Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2021

Hello lovely people,

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday post in a while but had been already planning a post on this weeks topic, my Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2021, so I actually got myself organised and converted my scrawled list of books into an actual post.

I have to confess I’ve been a little bit wary of doing another most anticipated list as it seems to be the kiss of death for the books I include. I think around half of the books on my previous list turned out to be something of a disappointment. I didn’t hate them, they just didn’t live up to expectations. Anyway, I’m giving it another go with a list of twelve books I’m fairly confident I’ll enjoy.

  • A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram #2) by Darynda Jones – Darynda Jones’ books are like drugs to me, they are so addictive. I didn’t love the first book in this new series as much as I hoped (I spent too much time comparing to the Charley Davidson books) but I do still have high hopes that book 2 will push the story on.
  • Isn’t It Bromantic? (Bromance Bookclub #4) by Lyssa Kay Adams – I am loving this series about a group of guys trying to fix their relationships by reading romance novels. Can’t wait to read the Russian’s story particularly as it sounds like a fake relationship / friends to lovers kind of a story.
  • The Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient #3) by Helen Hoang – Another series I’ve been loving. Not sure what it says about me but I have a definite affinity to romcoms with autistic characters.
  • Here’s To Us (What If It’s Us #2) by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli – I will read anything Silvera or Albertalli write and I think What If It’s Us was one of my favourite books of 2018 (wow how has it been 3 years between books). I love
  • Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Saenz – I was pretty surprised when I heard there was a sequel but I am here for it. I very much enjoyed the first book and am keen to catch up with the characters
  • Aurora’s End (Aurora Cycle #3) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – I need to know how it ends. I just hope the answer is not in the title.
  • Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer – Another author I love, I’ve read her contemporary novels and her fantasy and every single one has been wonderful. I think Kemmerer is not on my auto buy author list.
  • Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber – The author’s Caraval series had a bit of a shaky start but I feel like each book Garber writes is better than the previous so I have high hopes for Once Upon A Broken Heart. It doesn’t hurt that it’s about one of my favourite characters, Jacks, from the series.
  • Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff – I’ve somehow ended up pre ordering two copies of this (a Waterstones one and a Goldsboro edition) so I think we can safely say I really want to read it. I do love a vampire novel and Jay Kristoff is a brilliant writer so yeah *crosses fingers*
  • 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard – I seem to be buying into the hype on this one as I can’t really remember what it’s about, have never read anything by the author before and yet have heard so many good things about it I can’t wait to get my mitts on it.
  • The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin – It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything by Ian Rankin and I feel like I haven’t been reading much in the way of police procedurals so this fits the bill.
  • The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen – I do love the author’s writing but have to confess that cover is probably what’s drawing me to this book the most. I don’t even really care what it’s about.

So that’s twelve of the books I’m most looking forward to over the remainder of 2021. Are any of these on your most anticipated list? Is there a book that should be on this list (I’m positive I’ve missed something)? Please leave links and comments.

Happy Reading


Favourite Reads of 2020

Hello lovely people,

I know, I know, I’m a little bit late posting my list of favourite reads but I have to confess that I did not do very well with tracking or reviewing books last year so figuring out what I’d actually read during the year took a little bit of investigating. There are very possibly some great books missing for which I can only apologise but these are the ones that, looking back over my year, were the standouts.

RomCom / Contemporary

I read a LOT of romcom and contemporary novels in 2020, at one point it was pretty much the only kind of book I could even remotely focus on, and I discovered some truly brilliant stories.

  • The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez – This was one of those stories that made me laugh and cry but most of all it made me smile. It just made me happy. Is it perfect? Probably not. Is it a book I’ll read again? Absolutely! (review)
  • He Will Be Mine by Kirsty Greenwood – This story of a virtual admin assistant from a small town in England who decides that her soulmate is a famous Hollywood actor is absolutely ridiculous but such good fun and packed full of laughs. It’s the perfect bit of escapism. (review)
  • Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert – I read and loved both of the Brown Sister books during 2020 but the first one Get A Life, Chloe Brown marginally pipped Take a Hint, Dani Brown as my favourite. I think there was just something about Chloe I found that little bit more relatable (not entirely sure what this says about me) and I loved the relationship between her and Red.

