The Historical Fiction Reading Challenge – 20th Century Reader

This year I am taking part in the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2022, hosted here. There are six different levels to aim for, and they are:

  • 20th Century Reader – 2 books
  • Victorian Reader – 5 books
  • Renaissance Reader – 10 books
  • Medieval – 15 books
  • Ancient History – 25 books
  • Prehistoric – 50+ books

Since historical fiction books are often chunky beasts, and since I don’t want to read only historical fiction this year, I’m going to aim for the Renaissance Reader level. I’ve now hit the 20th Century Reader level, and here are the books I read…

The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett

You know how I was saying historical fiction books are chunky? This one is 897 pages. It spans the years 997 to 1006, so it’s all Anglo Saxons, Normans and Vikings. It follows a boatbuilder, a noblewoman and a monk as their lives intertwine, and they contend with a Machiavellian bishop.

There’s a lot to like about this novel. It has a consistently engaging plot, full of twists, turns and intrigue. It doesn’t present a sanitised version of the past (slaves are pimped out, criminals are castrated) and there’s no silly straightwashing either (one of the main characters is gay and there are plenty of other queer characters).

Unfortunately, the depth of world-building and plot leaves the characters looking rather shallow, and I wanted more nuance from them. Also, I’m not entirely sold on Ken Follett’s style – too much exposition made me feel like I was getting a history lesson at times. I enjoyed reading this book, but it didn’t linger in my mind afterwards.

The Fortune of War by Patrick O’Brian

I can’t write anything sensible about Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series because I love it too much. Instead, here are my five favourite things about this novel (mild SPOILERS):

  1. Jack Aubrey’s hat gets eaten by a wombat in chapter one. Stephen Maturin is more concerned with his wombat’s digestion than Jack’s hat. These books are so f*cking funny and I always forget that until I start reading one.
  2. There are a couple of actual, honest-to-God murders. In a series full of battles and bloodshed, these somehow manage to be shocking.
  3. Jack and Stephen call each other “brother” all the time, which I guess is just the 19th century equivalent of “bro”, but it hits those found-family feels all the same.
  4. Stephen’s relationship with Diana Villiers is … rekindled? No, not exactly. Interesting stuff happens.
  5. The battles. OMG, the battles.

I need three more hist fic books to reach the Victorian Reader level, and any recommendations will be gratefully received. Is anyone else doing the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge?

2021 Wrap-up

Hi friends, welcome to 2022! I hope your hangovers aren’t too bad and your new year’s resolutions aren’t broken yet.

To be honest, 2021 was a more challenging year for me than 2020. During 2020 I was mostly a smug introvert, making the most of lockdown by reading a lot, learning coin tricks and getting worryingly obsessed with MMA. But 2021 has been a rollercoaster, with some high points (publications, a new baby niece) and some low points (a break-up, a bereavement).

Here’s a sum-up of my 2021 writing and reading adventures:

Publishing

After publishing absolutely nothing last year, I managed to publish two books this year! The first was my debut novel, Other People’s Butterflies, published by Art Over Chaos. It’s a YA contemporary about identity, friendship, and trying to understand the world around you. Also 1940s spy shenanigans.

I got my first reviews, my first royalties, signed a few copies (one of them was actually for a fan rather than a family member!) and generally felt very much like a Proper Writer. I hope people continue to read it through 2022 but in order for that to happen I’ll have to get my arse in gear and actually do some marketing.

My second publication was a poetry chapbook called Monster Hunting for Girls Ages 8-14, published by Dancing Girl Press. It’s about the monsters that plague us during childhood and early adolescence, and the slow process of befriending them, defeating them, or learning to live with them.

Writing

Fiction-wise, I recently finished a 16,000 word sci-fi story called Goons. It’s weird, character-based, and contains the most dysfunctional found family I could dream up. It turns out that 16,000 word sci-fi stories are difficult to find a home for, so I’m thinking of publishing this on my blog.

Poetry-wise, I finished another chapbook called 16 Flavours of Ghost. It’s a bunch of character poems, each one from the perspective of a ghost. They’re a spirited bunch, with a lot to say about life despite being dead. I’m hoping to get some interest from chapbook publishers and I’m waiting to hear back from two of them, so wish me luck!

