Top Five Tuesday – Summer Reads

A new Top Five Tuesday, the prompts are created by Bionic Book Worm. This week it’s summer reads. I can’t believe it’s nearly summer, what a strange one it will be.

136438851. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Kate Morton is always on my summer reads list. Her books always remind me of summer and make me a part of the stories. The Secret Keeper begins at a summer party, Laurel sees a stranger approach her house and her mother speaking with him. Before the day is over she witnesses a shocking crime and challenges everything she knows about her family.

25394580. sy475 2. The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley

Most of this book is set in South America so it’s nice and hot. Maya goes to Rio to trace her roots. We also flashback to her ancestors and their lives in Rio. It’s a large book and set in a warm place, a perfect summer read. My full review is here.

4667024. sy475 3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I love this book, it’s so powerful and it’s set in Mississippi so it’s hot and it’s a very important read. It follows the lives of two women of colour who work as maids and nannies for white families in the 1960s, they meet a young journalist who grew up in Mississippi and was raised by her maid, she wants to tell their story.

39797816. sy475 4. Tangerine by Christine Mangan

Tangerine is set in the 1950’s in Tangier, Morocco. We meet Alice first, she followed her husband to Tangier but has struggled with the city. The stifling heat and the crowds cause her to panic. Then an old school friend arrives out of the blue and brings back dark memories. My full review is here.

5996120. sy475 5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice reminds me of the countryside in the sunshine, it’s the perfect classic for the summer time. It’s also the only romance I will allow on my list!

What are some of your favourite summer reads?

Top Five Tuesday – Opening Lines

A new Top Five Tuesday, the prompts are created by Bionic Book Worm. This week we get to pick our favourite opening lines

1. “Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – Just iconic, I can practically recite the first chapter but this will always be in my mind. It just sums up the Durley’s so well, who wants to be normal? Not me!

2. “If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.” – The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket – Never before had I read a book where the author tries to dissuade you from reading it, I love Snicket’s strange writing style.

3. “This is the bright candlelit room where the lifetimers are stored – shelf upon shelf of them, squat hourglasses, one for every living person, pouring their fine sand from the furture into the past.” – Mort by Terry Pratchett, I love the image this conjures up, and Death keeps an eye on all our hourglasses and comes to get us when our time is up.

4. “The shape of power is always the same; it is the shape of a tree. Root to tip, central trunk branching and re-branching, spreading wider in ever-thinner, searching fingers.” – The Power by Naomi Alderman, this opening line changes how I see power, as corrupting. The image of the tree is clever, trees are vital to our survival.

5. “The play – for which Briony had designed the posters, programmes and tickets, constructed the sales booth out of folding screen tipped on its side, and lined the collection box in red crepe paper – was written by her in a two day tempest of composition, causing her to miss a breakfast and a lunch.” – Atonement by Ian McEwan, I love how quick and almost frantic this is, it sums up Briony so perfectly, full of energy, creative and slightly obsessive.

I found this slightly harder than I thought but it was great getting half my books down to see if they had good openers! What are some of your favourites?

Top Five Tuesday – Worst Rulers

A new Top Five Tuesday, the prompts are created by Bionic Book Worm. This week’s topic is so fun, five terrible rulers! I wasn’t sure if we should do real or fictional so I did a mixture, there is a fair amount of ranting in the post so be warned, also the numbers don’t mean much because I hate them all.

