Top 10 Books to Read in 2018

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At the beginning of every year, I always put a list together of books I want to read. I don’t have to necessarily stick to it, but it’s always good to go through my TBR list and pick out the ones I want to bring to the top. Here are my top ten picks for 2018!

These books are in no particular order.

1.

Magic Study by Maria V Snyder

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With an execution order on her head, Yelena has no choice but to escape to Sitia, the land of her birth. With only a year to master her magic – or face death – Yelena must begin her apprenticeship and travels to the Four Towers of the Magician’s Keep. – from Goodreads.com

I read the first book in the series, Poison Study, in January 2017, and so it seems only fitting that I would read the sequel in January 2018! This series was an excellent surprise, and I can’t wait to get cracking with book two.

2.

Wires and Nerve, Vol 2: Gone Rouge by Marissa Meyer

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Iko – an audacious android and best friend to the Lunar Queen Cinder – has been tasked with hunting down Alpha Lysander Steele, the leader of a rogue band of bioengineered wolf-soldiers who threaten to undo the tenuous peace agreement between Earth and Luna. Unless Cinder can reverse the mutations that were forced on them years before, Steele and his soldiers plan to satisfy their monstrous appetites with a massacre of the innocent people of Earth. And to show he’s serious, Steele is taking hostages. – from Goodreads.com

Wires and Nerve Volume 1 was my second favourite book of 2017, second only to that of John Green’s latest release (which was, honestly, always going to be top!). The Lunar Chronicles has been another favourite series of mine in the past few years and this graphic novel companion series is just the icing on the cake.

3.

Red Hood’s Revenge by Jim C Hines

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Roudette’s story was a simple one. A red cape. A wolf. A hunter. Her mother told her she would be safe, so long as she kept to the path. But sometimes the path leads to dark places. Roudette is the hunter now, an assassin known throughout the world as the Lady of the Red Hood. Her mission will take her to the country of Arathea and an ancient fairy threat. At the heart of the conflict between humans and fairies stands the woman Roudette has been hired to kill, the only human ever to have fought the Lady of the Red Hood and survived-the princess known as Sleeping Beauty. – from Goodreads.com

Another fairy tale retelling series! Again, I read the first two books last year and really enjoyed both of them, so now that I’m halfway through the series, I must continue and find out what happens!

4.

The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

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It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken. Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for. Until strange things start happening to him. Strange things that might mean nothing at all—or that someone is after him again. Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex. Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows that her Watson can’t forgive her. – from Goodreads.com

Can you tell I love retellings? This is the final instalment of the Charlotte Holmes series, and the final showdown where everything gets tied up. I need to find out whether Charlotte and Jamie get together – but let’s face it, they probably will!

5.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist: Break into the notorious Ice Court (a military stronghold that has never been breached). Retrieve a hostage (who could unleash magical havoc on the world). Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it). Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.
 
– from Goodreads.com

Even though this book was published in 2015, there is still such a hype surrounding this book. It’s been on my TBR for a year now and I must get around to reading it and seeing what all the fuss is about.

6.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

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The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew. Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both. – from Goodreads.com

Another Marissa Meyer book on the list comes as no surprise, as after the release of Heartless, she was bumped up to my auto-buy authors list. I’ve never read a book about superheroes before so this book will be my first.

7.

Psycho by Robert Bloch

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Norman Bates loves his Mother. She has been dead for the past twenty years, or so people think. Norman knows better though. He has lived with Mother ever since leaving the hospital in the old house up on the hill above the Bates Motel. One night Norman spies on a beautiful woman that checks into the hotel as she undresses. Norman can’t help but spy on her. Mother is there though. She is there to protect Norman from his filthy thoughts. She is there to protect him with her butcher knife. – from Goodreads.com

One of my favourite TV series, Bates Motel, finished this year and I’m getting serious withdrawal! In an attempt to fill the Bates Motel hole, I’m planning on reading the book. Not usually a fan of horror but this one has me interested.

8.

