I was asked a number of times over on my 1K Q&A video to recommend my all-time favourite reads and although it seemed like a slight cop-out, I said that it was too tricky to simply pin down one or two books which were my ultimate favourites.

This is mostly because I read so widely and I have books I adore in each different genre which I would want to recommend.  It was for this reason that I was inspired to create a series of posts in which I talk about my favourite books and this week I am starting with one of my go-to genres: historical fiction.

Hopefully some of these books you won’t have come across before, although I know I have mentioned a couple here previously.  But I have tried to choose from a variety of time periods and each one holds something special which has made it stand out to me:-

Emperor SeriesConn Iggulden
The first book you see here, The Death of Kings is actually not the first book in Conn Iggulden’s ‘Emperor’ series but I appear to have mislaid the first book and I didn’t want to not include it as I think that Iggulden is a real master of historical fiction.  I have read two of his series now, this one which is about Julius Caesar and one about Genghis Khan and both times I have been utterly blown away but the depth of his research, the scope of his story-telling and the way he makes me feel about infamous figures from history.  I would highly recommend reading any of Conn Iggulden’s books and I’m excited to read his next series which is focused around the War of the Roses.

TaliesinStephen Lawhead
This is the first book in a series which is part fantasy and part historical fiction and, again, Stephen Lawhead is an author I consider to be a total master with words.  His books tend to be very character driven with lots of Gaelic and Celtic influences throughout and his Pendragon cycle is based on the myth of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table with a dash of magic thrown in for good measure.  Each book follows the story from a slightly different perspective with one character at the centre and I just adore them.  I have to add that I think the new covers are stunning and I will be replacing my copies at my earliest opportunity!

The Last RunawayTracy Chevalier
Jumping hugely forward in time now to The Last Runaway which is set during the 1850s.  This tells the story of a young girl called Honor Bright who moves from Dorset in England to Ohio in America.  Honor comes from a Quaker family and she moves with her sister when she decides to get married.  The story focuses around Honor coming of age but is set against a backdrop of slavery in America and how Honor becomes caught up with the Underground Railroad.  As a Quaker she is naturally against slavery and becomes entangled when a runaway slave turns up at the farm of her new family.  This was a period in time I hadn’t really come across before in terms of fiction and I thought it was really well written and a very moving story.

The NightingaleKristin Hannah
Now on to a book which I know I have waxed lyrical about before as it was one of my favourite reads of 2016; The Nightingale.  This is a book set in the Second World War and we predominantly follow two sisters who live in Occupied France.  The two sisters are very different in personality but both choose to resist the occupation in very different ways.  This book was so moving and so beautifully written.  It’s high up there as one of my all-time best books.

The Greatest Knight & The Scarlet LionElizabeth Chadwick
This duology was the first Elizabeth Chadwick I ever read and I suppose for that reason it holds a nostalgic place in my heart because I’ve actually enjoyed every Chadwick book I’ve picked up.  It begins in the 1160s and follows the story of William Marshal, a young knight who is plucked from obscurity when he saves the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine.  He goes on to become the Earl of Pembroke and eventually the Regent of England and these two books follow his life story; largely based on real events and history.  I thought it was fantastically done and these are often the first books I recommend if asked for historical fiction set during this time period.

Pillars of the EarthKen Follett
At first glance the sheer size of this book would put many people off, especially when you learn that there are actually two books in the series but oh my it is worth the effort and honestly, it reads so, so, so quickly.  It is a story set in 12th century England and focuses around the construction of a cathedral.  It sounds quite uninteresting when you read the blurb but if you like strong character development in your books then you will fall head over heels for this story.  There is love, conflict, family drama, ambition and a whole host of characters.  There’s a reason this book is considered a masterpiece and I would say if you’ve ever thought about reading it, then I would highly recommend just jumping straight in.

Do you have any favourite historical fiction books?  I’d love to know!


Don’t forget you can purchase any of the books mentioned here using my affiliate links (it won’t cost you anything extra and it helps support my book buying habits!!):-

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Currently reading:- 1984 by George Orwell
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May is typically our busiest time of the year so I was surprised to find that I had managed to read so much this month.  I had obviously needed to escape a little more than unusual from the every day stuff!



I actually had a pretty good reading month too, enjoying most of what I picked up:-

I’ve mentioned a few times now about my re-read of the Harry Potter books and this is just a continuation of that.  I just have the final book to go now and I am really enjoying the re-read so far.  There are so many details which just can’t be included in the films which I had forgotten all about and it’s almost like reading them for the first time in many ways.

Half of a Yellow SunChimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This was my second Adichie book and I really enjoyed it, if enjoyed can be the right word.  It is about the war in Uganda in the late 60’s when Biafra was struggling for independence.  We follow five different characters in various stations of life and how they were affected both in the run up to the war and during the war.  There were parts of this story which were a little over dramatic and soap-opera like for me but it’s a period in history that I knew next to nothing about before picking up the book and for that reason alone, I think it was a very important read and one I’m glad I picked up.

