T5W | Books Featuring Witches

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Books Featuring Witches: So there is a topic later this month about paranormal creatures, but 1. witches aren’t creatures and 2. they deserve their own topic. These can be “witch books” or books that happen to feature witches as characters, whether they are main characters or side characters. 

5. The Worst Witch series – Jill Murphy

This is probably one of my earliest forays into the world of witches and witchcraft – I adored these books, and then they became a TV show and I ate that up too. Murphy’s books told the first tale I’d read of a boarding school attended by witches and I just wanted so badly to join Mildred Hubble and her pals at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches.

4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

Let’s just get this one nice and out of the way early, shall we? Is there a T5W that goes by where I don’t feel the need to mention Harry Potter? Even though I feel like Harry Potter might be a given for this question… I’m still mentioning it anyway. One of the things I love about the fourth book (which I know is an unpopular one) is getting to see other wizards and witches, particularly from Beauxbatons, and I’m so glad that the continuing Wizarding World of JK Rowling output is also showing readers/viewers different countries’ witches and wizards.

3. His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman

I remember reading about the witch clans and Serafina Pekkala and thinking those women were badass and I wanted to be like them. Years later and I’m not sure my opinion has changed – I’m currently doing a read-through of the trilogy to make sure though.

2. Grishaverse, esp. Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

I can’t not include the Grisha because they are amazing. Would I say they’re “witches” in the traditional sense? Well, yes, because it fits my argument- Nina is repeatedly called a witch by Matthias, the stern Fjerdan witchhunter who obviously is going to fall in love with her (who wouldn’t?), and given how formidable her powers are, it’s easy to see why her kind inspires fear in the druskelle people.

1. The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

Liza Hempstock is a witch and she’s fab. She was accused of witchcraft and burned alive, hence why she’s buried in the unhallowed ground beside Bod’s graveyard. Finding Liza sad because of her unmarked grave, Bod vows to find a headstone for her, and she later repays the favour when she rescues him from the pawnbroker who tries to kidnap him. She also says what remains one of my favourite quotes in the entire book, and of all-time, actually: “Truly, life is wasted on the living, Nobody Owens. For one of us is too foolish to live, and it is not I.”

That’s it for now, folks, those were my Top 5 books featuring witches. I could always use some more recommendations so what are some of your favourite books featuring witches? I’d always welcome recs! And be sure to link me to your Top 5 Wednesday post, if you have one, as I’d love to read it.


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September 2017 | Wrap Up

All in all, September has been a bit of a mixed bag. At the start of the month I went to my very first (and hopefully not last) trip to the US. Rather optimistically I took a couple of books with me and a Kindle loaded up with many ARCs that I really ought to get to. Surprise, surprise, I was having such a good time in DC that I kind of forgot about reading, apart from on one rather sunny day when I read a book in the shadow of the Washington Monument which was all kinds of surreal for me, the girl who hasn’t travelled any further than Spain or Greece before this. I also managed to squeeze in a little reading on the train from DC to New York but aside from that I didn’t really think about it. (Side note: I thought I’d read on the train home from London but, guess what, jet lag and not sleeping on the plane home is a bitch and I don’t do well with it.)

However, once I was back in England I tried to get to a few books I’d been meaning to finish off in order to start clearing that growing ‘currently reading’ shelf. It’s been a mostly successful month, in that sense, though I still haven’t finished You Know What, but I’m hopeful that next month will be the month I do. I’m also still in the midst of my His Dark Materials read-through as I’m listening to the audiobook for Northern Lights so it’s taken me a little longer to get through. That shouldn’t take too long to finish though and then I’ll move on to the second and third books in the trilogy. Anyhow let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s see what I did finish reading in this past month…

In September, I read a total of 7 books – 5 fiction and 2 non-fiction, amounting to 2000 pages in total, and, of these, 0 books were re-reads* – go me!

In terms of format: 5 were paperback, 1 was hardback, and was an ebook.

And as for genre, very broadly speaking, books were fantasy, 2 were non-fiction, 1 was magical realism, and 1 was contemporary/romance.