More RomCom / Contemporary

  • The Roommate by Rosie Danan – This was one of those random NetGalley picks that turned out to be such a brilliant read. It’s funny, it’s steamy, there is a lot of chemistry between the leads but it also has a more serious and deeper side to it.
  • Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane – Another book with hidden depths. It’s laugh out loud funny in places but it also deals with some more serious issues. McFarlane’s writing is wonderful and she creates people and places that feel incredibly real.
  • Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall – I’d read a lot of rave reviews of this so it was one I had high expectations for and it did not disappoint. I do love an opposites/enemies to lovers kind of a story and this was just what I needed.

Contemporary / Literary

  • The Shelf by Helly Acton – I read a few reality TV themed books during the year but this story about a woman dumped by her boyfriend live on TV before being thrown into a house with a group of women to learn how to be a better wife/girlfriend and get off The Shelf, was definitely the standout. I loved how it played on the stereotypes and while it sometimes ventured a little too far, I liked the message behind it. It also had quite a few moments that made me laugh
  • Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid – I wasn’t wholly convinced I’d get on with this book, it seemed a little too serious for 2020, but I ended up loving it. I loved how real and identifiable the characters are and I liked how it covered a lot of issues around race from the perspective of different women.
  • My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – This was a really quick and easy read but it was an addictive one and not at all what I was expecting. The style is unusual, jumping around in time and place, with short chapters but it really worked for me. I’m not sure I liked the ending but other than that it was brilliant.

Thriller / Mystery

I read very few mystery or thrillers this year as I didn’t have the focus for them but there were a few that had me completely hooked.

  • The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean – Technically this was published in January 21 but I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advance copy so read it in 2020. Given the subject I probably can’t describe it as enjoyable but it’s dark, disturbing and full of tension. It’s one of those books that’s completely unique and impossible to put down. Will Dean’s writing is just brilliant and I plan on working through his back list this year.
  • I Am Dust by Louise Beech – Part ghost story, part murder mystery and part historical, this book absolutely blew me away. It’s emotional, a little bit creepy and full of twists and turns.
  • The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – My first book by Ware and I loved it. Loosely based on The Turn of the Screw it’s an atmospheric read that I found genuinely creepy at times. I’m not generally a fan of the unreliable narrator trope (it’s been done to death) but in this it worked incredibly well and I loved all of the little reveals along the way.

SciFi / Fantasy

  • Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – I finally finished the Illuminae Files and while I loved all three books I think Gemina was my favourite. There were a few too many characters in Obsidio for me and an awful lot going on. I absolutely loved Nik from the start. I wasn’t as keen on Hanna but she really grew on me and I loved the relationship/banter between them.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas – I think I may be the last reader on the planet to pick up the ACOTAR series but I make a point never to read different series by the same author at the same time and I’ve been stuck at the final ToG book for two years. Anyway, I finally decided to stop waiting and start reading and binge read all three books in this series in a week. Again I absolutely loved the series but I think book 2 was my favourite. I wasn’t really buying the romance in book 1 and book 3 was a little drawn out.
  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells – I’ve had the Murderbot Diaries on my wishlist for a while so as soon as the price came down a bit (why is this series so expensive?) I snapped it up and read immediately. It lived up to and possibly exceeded expectations.

Non Fiction Audiobooks

My craving for the real in 2020 led to me picking up some books I’d never otherwise have given a second look in any other year and I discovered that actually I kind of like listening to non fiction on audio.

  • Ayoade on Top by Richard Ayoade – Richard Ayoade takes a deep dive into Gwyneth Paltrow film View From the Top. It’s the most ridiculous idea and subject for a book but it’s also possibly the funniest thing I’ve ever listened to. I was literally crying I was laughing so much.
  • Quite by Claudia Winkleman – I quite like TV presenter Claudia Winkleman so I couldn’t resist her first venture into writing. I’m not entirely sure how to describe this, there are some anecdotes about her life but it’s not really a memoir as such. It’s more her opinions and advice on living your best life. It’s funny, it’s insightful and there was one chapter that made me cry.
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes – I have to admit to knowing next to nothing about Shonda Rhimes before picking up this book. The only thing I did know was that she was behind a lot of my favourite TV shows. I did however find her surprisingly relatable and found this story about her pushing herself out of her comfort zone and saying yes uplifting and motivating.

So those were some of my favourite reads of last year. I am absolutely positive I have missed something off the list and will no doubt think of it later but so be it. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Are there any similar books you’d recommend I pick up in 2021? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Reading


Top 10 Tuesday: 2021 Most Anticipated Reads (Jan-Jun)

Hello lovely people,

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday post in a while but I was already planning a post on this week’s topic, Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2021, so the timing worked out perfectly.

