[Book Review] To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

I have a heart for every year I’ve been alive.
There are seventeen hidden in the sand of my bedroom. Every so often, I claw through the shingle, just to check they’re still there. Buried deep and bloody. I count each of them, so I can be sure none were stolen in the night. It’s not such an odd fear to have. Hearts are power, and if there’s one thing my kind craves more than the ocean, it’s power.

If this book were a portal to the world it’s set in then I would immediately dive straight into it right now!

I’ve always been a major fan of any stories set by seas and oceans or involving pirates, mermaids and the like. I’ve read stories of sirens in mythology but nothing contemporary has ever hit the mark…that is until To Kill A Kingdom came along.
I knew I had to read it straightaway and couldn’t resist the lure of it when it came up as part of the Readers First draw. Readers First is a website that releases first looks on upcoming releases from a wide range of genres. If you write a first impression of the first look then you get entered into a prize draw to win a copy of the book pre-publication in exchange for a review. This was my first time actually entering for anything and I jumped for joy when I had the email telling me that I had won a copy and it was already on its way in the mail to me.

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy? [Synopsis from Goodreads]IMG_7774

Admittedly, from the blurb alone, my expectations were incredibly high and thankfully Alexandra Christo pulled it out of the bag with this brilliant debut. It’s clear from the first few pages that storytelling is a massive strength within this novel. Christo has such a lyrical way of writing that the story is almost like a siren song transcending off the pages straight into your mind.

Under the sea, it’s never so serene. There’s always screaming and crashing and tearing. There’s always the ocean, constantly moving and evolving into something new. Never still and never the same.

From the outset, the world building in this book is far from watery (pun intended)!  The rich vocabulary and exquisite descriptions immerse you headfirst into the world Christo has created. Seriously, I would happily hop on the first pirate ship I see on a quest to find the Diávolos Sea. I love descriptive books which is why I think this appealed to me so much but if you’re not into all of that then there’s plenty of swashbuckling action and entertaining banter to counteract it.

And the ocean, calling out to us both. A song of freedom and longing.

The story is written in alternating chapters following Lira – a siren princess known as the Princes’ Bane due to her passion for targeting and murdering princes, and Elian – a Midasan prince known as the siren-killer because of his commitment to sailing the seas and ridding humanity of the threat of siren monsters. When Lira’s callous and cruel mother, the Sea Queen, sends Lira on a quest to kill Elian the paths of the two main characters merges and takes them on an adventure which neither one was truly expecting.

Could it really be such a bad thing, to become a story whispered to children in the dead of night?

Raised by brutality, Lira is one true bad-ass. She’s witty, determined and filled with sass to the brim. A fantastic protagonist who conveys her story and her conflicting feelings effortlessly. I really liked the fact that she dared to be different to the other sirens, even if it meant going against someone as powerful as her mother. As for the prince…well, give me Elian over Eric any day! The balance between both him and Lira made for a brilliantly believable pairing despite their initial differences.

Although To Kill A Kingdom comes across as a retelling, it really is an original tale in its own right. I enjoyed the influences of Greek myths as well as spotting the various nods to both the traditional and Disney versions of the The Little Mermaid – the Sea Queen throws some serious shade on Disney’s Ursula; Lira’s transition from siren to human echoes both Ariel’s and the Anderson mermaid’s fates; and of course the subtle romance between prince and princess reiterates themes from both versions of the tale.

The storyline itself, deviates drastically from the well-known fairy tales. Christo has created an interesting narrative which weaves myth, fairy tale and fantasy together. The characters embark on a fairly simple retrieval quest which then branches out into variously wicked twists and turns to keep you on your toes, finally culminating in an epic battle of mankind and monsters to determine the fate of their world. I enjoyed the way that the action was interspersed with different settings and dialogues between the characters. Refreshingly, as a standalone fantasy novel, the plot is neatly wrapped up at the end of the story but there’s the snag…I wanted more! At times during reading I found myself doubting that this was actually a standalone. I couldn’t quite believe that the whole story could be wrapped up as I crept closer and closer to the end of the book. Whilst I wasn’t left with any burning questions which felt as though they hadn’t been answered, I do feel that the ending came about rather quickly compared to the level of build-up that there was to get there. I really hope Christo revisits this world that she has created, not necessarily to continue the stories of Elian and Lira, but just to see more of it come to life on the page.

If you’re looking for a stunningly enchanting standalone to absolutely lose yourself in, then this is the book for you. To Kill a Kingdom had everything I wanted in a YA fantasy novel – adventure, mysticism, humour, magic, a touch of romance and a kingdom that I actually wished was a real place. This novel will definitely stick in my mind for a long time to come and I can’t wait to see what Christo writes next.

