by V.E. Schwab – I really don’t expect anything less than perfection when I read one of V.E. Schwab’s novels now. It might be an issue one day perhaps, but it hasn’t caused any problems so far. This Savage Song was so unique and mesmerising, dark and mysterious. And my review is so overdue…
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson – I love travel writing, and no-one more than Bill Bryson. I think I’ve now read all of his books but one, and this was just as fantastic as usual. He is one of those writers who can take something really mundane and make it hilarious, who can narrate pretty much any kind of situation.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik – This was one of the Dragons & Jetpacks Fantasy Books of the Month this year, and it is just gorgeous. It felt so real and layered, yet so fairytale-like. I don’t normally like to read in places like coffee shops, but I remember sitting in one just utterly entranced by this, ignoring everything else around me.

Goldenhand Invisible Library Voyager

  • Goldenhand (Abhorsen #5) by Garth Nix – The long-awaited sequel to Lirael, Goldenhand was absolutely worth the wait! I’ve loved this series ever since I first read it around the age of 12, and have re-read all the books several times. Clariel, the prequel released a few years ago, was good, but Goldenhand is something else. It drew me back into the world that Nix created, and made me feel like I was reading the series for the first time all over again.
  • The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library #1) by Genevieve CogmanThe Invisible Library feels like Genevieve Cogman peered into my brain, saw all my favourite elements of fantasy and steampunk, and threw them into a book. Libraries, assassins, alternate worlds, intrigue, secret societies… this was another Dragons & Jetpacks Fantasy BOTM, and for some reason at first I wasn’t too bothered about reading it – but I’m so glad I did!
  • Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon – More Jamie and Claire Fraser, how could I not rate this one five stars? I don’t think any of them will ever live up to the first book (Cross Stitch/Outlander), but I just love this series so much. I’m torn between rushing through the rest of the books, and taking my time with them so that they last longer.

Paper Girls Nevernight You're Never Weird on the Internet

  • Paper Girls (Paper Girls #1) by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson – A graphic novel set in the 1980s, about a group of 12-year-old paper girls who encounter something weird on Halloween night. This was a gift from one of my colleagues when I left my job in Oxford, and it was so good! I can’t wait to read the other installments. Also, I absolutely love the colours on the cover…
  • Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff – Nevernight was one of those books that I knew I was either going to love or hate, because one of Jay Kristoff’s books really doesn’t appeal to me, but I really enjoyed another. However, this really worked for me. It was dark and brutal and relentless.
  • You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day – Back in 2006/2007, I discovered a little webseries called The Guild, a series about a bunch of socially awkward geeks who played an MMO together. It spoke to me like nothing else, and I loved that it was fronted by a woman (gasp!). From that moment on, I’ve followed Felicia Day’s journey, and it was so amazing to get to read about it – and really identify with so many of the things she went through.

Wild Traitor's Blade Queen of Shadows

  • Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed – I have to admit: I watched the film first. It was a fantastic film, and no wonder with such great source material. Strayed’s heartbreaking account of the reasons behind her journey, and her tenacity and determination are amazing.
  • Traitor’s Blade (Greatcoats #1) by Sebastien de Castell – Another Dragons & Jetpacks Fantasy Book of the Month that I should have read sooner, because once I picked it up I couldn’t stop. This was so, so good, and amazingly refreshing. I feel like there’s not a lot of fantasy written from the first person. I’ve now read book two in the series as well.
  • Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas – Words cannot express how much I love this series. Some people seem to have gone off it lately, but I just love how dark it has gotten. Who needs happy endings? 😉

The Demon King Assassin's Apprentice Americanah

  • The Demon King (The Seven Realms #1) by Cinda Williams Chima – This is a book I grabbed from the library because it was available, and I’ll be reviewing next month – but oh my gosh I am SO glad I picked it up. I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest, and I am honestly quite tempted to just go out and buy the boxset…
  • Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb – My first ever Hobb, even though I own about seven of her books, and WHY DID IT TAKE ME SO LONG. This was another one I rushed through in about three days. I’m just really glad I have a whole selection waiting for me on my bookshelf.
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – I read this as part of my Novel Experiment to branch out genre-wise, and only read books from my parent’s bookshelves. It was so different from what I’d been reading before, and I loved it – but maybe that’s why.

What were your top books of 2016? Have you read any of the books on my list?

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Top Ten Tuesday #6: My Top TV Shows

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I am once again taking part in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is all to do with your top TV shows!