WintersongS. Jae-Jones
This is a YA fantasy book which I picked up believing it was a re-telling of the much loved Labyrinth story.  I actually discovered after picking it up, that it was originally written as an adult fantasy but was changed and a lot of the more graphic content was cut out which was certainly interesting to know.  This is a very, very loose Labyrinth re-telling and I would say that if you are a big Labyrinth fan that you might want to go in knowing that it only takes its inspiration from the film in the vaguest sense.  

This was probably my least favourite read of the month; it was a little stilted and some of the interactions were very odd, particularly between the Goblin King and our protagonist Liesl which I think stems from the adjustments made to the book as above.  I also thought that the Goblin King was a little bit of a let-down.  I had imagined him as a much darker and mysterious character and he fell flat for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I will be picking up the second instalment as I am intrigued enough to see where the story goes and I am hoping the writing will develop into something a little more as the story continues.

Wonder – R.J. Palacio
Then onto what was probably my absolute favourite read of the month: Wonder.  This is a middle-grade story about a young boy called August, who has a severe facial disfigurement.  This facial disfigurement has meant August has been home-schooled up until the book begins when he is about to join a mainstream school.  We read from many different perspectives in the book which I adored and I fell into this book so hard I read it in one sitting.  This is a story about friendship, acceptance, family, forgiveness and ultimately kindness.  I would highly, highly recommend it.

I read quite a few heavy books this month so The Hundred-Year-Old Man made a welcome change.  It was an amusing and enjoyable read literally about a Hundred-Year-Old man who climbs out of the window of the old people’s home on his 100th birthday and subsequently gets up to all kinds of high jinks.  We follow the present time and then the man’s past where he was supposedly involved in some of the world’s biggest political events.  There are some laugh out loud moments, some interesting political observations and although I feel it could have been shorter and was a little long-winded in places, this was very much a ‘does what it says on the tin’ type of book for me.

Seas of Snow – Kerensa Jennings
I was sent a copy of this book for review
This is a psychological-drama about a young girl called Gracie, who lives in the North East of England with her Mam.  Gracie’s life is thrown off course by the arrival of her mum’s brother, Joe.  Joe is a psychopath who begins a long torment of Gracie and her mother for many years.  Gracie finds relief through the discovery of poetry and her friendship with their neighbour, Billy.  There are definite trigger warnings in this book for domestic abuse, sexual abuse and child abuse and this is a very dark story.  However, the writing is also incredibly uplifting in places and Gracie’s friendship with Billy is very charming. 

Pacing was something of an issue for me, as you flick between past and present and read from a number of different points-of-view.  I also wasn’t a huge fan of the ending and I guessed the big ‘twist’ way before it was revealed but there was definitely something about the book which drew me in and kept me returning again and again.

Don’t forget you can purchase any of the books mentioned here using my affiliate links (it won’t cost you anything extra and it helps support my book buying habits!!):-

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You can’t beat a good holiday read.  Whether you want to get lost in an epic fantasy world or pick up a quick and easy read for whilst you are lying on the beach…there are so many different types of books which would be perfect for your next holiday.


As we go to Italy next week I have been planning out some of the books I want to read and looking back over some of my favourites which I thought would be fun to share with you and hopefully inspire your next holiday read:-

The Little Shop of Happy Ever After – Jenny Colgan
Jenny Colgan is the queen of light-hearted reads for me.  Her stories are usually heart-warming with a little romance and a whole lot of self-discovery.  They tend to follow the same format (woman moves somewhere new to change up her life, finds it tricky and then finds love interest) but her books are so easy to read and perfect if you don’t want to have to concentrate too much on the plot.  They do leave you feeling a little fuzzy inside too.

The Beachside Guest House – Vanessa Greene
Another great beach read, which falls into the category of ‘chick lit’ alongside Jenny Colgan, Vanessa Greene’s books are easy to read and the two I have read so far have a strong female friendship element which I really appreciated.  There was a love interest or two but I didn’t feel like this was the main focus of the Beachside Guest House and again, although they are fairly formulaic, for a quick read you won’t find much better.

Blood Count – Robert Goddard
I’ve chosen Blood Count for this one but I could have just as easily chosen any Robert Goddard book if you want a fast-paced, uncomplicated psychological crime thriller.  Robert Goddard manages to strike the perfect balance for me of spine-tingling but not too scary and books which I can become completely absorbed into for the duration.  I very rarely guess the outcome and they are just the ideal length for reading on a plane.

Six of Crows Leigh Bardugo
This is very much down to personal taste but I love reading a good fantasy book whilst I am on holiday.  I think it is partly because I very rarely have long stretches of time in my day to day life when I can let myself get completely wrapped up in a fantastical world and holidays just lend themselves to that perfectly.  For this I am recommending my favourite fantasy book of last year: Six of Crows.  If you like morally dubious characters and a world you can just fall into then this is the book for you.

The Island – Victoria Hislop
If you aren’t able to travel abroad this year but you still want to discover an exotic location then I would highly recommend picking up one of Victoria Hislop’s books.  They often mix foreign countries with historical fiction and The Island in particular is one book which has stayed with me for many years.  It is based on true events and focuses around the leper colony of Spinalonga in Greece. 

Do let me know if you pick up any of the books I have mentioned, or if you have any holiday reads you always love to reach for!