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Published: 6th March 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 368
ISBN: 9781471407390
Rating: 5/5 Princes’ Hearts

FairyLoot February Unboxing – Twisted Tales

*Spoliers ahead!*IMG_7805

The following post contains spoilers about the items contained in February’s FairyLoot box so tread carefully if you don’t want to spoil the surprise!

The very minute the theme ‘Twisted Tales’ for this box was unveiled, I was super excited! It had ‘dark fairy tales’ written all over it and not most because of the stunning Red Riding Hood style artwork by @taratjah

IMG_7795The first item I came across was a beautiful Hinterland candle from Wick and Fable which was designed (along with the author) to tie into the setting of this month’s book. The scent of the candle was Oakmoss and Tea Leaves and it smells so Spring-like and fresh! I think it is my favourite FairyLoot candle so far and I can’t wait to burn it.

Next up was an exclusive ‘Grimm Tales’ Mug with a design from Aunjuli Art featuring loads of different nods to various fairytales including Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, The Princess and the Frog amongst many more! I’m going to have so much fun spotting them all!

IMG_7796       IMG_7799     IMG_7798

IMG_7800Perfect for a winter warm-up was a packet of luminously green ‘Poisonous Apple’ bath salts from Little Heart as well as some exclusively designed Hansel and Gretel inspired socks featuring witch hats and gingerbread houses. I love pinkish/purple colour of them!

 

IMG_7801The final piece of bookish merch was a stunning Ink and Wonder woodmark (wooden bookmark) which had a gorgeous Little Red Riding image and quote on it. I have Lord of the Rings one of these from a previous FairyLoot box but I just can’t bring myself to use them in case they broken, and then I would be distraught!

The book for this month was The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. It was an exclusive hardback edition of the book featuring the cover from the UK paperback. On the cover of the book, underneath the jacket, was an embossed image of a pair of gates which ties into the storyline of the book. The book itself was an enjoyable read paying homage to the legacy of fairy tale and storytelling. I’ll hopefully be posting a review of it within the next week or so.
IMG_7804

Next month’s box is themed ‘Memorable Moments’ and will be a special purple two-year anniversary box. Despite my best efforts, I’ve already been snooping all over Goodreads to match the book description and suss out what the book is (I’ll never learn!). I’m really excited to see what the exclusive hardcover is like and the items linked to fandoms including LOTR, Harry Potter, GOT and Shadowhunters! Honestly, if FairyLoot did anymore than one box a month my bank account would be in serious danger!

The Friday 56 – To Kill a Kingdom

Hey Bookaholics!

Here I go with my first Friday 56!
Hosted by Freda’s Voice Friday 56 is a weekly bookish prompt. It’s quite easy to do and could cover no end of different books and genres so seems great if you’re looking for a quick snippet to discover something new!

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.

This week, I’ve selected the last book I finished reading which is ‘To Kill a Kingdom’ by Alexandra Christo.

 “Could it really be such a bad thing, to become a story whispered to children in the dead of night?”

TKAK[Goodreads Synopsis]
Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to 
the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

I received a pre-release copy of this from Readers First and devoured it within a few days. Loosely based on The Little Mermaid with a few nods to other Greek tales, To Kill a Kingdom is filled to the brim with banter, bad-ass characters and scintillating action. The story-telling and language is absolutely superb and I loved every single page! If you like watery worlds, tales of pirates, mermaids and some wonderfully lyrical descriptions then this is definitely one for you!

To Kill a Kingdom is published by Hot Key Books and is released on 6th March 2018. You can preorder your copy from the following places:
Waterstones               Amazon                       Book Depository

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Could Re-Read Forever

Hi Bookaholics!

It’s that TTT time again…already! We are holding our Parents’ Evening meetings at school this week which is why this post is coming slightly late, on Wednesday morning!

The theme for this week is books that you could re-read forever, almost like your desert island books. Initially, I thought this would be super easy, and it turns out that picking books I’d love to read over and over again is easy, but narrowing them down to just 10, therein lies the problem…! I think I’ve just about managed, here’s my list below; if any of these made your TTT this week or you’re intrigues to know more about them then drop me a comment!

10. The Witches by Roald Dahl

There had to be at least one of my childhood classics on the list and this one was always a firm favourite!

9. Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatton

This is one of those ‘choice books’ where you determine the characters fate yourself. I don;t know the proper name for them but you read the first page and then have a choice of which path the character should choose, you then flip to the page that corresponds with and continue the story from there. Obviously with so many different possibilities and outcomes I could read this again and again and still not quite read the same story!