2021 is looking like a bumper year for new books so I had some difficulty narrowing my list down to just 10 books. I’ve therefore been a bit of a cheat and included 12. These are all books currently sitting on my wish list, that I haven’t managed to get my hands on an advance copy of (as yet).

  • Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert (9 March) – The first two books in the Brown Sisters series were amongst my favourite reads of 2020 so I am really looking forward to sister no.3’s book. It sounds like an opposites attract kind of story and I am there for it. I love an uptight control freak meets flighty hot mess story.
  • Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne (13 April) – While The Hating Game is one of my all time favourite reads I did very much enjoy Thorne’s second book and have been anxiously awaiting a third. This promises quirky characters and lot of fun.
  • People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (11 May) – Ooh a best friends to lovers story, another of my favourite romance tropes. If it’s anything like the Beach Read we can also probably expect a little more depth and emotion than your standard romcom.
  • A Vow so Bold & Deadly by Bridget Kemmerer (26 Jan) – I feel like I’ve been waiting forever to find out how this series will end, the cliffhanger at the end of book 2 was an absolute killer. I adore Kemmerer’s writing and love the characters she creates.
  • A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas (16 Feb) – I am probably the only person in the world who only recently read the first three ACOTAR books but I’m so glad I waited so I could enjoy a good binge read. I do however still need more and am looking forward to seeing more of Nesta.
  • Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo (30 March) – Confession time, I’m including this on the list even though I haven’t actually read the first part of this duology, King of Scars. But, it’s Bardugo, it has one of my favourite characters front and centre and means I can read the full duology in one go.
  • Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (25 May) – It’s a new Taylor Jenkins Reid book, do I need to say anything else? I don’t even care what it’s about, if she writes it I will read it.
  • Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez (6 April) – The Happy Ever After Playlist was another of my favourite reads last year. It made me laugh, it made me cry but most of all it made me smile. I suspect I’m going to need another book like that by April.
  • Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane (1 April) – I love McFarlane’s books, they always sound like regular fluffy romcoms but there’s so much more depth and emotion to them.
  • The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers (18 Feb) – I don’t always find Chambers books to be easy to get into, I find I have to be in the right mood to read them, but I’ve loved every book she’s written so far.
  • Near the Bone by Christina Henry (13 April) – My list is looking awfully light on horror so a monster in the woods story from Henry should balance it out nicely. April does seem a bit of a strange time for this kind of read but what the heck.
  • Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (4 May) – I suspect this is another story I’m going to have to be in the right mood for, previous books by Weir have been a little techie for me, but he does know how to write a great story

So that’s ten twelve of the books I’m most looking forward to in 2021. Are any of these on your most anticipated list? Is there a book that should be on this list (I’m positive I’ve missed something)? Please leave links and comments.

Happy Reading


Spooktober 2020 TBR

Hello lovely people, can you believe it’s October already? I can’t. This year has both dragged and flown by. I guess living through a global pandemic creates some kind of time distortion field. Anyway, in the grand honored tradition (started last year when I forgot to do a Fall TBR), October means it’s time for a Spooktober TBR (yeah I forgot again).

I’ve been struggling to read pretty much anything that’s not a romcom or contemporary recently but I’m feeling pretty excited about dipping into some creepy tales this month. There have been a lot of exciting new releases in the last couple of months and I’ve managed to get my hands on some advance copies too so by combining these with some of the backlist titles that have been lurking on my bookshelves for way too long I think I’ve managed to come up with a pretty good list. I’ve got ghosts, magic, monsters, murder, the devil and maybe even the odd zombie.

So without further ado…


Seriously, how good do these look? Narrowing it down to just 10 was not easy and there is a 50/50 chance I’ll make some substitutions but I’m hoping I can get to most of them. Have you read any of these books, if so what did you think? Any others you’d recommend? Leave comments and rec’s below.

Happy reading and don’t have nightmares.

Ali x

Season’s Readings : 6 Books Perfect for Christmas

I have to confess that I mostly read Christmas themed books in the summer rather than during the festive period (I’m usually sick of it all by the time it actually arrives….bah humbug) but as it’s Christmas Eve Eve I thought it might be nice to post a list of some of my favorite Christmas reads.