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

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On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister… – from Goodreads.com

I’ve read all of Ruth Ware’s books (In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10) except The Lying Game, but I aim to read it in 2018. I really, really love reading mystery/thrillers and 2018 will be no different.

9.

My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews

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Audrina wanted to be as good as her sister. Her sister was so special, so perfect — and dead. Now she will come face to face with the dangerous, terrifying secret that everyone knows. Everyone except… Sweet Audrina. – from Goodreads.com

A few years ago, I read the Flowers in the Attic series as research for my dissertation and fell in love with Andrews’s tone and writing style. Andrews only wrote six books before she died, the five books in the Flowers in the Attic series and My Sweet Audrina. I’d love to give this book a read and see if I enjoy it as much as her others.

10.

A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin

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Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over and age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war. – from Goodreads.com

I read the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, last year and loved the rich world building. I really need to get into the series again and start reading A Clash of Kings. Then I can get on with the TV series too!

So this concludes my top ten books to read in 2018. What’s on your list? Let me know in the comments!

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!

 

 

Great Reads: Mystery

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The Crime/Mystery/Thriller genre is one of my absolute favourites! In my opinion, you can’t beat a good who-dun-it, or an exciting, fast paced thriller. So, with that in mind, here are my top five books I’d recommend to you that got the cogs in my brain turning!

These books are in no particular order.

1

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

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Nora hasn’t seen Clare for ten years. Not since the day Nora walked out of her old life and never looked back. Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen party arrives. A weekend in a remote cottage – the perfect opportunity for Nora to reconnect with her best friend, to put the past behind her. But something goes wrong. Very wrong. And as secrets and lies unravel, out in the dark, dark wood the past will finally catch up with Nora. – from Goodreads.com

I wasn’t sure whether I would like this book at first, as I have been scorned by some contemporary mysteries in the past but boy was I wrong! I really loved it and it really is a twist-y, turn-y mystery that will keep you on the edge of your seat till the very end.

2

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

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Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn’t been seen in public since 1977. To his fans he is an enigma. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father. On a damp October night the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty. For McGrath, driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world, where almost everyone seems afraid. The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lose his grip on reality. – from Goodreads.com

This book was one of my absolute favourites last year and I would recommend it to anyone who was looking for a thrilling mystery that will leave you confused in the best way. It’s also partially told in printed articles, webpages and photographs which I always find ups the reading experience.

3

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

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First, there were ten – a curious assortment of strangers summoned as weekend guests to a private island off the coast of Devon. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. All that the guests have in common is a wicked past they’re unwilling to reveal – and a secret that will seal their fate. For each has been marked for murder. One by one they fall prey. Before the weekend is out, there will be none. And only the dead are above suspicion. – from Goodreads.com

Agatha Christie is the QUEEN of who-dun-its and her most famous novel And Then There Were None is probably one of the most prestigious mystery novels ever written. I would agree that it is a) incredible and b) unique and is an absolute must read for any fans of the genre. Having said that, it will ruin other mystery novels for you because your standards will be incredibly high afterwards!

4

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other. – from Goodreads.com

This is another book I read last year and LOVED. I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes and if you’re looking for something to fill the hole that Cumberbatch’s Sherlock has left then I would certainly recommend this book to you. It’s a great introduction to the mythology of the Holmes legacy as it makes many references to the original story.

5

Snow White Must Die by Nele Neahaus

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On a wet November day, Detectives Pia Kirchoff and Oliver von Bodenstein are summoned to the scene of a mysterious accident. A woman has fallen from a bridge onto the motorway below. It seems that she may have been pushed. The investigation leads them to a small town near Frankfurt, and the home of the victim, Rita Cramer. On a September evening eleven years earlier, two seventeen-year-old girls, Laura and Stefanie (also known as Snow White), vanished without trace from this same village. In a trial based entirely on circumstantial evidence, Stefanie’s boyfriend, handsome and talented, Tobias Sartorius, was sentenced to ten years in prison. He has now returned to his home in an attempt to clear his name. Rita Cramer is his mother. In the village, Pia and Oliver encounter a wall of silence. But when another young girl goes missing, the events of the past repeat themselves in a disastrous manner. The investigation turns into a dramatic race against time, because for the villagers, there is soon no doubt as to the identity of the perpetrator. And this time they are determined to take matters into their own hands. – from Goodreads.com