8. The Complete Poetry Anthology of William Blake

Blake is one of my all-time favourite poets. I especially enjoyed his Songs of Innocence and Experience collections because they had so many different meanings in them.

7. Angela Carter’s Book of Fairytales / The Bloody Chamber

Carter features on a fair few of my TTT lists. I think she’s an exceptional story-teller and I love the dark, twisty way she writes,

6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I only finished reading this a couple of weeks ago and absolutely adored it! I know I could read it over and over again just to try and find every single pop culture reference. It would probably keep me occupied for ages!

5. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

To be fair, if I was packing up for a desert island I’d be flinging every single one of his books in my suitcase, not just this series (Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, The Prisoner of Heaven). I cannot get enough of his writing and the mysteries he weaves with his words, they’re pure brilliance!

4. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

As if you hadn’t guessed already with all of the other magical/fairytale references dotting through my list, I absolutely love fairy tales and this book is fulled to the brim with them! It’s such a memorable tale and I could literally read it forever.

3. The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J Maas

After Harry Potter, I was forever looking for a series where I could be desperately waiting for the next book to be released and I finally found it in Throne of Glass! I cannot wait for the finale of this series.

2. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

Again, another series which I really enjoyed. I did think about putting the whole series down but I think I’d only need to reread this one again and again, oh the feels!

1 – The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Again, another series where I would have to fling the entirety of it into my suitcase. I’ve reiterated time and time again about my love for Potter so it’s no surprises that I could read this forever!

Have a great week Bookaholics!

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’m No Longer Interested in Reading

Hey Bookaholics!

I hope you are all having a good week so far. We are back to school again this week after the half term break. I enjoyed getting the chance to meet up with some friends and catch up with my reading (as well as some much needed sleep)!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is Books I’m No Longer Interested In Reading. This was really hard for me as I hardly ever DNF a book; in fact, I think I’ve only ever DNF’d one book so this list predominantly consists of book series which I am no longer interested in or motivated to finish/continue!

10. A Thing Or Two About Curtis And Camilla by Nick Fowler

My only DNF. I’m sorry to say that I’ve already included this in a previous post and I’m sure some people out there really enjoyed the story, but for me both Curtis and Camilla irritated the hell out of me and I couldn’t finish it!

9. Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

I was really intrigued by this epistolary novel yet I’ve picked it up no end of times and don’t seem to be able to get past the first 50 pages. It hasn’t become the second book on my DNF hitlist…yet! Nevertheless, it’s been put on pause for the time being!

8. Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori

Again, this seems to be another regular feature on my TTT list. It just didn’t quite grab me and although I own the entire series as a boxset, I never made it past the first one and probably won’t.

7. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

For some reason this series didn’t hook me which I was quite surprised about. I don’t think I realised it was part of a series when I first read it but it definitely didn’t inspire me to purchase the sequel. I think there were just other books out there which piqued my interest more.

6. Still Me by Jojo Moyes

I wept at Me Before You. I carried on with After You because I enjoyed reading about Lou’s effervescent character and really wanted her to overcome her grief and get her happy ending. But to continue it with another book…do we really need one? The love and the loss has been dealt with enough for Lou to move on with her life. Apologies to the Moyes superfans out there, but can we not just let her be? 

5. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

I must admit, I purchased this purely because of the title, the cover and the reference to magic in the blurb. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting and I don’t think the style of the novel was totally to my taste. I know there’s a brief follow up story about the cat but I don’t think I’ll end up reading it.

4. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I actually quite enjoyed this book! It is one of the few eBooks I read last year and I found it to be quite a relaxing read even though I was hoping it would be a little more in the epistolary style. After I’d finished reading I found out it was the first one in a series but yet again, other books grabbed my attention sooner so I don’t think I’ll be reading P.S I Still Love You or Always and Forever, Lara Jean for some time.

3. Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

This book was included in my first ever Fairyloot box that I received! Overall I enjoyed the story but the series just didn’t leave me invested enough to preorder the second book in the series. Maybe one day…

2. Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Another Fairyloot book which was massively hyped due to Ahdieh’s success with The Wrath and the Dawn (which I haven’t got around to reading yet). It was pitched as a Mulan retelling but I’m not quite sure that I saw that in it. The story kept me interested enough but I just don’t think I’m interested enough in following Mariko’s character into the sequel.

1. A Song of Ice and Fire Series by G.R.R. Martin

I read both A Game of Thrones and Clash of Kings but towards the end I found myself skimming certain chapters just to find out more about the characters which I actually wanted to know about like Cersei, Daenerys, Jon Snow, Tyrion, Arya etc! I’m sure at some point in the future I should persist and plough my way through them but I’m just not yearning to pick them up for the time being.