Onto the books themselves…

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Victober 2017 | Sign Up & TBR

Hello lovely people! Can you believe it’s October already? Where has the time gone!? October means one thing though (aside from my birthday/Thor Ragnarok‘s release) and that is the return of Victorian reading month aka Victober. As you may be able to discern from its name, Victober is a month long readathon which takes place in October and focuses on reading Victorian novels, that is novels written by authors from Great Britain between the years of 1837 to 1901. If you want to know more about the readathon, please do take a look at the announcement/TBR videos of the hosts – Katie (Books and Things), Kate (Kate Howe), Lucy (Lucy the Reader), and Ange (Beyond the Pages).

I took a few Victorian literature classes in university, and read some of the big hitters of the period, but I didn’t manage to keep up that reading motivation for nineteenth-century novels after I had graduated and was no longer being assigned those novels. That’s a big shame because I really enjoyed some of the most unexpected of them, and didn’t see the fuss with other beloved examples, but Victober is a chance for me to get back in the game and really focus on reading some good, solid Victorian literature.

The lovely hosts of this readathon have devised some challenges to help participants devise their TBRs, but they’re guidelines and don’t have to be followed in order to join in on the fun. However, I could use some direction, so I’ll be trying my damndest to read books which complete the challenges, which are:

  1. Read a book by a Scottish, Welsh, or Irish author
  2. Read a lesser-known book (under 12000 ratings on Goodreads)
  3. Read a supernatural book
  4. Read a book recommended to you
  5. Read a book by a female author

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Down the TBR Hole #8

Welcome folks to the eighth round of Down the TBR Hole. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my seventhmy sixthmy fifthmy fourthmy thirdmy second or my first round post or check out Lia at Lost in a Story who is the creator of this wonderful meme/project.

I’m trying to make this a regular feature of my blogging schedule because it’s good to regularly reevaluate if/why you want to read a book – that way you don’t come back to your TBR years later and have no clue why a title piqued your interest in the first place. I’ve also added a summary of results bit at the bottom of each round so I can track how many books I’ve kept and ditched from my TBR shelf in each round and overall.

Just a reminder of how this works:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

Outside of doing these posts semi-regularly I have also been culling my TBR list at random points when I’m bored – all of this is good in terms of getting my TBR to a reasonable amount of books but it also means that these posts are getting harder for me to do as I’m beginning to really agonise over whether to ditch or keep books on there. Not that any of this is a bad thing! Let’s get going on the 10 books under scrutiny today…

1. The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Why is it there? I’m a slight completionist, and I am still slightly ashamed that I have an MA with Distinction in Early modern literature but I still haven’t read all of Shakespeare’s plays. This is one of the number that I haven’t read, though I’m aware of the story behind it, and I love the modern adaptation of it via 10 Things I Hate About You – an excellent film and, if you say otherwise, I will fight you on it.
Do I own it? Yes
Verdict? Keep

2. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Why is it there? See above comment. Interestingly, I have no idea what happens in A Midsummer Night’s Dream – this play is one of the few of Shakespeare’s that I haven’t seen some kind of adaptation of, and I know nothing about its plot. I’m really intrigued to finally get to this (hopefully soon) so this has to stay on my TBR.
Do I own it? Yes
Verdict? Keep

3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Why is it there? I likely saw this on a ‘best books of all-time’ list or was inspired by Rory Gilmore’s rather impressive book collection which must include this book. A few months back a bunch of Booktubers did a readalong of this and I was interested in it, but I never even bought a copy so I could join in. Looking back, I think that was a sign that I don’t want to get to this quite enough for it to stay on my TBR list. A readalong is likely the only way I’ll be motivated enough to read a book that’s so huge so maybe if I see one sometime soon, I’ll have a change of heart but, until then, I think this one can go. I might end up watching the film though.
Do I own it? No
Verdict? Ditch

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Tag | Time Bubble Book Tag

Welcome one, welcome all – we all know the drill here, it’s Thursday which means it’s time for Tag Thursday. This week’s tag was found, as always, at Thrice Read but it was originally created by The Book Loving Pharmacist – check out both of their wonderful blogs! And now, let’s jump right on it with the tag which is called the Time Bubble Book Tag.

