#SixforSunday – Blue and Green Books!

Happy Sunday Bibliofriends!

We are continuing the Around the World in 80 Books theme this week on Six For Sunday by creating a list focused on blue and green books. Blue and Green are two of my favourite colours so I’m really drawn to covers using those colour schemes. There were many books on my shelves to choose from this week!
For those who don’t already know, Six for Sunday is weekly meme hosted by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. March’s theme is ‘Around the World in 80 Books!’ (which sounds like some exciting travel adventure I’d definitely be signing up for!). 


Blue and Green Books!

  1. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
    I loved this Evil Queen retelling! It was so atmospheric. I was captivated by Xi Feng’s villain-like perspective. I was a little but gutted when the cover style changed for the sequel as the vibrancy of this book cover really caught my eye.
  2. Gemini by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
    The Illuminae Files are one of my favourite trilogies. I love the mixed-media style formatting and the little Easter Eggs which were dotted around.
  3. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas
    There had to be a TOG in there didn’t there. I remember there being some mixed feelings about this book when it came out but I adored it! I’m so glad SJM made it longer than the novella that it was originally intended as. I feel that we get to learn about so many side characters and other worlds through this book and it slotted in quite nicely to making me wait even longer after that cliffhanger at the end of Empire of Storms!
  4. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
    This is one of those series starters that I read as a child and then never continued. Now, as an adult this series is definitely on my reread pile. I had to restrain myself from watching the BBC series just so I could read the whole series through first (although looking at my ever-growing TBR, I have no idea when that will be! 😂).
  5. Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers
    This picture book is a brilliant one for children to try to get them to understand just how wide and vast life on Earth is. I love the illustrations Jeffers creates and the way the book narration reads to his child. It’s informative but heart-warming at the same time.
  6. Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett
    This is a series which I first found through Fairyloot and then finally got around to completing as one of my reading goals last year. The setting and world-building were fabulous. It was really different to read a fantasy book set in a Himalayan style environment with a mission based around mountain-climbing. You could really feel how much the author loved the hobby by the way she included lots of careful details which were fitted in seamlessly along the narration and plot. I’d really recommend it if you’re after something a little different!

What are your favourite blue and green books?
As always, leave your links below to your own posts or drop me a comment to chat!

T xx

Biblioshelf Musings – The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Hello Bibliofriends!

A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, there lived a girl called Carrie Fisher who turned up at an interview for a small-budget space movie and ended up being one of the most iconic Science-Fiction Princesses of our time.

This week’s Biblioshelf Musings is all about The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher. It should be no surprise that as a massive SFF fan, Star Wars is pretty high up on my personal ‘best-film-franchises’ list, even if I was somewhat later to the party than most of my friends. I was so excited when Carrie first announced this book and then after the unfortunate tragedy of her passing not long after the book’s release, it became something surreal which felt a little too personal to be reading at that point in time. Anyhow, since the conclusion of Episode IX and TV shows such as The Mandalorian reigniting my passion for Star Wars again – now seemed like a brilliant time to read Carrie’s final book.


Book: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Genre: Memoir
Publication Date: 24th November 2016 (Paperback version)
Publisher: Black Swan
Pages: 272
Rating: 📚📚📚.5

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

When Carrie Fisher discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved – plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Now her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her co-star, Harrison Ford. 
With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time – and what developed behind the scenes. Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candour and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

My Musings

The Princess Diarist is such a powerful insight into Carrie Fisher’s mind and life. I can’t quite put all of my truest feelings about this book into words, but what I can say is that I am so pleased that we got to see this book in its fully published form before Carrie’s tragic death in 2016.

Carrie starts off brilliantly by practically listing all of the events that happened in 1976. This was great for me – as someone who wasn’t alive at that time, it provided a useful insight into the context of the mid 1970s and got my mindset into all that was going on in the world prior to the phenomenon that Star Wars was going to be. After giving a few insights into her life and her first acting role in the film Shampoo, Carrie quickly moves onto the interview process for A New Hope before launching into a chronological account of her memories during filming.

It’s so hard to read this book and not hear Carrie’s voice in your head. Her entire narration just exudes her personality and character – almost like and I hate using these words a word-vomit just filling the pages throughout the entirety of her commentary during that time. The stream of consciousness just pours out of her – there really is no other way I can describe it. At times, she even repeats some of the same iterations and phrases, then gives colloquial asides almost as if you’re just one of her friends and she’s talking to you from across the coffee table or down the phone. It’s that kind of narration-style which was a little like a double-edged sword for me: on the one-hand, I loved it because it felt so authentically like Carrie Fisher… on the other, there were a few times where I felt that line of narration became slightly too repetitive and I lost the momentum and pace of the memoir.

There are always two sides to every story which Carrie makes sure to mention when discussing her relationship with Harrison Ford. She gets quite deep and personal when reflecting upon her feelings towards her affair with him. Whilst she always maintains a respectful tone towards him and keeps some of the more intimate details of their relationship private, she definitely isn’t holding back on just how deeply she became emotionally and physically involved in their relationship during the time of filming.

That raw, vulnerable honesty is exuded even more so through Carrie’s personal diary extracts and poems. For me, this was the best part of the book by far. Spliced into the middle of her memoir, those extracts are so powerful at showing the reader exactly what her mind was going through during that time. You can feel the hurt, the abandonment, the despair, the desire, the devotion and that never-ending hope. The level of emotion is so undeniably real that I ended up feeling a little bereft at the end that section knowing that, whatever Carrison’s relationship was, it was always really doomed to fail.