Reading

I read 21 books in 2021, which is pretty poor by my standards. I’ll aim for at least 24 this year, since 2 per month is usually do-able for me. I’ll also aim to keep reading plenty of fabulous indie and self-published books. As for 2021, my Book of the Year Award* goes to…

HMS Expedient by Peter Smalley. I couldn’t quite believe I was reading a nautical adventure and not wishing it was a Patrick O’Brian. I will definitely be following the careers of Captain Rennie and Lieutenant Hayter in future.

Thanks for reading my lovelies. Roll on 2022!

*Not an actual award. Book chosen was not published in 2021. Purely a reflection of what Cora likes best rather than objective quality.

Hyping Every Indie Book I’ve Read This Year

This year I’ve made an effort to read more indie-published and self-published books, and there have been some absolute gems. If you’re book shopping for Christmas, do consider adding one (or more) of these to your basket.

This entire list is very queer, particularly in terms of asexual and aromantic representation, but also other LGBT+ identities. If that’s your cup of tea, read on!

Common Bonds by Various authors

I’m being cheeky by including this, as one of the stories in this anthology (Spacegirl and the Martian) is mine. This Kickstarter-funded anthology is full of SFF stories focusing on aromantic protagonists and platonic relationships.

There are honestly some real treasures in here, with my personal favourite being Cinder – a witty, empowering fairytale re-telling that captures the joy and excitement of new friendship. There’s also an astronaut bonding with her dad in space, and two werewolf stories because aro people evidently love werewolves!

Create My Own Perfection by E.H. Timms

This short story is a re-telling of the Medusa myth, set at a university full of mythological beings. It uses the ancient tale to explore the ever-current issue of sexual harassment, and also shows the sharper edges of female friendship. Emma isn’t just kind and supportive to her friends – she’s also willing to do whatever it takes to defend them.

The Murder Next Door by Sarah Bell

Want to read about a sapphic couple solving a murder mystery in 1912? Of course you do! Sarah Bell’s debut is full of rich historical detail, and the central pairing of Ada and Louisa are brought vividly to life.

Despite the period setting, don’t expect a traditional “whodunnit”. The emphasis is less on who did the deed, and more on the meaty, nuanced issue of whether or not they deserve to be punished for it.

The Mesmerist’s Daughter by Heidi James

Good lord, the writing in this one is extraordinary! An unreliable, but highly observant narrator tells the story of a child whose mother is a wolf. Not literally. But maybe literally? Full of magic, but the kind of magic you get in horror movies rather than fairytales.

Streetlamps and Shepherd Moons by Katherine Highland

Streetlamps and Shepherd Moons is a slice-of-life novel that focuses on Diane – an autistic woman – and her attempts to navigate a confusing and sometimes hostile world. It’s an authentic, unfiltered take on autistic life that’s both thoughtful and thought-provoking.

This certainly isn’t a comfort read. Diane has an awful lot to deal with (often neurotypicals being clueless) but her difficulties and dramas are counterbalanced by the warmth of everyday comforts and human connection. The book is ultimately a celebration of creating the life you want and finding the people who matter.

The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen

Now this one is a comfort read. It’s a short and sweet story of a knight, a dragon, and a baker’s wife teaming up to search for the missing baker, and finding adventure and friendship along the way. It’s like those books about dragons you used to read as a kid, but with added LGBTQIA rep!

Any of these sparking your interest? And have you read any awesome indie books this year? Feel free to rave about them in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday – Characters I’d Love an Update On

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Top Ten Characters I’d Love an Update On

Occasional SPOILERS for these books! While writing this, I realised that almost all the characters I want an update on are female. Maybe I get more emotionally invested in female characters, or maybe it’s because women’s stories have a habit of ending with “and then she got married and lived happily ever after”, which doesn’t tell the reader much!

Rose Red from What Katy Did at School

Well-behaved women seldom make history, which bodes well for the future of Katy’s mischievous friend Rose Red.

Fanny Price from Mansfield Park

The ending of Fanny’s story always felt rushed to me, and I had a sneaking suspicion that Edmund hadn’t quite got over Mary Crawford when he married Fanny. I’d like to check in on them in ten years and see if their marriage is a happy one.

Chiyo/Sayuri from Memoirs of a Geisha

Bound by the secrecy of her profession, Sayuri only hints at a how her own story ends, which makes it all the more intriguing.

