Good morning bookworms!! Happy Tuesday!!
Today is my FOURTH blogging anniversary (according to WordPress who like to track these things). In the last four years I reviewed a lot of books and found some amazing friends. It took me quite some time to figure out what I wanted my blog to be, and then start blogging in earnest (my real blogging journey probably started closer to December 2018). So if blogging is new to you, or you don’t quite know what you want your blog to be, please don’t stress!! It takes time to find who you are as a blogger and what you love. For me, the sheer act of writing has become so cathartic, that even when I have a ‘hiatus’, I can’t help but write.
In the spirit of all this thankfulness, and purely coincidentally, this week’s Top 5 Tuesday is top 5 books I’m glad I read. I will be focusing on books that I have read this year. They aren’t necessarily my favourite books of the year, but definitely ones I’m happy I made time for.
top 5 books I’m glad I read
A Ferry of Bones and Gold – Hailey Turner
I definitely don’t scream about this series enough, but I am 100% in love with Hailey Turner’s Soulbound series. My 5 second elevator pitch for this series is: high-stakes queer paranormal urban fantasy series.
My longer pitch is that if you love Rick Riordan; want amazing found-family relationships; end of the world magic battles with lots of gods interfering (not just one mythology); vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters, dragons, fae, witches, the military and government organisations battling it out (often together); PLUS the most adorable gay couple (and a small spattering of smut) – then I cannot recommend this series highly enough.
There are currently five Soulbound books out. The series starts with A Ferry of Bones and Gold.
Patrick Collins is three years into a career as a special agent for the Supernatural Operations Agency when the gods come calling to collect a soul debt he owes them. An immortal has gone missing in New York City and bodies are showing up in the wake of demon-led ritual killings that Patrick recognizes all too easily from his nightmares.
Unable to walk away, Patrick finds himself once again facing off against mercenary magic users belonging to the Dominion Sect. Standing his ground alone has never been a winning option in Patrick’s experience, but it’s been years since he’s had a partner he could trust.
Looking for allies in all the wrong places, Patrick discovers the Dominion Sect’s next target is the same werewolf the Fates themselves have thrown into his path. Patrick has been inexplicably attracted to the man from their first meeting, but desire has no place in war. That doesn’t stop Patrick from wanting what he shouldn’t have. Jonothon de Vere is gorgeous, dangerous, and nothing but trouble—to the case, to the fight against every hell, and ultimately, to Patrick’s heart and soul.
In the end, all debts must be paid, and Patrick can only do what he does best—cheat death.
The Seafarer’s Kiss – Julia Ember
Look, I will be the very first to admit that buying The Seafarer’s Kiss was 100% a cover-buy decision. I was in my Little Mermaid retelling phase and this cover caught my eye.
This year one of the challenges I set myself was to have other people nominate books from my TBR. While I read books that I hadn’t really planned on reading, it didn’t happen every month. (Side note, I’m looking for volunteers for 2021!) Anyway, Luna @ Bookish Luna chose this for me in February, and I (eventually) read it in April.
What I thought was going to just be a Nordic Little Mermaid retelling was way more than I was expecting. For starters let’s talk about the queerness. It has a f/f relationship AND it has a genderfluid god. There are also themes of self-acceptance and love that Disney totally missed. All this in just over 200 pages. If you have even considered this, I would recommend.
Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.
Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.
The Switch – Beth O’Leary
In all likelihood, The Switch will probably make my top 10 for the year. But that’s not why it’s on this list. I’m grateful I read this book because it introduced me to Beth O’Leary. As you may have seen in my top 5 new authors list, O’Leary in a new auto-buy for me. I wavered when The Flatshare came out. It sounded good, but I wasn’t sold on it. I liked the synopsis for this more, but both books are amazing.
When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?
The Stonekeeper – Kazu Kibuishi
I am so glad that I decided to pick up the Amulet series this year. And by ‘pick up’, I mean literally pick up at a bookstore earlier in 2020. The Amulet series is a middle-grade fantasy graphic novel series by Kazu Kibuishi. It has elements of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. It’s science fiction monsters and interdimensional travel. But it’s also magical fantasy with chosen one and prophecy tropes. The story is also about a world that is fighting back from oppression and has elements of rebellions and refugees.
There are currently eight books out in the Amulet series, with the final book, book 9, expected in 2021. The Stonekeeper is the first book in the series.
There’s something strange behind the basement door…
After a family tragedy, Emily, Navin and their mother move to an ancestral home to start a new life. On the family’s very first night in the mysterious house, Em and Navin’s mom is kidnapped by a tentacled creature. Now it’s up to Em and Navin to figure out how to set things right and save their mother’s life!
The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden
I love reading books inspired by Slavic folklore. I’ve never been to Russia. I don’t speak Russian. There aren’t forests like this in Australia. I’ve never been in a blizzard. There is nothing in my life that ties me to these stories. But I find something magical about them nonetheless.
The Bear and the Nightingale is a hauntingly beautiful tale of magic and winter. It’s set during the 14th Century, in medieval times, when Russia was split between worshipping Christianity and the old gods. It’s magic mixed with religious fear-mongering. And it’s written so beautifully.
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows. Indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.
Please don’t forget to link to one of my posts (not my home page), and I will link back to all of your posts as soon as I can!! (Because I know it’s Tuesday here, but it’s probably still Monday elsewhere…)
What top 5 books are you glad that you read?