What that diary part really does achieve, is to showcase Carrie’s talent for poetry. I’m aware that Carrie had previously published work as an author before this book, none of which I’ve read so ultimately cannot compare to anything, but her poetry really did make me consider her to be a talented writer.

In the latter parts of the book, Carrie considers the impact that the success of Star Wars had upon her life and just how intertwined her identity became caught up with Princess Leia, especially with that incredibly distinctive hairstyle and that bikini costume. Who would Carrie Fisher be without Princess Leia? She discusses the cost of fame on her normal life, the monetary issues which she faced, the objectification in a predominantly male environment then long afterwards by adoring fans begging for a piece; just how difficult it was dealing with the aftermath of appearing in a little space film which ultimately ended up being one of the most famous movie franchises in the entire world.

The final closing part of Carrie’s memoir, broke me. Again, I reiterate what I said at the beginning of my review – it is so difficult to communicate these thoughts in a way that anyone outside of my head can understand (unless, perhaps, you’ve read this book).
In a strange, morbid way, reading this book in 2021, knowing full well what happened not very long after this book’s publication – it’s almost like reading an epitaph that Carrie penned with her own hand – and Carrie’s words… they absolutely encapsulate her and her relationship with Star Wars and being Princess Leia.
I can’t write those ending lines down here and spoil it for anyone who does eventually read this book but… there’s just something about the finality of those last lines and her closing words that couldn’t have been anymore powerful or anymore perfect.

Carrie: you did it, you achieved exactly what you set out to do by publishing this memoir and these diary extracts – you proved that you’re more than just an intergalactic princess. Thank you for giving us this little insight into your world and may the Force always be with you.

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Waterstones | Bookshop.org | Goodreads |

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf | Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

#BookTag – Meet the Book Blogger

Happy Tuesday Bibliofriends,

I hope your week is going well so far. A big thank you and shout out to Amy from A Fangirl’s Opinion who tagged me in this Meet the Book Blogger tag! It’s been quite a while since I’ve last done a tag like this so I was really excited to share all of my answers with you!

This Meet the Book Blogger Tag was created by Samantha and Amber @Bibliomavens so be sure to check out their fabulous blog too!

Here are the rules for this tag:

  • Nominated bloggers can nominate ten other bloggers.
  • Use the same questions from the tag.

Who is your all-time favourite book character?

Oh my, literature has given us so many amazing bookish characters that it’s just too damn hard to pick only one right? I guess, if I had to pick a ‘top selection’ mine would have to be: Gandalf, Severus Snape, Willy Wonka, Addie LaRue, and Manon Blackbeak.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which book would you take with you?

Lord of the Rings (seeing as it is actually one book and not an actual series) – perhaps then I could finally get through the Appendices!
Either that or Les Miserables of the Song of Ice and Fire Series.

What’s your most unpopular book opinion?

Most recently, I guess I am really struggling with how people might react when I say that I still love the Harry Potter series. I will probably always love them for what that series gave me as a reader. I am not in any way, shape or form advocating any personal beliefs or opinions that its author may have, particularly as I have friends affected by those issues, but at the same time I can’t just cancel them out of my life like they never existed. So yeah – that’s definitely an unpopular opinion right?

If that isn’t good enough then here’s another one: Alina Starkov really really pisses me off – and I don’t even know why! (But I am definitely looking forward to the Shadow and Bone series on Netflix and I LOVE the Six of Crows duology – so don’t hate me too much!)

What’s your weirdest bookish habit?

I wouldn’t say that it’s ‘weird’ but I am super protective over my books. I hate spines cracking, bent/folded pages, cover peeling, stickers on the front, photographic covers, people on covers, books in a series not matching – I guess the length of my bookish pet peeves could be classed as weird!

What character would you bring to a family event as your fake partner?

I literally call my mum ‘Mrs Bennett’ from Pride and Prejudice because she’s always trying to play match-maker with ‘eligible bachelors’ therefore if I did end up bringing Mr. Darcy home (without a result of her meddling) the look on her face would probably be hilarious!

What made you decide to start a book blog?

Although many of my friends are readers, we don’t often read/like the same types of books so I guess I did it to try and find other bookish people to talk about fantasy books with! It’s also nice just to have a little outlet of my own to chat about bookish things and make bookish lists. The book community is truly wonderful online haven!

What about reading and books do you love the most?

Escapism – getting lost and swept away into a fictional world is my all-time favourite thing about reading. My bookshelf is also my happy place; there’s something really comforting about sitting amongst the spines of books and even though it can be a place of solitude, any real-life loneliness just melts away. Sometimes I even just sit there staring at the spines and smile…! Perhaps that’s my weirdest bookish habit! 😂

What is your field of study/desired profession/current profession?

By day, I’m a full-time teacher. Even though I studied English Literature and History at university, I always knew that I wanted to go into teaching – I guess I just really loved being at school! To be honest, I don’t see myself ever stepping away from the classroom – I have far too much fun with the children and it truly is a rewarding and inspiring profession to be in!
A dream of mine would be to write my own novel or perhaps create my own SFF publishing company.

What are some book recommendations that became your favourites/obsessions?