So there you have it! Some novels which didn’t quite interest me enough and some firsts in a series which haven’t inspired me or hooked me enough to immediately grab for the sequel.

Have you read any of these? Should I persevere with any of them or give some a second chance? Let me know in the comments! 

Enjoy your week Bookaholics!

 

 

 

[Book Review] Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Pages: 372
Publisher: Arrow Books 2012
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 5/5 Easter Eggs

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

I am not a video-gamer. I am not an 80s superfan.

But…

I am hugely in love with Ready Player One.

I began reading this purely out of the hype which has gradually been building during the run up to its movie release in March this year. As I said, I’m not really a massive gamer purely for the fact that I am so bad at them and end up getting angry, grumpy and not much fun to be around! I grew up in the 90s so knowledge of 80s culture is through what has been passed to me rather than experienced first hand from living through that decade.  I’m also not very up to speed with the whole virtual reality/artificial intelligence thing either, so I did not really go into this book thinking that I would like it but knew that I definitely wanted to read it before seeing the film. Having only read the Goodreads synopsis, I delved straight in…after the first page, I honestly could not put this book down! So much so that I went to bed one night and stayed up til gone 1AM just to reach the end. I’ve been raving about it and recommending it ever since to anyone who’ll listen, even to the friends who have already read it before me!

“Whenever I saw the sun, I reminded myself that I was looking at a star. One of over a hundred billion in our galaxy. A galaxy that was just one of billions of other galaxies in the observable universe. This helped me keep things in perspective.”

What I loved about this book:

·      The Quest – I absolutely love treasure hunts and the mission to find things which are hidden. Ready Player One has this in abundance! Cline has absolutely nailed it with his plot. Every detail is superbly laid out and intrinsically thought about. It really is a master class in how to lay a trail of clues and hide them within the narrative. You don’t need to know much about video games or 80s pop culture as you are given an expert tour by the main character Wade. There is a fair amount of detail imparted to the reader and normally I’m not a huge fan of info-dumping but what Cline does is spread this out into short chunks which are revealed only when necessary, when they have something to contribute to the plot. Cline really has written an ode to the 80s. Movies, music, games and novels are all very well represented. Check out this article on the Shmoop website to see the vast, mind-blowing array of little treasures that are featured or referenced to throughout!

·      The story keeps on giving – now whilst some elements of the plot were easy enough for me to predict or guess, there were other parts which took me by surprise and kept me flipping the pages just to keep on going. The suspension and pace kept on building all of the way through and as the stakes got higher, my anticipation went along with it too and I was thoroughly gripped.

·      The characters – Wade is such a likeable character. He has qualities and traits which are relatable to a wide range of readers. As someone who has lost both of his parents and doesn’t really feel like he fits in with the rest of his family or the real world at all, he seeks solace in the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation, basically a virtual reality world where people can create avatars and live their life). He is a walking encyclopedia of all things to do with retro arcade games and James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS and the Easter Egg contest which poses as the main focus of the novel. He believes in a world which is not overrun with corruption or corporationalism from the evil IOI Company and he uses the refuge of the virtual world in order to express a representation of his true self, which can also be said for many of the other central characters. Art3mis and Aech (pronounced ‘aitch’ not ‘ike’ as I finally discovered on p.320!) also do a stellar job at matching up to Wade and providing some great rivalry, dialogue and humour throughout the story.

·      The villain – Whilst the main villain of Ready Player One is Sorrento, for me the actual villain of the story is the meaning behind Sorrento’s character. Working for the IOI which wants to win the contest in order to control the whole OASIS, Sorrento represents the modern day idea of globalisation and big corporate companies dictating the way in which the entire world is run. Wade and the other gunters, who are on a mission to prevent this from happening, parody this by bringing the good side to balance the evil. They see the importance of friendship and working together as the main way they will be able to counteract the threat of the IOI and these themes are central within the plot, giving the whole novel quite a meaningful message.

What I didn’t love about this book:

·      That it had to end!

·      I can honestly think of no other reasons than that! The ending was slightly twee, and I’m not sure that one part of it was entirely needed as it felt a little cliché, but I think that’s just my own cynicism!

·      Apparently, a sequel is in the works; I do not know where the next novel could possibly go. Without using a whole load of spoilers, I’m not really sure that a sequel is necessary after such an amazing story like Ready Player One was.


