Older/Classic books I want to read

There’s lots of focus on new/upcoming books that we’re excited about in the bookish community, however for this post I want to talk about some of the older or classic books out there I want to get round to reading one day.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

On a trip to the South of France, the shy heroine of Rebecca falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower. Although his proposal comes as a surprise, she happily agrees to marry him. But as they arrive at her husband’s home, Manderley, a change comes over Maxim, and the young bride is filled with dread. Friendless in the isolated mansion, she realises that she barely knows him. In every corner of every room is the phantom of his beautiful first wife, Rebecca, and the new Mrs de Winter walks in her shadow.

I actually read part of this years ago in a holiday cottage from their bookshelves but didn’t get chance to finish it before going home.

For whatever reason I never got round to finding another copy but I will do one day!

The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Severian, a torturer’s apprentice, is exiled from his guild after falling in love with one of his prisoners. Ordered to the distant city of Thrax, armed with his ancient executioner’s sword, Terminus Est, Severian must make his way across the perilous, ruined landscape of this far-future Urth. But is his finding of the mystical gem, the Claw of the Conciliator, merely an accident, or does Fate have a grander plans for Severian the torturer . . .

As a fantasy fan who started my fantasy journey with classic 80’s fantasy writers like Eddings, Brooks and Gemmell I’m not sure how I haven’t read any Wolfe yet but he’s a gap in my fantasy reading I’d love to fill.

Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again.

But one truth remains, and what mortal men forget, the Aes Sedai do not . . .

What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the shadow.

Another big gap in my fantasy reading, I have never read any of the Wheel of Time. To be honest the length of it is more than a little intimidating. However I would like to at least try the first one.

What older books are on your TBR lists?

Unread books from my bookshelf TBR

I’ve had the urge to buy more books over the last few days, but I have plenty on my shelves and kindle that are as yet unread. Some have been there a while and others are fairly new additions.

In a bid to stop myself buying more (I’m running out of bookshelf room) I pulled some off the shelf for a stack photo shoot.

All of them will be read at some point (some of them are even on June’s TBR list) and I’ve managed to resist buying more books today (I have an Illumicrate box on the way and some in pre-order so I’m not desperately in need of more anyway!)

Have you read any of these? What should I bump up my list?

Books publishing this year that I can’t wait to read. Part 1

There are so many great books due to be published later this year – both those that were always due then and those that have been pushed back.

I’m planning a series of short-ish posts looking at some of these books – the ones that have already made it into my TBR list.

First up, three books I’m super excited about and already have on pre-order

The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde

England, 2020.

There are 1.2 million human-sized rabbits living in the UK.

They can walk, talk and drive cars, the result of an Inexplicable Anthropomorphising Event fifty-five years ago.
And a family of rabbits is about to move into Much Hemlock, a cosy little village where life revolves around summer fetes, jam-making, gossipy corner stores, and the oh-so-important Best Kept Village awards.

No sooner have the rabbits arrived than the villagers decide they must depart. But Mrs Constance Rabbit is made of sterner stuff, and her family are behind her. Unusually, so are their neighbours, long-time residents Peter Knox and his daughter Pippa, who soon find that you can be a friend to rabbits or humans, but not both.

With a blossoming romance, acute cultural differences, enforced rehoming to a MegaWarren in Wales, and the full power of the ruling United Kingdom Anti Rabbit Party against them, Peter and Pippa are about to question everything they’d ever thought about their friends, their nation, and their species.

It’ll take a rabbit to teach a human humanity . . .

I’ve enjoyed all of Fforde’s previous books so was thrilled to hear a new one was coming this year. I’ve been incredibly lucky and have an ARC of this on my shelves. It’s going to be my next read and I’m excited to get to it.

The Constant Rabbit will be published in July.

Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered.

There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal.

Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: you graduate or you die.

El Higgins is uniquely prepared for the school’s many dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions – never mind easily destroy the countless monsters that prowl the school.