NPG 157; King Henry VIII - Portrait - National Portrait Gallery1. King Henry VIII of England (1509-1547)

My hatred for this guy runs deep. I mean where do I start, in my opinion the reason Henry was so unfit to rule is because he was brought up as a second son. His older brother Arthur was the Prince of Wales so Henry got away with doing what he liked, that is why he was so arrogant and had no way of coping with the pressure of ruling. The real reason I hate him so much is because of how he treated his wives. Catherine was a loving and loyal wife and he humiliated her and ruined her life. After the divorce, Catherine was not allowed to see her daughter Mary and died alone. But of course Henry would never be content, the woman that he had turned the entire country upside down for, also displeased him. Anne Boleyn did in no way deserve the end she got. I don’t believe that she would have been stupid enough to have affairs with anyone under Henry’s nose. Anne gave birth to one of our greatest monarchs Elizabeth I but never got to see her grow up, thanks to Henry. The real reason he wanted to get rid of Anne was because he had fallen for one of her ladies in waiting, Jane Seymour. Then Anne of Cleves was humiliated by Henry but had a narrow escape. Young Katherine Howard was not so lucky and again was executed on claims of adultery. Catherine Parr understandably didn’t want to marry this repulsive man and spent most of her marriage to him paranoid that she would also be killed. Thankfully she survived him and went on to look after Elizabeth and Edward. Henry also spent stupid amounts of money, his father had saved well during his reign but Henry was a disaster with money, even after he seized all the churches and monastries lands and money, he still didn’t have enough to keep up with his lavish lifestyle. Historians predict that anywhere from 57,000 to 72,000 people were executed during his reign. A great portion of which were the people that got close to him and those of Catholic faith. My only consolation is that Henry had a terrible wound in his leg from a jousting accident in 1536, the wound festered and never healed for the remainder of his life. He was in pain all of that time and that my friends is karma.

Aerys II Targaryen - A Wiki of Ice and Fire2. Mad King Aerys II of Westeros (262-283)

Aerys Targaryen is from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. When we say mad, it’s almost an understatement. Aerys was paranoid and cruel, towards the end of his reign he became convinced that his own son Rhaegar was plotting against him. The court was split in two, there was talk of another civil war, but thanks to Rhaegar’s idiotic actions the North and the Stormlands rose up in rebellion instead. Aerys had become obsessed with wildfire, a powerful potion which creates a fire that burns through everything, even water. He hatched a plot and had pots of wildfire planted throughout his capital city. “Let him be King of the Ashes.” He was reported to have said about Robert Baratheon, he would rather burn 250,000 people alive than loose the war. Aerys also had some of his enemies burned alive. Rickard Stark demanded a trial by combat to defend his honour but the King chose fire as his champion. Rickard was burned alive by wildfire as his son Brandon was forced to watch, strapped to a wall at the neck, he strangled himself in his attempts to save his father. That was when four of the Seven Kingdoms rose up against Aerys, the North, the Stormlands, the Riverlands and the Vale. Before his death Aerys ordered his pyromancer to burn the city as the war was lost. But thankfully Jaime saved the city and killed both men.

King John (King of England) - On This Day3. King John of England (1199-1216)

What a mess John’s reign was! Before he even became King he was causing trouble, Richard the Lionheart was John’s brother but spent most of his time fighting in the Crusades. While he was away John tried to take his throne, foolishly Richard forgave his brother. During his time as king, John lost England’s lands in Normandy, he also had countless affairs with his nobleman’s wives, which was a pretty bad idea. He fought with France, Scotland and the Pope. The people were sick of John spending all their tax money on pointless wars in France. The Magna Carta was created to protect ‘the rights of free men’. It promised the protection of church rights, protection from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, new taxation only with baronial consent. A council of twenty-five barons would be created to monitor and ensure John’s future adherence to the charter. But John refused to have the barons monitoring him so the rebels waged war against him. He was incredibly unpopular, his people didn’t trust him, he over taxed them and has been portrayed for years as a villian and a fool.

RobertBKingMagali Villeneuve.jpg4. King Robert Baratheon I of Westeros (283-298)

Robert is also from ASOIAF. Robert was an awful person but the reason he was such a terrible ruler is because he literally did nothing. He let his council do all the work while he drank, ate, had countless affairs and spent way too much money. He was abnoxious, gluttoness, lazy and arrogant. And he really reminds me of Henry VIII. When he won his throne there were two Targaryens that escaped, they were very young children and he sent assassins after them. He was happy for children to be murdered because they happen to be Targaryens. I hate this guy! He met his end via boar, he was hunting it and got very drunk and the boar gave his a grievous injury. Did Cersei have a hand in it, yes. Do I blame her for getting rid of his abusive arse, no!

