Bibliothon TBR – August 17th – 23rd

Hello Lovelies! Today I have TBR for you for a readathon that is occuring later in the month. The Bibliothon is a readathon that is happening in the third week in August (17th-23rd) and its aim is to finish those books that have been sitting on your TBR for far too long. I had so much fun taking part in the FinishAthon that I lept at the opportunity to take part in another readathon with a similar aim.

The Bibliothon, which has its own twitter account, is run by Nerea or The Bibliothek on Youtube , and is made up of five prompts. You do not need to complete all the prompts, and you can even double up on the challenges, as the main aim is just to read.

I have picked a book for each of the prompts and, while I doubt very much I’ll be able to finish all the books, I’m going to try my darn hardest. For each book I will include the synposis from Good Reads and the trigger warnings from BookTriggerWarnings.

A Borrowed Book – Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I desperately want to watch the TV series of this book but am determined to read the book first. I borrowed this from my friend a couple of years ago who was going to give it away otherwise and still can’t quite believe I haven’t got round to it.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned–from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren–an enigmatic artist and single mother–who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Trigger Warnings: Abortion; Arson; Infertility; Kidnapping.

Recently Acquired – Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This is my work book club pick for the month and I am so excited to properly sit down and read it. I have heard nothing but good things for it … and that cover!

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.


Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Trigger Warnings: Attempted rape; Cannibalism; Child birth; Drugged; Eugenics; Fire; Forced marriage; Gore; Hallucinations; Incest; Mind control; Murder (including babies); Racism; Vivisepulture

A Book recommended to you – Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

Teeming with life and crackling with energy — a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood.
Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.
Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.

A Book on your TBR because of the Cover – City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert.

In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and no-nonsense stage manager. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that it will take her years to fully understand. Ultimately, though, it leads her to a new understanding of the kind of life she craves – and the kind of freedom it takes to pursue it. It will also lead to the love of her life, a love that stands out from all the rest.

Now ninety-five years old and telling her story at last, Vivian recalls how the events of those years altered the course of her life – and the gusto and autonomy with which she approached it. “At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time,” she muses. “After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.” Written with a powerful wisdom about human desire and connection, City of Girls is a love story like no other.

Bookternet made me do it! – My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Trigger Warnings: Emotional manipulation; Pedophilia; Predatory grooming; Rape; Sexual assault; Suicide

The real challenge this month is going to be not picking any of these books up before I’m supposed to. What book are you determined to finish this month?

Favourite July Reads – Sunday Stack #15

Hello Lovelies! Happy August! I’m sure like me you are absolutely baffled that we are in August. This year is simultaneously the slowest and the quickest year I feel like there has ever been. July was definitely a much trickier month for me, reading and life-wise, so I’m quite happy to see the end of it. August promises to bring better things, with me moving into a new house, a whole month of holidays (gosh I love being a teacher), and just an opportunity to breathe. I’m not sure what my blog content is going to be like this month (with the move etc) but I am desperate to try an maintain my schedule of Thursday and Sunday for posting on my blog. I may deviate from the usual bookish content a bit as I decorate the house and explore my new area, but I’m hoping that I will catch a bit more of a reading bug this month as, like I said, I definitely struggled in July.

I only managed 6 books this month, and a lot of those books I sadly just did not enjoy reading, despite many that I really looked forward to. In true ‘babblesnbooks’ fashion, I’m not going to dwell on the books that I didn’t enjoy, but instead focus on those I did. Reading is so subjective that I always hate the idea of putting negetive views against something someone has worked so hard on if they are only based on what I do or do not like. I am only one person after all!

What I read this month:

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer – ****

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes – ****

Evil Roots: Killer Tales of the Botanical Gothic by Daisy Butcher – *****

Crushed by Kate Hamer – **

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey – ***

Emma by Jane Austen- ***

Evil Roots: Killer tales of the Botanical Gothic by Daisy Butcher

I picked up this read for my A Level planning and it completely blew me away. I was only really looking for a copy of ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne but every one of the tales within these collections is fantastics. What I particularly liked about this short story collection is that each story is prefaced with a description about the tale, the writer, and the context in which it is written. My one criticism with short story collections is that I can sometimes find it quite off-putting to jump from one writing style to the next. The great advantage of the prefaces was that is helped bridge that shift, meaning you weren’t plunged into a new writing style but introduced to it slowly. I have just bought the next two books in this series and I cannot wait to dive into them.