Charlie Nancy from Anansi Boys

When your dad is a trickster god, there’s simply no chance of a normal life.

Bathsheba Everdene from Far from the Madding Crowd

Did Gabriel Oak tame Bathsheba’s unruly heart? I’m not so sure…

Louise/Lulu from Mountains of the Moon

Louise’s eventful, ambiguous story ends with “I can hardly wait for what comes next.” Me neither – gimme more!

Sara Crewe and her new family from A Little Princess

The book doesn’t quite have the film’s fairytale ending, where Sara’s father turns out to be alive. Instead, she gains a new family in Carrisford, Ram Dass, and Becky. With all the complexities of class and race that existed at the time, it would be interesting to see if they were happy together.

Tanya from Bad Girls

At fourteen, Tanya is a petty thief who’s always in trouble. She’s also brave, ballsy and a loyal friend. I’d like to see what kind of adult she turns into.

The narrator from Rebecca

I just want to check up on her. It’s never a good idea to marry a man who murdered his first wife.

Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre

It’s also never a good idea to marry a man who locked his first wife in the attic!

Who’s on your list? And if you’re familiar with any of these characters – care to venture a guess at how things turned out for them?

Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Pet Peeves

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Bookish Pet Peeves

I’m usually an over-enthusiastic fangirl when it comes to books. I’m much more inclined to rave about the stuff I love than rant about the stuff I hate, but here’s the perfect excuse to have a good old bitch. My pet peeves are pretty varied, but a lot of them can be lumped into the two categories of “annoying romance stuff” and “annoying sexist stuff”.

  1. Mary Sue characters

To clarify, I’m not using “Mary Sue” the way dude-bros on the internet use it, i.e. to describe a female character who is very powerful, succeeds where male characters fail, or just gets shit done.

I mean a female character who is completely perfect in an unrealistic and unsatisfying way. She has no flaws and no depth. She gets everything she wants despite never thinking of herself because of course she’s utterly selfless. Give me female characters who are relatable, real, and complex.

2. “Love interest” characters

Characters that exist purely to be a romantic fantasy always have me rolling my eyes. If a character has no personality beyond being charming, and no motivation beyond fulfilling the protagonist’s every desire, they might as well be a sexy robot.

3. The word “chuckle”

OK, maybe this one is just me, but I find it grating when characters chuckle. I feel like a chuckle is a very specific type of laugh, belonging mainly to elderly men. But so many writers seem to rely on it as the only way of conveying mild amusement.

4. Zero conflict

You know when a book has zero conflict and everyone is thoroughly decent and communicates properly at all times and the world is safe and peaceful and the book is basically like a big warm hug? I don’t like it.

Don’t get me wrong – I can absolutely see the value of these books. But I tend to find them a bit bland and cloying. A book like a warm hug is all very well, but I want a book that will hug me and also punch me in the stomach. Yep, I’m a weirdo.

5. Only one (1) female character

I like to think this trend is dying out, but it used to be common in SFF. Despite women making up half the population, it apparently made sense to have just the one female character. And she would do female things like being alluring, sleeping with the protagonist, and wearing sexy armour.

6. Everyone must be coupled up at the end

Readers like romance, right? So you should have as much of it as possible, right? So every character should end up in a long-term relationship, thereby implying that romantic partnership is the only “happily ever after” that exists, right? Bleurgh. Let some characters stay single.

7. Baddie does bad things because he’s bad

Cartoonish villains who are evil because they like being evil have their place, but that place is generally in pantomimes and Disney films. Antagonists are an ideal vessel for exploring the darker side of human nature, and it always feel like a missed opportunity when a writer fails to address their motivation.

8. Flowery descriptions of eyes

We’ve all seen the jokes about male writers being obsessed with their female characters’ tits (“She breasted boobily down the stairs”) but I feel like a lot of female writers have an equally weird obsession with eyes.

An attractive character’s eyes will never just be “blue” or “dark”- they have to be “cerulean” or “obsidian”. And they’re always doing stuff like flashing, or smouldering, or turning the colour of storm clouds, or being windows to the soul. Calm down love, they’re just blobs of jelly.

