10 Books to Read in 2019 from my TBR

It should come as no surprise that, as a bookworm, I have a fairly big TBR made up of books from the last five years.

img_6983In fact, if you know me, you’ll know that my owned TBR is about 270-280 books. In 2019, and the next few years, I want to really cut that down by (obviously) reading more books but also by unhauling. My reading tastes have changed quite a bit over the last five years and books that interested me before, just don’t have that same effect now. I just need to learn to let go of those books!

Knowing that there are that many books on my TBR, I thought I’d list out 10 of the books on my TBR that I most definitely want to read this year. So without further ado, here they are…

  1. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia img_6984
  2. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
  3. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  4. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
  5. An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
  6. History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
  7. Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody
  8. Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  9. A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
  10. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Bonus book: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.

img_6985Most of these books have been on my TBR for at least a year so I absolutely want to read them. I definitely want to unhaul some books so I can create a better system that encourages me to read more of my owned books without feeling overwhelmed.

Are any of the books on my list on your TBR? Or perhaps you’ve read them already?

The Near Witch by V. E. Schwab

 

Title: The Near Witch

Author: V. E. Schwab

Pages: 293

Publisher: Titan Books

Published: Re-release 2019 (Original release, 2011)

Source: Finished copy, gifted by the publisher (Thank you!)

Rating: ★★★★


The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

And there are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. Still, he insists on helping Lexi search for them. Something tells her she can trust him.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know-about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.


‘It starts with a crack, a sputter, and a spark.’

I went into The Near Witch not really knowing too much about it except for the fact that it was a re-release and that it involved a witch but you know, it’s by V. E. Schwab so I was immediately interested.

There are some books that you just know you’re going to love or hate within the first few pages and with this one, I knew almost immediately that I was hooked within it’s grasp. It ended up taking me about four hours to The Near Witch as I read just under half of it on the way to Victoria’s Forbidden Planet signing in London and then the remainder of it on my train back home.

Thoughts

The Near Witch follows Lexi in the small village of Near, where everybody knows everyone. Lexi lives with her mother and sister after her father passed away. She carries her father close to her and he is a big influence on her throughout this book. I liked the character of Lexi. She is interested in gathering the facts but also is open minded and almost fearless. As children go missing in Near, she makes a decision to try and find them in her own way whilst trying to also avoid her Uncle, the protector of Near. Before the children go missing though, a stranger turns up in Near. There are never strangers in Near and this one comes at a time before all hell breaks loose.

The time that The Near Witch is set in is a strange one. It felt as if it was set in the 1600/1700s with the talk of witches, but then it also felt almost like it didn’t exist at any specific time at all. When writing this review, I also realised that the village of Near is just a place, it’s not specified that it’s any country which is interesting as you’re then just focused on the place itself. Near just exists.

The plot is fairly fast paced with plenty of mystery and intrigue that draws you in and doesn’t really let you back out until the end. I can vouch for this considering I read it in four hours. I though that the writing really contributed to the pace of the plot. The writing is different to but I feel it is still distinctively V’s. It’s descriptive meaning that you can really imagine the people and places quite vividly.

I think it’s difficult to compare it to V. E. Schwab’s more recent works as she has really developed as a writer in the past 8 years since The Near Witch was originally released. I was a bit wary going into this book that perhaps there was a reason The Near Witch didn’t do so well when it was originally released – was it because it wasn’t that great or was it simply because it wasn’t the right time for it to be released? However, upon reading it, I do think that it was just that timing wasn’t right. It is a quirky little book that might not work for everybody, but I liked it and thought that it was a fairly quick read.

Final Thoughts

Whilst I enjoyed this book and read it so quickly, I’m still hovering between 3.5 and 4 stars with this book. I should clarify that for me, a 3 star rating doesn’t mean it’s bad. It means that I liked the book. I enjoyed it and got through it quickly, but I didn’t love it and I probably won’t re-read it. I think it is a great book for September/October when Halloween is approaching and Autumn is starting to really set in.

One of the questions I have asked myself, when thinking about the rating, is if I’d have read this back in 2011 as a 15/16 year old, would I enjoy it? It’s hard to tell because my tastes are obviously a bit different to how they were 7/8 years ago but I do think I would have enjoyed this book back then too.