So here are a few books on my absolute ‘God-Tier’ of favourites:

The Throne of Glass series – I kept seeing this on social media and randomly went to see an event with Sarah J Maas before even reading any of her books – there were two MASSIVE series spoilers talked about in that event that I had no idea were spoilers until I actually read the books! 🙈

Ready Player One – I bought because it was reduced to £3 in an entertainment store and LOVED it! Easter Eggs are one of my favourite tropes/devices ever so this book was right up my street.

The Hobbit / Lord of the Rings – my Grandfather always talked about how much he loved this book and he gave me a copy of the Hobbit which is now completely beyond repair. I never got the chance to talk about Middle Earth with him before his Parkinson’s took over and he passed away but I’ll always be grateful to him for putting me on the metaphorical Ent which transported me to the Shire.

Anything by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – his writing style is just something else! It’s like sinking into a warm bubble bath at the end of a really long day. His world around the Cemetery of Forgotten Books intrigues me so much.

What is the book you shove down everyone’s throat?

See the list above – but also throw into it The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow and anything by Neil Gaiman!

I guess I have a lot of favourites!


I’m Tagging:

YOU – I really suck at tagging people so if you’re reading this, would love to answer these questions for yourself and you haven’t taken part in this tag before (or even if you have!), feel free to consider yourself tagged!

Again, thanks to Amy for tagging me in this post. I had lots of fun thinking about my favourite books, although now I want to read them all over again and completely abandon my actual TBR!

Have a good week everyone!

T xx

#SixforSunday – Characters who deserve a holiday!

Happy Sunday Bibliofriends!

We are continuing the Around the World in 80 Books theme this week on Six For Sunday by creating a list focused on characters who deserve a holiday. I must say, this is such an intriguing prompt for this week that I really had no idea quite where to start of who to pick! My mind went buzzing off in different directions to some of the heroes and heroines from my favourite ever books and the sheer effort they exerted in their triumph over evil (keep your eyes peeled for them below!) along with some other characters who were faced with trials and tribulations of a completely different kind! 
For those who don’t already know, Six for Sunday is weekly meme hosted by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. March’s theme is ‘Around the World in 80 Books!’ (which sounds like some exciting travel adventure I’d definitely be signing up for!). 


Characters Who Deserve A Holiday!

  1. Frodo Baggins
    Frodo, Frodo, Frodo – you were the first character to come to my mind when thinking about who needs a holiday. The burden of carrying the One Ring certainly took it’s toll on you (and pretty much every character in LOTR tbh!) so you’re definitely in need of a holiday to find some distant shores and leave all of your Sauron-based troubles behind!
  2. Circe (from Circe by Madeline Miller)
    I really felt for Circe during her tale within this book. I remember feeling that some of her problems were definitely of her own making but by the end of the novel, I was left with this overwhelming sense of pity for her. In my mind, she totally deserves a holiday to the party-loving island of Mykonos so she can let her hair down, drink cocktails on the beach and dance until sunrise – preferably without any pigs in sight!
  3. Inej Ghafa (from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo)
    I feel like Inez goes through such a tumultuous rollercoaster in this duology that she definitely needs some time away from Ketterdam – perhaps to a yoga retreat or something! Not only is there the heist and imminent danger elements to physically contend with – she’s always being tracked down, chased or targeted – but then there’s also her relationship with Kaz and on top of that the emotional stress of her family situation too. She definitely needs a holiday!
  4. Aelin (from the Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas)
    Similarly to Lord of the Rings, so many characters in this epic 7 book series (not forgetting the novellas!) went through such a journey in this book that I don’t know how half of them can go back to their ordinary lives without some from of PTSD – Aelin in particular after her wide-reaching character arc! This series will always be one of my favourites, and that ending will probably always sap the bookish life out of me with it’s high-stakes action and trauma – so yes, give Aelin a holiday!
  5. Severus Snape
    Snape is one of my favourite characters of all time – I love the complexities of his character (massively helped by Alan Rickman’s portrayal of him). As a teacher myself, I can completely sympathise with his exasperation at trying to teach dunderheads students when sometimes they just Do. Not. Want. To. Learn. In between that, and being the whipping-boy of not one but two masters, I’d most certainly be helping into the getaway car for a much needed holiday.
  6. Mr. Bennett (from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
    Surrounded by all those women, particularly his match-making obsessed, clucky wife and sycophantic daughter Lydia, I’m begging the holiday gods to take pity on poor Mr. Bennett and let him escape to some sort of fishing lake or gamekeeper cottage on the Pemberley estate for a little space and solitude! 

Which characters would you send on holiday and where would you pack them off to? What are some of your favourite holiday destinations? Do you prefer sight-seeing city breaks or relaxing beach holidays?
As always, leave your links below to your own posts or drop me a comment to chat!

T xx

Biblioshelf Musings – The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

Hello Bibliofriends!

This week’s Biblioshelf Musings is a perfectly light-hearted audiobook called The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley which I read as part of my ‘Tis the Damn Readathon TBR. I can’t really remember the reason why I initially downloaded this, but with the return to more hectic teaching life on the horizon – this seemed the exact type of easy-going fiction I needed to latch onto and ground myself in. The narrator, Anna Cordell, did a spectacular job of voicing the different personalities and characters – it added that extra entertainment value which I don’t think I would have received from reading a physical version of the book for myself. Funny, heartwarming and unassumingly addictive I loved everything this audiobook had to offer!