9. Women in refrigerators/Bury your gays

“Women in refrigerators” is a term from comic book fandom to describe how female characters are frequently murdered in order to motivate the male protagonist and move the story forward. “Bury your gays” is a similar trope that treats LGBT+ characters as disposable. Both leave a bitter taste in the mouth.

10. Human characters growling

I get it. It’s supposed to be erotic and intense. It’s supposed to hint at untamed emotions and animalistic power roiling beneath a character’s surface. But it just seems kind of … silly.

Do any of these make your list of pet peeves? Am I on my own regarding the word “chuckle”?

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books on My Autumn 2021 To-read List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Top Ten Books on My Autumn 2021 To-read List

Having read a grand total of three books from my Summer 2021 TBR, I’m aiming to do much better this season. The books on my list are:

Dune by Frank Herbert

I want to read the book before I see the movie.

The Dragon of Ynys by Minerva Cerridwen

Having read and enjoyed Cerridwen’s short story Match Sticks, I thought I’d give this a try. Autumn always feels like the right time of year for dragons (not that there’s ever a wrong time of year for dragons).

How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

One of my aunties has this book, and I dipped in and out of it while staying with her for a weekend, so I’m already confident it’s hilarious.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

This one has been on my bookshelf forever and I don’t know why I still haven’t read it.

Wool by Hugh Howey

According to the front cover, this is “The Next Hunger Games”. Obviously it wasn’t the next Hunger Games because Divergentwas the next Hunger Games. But I’m intrigued to know what could have been…

Create My Own Perfection

A modern-day retelling of the Medusa myth? Yes please. A modern-day retelling of the Medusa myth with an aromantic-asexual protagonist? Hades yes!

Procedures for Underground by Margaret Attwood

I’ve read plenty of her novels and short stories, but I don’t think I’ve read one single poem by Atwood. I’m starting with this collection purely because I love the front cover. Is it a woman? Is it a lobster? Who knows?

Molly’s Game by Molly Bloom

Not the kind of thing I usually read, but I found the movie fascinating.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

I’ll read anything with witches, but witches in 1893 joining forces with suffragists to get the vote? Gimme gimme.

Port Royal by Peter Smalley

I read HMS Expedient and I’m now keen to see what Captain William Rennie and Lieutenant James Hayter get up to next. Having (SPOILERS) gained a fortune and narrowly escaped death by drowning/exploding guns/volcano, I feel like they ought to take a break. I doubt they will.

Have you read any of these? And what’s on your TBR this autumn?

Top Ten Tuesday – Secondary/Minor Characters Who Deserve More Love

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Secondary/Minor Characters Who Deserve More Love

Yaaaasss! Minor characters are so often the best thing about a story. The protagonist has to drive the plot, but secondary characters generally have less to do and more space to just be awesome. Here are some of my personal favourites.

Hassan Harbish from An Abundance of Katherines

Witty, insightful, and loyal, Hassan is easier to like than the book’s slightly whiny protagonist. Also he manages to turn a bit of homophobic graffiti into “God hates baguettes”. John Green was fond of the character and considered giving him his own spin-off novel, which I’m still eagerly awaiting.

Reepicheep from The Chronicles of Narnia


Everyone loves a tiny badass, and Reepicheep is the tiniest and most badass of them all. Disrespect him and he will spank you with a sword.

Laura Moon from American Gods

I could have picked any of the secondary characters from American Gods, but I’m going with the dead wife. She’s a f*ck-you to the “women in refrigerators” trope, where a female character dies a grisly death to motivate the male protagonist and send him on his journey. Laura, bless her rotten little zombie heart, just won’t stay dead.

Hickory Sparkle from Mercedes Ice

This is one of those childhood books that’s burnt into my brain – there’s nothing else like it. Hickory could be dismissed as a girl with a silly name and a crush on Mercedes, but don’t be fooled.

Philippa “Phil” Gordon from Anne of the Island

What I love about Anne’s friend Phil is that she’s very casually a genius. Usually, clever girls are presented as uptight overachievers, constantly striving for straight A’s. Phil has “heaps of brains” but just isn’t that bothered with school.

Alicia Abshire from The Time Traveller’s Wife

Alicia only has a small role in this novel, but I love her for her sense of mischief and her plans for retirement (which involve listening to Jimi Hendrix and The Doors, eating chocolate and shooting heroin!)