All in all, Ready Player One blew me away. The quirkiness and attention to detail was sublime; Cline really knew his themes and plot inside out and the sense that this was his passion project just leapt off every page. I know without a doubt that this will be one of my favourite reads of 2018 already. USA Today accurately described it as ‘Willy Wonka meets The Matrix’ and this is such an accurate assessment. If you have a love for retro gaming or reliving your 80s youth, if you love plots intricately laid with subtle references to pop culture, if you love a story with a real-world message then hopefully you’d find something to love in Ready Player One.

Top Ten Tuesday – Love Freebie

First-time loves – books I’d love to read again as if for the very first time!

Hey there Bookaholics!

So this week Top Ten Tuesday is a ‘Love freebie’ and I’m not going to lie, I kind of picked out my theme before fully reading the prompt so although this week’s post is not entirely ‘lovey-dovey’ or ‘romancy’, I’m going with it anyway! For this TTT, I decided to think about all of the books that I’d LOVE (had to get that word in there!) to rediscover as if for the first time. Deleting all my knowledge of these next ten books only to be able to read them afresh and experience those first-time feels again would be awesome! Bring on the nostalgic love…

10. Spies by Michael Frayn

This text was one of the books that was on my English Literature A-Level syllabus. I remember exactly where I sat in the A2 classroom of the English Block to discover this for the first time. Geekish as it may be, I absolutely loved school and had the most amazing English teachers (I’m now a teacher myself J). Despite English Literature being my last option selected for A-Levels, it fast became my favourite subject and I went on to study it at university too. For some reason, Spies has stuck out in my mind after all of these years. I really enjoyed Frayn’s storytelling as well as the tension and suspense he creates through the plot and imagery. Having to think of the significance of the cigarette packet, the laburnum and the diary with strange markings made it feel like a real mystery to solve before the ending was actually revealed. Whether it is the story told in the book itself, or the nostalgia it brings with it of being back at school, this text had to appear somewhere in my TTT this week.

9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl thoroughly gripped me from the first to last page. I can’t really remember now whether I worked out the twists or not, but I definitely remember devouring it within a very short time as I just couldn’t put it down. Obviously now, after having read it and watched the film, the mystery of that first time reading is forever ruined, and since I can’t go back in time, I thought I’d honour it with a place on my list this week.

8. One Day by David Nicholls

Similarly to Gone Girl, this page-turner had to have a place on my top ten this week, purely for that dramatic twist at the end. I remember sitting at my computer, desperately trying to finish my uni assignments with this book just glaring at me from the chair. To hell with the essays, I had to finish it and then suffered the devastating book hangover that came from reaching the ending. Whether it is a great piece of literature or not, the shattering feeling that came from the last pages of that book has been difficult (but not entirely impossible) to experience again since.

7. Summer at the Lake by Erica James

I don’t often read a lot of this genre but I happened upon this book completely by chance in Cape Verde. We had gone to one of those 5 star all inclusive holidays where you never really leave the hotel complex and just sit and relax on the beach. I’d already polished off all four of the books I’d taken with me and was searching through a cabinet full of books other holidaymakers had abandoned on the island when Summer at the Lake called out to me. Being set in one of my all-time favourite locations (Lake Como, Italy) and with an Oxford tour guide protagonist named Floriana guiding the story, it was the perfect holiday read. Whether my glorious white-sandy setting influenced my enjoyment of James’ novel is yet to be seen but I would gladly go back in time to re-experience that book all over again.

6. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

This was my first ever time reading Angela Carter and boy it was not my last! I loved how deliciously dark these tales were and I’d happily revisit this book just for the pure shock-factor of how gruesome and morbid those tales really were.

5. The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Zafon is one of my absolute favourite authors. He has such a beautiful way with words and his novels are some of the most well-constructed I have ever read. I was resolute that at least one of his books would make this list so after browsing my shelves I decided upon The Prince of Mist. Whilst this isn’t one from his more popular Cemetery of Forgotten books series, I fell in love with the idea of the enchanted stone garden at the centre of the story. It had been an anticipated read on my TBR from the moment I knew that it was to be released in the UK and I would love to go back and open its pages again for the very first time. Zafon hasn’t released new material in English since 2013 and finally, in September 2018 we are getting the fourth instalment in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series and I CAN NOT WAIT!

4. George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl

Who doesn’t love Roald Dahl?! By far one of my favourite Dahl books, I remember this being insanely funny when I read it as a kid. I was one of those children who messed around in the kitchen sink at my Grandparents’ house, making all sorts of potions and concoctions with whatever I found and although I didn’t manage to make a medicine as magical as George’s, I definitely made a few things to make my Grandad pull some highly comedic faces (brave Grandad)! Rediscovering this book for the first time without knowing the hilarious side-effects of George’s makeshift medicine would definitely be a blast from the past and would bring back that happy childhood nostalgia.