5. Cornelius Fudge, Minister for Magic (1990-1996)

I don’t hate Fudge as much as the others and he was a pretty good Minister until things got dangerous in the Wizarding World. When Harry and Dumbledore told him that Voldermort was back, Fudge was so scared he accused them of lying and being mad and buried his head in the sand. He only believed them when he saw Voldermort for himself and by that time it was too late to stop him. Fudge lost his job as soon as the Wizarding community found out about his incompetence. He wasted a whole year when they could have been preparing for Voldermort’s take over. Fudge was weak and afraid and he inflicted Umbridge on the students of Hogwarts, a true crime!

I really enjoyed making this post, I hope it hasn’t got too much ranting in it! Have a good week everyone, stay safe.

Top Five Tuesday – Cute Romances

A new Top Five Tuesday, the prompts are created by Bionic Book Worm. This week’s topic is cute romances, I don’t ready many romantic books so the bulk of this list is classic novels!

5996120. sy475 1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I love this book and I adore Elizabeth and Mr Darcy’s relationship. They meet at a neighbour’s ball and instantly dislike each other. Elizabeth thinks Darcy is rude and arrogant and Darcy dismisses Elizabeth because her family isn’t wealthy. But as the story goes on things change, Darcy realises how rude he was and tries to improve his behaviour. I think that’s pretty romantic in itself, not that he needed to change, but he realised he was becoming a bad person and didn’t like that, Elizabeth helped him see that but she didn’t make him change. There is also the romace of Elizabeth’s sister Jane and Mr Bingley which was also adorable.

14800526. sy475 2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

In this story Margaret has to leave her home in Hampshire (which is where I live!) with her family, her father has had a crisis of conscience and left the church. They move north to Milton, an industrial town. Margaret becomes aware of the poverty of the mill workers and their families and tries to help them however she can. She comes across the mil-owner John Thornton and fiercely opposes him over the treatment of his employees. However their heated arguments and debates hide an attraction between them. Another enemies to lovers tale, I love the angst!

30969271. sx318 3. The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley

This story has a lot of layers to it but the romace in it is really cute! Star has always been in the shadow of her overbearing sister CeCe but she has finally managed to find her own path. Star finds a job in an old book shop in London, the owner is eccentric but incredibly kind. She gets drawn in to his family life, his stand-offish brother and their cousin who looks after her deaf nephew. Star is not sure about her boss’s brother nicknamed Mouse but eventually she discovers why he is so cold and quiet. They make a really adorable couple in the end.

13646335. sy475 4. Persuasion by Jane Austen

Persuasion’s love story is all about missed opportunities, eight years ago Anne was engaged to Frederick Wentworth, a naval officer, but suddenly broke off the engagement because her friend convinced her the match was ‘unworthy’. But now Anne’s family are on the brink of financial ruin and Frederick has returned as a wealthy captain. There is a fair amount of angst with these two as well, but it’s a great story.

6147457. sy475 5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Possibly a slightly odd choice for a romance but I was stuck! Lets face it everyone in this book is mad and it’s primarily a gothic novel but Cathy and Heathcliff have a creepy romance that lasts for years. Heathcliff was an orphan until Cathy father took him in to work in the kitchens. He didn’t forsee the connection that the two would form. As children they were unseperable and that addiction to each other carried on into adulthood.



Top Five Tuesday- Series I Want to Start

A new Top Five Tuesday, the prompts are created by Bionic Book Worm. This week is series we want to start reading. I do have quite a few on my to-read list at the moment!