The Them from Good Omens

I’m cheating slightly, but these four come as a team. Since they’re competing for attention with the dynamic duo of Aziraphale and Crowley, The Them are often overlooked in Good Omens. But they’re beautifully drawn characters who enjoy an idyllic, outdoorsy childhood before literally stopping an apocalypse.

John Childermass from Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

Aside from having a fabulous name, Childermass is the ultimate puppet master. He might be a servant, but he’s always the one in control.

Brune from Bloody Rose

Bloody Rose is full of great characters, but Brune has my heart. He’s a shaman with a daft sense of humour and some serious identity issues. More importantly, he’s a ride-or-die friend.

Mary Malone from the His Dark Materials trilogy

In so many children’s books, the adult characters are bland or two-dimensional. But in the HDM trilogy they’re allowed to be complex and interesting without stealing focus from the young protagonists. Mary Malone is just one of my faves. She a nun-turned-physicist, memorably described in the TV series as “Impertinent. Intelligent. Free.”

Thanks for reading! Who are some of your favourite secondary/minor characters?

Top Ten Tuesday – Books On My Summer 2021 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Books On My Summer 2021 TBR

Honestly, I don’t know how much time I’ll have for reading this summer. I’m publishing a book of my own in seven days *incoherent screaming* and uni is about to get super-busy again. But a girl can dream, and here are some of the books I’m dreaming of…

HMS Expedient by Peter Smalley

Summer is the time of year when I crave a good old-fashioned adventure story. I usually turn to Patrick O’Brian for nautical shenanigans, but I’m going to give Peter Smalley a go.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

It’s about time I dived into the Grishaverse. And apparently Six of Crows is the place to start if you’re a sucker for found families.

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter

I love Angela Carter’s short stories. Her prose is so rich and so purple, it’s like scoffing a whole box of Milk Tray. I may have to read this novel in short bursts to avoid indigestion, but I reckon I’ll enjoy it.

Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery

I’m loving my re-read of the Anne of Green Gables series. I vaguely remember this one being full of letters between Anne and Gilbert, so I’m steeling myself for mushiness! Also, Ann has just graduated college and been offered the principalship of a school. Clearly a Bachelor’s degree was worth a lot more in the olden days!

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

My pen pal described this book as “an asexual Native American teen with a ghost dog solving a supernatural murder case”. So it has ace rep, spooky stuff, animals, and an amateur detective – all my favourite things!

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl was one of my favourite books of 2020 (Yes, I know it was published in 2012) so here’s hoping Sharp Objects is just as deliciously twisted.

Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

I’ve only read three and a half Terry Pratchett books (I consider Good Omens to be 50% Pratchett) so I better get my arse in gear if I expect to read all of them.

Kid by Simon Armitage

“Kid” is one of my all-time favourite poems, so I don’t know why I haven’t already read this collection.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

I adore Zadie Smith but I’ve never read her debut novel. I know she writes brilliantly about friendship, and she writes so vividly about London you can almost smell that lovely sooty air. This book is all about the later lives of two wartime friends living in London, so I’m anticipating good things.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

Mum is way ahead of me with the Wayfarers series, so I need to catch up!

Thanks for reading, and feel free to share your own summer TBR in the comments. If you’ve read any of these books, what did you think of them?

Also, if you’re buying books this summer, please consider supporting indie authors. My YA contemporary novel Other People’s Butterflies is being published by the indie press Art Over Chaos, and the eBook is available for pre-order here

Top Ten Tuesday – My Ten Most Recent Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

My Ten Most Recent Reads

Between working, studying, and preparing to publish a novel (six weeks until Other People’s Butterflies gets published!) I’ve not had much time for reading, and this list takes me right back to 2020.

Educated by Tara Westover

It’s not an easy read but, despite the brutality of Westover’s upbringing, this isn’t your average misery memoir. It’s hugely insightful, and sheds light on the type of rural, religious family that’s often reduced to a caricature.

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker

I’m a relatively “unschooled” writer, so I feel like I should be reading more books like this one. It’s an unstuffy writing guide that offers lots of helpful tips for making your writing snap. But some of the grammatical stuff is pretty intimidating!

