T5W | Authors You Are Waiting On Another Book From

top 5 wednesday

Welcome one, welcome all, to ‘Emma Remembers Top 5 Wednesdays Exists And Decides To Join In’… again. We all know how this show goes… but, for those who are unaware, 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. Basically, every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 books based on a given topic – because who doesn’t love a good list?

This Wednesday’s theme is Authors You Are Waiting On Another Book From. This means, specifically, the authors who have no set next project announced, or if they do then its release date is so tentative that nothing is really known about the book since they probably haven’t even written the manuscript yet! It’s only when I sat down to compose this list that I realised some of my choices, and handily there were five that sprung to mind – so, clearly, my subconcious is wanting these pretty hard. Without further ado, here we go…

5. Rainbow Rowell

Who doesn’t love a good Rainbow Rowell book? I loved Fangirl, she just got both fandom and what university/college is really like for someone who suffers from anxiety issues. I was really appreciative of this book and I really hope to read more from Rowell in the future – I’m sure I will. Until then, I still have Attachments and Eleanor and Park (the latter of which I’m told is emotional so I’ve been putting it off) to tide me over.

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T5W | Best Recommended Books

top 5 wednesdayAfter a few weeks of no-shows for Top 5 Wednesday, I am firmly back on the bandwagon. For those who are unaware, Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge organised by the wonderful Lainey, in which participants devise their Top 5 books based on a given topic – because who doesn’t love a good list?

This week’s topic is ‘Best Suggested Books You Loved’. So, this week, I will be choosing the top 5 books that other people have recommended to me, either personally/directly or indirectly through videos and blogs.

71pV9PPv-ML5. Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

I’d heard a little buzz about this throughout booktube but I believe the one video that really recommended it to me was Lily from lilypad’s wonderful review about the book. And it truly is a wonderful book too! It doesn’t shy away from discussing serious and somber life-changing topics but it likewise also seeks to capture the beauty and fulfilment in even the smallest things about living life with a mental illness. Were it not for Lily’s indirect recommendation I might not have read this yet (if at all) so I’m certainly glad her video review showed up in my Subscriptions feed one day.

61rYKiTaObL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_4. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

After seeing a Bookbreak episode dedicated to this book’s release, I knew I needed to check it out for myself. Besides that promotion of it, I’d also seen it mentioned by Max from welldonebooks – and, often, it’s that final push from a booktuber’s review that will get me to actually pick up a book. True to form, Jenny Lawson’s second book is a funny memoir about the darker side of living with mental illness. It doesn’t sound comedy gold but any book that features a taxidermied raccoon riding a very confused pet cat is certainly funny, if in a slightly off-beat but wonderful kind of way.

51-70e0UrTL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_3. Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre

I don’t know who hauled this book on Booktube, I just know someone must have, otherwise I wouldn’t have casually picked this up in the library one day. Since then I haven’t seen many reviews (video or otherwise) which really makes me sad because I adore this book and I wish more people did too. My gushing review attests to that level of love so I suppose since I can’t recall who indirectly recommended it to me I must recommend it to you!


51sBkm4QZOL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

This was a recommendation from my English teacher who taught me (in some capacity) from when I was 12 until I was 18. So, when she discovered I was partial to be a bit of Austen, didn’t mind getting stuck into a good ol’ Victorian novel, and loved Richard Armitage (he stars as the hero, Mr Thornton, in a BBC miniseries adaptation of the novel). I’d say those prerequisites mark out the tone of the novel, as well as the people who will probably enjoy it. It is a 19th-century novel so it can be quite a trudge at times, but the main characters of John Thornton and Margaret Hale clash perfectly, representing the values of the industrious, industrialising, emerging north and the established, middle-class sensibility of the south respectively. It’s not all about poverty and class politics though, there is a romance amidst all the mills and the smoke!

rebeccavirago21. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

This was a personal recommendation from my English teacher and probably not a surprise on this list since I mention it on this blog all the time. She heard I liked a bit of Gothic-y influences and had recently read Jane Eyre, so she recommended me du Maurier’s books. Not only this, I own a beautiful Virago Modern Classics edition of Rebecca and, although my memory fails me on this, I’m 90% sure it was gifted to me from both my English teachers as one of their parting gifts to the class at the end of sixth form. For that reason the edition will always have sentimental value but when I then picked up Rebecca, I adored it! Definitely an apt recommendation from Miss Colabella since it turned out to be one of my favourite books of all-time.

And on that very high note, I shall end my Top 5 Wednesday post for this week. Do you have a Top 5 Wednesday list for this week? Share below, I’d love to check it out. If not, perhaps comment below with either: which book have you loved that was a recommendation from someone else or (more controversially) which book have you hated that was recommended by someone else?


Making Up For Monday | 16th November

Another dreary Monday which means only one thing – I remember that ‘Making Up For Monday‘, a weekly meme created by Tiffany at An Avid Reader, exists and I gladly riff off this week’s prompt which is:

What is your favourite book set in the past?

