2017: A Year in Books

It’s that time of the year again when it’s traditional to look back and summarise the past 12 months. 2017 has been a strange year. There have been some truly low points and a couple of milestones, but mostly it has been a bit meh. One thing that has been good about 2017, however, is the wealth of great books I have read.

After a bit of a reading slump in 2016, I am happy to report that this year I read a lot more and, for the most part, I have enjoyed almost every single book I picked up. Reading has gotten me through the past 12 months, so below I have listed my favourite reads of the past 12 months.

Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon

2017 has been a brilliant year for contemporary YA and I have certainly read a lot within this genre this year. One of the first books I read this year was Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and I simply fell in love with it. The characters are extremely likeable and the love story between Olly and Maddy is both cute and touching. A must-read for anyone looking for a sweet romance to devour.

Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Another read from early in the year which has stayed in my imagination is Caraval. With an air of The Night Circus about it, this book is mysterious and enchanting. Nothing is quite as it seems in this book and you find yourself questioning everything and everyone. Scarlett is a very likeable and strong heroine who manages to blend vulnerability and courage. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a bit of suspense along with their romance.

Strange The Dreamer – Laini Taylor

I love Laini’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, but Strange The Dreamer just elevates her writing to a whole other level. The words on the page are so prosaic and they weave a simply beautiful story filled with magic, love, tragedy and hope. You cannot help but fall in love with Lazlo, a hero who represents all the dreamers of the world. If you only read one book next year, make it this one. I guarantee you will fall under its spell.

Lord of Shadows – Cassandra Clare

When it comes to YA fantasy masterpieces, Cassandra Clare is on point. Lord of Shadows is the follow-up to Lady Midnight and it is every bit as thrilling as I hoped it would be. Emma and Julian continue to wrestle with their feelings for one another while their world slowly unravels around them. The majority of this book is set in London which just made it all the more delightful to me because I knew the places mentioned. Lord of Shadows is a highly political book, mirroring the turbulent times we currently live in. There is also plenty of magic, adventure and romance to keep you hooked right up to the heart-wrenching ending.

When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon

I loved this book. Cute, romantic and funny, it was the perfect summer read. As a fan of Indian culture, I loved all the Hindi and cultural references scattered throughout this book. Dimple and Rishi are adorable and their love story made my heart melt. The supporting characters are also great, especially Dimple’s mom who is a typical Indian mother wanting to get her daughter married to a respectable boy from a good family. Dimple’s interactions with her were some of the funniest parts of the book.

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index – Julie Israel

In the past I wouldn’t have bothered with a book like Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index. The main themes are loss and grief, but having experienced these things myself this year I found this book a big comfort. Juniper is struggling to come to terms with losing her sister in a car accident. When she finds a letter from her sister addressed to YOU, she sets out on a mission to discover who this person is. Along the way she makes mistakes, finds new friends and falls in love. This book really helped me think about the way I’ve been processing my grief and I could quite often relate to how Juniper was feeling. I really loved the idea of the happiness index cards. The best thing about this novel, however, is the friendship group that Juniper builds up around her. I really loved seeing these teenage girls bonding and standing up for one another; it was so refreshing and it’s true that friends are so important when going through a tough time in your life. No matter whether you have gone through something similar to Juniper or not, I am sure everyone will enjoy this book.

Seven Days of You – Cecilia Vinesse

Another great summer read, I literally could not put this book down. It is so cute and romantic and made me want to go to Tokyo. Vinesse paints such a vivid picture of the city that I felt like I was there with the characters. Sophia is a very likeable heroine and I adored her romance with Jamie. It really is proper cheesy cuteness but it was so much fun and just what you need for a bit of escapism.

Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo

This compilation of fairy-tales set within the Grishaverse is just beautiful. From the gorgeous illustrations to the new take on some classic fairy-tales, this was the perfect Halloween read. I loved how each tale was full of grey shades, and it wasn’t always clear at first who the real villain of the story was.

Night of Cake and Puppets – Laini Taylor

Laini makes the list twice, but she is seriously just an amazing writer. Night of Cake and Puppets is a novella about Zuzana and Mik from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Anyone who has read that series will remember how adorable they are, and this novella is just so romantic and beautiful and made we want to go to Prague when it’s snowing. Zuzana’s plan to romance Mik was pure genius and I loved how he turned the tables on her. There is also a cameo from Karou. A must-read for fans of the trilogy.

Those are my favourite books read in 2017, but what are yours? Do you have any recommendations (because I really need to add to my TBR pile…)? What books are you most looking forward to in 2018?

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Book Review: Lord of Shadows

Cassandra Clare is one of my favourite authors. Her books are always compelling with vivid characters and settings. I was therefore extremely excited for the publication of her second book in The Dark Artifices series, Lord of Shadows, which was back in May.

One of the great things about Cassandra Clare’s writing is the universe she has created. I love how each series is connected although they are all set in different time periods. Lord of Shadows opens with Jace and Clary, of The Mortal Instruments fame, visiting the Los Angeles institute. It is little cameos like this that make these books so special and it was great to see what Jace and Clary are up to now. They are not the only characters from other series to make a cameo – Alec and Magnus also appear.

