Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I’ve Read in 2017 (So Far!)

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Best Books You’ve Read In 2017 So Far

It was suggested that we could break this topic down however we wanted – by genre, strictly 2017 releases, whatever! However I have kept it simple, here are my favourite books I have read, so far, this year (in the order in which I read them):

~ 1 ~

If You Want to Walk on Water You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg

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~ 2 ~

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

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~ 3 ~

My Lady Ludlow by Elizabeth Gaskell

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~ 4 ~

Seven Stages by Geoffrey Trease

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~ 5 ~

The People the Fairies Forget by Cheryl Mahoney

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~ 6 ~

Monstrous Little Voices edited by David Thomas Moore

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~ 7 ~

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

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~ 8 ~

Sandlands by Rosy Thornton

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~ 9 ~

First of the Tudors by Joanna Hickson

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~ 10 ~

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett

***

What are your favourite books of the year so far? Also, please link in the comments if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic too.

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I’ve Been Meaning to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Series I’ve Been Meaning To Start But Haven’t

This topic was originally done back in March 2013, long before I began taking part in this meme, so this is a new topic for me. While my list is perhaps not a mile long, there are many series I have been meaning to read for some time but I haven’t got round to, yet! Here are the ten series/trilogies that first came to mind (ordered alphabetically):

~ 1 ~

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

A young adult fantasy series that follows Artemis Fowl II, a criminal mastermind. It sounds right up my street. Sadly no one I know seems to have read it to have recommended or lent it to me.

~ 2 ~

The Cousins’ War by Philippa Gregory

Since watching the BBC’s brilliant adaptation, The White Queen (2013), I have wanted to read this popular historical series, set during the War of the Roses. Fortunately I am hoping to remedy this soon, as back in February I got my hands on five books from the series.

~ 3 ~

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb

For too long, Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book in this fantasy trilogy, has been sitting on my Kindle, forgotten! I think perhaps I need more of the books to give me the push I need to start reading, because otherwise this trilogy sounds exactly my kind of thing.

~ 4 ~

Fortunes of France by Robert Merle

Similarly, The Brethren, the first book in this epic historical series, has been sitting, neglected, on my TBR bookshelf. Sadly, shortly after receiving it, I read two not-so-glowing reviews of it which left me wondering if it was for me. Yet the only real way to find out is to read it!

~ 5 ~

The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan

After loving Riordan’s mythological Percy Jackson series, you would have thought it was a dead cert that I would move on to this series. However I tried The Kane Chronicles first, as I adore Ancient Egypt even more than Ancient Greece, but I was left feeling disappointed with its protagonists. And so this series fell by the wayside.

~ 6 ~

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Similarly, after enjoying The Mortal Instruments urban fantasy series, I hoped to move on to this, a fantasy trilogy, from the same author. For some reason though that hasn’t happened yet.

~ 7 ~

Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart

With my love of Arthurian legend and this author, I knew when I heard about this trilogy a few years ago that I wanted to read it. Fortunately back in April, I picked all three books up for a bargain on my Kindle, so I hope to start reading them very soon now; no excuse!

~ 8 ~

Miss Marple by Agatha Christie

Generally I need to read more of Christie’s classic, golden age mysteries! The very few I have read have been about her well loved, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and I know I really must give her equally well loved, detecting spinster Miss Marple a chance too.

~ 9 ~

Peter Grant/Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

This urban fantasy, crime series sounds right up my street, and I have book one, two and five on my TBR bookshelf…so no excuse really. Get reading Jessica!

~ 10 ~

Wolf Hall Trilogy by Hilary Mantel

Finally, but certainly not least we have this award winning historical trilogy, which I have wanted to read since watching the BBC’s amazing adaptation, Wolf Hall (2015). I have the first book on my TBR bookshelf, however I think the sheer length of it might be what’s putting me off starting it.

What series/trilogies have you been meaning to read? Also, please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic too.