These are books that are full of Festive spirit (no not eggnog) and just make me laugh and smile. So here we go…

My Christmas Book Recommendations


Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (My Review)

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Dash & Lily, #1)

I only read this for the first time last year but I think it’s possibly my all time favorite Christmas read. I swear I ended up highlighting about half the book. It’s about a boy (Dash) who finds a notebook left by a girl (Lily) in a bookstore daring whoever finds it to undertake a series of tasks. On completing the dare the boy returns the book with a dare for Lily and so begins a series of adventures across New York for both of them as they pass the notebook back and forward.

This is such a brilliant story. It’s hilariously funny (don’t read in public), super Christmassy and just so, so cute. There is a sequel, The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily, which is not quite as good but still worth a read.

What Light by Jay Asher (My Review)

What Light

This doesn’t have the impact of Asher’s more famous book 13 Reasons Why but as far as YA Christmas romances go it’s very well done. Unusually for a YA read the main character is not boy mad, is sensible, mature and has a wonderful relationship with her parents. She doesn’t want a boy to drag her down and at the first sign of trouble is willing to bail.

She’s a good girl who gets involved with a boy with a bad reputation but she goes in with her eyes wide open and trusts her own instincts rather than believing every rumor. This probably isn’t as much of a happy cheery read as some of the others on this list but it is candy cane sweet and packed full of the festive spirit.

My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins (My Review)

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

Let’s face it things can be a bit hectic at Christmas with all of the shopping and cleaning, spending time with family and friends and just generally falling into some kind of food coma after eating too much. This collection of twelve YA Christmas themed short stories is perfect for when you want to read but can’t find much more than a few minutes here or there.

There’s a really good mix of stories from some of the best YA authors including Holly Black, Ally Carter and Laini Taylor. My personal favorites however are Midnights by Rainbow Rowell and It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins. Both are super cute and very, very sweet.

Christmas at Tiffany’s by Karen Swan

Christmas at Tiffany's

Despite the cover and title I have to admit this isn’t really a Christmas themed book but I love it so I’m including it.

After Cassie is betrayed by her husband she decides to leave their home and spend a year staying with each of her three best friends in New York, Paris and London while trying to figure out who she is and what she wants to do with her life.

What I love about this book is how you get a real sense of every city Cassie stays in and how she re invents herself in each place, throwing herself into new experiences. The romance is a bit of a slow burn but it’s very sweet and a certain someone is one of my favorite book boyfriends.

Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan (My Review)

Miracle on 5th AvenueSarah Morgan is the queen of Christmas romances for me and I think Miracle on 5th Avenue is probably my all time favorite book of hers. It has all of my favorite tropes, a hopeless romantic who loves all things Christmas but is all alone, a grumpy writer trying to get over an ex and avoid the holidays, New York, snow and a lot of chemistry.

I do love an opposites attract type story and Morgan does them so well. The highlight of this story was definitely the banter between them and the whole story just left me with such a big smile on my face.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol

Obviously I had to include this in my list. It’s a classic for a reason and if like me you’ve always been intimidated by Dickens at just over 100 pages it’s not too scary and can be read in an hour or two.

I’m assuming everyone knows the story but I have to admit that having only seen the various TV and film adaptations it was different than I thought it was going to be and not nearly as hard going as I expected. I’m actually kind of tempted to make an attempt at a longer Dickens this year but as I’m currently listening to Frankenstein probably not immediately.

So that’s my Christmas book recommendations. Have you read any of these or are there any I’ve convinced you to try? Do you have a Christmas themed book you read faithfully every year? Or are you a bit of a Grinch like me and try to find the least Christmassy book you can?

Let’s chat.

Rubber Ducks, Frogs, Elephants and Elegant Hedgehogs – Ten Books with Rather Unique Titles

The theme for this weeks Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and the Bookish is ten books with unique titles. This topic is absolutely perfect for me as I absolutely love weird and quirky books and that starts with the title. I have been known to buy books purely based on a bizarre title or cover. It’s a shockingly bad way to pick books but it has led to some brilliant discoveries. Anyway, these are some of the most unusual titles I’ve come across, some I’ve read, others are on my TBR.

1 Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks by Chris Brookmyre

Attack Of The Unsinkable Rubber Ducks

Do you believe in ghosts? Do we really live on in some conscious form after we die, and is that form capable of communicating with the world of the living?…Aye, right. 

That was Jack Parlabane’s stance on the matter, anyway. But this was before he found himself in the more compromising position of being not only dead himself, but worse: dead with an exclusive still to file.