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Oh to experience that first adventure into Middle Earth once again without knowing how the journey ends! Tolkien is surely one of the greatest story-telling masters of all-time and I’d love to just revisit that WOW feeling that came from reading The Hobbit for the very first time. The trolls, the wizard, the elves, the dragon…! Stories which carry that much resonance with so many legions of fans truly are special and the first-time feels they give you really are worth treasuring. A highly deserved place on my TTT this week!

2. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

I thought about mentioning the whole trilogy in this post, but as those people who have read the ACOTAR trilogy and loved it will know, there’s just something special about book 2 (Rhysand, I’m talking to you!). The rollercoaster of emotions that this book sent me on…I felt like I was actually IN the book! ACOMAF has definitely earned its place on my most-loved-books-of-all-time shelf and to be able to go back and read it again for the first time would be such a thrill.

1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Could there be any other…? To rediscover any book again as if for the very first time – If there was ever a chance to delete all of your Harry Potter knowledge and to go right back to the start and discover it all over again, would you do it? Would it be the same reading it in this day and age; the age you are now? Would it be better than you originally thought, or would you hate it and not rediscover that Potter love at all?

I grew up with Harry; I was at primary school when the first book was released and each time the next novel was announced my Nan had it on pre-order for me straight away (always from WH Smiths!). Never has a book series captivated me so wholeheartedly as much as Potter. Now whilst that may be a little cliché or roll the eyes of those Potter-haters out there (yes, they really do exist), no book-lover can surely deny that special feeling that comes with reading a book for the very first time and knowing that you are going to love it, treasure it and remember it for life. To experience that feeling is quite rare and I only hope I get to experience it again in the not so distant future.

Should the TARDIS ever become a reality these are the top ten books that I would go back in time to rediscover all over again as if for the very first time. Which books would you go back in time for? Feel free to chat and let me know in the comments!

Have a brilliant week Bookaholic friends!

Top Ten Tuesday – Books on my TBR which I still haven’t read!

Hey Bookaholic friends,

I cannot believe Tuesday has come around again so quickly and it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday! This week we are looking at the top ten books that have been on my TBR way too long. As there are far too many unread books on my shelves already, I decided to focus this post on the YA books which I’ve heard a lot about and feel like I should have read by now.

10.Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

One of the children I teach has read practically every Percy Jackson book published to date and it puts me to shame! I should really make a start on this series but feel like I’ve got so many series on the go at the moment!

9.Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

I saw the movie of this book when it came out at the cinema and loved the concept! I’ve bought the first two books in the series but as yet, I am still to get around to reading them!

8.Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

This series is very hyped in the bookish community so I feel like I should read it just to tick it off my list. My first introduction to Laini Taylor was Strange the Dreamer and I enjoyed her eloquent writer’s voice and the way she told the story so I am hoping that I like this trilogy too, when I finally get around to it of course!

7.The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Similarly to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, this has long been on my TBR. Arabian Nights is one of my favourite story themes so I really need to get a move on and start this series!

6.The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

I have had this on my iBooks for so long and I keep seeing little fandom bits popping up all over Instagram. The reviews/opinions I have read are quite divided so I’m intrigued to read this.

5.The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Having just seen the last instalment of this as a film at the cinema I am now more motivated than ever to finally get stuck into this series!

4.Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Yet another fandom I keep seeing pop up and felt compelled to buy. For some reason it keeps making its way further down the TBR list but I will definitely make sure I get around to it at some point this year!

3.Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I absolutely adored The Language of Thorns so much so that I ordered all of Bardugo’s other books. I’m two thirds of the way through the Shadow and Bone trilogy and will start Ruin and Rising very soon. I am really looking forward to finally starting Six of Crows as many people have said how they enjoyed it more than Shadow and Bone.

2.Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

This has been pitched as one of the must-reads of the fantasy genres so it’s been on my To Buy list for ages and arrived just a few days ago despite being on my TBR list for well over a year!

1.A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Like Nevernight I’ve been meaning to purchase this trilogy starter for ages. Hopefully 2018 will be the year I can tick it off my TBR pile!

This week’s TTT seemed quite simple to start with…until I looked closer at how big my pile actually was! There are quite a few novels on here that didn’t make the cut to this post including, The Night Circus, Clockwork Angel, The Loney, Rebel of the Sands and Cinder to name but a few!

What made it into your Top Ten Tuesday this week? Which books have been on your TBR the longest? Have you read any of the ones on my TBR and what did you think? Let me know in the comments, I always love a good natter about books!

Until next time Bookaholic friends, have a good week!

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Can’t Believe I’ve Read

Hey bookaholic friends!

