Best Books of Apr-May-Jun 2017

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At the end of March, I wrote a blog post about the top books I had read in the first three-month period of the year. This is owing to the fact that when I do a yearly round-up, a lot of the books I read, I have enjoyed but because I only do a top ten, they miss out on the list. So I’ve decided to do a three-month roundup, to make sure those books I really enjoyed get their honourable mention that might narrowly miss out on my yearly list. So here are the books I’ve chosen from April, May, and June.

1.

The End of Oz by Danielle Paige

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My name is Amy Gumm. When a tornado swept me away to the magical land of Oz, I was given a mission: Dorothy must die. But just when we thought it was safe to start rebuilding the damaged land of Oz, we were betrayed. Now I’m following the Road of Yellow Brick as it helps me escape toward the mysterious land of Ev, where the Nome King rules a bleak and angry world. I thought my job was over, but it’s only just beginning. – from Goodreads.com

I can’t believe this series is over! I originally picked up Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige in 2015, right at the beginning of when I started book blogging. I really liked it, and there were minimal retellings of the Oz books at the time, and so ended up waiting with bated breath for The Wicked Will Rise to be released in 2016. Now, we’ve had the last ever book in the series and I’m still struggling to accept the fact that there will be no more books!

2.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

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When aging brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decide to adopt an orphan boy to help with chores around their farm, Green Gables on Prince Edward Island, neither is prepared for the feisty and imaginative redheaded girl who is mistakenly brought to them instead. Nor are they prepared for the way in which she will change their lives. Through a series of hilarious misadventures, Anne’s uncompromising spirit makes her a striking presence in the close-knit village, bringing new friendships, first crushes, and, for her foster parents, a love and openness unimaginable before her arrival. – from Goodreads.com

Anne of Green Gables has been on my radar for a while, but my urge to read it increased when I watched the Netflix series Anne with an E, which is based on the novels by L. M. Montgomery. I found Rachel McAdam’s narration to be simply charming and I loved reliving the story of Anne and the Cuthberts. I can’t wait for season 2!

3.

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C Hines

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Cinderella – whose real name is Danielle Whiteshore (Nee Danielle de Glas) – marries Prince Armand. But not long after the “happily ever after,” Danielle is attacked by her stepsister Charlotte, who suddenly has all sorts of magic to call upon. And though Talia – otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty – comes to the rescue (she’s a martial arts master, and all those fairy blessings make her almost unbeatable), Charlotte gets away. That’s when Danielle discovers a number of disturbing facts: Armand has been kidnapped and taken to the realm of the Fairies; Danielle is pregnant with his child; and the Queen has her very own Secret Service that consists of Talia and Snow (White, of course). Snow is an expert at mirror magic and heavy-duty flirting. Can three princesses track down Armand and extract both the prince and themselves from the clutches of some of fantasyland’s most nefarious villains? – from Goodreads.com

This was another book that I picked up really early on in my book blogging journey and I’ve ONLY just gotten around to reading it! As you know, I love retellings, and so the Princess novels, of which there are four, encompass quite a few fairy tale characters, such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and many more. It was such a fun read and I’m really looking forward to moving onto The Mermaid’s Madness, where the Little Mermaid will make an appearance!

4.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

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On Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them. – from Goodreads.com

Thanks to Netgalley I was able to secure an advanced reader copy of this book to read on my e-reader. It was really fast paced, really fun and I was quite surprised at the ending! It’s definitely going to be up there with the top mysteries of the YA genre when it gets released.

5.

Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp

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If you have ever asked yourself where the Golden Snitch came from, how the Bludgers came into existence or why the Wigtown Wanderers have pictures of meat cleavers on their robes, you need Quidditch Through the Ages. This edition is a copy of the volume in Hogwarts School Library, where it is consulted by young Quidditch fans on an almost daily basis. – from Goodreads.com

I don’t ever remember reading this companion novel when I was younger, so I decided that during @readbyzoe’s #averypottersummer read-a-thon, I would FINALLY pick it up. I absolutely love Rowling’s companion novels. It’s such an eye-opener into the wizarding world and goes to show just how much depth J.K. has gone into over the years writing the Potter books. I loved it and it’s a must read for any Potter fan!