Except, she might accidentally kill all the other students, too. So El is trying her hardest not to use it… that is, unless she has no other choice.

The blogging community on Twitter informed me that this book was on the way this year. I really liked Novik’s Teneraire series and this one sounds fab.

A Deadly Education will be published in September

Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

No cover available for this one yet, in fact very little information at all. However it is the fifth Cormoran Strike novel and that’s pretty much all I needed to know. This series just keeps getting better and I can’t wait to read this one and catch up with Cormoran and Robin again.

Troubled Blood will be published in September.

Review: Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor #WyrdAndWonder

Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her ‘rabid fairy’, her ‘voodoo eyes’ are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or ‘Violin Boy’, her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself . . .

Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.

I absolutely adore this novella. It’s so, so lovely. Night of Cake and Puppets is the story of Mik and Zuzana’s first date – the date we don’t get to see in Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

It was absolutely the right call not to put it in the main trilogy – those focussed on Karou’s story, but I’m so glad we got to read it.

Karou gives Zuzana some scuppies (small wishes) to make her date magical and we follow Zuzana as she leads Mik on a magical treasure hunt around the city.

I love how Laini weaves this novella so seamlessly into the world and main story with a phone call between Zuzana and Karou that lets us know exactly where we are in Karou’s story as well.

Jim Di Bartolo’s illustrations are glorious and add to the notebook like feel of the story.

A beautiful, magical, romantic story that could be read as a stand alone but gains so much more in the context of the main series.

Review: Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre #WyrdAndWonder A SciFi book for Fantasy readers.

Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan–a race of sentient alien ships–to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

You might be wondering why I have tagged a clearly Science Fiction book in to Wyrd and Wonder which is after all a celebration of all things Fantasy. The answer is relatively simple – Honor Among Thieves is the perfect Science Fiction book for Fantasy readers.

Rather than complicated mechanical ships and lots of science ‘Honors’ gives us living sentient ships, almost like giant space whales, the Leviathan have distinct personalities. This makes them a lot more like the magical/sentient animals found in Fantasy books than a space vessel (even one with AI)

I loved Zara, she was strong, capable but also vulnerable in very believable ways. Her decisions always made sense and she developed over the course of the book.

Watching her build friendships with Nadim (the Leviathan she travels with) and co-Honor Bea was delightful. I loved the developing bond between Zara and Nadim, a bond that went past words but never seemed out of place.

There’s plenty of action to be had in this book as well. If you like genuinely strong female leads, action and friendships this a book you will love. I’ll definitely be reading the others in the trilogy.

With thanks to Harper360 for a copy in exchange for honest review.

Honor Among Thieves is available now.

Bookish Rainbow

Rainbows seem to be a constant and beautiful thing in our lives at the moment. My kids love spotting all the wonderful ones in windows when we go on a walk and we’ve made our own to go up as well.

Over the last week I have been playing with my needle felting supplies again as well and made a little rainbow bee. I decided he needed a rainbow to sit on as well so I made a bookish rainbow too.

Apparently I don’t have many yellow, orange or purple books. Whether that’s down to my reading preferences or publisher choices I’m not sure.

Pretty happy with the resulting photo though 🌈🐝

Five fantasy series that are great for beginners #WyrdAndWonder

For this post I wanted to share five fantasy series that I think are great for those starting the journey into reading fantasy books.

I’ve been reading fantasy books for almost long as I can remember – but I properly cut my fantasy teeth on my Dads copies of The Belgariad by David Eddings. For that reason it has to be on this list.

Long ago, the evil God Torak fought a war to obtain an object of immense power – the Orb of Aldur. But Torak was defeated and the Orb reclaimed by Belgarath the sorcerer.

Garion, a young farm lad, loves the story when he first hears it from the old storyteller. But it has nothing to do with him. Or does it? For the stories also tell of a prophecy that must be fulfilled – a destiny handed down through the generations.

And Torak is stirring again . . .

