Books with Weddings in Them

Time for another book list, I haven’t done one of these in a while!

This one is inspired by me getting married earlier this year, it seems like weddings are all I’ve thought about for the past year or so and it feels fitting to create a book list based around that.

Photo credit: Tim Dunk

The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test Cover

I downloaded this for something fun to read, I didn’t have very high expectations for it really but I fell in love with the characters and I really enjoyed the story.

Khai is determined not to start a relationship with anyone, he has convinced himself that he doesn’t have emotions and can’t connect with anyone the way his family want him to. His mother can’t accept that and intervenes, bringing in Esme in the hope that Khai will warm up to her and fall in love. It’s so funny, in a sweet way, watching how confused he is when he starts to have feelings for Esme but doesn’t really understand what’s happening to him.

Esme is super sweet and trying hard to make a better life for herself and her daughter but even so, she doesn’t want to marry Khai just for his money, she wants to be able to support them herself. She quickly falls for Khai though and starts to try and convince him they should be together. I admire her determination! I don’t normally like stories where the woman is trying to convince the man into a relationship but Esme charmed so much I didn’t mind it.

The two of them have a lot of chemistry and funny and charming interactions and this is overall just very enjoyable. I’m happy to see it’s part of a series, I need to go back and read the first one now!

The Bride Test on GoodReads

The Wedding Date by Zara Stoneley

The Wedding Date Cover

The Wedding Date delivered exactly what I was looking for: a fun and frivolous story that I could read quickly and not have to think about too hard.

I was surprised though by how much I liked Sam. She wasn’t daft and didn’t get herself into stupid cringy situations and I thought she was actually very funny. Her internal monologue made me laugh a few times! Jake was lovely and the attraction between him and … – the most important thing in this type of story – was alive and well.

More could have been made of the Scottish setting and some of the characters were a bit too one dimensional. There wasn’t much life in the story outside of Sam and Jake, the wedding felt a bit flat and the mother’s lack of personality started to get irritating rather than funny after a while. In fact, the whole story started to drag and get a bit daft towards the end.

Overall I found this an enjoyable read even if the end was a bit slow. A good one for the beach!

The Wedding Date on GoodReads

 

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

Agnes and the Hitman Cover

Agnes has a lot to deal with, she’s fighting to keep her house, plan a wedding that isn’t hers, deal with a dead body in her cellar and if all that wasn’t enough, someone keeps trying to kidnap her dog.

I really loved Agnes and Shane. Agnes is quirky and independent and Shane is sensible and practical and very honest. The two together set some serious sparks going and their dialogue was just right. Chemistry wise this book was spot on.

The story started off promising but was just a bit too far into zany with so much going on that I found it hard to keep track of the plot, who was falling out with who, who was falling for who, who had been killed off, and who all the suspects were. It got way too messy for me to keep up with. It could with maybe fewer characters, or, even though I hate to say it because I love a good murder mystery, fewer deaths.

There is no lack of interesting and colourful supporting characters but again, way too many of them so the story felt cluttered with subplots. I would have liked more time with Agnes and Shane, their romance was overwhelmed by all the other stuff going on. I wanted more of them and their funny arguments!

I did enjoy this one though, Jennifer Crusie has long been one of my favourite romance writers and while this isn’t one of my favourites by her it still stands head and shoulders above the rest of the romance field.

Agnes and the Hitman on GoodReads

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

The Cinderella Deal Cover

I loved the character of Daisy. Independent and original, she’s not afraid to be herself. Linc is almost her exact opposite, hard-working and inoffensive he cares a lot about what people think about him.

The setup for them moving in together and pretending to be engaged is weak but I didn’t think about it too hard and the rest of the story covered for it. It’s fun and the characters are interesting and bounce off each other nicely.