The Mid Year Freakout Tag 2020

In true ‘Bronwen’ style, I’m doing this tag a little late. I have seen it floating around the internet and have been loving reading everyone else’s posts so knew it was time to actually sit down and actually write mine. I can’t believe this year is racing past us, that we’re actually already thinking about the second half of it, but at least there have been some amazing books amongst it all.

Question 1: Best book you’ve read so far in 2020.

This is a really tricky one because I feel like there are a fair few books that have really stuck out for me so far. I think I will have to say The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet simply because there is something so powerful about that book. I felt it made me question everything I thought I knew about race and identity and truly is a stunning piece of fiction. I have heard that the rights have already been sold for it to be adapted and I can’t wait to see what they do with this. If you aren’t sure about what this book is about, it follows two twins who grew up in the town of Mallard, which isn’t on any maps. This is a secluded commmunity filled with those who do not fit into the categories of ‘white’ or ‘black’ due to long standing mixed heritage. Outcasts from both soceties, Mallard has become one of its own right, and the citizens within are safe so long as the outside world remains outside. The two twins decide to escape Mallard and try to create their own versions of the world outside of this closed community, with one embracing her ‘blackness’ and the other ‘turning white’. It is a beautiful discussion about how we fetishize race and identity and the problematic importance we have placed upon these arguably social constructs.

Question 2: Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020.

Without a doubt, the best sequel I’ve read this year in The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty. I started The City of Brass series during Lockdown and am quickly speeding my way throurh the series. I think without a doubt The Kingdom of Copper has been my favourite so far, simply because we got to know the characters so much more. It did emotionally destroy me too.

Question 3: New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

I have a few I could put for this one, but the book that stands out for me has to be ‘My Dark Vanessa’ by Kate Elizabeth Russell. I bought this when it came out and have kept meaning to turn to it, but I feel like, given the hard hitting topics within it, I need to be in the right mind set to enjoy it. I am determined to read this book by the end of the year however.

Question 4: Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I don’t actually have on for this one, per se. The thing I am most looking forward to, though don’t have a date for is getting The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty in paperback. I’ve resisted the urge to get it in hardback just because have the others in paperback and know I wouldn’t be able to cope with that on my shelves haha. Until I have it in my hands, I will just have to settle with the audiobook.

Question 5: Biggest Disappointment.

For me this would have to be The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I had heard so many wonderful things about this but I just found it confusing and overwhelming. I may have another go at it because, now I know what happens, I wonder if I will get more out of reading it because it seems very reliant on you being able to make connections with obscure bits of information which seems irrelevant at the time. I have to say that the writing style was beautiful, but I think maybe the intricateness of this was a bit too much and the plot got lost in it.

Question 6: Biggest suprise.

For this I will have to bit The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This book ruined me! I knew I would enjoy it but didn’t aniticpate just how much it was going to blow me away. It is so beautifully constructed and the characters are so well developed. I’m not sure that there will be a single point in this year when I’m not harping on about this book!

Question 7: Favourite new Author (debut or new to you).

For this, I wanted to pick Madeline MIller but feel like she is an author I might have singled out last year just for how much I loved Circe. So, instead, I think I am gong to go with either S. A. Chakraborty or Taylor Jenkins Reid. Having read books by these authors this year, I feel like they are authors I would pick up time and time again simply because of the impact their writing had on me.

Question 8: Newest Fictional Crush.

I don’t think I necessarily have anything for this. I feel like I have definitely found characters this year that are precious to me but none that have made me fall hopelessly in love with.

Question 9: Newest Favourite Character

For this, I am going to go with Beatrice from Theodra Goss’ ‘The Strange case of the Alchemist’s Daughter’. I found her a really interesting and tragic character, especially when set next to the penny dreadul background of the novel.