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

I loved Anne of Green Gables as a kid, but wasn’t so keen on the other books in the series. Was this because the books decrease in quality? Or did I find “grown-up” Anne less easy to relate to than Anne as a child? Definitely the latter. Anne of Avonlea is beautifully written and an ideal comfort read. Also, it turns out that “grown-up” Anne is only 16!

Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass by Lana Del Rey

If you’re a fan of Lana’s music, this is a must-read. Her poetry explores similar themes to her lyrics, but in a slightly different (perhaps more vulnerable) way.

Desolation Island by Patrick O’Brian

Hooray for reliable escapism! This is the fifth book in O’Brian’s series and has sea battles, spies, and the ever-entertaining friendship between main characters Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin (who are basically an old married couple at this point).

Common Bonds by various authors, including me!

Obviously I read my contributor’s copy of Common Bonds – an anthology of short stories and poetry centred on aromantic characters and platonic relationships. Seriously, if you’re looing for aro representation, or heart-warming stories of friendship, family, found-family and platonic partners, this is the book for you.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

SPOILERS, but I kinda wish Little Women ended halfway through. Poor Beth! And poor Jo, marrying some guy who’s twice her age and calls her stories trash!

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein

I finally got around to reading this, and it’s not my cup of tea. I don’t mind a slow-paced story as long as there’s a lot going on inside the characters’ heads. But these guys just spend forever deciding where to walk.

The World for a Shilling by Michael Leapman

If I had a time machine, The Great Exhibition of 1851 would be my first stop. Technologies and treasures from all over the world – including a 16 foot telescope, rare diamonds, and a precursor to the fax machine – were displayed in a purpose-built “crystal palace”. The book gives a vivid impression of what it must have been like for visitors.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

A murder-mystery that wastes very little attention on the murderer and contains one of the oddest sex scenes in mainstream fiction. Come for the weirdness, stay for the heart-wrenching portrayal of loss and grief.

Okay, not a bad bunch of books. Have you read any of these? What are some of the best books you’ve read recently?

Top Ten Tuesday – Places in Books I’d Love to Live

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future weeks’ topics can be found here. This week’s topic is…

Places in Books I’d Love to Live

I’m currently living in a draughty room in a shared house. The kitchen is always messy and the bathroom is always occupied. So please allow me to indulge in a few fantasies of where I’d rather be living…

Bag End (from The Hobbit)

“It was a hobbit hole, and that means comfort.” The only drawback I can think of is a lack of natural light. Otherwise, Bilbo’s home in a hill seems perfect.

Manderley (from Rebecca)

I remember a guy from my old writers’ group describing Rebecca as “property porn”. I think it’s fair to say that the beautifully spooky country house, and its grounds full of blood-red rhododendrons, are described with more passion than the lukewarm love affair between the nameless protagonist and Maxim de Winter.

Mistlethwaite Manor (from The Secret Garden)

Creepy manors are ten a penny in classic literature, but this one definitely has the best garden.

Villa Villekulla (from the Pippi Longstocking stories)

Maybe it was the house, or maybe it was the childhood fantasy of living with a horse, a monkey, and no parents. Either way, I definitely wanted to live in Villa Villekulla when I was a kid.

Baba Yaga’s hut (from various folktales)

I first encountered Baba Yaga in a story called “Vasilisa the Wise”. Baba Yaga is a strange, ambiguous character with an equally strange house that walks around on giant chicken legs. You could escape from noisy neighbours and unwanted visitors at the drop of a hat!

The gingerbread house (from Hansel and Gretel)

Look how adorable it is! Child-eating witches always have the best houses.

Echo Lodge (from Anne of Avonlea)

Echo Lodge isn’t as well know as these other homes, but Miss Lavender’s house is the perfect place to become a cheerful, slightly batty old maid.

Neverland (from Peter Pan)

This one is a general place rather than a home, but I wouldn’t mind setting up camp here. Fairies, pirates, mermaids, no school, no growing up and having to pay a mortgage – the benefits are endless.

Wonderland (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

You’d never get bored…

Wayne Manor (from the Batman comics)

Yep, comic books count as books. And who wouldn’t want to waltz about like the lady of the manor all day, then go down to the bat cave and get ready for a night of crime fighting?

So what do you reckon? Would you rather live in a cosy hobbit hole, a spooky manor house or a hut with giant chicken legs?