This synopsis speaks for itself, really. Firstly, it’s not set in England which is something very different, as most of the mystery novels I pick up happen to be set in the UK. Secondly, it is an expertly crafted novel with lots of different characters with thrilling twists and turns the whole way through. Its exciting and has a great pace, so I would definitely recommend it.

So these are my top five books that I would recommend to you in the mystery/thriller/crime genre. Are you excited to read any of these? Or do you have any recommendations for me to get stuck into? Let me know in the comments!

 

Top 10 Books to Read in 2017

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So with an incredibly successful reading year for 2016, I intend on having 2017 be just as fruitful when it comes to books. I’ve made quite a dent in my TBR pile, but not enough that I’ve lifted my book buying ban! Onwards and upwards I say, and here are the top ten books I want to get around to reading in 2017.

These books are in no particular order.

The End of Oz by Danielle Paige

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At the end of Yellow Brick War, Amy had finally defeated Dorothy. Just when she and the rest of the surviving members of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked thought it was safe to start rebuilding the damaged land of Oz, they realized they’ve been betrayed—by one of their own. And Dorothy might not have been so easily defeated after all. – from Goodreads.com

This is the last book in the Dorothy Must Die series and I can’t wait to see how it ends! These books are so much fun and I’m sure it will carry on to the fourth and final instalment.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

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‘You can’t get around Kate Battista as easily as all that’ Kate Battista is feeling stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but the adults don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner. – from Goodreads.com

After reading Eligible this year, I’m branching out in the intervention genre and not just reading fairy tale retellings. This one is a reworking of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and will probably be similar to one of my favourite films 10 Things I Hate About You.

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

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Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson’s growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring—the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers. – from Goodreads.com

I read A Study in Charlotte not too long ago and really, really enjoyed it! I absolutely love all things Sherlock Holmes and all things mystery, so this really was a hole in one for me. In 2017, the next book in the series is coming out and I can’t wait to read it!

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

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Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control. Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa? – from Goodreads.com

This is a book that has had a lot of buzz this year, but it’s only out in the USA and Australia, which means getting hold of a copy can be quite expensive if you’re on a minimal budget like I am. I’m hoping a UK publisher is going to pick it up and start distributing because the need to read this book is becoming unbearable!

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown. – from Goodreads.com

The Three Dark Crowns Series is new from Kendare Blake and is an epic fantasy tale reminiscent of a Game of Thrones. This is a book I haven’t had a chance to pick up yet but it sounds so incredibly exciting, and will hopefully quench my thirst for a really good fantasy!

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

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On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not — their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world? – from Goodreads.com

This was my most anticipated read of 2017, but as the reviews came back it seemed there was some problematic content that needed to be addressed. I would still like to read this book to see what the problematic content is, to educate myself on why it is problematic and how we can erase these harmful descriptions and properly represent anyone and everyone.

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer

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In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure — with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team. – from Goodreads.com

Anything that directly, or indirectly, involves the Lunar Chronicles I AM THERE. Winter was my most favourite read of 2016, and so the fact that we have something else to look forward to in the Lunar Chronicles universe makes me very, very happy!

The Heiresses by Allison Rushby

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When three teenage girls, Thalia, Erato and Clio, are summoned to the excitement of fast-paced London–a frivolous, heady city full of bright young things–by Hestia, an aunt they never knew they had, they are shocked to learn they are triplets and the rightful heiresses to their deceased mother’s fortune. All they need to do is find a way to claim the fortune from their greedy half-brother, Charles. But with the odds stacked against them, coming together as sisters may be harder than they think. – from Goodreads.com

This is another book I’ve been pining after for years! The synopsis of this book sounds so exciting, and opposite to Three Dark Crowns when the triplets are coming together not tearing each other apart! In fact, it will be interesting to see the dynamics between the two.