Top Ten Tuesday: Literary Dads

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

Father’s Day related Freebie

With Father’s Day just around the corner, this is the perfect opportunity to celebrate dads in literature. As with my Mother’s Day Freebie last month, I have divided my list between five of my best and five of my worst dads; the latter of which I am really glad aren’t mine!

***** BEST *****

~ 5 ~

Ned Stark
A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin

First, I have gone for Ned Stark from Martin’s epic fantasy series, who impressively has six children with his wife Catelyn. Ned is a brave, noble and honourable man who has raised his children with love, respect and fairness. Sadly though he was just too honourable to last long in this deadly game!

~ 4 ~

Arthur Weasley
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Next, I have chosen Arthur Weasley, the muggle-obsessed patriarch of the Weasley clan from Rowling’s magical Harry Potter series. While his wife, Molly, clearly wears the trousers in their relationship, Arthur is a generous, big-hearted man who is adored by his wife and children.

~ 3 ~

Jo Gargery
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Next up is the simple, strong and big-hearted Jo Gargery from Dickens’ classic Great Expectations. Technically Jo is the brother-in-law to the tale’s hero Pip, but he loves and delights in Pip as if he was his son. Even when Pip really doesn’t deserve it, Jo patiently continues to love him and heartbreakingly bears his many slights.

~ 2 ~

The Father
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Almost making it to the top spot, I have ‘the father’ who is desperately trying to keep his young son alive in the dark, dangerous post-apocalyptic world of McCarthy’s The Road. It is both touching and harrowing to see the sheer lengths he will go to for his boy, and we never even learn his name.

~ 1 ~

Daniel Peggotty
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Top spot however had to go to Daniel Peggotty, the humble but generous fisherman from Dickens’ classic David Copperfield. Peggotty has raised, from a young age, his nephew Ham and his niece Emily as his own. What he lacks in money…he makes up for with a whole lot of love, compassion and an always open door. When his little Emily gets herself in trouble, he leaves all he’s ever known to scour Europe to bring her home.

***** WORST *****

~ 5 ~
Vernon Dursley
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

First, I have chosen Vernon Dursley the rude, bullying ‘muggle’ uncle of Rowling’s famous boy wizard: Harry Potter. This poor excuse for a dad has little-to-no patience or sympathy for his poor orphaned nephew. While, like his wife, he simpers and panders to his own son Dudley’s every whim, which turns him into an overweight, spoilt bully…pretty much a carbon copy of himself.

~ 4 ~

Denethor II
The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Next, I have chosen the mad, bad steward of Gondor, Denethor II, from Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy. Denethor has two sons, but love for only one. His eldest Boromir can do no wrong, whilst the younger Faramir can never do enough. This severe favouritism leads Faramir to take on a suicidal mission in sheer desperation to finally win his father’s love.

~ 3 ~

Franklin Plaskett
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Next, I have chosen Franklin Plaskett, the father of the eponymous Kevin from Shriver’s chilling novel. While his wife Eva is cold and distant to their son, Franklin is the complete, extreme opposite: blindly loving him and refusing to talk or reprimand him for any wrong-doing. They are both ultimately to blame for the monstrous act he goes on to do.

~ 2 ~

Mr Murdstone
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Also from Dickens’ classic David Copperfield, but in stark contrast to our winning Daniel Peggotty, we have David’s cruel stepfather, Mr Murdstone. An ambitious, selfish man, who manipulates his way into the heart of David’s young widowed mother. Then he tries to forcefully bend her to his will and exclude David from the new family he wishes to build, but he only succeeds in sending her to an early grave; leaving David at his brutal mercy.

~ 1 ~

Tywin Lannister
A Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin

Top spot had to go to Tywin Lannister, the cold, calculating force behind the rich, powerful House Lannister in Martin’s epic fantasy series. To a mind like his, his children are simply pawns in the game. He forces his daughter Cersei into a loveless marriage, her twin brother Jaime commits regicide for him and he completely shuns his youngest son Tyrion, because as a dwarf he is worthless to him. Bad dad doesn’t really cover it!

What do you think of my choices? What are your best and worst literary dads? Also, please link in the comments if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic too.