Book: The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley (Audiobook narrated by: Anna Cordell)
Genre: Fiction (Contemporary)
Publication Date: 29th December 2020
Publisher: Penguin / Transworld
Pages: 384 (Audiobook: 10hr 25min)
Rating: 📚📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

The story of a solitary green notebook that brings together six strangers and leads to unexpected friendship, and even love

Julian Jessop, an eccentric, lonely artist and septuagenarian believes that most people aren’t really honest with each other. But what if they were? And so he writes–in a plain, green journal–the truth about his own life and leaves it in his local café. It’s run by the incredibly tidy and efficient Monica, who furtively adds her own entry and leaves the book in the wine bar across the street. Before long, the others who find the green notebook add the truths about their own deepest selves–and soon find each other in real life at Monica’s café.

The Authenticity Project‘s cast of characters–including Hazard, the charming addict who makes a vow to get sober; Alice, the fabulous mommy Instagrammer whose real life is a lot less perfect than it looks online; and their other new friends–is by turns quirky and funny, heartbreakingly sad and painfully true-to-life. It’s a story about being brave and putting your real self forward–and finding out that it’s not as scary as it seems. In fact, it looks a lot like happiness.

The Authenticity Project is just the tonic for our times that readers are clamoring for–and one they will take to their hearts and read with unabashed pleasure.

My Musings

The Authenticity Project was a delightful book centred around a group of people who are all brought together due to ‘The Authenticity Project’. Julian, being in his senior years and struggling to cope with loneliness and a nostalgia for lost youth, writes his ‘authentic story’ in a green exercise book and leaves it in a café for someone to find and add to.
How well do you really know the people that you think you know?
The idea of the project is to confess your true self amongst its pages, rather than the half-truths or airs and graces you may put on in front of friends, family and colleagues – even those Insta followers…!

As the book winds its way through life, more and more characters get added to the narrative. I have to say this is one of the things I loved about the multi-POV story. New characters were introduced exactly when they needed to be – at the point in the story where they started to contribute something to the plot. Pooley’s way of doing this builds up the reader’s familiarity with them gradually rather than just needlessly dumping all of the characters in head-first at the start. It gave me time to get that reader/character relationship embedded and feel like I understood them – or at least as much as I could in a novel about how well we think we truly know the people around us.

I also found it quite rare that there wasn’t a single character I didn’t like!

Julian was so witty and charming. Monica went through a transformative arc which resonated with some of my own circumstances. Hazard was the roguish gentleman on a quest to turn his life around for the better. Riley added the laid-back Australian vibes encouraging others to take life as they find it. Alice added a viewpoint which would initially be seen as harsh and shockingly preposterous however also brings a refreshing realism to anyone struggling with her issues. I have to make a bonus mention for Anna Cordell’s accent for Mrs Wu – absolutely delightful and never failed to make me chuckle! All-in-all, they were a bunch of characters who could have all been plucked straight from the real-world and I grew quite fond of them throughout the whole course of the book.

For the most part, The Authenticity Project was completely predictable, albeit in a heart-warming and sentimental kind of way. Don’t get me wrong – there were a few added plot twists which took me by surprise (and one which made me gasp out loud as I was readying my classroom for the return of the children!). By the time the end came, I could have happily spent a few more chapters and hours just absorbing the general day-to-day lives that surround Monica’s café. Nevertheless, the ending itself gives the reader (and the characters) that closure they need whilst at the same time emphasising that the world doesn’t really just stop; real-life doesn’t really have a definitive ending – life goes on living from one day to the next.

With themes of friendship, love and loneliness – this novel about finding and owning your own authenticity then sharing it with the world was delightfully enjoyable. For a while, it practically transported me to the corner of a little café on the Fulham Road, where I could be a fly-on-the-wall of other people’s fictional lives. An easy-going, uplifting read with a group of loveable characters and fun-filled anecdotes. It definitely reminds you to focus on what is important in life and in this world where we can become so stressed and preoccupied with our jobs and the online/social media world, The Authenticity Project felt like an important reminder to spend some time switched off from all of that and get back to living again.

Why Should I Read This?

For a charming bunch of characters who wear their vulnerabilities on their sleeves.
For a unique concept and story which could quite easily be non-fiction rather than fiction.
For an endearing and loveably heartwarming story to lift and inspire you.

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Waterstones | Bookshop.org | Goodreads | Author’s Website |

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf | Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

#SixforSunday – Books Set In Italy!

Happy Sunday Bibliofriends!

We are continuing the Around the World in 80 Books theme this week on Six For Sunday by creating lists focused on books set ‘elsewhere in the world’ to the place that we live. I have a massive case of ‘pandemic wanderlust’ at the moment and due to lots of things popping up in daily life and giving me holiday flashbacks, I decided to focus my list this week on one country in particular… Italy! My friend and I travelled through Italy (quite a few years ago now) and we stopped off at lots of different places between Venice, Milan, Florence and Rome. It was the most incredible holiday and I hope I get to go back and spend more time there one day, it really is a beautiful country.
For those who don’t already know, Six for Sunday is weekly meme hosted by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. March’s theme is ‘Around the World in 80 Books!’ (which sounds like some exciting travel adventure I’d definitely be signing up for!).


Books Set in Italy!