Katherine of Aragon, the True Queen by Alison Weir

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In all the romancing, has anyone regarded the evidence that Anne Boleyn did not love Henry VIII? Or that Prince Arthur, Katherine of Aragon’s first husband, who is said to have loved her in fact cared so little for her that he willed his personal effects to his sister? Or that Henry VIII, an over-protected child and teenager, was prudish when it came to sex? That Jane Seymour, usually portrayed as Henry’s one true love, had the makings of a matriarch? There is much to reveal … – from Goodreads.com

I am completely fascinated by the Tudor period, especially Henry VIII’s six wives. You might think this subject has been done to death, thanks to Philippa Gregory, Antonia Fraser, Margaret George and many more, but I personally really love each individual interpretation, and this collection looks as though it’s going to be a different spin.

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

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The discovery of a dead infant in an Amish barn shakes Lancaster County to its core. But the police investigation leads to a more shocking disclosure: circumstantial evidence suggests that eighteen-year-old Katie Fisher, an unmarried Amish woman believed to be the newborn’s mother, took the child’s life. When Ellie Hathaway, a disillusioned big-city attorney, comes to Paradise, Pennsylvania, to defend Katie, two cultures collide — and for the first time in her high-profile career, Ellie faces a system of justice very different from her own. Delving deep inside the world of those who live “plain,” Ellie must find a way to reach Katie on her terms. And as she unravels a tangled murder case, Ellie also looks deep within — to confront her own fears and desires when a man from her past reenters her life. – from Goodreads.com

I am also fascinated by the Amish and their way of life, so when I realised Jodi Picoult had written a book that delves into the world of the Amish, I knew I had to read it. I haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet, but hopefully I’ll get around to it this year.

So this completes my list of books I hope to read in 2017. Are there any books here you’re looking forward to reading? Or have I missed off one of your most anticipated? Let me know in the comments!

Top 10 Books of 2016 (1&2)

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So, here you have it. My top two books of 2016. Here we go!

2.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl

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Everybody has a Cordova story. Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn’t been seen in public since 1977. To his fans he is an enigma. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father. On a damp October night the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty. For McGrath, another death connected to the legendary director seems more than a coincidence. The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lose his grip on reality. – from Goodreads.com

I first heard about this book from PadfootandProngs07 on book-tube (and also here) and boy was it a recommendation and a half! What drew me to the book in the first place was that it was told partly in mixed media, in articles and webpages etc as well as prose. The hype that Raeleen gave this book totally lived up to the real thing, and it became my go-to recommendation for the mystery/crime genre.

1.

Winter (and The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer

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Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long. – from Goodreads.com

That’s it! Fairest, Winter and Stars Above absolutely take the top spot of my 2016 favourites without a doubt. I absolutely loved this quartet and can’t quite believe that the series is over. I only finished it this year and I’m already planning a re-read, or hoping for some kind of TV Series or Movie to fill the Lunar hole.

So that concludes my top ten books that I read this year and I’m so excited to start compiling my to-read list for 2017. Do you have any recommendations for me? Or have I swayed your opinion on a book in my favourites list? Let me know in the comments!

Popular Books I’ve Not Read (Yet!)

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When talking about books, so many people love to gasp in horror that I’ve not read their favourites, but in my 25 short years I guess I just haven’t got around to it yet! Here are the top books that I haven’t had the chance to pick up (yet).

These books are in no particular order.