Question 10: Boks that made you cry.

Song of Achilles. Need I say more?

Question 11: Books that made you happy.

For this I will go with The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag. This is such a heartwarming and emotional tale about acceptance and finding purpose in your life and blew me away.

Question 12: Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or recieved)

Recently I purchased three bookishly editions of the classics ‘Emma’, ‘Jane Eyre’, and ‘Tess of the D’Ubervilles’. These are three of the most stunning books I have ever seen and I know now I will be slowly collecting the whole lot – much to the unhappiness of my purse!

Question 13: What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

At the moment, the only books I need to read by the end of the year are the texts I am teaching which is good as that’s fairly manable. I need to reread Frankenstien and read Never Let me Go – but that’s it!

Question 14; Favourite Boook community memebr.

I couldn’t possibly pick one, so I have picked a few who I really appreciate.

Ellie @ Eleanorsophiewrites

Amy @ Read.Dream.Live

Beth@ ReadbyBeth

Eva @ Eva’s Book Corner

Jessica @ Stuck In A Book

I always look forward to the content these lovely people put put into the world.

And there we go! It’s barmy to think that we are halfway from 2020 and it is such an unconcievable year. Here’s hoping the next months are a little bit more recognisable.

One Stack, One Colour – Sunday Stack #14

I can’t believe I have been doing these Sunday Stacks for 14 weeks now! What started out as a fun little project I made to help me get through lockdown has blossomed into a series in its own right over here on my corner of the internet. I’m very happy to say I have another fun month of prompts to share for August and my head is already spinning with the books I can pick for them! August will see me moving into a new house (hopefully!) so things may be a bit haphazard whilst my life is in boxes, but it also means all my books will be reunited under one roof for the first time since I was 18 which is exciting.

But before I get ahead of myself, let’s focus on today’s stack. If you weren’t aware, this is a series I run over on my bookstagram and (in more detail) here on my blog, and is a great opportunity to share some truly wonderful reads. It’s been lovely to see other people get involved too, which is something I never really imagined when I started it. Today’s prompt was quite liberal, being just ‘One Stack, One Colour’. For my stack, I have picked the colour blue, which seems the most predominant on my shelves at the moment. There’s a wide range of picks here from a range of genres and I can’t wait to share them with you today!

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.

I feel like all I have done since I’ve read this book is rave about it! In this book, Miller creates a heartbreaking retelling of the Battle of Troy, all centred around the character (and infamy) of Achilles. Yet, the stoic, cruel, violent Achilles of lore is not the one you meet in these pages. Instead, you are presented with a loyal, innocent, naive boy who is burdened by destiny, who is viewed by people not as a person but for what he represents. This is definitely one of my favourite reads of 2020, and we’re only half way through!

The Corset by Laura Purcell

Laura Purcell is one of my favourite writers of all time. She creates intricate, gothic, dark mysteries that combine my favourite elements of Neo-Victorian fiction. In The Corset, readers are presented with a mystery of deadly proportions. Ruth Betterman is in prison awaiting trial for murder, a murder she claims she didn’t commit, but that her needle and thread did. Left to debate whether a criminal mastermind is at work, or perhaps more devious, supernatural forces, this book will absolutely chill you! I’m definitely due a reread and may save this for the spookier months of the year.

Something to Tell You – Lucy Diamond

From the spooky, to something a little more light hearted. In this read, Lucy Diamond takes you on an absolute emotional rollercoaster. On the surface, this read is about Frankie, as she tries to track down her – married – birth dad after her mother’s death. However, the book as a whole follows the repuccussion of this dark secret as it comes into the light, looking to see how it affects each of the family members. I absolutely adored this read and think it is so entirely important. It emphasises the importance of family, including the family you make for yourself.

The Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare.

This is one of my favourite shadowhunters books. The second in the Dark Artifices series, this book is full of secrets and discovery. I loved how character driven this read was and grew completely obsessed with each of them. This was definitely my favourite book of the series!

Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg

Glass Town is the first ever graphic novel I’ve read and I adored it. Greenberg reimagines the world created by the Brontes when they were children, recasting it in an almost Narnia-like narrative. As you travel between the adventures in Glass Town and the tragedies in the Brontes’ lives, you are taken along a story of survival, determination, and discovery. I adored this and thought it was such a clever read.

So there’s my ‘One Stack, One colour’ post for today! Each of these books has such a special place in my heart and I’m so happy to have shared them with you. Now all that’s left is to share the prompts for August!

August is definitely the month of summer for me, what with a whole month without school and instead with the potential for adventure! I tried to pick prompts that reflected this as best as possible, but also with those that I like reading during this time. Don’t forget to take part and make sure you tag me if you do so I can check them out (I’m @babblesnbooks on everything). You can also be as liberal with the prompts as you want.

Until August then!

Currently Reading, Current TBR, and #FinishAthon

This month seems to be the month I have started 500 books and finished none! I can’t quite believe it. I’ve always been the type of reader that cannot be reading more than one book at once. When I studied at University, it felt like I had all the time in the world to read but also absolutely none, simply because all I could do was read my course books. I wasn’t one of those who could flick because de Beauviour and the latest thriller. I couldn’t dismay at Dickens and then devour a YA. I had to focus on whatever I was reading at the time and just promise those books waiting on my shelves that I would get to them at some point.

During Lockdown, I have really got into bookclubs. Which has been utterly fantastic! I have discovered so many books I may not have read otherwise, but it does also mean that I seem to be halfway through a lot of books. Today I thought I’d share the books I am currently reading (as marked on GoodReads), those I plan on reading next, as well as my plans for FinishAthon which is happening next week.

Currently Reading:

Emma by Jane Austen – This is probably the book I am giving most of my attention to at the moment. I have a gorgeous bookishly edition of this classic, and to be honest the fact I pick it up so much is because it is so pretty. I’m reading this Jessica’s Let’s get classical book club read for July and am really enjoying it. I think the fact I am reading it alongside the audiobook is helping because then you truly get a sense of Jane Austen’s sarcasm and humour. I have to say that Emma is not a character I particularly like at the moment, her calculating, manipulative, and down right arrogant actions meaning I am less than impressed, but I’m excited to see if there’s a redemption arc there somwhere.

The Empire of Gold by S.S. Chakraborty – The final enstallment of the City of Brass series is one I cannot wait to finish. I am also listening to this on audiobook, and am wishing that I had read the other two with the audiobook too as it has completely transformed my reading experience. I went with the audiobook for completely frivolous reasons, in that I have the other two in paperback and couldn’t stomach having the final book in a different format, but at the same time couldn’t wait to read it. If you are yet to explore this series, I cannot recommend it enough – and now will recomend the audiobook with even more enthusiasm.

The next two books – Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe and The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by HP Lovecraft – are books I need to finish ideally this month because I am using them as part of my lesson planning for September. With my A Level class, we are looking at the evolution of Gothic Fiction and Horror and these are two collections of short stories that promise to be creepy and utterly tantalizing. I have marked off which tales I think hold potential and am slowly working my way through the collections. I know I haven’t got that many left of Poe but have only just started Lovecraft so have quite a bit of reading ahead of me.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick – This is one of those reads that you start reading and then get sidetracked and now we’re months later and you had no idea that it was still marked as ‘currently reading’. I picked this book for my OWLS back in April and just never finished it. I think I picked something up to replace it but honestly who knows at this stage. I have had this on my shelves for quite sometime and know I should sit down and actually finish it at some point, but to be honest I have absolutely no idea when.

Current TBR

I am currently in the process of looking to move and, although I am staying at my parents at the moment thanks to the joys of shared accomdation with strangers and a global pandemic, have been packing up my childhood bedroom. This is the first I have actually considered all the books I own as this tends to be where the books that don’t quite make the cut stay rather than coming with me (probably a good time to mention that there are still at least 30 books waiting for me in previously mentioned shared accomdation) and are now actually boxed up after a proper sort through. I did have to take a moment of reflection to realise I have two boxes of kitchen supplies and five (!) boxes of books. I think I have my priorites straight.