So these are the best books of April, May, and June! I can’t believe we’re half way through the year now. So it probably won’t be long before I’m rounding up another three months at the end of September. Have you got any books you read and loved in the last three months? Or maybe you read a few of these as well? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Bookish Places to Visit in England

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I love travelling as it is, but what I love more than that is travelling to places of literary interest. London is a great place to begin, it being the capital and all, especially as there are so many blue plaques to find. But there are many more places outside of London that you can visit. Here are a few I hope to get to in the near future.

Oxford

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Oxford is probably one of the most literary places in England! The origins of CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and even Lewis Carroll who attended Christ Church College. You might be aware of the famous Inklings who, together with Lewis and Tolkien, met often at the Eagle and Child pub to share their work. To top it off, even a few scenes of Harry Potter were filmed around the city.

Yorkshire

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Yorkshire is world-famous in particular for the Bronte family. Charlotte, Emily and Anne were three sisters who wrote some of the most prolific and well-loved classics, and they lived with the rest of their family in Haworth, a small town not too far from Leeds where their father was the priest there. Another noteworthy literary site is the burial place of Sylvia Plath in Heptonstall, which also resides not too far from Leeds.

Edinburgh

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I didn’t realise that Edinburgh was as literary as it is, but in fact, it is very literary! Arthur Conan Doyle was born and raised here, in 11 Picardy Place, where there is a Sherlock Holmes memorial statue and the Conan Doyle Pub to celebrate the writer’s life. JK Rowling also wrote the majority of the first few Harry Potter books in and around Edinburgh. The Elephant House Cafe boasts that it housed the writer as she was drafting the famous Potter books.

Dublin

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Dublin is home to many, many literary greats! Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and James Joyce to name a few! It’s picturesque and hygge aesthetic is enough to set any blogger’s and book lover’s hearts alight! Joyce even based a short story anthology around the city he loved so dearly, titled Dubliners. If you’re looking for a bit more information on Dublin Writers History, there’s even a Writer’s Museum to get you clued up.

Devon

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In particular for fans of Agatha Christie, whose holiday home Greenway is now owned and maintained by the National Trust and well worth a visit if you’re a hardcore fan. Devon was also home to Sylvia Plath’s husband Ted Hughes, and was also the setting and inspiration for the popular Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.

These five places are on top of my literary bucket list, and hopefully after this post, they’ll be on yours too. Is there anywhere you’d like to go and visit? Literary or otherwise? Let me know in the comments!

Underrated BookTube Channels

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There seems to be a big divide between those who are “Youtubers” and those who have YouTube channels, the former having subscribers coming out of their ears and the latter being uncovered diamonds. Success is not a bad thing AT ALL, but there are a lot of hidden gems that you’ll thank me for signposting your way.

All of these channels have under 100,000 subscribers.

WhittyNovels

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Whitney is a no nonsense kinda gal (with hysterical snapchat updates that are usually daily!), and speaks openly on gender studies, diverse books and has no problems calling out authors on problematic content! (See her review on Goodreads of November 9 by Colleen Hoover). She’s hilarious, inspiring and is incredibly creative. Check out her journal flip-throughs if you need convincing.

HaileyInBookland

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Hailey recently changed her YouTube channel name from HailsHeartsNYC to HaileyInBookland to reflect her deep love of Alice in Wonderland. In fact, you should subscribe purely for her Alice memorabilia haul. It’s awesome! Hailey posts regular videos such as hauls, reviews and unboxings. It’s a crime she hasn’t got more subscribers!

TashaPolis

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I’ve decided that Tasha is Queen of the Fangirls. Not only does she read a lot, but she also is a great lover of Once Upon a Time, one of my favourite TV shows. She uploads unboxings, reviews, hauls, tags, vlogs of book-ish events and so much more. You need to check her out because she is GOALS!

PadfootandProgs07

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Raeleen has a fantastic mix between YA books, graphic novels and adult books. One of my favourite reads Night Film by Marisha Pessl was down to her recommendation! She’s un-apologetically honest about disliking some books, particularly those that are over hyped. Raeleen paves her own way in the BookTube community and that’s something that should be celebrated!

LucyTheReader

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Lucy is not only the Queen of Contemporary, she’s also the Queen of Classics too! Her recommendations and reviews on all books, but particularly her classics, makes it inspiring to read books which we might find difficult. Lucy is such a pioneer of the UKYA book scene and her passion and love for books deserves to be recognised!

So these lovely ladies are the top five that I would pick for you to subscribe to. They really are a fantastic bunch with lots of differing opinions on books and all bring something unique to the BookTube table. Are any of these channels your favourites? Or do you have a favourite channel you think I’ve missed out? Let me know in the comments!