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Sitting down and looking at all the upcoming releases for the rest of 2017 makes me hyper aware that there are so many books I want to read before the end of the year and that’s before I even contemplate the 80+ books already lounging, unread and untouched on my bookshelves.

I’ve made good headway this year with my TBR pile and have tried really hard not to start any new series I can’t finish (i.e. they haven’t finished being written yet) or buy books unnecessarily (you can see how well that is going here…) but there are always going to be books which I am particularly excited about getting my hands on throughout the year and so I thought that today I would share some of those with you.

For total transparency, the links here are affiliate.  Using them means I (at no cost to you) get a small commission which keeps me in my book buying habit is always gratefully received.

Godsgrave (Nevernight #2)Jay Kristoff
This is one of the twistiest (yes, it’s a word) books I read in 2016 and I am so excited about the sequel!  It’s hard to go into too much detail without spoiling anything but it bascially picks up the story of our protagonist Mia Corvere who is at the Red Church, a school of assassins.  It is vicious and graphic and diverse and utterly fascinating.  I did a full non-spoiler review of the first book which I have shared below, if you are interested:-



Released 5 September 2017

Origin (Robert Langdon #5) – Dan Brown
Dan Brown is like wine for me.  I know I shouldn’t keep having another glass and yet sometimes I just can’t help it.  Don’t get me wrong; I loved Angels and Demons and even the Da Vinci Code ticked the boxes for me but since then his books have wandered a little too closely to the predicatable and formualic side of the tracks.  Yet there is something which keeps me reaching for the next one when it comes out nevertheless.  They aren’t difficult to read and I appreciate the attempts he makes to twist storylines and imbue them with a hint of mystery.  Although allowing Tom Hanks to be cast as Robert Langdon is something I don’t think I’ll ever get over…

Released 3 October 2017

And now two books which have technically already been released but which we are excited to get nonetheless:-

Assassin’s Fate (The Fitz & The Fool #3)Robin Hobb
This has been released in the most beautiful hardback cover but as I already have the first two in paperback I am patiently waiting until March next year when it will be released *sob*.  Robin Hobb is one of my all-time favourite fantasy writers and this series is just as good as her others.  She has two other trilogies which feature Fitz and The Fool and are well worth reading before you begin this trilogy as we pick up where there stories left off.  And I honestly can’t go into much more detail than that except to say that if you like strong character-led, adult fantasy books which rich description and the ability to get lost in another world…then Robin Hobb is an author you need to try.

The Dark Prophecy (Trials of Apollo #2)Rick Riordan
Okay so technically I’m putting this is for James rather than for me as I’m still gradually making my way through Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series but I know that we will be purchasing it pretty soon after the release date as Rick Riordan is undoutebdly one of our favourite authors.  His books are middle-grade (age 8+) but they are absolutely hilarious and so well written that you really don’t notice they are actually books for children.  Honestly.

This current series is about the god Apollo who has been cast back down to earth after upsetting his father, Zeus and trapped in the body of a teenage boy.  Of course, he still thinks of himself as a god and not as an awkward teenager so the calamity, and hilarity, that ensures after that is pretty much guaranteed.


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Spend just 10 minutes in my company and it will soon become obvious that I am something of a bookworm.  But even more than that…I am a lover of bookish goodies.  Anything inspired by a favourite read is right up my street and I have a number of quotes and stories which I am always on the lookout for.

With my birthday just around the corner, I had been spending a little more time than usual scouring for bookish trinkets and goodies and I thought I would share some of my favourite items with you.  

Etsy
I mentioned Etsy in another post from this week, about my rose gold picks of the moment and it really is a great place to head if you want something personal or unusual either for yourself or to give as a gift.

 


I don’t think you can ever have too many bookmarks, especially not ones which can be personalised with quotes you love or want to be reminded of when reading.  I also don’t think you can beat any item which is covered in foxes and designed to keep your book intact; I seriously need one of these in my life!  I love to carry my books out and about with me; it’s one way I get so much reading done but the amount of times a corner of the book gets creased or the cover gets damaged…you get the picture!

I have used Bookworm, Candles & Craft a number of times now.  Although bookish candles are getting more popular in the UK, they used to be really hard to come by and postage from the US was just insane.  These candles are adorable though and I ordered a Harry Potter themed box at Christmas from here which had a number of other themed goodies inside and was just perfect.  I’d seriously recommend checking them out.

I adored Little Women when I was growing up so I had to include this necklace when I spotted it.  I might try and find a print with the quote on because there’s just something very lovely about it.  I also had to include this blind date with a book because I think it’s such a cool idea.  I definitely need to arrange one for myself.  And finally, what better addition to your shelves then beautiful roses made out of your favourite novel?

Redbubble
This is my all time favourite place to go for items with quotes on.  In fact, I was given a Jane Austen mug last year from my sister which came from Redbubble and one of my favourite sellers on there: EvieBookish.  

What do you think of my choices?  Have you got any tried and tested places for bookish goodies? I’d love to hear them!
*This post contains some affiliate links. Use of these links may make me a little extra money at no additional cost to yourself.
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