T5W | Summer Reads

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Summer Reads – the weather is heating up (for half of the world), so what books remind you of summer and are your quintessential summer reads?

Friends, this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post comes from the perspective of a girl who is not the fan of summer in the least. Don’t get me wrong, being able to step outside on a morning without having to worry whether you can risk leaving your umbrella behind is refreshing. But I live in England, and England does moderate weather best, so summer is rarely summer for very long. (Case in point: glorious sunshine last week, pissing down yesterday/today. It never lasts very long.) So I would ask you to bear in mind that I’m not the best person to talk about this week’s topic but let’s see what I’ve managed…

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Six Degrees of Separation | Fates and Furies

It’s that time, folks, I bring you another Six Degrees of Separation, book-style! If you don’t know what this meme is then see my previous post or the creator’s website for more details. Basically, every month a book is chosen and participants have to get as far away from the book as possible in six steps. Here are my (somewhat belated) efforts…

This month’s chain begins with a book I’ve actually read (and adored): Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies. This tells the story of the relationship of Lotto and Mathilde and their seemingly perfect marriage. As is all too often the case, there are two sides to every story and their marriage turns out to be a little… turbulent.

Speaking of turbulent and not-as-it-seems marriages, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is pretty much the epitome of unreliable narrator. (Or so I’m told, I never actually made it past 50 or so pages when I tried to read it) The 2014 film adaptation of it starred Rosamund Pike as the perfect wife, Amy. She has also previously starred in a 2005 book-to-film adaptation of…

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, as directed by Joe Wright, which I love and thought she was the perfect Jane Bennet, but I digress… Pride and Prejudice is considered a classic of the 19th century, just like…

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, a story that tells the tale of the eponymous Jane from orphanhood to a position as governess at Thornfield Hall where she falls for the stern Mr Rochester. It’s a book I never “got”, I read it and it was fine but I don’t think I appreciated it as I should have (maybe I should give it a re-read now I’m older?) The bits of it I did enjoy, however, were the Gothic-y elements, as I seem to like my books with a slight Gothic trend. Unsurprisingly, then, this next Gothic-y book is high on my TBR…

Frances Hardinge’s The Lie Tree, ostensibly a children’s book which won the Costa Book of the Year Award in 2015. The main character, Faith, is a young girl with an interest in science (so I gather from the book’s synopsis). Another “Costa” winner (it was previously called the Whitbread Book Award until 2006) from 2001 which was the first “children’s” book to win the Award…

… and featured a strong young lady named Lyra, whose story is told in The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, the third book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. The book takes place in cities in parallel worlds, not unlike…

V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic, the first in her Shades of Magic trilogy which tells of a very unique traveller, Kell, an ambassador to the royal family who is able to travel between parallel versions of a city called “London” situated in very different worlds which have different amounts of magic. I adore these books and am eagerly anticipating the final book in the trilogy, A Conjuring of Light, which is released tomorrow!

And there we have it, folks, from Fates and Furies to A Darker Shade of Magic, as easy as that! I highly encourage you to try it out this little game for yourself and share in the comments below or link to your own Six Degrees post.

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Best Books of 2016

Welcome one, welcome all, to the inevitable and downright obligatory Best Books of 2016 post that isn’t at all subjective or biased in any way. (Disclaimer: that sentence was entirely a lie.)

(If you’re looking for my more stats-based wrap up of 2016 then please do pop over to my 2016: A Bookish Year In Review post!)

I’m sure you’ve seen enough of these lists floating around in the past week or so but, basically, I’ve decided to draw a line under (let’s face it a pretty crappy) 2016 in the most positive way possible – by celebrating some absolutely brilliant books that I’ve read this past year. They may not necessarily have been published in 2016, but all of them were read by yours truly in these past twelve months and, it’s safe to say, if they made this list and have stuck around despite my patchy memory, then they must have been something special. Each of these books has well and truly earned their place on this list and I’ve detailed the not-at-all-incoherent reasoning behind each choice below so that, hopefully, my flailing might persuade you to read them yourself if you haven’t already.

Right, without further ado, let’s do this like the music charts, in reverse order, shall we?

burialritescoverHonourable Mention: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Why?: When people say a story is “haunting”, I finally know what they mean thanks to Hannah Kent’s novel. Set in Iceland, it follows the story of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last person to be sentenced to death in the country. From the outset we are told what Agnes has allegedly done and this characterisation of her as a “murderess” haunts her every word and interaction from this opening page. Add onto that Kent’s chilling writing style which masterfully evokes the harsh, bleak, but beautiful, Icelandic landscape, and you have an absolutely astounding book that has stayed with me for many months.

“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.”

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