I felt a bit uncomfortable with the way Linc was trying to change Daisy. It was like he thought she wasn’t good enough, her furniture was too shabby for him and Daisy wasn’t normal enough. I felt quite sad when he made her feel bad for the work she had done to make their home cosy and welcoming. In the end, though, it seemed to be more about how they both had to compromise to build a relationship together that worked. Daisy had to accept that Linc liked things neater and more orderly then she was used to and Linc had to learn to accept Daisy for being unusual and not try to make her into a show wife. It doesn’t sound romantic but I’m on board for a bit of realism where normally in romance novels we get characters that have an instant where they have a massive 180 in what they can live with because LOVE.

The story is not the strongest but it’s fun to read and the romance between them is believable.

The Cinderella Deal on GoodReads

 

 

2018 Year in Review

2018 favourite books

Happy 2019 everyone! I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year. I wanted to take a bit of time before diving into my new year reading to share my favourites (and worsts) from the last year.

What was your favourite book you read?

1) Best 10 books

2) For which book did you have expectations that were dashed?

Troll or Derby. A young adult fantasy where the main character plays roller derby – I thought I was going to love it but it was very disappointing.

3) Best new discovery, author or book?

Zoraida Cordova, author of the Brooklyn Brujas series.

4) What genre have you read the most?

Fantasy, again! Closely followed by Sci-Fi and Romance.

5) Worst books you’ve read in 2017

Seven Princes and Altered Carbon. I finished them both but I don’t know why I bothered.

6) What book surprised you?

Sabriel. I thought I was going to hate it, I actually tried very hard to dislike it, but I just couldn’t. I liked Sabriel as a character, I liked her magic, the supporting characters and the plot in general. I was happily suprised by it!

7)The book with the most interesting plot, characters, or structure

The Nakano Thrift Shop. Odd little plot, and if you want interesting characters then this book has them in spades.

8)The book that started off slow, but really picked up

Do you Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh. I enjoyed the slow pace though so I don’t know if it counts.

9) Favourite series

I have two – Brooklyn Brujas by Zoraida Cordova and Jewelfire Trilogy by Freda Warrington.

10) Favourite stand-alone

Do you Dream of Terra-Two by Temi Oh. Properly loved it.

Books with Witches in Them

Books With Witches In

Time for another of my favourites – a Halloween book list! Last year I did books with ghosts with them, this year I’ve decided to go for books with witches in.

Please leave your favourites or some additions to the list in the comments!

Brooklyn Brujas Series

I absolutely love this series! Two books are out so far with hopefully another one to follow soon. Brooklyn Brujas follows 3 sisters living in Brooklyn who also happen to be Brujas. It’s a young adult series but it brings fresh ideas and a modern feel to the young adult fantasy world. And check out those beautiful covers!

Labyrinth Lost Cover

Engelsfors Series

Another young adult series, this one seems heavily influenced by Buffy and is set in a high school in a small Swedish town. It has a much grittier feel to it than the Brooklyn Brujas series and it’s slower paced but also more realistic.

The Circle

All the Birds in the Sky

All the Birds in the Sky mixes magic, sci-fi, climate change, other universes and the end of the world. There’s a bit of Jonas Jonasson style farce in and the near future setting reminds me of Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, with added hipster style. It’s odd and unusual and is a wonderful gem of a book.

All the birds in the sky

The Ghost Wolves Series

Hob Ravani, is a member of a gang of mercenaries who roam around their desert planet on motorcycles doing odd jobs for money while trying to stay clear of the law. Hobb has magic, a “witchyness” that means she can create fire but her powers are feared on her world so she has to keep it hidden. This is a high-octane ride across the sands that’s a lot of fun to read and stands out as something a bit different. Recommended to anyone that likes sci-fi based future fun and action.

Hunger Makes the Wolf cover

Wyrd Sisters

One of the funniest and the best Discworld books, Wyrd Sisters is just a classic. It is loosely based on Macbeth and is wickedly funny and endlessly quotable. This should be on every must-read list going!

Wyrd Sisters Cover

 

Books with Roller Derby in Them

roller derby books

Time for another book list! It’s been too long since I did one of these.

This time, these are books that have my favourite sport roller derby in, in one form or another.

Slam!