What are you all reading this week? I have finally managed to get my hands on a copy of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. It’s my first Holly Black read and I love her interpretation of the world of Faerie so far, although some of these faeries are downright mean!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday was quite a difficult one to interpret. Some books I can’t believe I read because they were so awful, some because they were so long, some because of the subject matter etc. So there’s a real mixture in this week’s top ten!

10) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

As someone who works with young children which have various kinds of needs, both educational and behavioural I really wanted to champion the perspective of Christopher Boone, however I found the writing style quite awkward for me to read and take in. I’m not sure if this was just the time during which I read it but for some reason I can’t believe I made it through to the end.

9) Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Now before anyone starts outcries or pulling funny faces, I am a massive Lord of the Rings fan. The reason this is on my top ten this week is purely because of the length of the book. I had a beautiful golden paperback edition gifted to me by one of my school friends for my 16th birthday which contains all three stories and the multitude of appendices. I read it all in one go! Yes it took me a good few months to get through it all the way to the end, but I’m so glad that I was able to tick this off on my read shelf on Goodreads. It has to be one of my all-time favourites! I’m sure I remember Sir Christopher Lee saying that he used to reread Lord of the Rings every year and boy do I take my hat off to him for that!

8) Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell

I picked up a cheap copy of this at a book store in town. Due to a printing error there was no cover art so it was basically just a blank white cover and you could only see the faint imprint of the title on the spine. As a fan of the TV show I decided to give it a shot but I think I was expecting it to be more like the TV show than it was. Some of the characters were a little unrecognisable to my eyes and had I not enjoyed the TV show so much I don’t think I would have ever picked this up which is why it made my top ten this week.

7) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I read this for a book club a few years ago and the only way I can describe it is quirky and bizarre. I’m not sure I even remember anything the book was about! Thinking back, I must have osmosed most of the words and just kept absorbing them one by one until I turned the final page. It’s one of the few Pulitzer Prize winners that I’ve actually “read” but I just can’t believe I made it all of the way to the end without recollecting anything. I’m probably missing some really deep meaning about the American Dream or the trials and tribulations of what it means to be human but sadly I just could not get into the spirit of this book.

6) A Thing or Two about Curtis and Camilla by Nick Fowler

Not going to lie, the dog on the front cover of this book is what drew me to it and was a prime example of why I should not just buy books because of their cover. This is possibly the ONLY book I have ever DNF’d (and I sneakily shelved it as read on Goodreads because I just couldn’t bear to try to wade through until the end). I could not find myself championing a single character; in fact the one I honestly supported was the poor daschund! Never before has a book made me quite so dismissive about it but this one just did, so much so that it was the second one I picked out almost instantaneously when sitting down to write this post.

5) Wetlands by Charlotte Roche

When this book was published, all pink and shiny with a giant and salacious-looking avocado on the cover, there was quite a lot of hype surrounding the subject matter of it. I remember the author being on the news and interviewed about her decision to write so honestly and controversially about sexuality and because curiosity usually prevails and gets the better of me I somehow found myself picking it up in Waterstones and taking it home. Some parts I laughed at, some parts I cringed at, but it will always remain one of those novels I can’t actually believe I read, let alone paid for!

4) Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I’m not terribly good with classics. I have to be in the mood to read them and almost translate the old styles of writing in my head so I have some kind of clue about what is actually happening. For a few years I’d owned the gorgeous Vintage edition of Moby Dick and it had been on my TBR ever since I found out it was what Matilda and Miss Honey were reading at the end of the film (Call me Ismael). What gave me the final push to read it was the film In the Heart of the Sea with Chris Hemsworth. I’m glad that I persevered and got myself through it. I enjoyed a majority of the text but my brain did have to train itself to skim the long ‘waffley’ parts and slow down again for the main parts of the story. I guess I feel a kind of achievement in reading it which is why I picked out for my list this week.

3) American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis

Do I really need to justify why I can’t believe I read this…??Some parts of this tale give new meaning to the word horror story, and not in a good way. I don’t know if I’m perturbed by its subject matter and content or in awe of it as a piece of literature and I don’t think I’ll ever work out the answer to that in my head either.

2) Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori

I have a disorder when it comes to buying books. If it’s on offer, it’s got a shiny cover, it’s about magic or I have to spend a certain amount to get free shipping then it’ll usually end up in my basket. That’s how the entire Pure Dead Magic series ended up on my shelves. I can’t believe I got through the first one and don’t think I’ll get around to reading the rest. For some reason the computers + magic calculation didn’t cast a spell on me.