I know it’s an old series now, started in the early 1980’s but it still has all the elements of a classic ‘swords and sorcery’ fantasy story. The ideas that may seem a bit cliched now weren’t at the time this was written, the characters are well written with strong women as well as men among the cast. Join Garion, his Aunt Pol and friends on an epic quest and maybe the fantasy bug will grab you too.

A powerful necromancer plans to seize control of all things Magykal. He has killed the Queen and locked up the Extraordinary Wizard. Now with Darke Magyk he will create a world filled with Darke creatures. But the Necromancer made one mistake. A vital detail he has overlooked means there is a boy who can stop him – the only problem is, the boy doesn’t know it yet.

For the Heap family, life as they know is about to change, and the most fantastically fast-paced adventure of confused identities, magyk and mayhem, begin.

The Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage is another great starter fantasy series. Yes it is a series aimed at younger audiences but that doesn’t stop it being a cracking ‘coming of age’ fantasy series that sparks with magic.

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is a smallish Viking with a longish name. Hiccup’s father is chief of the Hairy Hooligan tribe which means Hiccup is the Hope and the Heir to the Hairy Hooligan throne – but most of the time Hiccup feels like a very ordinary boy, finding it hard to be a Hero.

In the first How to Train Your Dragon book Hiccup must lead ten novices in their initiation into the Hairy Hooligan Tribe. They have to train their dragons or be BANISHED from the tribe FOR EVER!

But what if Hiccup’s dragon resembles an ickle brown bunny with wings? And has NO TEETH? The Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus is stirring and wants to devour every Viking on the Isle of Berk . . .
Can Hiccup save the tribe – and become a Hero?

How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell is another superb fantasy series for those making the first steps in a fantasy reading journey. With a courageous young hero who doesn’t really feel that heroic at all and an abundance of dragons this series is worth a read whatever your age.

Don’t think you know these books if you’ve seen the movies, both are excellent but although similar in feel the books are very different – for one book Toothless is tiny and fits in Hiccup’s pocket.

If you like audiobooks I’d highly recommend these on audio as well – read by the wonderful David Tennant who really brings them to life.

Errand requiring immediate attention. Come.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, she sighed, but she gathered up her things.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has managed to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest thing she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in ‘Elsewhere’, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of a war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor was one of those brilliant series that had me reaching for the next booki as soon as I finished the previous one. A beautiful writing style and a great twist on angels/demons this trilogy is well worth a read.

Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old; finding a warmer berth in Nelson’s navy than any he enjoyed as the youngest, least important son of Lord Allendale. Rising on merit to captain his own vessel, Laurence has earned himself a beautiful fiancée, society’s esteem and a golden future. But the war is not going well. It seems Britain can only wait as Napoleon plans to overrun her shores.

After a skirmish with a French ship, Laurence finds himself in charge of a rare cargo: a dragon egg bound for the Emperor himself. Dragons are much prized: properly trained, they can mount a fearsome attack from the skies. One of Laurence’s men must take the beast in hand and join the aviators’ cause, thus relinquishing all hope of a normal life.

But when the newly-hatched dragon ignores the young midshipman Laurence chose as its keeper and decides to imprint itself on the horrified captain instead, Laurence’s world falls apart. Gone is his golden future: gone his social standing, and soon his beautiful fiancée, as he is consigned to be the constant companion and trainer of the fighting dragon Temeraire…

His Majesties Dragon series by Naomi Novik is an interesting mix of historical and fantastical. Such a brilliant premise – what would have happened during the Napoleonic Wars if both sides also had a Dragon fleet? The dragon lore in this series is well thought through and the mix of historical among the dragons makes this a good starting point for a novice fantasy reader. Although the series dips a bit in the middle the first few books in particular are gripping and the relationships between dragon and rider carry the rest. Temeraire is one of my absolute favourite dragon reads.

Have you read any of these? Which would you recommend to a fantasy novice?

Synopsis of books taken from Amazon.