  1. The Favour by Laura Vaughan
    This is the most recent book I have read set in Italy. It came out earlier this month and features a highly complex unreliable narrator called Ada who goes on an art-history travel adventure in Italy (definitely reminded me of my own trip!). I loved Laura’s description of the palazzos, museums and cities coupled with the dark, mysterious nature of the plot. It kept me guessing all of the way to the final sentence and that ending really did pack a punch and leave my brain spinning! You can check out my spoiler-free review here!
  2. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
    The Robert Langdon books are one of my favourite guilty pleasures. I’ve read them all and secretly believe that the conspiracies 100% factual. The Angels and Demons book is probably my favourite due to the setting and the whole idea of the treasure map across Rome. When we visited Italy I just had to retrace Langdon’s footsteps and visit all of the fountains and landmarks just to put the book’s description into reality. Bernini had also been one of my focuses in one of my degree modules as well so I definitely enjoyed geeking out on that adventure. Sadly, we didn’t find the pentagram and hidden passage inside Castel Sant’Angelo but we still enjoyed checking it out… just in case!
  3. Summer at the Lake by Erica James
    After our Italian escapades, my friend practically demanded that our next holiday would be a beach one (as opposed to literally running around different cities trying to pack as much in as possible!) so we went off to Cape Verde which brought some more fantastic ‘memory-of-a-lifetime-style’ adventures. I had packed 5 books in my bag, yet I found Summer of the Lake in one of the bookshelves in the hotel lobby – being set in Italy, and having a slight case of the bookish-kleptomania, it made its way into my bag and I read it whilst sat on the divine sandy beaches. I completely fell in love with Erica’s characters and how the setting of Lake Como fitted seamlessly into the narrative. It’s definitely one of my favourites!
  4. The Savage Garden by Mark Mills
    It seems that all of my Italian books have a holiday-themed story related to them but I found The Savage Garden in an English bookshop whilst visiting my friend in Lanzarote. I bought it because of the setting of the Italian garden and the way they blurb had mentioned this secret message hidden in the garden’s architecture and design – almost like some kind of horticultural treasure hunt! I enjoyed the mythological aspect to the garden statues and the way they were incorporated to the whole mystery element of the story. It’s definitely different to any other mysteries I’ve read. You can check out a little bit more in my review here.
  5. The Immortal City by Amy Kuivalainen
    The Immortal City is the first book in a series called ‘The Magicians of Venice’. It’s centred around a character called Penelope who is trying to find the lost city of Atlantis but gets entangled in a murder mystery with some rather peculiar symbology. Her journey then intertwines with a group of immortal magicians (hence the title of the series) and they embark upon a quest to solve the mystery and save Venice from sinking at the same time. Obviously the setting was a winner for me but I was also completely engrossed in the storyline and the relationship between Penelope and Alexis (spoiler warning: it got a little steamy 😉). The second book in the series was released in September 2020 and it’s definitely on my TBR list! Check out my review here.
  6. Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch
    This was a super-cute, fun YA novel which I truly enjoyed reading. I enjoyed seeing Lina experience life in Florence (my retirement dream!) for the first time and again it threw me straight back into that amazing holiday nostalgia. It was a really sweet novel about finding yourself and the importance of family/home.

There’s my little fictional jaunt through Northern Italy. If anyone has some Italian based recommendations I’d be glad to hear them, I’m always on the lookout!

What country or destination has you flipping the auto-buy switch in your brain? What are some of your favourite countries or places that you’ve been to or are on your travel bucket-list?
As always, leave your links below to your own posts or drop me a comment to chat!

T xx

Biblioshelf Musings – The Favour by Laura Vaughan

Hello Bibliofriends!

This week’s Biblioshelf Musings took me a dark, deceptive trip down memory-lane to the fascinating art-world of Italy. The Favour by Laura Vaughan is a tricksy, mind-bending novel filled with a cunningly unreliable narrator, an insight into the lavish lifestyles of the social elite all framed with the overarching question, just how far would you go to fit in? Huge thanks to Readers First and the publishers Corvus for providing me a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.


Book: The Favour by Laura Vaughan
Genre: Fiction (Thriller / Mystery)
Publication Date: 4th March 2021
Publisher: Corvus
Pages: 325
Rating: 📚📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

When she was thirteen years old, Ada Howell lost not just her father, but the life she felt she was destined to lead. Now, at eighteen, Ada is given a second chance when her wealthy godmother gifts her with an extravagant art history trip to Italy.

In the palazzos of Venice, the cathedrals of Florence and the villas of Rome, she finally finds herself among the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them. And when a member of the group dies in suspicious circumstances, she seizes the opportunity to permanently bind herself to this gilded set.

But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she’s been keeping a far darker secret than she could ever have imagined…

My Musings

At the start of the story we are immediately thrown into Ada’s world of grief and upheaval as she faces leaving behind her lifestyle and ancestral home upon the death of her father. After a move to London and a generous offer from a wealthy relative, Ada embarks upon an art history adventure travelling through Italy as a Dilletante. For Ada, this is the break she has always desired, to discover her true purpose and destiny within a world of like-minded people. The trouble is, fitting in with the social elite isn’t always as easy as it seems (not when you have secrets to hide) – and after a tragic accident at a party, the relationships between the travel buddies is severely tested as they return home and try to go on living their usual lives amidst its aftermath. 

Ada was a thrillingly complicated and unreliable narrator. Her character arc was spectacularly crafted and took me on an incredible journey of shifting emotions. My empathy towards her varied greatly at different episodes in the story. Her feelings of mis-identity and that strong yearning to fit in with her fellow Dilletantes showed you this sense of loneliness and vulnerability which she must have been feeling – but then in the next breath, her fabrication of particular gestures or her backstory and her yearning to fit in has you wondering just what type of person she truly is. Her voice gave off a sense of dissociation which was intriguing; was she actually witnessing her life from outside of her body or was she truly experiencing all of those emotions and events from within her own head? In part, it reminded me of Eleanor’s narrative voice in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

“Attempting to make myself indispensable had hollowed me out.”