Therefore my current TBR is actually made up of the books I have bought after said boxing up and those I kept out because I know I want to get round to them soon. There is quite a mix here and I can’t wait to dive into each.

  • City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss
  • The Foundling by Stacey Halls
  • The Phonebox at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina
  • The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

#FinishtAthon

#FinishAthon is a week long readathon happening from Monday 27th July to Sunday 2nd August, with the ‘focus on finishing the MANY books that have sat unfinished for far too long’. It is hosted by the wonderful Tazmyn at teabooksandtazmyn on Youtube, and can be found on twitter and instagram using the hashtag #FinishAthon . My aim to have finished at least two books off my ‘currently reading’ list within that week. Fingers crossed!

And there we have it! Those are the books I’m planning on working through over the next couple of weeks. What book are you hoping to finish soon and will you be taking part in #FinishAthon.

Sequels and Finales – Sunday Stack #13

I am an absolute sucker for a series and, whilst I love that first book that makes you fall in love with the world and want to plunge yourself in further, there is nothing quite like revisiting a world you already adore.

Today, I’ve chosen to go with sequels, which I think are my favourite part in any series. The world is no longer new and confusing, but at the same time not chaotic and too ‘heavy’ like you find in epic, dramatic finales. I always find that the second read in a series is where the story develops, where you get a better feel for who that characters are and, more often that not, get your heart absolutely destroyed. For this stack, I picked three sequels from three series that I absolutely adore – all of which left me completely emotionally ruined.

Flambards: The Edge of the Cloud by K.M. Peyton.

Flambards was, I think, probably my favourite series growing up. It’s one of the few series that I can remember having an absolutely profound affect on me and one that I reread and reread, to the extent that every book in this series had a cover that is barely hanging on! This series follows Christina Parsons, an orphan who is basically ferried around her different family members. As the series opens, she is sent to Flambards to live with her mother’s half-brother who runs a hunting lodge and is generally horrible, as is his oldest son Mark, both of who plan to marry Mark to Christina to use her wealth to rejuvinate Flambards which is falling apart. In book two, Christina runs away with the youngest son, William, who refuses to follow his family’s obsession with horses and instead is enamoured with machines, particularly planes. This book also follows the opening of WW1, and – God – let me tell you I am already tearing up thinking about this read. William is my favourite character, and this book is probably one of my favourites of all time. I just cannot express how much this series means to me!

The City of Brass: The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

This is a series I have been discovering over lockdown and am absolutely obsessed! The magical world of djinn and the awful politics that surround the city of Daevabad is completely intoxicating and I am racing towards the end. In this read, we get to explore more of Nahri and Ali’s relationship, and the world of secrets that this court has created absolutely destroyed me. I cried continuously whilst reading this, and need to finish the finale, just in the hope that I can have some sort of emotional recovery.

The Dark Artifices: The Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare.

For me, this was the best book in this series. Whilst I really enjoyed the Dark Artifices as a whole, I feel like I had several issues with the finale, particularly the downfall of Annabel, who I felt like was more complicated than the painted ‘baddie’ she became. The sequel in this series, however, is much more character driven, and focuses much more on the relationships between characters. For me, this is where Clare shines, and this book completely took my breath away. It wasn’t grand. It wasn’t far fetched. But it felt so much more tangible and credible. I almost wish that the series had ended with this read, just because I felt a bit deflated with the finale – not to say I didn’t enjoy it, just that I didn’t love it to the extent that I did this one.

And there we have it! What sequels or finales did you absolutely adore and would put in your stack?