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

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In a sleepy village in the Shire, a young hobbit is entrusted with an immense task. He must make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ruling Ring of Power – the only thing that prevents the Dark Lord’s evil dominion. – from Goodreads.com

The amount of people that have told me I MUST read LoTR, especially since I am such a fan of fantasy, but I completely missed the boat when it comes to this series. It has such an incredibly large following and many dedicated readers, and I know one day I’ll finally get around to picking this series up.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

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Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. – from Goodreads.com

A few years ago this book BURST onto the scene, and garnered the same popularity that Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train earned in it’s wake. To be honest, I don’t know why I haven’t got round to reading it yet because it’s right up my alley, so perhaps I’ll place it higher up on my TBR from now on.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? – from Goodreads.com

Again, speaking of Gone Girl, it’s another book I haven’t gotten around to reading yet which is crazy because I love mystery/thrillers. I have seen the movie adaptation though which was a crazy ride in itself, but I’m hoping to complete the experience by reading the book one day.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

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Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with her foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall. – from Goodreads.com

Just about everyone and their mothers have read this book and I can understand why, it is narrated by death after all, which is enough to make me pick it up too. It’s just a case of ‘so many books and so little time’ but it’s definitely one I’ll be eyeing up once my TBR pile gets a bit lower.

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

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When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? – from Goodreads.com

Like many other hardcore Potterheads, I ran to my nearest bookstore and pre-ordered The Casual Vacancy when it was announced. Soon, the gorgeous hardback was in my hands but then the reviews started to roll in and I got scared. I didn’t want anything to tarnish my precious JK Rowling, so I put the book down, un-read and waited… and waited… and never picked it back up again. I know I’ll read it one day and I know I’ll probably love it as it’s similar to one of my favourite movies Hot Fuzz, so I’m quite happy that this little gem is waiting for me for a rainy day.

So these are the top five books I’ve got on my ‘long list TBR’. Do you have them on yours too? What other books have you not gotten around to reading yet? Let me know in the comments!

 

Reliving the Magic: Why I Re-Read Books.

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As an experiment, ask someone near and dear to you what their favourite film is. I bet you most answers will be something along the lines of “Back to the Future” or “The Sound of Music”, or “Anchorman” depending on their generation. I have way too many favourite films to pick just one, but I can tell you exactly why I love each and every one of them. They usually remind me of a certain time in my life, or a certain someone I’ve lost, or perhaps I just want to relive the magic and the memories of watching it the first time.

This is exactly how I feel about books.

I absolutely love to re-read books, and my love of it began with (you guessed it) Harry Potter. I’ve lost count the amount of times I’ve read that series, and The Chronicles of Narnia too. It brings me such comfort and joy to delve into those worlds again, no matter how much of it I know off by heart. They still thrill and excite me to this day, and maybe when I’m feeling nostalgic or have heartache, Harry will comfort me as any medicine would.

I also recently re-read one of my all time favourite books Looking for Alaska by John Green. I was really nervous beforehand, as I worried that the magical words that had touched my heart the first time I read it would be gone, but I was met with the same warm and fuzzy feeling I felt inside like I had before. I could just see myself back in the Aventura hostel in Budapest, curling up in my window seat with the Hungarian sun streaming in. It’s a memory I’ll cherish forever. Even though it had been years since I’d picked the book up, it still managed to have the same effect on me, I still thought all the same wonderful things about the story, the characters and John’s writing. So it’s still one of my favourite books and I’m really, really happy about it.

Another collection of books I’ve re-read are the classics I was forced to read in school. The fact that they were compulsory reading made me fail to recognise the true strength of novels like Frankenstein, An Inspector Calls and Cider with Rosie. Now, I consider these among my favourites, and if you’d asked 15 year old Clare if she felt the same, she would have laughed in your face. The same goes for mystery novels. I like to re-read them after I know the ending, so I know what clues to look for, to sort through the red herrings and the plot twists. It makes it so much more interesting!

So these are the main reasons why I re-read books. Firstly, because I love to relive the magic, secondly because I love to revisit the memories and thirdly, because I love to gain a new perspective on books I’d long forgotten. Of course, this does make it difficult to get through my hefty TBR pile, so I don’t like to make a habit of it. Never the less, whenever someone tells you what their favourite film is, I’m sure it would be very interesting to ask them just why that is.

Do you often read books? Let me know down in the comments!