 

WWW Wednesday: 13/03

WWW Wednesday: 13/03

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted Taking on a World of Words that I thought would be fun to get involved with. It involves answering three WWW questions about reading.

I decided not to post a WWW Wednesday last week based on having posts going up on Thursday and Friday, but it turns out you didn’t miss much as I didn’t have anything to bring to the table. However this week is a little different because I read 2 books. Yep, you read that right. I read and finished two books this week!

It may seem like a low number to some, but I am pretty proud of that. I just wish I could read 2 books a week every week!

What are you currently reading?

I’m still reading City of Glass by Cassandra Clare but I’m hoping to finally finish it over the next week. I first picked it up a month ago exactly today to read on the plane to and from Poland ready for the Cassie Clare signing a week later, but I haven’t read any of since then. I just want to finish it now!

What did you recently finish reading?

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas and it was fantastic. I started reading it on the train to her signing in Birmingham last Tuesday and finished it just under a week later. I also read The Near Witch on Saturday on my train to and from London for V. E. Schwab’s Forbidden Planet signing. I managed to read the book in 4 hours which I was pretty happy with as I haven’t read a book in a day in a little while. (Picture from my train down to London featuring The Near Witch – isn’t under the dust jacket pretty?)

What do you think you’ll read next?

I am planning to read The Devouring GrayTruly, Devious and A Study in Charlotte in March so my next read will be one of those, I’m just not sure which one yet.

What are you guys currently reading?

5 Reasons to read Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

 

Title: Heartstopper

Author: Alice Oseman

Pages: 288

Publisher: Hodder

Published: 2018

Source: Bought

Rating: ★★★★.5


Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…


Heartstopper is a graphic novel completely designed and written by author Alice Oseman. Alice has gained quite a lot of attention over the last couple of years but I haven’t read any of her books since I read Solitaire just after it was released. I hadn’t realised prior to reading it but Heartstopper is the story of Charlie and Nick who we meet in Solitaire.

Of course, it’s been a fair few years since I read it and I’ve read quite a lot of books in between but I like that Alice has done a prequel to Solitaire and given us the back story of these characters. I particularly like that she has done it such a visual way.

So without further ado, here are my 5 reasons to read Heartstopper…

1. The Art Style – The art throughout this graphic novel is simple but effective. All of the art is done using monotone colours but I don’t think that hindered the story at all. I think that the monotone colours helped to focus on the plot of the graphic novel more.

2. The Story – The plot was super cute. It was easy to follow and flowed really nicely from page to page. It mostly follows Charlie and Nick at school but it does stray away to over the holidays. I’m looking forward to seeing more of Charlie and Nick and following this plot into the next volume that is coming out in July.

3. The Characters – Both Charlie and Nick were likeable characters. I liked that Alice was able to really show their personalities and that for example, even though Nick is a rugby player and so are his friends, they didn’t adhere to the stereotypical image of rugby players.

4. The LGBTQ+ rep – Heartstopper tackles quite a few issues throughout and has good representation. One of the issues that it dealt with was bullying and how this affected Charlie. It also dealt with unwanted attention from another character and characters hiding their sexuality. Heartstopper also dealt with Nick trying to work his way through his feelings and his sexuality.

5. The Pace – The pace of Heartstopper is very fast which means that you fly through it but it’s quite memorable. It read so quickly that my only complaint is that it wasn’t long enough!

Bonus reason: Alice is currently putting out the comic on Tumblr too, so even after you finish it, you can carry on with Charlie and Nick’s story by reading the tumblr page.

I hope that if you were debating reading this, the above reasons have helped you to decide to read it. I personally enjoyed this graphic novel quite a bit and thought that the plot and art style was quite refreshing.

World Book Day 2019: Top 5 Childhood Reads

World Book Day 2019: Top 5 Childhood Reads

For World Book Day this year, I have partnered up with some fantastic UKYA bloggers, who you can see in the picture above, to bring you guys some fun posts about our favourite childhood reads. If you didn’t see Layla’s blog post about her favourite childhood reads, make sure you catch it over at her blog here.

I think World Book Day is a great initiative to encourage children to develop a love of reading early on in their lives. If you’re unsure of what World Book Day is, it is a day mostly celebrated in Primary schools across the UK where children are encouraged to read and dress up as their favourite book characters. Children are given a £1 book voucher which they can either use in exchange for a specially written World Book Day book, or they can use either towards a physical book or audio book of their choice.