10964. sy475 1. Outlander

I started watching Outlander a while ago and I really want to read the series I just haven’t got around to it yet. In the first book we meet Claire, a WWII nurse who is on her honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands. She comes across an ancient circle of stones and somehow ends up in 1743. During this time Scotland are on the brink of war with England. Outlander is a love story and Claire and Jamie are couple goals, they love each other so much. I can’t wait to get my hands on the books.

64153862. The Witcher

I didn’t know this series existed until I saw the tv series but I loved it. Witchers are warriors that were made by magic, they have incredible strength and they live longer than mortals. They were made to protect people from the monsters that plaugued their lands. Geralt is a Witcher but he struggles to get by, his profession isn’t as respected as it once was. For years humans, dwarves, gnomes and elves have lived together in relative peace, but war is coming. There are lots of books and I am very excited to read them!

78965273. Throne of Glass

I’ve seen this series mentioned a lot on blogs that I follow which is how I found it. It’s another fantasy series, there’s a badass female assassin, Celaena who has spent a year in a mine as punishment for her crimes. Until the Prince comes asks her to be his champion in the competition to find the new royal assassin. It has Hunger Games vibes because Celaena is forced to compete for her freedom, but it also has the secrets and uncertainty of a royal court.

180530604. Dorothy Must Die

This series looks so good. Dorothy has found a way back to Oz, she seized power and it went to her head. The ‘Good’ Witches can’t be trusted and the Wicked Witches have formed a Revoulutionary Order. They have recruited another girl from Kansas in the hope that she can get close to Dorothy and take her out. I love the idea of taking a well known story and flipping it on it’s head.

22328546. sy475 5. Red Queen

In this world it’s people are divided by blood, red or silver. The Reds are ruled by the Silver elite who possess superpowers. Mare is living in poverty and it seems to her like nothing will ever change. Until one day she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. She discovers that she has her own powers, but the Silvers try to pretend she is a long lost Princess. Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

There’s definitely a fantasy theme here, but what are some of the series’ that you’re eager to start?

Top Five Tuesday – Things I’m enjoying in isolation

A new Top Five Tuesday, the prompts are created by Bionic Book Worm. I’m really glad that Shanah is still thinking up topics for us all because they’re a really nice distraction from the chaos. This week is focused on things we’re enjoying while in isolation, this is such a weird time so it’s good to try to concentrate on the positive things!

img_01481. Reading

Of course, I usually spend lots of time reading when I’m at home so I’ve continued that tradition! I’m currently at the end of A Feast for Crows. It is tearing my heart out, but that’s all part of the fun with A Song of Ice and Fire! Next I have The Virgin’s War which is the last of Laura Andersen’s alternative tudor novels.

2. Daily exercise routines with my sister

My sister Olivia usually goes to the gym every few days and was going mad stuck inside so she was doing different routines everyday. Me and my brother wanted to join her and I’m so glad we did because it has really kept me sane. I would get really lethergic if I didn’t have something active to do. It’s also nice to spend more time together.

img_01443. Drawing and colouring

I love doing creative things and I’ve had lots more time to do some more drawing. I also love my coulouring books, they’re so calming, I really like doing them while listening to audiobooks.

4. Watching films with my family via facetime

It can be difficult to all get our film in sync but it is really fun when we do! My Dad and other sister don’t live with me so it’s been really nice to catch up with them and watch a film together.

5. Listening to music non-stop

I love music, I cannot sit in silence and because I’ve been at home I have barely stopped listening to some of my favourties. I’ve also got a playlist of all new music that I have discovered over the past couple of weeks, it’s great.

I hope you are all getting on okay, let me know in the comments some of your favourite things to keep you sane in isolation.

Top Five Tuesday – A-Z Authors

A new Top Five Tuesday, the prompts are created by Bionic Book Worm. This month’s topics are A-Z authors, this week it’s U-Z, these were definately tricky! I hope you are all safe and well in this strange time.