Netflix and Chill: My Week with TV

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I spend a lot of time on Netflix, like most of the population, and I love nothing more than sitting in front of my laptop binge-watching my favourite shows. In fact, I take pride in my well crafted TV Schedule that keeps me ticking over for weeks on end, (until the mid-season finales and season breaks, that is.) You may thing a schedule is incredibly sad, but this is coming from the girl who does monthly lists of her top five/ten/fifteen favourites. And I’m a Virgo, get over it.

Sunday

Once Upon a Time

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If someone were to say, ‘Clare, we’re going to create a TV show just for you‘, I would have chosen something along the lines of Once Upon a Time. Fairy tale characters in the real world? Totally up my ally. The huge ensemble cast of the show and the varied characters not only from fairy tales but from Oz, Neverland and Wonderland, are what makes thing show so special.

Monday

The Fosters

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I watched The Fosters, firstly, for the diversity it brought to television. Then, as I got more invested, I watched it for Callie and Wyatt. Now, I still watch it for the diversity in the show and I live in hope that Callie and Wyatt will get back together and Callie will forget all about Brandon and we’ll all pretend like it never happened. Okay? Okay.

Tuesday

Finding Carter

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Sadly it was recently announced that, Finding Carter is not being picked up for a third season, but I wanted to give this beloved show an honourable mention.

I used to watch Kathryn Prescott in Skins many years ago, and I spent most of the first season marveling at her slick American accent. Although I love Max/Taylor as much as the next person, I’m still hoping for Max/Carter to drive off into the sunset like a teenage Bonnie and Clyde. Although the show has wandered far from it’s original premise, there’s something lovable about these characters that keeps me coming back.

Also on a Tuesday is:

Pretty Little Liars

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Although the Big A mystery is over, (and we’re all still not sure quite WTF happened in that episode), our Pretty Little Liars continue convince themselves that telling the truth will get them killed for another season and a half. I’m just hoping we get a bit more backstory/information re: the first five and a half seasons because let’s be honest, we’re all a little bit confused. That being said, it’s the PLL quintet of friendship that keeps us watching, especially after the scene where they all said goodbye before college. Don’t talk to me. I’m welling up.

Wednesday

Catfish: The TV Show

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My non-fiction pick of the week. For me, the mystery side of the show is what appeals to me (along with Max and Nev’s bromance), and whether or not the the love interest is Catfish-ing or not. I’m always thinking up wild ideas of who could be behind the profile before the reveal the identity, but some of them are so bizarre you just couldn’t call it.

Thursday

How to Get Away with Murder

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I wanted to watch this originally because of Alfred Enoch who starred as the lovable Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter movies. Then, when I watched the Pilot, I was hooked on the mystery that surrounded the Keating Five and binge-watched the whole of the first season. Then the second season came out, and I didn’t think they would be able to top the neatly packaged, perfectly paced story line of season one – but they did. The writers of this show are genius. They manage to keep the suspense moving, keep the character development deepening and seem to go bigger and better.

Friday

Reign

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Mary Queen of Scots, fiercely portrayed by the wonderful Adelaide Kane, shows what life was like for the young Queen at French Court, and the short-lived marriage she had with Francis II of France. I originally wanted to watch this show for Anna Popplewell, who played gentile Susan Pevensie from the first two Chronicles of Narnia films, but soon I fell in love with the whole ensemble of characters, from Mary’s ladies in waiting, the Valois family and the nobles at court. And as an already established Tudor fan, this show was just my style.

Saturday

Doctor Who

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Watching Doctor Who on a Saturday is a habit I’ve let slide. When David Tennant and Matt Smith occupied the role I was an avid watcher, and I’m not for one minute saying I don’t like Peter Capaldi. I do like Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. The issue I have is with the content of the show, as some of the science-based narratives often get lost on me, so I prefer to sit down and binge-watch the whole season after it has aired so I can at least remember what happened between each episode, rather than have them weeks apart. I love each Doctor for different reason, and I won’t participate in a who-I-like-better debate because, for me, the Doctor is the Doctor, no matter who’s face he has, and he’s the reason why I still watch the show.