Picture this, you’ve encountered a bubble or portal which, if you step through, can manipulate the time inside. With this, you can read all the books you want and when you step out of the bubble, no time has passed in the real world. You can finally make time for all those books you’ve been ignoring. So, now that you’ve stepped through the time bubble, answer the following questions:

WHAT BOOK (OR AUDIOBOOK) HAVE YOU BEEN MEANING TO READ FOR A LONG TIME BUT HAVEN’T GOTTEN AROUND TO READING:

Book – Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. I will apparently really enjoy it, but I’m scared if I don’t and it turns out to be a disappointment. But I’ll never know if I never try so it’s silly of me to keep putting it off! Also The Raven King, the fourth/last book in the Raven Cycle series, by Maggie Stiefvater. I don’t want to read it because I don’t want it to be over but I had it on pre-order as soon as I could and got it on release day.
Audiobook – Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, as read by Simon Prebble. I love audiobooks read by Prebble and he has a great voice for this kind of historical period. However the book (and therefore the audiobook) is very long so it’s somewhat daunting.

A BOOK YOU’VE BEEN MEANING TO REREAD BUT HAVEN’T:

I seem to be forever re-reading so many books could fit this bill but I’m going to go with Persuasion by Jane Austen which I ADORED the first time I read it but I’m anxious to read it again in case I don’t like it quite as much.

A BOOK FROM A GENRE YOU DON’T NORMALLY READ BUT HAVE BEEN MEANING TO TRY AND GIVE IT A CHANCE:

My genre of choice as of late is confined to fantasy, or at least a story with fantastical elements. Aside from that, I read classics occasionally, sometimes historical fiction, and sometimes contemporaries if I want something easier/more fun, but that’s it really. So I’d perhaps say something like Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi is probably as far away from my usual metier as possible – it’s a murder mystery so would be a rare dip of my toes into the waters of the crime/thriller genre.

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Happy National Poetry Day 2017

Happy National Poetry Day! For those who don’t know “National Poetry Day is an annual celebration that inspires people throughout the UK to enjoy, discover and share poems. Everyone is invited to join in, whether by organising events, displays, competitions or by simply posting favourite lines of poetry on social media using #nationalpoetryday. National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by the charity Forward Arts Foundation, whose mission is to celebrate excellence in poetry and increase its audience. The Day enjoys the support of the BBC, Arts Council England, the Royal Mail and leading literary and cultural organisations, alongside booksellers, publishers, libraries and schools.” For more info, you can check out their Twitter or the hashtag #nationalpoetryday where people everywhere are sharing all sorts of poetry!

Back in 2015 I shared some of my favourite poems, but this year I’ve tried to add a bit of variety by sharing a few of my new favourites. I’m not an avid poetry reader – I know what I like, and I stick to it, which tends to mean a lot of early modern-era poems. However, poetry isn’t just sonnets and long epic poems and these have quickly become some of my favourite poems. Although they don’t strictly fit with this year’s theme of “Freedom”, I would loosely argue these poems have helped me free myself from the shackles of the older poetry I otherwise cling to… is that a bit of a stretch in interpretation? I don’t care, today is just about sharing poetry you love!

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T5W | Books I’ve Read Because of the Online Book Community

Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.

This Wednesday’s topic is Books You’ve Read Because of Booktube/Blogging/etc: discuss the books you’ve picked up because you’ve heard of them in the online book community or platform you use. Although I mainly book blog I also follow a lot of bookish people via Twitter, Goodreads, and Booktube so my book recommendations come from a lot of places online. In fact, most of my book recommendations are now via the Internet rather than traditional media outlets.

5. The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers | Recommended by Elizabeth (booksandpieces)

I love Elizabeth’s channel but she is SUCH an avid reader of SFF that I feel like an ignorant fool in comparison. However, she reviewed The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and my interest was immediately piqued because, not only did she rave about it but also, she said that it was a good gateway book for people who don’t really, or haven’t, read much sci-fi. I am so glad I read it because I LOVED it; it had such an emphasis on the characters that the fact it was set in space is kind of incidental and I loved that about it. I’ve since recommended it to others and will continue to do so until my dying day.

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Currently Reading | 26th September

As you might have seen from my last ‘currently reading’ sort of post, I recently came back from a holiday to a crisis as I was, by that point, very behind with the War and Peace Newbies Readalong. Well, folks, I’m still very behind, to the point that I think everyone has finished the book and I haven’t. Not even close.

However, I have re-evaluated my reading plans and decided I need to clear a few more things from my ‘currently reading’ shelf in order to fully focus on finishing that mammoth of a book. Because I can’t give up now, otherwise I’d never forgive myself. (Plus I want bragging rights, I’m petty like that.)

So here is a little look at what I’m currently reading aka a general plan of attack because, if War and Peace has taught me one thing, it’s that it’s probably advisable to have a decent and realistic battle plan.