Parks and Rec Community

I think Parks and Recreation and Community are quite possibly my absolute favourite shows of all time. I’d just left university, had moved home and had broken up with my boyfriend whom I’d been with for several years. I was not in a good place – and these two shows helped me through. They’re funny, thoughtful and just so, so perfect. If I could find a job that I love as much as Leslie Knope loves working in the Parks Department, I would be so happy. I basically force people to watch these two shows at every chance I get, and even got one of my friends in Leiden to watch all of Community – every week we’d watch a couple of episodes with dinner and wine, until slowly I got him to love the show and no longer had to be the one to encourage the Community marathons. 😉 I’m so sad that they’re both over – Parks and Recreation had a perfect finish, but Community was cancelled, not once but twice.

The Office Green Wing

Clearly I enjoy workplace comedies! It may be blasphemy for me to say this as a Brit, but The Office US was far more enjoyable to me than the original UK version… Firstly, there was so much more and secondly JIM AND PAM. JIM AND PAM. The world’s most perfect, beautiful couple, who took far too bloody long to get together, but watching every interaction between them was amazing and my god do I want a relationship like that. Plus just about every other character in the Dunder-Mifflin office is an absolute treat – I’m still annoyed that Netflix decided to remove this show from its UK streaming titles. Unlike the first three titles here, Green Wing is a British comedy. It is set in a hospital, and follows employees from various departments – all of whom are very weird in their own way, but perhaps no-one more than Dr. Alan Statham, played by Mark Heap. It is surreal and possibly one of the strangest comedies you’ll ever watch, but 100% worth it if you get the chance. Also my go-to show for when I’m feeling ill or sad.

Game of Thrones Black Books

I’m pretty sure that Game of Thrones will make a lot of these lists. I didn’t actually start watching it until either halfway through the first season, or at the end, but when I did I immediately fell in love. I then devoured all the books, making sure I finished the first book before watching past episode one of season one. It consistently amazes me, and I love that my whole family now watch it – although watching Game of Thrones with your parents can be a rather awkward experience at times… Black Books is another British comedy, and also another workplace comedy, set in a second-hand bookshop in London. Owned by grumpy Irishman Bernard Black, it follows him and his two friends, Manny and Fran. Another surreal yet hilarious comedy that, like Green Wing, is definitely worth your time.

outlander firefly

I cannot get ENOUGH of Outlander, based on the fabulous books by Diana Gabaldon. Following a combat nurse from 1945 who ends up travelling through time via a stone circle, and lands in 18th century Scotland, it truly has a bit of everything. Time travel, romance, sex, action, adventure, sex, violence, did I mention sex? – just reading about Claire and Jamie together makes me feel a bit weak at the knees sometimes. This has been televised so perfectly, with gorgeous locations and an even more gorgeous cast. I can’t wait for season three, although 2017 now feels way too far off. Firefly is another case of an excellent show that was ended far, far too soon. A sci-fi show with steampunk elements, the main characters were basically space scavengers/pirates and were all completely loveable. If you’ve not yet watched this, but loved books such as The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, then this might just be the show for you.

Orange is the New Black how to get away with murder

So apparently when I’m not watching workplace comedies, I enjoy shows about criminals and murderers. If you haven’t yet watched Orange is the New Black, then you’re probably one of four people on the planet who hasn’t. This drama, set in a women’s prison, is so so so GOOD. The depth of every character is astounding, and it’s refreshing to have a show where the cast aren’t all stunning and made-up every second of their lives (like when women often spring out of bed on TV looking all made-up, what?). So basically, if you’re one of those four people, please amend that asap. How To Get Away With Murder (probably not the best phrase to have on your internet history) is one of those shows that leads you on, makes you think you know what’s happening or what’s going to happen – then it tears out your heart, stomps on it and serves it back up to you. It is brutal, it is amazing and every single episode is basically a giant cliffhanger that leaves you screaming in frustration. And it makes me so happy.

Have you watch any of these shows? What did you think? Let me know your favourite TV shows in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday #5: Books I Read In School

toptentuesday

This week I’m joining in with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. The theme is ‘Back to School’, so I’m going with just a list of the books I remember reading in school, in no particular order. This comes to nine, but I’m sure there must have been more!

Angela's Ashes Jane Eyre Chinese Cinderella

I vividly remember reading Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt with my class when I was 14, by which point I’d already read it. I also remember, above all else, watching the film and our teacher rushing to fast-forward any ‘inappropriate’ bits, blushing and stammering throughout the whole thing… Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is one book I have previously discussed, more specifically how I absolutely love it. However, it was not love at first sight – mostly because reading books for GCSE English meant tearing every little sentence apart from some kind of hidden meaning. Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah is probably the first book I remember reading at school, I must have read it in primary school when I was 9 or 10 and had already read it several times before (massive book nerd for life). It’s a really interesting look into the culture of China, and the practices of that time, but it’s also very sad.