World Book Day was always a fun day for me. One of the best things about it when I was younger was the dressing up as a character from a book. I remember one year I went as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz wearing my little red tap shoes and carrying a little, fluffy, toy dog. I dressed as other characters but that’s the one that stands out the most. My mum used to take us to Waterstones with our £1 voucher and we’d pick our World Book Day book.

To celebrate World Book Day this year, myself and the bloggers you see in the image above have come together to bring you our top 5 childhood reads. So without further ado, here are mine:

  1. Lola Rose by Jacqueline Wilson – I don’t remember much about what this book involved, but I do remember that I really enjoyed this one and read it quite a few times. An honourable Jacqueline Wilson mention that I also loved but haven’t included is The Lottie Project.
  2. Rainbow Magic books by Daisy Meadows – I read and collected the ‘fairy books’, as I called them, religiously. Not just the books in the series though, but also the special jumbo books. I don’t even know how many I read, but I really loved these books and would class them as a staple part of my childhood.
  3. Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy – Cathy Cassidy’s books were some of my absolute favourites when I was younger. I had every single book of hers and would read some of them over and over again, Scarlett being one of them. If I could put more than one of her books on this list, I totally would. To the left, you can see a picture of me with Cathy. I met her once at Hay Festival and again when she came to my local bookshop. I was 17 when this picture was taken, but had to meet her because I just loved her books! If I’m totally honest, she was my favourite author when I was younger.
  4. Candy Floss by Jacqueline Wilson – I used to love Candy Floss and back when I didn’t have that many books to read (couldn’t really buy them for myself as I wasn’t earning anything at the age of 9), this was definitely one of the books that I re-read over and over again.
  5. Felicity Wishes: Friendship and Fairy School by Emma Thomson – These books were some of my absolute favourites when I was younger. They also remind me of when my mum used to take me and my sister to the library to get these books out and how one year, we completed the Summer reading challenge and won a medal!

Honourable mentions:

  • Katie Morag
  • Milly Molly Mandy
  • Lettice the Dancing Rabbit
  • Goosebumps
  • Animal Ark
  • My Secret Unicorn
  • The Rainbow Fish

So those are my top 5 childhood reads, including some honourable mentions! Make sure you check out the rest of the blog posts by the fabulous bloggers I have partnered up with to celebrate World Book Day with!

Isabelle will be sharing her top 5 childhood reads next, so you make sure you look out for that! Her post can be found on her blog here.

Are you celebrating World Book Day? What are your favourite childhood reads?

February Wrap Up

February Wrap Up

Despite being a short month, February has felt so long in comparison. Usually I really struggle with January because it’s so long and boring after the excitement of Christmas but work was so busy that I barely noticed how quickly it went. February has been something else entirely though, it went by so slowly apart from when I went away to Poland in the middle of the month.

Reading wise, I definitely didn’t do as well in comparison to January. I am placing all blame on Priory as that took all my attention and because it’s such a large book, it meant I didn’t get much chance to read anything else.

Monthly reading total: 2 ||  Books this year: 8/30

Books Read:

  1. Heartstopper Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman
  2. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha ShannonProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

I have really enjoyed both books that I read this month, so despite the fact I barely read any books in February, I am glad that both books were more than 4 stars so I’d call that a small success!

Reading Goals for Last Month:

  1. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  2. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
  3. The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
  4. Circle of Shadows by Evelyn Skye
  5. Paper Girls Vol. 2 
  6. Vengeful by V. E. Schwab

TBR Books Read? 1.

Ok, I feel a little ashamed but I feel like I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again, I am not the best at sticking to TBRs. My excuse this month is the fact that I read all 804 pages of Priory so hey, at least I read one book I was intending to read. I also picked up City of Glass which I am actually half way through, so perhaps it should really be 1.5 TBR books read..

March TBR:

  1. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare – I’m planning to get this finished in the first week of March.
  2. Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson – I am really, really looking forward to reading this one!
  3. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor – Once again, this is appearing on my TBR list. I just really want to read it!Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
  4. The Near Witch by V. E. Schwab – I’m seeing Victoria in March so I’m planning to read this on the train down to the venue.