New Books: May – June 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, during May and a little into June I added these goodies to my Kindle and bookshelf:

Wendy Darling, Volume 3: Shadow by Colleen Oakes

By Blood Divided by James Heneage

Watling Street by John Higgs

During May, I was lucky enough to receive these three review copies via Netgalley. By Blood Divided and Watling Street were quite whim requests, however I have been waiting (not so patiently) for volume 3 to finish off Oakes’ Wendy Darling trilogy for a while.

Learn to Knit by Fiona Goble

Knitted Home Crafts by DK

At the end of May, I treated myself to these two beginner knitting books, which were going for a song in The Works. My nan taught me the basics of knitting as a child, but sadly I have never taken it much further – I thought these had some nice, simple home projects I could have a go at.

Death of a Gossip by M C Beaton

Death of a Cad by M C Beaton

Then, just sneaking into June, my dad treated me to the first two books in M C Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth series. He’d spotted a book he really wanted in The Works, and we all know you might as well go for the brilliant 3 for £5 deal in there! I really like Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series, so it should be fun to try her other famous crime series.

Do you fancy any of these? What new books have you got recently?

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

10 Books From X Genre That I’ve Recently Added To My TBR List

This topic was made very easy for me because, between February and now, I have had a large influx of historical fiction onto my to-be-read pile. So here are those new additions, in the order I added them to my TBR:

~ 1, 2, 3, 4 ~

The White Queen

The Red Queen

The Lady of the Rivers

The Kingmaker’s Daughter

by Philippa Gregory

Back in February, I was lucky enough to pick up all of the books from Gregory’s Cousins’ Wars series in The Works’ 3 for £5 deal! These are books I have really wanted to read since watching the BBC’s brilliant TV series, The White Queen (2013).

~ 5 ~

The Girl in the Glass Tower by Elizabeth Fremantle

Having previously loved Fremantle’s The Sister of Treasons, I was really pleased to be accepted for a copy of this, a newer novel about Arbella Stuart, via Netgalley in February.

~ 6 ~

The Shadow Queen by Anne O’Brien

Similarly, I have previously enjoyed several of O’Brien’s novels, so I was also pleased to be accepted for a copy of this, a new novel about Joan of Kent, via Netgalley in March.

~ 7, 8 ~

The Mistress of Blackstairs by Catherine Curzon

Dunstan by Conn Iggulden

Also in March, I received copies of Curson’s 18th century mystery and Iggulden’s novel set in Anglo-Saxon England via Netgalley. Both new-to-me authors, although I have heard a lot of good stuff about Iggulden.

~ 9 ~

The Murder of Mary Russell by Laurie R. King

In April, I was back in The Works and this time picked up this; one of the newer instalments in King’s Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes series. A series I really must continue with, after reading the first book, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, last year.

~ 10 ~

By Blood Divided by James Heneage

Then just last month, I received a copy of this via Netgalley. Heneage is a new-to-me author, but I couldn’t resist this epic tale of the clash of the Roman and Ottoman empires.

Are there any genres you have added a lot of to your TBR recently? Also, please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic too.

Tough Travels: Non-Human Heroes

Tough Travels is a monthly meme hosted by Fantasy Faction, which, inspired by The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones, spotlights each month a different fantasy trope for us to compile lists and have fun with. Last month we discussed ASSASINS. This month’s topic is:


NON-HUMAN HEROES

The Tough Guide assures us that HEROES are ‘mythical beings, often selected at birth, who perform amazing deeds of courage, strength and magical mayhem, usually against all odds.’ Furthermore, ‘if you get to meet a so-called Hero, she/he always turns out to be just another human, with human failings, who has happened to be in the right place at the right time (or the wrong place at the wrong time, more likely)’.