Pride and Prejudice Wuthering Heights Lord of the Flies

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a book that I feel really suffered at school. I enjoyed it, but also know that I would’ve loved it even more, as would my classmates, if we hadn’t had to completely pull it apart. If we’d just read it as it is, I feel that everyone in the class would have enjoyed it, instead of developing a future hatred for the classics… Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte also suffered from this, although admittedly I did try and re-read it a few years ago and struggled just with the first chapter because of the gardener/servant/whatever he was. The accent was too thick to understand! I also remember the film version of this with Ralph Fiennes much more than anything in the book. Lord of the Flies by William Golding however, I really really loved. It was so different to everything we’d read so far, and I even went so far as to hunt down books inspired by it – I did find one that was a female version of the story, which I then leant to classmates and never got back. I can’t even remember what it was called now!

Crucible Macbeth An Inspector Calls

I studied The Crucible by Arthur Miller for both English and Drama GCSEs. I really enjoyed it, and there are so many different and wonderful adaptations of the plays. It is insane how the community starts to fall apart from the inside because of these crazy beliefs. Of course we had to read some Shakespeare, and Macbeth by William Shakespeare is the one that really stands out. Which reminds me, I still need to watch the film version released last year featuring Michael Fassbender… And finally, An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley. We read this in Year 7 or 8, and I remember it being pretty fun – acting it out in English class and following the mystery.

Which books do you remember reading in school? Did any of them really stand out?

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Top Ten Brand New Books On My Shelf

top ten

For me, buying a book brand new is a very rare occurrence. Charity shops tend to be where I do most of my book buying – it’s so much cheaper, the money goes to a good cause and I’m not really too bothered about reading something that is a bit dog-eared. Brand new books are mostly for treats or when I am feeling particularly extravagant – they’re exciting, and often I want to read them sooner than second-hand books (because that new book smell is the BEST), but I definitely can’t afford to buy every book brand new. So what are the top ten brand new books on my shelf, that I just can’t wait to read? By ‘brand new’ I mean bought/given new, rather than brand new releases. Some of these have actually been waiting for me to read them for a while…

Jane Steele The Road to Little Dribbling

  • Jane Steele by Lyndsey Faye – This is a Gothic retelling of Jane Eyre, one of my favourite classics ever? Um, yes please. Jane Eyre is already a Gothic novel, so it looks like this one promises to be even darker than the original. And I know it must be good, because it has the official stamp of approval from the Jane Eyre afficionado, Charlene of Bookish Whimsy.
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson – I actually bought this one very recently, for half price in Waterstones when Claire of Bitches with Books was visiting. Of course we spent forever in Oxford’s bookshops… I love Bill Bryson and have read almost everything he’s ever written. He is hilarious, and I long for more travel writers like him.

Mirror Empire Red Queen

  • The Mirror Empire (The Worldbreaker Saga #1) by Kameron Hurley – This is a fantasy novel I’ve wanted to read for a while, especially when I heard that is features a matriarchy. A MATRIARCHY. IN FANTASY FICTION. WHAAAAAAAT. So I really really hope it lives up to the hype.
  • Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard – Ever since reading Throne of Glass and Graceling, I’ve been looking out for some more great YA fantasy. I really like the sound of this one, although it’s had very very mixed reviews, with a lot of people feeling very strongly about it either way. How cool is that cover though?

Queen of Shadows Long Way

  • Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas – I fell in love with this series on first read, and did a re-read of the first two books earlier this year on the blog. I still need to re-read book three (finally in paperback rather than e-galley) before moving onto this one, but I feel like I’ll need a rainy day, curled up in bed with a mug of tea, to prepare myself for all the FEELS that come from this series.
  • The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers – For Sci-Fi Month last year, Lisa organised a read-along of this book, and I was unable to join in at the time. It was hugely successful, and that plus the blurb, which makes the book sound very Firefly-esque, have been enough to convince me that this is one worth buying brand new. And I’ve just now noticed that it is the first in a series, not a standalone – which is exciting, because it means there is more to come!

Dark Days Club Court of Thorns and Roses

  • The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman – A bit of steampunk, a bit of the supernatural, a bit of a thriller – all set in Regency London. Yes please! This has the potential to be really amazing or really awful, but I feel like it will be the former. We shall see!
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas – I am slightly in love with the cover for this one – another fantasy series by Sarah J. Maas. Unlike Throne of Glass, this series is a retelling, using the story of Beauty and the Beast for inspiration.