The core characters of Lord of Shadows are, of course, the Blackthorns – Julien and his brothers and sisters. An adopted member of the family, Emma Carstairs, is our heroine and along with Julien they are trying to figure out how to keep the family together and how to navigate their complicated feelings for one another. Julien and Emma are parabatai, and falling in love is forbidden. As we saw in Lady Midnight, the two have developed feelings for each other and much of the book is devoted to their struggle with these emotions. Continue reading “Book Review: Lord of Shadows”

To Read 2017

We may not be quite one month into 2017 but already I have my eye on lots of up-coming book releases. February and May are shaping up to be particularly good months for those with a fondness for literature. While I am ashamed to say that I am still reading the book I started at the beginning of January, I am determined to try to read more this year. With that in mind I have come up with a list of the books, old and new, I am most excited for the coming months.

caravalCaraval, Stephanie Garber

I first came across this one through Twitter. Released on 31st January, the blurb conjured up echoes of The Night Circus for me. Caraval is about two sisters longing to escape their tiny island and abusive father. Caraval is a yearly event, a week of magic where the audience is part of the performance. The sisters receive the much awaited invitation but once there one of them is kidnapped and it is down to the other to try to find her. I love stories about magic and the blurb promises adventure and romance, so I am rather intrigued to get my hands on a copy of this book.

The Best of Adam Sharp, Graeme Simsion

One of my favourite books of recent years is The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. It was just so utterly heartwarming and joyful. When I learned that Simsion had a new book due out in February I knew I had to add it to my wish list. The Best of Adam Sharp is about a 50-year-old man who leads a stable but mundane life. His world is rocked when an old flame walks back into his life. Angeline was the one that got away and now she’s come back into his orbit he finds himself wondering what if…?

wintersongWintersong, S. Jae-Jones

Another up-coming novel that came to my attention through Twitter, Wintersong sounds like a classic YA fantasy tale. Liesl has always been fascinated by the Goblin King and the stories she has heard about him have inspired her music. When Liesl is eighteen, her sister is taken by the goblins and Liesl must journey to rescue her. The blurb promises adventure and a fantastical goblin kingdom and the cover alone is pretty enough to entice me to buy a copy. Wintersong is released on 7th February.

Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor is one of those writers whose imagination astounds me. Her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy was so unique and amazing that it has to be read to be fully appreciated. If this new series is anything like her trilogy then it will be outstanding. The concept sounds very different to other YA fantasy books out there. Lazlo Strange has been haunted by the same dream all his life and the only way to lose that dream is to travel to the city of Weep where, two hundred years ago, a massacre took place. Strange the Dreamer brings a new twist to the mythology of gods and sounds truly epic in scale. I can’t wait to delve into it when it is released in March.

lordofshadowsLord of Shadows, Cassandra Clare

The sequel to Lady Midnight, Lord of Shadows is the newest installment from the world of the Shadowhunters. Emma is in love with her parabatai, Julien, but relationships between parabatai are forbidden. To try to protect Julien she has begun dating his brother Mark. Mark, however, has his own secrets and is emotionally scarred from his time in Faerie. With the faerie courts rebelling against the Shadowhunters the stage is set for conflict and heartbreak. Cassie has a knack of reeling her readers in and shredding their emotions to pieces. I have full faith that Lord of Shadows will be just as much of a rollercoaster as all her previous books.

As well as these new releases there are some books that have already been published that I am eager to add to my collection. A friend recommended The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon and I am also keen to read Instructions for a Second-Hand Heart by Tamsyn Murray. I’ve also nearly finished reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas and I have enjoyed it so much I have to read the others in the series.

So many books, so little time. What is on your reading list this year? I am always looking for recommendations so please feel free to share any titles you are excited for in the comments. Happy reading everyone!

Cassandra Clare Fan Event 16/04/16

Last Saturday I had one of the most brilliant experiences of my life. I found myself at Leicester Square Theatre in London, one of hundreds of excited Cassandra Clare fans there to hear her talk about her newest book, Lady Midnight. As you might know if you have followed my blog for a while, I have loved Cassandra Clare’s books since the moment I discovered them. From The Mortal Instruments to The Infernal Devices and now The Dark Artifices, her rich world of Shadowhunters, vampires, werewolves and fairies has enchanted me for the past few years. When I discovered that Cassie was touring the UK for Lady Midnight, I was determined to get tickets to the London event.

I’ve attended book events in the past, but there is something about going to a fan event that gives it this whole other level of awesomeness. Maybe it was because I am part of the fandom and so I got swept up in the excitement radiating off everyone else. Whatever the reason, I can categorically say that this was the best book event I have ever been to.

First of, there were so many fans, and all of us had dressed in black as a nod to the Shadowhunter gear. There is something so wonderful about fandom. It brings people of all ages and backgrounds together. I was worried I would be one of the oldest there, but there were parents attending with teenage daughters and loads of twenty-somethings, all of us eager to meet one of the best voices in YA. Continue reading “Cassandra Clare Fan Event 16/04/16”

Book Review: Lady Midnight

ladymidnightDon’t you just love that feeling of anticipation when one of your favourite authors releases a new book? You can’t wait to get your hands on it and spend the time imagining what twists and turns will befall the characters, driving yourself mad with the need to know what happens right this instant!

