Top Lists

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?

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Top Lists

My Top Ten Summer Reads

top ten

Now that I’m back in the UK, I have access to ALL MY BOOKS! This is so exciting – although my Kindle was a bit of a godsend in that it allowed me to read a wide variety whilst in the Netherlands, I also really missed having an actual book in my hands most of the time. I was also aware of the many unread books I had back at home, not to mention review copies I’d received whilst away. Therefore I was eager to get back to my collection! 😉 So here are the top ten books from my shelf that I can’t wait to read this summer.

Summer Reads

  • Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1) by Susan Ee – I’ve heard a lot about this series since it was published, especially the first book. I was never particularly bothered about reading it, but then I got a free copy in my Glamour Book Club goodie bag. After checking out some reviews, it seems that plenty of my friends were surprised by it – it’s not quite as it seems.
  • The Bees by Laline Paull – I was kindly sent this by HarperCollins, and it sounds so unique. Told from the point of view of a bee? How could I not be intrigued by that?
  • Beneath London by James P. Blaylock – steampunk is something I’ve gotten into more recently, and definitely something I want to read more of. So when I was offered this one by Titan Books, I had to snatch up the opportunity to read it.
  • The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy – I won this from Goodreads, and I really want to give Benjamin Percy’s writing another shot. I read |Red Moon last year and felt there was something missing, so I hope I enjoy this one more.
  • The Twelve (The Passage #2) by Justin Cronin – it took me ages to find a second hand copy of this, and it was just before I left for Leiden last summer. So now I can finally read this sequel!

Summer Reads

  • Lord Foul’s Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever #1) by Stephen R. Donaldson – I picked this up for free at London Film and Comic Con last summer, and then managed to find the other two books in my local charity shop just after. It comes highly recommended, and also fits in nicely with this month’s DC vs. Marvel villain challenge!
  • Before They Are Hanged (The First Law #2) by Joe Abercrombie – I read the first book in this series over Christmas, and really loved it, so it’s definitely time to read more.
  • Edge of Tomorrow by Hiroshi Sakurazaka – I’ve wanted to watch the film Edge of Tomorrow ever since it came out, but haven’t yet gotten round to it – now I’m going to try and read the book first. The original title was actually All You Need Is Kill, but versions published with the film cover have the new title. I bought this from Amazon, as part of a 3 paperbacks for £10 deal.
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – this was Book of the Month for my Goodreads book group earlier this year, and I managed to get it as part of the deal with Edge of Tomorrow. I’m not entirely sure what it’s about, but my book group seemed to enjoy it so here’s hoping I do too!
  • The Hunter’s Kind (The Hollow Gods #2) by Rebecca Levene – I was super excited to receive the first book in this series last year, and couldn’t wait for the sequel, which has just been published. Thank you, Hodder!

What are you planning on reading this summer?

Top Lists

Top Reads of 2014

Top Reads 2014

As the title suggests, it’s time to share my top reads of 2014! I read so many good books this year that it’s not a top ten, but a top fifteen… And now, in no particular order:

Lexicon by Max Barry Smiler's Fair by Rebecca Levene Jane Eyre

Lexicon by Max Barry was a wonderful surprise. Sent to me by Hodder, it took a little while for me to pick it up, but I’m so glad I did. It is insanely clever and unique and DEFINITELY worth a read. Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene was another surprise from Hodder (who spoil me!), a fantastic new start to a fantasy series, with a truly gorgeous cover. And Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë… oh this book. I am so SO glad I re-read it!

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor was one of those books that I’d heard such good things about, bought a copy of and still hadn’t read. Then I finally got to it at the beginning of the year, and was blown away. I even met Laini in April, when the third book in the series was released, but I still have yet to read that one. Perfect for my Borgia fascination, Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant is a wonderful piece of historical fiction that I just devoured. It’s got everything you could ever want in historical fiction – backstabbing, court gossip, murder – and everything you would expect from a book about the Borgias. And The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, why did I take so long to get to you?? I have the second book in Leiden, and I’m looking forward to reading it in January.

Brideshead Revisited Insignia by S.J. Kincaid 2495562

Another classic I’m glad I tried, Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh is truly wonderful, and completely satisfied my taste for books set in Oxford (yes this is a thing). Insignia by S.J. Kincaid, on the other hand, completely satisfied my thirst for another book similar to Ready Player One. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss is a fantastic, if rather long, follow up to The Name of the Wind. It is one epic fantasy series I will not forget.

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co #1) by Jonathan Stroud Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud was one of those books that took me completely by surprise; I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did and now I recommend the series to everyone. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes was another wonderful library find, the first in a Young Adult fantasy series that I can’t wait to continue. And when it comes to autobiographies, I’m not sure if you can beat Cash by Johnny Cash. One of my favourite singers, his life was absolutely fascinating to read about and I loved the way it was written too – as if the reader is just sat having a drink with Johnny.

Seraphina Fangirl Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

A very recent addition to my list, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman is another one that caught me by surprise. At first I wasn’t sure, but as I read more of the book I was utterly enchanted by her take on dragons. And once again showing that I really need to branch out and maybe not always judge books based on genre, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was an ABSOLUTE treat. I loved Cath and instantly identified with her. And finally, Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding pretty much satisfied my post-Firefly needs. SO GOOD.