From his position on high, Parlabane relates the events leading up to his demise, largely concerning the efforts of charismatic psychic Gabriel Lafayette to reconcile the scientific with the spiritual by submitting to controlled laboratory tests. Parlabane is brought in as an observer, due to his capacities as both a sceptic and an expert on deception, but he soon finds his certainties crumbling and his assumptions turned upside down as he encounters phenomena for which he can deduce no rational explanation. Perhaps, in a world in which he can find himself elected rector of an esteemed Scottish university, anything truly is possible.

One thing he knows for certain, however: Death is not the end – it’s the ultimate undercover assignment.

I could have filled the whole top ten with books by Chris Brookmyre (I haven’t, in case you’re worried) as all of his earlier books had very unusual titles. This is book five in the Jack Parlabane series and is probably the last one before the titles became kinda boring (Black Widow, Want You Gone). I miss his older books but I get the feeling the odd titles were putting people off, particularly outwith the UK.

2 A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares

From the author of Our Chemical Hearts comes the hilarious, reality-bending tale of two outsiders facing their greatest fears about life and love one debilitating phobia at a time.

Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.

The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them. 

Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces, and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares. 

Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.

This is one of the books I picked based on the cover (there’s a lobster, a lobster!!!) and a title that’s a little different. As it turns out the whole book is a little bit different but absolutely brilliant. It’s all about dealing with anxiety and other issues. The way it’s written is a bit quirky but it’s actually one of the most realistic portrayals I’ve come across. There’s definitely a lot to relate to.

3 The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts by Louis de Bernieres

The War Of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts

Louis de Bernières’s sardonic pen has concocted a spicy olla podrida of a novel, set in a fictitious Latin American country, with all the tragedy, ribaldry, and humor Bernières can muster from a debauched military, a clueless oligarchy, and an unconventional band of guerrillas. There’s a plague of laughing, a flood of magical cats, and a torture-happy colonel. The cities, villages, politics, and discourse are an inspired amalgam of Latin Americana, but the comedy, horror, adventure, and vibrant individuals are pure de Bernières.

This masterpiece, the first of a trilogy, is followed by Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord, and The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman.

It’s been a long time since I read this, I went on a de Bernieres spree after reading Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, but from memory it was an enjoyable read. Like all of his books there were some long waffly bits that I’m pretty sure I skimmed over but other parts I loved. My favorite book in the trilogy is however Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord. It has a much more interesting story.

4 The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell

The Ragged Trousered PhilanthropistsThe Ragged Trousered Philanthropists tells the story of a group of working men who are joined one day by Owen, a journeyman-prophet with a vision of a just society. Owen’s spirited attacks on the greed and dishonesty of the capitalist system rouse his fellow men from their political quietism. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is both a masterpiece of wit and political passion and one of the most authentic novels of English working class life ever written

I’m supposed to be reading this right now for my real life book club but so far I haven’t made it past the prelude. I suspect the title is the most interesting thing about this book as that blurb really doesn’t appeal. I was having a very funny chat on Friday with another member of the club who’s made it to 20% and absolutely hates it. It’s written the way the working class apparently spoke so the spelling is interesting to say the least. H’s seem to be dropped from words they should be in and added to words beginning with a vowel.

5 The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

The Elegance of the HedgehogRenée is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building, home to members of the great and the good. Over the years she has maintained her carefully constructed persona as someone reliable but totally uncultivated, in keeping, she feels, with society’s expectations of what a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Renée passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. 
Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Renée lives resigned to her lonely lot with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever. 

Another real life book club book and another book I was not a fan of. It was funny watching the library assistant’s face when I asked if I could reserve a copy of this (I think she asked me the title three times) but that was pretty much all I liked about it. Far too heavy on philosophy and too light on action for me. Plus the whole 12 year old planning her suicide storyline really annoyed me.

6 Oz the Schnoz and the Elephant Rebellion by Nick Pirog

Oz the Schnoz and the Elephant RebellionOz Wimbly is fat, slow, has a huge nose and is an easy target for the bullies of his school. One day Oz gets a letter, he has been drafted into the ‘Elephant Rebellion.’ Oz is whisked off to Fort Loxo, located in a galaxy far from ours, and learns he is an elephant that has been hidden on Earth. Oz, along with a fledgling cast of other kid elephants, tries to survive ten weeks of Basic Training. But Oz soon finds out the grueling hours of PT, the obstacle courses, the krams, the Top Trunk tournament, and the thousands of push-ups are preparing them for battle. Ten of them will be chosen for the most dangerous mission ever attempted by the Rebellion. To retrieve the Firestones. And possibly win back their planet. And it might all just be up to Oz. 