HOWEVER. For good or for evil, some of fantasy’s most memorable Heroes are not human at all. Some look human, but aren’t. Others may look monstrous, but be ‘human’ on the inside. Others still never pretend to be anything other than what they are – and why should they? In nearly all cases, we are likely to Learn Something from them – usually that appearances can be deceiving, or that the concepts of both ‘Human’ and ‘Hero’ are entirely subjective’

Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland


This is another topic that I missed the first time round, therefore it is great to have another chance to have a go at it. Especially as I love a non-human hero…particularly if they are a cute, furry, talking animal! Here are a few of my favourites (this is by no means an exhaustive list…I could of gone on and on):

Bilbo Baggins
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

If you read this blog regularly, then you probably saw this one coming. I adore this book! Bilbo may look like a small human or child, but he is in fact a hobbit: small, curly-haired, pointy eared creatures, with big hearts and appetites to match. This little hero leaves his comfortable hobbit-hole for a magical adventure to claim back the dwarves’ long lost home from a dreadful dragon.

**********

Reepicheep
The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis

The Chief Mouse of Narnia is small, furry and rather cute, but don’t be fooled he is famed for his courage and deadly skill with a rapier. We first meet him in Prince Caspian, when he fights for the young prince and later in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when he travels with the now young king to the end of the world, where he bravely continues on alone to Aslan’s Country; the last big adventure.

**********

Remus Lupin
Harry Potter series by J K Rowling

In Harry’s third year at Hogwarts, we are introduced to his third new Professor of the Dark Arts: Remus Lupin. He is a clever, patient, compassionate and highly skilled wizard, however as a child he was attacked and turned into a werewolf. Yet he never lets this stop him. Instead using his curse to infiltrate a dangerous werewolf gang and he is selfless to the end.

**********

Oy
The Dark Tower series by Stephen King

Finally but certainly not least, we have Oy the talking billy-bumbler: a small, furry animal akin to a cross between a dog and a raccoon. We first meet him in the third book in the series, The Waste Land, where he quickly steals hearts. He is not just small and cute, but also fiercely loyal and will lay his life down for his friends. I so wish that billy-bumblers were real!

**********

What non-human heroes can you think of? Please link in the comments below if you have taken part in this month’s topic too.

Come back next month for: ADEPTS.

Goodbye May, Hello June 2017

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? May has been a mixed bag of a month. At the beginning, I enjoyed a weekend on the south coast to celebrate my brother’s birthday, but it was followed by miserable late-April showers. While the month ended with a glorious week of sunshine, I managed to cut my finger badly and was left feeling rather sorry for myself! Fortunately my poorly finger couldn’t stop me reading, here is what I read:

Fiction: 4          Non-Fiction: 1

It was a busy time for me at the beginning of May, when I picked up Monstrous Little Voices edited by David Thomas Moore, a wonderful collection of stories with elements of war, romance, magic and deception, which was perfect to squeeze in when I had a moment or two. Then when the weather took a turn for the worst, I indulged in a comforting re-read of Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley by M C Beaton, the fourth book in Beaton’s long-running, cosy-crime series.

As the sun emerged later in the month, I finally found myself in the mood for the wonderfully atmospheric My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier. It was back in March, I actually started reading this, however I read the majority of it in a matter of days! At the same time, I had on the go the lighter read of Class of ’59 by John A. Heldt, a nostalgic, time travel romance. Which also covered nicely the ‘title with a number in numbers in’ for the What’s in a Name 2017 challenge. My full thoughts on these two books are still to be posted.

Alongside these fictions, I also continued my unintentional US president theme by reading the short non-fiction The Cuban Missile Crisis: A Very Brief History by Mark Black.

Pick of the Month: My Cousin Rachel 

Altogether that is five books read, which is a good amount for me. I have also continued to intermittently listen to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and dipped in and out of the memoir Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham. While at the end of the month, I started reading the Italian classic Sandokan, The Tigers of Mompracem by Emilio Salgari and the short story collection Sandlands by Rosy Thornton.

In June, I am looking forward to a trip to the wonderful Butterfly Farm and going to see Puccini’s opera Madam Butterfly; honestly this butterfly theme was not planned! And, of course, I look forward to more reading, in particular for my 10 Books of Summer challenge.

What did you do and read in May? What are your plans for June?