As we got deeper into the plot and some of the Dilletantes started to reveal their true motives, it really made me wonder what kind of reality Ada was missing out on due to her tunnel-visioned focus into this lifestyle that she’d only ever been on the periphery of? The way the ‘favour’ masked Ada’s guilt at being an accomplice and her vehement self-denial was the flipside of a split-personality which just craved friendship and belonging. The multi-facetedness of her character and the tantalisingly dark plot twists gave this novel an unpredictability which I found fascinating to read.

Being set in Italy was such a draw for me. Travelling to Venice, Florence and Rome was one of my favourite and most memorable holidays so it was almost like journeying back to the past to see those places again through Ada’s eyes. I was immediately transported into those gloriously artisan surroundings with tavernas, canals and piazzas oozing with creativity and delicious food (and wine!). Vaughan’s lyrical writing helped to bring that Italian world to life in a way that made me want to keep on reading and exploring those galleries and museums with their beauty and Renaissance charm.

The technicalities of the artwork were expressed in a way which I found intriguing without being too overwhelming. I still couldn’t define for you what a pentimento is, but I enjoyed the way that some of those art techniques and famous paintings/sculptures tied in to the themes and plot of the novel.

I loved how sentient the ‘favour’ seemed to be and how it was used and moulded by several different characters all for their own motives. At first, the favour seemed to be created out necessity and tragedy, an act of quick-thinking combined with the desperation of trying to protect someone whilst at the same time cementing your place within their world. As the plot unravels, that same favour spiralled and shifted out of control leaving you to wonder who was the real puppet-master manipulating its strings. All of that drama made for such mind-bending reading and the plot twists came thick and fast right up until the very end.

“The Welsh have a word: hiraeth. It’s basically untranslatable, but it means the grief you feel for the lost places of your past. And something more: a longing for a home or time that may have never been.”

In a similar way, Ada’s ancestral home, Garreg Las, almost became one of the characters itself – always waiting there in the depths of Ada’s subconscious, an explicit reminder of how the house ties itself to Ada’s sense of identity and belonging. Sometimes it could be a status symbol to prove that Ada was a part of the Dilletante world, whereas at other times it was a refuge, a little corner of Wales that Ada felt she was truly home. I loved the way it would appear at different intervals within the narrative, like a guest star who makes special appearances and has to ensure they find their way into the encore before the final curtain fall.Overall, The Favour is a tremendously well-constructed story with Vaughan giving you teeny segments at a time whilst slowly building up to that spectacular final twist. Ada’s narration had me constantly second-guessing if I could trust her or whether in some ways she truly is a victim of her own making or sheer circumstance. Combining that dark and twisty narrative with the wondrously charming Italian surroundings made The Favour such a compelling read, and although at the start of the novel I was readily signing myself up a Dilletanti Discoveries style adventure… let’s just say I’d definitely be a little warier about trusting my fellow travel buddies after reading this!

Why Should I Read This?

For a superbly written unreliable narrator who has you questioning her motives right up to the end.
For the richly decadent Italian settings – the perfect wanderlust quencher in a lockdown world.
For the psychological questioning of friendship and what it truly means to belong and fit in.

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Waterstones | Bookshop.org | Goodreads | Author’s Website |

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf | Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

#WrapPost – February 2021!

Aloha Bibliofriends!

Life Update

I know that February is only ever 3 days maximum shorter than the other months but it still feels so ridiculously short – then before you know it… BAM we’re into March and the children are coming back to school!!! Not going to lie – we have very little planned for class tomorrow apart from letting the children just see their friends again and enjoy being together!

Life is February kept a pretty regular rhythm: lots of walking, reading, online learning and TV. We now have lambs in the field opposite our house and the daffodils are starting to form in little clumps along our lane. Spring is definitely beginning to peek through!

What I’ve Been Reading in February

February was a pretty solid month for me. I managed to get through four books (finishing my last one exactly on the last day of the month was definitely a satisfying feeling!

  • A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️
    I was really looking forward to the ending of this series to finally get that closure and find out where the story finished up. Reader… I was a little disappointed. I found the pace far too slow for me to get sucked into like I had with the previous two books. If felt like a lot of the time the story was just building up to something we knew had been coming since AHSFAB – how many times were Rhen and Harper going to blame themselves and each other instead of just talking to one another?! It felt like it was predominantly a character development interlude. I did enjoy the Lia Mara and Grey elements though and I also have to admit that even though it’s only been 1 month since I finished reading – I can’t really remember what happened at the end except that it was predictable. I am pleased in the way that the series ended but I definitely prefer the first two books to this one.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    You know there are those books that you have to wait until you are mentally prepared to read them? This was one of those books and it absolutely wowed me. I got so engrossed into Starr’s world. The empathy that her character evoked in me was something I haven’t quite felt in a lead character before for a while. It gave me an insight into racial issues which was profound and incredibly moving. It’ll definitely be one of those ‘must-reads’ that I recommend to all my friends (which I actually did – and she’s already started reading it!).
  • A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️
    I had so far resisted the urge to dive back into Prythian after the brokenness I had felt after A Court of Wings and Ruin, but then all of the hype over the release of A Court of Silver Flames and I finally felt like I had to try and catch up with the series to avoid any accidental spoilers. Whilst I really enjoyed seeing the aftermath of ACOWAR events and the way life continued for some of my favourite characters, it just wasn’t quite the same as the original narrative and felt more like a pleasant jaunt into the past rather than something which the series couldn’t do without. I am very excited to read A Court of Silver Flames though when I finally get around to ordering it – I love Nesta’s waspish attitude so I hope she brings her full sass-bucket to that party! 😂
  • The Favour by Laura Vaughan
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    I managed to win a copy of this book pre-publication through Readers First. The Italian setting immediately grabbed me and the whole element of deception, lies and manipulation cemented my need to read the book. It was a fabulously dark and twisty read and the final scene had me reeling! If you like an unreliable narrator then this may definitely be one for you! Review coming up later this week!