And then we go back to Sunday and do it all again! Let me know in the comments what TV shows you like to watch, and did I miss any out that are on your TV schedule?

Honourable Mentions to Shows Not in Transmission

FRIENDS

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For me, Friends is the mother-ship of TV shows. The best of the best, the cream of the crop, I can put any episode or season of Friends on and laugh my ass off. The characters, their lives, their love of coffee, the New York City apartment life. Everything about this show is perfect. (except for the episode where Joey “speaks” French. I mean REALLY?!)

One Tree Hill

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I missed the boat when the show was airing but I spent a long, long time watching and re-watching this show. I still can’t decide whether I wanted Peyton/Lucas to Brooke/Lucas to be end-game, and it’s something that still keeps me up at night, but maybe that’s the power of a good TV show. It keeps you thinking long after it’s finished.

Top 15 Books I’ve Studied

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I’ve been in education for more years than I’ve been out of it, and with a love of books as passionate as mine, I’ve spent a lot of time studying them. Some I’ve grown to love, some I’ve grown to hate, so here are the top 15 books I’ve studied over my time in school.

15

Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

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Cider with Rosie is a wonderfully vivid memoir of childhood in a remote Cotswold village, a village before electricity or cars, a timeless place on the verge of change. Growing up amongst the fields and woods and characters of the place, Laurie Lee depicts a world that is both immediate and real and belongs to a now-distant past. – from Goodreads.com

My Dad always carried around a copy of Cider with Rosie, and when he passed away it was bequeathed to me. I took ownership of his battered, well-read, well-loved copy and actually chose to study this book in A-Level Literature.

14

The Go-Between by LP Hartly

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Summering with a fellow schoolboy on a great English estate, Leo, the hero of L. P. Hartley’s finest novel, encounters a world of unimagined luxury. But when his friend’s beautiful older sister enlists him as the unwitting messenger in her illicit love affair, the aftershocks will be felt for years. – from Goodreads.com

I studied The Go-Between alongside Cider with Rosie, and wrote an essay on childhood innocence using both these books. I thoroughly enjoyed the BBC adaptation that was released this year, and it brought back so many wonderful memories for me.

13

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

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The greatest love story in English, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a play of star-crossed lovers who take a valiant stand against social convention, with tragic consequences. – from Goodreads.com

Although this is probably the most famous love story of all time, I actually struggled to get on with this play originally when I studied it at GCSE. However when my teacher showed us Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of the film, where he put such a unique spin on the tale, I really grew to love it, and to this day his adaptation is one of my favourite films.

12

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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The compelling story of two outsiders striving to find their place in an unforgiving world. Drifters in search of work, George and his simple-minded friend Lennie have nothing in the world except each other and a dream–a dream that one day they will have some land of their own. – from Goodreads.com

One of my old favourites from GCSE English. I was completely swept up in the tale of George and Lennie, and once again, watching the film cemented my love for the story.

11

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners–one of the most popular novels of all time–that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. – from Goodreads.com

Similarly to Romeo and Juliet, the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy has become somewhat clichéd. When I studied this book at A-Level Literature, I was reminded just how quick we are to judge others, especially romantically, and how Elizabeth is the perfect, head-strong heroine who we could all learn from. Also, to start as we mean to go on, I watched both adaptations by Joe Wright and also the BBC, both of which are favourites.

10

A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller

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In A View from the Bridge Arthur Miller explores the intersection between one man’s self-delusion and the brutal trajectory of fate. Eddie Carbone is a Brooklyn longshoreman, a hard-working man whose life has been soothingly predictable. He hasn’t counted on the arrival of two of his wife’s relatives, illegal immigrants from Italy; nor has he recognized his true feelings for his beautiful niece, Catherine. – from Goodreads.com

Another favourite of mine from GCSE English. A wonderful commentary on immigration that is still relevant in today’s world.