I love Nick Pirog, his books are always full of humor and have that something a little bit out there about them. They shouldn’t work but somehow they do. I have to confess this is the only book of his I haven’t read but it’s definitely on my TBR.

7 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely FineEleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

From elephants to an Oliphant. I love this book sooo much I had to put it on the list. The title is maybe not that unique at the moment, there seem to be a lot of people who are fine or not OK but her name is pretty unique so I’m sneaking it in.

8 A Girl’s Guide to Kissing Frogs by Victoria Clayton

A Girl's Guide To Kissing FrogsA girl may have to kiss some frogs before she finds her Prince Charming, but Marigold has found herself a real toad. On her way to becoming a prima ballerina, she is bent over backwards – literally – working her way to the top. But a painful fall sends her limping back home, where an old friend is ready to sweep her off her feet.

OK yeah there are quite a few Girl’s Guides around at the moment but are they about kissing frogs? This is another one I’m sneaking onto the list because I love it so much. It is pretty much just a romance and not a lot happens but there are some very eccentric characters, some ballet dancing, a whole gothic castle type bit and a lot of commentary on class, manners and education.

9 The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and VirtueHenry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

I suppose if girls are getting guides it’s only fair that gentlemen get one too 🙂 I haven’t read this yet but I really, really want to it’s just sooo expensive and I have lots of books I haven’t read so can’t justify buying it. Unless y’all tell me it’s brilliant and a masterpiece and then I’ll have to buy it.

10 The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him — something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn’t she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd’s gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

Another book I absolutely love and adore and would marry and have its babies if I could. I have however only read it once as it’s far too much of an emotional rollercoaster to read again.

So that’s my top ten books with unique titles. Have you read any of these or have I tempted you to pick them up? What’s the most unique title you’ve come across?

Feel free to leave comments below and links to your own top ten’s.

9 Unforgettable stories about characters who can’t remember

The theme for this weeks Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and the Bookish is ten books that feature characters __________ which fits pretty well with a post I already had planned about books dealing with memory loss or amnesia.

I’m not sure if this is just my general oddness but to me there has always been something compelling about stories with characters suffering from amnesia or memory loss. It’s one of those plotlines that I literally can’t resist. Just put the words memory or amnesia in the blurb and I’m in. It just raises so many fascinating questions and ideas for me. How much of who you are is determined by your memories and experiences and would you be different without them? Is it better to remember painful experiences or would you prefer to forget? What happens if you can’t remember things? Will it drive you nuts or could you just move past it?

Wait, where was I again??

Anyway, I thought it would be fun (mostly for me tbh) to do a post about the books I’ve read with characters suffering from memory loss or amnesia. I haven’t necessarily loved all of them but they’ve definitely fascinated me. I should say that this post is spoiler free so I’ve deliberately excluded any books where the amnesia thing gives away a plot twist.


Originally I didn’t think there were many YA stories about characters who’ve lost their memory but when I started to think about it turns out there are quite a few. Secret pasts, repressed memories are actually pretty common tropes and even as I’m writing this another couple of books have popped into my head but I thought I’d go with a couple of recent reads.

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora Banks

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

This is an absolutely brilliant book and one of my favorites this year. Main character Flora can’t retain any new memories for more than a few hours so has to constantly leave herself notes for even the most basic information. The story is a little repetitive as you’re inside her head but there’s something very likeable about Flora that makes it an irresistible read

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

We Were Liars

We are the Liars.

We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.

We are cracked and broken.

A story of love and romance.

A tale of tragedy.

Which are lies?

Which is truth?

You decide.

I’m not giving anything much away when I say that central to the plot is the fact that the main character has no memory of a specific event. I’m saying no more than this as it’s a book you really need to go into blind like I did and pretty much everything is a spoiler. What I will say is that this is a brilliant book and was completely different from what I expected it to be.

Science Fiction

Let’s face it they’ve been mucking around with people’s memories in sci fi since the very beginning and you could probably come up with a hundred books fairly easily but I’m limiting myself to just one that really fascinated me.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)

 If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

OK safe to say this is not my favorite book (I struggled) but the best thing about it is that absolutely no one remembers anything from their life prior to entering the Glade. They don’t know where they are, why they are there or even who they are. I loved this idea of mass memory loss and the impact it has on group dynamics.