What I’ve Been Watching in February

So long story short – my Dad has been so bored during lockdown that he guilt trips me into watching films with him. He loves the violent, gritty Jason Statham style thrillers where everyone has to be shot about 20 times before they finally die so most of my watchlist is his fault (and they’re nearly all complete crap!)

Films:

  • Next
  • Uncut Gems
  • The Old Guard
  • So Undercover (a Miley pick – that was definitely mine!)
  • Inside Man
  • Escape Plan
  • Capone
  • The Angel
  • Extraction (very gory, but probably the best film all month that was one of “Dad’s picks!”)
  • Legacy of Lies
  • Mulan (I finally got to watch Mulan – I loved it so much. I think Disney did a great job of this remake and I loved the way the score had elements of Reflection woven through it!)

TV Series

  • Sounds so cheesy but I love game shows, especially music related ones so I ended up bingeing on the entire season of the American show Sing On! It was sooooo bad that it was epic!
  • Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments – Season One – I think this started out so weird but actually it’s growing on me a little more – I think now the characters have grown into their roles a little more (at first I found Clary so awkward). It won;t ever be a favourite but it’s something easy to relax and watch in the evenings.
  • Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel – the adverts for this reeked of paranormal involvement or some sort of deception. Sadly the reality of the case was so much more traumatic and I felt really sorry for Elisa Lam. At only four parts long, this was short enough to maintain my interest but I find it very unsettling that the hotel is due for reopen (after being revamped) very soon. It almost felt like they were using the documentary to drum up interest in it again – although why anyone would voluntarily stay there after having watched that series… who knows!

What I’ve Been Listening to in January

Ditto from January – It’s pretty much been a literal never-ending shuffle play of Folklore, Evermore and Plastic Hearts…

Pokemon Go Update

So much happened this month with Pokemon Go that I felt like it needed it’s own little section! Right at the end of half-term we had the Pokemon Go Kanto World Tour which celebrated 25 years since the start of the Pokemon games (how old?!?!). They had such a fun event which (being in lockdown with very little else to do) I dedicated my entire day to 🙈.
It was such an awesome day! I chose to go with Team Red as Growlithe is one of my all-time favourite pokemons and I was yet to catch the elusive shiny one. I practically used incense for the whole time between 9am and 7pm but it was totally worth it to get such a shiny haul. I finally got my first non-shadow Mewtwo including a shiny one and I even got a boosted Moltres from a friend in Brazil. I haven’t got shiny forms of the legendary birds yet but this was my first time catching them in raids and adding them to my dex so I was pretty happy with that. I managed to complete all of the research tasks apart from the Trade task and the Evolve task. I have very few friends to do any trading with, especially during this lockdown where we can’t all meet up, although I did manage to revive my extremely old account from 2016 (which I think was the first one I ever created) to get enough trades in and complete the shiny Ditto task! There was no way I was managing to walk over 250 km in a week to get enough candy to evolve my Weepinbell into Victreebell which is where I eventually got stuck on the Evolve side of things! 

I’m now working on the tasks for Shiny Mew although I’m a little apprehensive about how long it’s going to take me to get to Level 40 at this rate! 

February’s Shiny Haul
Piplup
Roselia (evolved into Roserade)
Luvdisc
Shellder
Pidgey
Porygon
Scyther
Gligar
Electabuzz
Lickitung
Gastly
Growlithe
Mewtwo
Pikachu
Ditto
Ekans
Drowzee
Squirtle
Weedle
Hitmonlee

My Trainer Code: If any fellow Pogo players want to add me, my trainer code is: 8327 7170 2277

What I’m Looking Forward to it March

  • Getting my first Illumicrate book – the Feb one was held up in the post 😏
  • Taking part in ‘Tis the Damn Readathon – check out my TBR and more info here!
  • Slithers of normality resuming!
  • Spring time, lighter evenings and longer walks!

And that’s a wrap! What have you been reading/watching/listening to/doing in February? What are your anticipated reads for next month? How are you coping with Lockdown 3.0? Are you excited for Spring?

As always, drop me a comment to chat! ☺️

T xx

#SixforSunday – Books Set In The UK!

Happy Sunday Bibliofriends!