A Dance with Dragons: After the Feast (Volume Two) – George R.R. Martin

I am so damn close to being caught up with the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series that I’m determined to speed through this final volume and have done with already. However, it’s not easy to “speed through” a 500-page book so we’ll see. In an effort to make sure I can always dip into this when I have a spare moment I’ve checked out an e-book copy via my library’s Overdrive system so it’s now available to read on my phone even if I forget to take the physical book with me when I leave the house. Hopefully this should mean I get through more of it than I otherwise would, but I’m only two chapters into it thus far so we shall see what the future brings.

Northern Lights – Philip Pullman

I really wanted to re-read/read His Dark Materials before the publication of La Belle Sauvage in October. I even went ahead and pre-ordered a beautiful but far too expensive limited edition of that new book, to reward myself. I say re-reading, I never actually made it through the third book, The Amber Spyglass, even though I really loved Northern Lights, so I need to get on that, stat. I needed an audiobook to stick on in work whilst I did spreadsheet stuff so I ended up starting to listen to Northern Lights – I’m going to try to continue this tactic this week, so long as the spreadsheets hold out. One slight bug-bear I’m having is that the audiobook description said it was read by Philip Pullman but he doesn’t do the voices, they are pre-recorded with different voice actors and then have been edited in, but I’ve found that the difference in audio quality, and the slight delay in that track starting after Pullman pauses to allow for the change of speaker, makes the dialogue really quite jarring. I’m really not enjoying that element of it which is a shame because I didn’t realise there were other narrators or I probably wouldn’t have plumped for the audiobook at all. Maybe I’ll switch back to the paperbacks of the trilogy after this.

My Salinger Year – Joanna Rakoff

This is a book I shouldn’t even be reading; I swore to myself I wouldn’t pick up any new books before I’d finished what I had on my currently reading shelf and yet here we are. I looked back at my hastily scribbled TBR in my bullet journal and discovered that in a moment of madness I had said I wanted to read this in September. Well, October looms so I need to get to this before the month ends – shouldn’t be too difficult as it’s only 250ish pages and it’s a memoir of the author’s time working at a literary agency in New York so it’s something I’m super interested and invested in.

War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

I hope to make significant progress with the above three books above in the next week, and then I plan to devote most of my reading time/attention to finally finishing War and Peace – I’m so determined that I came up with 3 plans of attack, one of which is highly optimistic and two that are a little more realistic.

So, I am currently at page 1037, with 317 pages left to read, as follows:
Volume IV, Part I and II – 108 pages (p. 1037-1145)
Volume IV, Part III and IV – 110 pages (p. 1146-1256)
Epilogue I and II – 99 pages (p. 1259-1358)

And here we are with the rundown of my plans of attack:
Plan A: Starting 2nd October – read 45 pages per day, will finish by 8th October
Plan B: Starting 2nd October – read 22 pages per day, will finish by 15th October
Plan C: Starting 2nd October – read 15 pages per day, will finish by 22nd October

Obviously I would like to have this book finished sooner rather than later, but I definitely want it finished before my birthday which is on 24th October. Maybe I should aim for the middle, though, with Plan B even if I suspect, in my heart of hearts, that I will slip into Plan C. Let’s see, shall we? Oooh the suspense is killing me…

What are you reading at the moment? How are you finding it? Do you have any recommendations for books you’d read and loved and/or that you think I might like? Please do leave your comments below as I’d love to hear them.


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Review | Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Title: Exit West (2017)
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Read: 2nd – 7th September 2017
Genre: fiction; magical realism
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“An extraordinary story of love and hope from the bestselling, Man Booker-shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Nadia and Saeed are two ordinary young people, attempting to do an extraordinary thing – to fall in love – in a world turned upside down. Theirs will be a love story but also a story about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow, of a world in crisis and two human beings travelling through it. Civil war has come to the city which Nadia and Saeed call home. Before long they will need to leave their motherland behind – when the streets are no longer useable and the unknown is safer than the known. They will join the great outpouring of people fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world…
(Synopsis from publisher)

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Review | The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Title: The Hating Game (2016)
Author: Sally Thorne
Read: 15th September 2017
Genre: contemporary; romance
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Nemesis (n.)
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.
2) A person’s undoing
3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude. Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job… But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.”
(Synopsis from publisher)

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