Taking a look at my favourites shelf on Goodreads will illustrate that most of the books I read tend to be set in the past for an obvious reason – they were written in the past. Therefore I’m not sure how many of them could actually count as ‘historical fiction’, since roughly speaking they depicted the time in which they were written, give or take a decade or so (i.e. Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion by Jane Austen, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley). However, there are a couple of obvious themes I can spot from the other favourites on that shelf and they fall into the following categories: books “about” World War I and II; Shakespeare’s history plays; Hermione Eyre’s Viper Wine.

When it comes to the World Wars, literature is often a useful jumping off point to try to conceptualise such a significant historical moment. The poetry of WWI and II is frequently taught in schools, and I know we focused on figures like Sassoon and Owen during A Level studies, by reading Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy and a poetry anthology which included the famous ‘Dulce et decorum est’ and so on. I’m not much of a historian, never have been, but I love learning about history through stories. If history textbooks were written as narratives, I’d have paid much more attention in school, to be honest; I’m terrible with facts and figures, I’m good with quotes and concepts. Because of this, I found both Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong and Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief equally heartbreaking for very different reasons.

The former is a look at WWI through the journey of Stephen Wraysford, an Englishman who stays with a family in Amiens and falls in love with Isabelle, the lady of the house, who is in an unhappy marriage. The two dangerously start a relationship whilst the world is on the brink of war, and obviously it all goes wrong from there. It’s about sex and love and violence and death in that way that the polar opposites of sex and death seem to be so entwined in literature. It’s beautiful, and the descriptions of WWI battlefields are so grotesquely chilling that it’s truly an unforgettable read.

Secondly, there is Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief which I feel needs no introduction but, essentially, we look at WWII as told by Death. It follows Liesel, a young German girl fostered by a couple who later hide a Jewish man in their basement. It’s about friendship and love and books and it’s one of those bittersweet reads that will make you weep, a lot, at the same time as adoring the prose. It’s beautifully written and it has a lovely message, summed up in its final line.

I’d always been a fan of Shakespeare, from reading Much Ado About Nothing in Year 9, 10, and 11 (what can I say, they stuck with it in my school) and loving it, to reading Romeo and Juliet and having some… interesting opinions about it (I hated it and told a Cambridge lit professor I did in an interview, whoops), to reading Macbeth and just being amazed at the crescendo of events in that particular infamous Scottish play. When I went to university I ended up discovering a deeper penchant for early modern, including a surprise interest in the likes of John Donne and early modern outlaws, but Shakespeare was always involved for me.

I particular enjoy some of Shakespeare’s “history plays” which have gone on to become some of my favourite “books” (shh I’m counting them) ever: Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry V. After reading Richard III this year I think I’d even recommend that. Summed up by the phrase “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”, all of these examples seek to humanise and, conversely, fictionalise historical figures. Some of Shakespeare’s characterisations have become so enmeshed with the public perception of these figures that it’s difficult to conceptualise them without being influenced by Shakespeare’s play of the same name – looking at you, Richard III. If you don’t have the patience for reading plays I’d at least recommend watching the BBC’s wonderful The Hollow Crown miniseries which was wonderful, Richard II in particular is beautiful.

And finally, Hermione Eyre’s Viper Wine must have a category to itself because I’m not even quite sure what it is. Equal parts historical, pulp, science fiction, it’s a mish-mash of different genres and I love it for it. I wrote this and this review to try to puzzle out why I enjoyed it so much but I think, in the end, I have to say I enjoyed it because it took a playful look at early modern society from a contemporary perspective, drawing the two together and unafraid to mix them together to create something truly unique. I think it’s safe to say you won’t find another historical novel quite like it, even if I am on the hunt for such a thing in the hope it exists! Eyre’s book left me with such a book hangover and I still haven’t been able to find anything else of a similar vein so please if you know of something similar, comment below because I feel like I need it in my life.

I think that very much covers most of the books I’ve adored that are set in that wide-ranging time known as The Past. Weirdly, I’d say I very rarely read contemporary unless it has some kind of fantasy element weaved into it (i.e. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys), but I’d greatly appreciate any more historical fiction recommendations.


Review: Viper Wine

Title: Viper Wine (2014)

Author: Hermione Eyre
Read: 11th-20th September
Genre: historical fiction (with plenty of glorious anachronism)
Rating: 5/5
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Set in 1632 England, Viper Wine follows Venetia Stanley, a noblewoman once considered a beauty by society who is now less that impressed with what the ravages of time do to said infamous beauty. Her husband, Sir Kenelm Digby, doesn’t seem all too concerned by her fading youth, and would rather muse philosophically in the company of his many, many books. Despite her clueless husband’s adoration, Venetia takes her beauty into her own hands, seeking out various suspect lotions and potions like so many of her contemporaries; as part of a society centred around the spectacle of court and above all being seen, Venetia represents a key aspect of early modern England which, in Eyre’s hands, becomes the stuff of a witty, exuberant, and fascinating narrative. Continue reading