What were your top reads this year?

Review

Review: Smiler’s Fair (The Hollow Gods #1) by Rebecca Levene

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Smiler’s Fair is definitely not a book for the faint of heart. Opening with a rather gory and graphic birth scene, the gruesome detail continues without, showing the reader that this world is not an easy one to live in. Whilst ‘Smiler’s Fair’ may sound like a pleasant place, this is but a front for the grim reality. Prostitution, gambling, brawls and duels, all the seedy parts of life gather at the Fair. This is most definitely an adult fantasy novel, and all the more fun for it.

We meet each main character in their own introductory chapter – all start at Smiler’s Fair, and all begin this new page of their lives because of it. There is Marven, a man who loves killing a little too much; Nethmi, a young woman who is about to be married off to a minor lord; Krish, a goatherd who feels his parents are hiding something from him; Eric, a male prostitute who is tiring of his current lifestyle and wants something more permanent; and Dae Hyo, hellbent on revenge for the slaughter of his people. With such a variety of characters, the reader is bound to find someone they feel for. However, with the characters changing as they went on their own personal journeys, I found my own allegiances changing, and my feelings towards two characters radically reversing. It was well done and completely drew me in, one minute I was hoping for a success and the next I couldn’t believe I’d liked that character at all.

Each of the characters are united by both Smiler’s Fair, and death. Whether it be an outright murder, a revenge killing or a desperate attempt to free themselves, there is something they all have in common. And like some of the authors of current popular fantasy series, Rebecca Levene is unafraid to kill off characters, whether they be minor or major. For example, one character I really liked was fine and dandy one moment, and the next he was gone, just like that. When an author can shock you like that, and leave you feeling genuinely sad or upset, you know they’re doing something right. She also has a talent for creating a wide cast of characters, each with their own personalities and aims, and with their own clear tones of voice.

Some authors have a writing style that just flows off the page, allowing the reader to read quickly without missing a thing. Rebecca Levene is definitely one of those authors. Although the world building was not as rich in detail as some other fantasy series and I never got an all encompassing feel of the world, it was still enough to flesh out the lands and their inhabitants. Whilst the first half is a little slow, taking its time to weave together various storylines and paths, the second half really picks up in terms of action and pace – and the ending opens up for book two very nicely.

A fantastic beginning to a new, highly original fantasy series, and highly recommended for fans of authors such as Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch or Robert Jordan. I have a theory about a link between the various different pantheons and characters, and I’d like to see if the next book will confirm it in any way…

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: July 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

July 2014

Last month I read a total of twelve books: Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen, Ironskin (Ironskin #1) by Tina Connolly, New X-Men: Childhood’s End by Craig Kyle, Uncanny X-Men Vol 5: She Lies With Angels by Chuck Austen, Earth Girl (Earth Girl #1) by Janet Edwards, Camelot Burning (Metal & Lace #1) by Kathryn Rose, Ultimate X-Men Vol 14: Phoenix? by Robert Kirkman, Uncanny X-Men: Wolverine, Wanted Dead or Alive by Chris Claremont, Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman, Smiler’s Fair (The Hollow Gods #1) by Rebecca Levene, The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #4) by Dan Simmons and Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins..

I carried on reading more Marvel comics, although this will probably be the last month I’m able to for a while. Alias Hook was a great start to the month – a five star book as my first read of July! I also absolutely loved Marvel 1602, I mean you can’t really go wrong with Marvel and Neil Gaiman, right? Towards the end of the month I read Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene, which was kindly sent to me by Hodderscape. It’s a new epic fantasy series and WOW. Not only is the writing fantastic, but it also has a truly gorgeous cover. I also managed to fit in a re-read of Mockingjay, which I desperately wanted to do after seeing the new trailer for the film.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read six books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge. I managed to recruit Cyclops and Nightcrawler, as well as successfully defeat Dr. Doom, securing extra points for my team. August’s villain is the hungriest creature in the world, Galactus!
  • I have currently read ninety-seven books towards my Goodreads goal. I may increase it to 125 for the whole year.

 

Currently reading:

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Off the blog:

I went to London Film and Comic Con/Young Adult Literature Convention on 12th July, but more on that later! I also spent three days in London with my mum and sister, which was lovely. We visited the Natural History Museum, Borough Market, London Zoo, saw lots of the sights such as Westminster, Big Ben, the Globe Theatre – and we saw Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Savoy. IT WAS SO GOOD. SOOOO GOOD. My whole family absolutely love the film (can’t remember how many times I’ve watched it), and it worked so well as a musical. One word of advice – don’t buy drinks in the Savoy Theatre. £22 for three drinks? Nah.

I also saw Guardians of the Galaxy, which I’ve been wanting to watch since January or so – and IT WAS SO WORTH THE WAIT. Funniest Marvel film yet, so crazy and fun but still full of wonderfully built characters and emotions! Go watch it now.

They were also giving out postcards for Beaumont-sur-Mer with this view on it!
They were also giving out postcards for Beaumont-sur-Mer with this view on it!

How was July for you?