Great Reads: Dystopia

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The dystopia genre has become increasingly popular thanks to the likes of The Hunger Games and the Divergent Series. Many authors have followed in their book-ish footsteps, some riding on the coattails of the dream, and others being established in their own right. I’ll be giving you a comprehensive top five list of great dystopia reads for you to get your teeth into.

These books are in no particular order.

1

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

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Sephy is a Cross — a member of the dark-skinned ruling class. Callum is a Nought — a “colourless” member of the underclass who were once slaves to the Crosses. The two have been friends since early childhood, but that’s as far as it can go. In their world, Noughts and Crosses simply don’t mix. – from Goodreads.com

This was probably the first dystopia I ever read, and I didn’t even realise it was a dystopia! This collection of books were exciting and action packed beyond belief. A really good starting point for someone looking to get into the dystopia genre.

2

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

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Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. – from Goodreads.com

This book perfectly captures not only the horrors of World War but also the hope for a better life that comes afterwards. Besides, who wouldn’t want to hole up in an idyllic house in the countryside? Me, please!

3

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

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Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun. But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world– and it isn’t very pretty. – from Goodreads.com

I was a bit skeptical at first upon reading the synopsis for this book, as I thought it would all be a bit obvious. However, I really, really enjoyed reading Uglies and thought the world that Westerfeld created was very vivid. It’s a book that gives a great message and is a well developed dystopia too.

4

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

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In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful. For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim. – from Goodreads.com

In the short time it took to read this book, I was in a perpetual state of disgust and fascination. There most disconcerting thing about this novel was that this could definitely be our future! That is a very, very scary thought.

5

Never Let Me Go by Kauzo Ishiguro

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As children, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life, and for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. – from Goodreads.com

I never thought of this book as a dystopia, but it is set in the future and a strange one at that. It oddly mirrors the world we know today except with the appearance of clones. It certainly makes a comment on how we live our lives and what it means to be human.

So these are my list of great reads for the dystopia genre. Have you read any of these? Or do you have a few you’d like to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!

 

I Want A Sequel!

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No matter how many books a series has in its canon, I always, always, want more. (I’m looking at you JK Rowling. Seven books, eight films, a play, spin-off films, a theme park and novellas will never be enough!) Some books end perfectly, with the happy ever after I had been dreaming of since the first chapter, but then, the cogs of my mind start turning and I begin to think and wonder about what happens after the last page. So, here are the top three series I am wishing to continue.

These books are in no particular order.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

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So I know we had four novels, one companion, one collection of novellas and a spin-off graphic novel, but I will never, ever be done with this series. I want adventures on the Rampion!

The Precious Stone Trilogy by Kerstin Gier

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[SPOILERS] So now that Gwen and Gideon are both immortal, how are they going to spend their time? They can literally travel in time for the rest of their lives. Can we have history lessons in abundance via the Ruby and Diamond.

Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

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Again, I know that we covered a lot in the six novels that Mead dedicated to the Vampire Academy series, but let’s be real, how awesome would be to have Rose and Dimitri battling their way through the hoards of Strigoi and saving the world from the evil vampires? Very awesome, indeed.

So these are the three series I’ve picked, that I am waiting with bated breath, for more books. Do you have any series that you wish more books were being released? Or perhaps there is a last book to the series you wish hadn’t been released? (-cough- Mockingjay -cough-) Let me know in the comments!

Why I Buy Multiple Copies of Books

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a book lover is expected to hoard many editions of the same book. I am one of those book lovers, in fact, I like to bump my title up to ‘book collector’ because that’s exactly what I do. I collect books, and in this blog post, I’ll be telling you why. As an example, I’ll be using one of my favourite books Looking for Alaska by John Green as an example.

First Editions

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If you rank a book high enough on your list of favourites, when you see a first edition for the right price it should be made illegal not to buy it. Whenever I tell Bob or Sally that ‘I have a first edition of Book Title by Author’ they always say, ‘oh my god you can sell it on EBay for X amount in a few years. That’ll be great!’, and I say ‘No Sally, take your blasphemous mouth out of my bedroom’ as I proceed to nap with said book in my arms for the rest of time. You heard it here first.