Slam is a bright and fun graphic novel about two young women who join a banked track roller derby team. The artwork is wonderful! Bright and bold, and it really captures the different characters personalities. The story is strong and interesting, with good dialogue. and this is all around just a lot of fun.

Whip It

This is the book that was made into the film that has helped roller derby become so popular recently. It’s about a teenager that wants to escape the world of beauty pageants and join a local roller derby team, against her parent’s wishes.

Whip it cover

The Derby Girl

A full-on romance novel where the heroine is a derby girl. There was really no way I wasn’t going to like this, the characters are smart and sassy and the story is cute and fun!

The Derby Girl Cover

Going in Circles

A more grown-up roller derby tale with about a fairly standard story about a woman that joins a roller derby team after her relationship ends and finds her inner strength.  A nice feel-good tale, even if there is nothing much original about it.

going in circles cover

Derby Shorts: The Best New Fiction from the Roller Derby Track

This is a little book full of short stories set in the world of Roller Derby. It’s produced in collaboration with London Roller Girls and the publisher, For Books Sake, is a company that champions women writers. There’s a mix of styles, so something for everyone! My favourites include the super fierce post-apocalyptic story and a quite sweet one about two teenage sisters playing in a junior Roller Derby league.

Derby Shorts Cover

Troll or Derby

Now, I wasn’t hugely keen on this one but a lot of reviews seem to really love it. Debs is a roller skater living in a trailer park with her sister and borderline abusive mother. Her sister disappears kicking off a chain of events that makes  Debs start to realise that she isn’t entirely human.

Troll or Derby Cover

 

2017 Year in Review

2017 book year in review

1) Best 10 books

I have read so many good books this year that it was almost painful having to pick my favourites. It’s taken me ages to decide and I still keep changing my mind!

So before I change it again and in no particular order, I also have 11 because I just couldn’t choose only 10 :

2) For which book did you have expectations that were dashed?

Dark Matter. I’d been looking for this book for nearly 7 years! I forgot the author and the title so couldn’t find it at all, then I came across it in a charity shop earlier this year.

It was nearly as scary or creepy as I was hoping it would be and while it’s still an interesting story I was hoping for a really good chilling ghost tale.

3) Best new discovery, author or book?

Kim & Kim by Magdalene Visaggio. It’s a bright and fun graphic novel that’s basically Jen in space! Also the author Octavia E. Butler – I’m a massive sci-fi fan so I can’t understand why I haven’t heard of her before. I’m enjoying reading through her books, she’s absolutely brilliant.

4) What genre have you read the most?

Fantasy. This genre always seems to outweigh the others for me, even though my favourite genre is sci-fi. I think I find fantasy more comforting and easier to read, I need to use more brain power to read sci-fi!

5) Worst books you’ve read in 2017

Advent by James Treadwell. Kojiki by Keith Yatsuhashi. Both big messes that sound like they should have at least been fun to read, but really weren’t. I couldn’t even finish Kojiki, Advent I did finish but I wish I hadn’t wasted so much reading time on it.

6) What book surprised you?

The Great Passage by Shion Miura . A book about creating a dictionary that’s funny, warm, and engaging? I would never have believed it possible until I read this.

7)The book with the most interesting plot, characters, or structure

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, with an honourable mention for All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. Both of these have very odd plots and some brilliant characters.

8)The book that started off slow, but really picked up

I Never Meant to be a Rebel by Jessica Bell. It’s an autobiography and I don’t normally read them but the blurb for this one caught my attention. It took me ages to get into it but once I did I really enjoyed it.

9) Favourite series

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I read all three books earlier this year and absolutely loved it.

Blackbird by Freda Warrington, fantasy series written in the 80’s. I love her writing so much, I think I read about 10 of her books last year. One of the highlights of my year was getting the first book in the series signed by her at the Sci-Fi weekender down in Wales!

10) Favourite stand-alone

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. It was different and fun and unique and like all good books, it’s a little bit daft! Normally I like finishing books so I can start the next one and I rush through them, but with this one, I wish it were twice as long.