W: Alison Weir

Weir writes some of the best historical fiction out there, she is also a historian which is probably why she’s so good! Her Six Tudor Queens series is so brilliant. The books are written almost as acurate as biographies, I feel as if I really know the Queens and what they went through. If you are interested in the Tudors I strongly recommend her.

W: Katherine Webb

I read The Legacy a while ago and loved it. It’s set at a gorgeous old house, sisters Erica and Beth used to spend their summers their as children. One summer the girls’ cousin goes missing which tears the family apart. The sisters return as adults and are flooded with memories. This is my favourite style of book, set in an old house with a mystery surrounding it. I’ve got Katherine Webb’s other books on my tbr list and I’m excited to get to them.

W: Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson was one of my favourite authors as a child, her characters were always relatable and brilliant in their own way. It makes me nostalgic just thinking about them! My favourites were probably Midnight, The Diamond Girls and The Lottie Project. I haven’t read them in a long time but I love the memory of them.

Y: Heather Young

I haven’t yet read any of Heather Young’s books, but The Lost Girls is in my tbr list. The book begins in 1935 in Minnesota. Emily goes missing at only six-years-old, her mother never recovers and stays at the lake house for the rest of her days, hoping her daughter will come back. Emily’s sisters also stay with their mother. One of the sisters writes down the events of that summer sixty years later, before she dies, she leaves her notes and the lake house to her grandniece, Justine. I love a historical mystery so I’m really looking forward to reading this.

Z: Markus Zusak

The Book Thief is one of my favourite books ever, the way it’s written with Death as the narrator is so clever. It is set in Germany during WWII, we follow Liesel who has been fostered by a couple because her mother couldn’t look after her. Liesel wants to learn to read and tries to teach herself using a book she found at her brother’s graveside, The Gravedigger’s Handbook. This story is powerful and beautifully written.

I hope you are all safe and well in this strange time, take care.

Top Five Tuesday – A-Z Authors

A new Top Five Tuesday, the prompts are created by Bionic Book Worm. This month’s topics are A-Z authors, this week it’s P-T, I struggled with one letter this week, the rest were pretty easy. I hope everyone is well and safe in these strange times.

P: Philip Pullman

I used to love His Dark Materials when I was younger, the trilogy is still a great read now. My obsession with the nothern lights definitely started with these books. I’m so glad Philip Pullman has started a new series centred around Lyra Belacqua, I’ve read the first one in The Book of Dust trilogy and it has the same feeling as the original series, I’m very excited to read the rest.

R: Lucinda Riley

I discovered Lucinda through The Seven Sisters series, each book tells the story of one of the adopted sisters and how they discover their birth origins. The girls have lived a happy life altogether with their father and when he died he left them all a letter, a clue and coordinates to where from around the world he adopted them. It also goes back in history and tells the story of the sister’s ancestors. I highly recommend the series if you love historical fiction like me!

S: C.J.Sansom

I haven’t read all of his work yet but Dominion is one of my favourite books. It’s set in the 1950s except instead of going to war with Germany in 1939, Britain made a treaty with them instead. But there is a rebel force led by Churchill himself. We follow a government worker who has joined the resistance and his efforts to save a scientist from being discovered by the Nazis. This book made me so scared, but it is so clever, a must read.

S: Lemony Snicket

What a strange soul Lemony Snicket is, his books are quirky and brilliant in equal measure. I used to love A Series of Unfortunate Events when I was younger because it was so different to everything I had ever read.

T: Adrian Tchaikovsky

I first discovered this author when I read Children of Time which is set way in the future. Humanity has tried to reach out into the stars to find a place to live. They started terraforming selected planets and releasing our chimp ancestors down to those planets with a genetic accelerator so they evolve quicker. But the experiment is sabotaged. The last of humanity years later are stranded on a spaceship trying to find these planets, but what they find is more of a nightmare. One of the most interesting books I’ve read, it’s very clever and it even got me to like spiders for a while!

Top Five Tuesday – A-Z Authors

A new Top Five Tuesday, the prompts are created by Bionic Book Worm. This month’s topics are A-Z authors, this week it’s K-O. I did struggle with some of the letters this week!