  An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley

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The action of the play occurs in an English industrial city, where a young girl commits suicide and an eminently respectable British family is subject to a routine inquiry in connection with the death. An inspector calls to interrogate the family, and during the course of his questioning, all members of the group are implicated lightly or deeply in the girl’s undoing. – from Goodreads.com

Probably the first “mystery” that I ever read in GCSE English, and ignited my love for the genre. Seeing how every member of the family tied into the story of the dead girl was literary craftsmanship at it’s best. Another honourable mention to the BBC adaptation released earlier this year.

8

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. – from Goodreads.com

Another one from GCSE English with a fantastic movie to go along with it. Many people refer to Frankenstein as the monster, not the man who created him, and I think that says a lot about our morbid curiosity and just how momentous Frankenstein’s creation was.

7

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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Perhaps the single most influential work of English drama, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a timeless tragedy of the conflicted loyalties, madness, betrayal and terrible revenge. – from Goodreads.com

Along with another awesome adaptation from Mr Branagh himself, Hamlet, which I studied at Literature A-Level is my second favourite Shakespeare play. Which brings me nicely onto…

6

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

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Promised a golden future as ruler of Scotland by three sinister witches, Macbeth murders the king to ensure his ambitions come true. But he soon learns the meaning of terror – killing once, he must kill again and again, and the dead return to haunt him. – from Goodreads.com

My favourite Shakespeare play! Witches, prophecies, killing, war, all the things that make a tragedy a tragedy in my eyes. With, surprise surprise, an awesome adaptation to go along with it.

Which brings me into my top five:

5

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s. – from Goodreads.com

My Gramps once said that education really begins after you leave school, and he was so right. I didn’t actually study The Great Gatsby whilst I was at school. My A-Level Literature teacher, Robert Hastie, gave me his copy of The Great Gatsby that he used to study with whilst at university. I’ve cherished his copy ever since, as it has his own notes and comments in. I recently read and studied this book by myself, and added in my own notes and comments along with his. It’s one of my most treasured possessions. Also, note the awesome film.

4

The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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Based on historical people and real events, Miller’s drama is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria. In the rigid theocracy of Salem, rumors that women are practicing witchcraft galvanize the town’s most basic fears and suspicions; and when a young girl accuses Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch, self-righteous church leaders and townspeople insist that Elizabeth be brought to trial. – from Goodreads.com

This play/film is pretty much the reason why I’m so fascinated with the Salem Witch Trials, and charts once again the morally complex tale of John Proctor, knowing he will be sentenced to death if he denies his involvement with the devil, or live a life of damnation if he admits.

3

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

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Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation. – from Goodreads.com

This was another book that I didn’t study whilst in education. JD Salinger’s novel is considered to be the corner-stone of YA literature and one of the first young adult books to be recognised in the genre. I love a good unreliable narrator as much as the next person, and listening to Holden narrate his experiences was so entertaining. Salinger captures the no man’s land between childhood and adulthood, and everything in between.

2

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

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The Bloody Chamber is an anthology of short fiction by Angela Carter. All of the stories share a common theme of being closely based upon fairy tales or folk tales. – from Goodreads.com

This anthology couldn’t be more up my alley. I first read this collection of works at university when doing a module on Fairy Tales. Carter poetically and vividly re-tells some of our best-loved folk and fairy tales, with a dark and sexy twist.

Which leaves my number one choice:

1

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature. – from Goodreads.com

This choice may be somewhat cliché, but for me, the themes and symbols of the novel are what makes this book stand out for me. The moors, the ghosts, the appearance of the double, repetition, nature vs culture, social class and, above all, love. When I first read Wuthering Heights, I found it to be really dense and difficult to get into. But after I watched the ITV series, and once I understood the story, I found I could really unearth the layers of the novel. And that is why this fantastically gothic novel is my number one.

So there we have it. Do you agree with my top fifteen, or would you like to have seen some other books make an appearance? What would be your top fifteen? Let me know in the comments.