New Adult

I don’t think I’ve come across too many new adult books with this as a storyline, off the top of my head I can only think of a couple and one is a spoiler so I’ll just stick with the one.

Never, Never by Colleen Hoover & Tarynn Fisher

Never Never (Never Never, #1)

Best friends since they could walk. In love since the age of fourteen.

Complete strangers since this morning.

He’ll do anything to remember. She’ll do anything to forget.

This is actually a series of three novella’s rather than one book and parts one and two are absolutely brilliant (part three is a disappointment). It’s about two teens who suddenly have no memory of who they are. Again I love the who are you when you can’t remember aspects of this story and it also asks the question if you weren’t a nice person is it better leave your memories lost.


Amnesia is definitely becoming a pretty common trope in thrillers too, and I totally blame the first book below:

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Before I Go To Sleep‘As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me …’ Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine’s life.

This is probably one of the first thrillers I remember reading with a character suffering from memory loss and it’s a truly gripping story. Every morning Christine wakes up with no memory of anything past her childhood. What’s most fascinating about this is the reliance you have on what others tell you and how open to manipulation this leaves you.

In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

I absolutely love Tana French books. They aren’t particularly fast paced but they are fascinating in how deeply they go into the character’s minds. In this, the first Dublin Murder Squad book, the lead detective Rob Ryan has a hole in his memory. You might think that as it’s from his childhood he will have learned how to deal with it but it just eats away at him and he begins to unravel. Not so great for him, brilliant to read.

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

All Is Not Forgotten

You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime.

Jenny’s wounds have healed.
An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack.
She is moving on with her life.

That was the plan. Except it’s not working out.
Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.
And she’s getting worse.
Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial.

It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack.

This is pretty much the opposite of the previous book in that rather than trying to remember a traumatic event a deliberate decision is made to forget one. Unfortunately though even though the memory is gone there is still something not right which raises the question can you ever really move on if you don’t deal with trauma?

Romance/Chick Lit

Not a very common trope in romance/chick lit although it was actually a romance read in my teens that started my obsession with memory loss (thanks Gran).

Before I Forget by Melissa Hill

Before I ForgetAbby’s memories are her most precious thing. Even though they’re sometimes painful, she can’t stop herself looking back, reliving the love of her life. Until a freak accident means that she could lose it all: every memory and experience she has ever had. Abby can’t believe it’s true. She feels fine. She is fine. How could she possibly forget all those moments that make her who she is? She’s determined to fight it. With the help of her friends and family, Abby makes a list of things she’s always wanted to do. She’s going to save her memory by having the most unforgettable year of her life…

How terrifying to face the prospect of losing your memories, the things that make you you. Don’t get me wrong there are definitely some things I wouldn’t mind forgetting but if it meant losing all the good, no thanks. What I love about this book is the determination to fight her condition and make some memories that can’t be forgotten (I’d probably just curl up in a corner and cry).

Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella

Remember Me?When twenty-eight-year-old Lexi Smart wakes up in a London hospital, she’s in for a big surprise. Her teeth are perfect. Her body is toned. Her handbag is Vuitton. Having survived a car accident—in a Mercedes no less—Lexi has lost a big chunk of her memory, three years to be exact, and she’s about to find out just how much things have changed.

Somehow Lexi went from a twenty-five-year-old working girl to a corporate big shot with a sleek new loft, a personal assistant, a carb-free diet, and a set of glamorous new friends. And who is this gorgeous husband—who also happens to be a multimillionaire? With her mind still stuck three years in reverse, Lexi greets this brave new world determined to be the person she…well, seems to be. That is, until an adorably disheveled architect drops the biggest bombshell of all.

Suddenly Lexi is scrambling to catch her balance. Her new life, it turns out, comes complete with secrets, schemes, and intrigue. How on earth did all this happen? Will she ever remember? And what will happen when she does?

With the same wicked humor and delicious charm that have won her millions of devoted fans, Sophie Kinsella, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Shopaholic & Baby, returns with an irresistible new novel and a fresh new heroine who finds herself in a life-changing and utterly hilarious predicament…

I love Sophie Kinsella books and while not my favorite of hers (Got Your Number) this is definitely up there. Think 13 Going on 30 with a main character who wakes up to discover a big chunk of her life missing and that while things seem perfect they really aren’t.