11)The book everyone should read

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler. This is one of the best vampire stories I’ve read! Main character Shori has an intelligent, cold, analytical style which I enjoyed reading, and the whole story is quite serious, with no daftness in it. It makes a nice change from the normal over the top emotional vampire silliness!

Books with Ghosts in Them

books with ghosts in

A Halloween influenced book list this month! These are a few of my favourite books with ghosts in 🙂

The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynn Jones

A ghost story told from the point of view of the ghost! The ghost is one of four sisters but she doesn’t remember which one she is, or how she came to be a ghost.

The characters in this book are brilliantly done, each of the sisters is unique and complex. It’s very well written and the story had me guessing right up to the end.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds (Eden Moore #1) by Cherie Priest

Eden Moore is a tough young woman who can see ghosts. For most of her life, she has had three dead women who appear when she is in danger and when she starts to investigate who they were she starts uncovering secrets about her past.

This is a moody and atmospheric ghost story from one of my favourite authors. I love the voice of the main character and there are lots of creepy moments, including the investigation of an abandoned and haunted mental hospital.

Cthulu and Other Monsters by Sam Stone

This one is a collection of short horror stories about monsters and Cthulu.

Sam Stone manages to skip between and combine genres without it being jarring. The stories in this collection are all horror stories but they also combine other genres too. Some are a bit steampunk, and some are more sci-fi, some set in the past and some in the present. She’s clearly full of ideas and there’s a lot of originality in these stories.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Nobody Owens, known as Bod, is an orphan being raised by the dead in a graveyard. It’s written for children but has more than enough intelligence, humour and pathos for adults to enjoy it too.

If you want a book that’s full of ghosts then The Graveyard Book is it!

Rivers of London (Peter Grant/Rivers of London #1) by Ben Aaronovitch

Peter Grant is a probationary constable in London. When an eyewitness to a crime he’s talking to turns out to be a ghost, Peter uncovers a different side to London where gods, ghosts and magic are commonplace.

This is more of a supernatural police procedural than a spooky, ghostly book. But it’s funny and entertaining and had me gripped as Peter investigates the evil that’s rising in London.

The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding

I loved this book – it’s full of adventure and strong characters and there are plenty of genuinely scary moments. Plus, it has monsters and ghosts and airships! It’s supposed to be a young adults book but it certainly is suitable for grown-ups too.

Books to Read in the Summer

Books to read in the summer

Time for another book list 🙂

The nights are starting to get shorter and it’s getting towards the last days of summer. One way to make that summer feeling last as long as possible for me is to read books set in hot countries or sunny weather.

I always try to read books that match the season where I am. I don’t like to read wintry books in summer, or autumn books in the spring. I find that I can’t lose myself in the atmosphere of the book as easily.  Does anyone else find that too?

And please share your recommendations! On here or Twitter or Facebook, I’m always looking for new books to read, and I found that my list of summery books isn’t actually that long.

Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells

Hunger Makes the Wolf is set on a desert planet, where a young woman is part of a mercenary biker gang. There is magic (space witches!), a rebellion of mistreated workers against the company that controls the planet, and a woman learning to be a leader. What more could you want!

Hunger Makes the Wolf on GoodReads

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

A post-apocalyptic story that starts on a beach that could be in the Caribbean it sounds so perfectly tropical. It’s actually set on America’s Gulf Coast, where teenager Nailer ekes out a living salvaging copper from the wrecks of the shipping industry.

Ship Breaker on GoodReads

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half a Yellow Sun tells the story of Biafra, a State that existed for three years in the sixties during a civil war in Nigeria. Three different narrators show us the human side of war and the effects it has on ordinary people.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a gifted storyteller, the subject matter means it’s not an easy read, but it is very readable, very interesting, and always stays sensitive.

Half of a Yellow Sun on GoodReads

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Another post-apocalyptic story, and one of my favourites, this is set in a world that has heated up due to global warming. Snowman is the last human surviving with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake in a world where it is too hot to go out in the midday sun.