Paperbacks

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You have two options, you have the general paperback or the mass-market paperback. I personally am a fan of both. I love the chunky little books that fit snugly in my rucksack next to my wand and invisibility cloak. If I’m conducting a re-read, I don’t want to take my first edition hardback out of it’s shrine and lug it around where people could sneeze on it or spill their coffee on it. No thank you. I’ll buy a paperback which I can ruin (in a controlled, artistic way) to my hearts content.

Collectors Editions

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Collectors editions, illustrated editions, anniversary editions, you name it, I’ve got it. Quite often, they are not just a reissue with a different cover, some actually have extra content which is always exciting! For example, the anniversary edition of Looking for Alaska has questions and answers with John Green and deleted scenes. That’s gold for a fan-girl like me!

Audiobooks

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I am personally a huge fan of audiobooks and the fact that you can now upgrade your ebooks with audio for cheap is something I am delighted about! Having the audiobook in your library is not the same as a physical book. It just means you can do things hands free and read at the same time!

EBook

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To be honest, now that you can upgrade with audio, it’s even more of a reason to get the e-book on your Kindle, just in case your favourite novel gives you the option to (most do!). Also, if you’re a Kindle/E-Reader kind of person, you can literally carry around multiple books in your pocket, and you need an e-version of your favourite in case you feel the need for a spontaneous re-read.

Editions to Annotate

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This is more of a personal one. I love annotating my books and so I don’t particularly want to deface my most loved first edition or my collectors edition, so for someone like me who loves to highlight and scribble, it’s worth getting a second hand paperback to do with as I please.

Edition to Lend to Friends/Family

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Quite honestly, lending books to people is like ripping out a piece of my soul. It’s like parting with a child. Like saying goodbye to a loved one before a long trip. My way of loosening the heart strings is to buy a dog-eared second hand copy to lend to people. That way, if that person never gives it back, then not only can they be sent to a special place reserved for book steal-ers but you can also rest assured that all of your copies are safe in your shrine, ready for you to pet them gently.

So that is why I buy multiple copies of books! Not that I have to justify myself or anything because I’m an adult and I can do what I want. Do you buy multiple copies? What book do you have multiple copies of? Let me know in the comments!

Gothic Reads for Halloween!

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Autumn is my favourite season, and I love nothing better than getting cosy with a blanket, a cup of tea and a book. This season I’ll be trying to pick up more Gothic reads, especially as Halloween is right around the corner. Here are my top five I think you should be reading over the holiday season.

These books are in no particular order.

1

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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The scientist Victor Frankenstein, obsessed with possessing the secrets of life, creates a new being from the bodies of the dead. But his creature is a twisted, gruesome parody of a man who, rejected for his monstrous appearance, sets out to destroy his maker. – from Goodreads.com

Perhaps THE original Gothic horror novel, and if you’re not sufficiently scared out of your wits by the source material you can always watch the critically acclaimed and scary as hell adaptation by Kenneth Branagh.

2

Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Published as a shilling shocker, Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark psychological fantasy gave birth to the idea of the split personality. The story of respectable Dr Jekyll’s strange association with damnable young man Edward Hyde; the hunt through fog-bound London for a killer; and the final revelation of Hyde’s true identity is a chilling exploration of humanity’s basest capacity for evil. – from Goodreads.com

The novel that kick started the “split personality plot device”, although Dr Jeykll doesn’t just lose his mind when he becomes Mr Hyde, his body changes too. This one is very short, so if you’re looking for a Gothic novel to read on your lunch break then this one is for you.

3

Dracula by Bram Stoker

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When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client and his castle. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘Master’. – from Goodreads.com

I think it’s safe to assume that all these books I’ll be presenting to you are corner stones of their genre. Dracula kick started the popularity of vampire books, which ultimately led us to Twilight. A lot of vampire cliches originate from this book, which just goes to show how much it is still considered in popular culture.

4

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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Enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, Dorian Gray exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life; indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his decadence. – from Goodreads.com

Another “split personality” book, although this time the main character places his debauchery inside a portrait whilst he lives out the rest of his eternal life. Does that sound sensible to you? Of course not, but to say that it catches up with Dorian is an understatement.

5

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before: of the intense passion between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and her betrayal of him. As Heathcliff’s bitterness and vengeance is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past. – from Goodreads.com

One of my favourites and so atmospheric! The moors, the wind, Wuthering Heights and Thurshcross Grange towering above. On a windy night, you could almost hear Cathy tapping at your window.

These are the top five books I would recommend to read for Halloween. What books made your list? Let me know in the comments!