Well, that was pretty much my state in the run up to the publication of Cassandra Clare’s Lady Midnight. Those of you who have been following my blog for some time might have seen my reviews of Cassie’s other two series, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices. Lady Midnight is a new series set within the same universe as the previous books. This time the action takes place in Los Angeles, five years after the Dark War which featured in the final Mortal Instruments book, City of Heavenly Fire.

Lady Midnight centers around Emma Carstairs, her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn and his family. We were first introduced to them briefly in City of Heavenly Fire where we witnessed the attack on the Los Angeles Institute which claimed the life of Julian’s father. Five years later and the events of the Dark War are still very much felt by the Shadowhunter community. Julian has had to raise his brothers and sisters by himself and as a result he carries a heavy burden on his shoulders. Emma, meanwhile, still burns with the need to avenge the murder of her parents. The Clave passed their deaths off as the work of Sebastian Morgenstern, but Emma has never believed that and she won’t rest until she uncovers the truth. Continue reading “Book Review: Lady Midnight”

Romantic Quotes From Literature

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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Whatever your feelings about today, you can’t deny that love is a great source of inspiration. For centuries we humans have been writing poems and songs celebrating that single, most complicated of emotions. There are so many different shades of love: romantic love, platonic love, the love that exists between family members and, of course, the love of chocolate (that last one might just be me!). Wherever you look in our culture, be it film, TV, music or literature, you can see love’s influence. It rules our lives as well as our hearts.

Those who know me, know that I am a sucker for romance. All my life I have adored fairy tales and believed in the possibility of a happily ever after. Even now, nothing pleases me more than escaping for a few hours with a good romantic book or film. One of the key ingredients I look for in a good book is a love story I can invest in. Nothing makes me want to keep reading more than the thrill of wondering if two characters will eventually overcome all obstacles and end up together.

In honour of Valentine’s Day, then, I want to share with you some of my favourite romantic lines from some of my favourite books. I picked these quotes because they resonated with me. Each one of them defines, for me, what love and romance are all about. I hope they inspire you as much as they have me.

“I asked you here tonight because when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” – The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion

“But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.” – The Fault In Our Stars, John Green

When I looked into his eyes, I could see without a doubt that he loved me more than anyone else in the world, that I was his salvation, the same way that he was mine. – Shadow Kiss, Richelle Mead

You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s me right now is yours. Always. – Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell

“You were the centre of my universe,” I say. “Everything else spun around you.” – Carry On, Rainbow Rowell

For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you. – The Wrath & The Dawn, Renee Ahdieh

“Your words have changed me, Tess; they have made me a better man than I would have been otherwise. Life is a book, and there are a thousand pages I have not read yet. I would read them together with you, as many as I can, before I die-” – Clockwork Princess, Cassandra Clare

“There are a hundred trillion cells in the human body,” she said. “And every single one of the cells of my body loves you. We shed cells, and grow new ones, and my new cells love you more than the old ones, which is why I love you more every day than I did before. It’s science.” – City of Heavenly Fire, Cassandra Clare

“Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” – Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

“You’re right,” I told him desperately. “I can get others to do what you do. They won’t be as good, but…okay. But it doesn’t matter because no matter how good they are, they can’t replace you. They can’t because I don’t need you only for what you can do. I need you…for you.” – Tempt The Stars, Karen Chance

“He watches her the way Harshaw watches fire. Like he’ll never have enough of her. Like he’s trying to capture what he can before she’s gone.” – Ruin and Rising, Leigh Bardugo

Even before he flipped it over to find the note, he was thinking the very same thing: that he wished more than anything that she was here, too. And just like that, his heart – that dead thing inside of him – came to life again. – The Geography of You and Me, Jennifer E. Smith

“I’ll love you until my very last breath. Every beat of my heart is yours.”- The One, Kiera Cass

You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. – Persuasion, Jane Austen

For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It’s a person. – Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins

“The center will hold.”

“How do you know?”

“Because we are the center.” – The Fiery Heart, Richelle Mead

Continue reading “Romantic Quotes From Literature”

Throwback Thursday: Blackfriars Bridge at Sunset

For today’s post I am taking advantage of Throwback Thursday (or #TBT for all you Twitter types) to share with you one of my favourite memories from our holiday last October in London. As it’s Valentine’s week, I wanted to post something vaguely romantic, and for me Blackfriars Bridge at sunset was a romantic experience.

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If you have been a reader of my blog for a while you may recall that I have previously blogged about my slight obsession with Blackfriars Bridge. For those of you who don’t know, Blackfriars Bridge features at the end of one of my favourite book series, The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. I don’t want to give spoilers to anyone who may be reading or intending to read the book, but it is where two of the characters go to meet once every year. While I was not a particular fan of that pairing, I found the notion of their meeting at Blackfriars romantic and when I finally visited the bridge for myself I could understand why Cassie picked it. Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Blackfriars Bridge at Sunset”