Hero of Ages Hunter's Kind

  • The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3) by Brandon Sanderson – I have lost count of how many times I’ve said I need to continue with this series. All I can say now is SOON! Especially because I have not just book three waiting for me on my shelf, but books three to six…
  • The Hunter’s Kind (The Hollow Gods #2) by Rebecca Levene – I LOVED the first book of this, it was the fantasy novel I’d been waiting for – with a gorgeous cover to boot. I’ve now had book two on my shelves for about a year, so I need to hurry up and read it, especially if there are going to be others in the series.

Which brand new books on your shelves can you not wait to read?

Dragons and Jetpacks, Top Lists

My Top Ten ‘Dragons & Jetpacks’ Books

DJ16

Back in 2012, at the same time that I started blogging, I founded a science fiction and fantasy book group on Goodreads, with two friends from university. After much debate, the group was eventually named ‘Dragons & Jetpacks’. We’ve somehow risen through the ranks of Goodreads groups, going from a very small group to almost 1400 members. We’ve been a featured group many times, and are lucky enough to have some really wonderful people, a core group of highly active members who love to chat about the wonders of SFF.

As a group, we elect one Fantasy and one Science Fiction book each month, and it is up to members whether they read one, both or neither. We also encourage members to organise Buddy Reads – often if a book has narrowly missed becoming Book of the Month, it becomes a Buddy Read. I’ve run three Buddy Reads for the group myself: Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight and The Fellowship of the Ring – next up is The Two Towers.

Together we have read around 70 books over three and a half years, some of which I probably wouldn’t have even touched with the group’s recommendations. So I thought I’d share my top ten reads, all a result of the wonderful book group that I am proud to call my own. This only includes books that I read with the group, rather than books read previously that were then voted in as Book of the Month.

Vicious by Victoria Schwab Elantris

  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab – I CANNOT BELIEVE HOW LONG IT TOOK ME TO READ THIS. After reading Schwab’s fantastic A Darker Shade of Magic (another one of our picks, but one I read before the group did), I should have known I would love this. Recent reading has lead me to the following conclusion: I bloody love superhero stories.
  • Elantris (Elantris #1) by Brandon Sanderson – Ahh, my introduction to the wonderful writing machine that is Brandon Sanderson. Whilst this was a relatively short novel for fantasy, it felt so packed and huge and just typical Sanderson – so much enchanting detail, that you don’t want the book to ever finish.

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie Red Rising

  • The Blade Itself (The First Law #1) by Joe Abercrombie – I also read this one really late, but that was due to myself and my copy of the book being in completely different countries. I’d say that was a pretty good excuse. That does not excuse me, however, from not having yet read books two and three.
  • Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown – THIS BOOK THIS SERIES THIS AUTHOR. I died whilst reading this series. Several times. I had this on my Kindle for AGES, a copy from Netgalley that sat there for far too long – positively criminal. Anyway, after finally sorting things out and actually devouring this book in about two days, I read Golden Son (also a group pick, possibly the quickest voted sequel ever) almost straight after, and Morning Star as soon as I received an ARC. Still smug about that.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

  • The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles #1) by Patrick Rothfuss – If you’re looking for a fantasy epic, then you don’t need to look much further than this HUUUUGE book by Patrick Rothfuss. I just love it. Some people say that the books are too slow – we have also read book two in the series as a group, and several members did not like the pace – but I LOVE it. I love all the crazy detail, I have SUCH a good image in my head of how everything looks.
  • The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson – I am an official Sanderson convert, thanks to D&J. In fact I’m reading one of his books right now, and have… five others waiting on my shelf. This man is a GOD. I’m quite surprised we haven’t voted in the rest of the series as Books of the Month to be honest, this one was so loved by everyone.

Locke Lamora The Six Gun Tarot

  • The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch – Maybe not QUITE the 5-star read I was expecting/hoping for, but still great. Some wonderful grimdark, also I love tales of thieves/assassins/guilds.
  • The Six Gun Tarot (Golgotha #1) by R.S. Belcher – This one was pretty different: a steampunk Western. It makes me think I really need more of those in my life.

Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey The Night Circus

  • Leviathan Wakes (Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey – I feel like this book was a huge success, not just because the group generally enjoyed it, but because my Dad also enjoyed it. He loves his science fiction but doesn’t read that often – mostly just on holidays. He took this one on holiday with him, finished it super quickly and immediately texted me to ask if I had book two. He’s even re-reading the books now…
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I think this was the first book we read as a group, and it was really beautiful and enchanting. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, and I feel like we haven’t read anything quite like it since – a lot of our fantasy has been the heavy epic type. But this was a stunning story, and very visual.

Have you read any of these books? If you’re a member of a book group, has it introduced you to some great reads like mine has?