We have a brand new theme for March with our Six for Sunday prompts and I am so excited for Around the World in 80 Books! This week we are focussing on books set in the country where we live. Now initially, when I wrote all of the prompts in my planner I accidentally wrote down down the word ‘love’ instead of the word ‘live’ so I had to quickly go back and change my Italian themed post… I definitely don’t live in Italy! I do however live in a beautiful area of England called the Cotswolds and spend my time between here and Cornwall (lockdown permitting!). Most of the books I seem to read are predominantly SFF which take place in fictional or off-world locations but looking through my ‘Read’ pile there are still plenty of delightful books set in the UK that I can compile today’s list from.
For those who don’t already know, Six for Sunday is weekly meme hosted by Steph over at A Little But A Lot. March’s theme is ‘Around the World in 80 Books!’ (which sounds like some exciting travel adventure I’d definitely be signing up for!).


Books Set in England!

  1. The Agatha Raisin Series by M.C. Beaton
    The Agatha Raisin series is probably my most locally-set series that I have on my shelves as it is set in the Cotswolds and the author herself lives in a village not very far from where I live. I’ve only read the first one so far but it definitely makes me feel at home when I read it. From the characters, to the houses and scenic countryside – I’m always wondering whether some of the people we bump into have found themselves transported as a character into one of her books.
  2. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
    I have recently started reading Clockwork Prince just in little short bursts in reading breaks from other books. I’m really intrigued to see where this series goes as a lot of people have told me they preferred it to The Mortal Instruments which I felt was a little bit dare-I-say average… My hype-o-meter isn’t as huge for this London-based series though so I’m hoping that I’ll enjoy it (I’m just praying for more Magnus Bane moments tbh!).
  3. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
    There had to be a Cornish one on the list! Not going to lie, but my desire to read this stemmed completely from the Most Haunted episode at the Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor and then a trip to the Inn itself. I’m a massive coastal setting / pirate fan so I loved reading the book. After watching the film Rebecca and learning more about du Maurier’s time spent in Cornwall I can’t wait to read more of her books.
  4. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
    I read this as part of a module at university but the setting of Lyme Regis just swept me away. We visited there once on a holiday where we toured the South coast. I love the lampposts that have the fossil style decor on them. That image in the book of Sarah just standing on the Cobb completely encapsulates the whole novel for me – it’s such tragic love story and was a lot different to the kinds of other romances I was reading as a late teen / early tween!
  5. Spies by Michael Frayn
    This is one of my favourite WW2 books that I’ve read. The way the children played in the street or in the field near their houses was a little like the way I spent a bit of my childhood so I guess that I find it filled with a little bit of sentimentality and nostalgia – although we definitely didn’t have the kind of adventure they enjoyed in this novel though! 😂
  6. Hag: Forgotten Folktales Retold edited by Daisy Johnson
    Hag is a wonderful collection of forgotten folktales from around the UK retold by women authors with a feminist twist. I really enjoyed discovering some tales which were completely unfamiliar to me written by some quite well-known authors. The whole tone of the collection gave off these brilliant gothic/horror type vibes at times as well which was right up my street. You can read my review of it here.

So there are just a few books that I found whilst scrolling through my ‘read’ shelf – all of them set in particular parts of the UK. I thought at first that this task would be really hard, but actually I found myself wanting to include so many more books on my list that I remember as having typically UK settings and fill me with that sense of home – even if I do spend a majority of my time dreaming about far off shores and fictional worlds!

What books are set in the countries, cities or places where you live?
As always, leave your links below to your own posts or drop me a comment to chat!

T xx

#FaeFriday – Favourite Books by Women Authors!

Hey Bibliofriends!

I know it’s Saturday but better late than never right for Fae Friday?!

Fae Friday is a weekly blog prompt hosted by the wonderful Kristy at Caffeinated Fae. It seems like the perfect way to spread a little more magic across the blogosphere every week.

Here are the rules:

  • Link back to this page on Caffeinated Fae.
  • If the prompt idea is from another blog, link to that blog as well.
  • Use #FaeFriday when posting to social media so we can all find each other! 
  • Participate when you can & have fun with the prompt!

March 5th prompt:

Happy Women’s History Month! Since it’s the first #FaeFriday in March we’re going to start off with the prompt:

What are some of your favorite books written by women?  

I recently listened to the first ever episode of the podcast Breaking the Glass Slipper where they discussed how women authors were overlooked when it came down to compiling ‘top rated’ book lists for SFF and horror genres. That episode took place several years ago and although there are still gender and equality arguments out there in the publishing world today, just looking at my shelves and my anticipated reads and seeing them filled with women authors puts a smile on my face as it seems that we are inching closer to some sort of equilibrium.

When I got to thinking about my list for this prompt, I wanted to try and move away from some of the authors I continuously profess my love for (Sarah J Maas/V.E. Schwab/Leigh Bardugo etc…) and think about some of other women authors on my shelves whose books have left a special mark on my bookish heart.

  1. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter – I first discovered Angela Carter when I was writing my dissertation at university and her book The Bloody Chamber was just so intoxicating that she fast became one of my go-to authors. That level of gruesome darkness was spellbinding and it reignited my love for fairytales and fantasy all over again.
  2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Book of Fours by Nancy Holder – I am a MaHOOsive Buffy fan and I loved the narrative Nancy wove with the slayers and the elements in this story. It was really different to the other types of Buffy books I had read.
  3. To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo – the language and vocabulary in this book was just – wow! I devoured every single word and sentence of the story and world that Christo built. It’s one of the only standalone books I’ve read that I wished were part of a series and I really need to know more and Elian’s and Lira’s kingdoms.

What are your favourite books by women authors
As always leave me your links below or drop me a comment to chat!

Enjoy your weekend Bibliofriends!

T xx