I’ve decided to rein in my monthly TBRs a little as I always end up reading 1 or 2 books and then some other books that I wasn’t intending to so doing a TBR this way will give me a little more freedom to read whatever I fancy!

What books are on your TBR for March?

The Priory of Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

 

Title: The Priory of the Orange Tree

Author: Samantha Shannon

Pages: 804

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 2019

Source: ARC (Gifted, thanks to Bloomsbury)

Rating: ★★★★.5


The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.


If the sun burned out tomorrow, your flame would light the world.’

The Priory of the Orange Tree has been one of my anticipated reads since I first heard about it so I was absolutely thrilled when Bloomsbury sent me a copy. Admittedly, though I’ve wanted to read it ever since I received it, I had been putting it off because of the size of it. Let’s be honest, it’s the size of 2/3 books so I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly quick read. I also planned fairly badly.

The intention to read it before the end of 2018 was there, but wanting to reach my Goodreads goal before 2018 ended got the better off me and so I opted for shorter books instead. Really, I should have been starting this beast of a book as it took me a month to read it and I finished the last 30 pages the day it came out. I think that it can be a little daunting when you first face this book as it is 800 pages. I know I definitely felt a little intimidated by it and like I may struggle, but it was such a fantastic book that I’m glad I finally read it.

I’m going to try and write this without spoiling anything as I want everyone to go into this book with no spoilers, so if this review is quite vague, now you know why!

Thoughts

In Priory, we follow four characters PoVs as Virtudom is on the brink of war. These characters are Ead, Tané, Niclays and Loth as they all navigate through the South, East and West. The world building in this book was just fantastic. It was so rich and descriptive that I found it easy to imagine the settings. Of course, rich world building in an 800-page book is something you would expect but Samantha really delivered. I didn’t find it at all confusing like I was first expecting. It was incredibly easy to follow because the settings were all so different. You can really tell that Samantha did so much for this book, not just because of the size but because of the sheer amount of detail throughout Priory.

Out of the four PoVs that we follow in this book, I think that my favourite was Ead but I also liked Tané. Both were prominent and were the primary focus out of the four characters we follow. I really liked Ead because of how there were so many layers to her and because she wasn’t afraid to do what was right. Tané was similar in that respect but she was also focused on herself and making sure she was the best dragon rider she could be. I liked Loth as a character but  we didn’t go to his PoV as often as Ead and Tané’s. I felt that Niclays really went on a journey during this book, but I personally liked his chapters least out of the four as I just wasn’t as invested in his story as the others.

Other than the 4 main characters that we follow, there are plenty of other characters throughout this book and all are fully fleshed out with backgrounds. Two of my favourite characters were Sabran and Meg. Although I did think Sabran could be a little cold at times, I did quite like her. Meg was such a good friend to Ead and I loved her attitude throughout the book. She was quite a badass as and when she needed to be.

Relating to characters, there was LGBT representation of f/f and m/m relationships and exploration of sexuality in this book which was good to see.

The dragons are quite a prominent feature in this book, or perhaps I should say wyrms. There are good dragons and bad wyrms which is different  There were quite a few different creatures featured throughout, but my favourite was perhaps the ichneumon called Arlaq who is kind of like Ead’s pet.

Although I found the pacing a little slow for the first 400-450 pages, as everything started to fall into place I found that it really picked up and the last 350-400 pages went by much faster than the first half. One thing that did slow the book down for me was the long chapters which is why I have given Priory 4.5 stars as I did feel like the long chapters did slow down the first half for me alongside the slower pacing.

I have read all books in Samantha’s The Bone Season series so far and I know that those books also have long chapters. This isn’t necessarily a criticism of Samantha’s books or her writing but I find that for me, long chapters slow the pace down meaning it takes me longer to read which is exactly what happened with this book. Despite the fact it did have long chapters, I was still interested in the book and was left wanting to read more whenever I put it down.

Final thoughts?

I found The Priory of the Orange Tree to be an enjoyable read that was incredibly well thought out. The character development was great, the world building was incredible and the plot was easy to follow. Despite the fact that the first half of the book was slower than the second half and the long chapters, I did find this to be a satisfying read and a really fantastic standalone book. I would absolutely recommend this book.