K: Sue Monk Kidd

I discovered Sue Monk Kidd when I read The Secret Life of Bees a couple of summers ago. It was the perfect summer read, set in South Carolina in 1964, Lily and her ‘stand in mother’ Rosaleen go on the run when Rosaleen insults some horrible racists and faces a jail sentence. They find a place that Lily’s real mother visited, a safe place where three eccentric sisters look after bees. It’s such a profound story and you get to learn about bees!

L: C.S. Lewis

I used to love the Chronicles of Narnia, my favourite is of course The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the Pevensie children’s stories are the best of the bunch. I re-read some of them a while ago and they bring back a feeling of comfort and warmth. We still have my Mum’s set of books from when she was a child so they’re very precious.

M: Kate Morton

Possibly my favourite author ever! Every one of her books is beautiful, complex and full of brilliant characters. The first book I read was The Forgotten Garden which still remains my favourite, nothing can quite top my connection with the characters, especially Eliza Makepeace, a young girl from the early 1900s, a writer who was treated horribly by her family. The Lake House and The Clockmaker’s Daughter are some of my other favourites.

N: Naomi Alderman

I have only read one of her books but it is one of the most thought provoking books I’ve ever read. The Power is set both in the present and the future, young girls suddenly gain an ability to harness electricity and shock others, they realise they can awake this ability in women as well, evolution has worked in our favour to level the playing ground. But is a matriarchy any better? Humans are still violent and cruel at their core. This book really shook me, I want to read more of Naomi Alderman’s work.

P: Terry Pratchett

I couldn’t find anyone for O so I’ve chosen one of my favourite authors ever: Terry Pratchett. The world that he created is so chaotic, vibrant and funny, I couldn’t help but love the Discworld novels when I first discovered them. The first Pratchett book I read was The Carpet People which isn’t from the Discworld series but I still loved it. My favourites are probably Mort, Night Watch and Hogfather so far but I still have some left to read!

Top Five Tuesday- A-Z Authors

A new Top Five Tuesday, the prompts are created by Bionic Book Worm. This month’s topics are A-Z authors, this week it’s F-J:

F: Nicci French

I love this author, their books are all fictional crime, some are reall scary. They have a way of drawing you in. I recently finished reading their Frieda Klein series which spanned eight books. I still have a lot of books to read of theirs but I think one of my favourites is Beneath the Skin, it is pretty scary but very clever.

G: Philippa Gregory

Again one of my favourite authors, all historical fiction about the Tudors and the War of the Roses. My first book was The Other Boleyn Girl and reading what happened to Anne and how she was treated opened my eyes! Although it’s all fiction because it’s based on real people I feel as if it is fact. I love reading about the Wat of the Roses from the women’s point of view but I think my favourite is probably The Virgin’s Lover which is about Elizabeth and her love of Robert Dudley.

H: Robin Hobb

One of my favourite fantasy authors, I haven’t read all of Robin’s books yet but I really enjoyed the Farseer Trilogy and the world that it takes place in. The journey that Fitz goes on gave me Lord of the Rings vibes but it has everything fantasy needs, royalty, travels and some dragons!

I: Eva Ibbotson

I haven’t read her books in a while but I loved them when I was in my early teens. Journey to the River Sea was the first book I read by Eva Ibbotson and I loved how it transported me to the Amazon and all its jungle beauty. Some of my other favourites are A Company of Swans and A Countess Below Stairs, both are historical fiction centred around young girls trying to make their way in the world.

J: Liz Jenson

I’ve only read one of Liz Jenson’s books but it was so atmospheric it has stayed with me. The Rapture is set at the end of the world. Natural disasters are becoming more frequent. Gabrielle is a psychiatrist and one of her patients claims that electro shock therapy can help her predict the future. She can forsee the destruction to come. It’s a fascinating book about psychology and how humanity tries to cling to life.