1) The Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James

I could not justify giving this three spaces on my top ten but this was the very first book/series that came to mind when thinking of books I can’t believe I’ve read. Yet again, I followed the hype and purchased the books which caused such a furore, then I sat down and read them and could not for the life of me realise why it received the reaction it did. Quite often, people are surprised when I say I’ve read all three. I’ve certainly read more explicit books than that, I’ve also read many many more well-written books than that as well. For some reason, I’ve also seen the films and will probably see the last one when it’s released next month, but I draw the line at reading the same books rehashed again just from a different character’s perspective (I’m lookin’ at you Grey!). Kudos to James though, she’s made her money and got her name on the bookshelves but I cannot believe I read them. What’s possibly worse is that I also can’t believe that they are still sat on my shelves!

So that’s my real mish-mash this week for Top Ten Tuesday – Books I can’t believe I’ve read (and equally can’t believe I’ll admit to reading some of them!).

Until next time, have a good week my bookaholic friends!

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Enjoyed Reading But Can’t Remember Anything About!

Top Ten Tuesday time!

It’s my first ever time compiling a list of books for Top Ten Tuesday and whilst I loved the challenge of it, it’s made me want to reread nearly all of the books that made it into my top ten! 🙈

So here goes, the top ten books I really enjoyed reading but can’t remember much about…

10. Bubbles Unbound by Sarah Strohmeyer

This was one of the first remotely adult books that I read; I think it was a gift from an aunt. I’m pretty sure that the character solves a crime case although I can’t be sure. The one thing that I do remember above all else is that she used that iconic Maybelline Great Lash mascara, you know, the one with the bubblegum pink tube and lime green lid!

9. Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

I read this one after a trip to the place itself on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. My friend and I were massive Most Haunted fans and had to make a stop there whilst on holiday. Sadly, I remember more about the trip there than the actual book!

8. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

This was the first audiobook I ever owned and listened to. I don’t really get along with audio books as I can never concentrate for long enough without zoning out. That’s probably why I don’t remember a single thing about the plot of The Lost Symbol at all. I can’t even remember who-dunnit, or even what they did for that matter! However I do know that it takes place in Washington, and obviously there’s conspiracy involved!

7. The Winter Ghosts

I thoroughly enjoyed Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth trilogy from the characters, to the plot and that gorgeous French Languedoc setting. That’s why when looking through my shelves on Goodreads I was really surprised to find that I couldn’t recall a single thing about this novel of hers.

6. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Hope this doesn’t raise a few eyebrows because I wanted so much to try and remember what on Earth happened in this. This series has been fairly hyped and Stiefvater has a great reputation as an author, her Raven Boys cycle is definitely in my TBR. Obviously I know Shiver was about werewolves but other than that…I’m drawing a blank!

5. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

Without a doubt this is one of the fascinatingly titled books I’ve ever read! Stating the obvious I think it might have involved a tractor, but then again, as with the trend of this post I really can’t be sure what the hell it was about. I definitely know that I liked it though and found it quite amusing.

4. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Purely for the sense of weirdness and macabre surrounding Banks’ work I was drawn into picking up a copy of The Wasp Factory just to see what all the fuss was about. I remember admiring Banks’ writing, but sadly for The Wasp Factory, nothing more than that!

3. The Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

This one really pains me to admit! I am a huge fan of Neil Gaiman and have read most of his works; Neverwhere is one of my all-time favourites purely for the ingenuity of his portrayal of London. For some unknown reason Anansi Boys just got blotted out of my memory. I feel a reread coming on…

2. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

As a massive Florence + The Machine fan, I had to join the book club, Between Two Books, inspired by Flo’s love for reading. One of the monthly book suggestions was The Marriage Plot which I dived into having read and enjoyed his other book The Virgin Suicides. Again, I remember enjoying the storyline, but I have no idea what that storyline was!

1. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie is one of those authors, like Murakami, who I really love to put on my TBR list. To me they have this complex magical realism that makes me feel like I’m challenging myself and becoming more cultured when I’m reading it. Midnight’s Children was my introduction to Rushdie’s work as I read it for part of my English Lit degree. I remember being so excited to finally get my hands on it, excited to crack open the first page and start reading…and then that’s it! The only thing I remember about the story itself was a character called Wee Willie Winkee, but that’s was purely down to our Professor’s pronunciation of it. I’ve since read other works by Rushdie including The Satanic Verses, The Enchantress of Florence and Two Years Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights and I do remember those so I’m definitely going to try rereading Midnight’s Children to see if I can get a grip on it a second time round.

And there it is, the top ten books that I really enjoyed reading but can’t remember a single thing about! Did any of these make your list? What would you put in your own Top Ten? Drop me a comment!