Oryx and Crake on GoodReads

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell

A story about a family that has fallen apart. The disappearance of the father of the family slowly starts to bring the family back together. Set during the heat wave of 1976 this is a book full of interesting characters who all have secrets of their own.

Instructions for a Heatwave on GoodReads

Mara and Dann by Doris Lessing

Mara and Dann is set in Africa thousands of years in the future. Mara lives in the last country on Earth that has not been swallowed by ice. But the food is running out and society is breaking down. In search of a better place to live Mara has to travel north, a hard and long journey that will take her to her limits.

Mara and Dann on GoodReads

My Favourite Books with Tattooed Characters

books with tattooed characters

Tenuous link for my book list this month: I recently got a tattoo. So here is a list of my favourite books with tattooed characters in 🙂

It’s a lot shorter than I thought it would be, so if you have any suggestions please share them in the comments or on twitter.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

An obvious choice to kick off with, Lisbeth Salander is tattooed, independent, and doesn’t care what others think of her.

Under Locke by Mariana Zapata

A romance where the main character Iris works in a tattoo palour and the love interest is a tattooist. I’ve mentioned Mariana Zapta before on this blog, she’s one of my favourite slow burning romance writers out there.

This couple go from hating each other to being friends before finally falling in love and their journey is believable (for a romance novel) and sweet. I could have done without the motorbike gang stuff, but other than that this is a lovely story.

Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland

Loveday Cardew is a quiet, antisocial bookworm working in a small bookshop in York. She closes herself off from relationships and finds herself lost for words when she tries to talk to people.

But she wasn’t always this way, and through flashbacks and memories we find out what happened in Loveday’s past that has left her so guarded and reluctant to trust anyone.

I only picked this up because it’s about a bookworm with a nose ring and tattoos, and it’s set in York, a city that I love to visit. But this is a very thoughtful and beautifully written story, with flawed and interesting characters with a lot of depth to them.

One of my favourites of the year so far.

The Derby Girl (Getting Physical) by Tamara Morgan

Another romance, this time the main character Gretchen is a tattooed roller derby girl. I’m not blown away by the love interest, he’s a bit too corporate for my liking, but Gretchen is funny, feisty and flawed and I kinda want to be her.

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

Sci-fi where the main character has a full face tattoo. I’m not sure I’d say I enjoyed this book, there’s some pretty grim stuff in it, but it’s thought provoking and interesting. It’s also the only sci-fi I could think of to add to this list!

Downside Ghosts by Stacia Kane

A series I think I’ve mentioned before, Downside Ghosts’ main character Chessie has full body tattoos that also help her work magic. It’s my favourite urban fantasy, and it has a bit of romance thrown in. The love interest Terrible is by far my favourite book boyfriend.

Short Stories to read on Bank Holidays

banks holiday short stories

Hurray for the long weekend! But the most important thing to think about is what are you going to read?

These are my suggestions if you’re looking for something quick and fun that you can read when you get the chance for a sit-down and a nice cup of tea.

Please share your own favourites in the comments!

Zombie Novellas – David Moody and others

If you like Zombie stories, Infected Books published one short story a month last year. That’s 12 to choose from!

Find a full listing at Infected Books – Year of the Zombie, and choose your favourites.

Kim & Kim

Bright, loud and fun, Graphic Novel Kim & Kim follows two unlucky bounty hunters on their journeys across space.

It has two badass female main characters with realistic personalities and a strong friendship between them.

One of my favourites.

The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Elma York was an astronaut in her youth and led the way to colonise Mars.  Still living on Mars as she nears the end of her career she is given one last chance to go back into Space.

Beautiful and sweet, The Lady Astronaut of Mars is free to read online at Tor.com

Sing by Karin Tidbeck

Petr is a biologist studying a village of people living on a backwater planet. Aino’s physical disabilities have made her an outcast from that village,  but her singing voice captivates Petr from the moment he hears it.

A short, beautifully written and poignant story that will make you think.