So that’s my top (umm) nine books about characters suffering from memory loss. Have you read any of these? Are you as fascinated by it as a plotline as I am or do you think it’s over done? Any books you’d recommend?

Feel free to leave comments below and links to your top ten’s.

Dad’s Recommended Reads

Happy Father’s Day everyone!!!

I was originally planning to do a post on great father’s in books but my list would probably not be that long (Atticus Finch and Arthur Weasley) as there are unfortunately way more books with bad dads than good ones. Instead I’ve decided to do a post highlighting the books and authors my Dad recommends.

My Dad is a big reader and is to a large extent responsible for my book obsession. Like me he can quite happily sit with his head buried in a book all day long (something which drives my Mum nuts). Our tastes are a little bit different, he exclusively reads thrillers and murder mysteries, but he’s definitely influenced my reading. So here’s a list of the authors he has or is still trying to persuade me to read.

Ten Authors My Dad Recommends

The first three authors on the list are all Scottish authors and are actually three of my favourites too.

Cold Granite (Logan McRae, #1)Quite Ugly One Morning (Jack Parlabane, #1)Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus, #1)

  • Stuart MacBride – probably most famous for his Logan Macrae series which follows a police detective on the murder squad in Aberdeen. They’re a little bit gruesome and quite dark but there’s a lot of humour too.
  • Chris Brookmyre – has written a few different series but the most famous is probably his Jack Parlabane books. These follow an investigative journalist who gets embroiled in murder mysteries, hacking, political espionage and all kinds of other cases. Personally my favourite series of his is the Angelique Xavier series.
  • Ian Rankin – most famous for his Rebus police detective series set in Edinburgh, this is probably one of the first authors my dad convinced me to read. This year is the 30th anniversary of Rebus so he’s been in the murder business for quite a while.

The next three authors also have a Scottish connection but I have to confess so far Dad hasn’t convinced me to read them yet.

The Mermaids Singing (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #1)Raven Black (Shetland Island, #1)The Blackhouse (Lewis Trilogy, #1)

  • Peter May – born and raised in Scotland he writes three main series, the Lewis trilogy, the China thrillers and the Enzo files. I actually own the Black House but I haven’t had a chance to read as yet. We have family in Lewis so I know it well and think it will make a great setting for a mystery.
  • Ann Cleeves – OK technically she’s English but she writes a murder mystery series set in the Shetlands so that’s good enough. My Dad has been trying to persuade me to read her books for years but so far I haven’t
  • Val McDermid – McDermid is another author who has been in the business for a long time and is most famous for her Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series about a criminal profiler Tony Hill who works with the police. This was turned into a TV show, Wire in the Blood, which I watched and loved so I have no idea why I haven’t read the books.

The final four authors are a little more geographically spread (some are even outwith the UK 🙂 ) but the mystery/thriller trend continues (one of these day’s I’ll succeed in getting him to read a sci fi or fantasy)

The Redbreast (Harry Hole, #3)Killing Floor (Jack Reacher, #1)Fool Me OnceSleepyhead (Tom Thorne, #1)

  • Jo Nesbo – a Norwegian author most famous for his Harry Hole series. He’s an autobuy author for my Dad who has been trying to persuade me for years to give one a try.
  • Lee Child – I know, it’s absolutely ridiculous that I haven’t read a single Jack Reacher book (confession: I haven’t seen any of the films either) but for some reason they’ve never really appealed. He has managed to persuade my Mum to get into them but so far I’m holding out.
  • Harlan Coben – an American author this time, and one he has persuaded me to try. He seems to mostly write stand alones and while I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve read they haven’t really blown me away.
  • Mark Billingham – Another writer my Dad raves over but hasn’t yet convinced me to read. Billingham’s Tom Thorne series is about a police detective who investigates stuff (can you tell I’m struggling to describe books I haven’t read).

Anyway, that’s ten of the authors my Dad recommends. There are actually many, many more (Jeffrey Deaver, David Baldachi, James Patterson, Clive Cussler to name a few). I’ve read a few but still have so many to try.

Let’s Chat

So let’s chat, have you read any of these? Are there of my Dad’s recommendations you agree that I really should read?

As my Dad is stuck in a little bit of a reading rut (honestly it’s impossible to persuade him to try a new author) are there any books or authors you think I could persuade him to read?