Read for free at Tor.com

Hello, Moto by Nnedi Okora

In Hello, Moto, technology and magic merge into one very interesting story. It’s a lovely mix of sci-fi and fantasy, and it’s very short so good if you only have 10 minutes to spare.

You can read Hello, Moto for free at Tor.com

Tanglefoot (The Clockwork Century, #1.2) by Cherie Priest

Free to read online, Tanglefoot is a short steampunk story set in The Clockwork Century universe.

Edwin is a young boy living in hiding in the basement lab of an old inventor. As the inventor slowly slides into dementia, Edwin becomes more and more lonely, eventually building himself a robot friend he names Ted.

But robot Ted isn’t as friendly as Edwin hoped it would be.

I love Cherie Priest’s books, and this is a good starting point for the Clockwork Century series.

You can read Tanglefoot online for free at Subterranean Press

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Everyone should read this balanced, insightful, and very sensible short essay on feminism.

Please, someone, make it required reading in schools!

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

A short treat from Neil Gainman, this is a young adult tale about Odd who has to save Asgard from the Frost Giants. It was released for World Book Day nearly 10 years ago and has been a favourite of mine since.

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

The inspiration for Dracula, I think this is better. It might seem cliched and obvious now, but this is the book that invented the cliches and provided the foundation for all the vampire stories that have followed it.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2.5) by Patrick Rothfuss

Don’t be put off by this little book being part of a series. It’s a standalone book that follows Auri, a mysterious girl that is one of the secondary characters in the main books.

Auri is a young woman that lives in the Underthing, forgotten passageways and lost rooms underneath a university. It’s a slow book, not much happens really, but it’s odd and bittersweet and I love it.

Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan

Two soldiers on opposite sides of a war fall in love and try to find a safe place to raise their child. A sci-fi graphic novel that’s original and thought-provoking, with unique and diverse characters.

It’s very popular, and definitely deserves all the praise it gets.

Books with Dragons in them

Books with Dragons in

St George’s Day today! Which is my tenuous excuse for sharing some of my favourite books with dragons in them.

Please share your favourites in the comments, I feel like I don’t have enough dragons in my reading list.

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

Sebastion and Wydrin are mercenary sell-swords who free a dragon-god whilst investigating a ruined citadel.

At first they try to ignore the problem they have created, but the dragon starts destroying towns and villages and leaving a path of destruction across the continent.

A refreshing and fun story, full of magic, adventure, fights and taverns. I’ve only started reading Jen Williams recently, but she’s jumped straight to the top of my favourite fantasy authors list.

The Hobbit

One of the most famous dragon stories thanks to the films that came out a few years ago. I much prefer the book though, shorter and better paced and without all the boring bits they added to be able to make three films out of it.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin

Neither good nor evil the dragons in Earthsea are wise and long lived. Scornful of humans, they will only talk to Dragonlords, humans that understand the language of dragons.

Written in the 1960’s, the Earthsea series is one of the most influential and best-loved fantasies to be published. If you have never read it do yourself a favour and get a copy.

The Dragon Keeper (Rain Wild Chronicles, #1) by Robin Hobb

The Dragon Keeper follows a pack of dragons born so weak and deformed that they can’t fly or hunt for themselves. Tired of having to care for them the people of the Rain Wilds want to move them up river to a place where they can live away from humans.

Thymara is hired to be a Dragon Keeper, she has to care for and feed her dragon on the journey to her new home.

So if you like dragons this series is packed full of them, and Robin Hobb is a wonderful writer 🙂

Note – this series follows the Liveship Trader series, but I don’t think you need to have read that first (I hadn’t), and this series has far more dragon page time in it.

Guards! Guards! (Discworld #8) by Terry Pratchett

A secret brotherhood who want to gain control of Ankh-Morpork release a dragon into the city. Enter The Watch, the ragtag and incompetent town guards who have to restore order to the chaos.

This is one of Terry Pratchett’s best Discworld stories it has many of my favourite characters and is massively funny. If you want to laugh out loud, this is the one for you.