‘Evil Roots: Killer Tales of the Botanical Gothic’ edited by Daisy Butcher ~ Book Review

I absolutely adore Gothic Fiction. I think it is one of the most influential and innovative literary movements of all time, and I am always simply astounded by the sheer genius in these stories. I picked up this collection of Gothic stories after reading ‘The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter’ by Theodora Goss, a thrilling mystery set in Victorian Britain, reimagining famous literary figures, from Doctor Jekyll’s daughter to the imfamous Sherlock Holmes. Having read (and adored) this, I wanted to read the original texts that some of these characters came from, particularly those which I hadn’t heard of before. One character in particular who intrigued me was Beatrice, a reimagined version of Rappaccini’s Daughter, originally written by Nataniel Hawthorne. Whilst trailing the internet to try and find a version of this short stories, I came across Butcher’s anthology of other Gothic Tales, all associated with Nature. I thought this was particularly interesting, especially when we consider the Gothic Fiction is often more intricately twinned with the supernatural than to what is growing at the bottom of our gardens!

Having bought it and then having it face the fate all too common for our bookcases – laying to the wayside, forgotten – I finally picked this up, actually for work. As this academic year comes to the close, it’s time to start turning attention to September. My particular challenge was finding texts for my A Level class to study for their coursework. I already knew I wanted to start with the Gothic, especially as it is such a brilliant springboard into so many other wonderful genres, and found my attention brought back to this little gem – and what a gem it is! There was no a single story in the collection that did not have me hooked and mystified, and every story was one I hadn’t heard of before. Butcher has picked utterly fantastic stories, ranging from the 19th century Gothic canon to the modern 20th century reimaginings. My favourites were: the tragic and heartbreaking ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne; the horrifying ‘Carnivorine’ by Lucy H. Hooper; and the mystifying tale of madness in scientific pursuit that was Emma Vane’s ‘The Moaning Lily’.

If you’re looking for something that will enthral you and is like absolutely nothing you have read before, look no further than this read!

Favourite Retellings – Sunday Stack #12

Hey lovelies and another happy Sunday! I’m back again with another Sunday stack to share with you today. The prompt from this week was ‘Favourite Retellings’ and I had so much fun finding the reads for this post. I am such a sucker for a retelling. I have picked a range of Retellings from a range of different eras so there should be a little something for everyone here today.

This prompt came from my ‘Sunday Stack’ challenge that I run over on my bookstagram. I have had so much fun creating this over lockdown and have absolutely adored everyone’s posts. It’s welcome to all and I’d love to see your stacks too. Don’t forget to tag me if you do take part so I can appreciate all your recommendations! I’ll leave the prompts at the bottom of this post for you to check out.

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare.

Cassandra Clare must be a writer than defined my childhood. What I love about the Shadowhunter world is that it has grown up with me, and that can certainly be said for this latest series. Chain of Gold has clear elements of a retelling for Great Expectations, with the mysterious Grace Blackthorn a clear adaptation of the cruel temptress Estella. I absolutely adored the little nods to this Dickens tale, especially when combined with the 1900s backdrop and Shadowhunter politics that I’m obsessed with.

Welcome to Edwardian London, a time of electric lights and long shadows, the celebration of artistic beauty and the wild pursuit of pleasure, with demons waiting in the dark. For years there has been peace in the Shadowhunter world. James and Lucie Herondale, children of the famous Will and Tessa, have grown up in an idyll with their loving friends and family, listening to stories of good defeating evil and love conquering all. But everything changes when the Blackthorn and Carstairs families come to London…and so does a remorseless and inescapable plague.

James Herondale longs for a great love, and thinks he has found it in the beautiful, mysterious Grace Blackthorn. Cordelia Carstairs is desperate to become a hero, save her family from ruin, and keep her secret love for James hidden. When disaster strikes the Shadowhunters, James, Cordelia and their friends are plunged into a wild adventure which will reveal dark and incredible powers, and the true cruel price of being a hero…and falling in love. Good Reads

The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

This is one of the best Retellings I have ever read. It was so dark and beautiful that I don’t think I have stopped singing its praises since I read it! The Deathless Girls is a Dracula retelling but focused on Dracula’s wives, three women who have so often been forgotten and pushed aside. This dark and twisting tale is steeped in folklore and the supernatural. I devoured it in a day and can’t wait to reread it.

They say the thirst of blood is like a madness – they must sate it. Even with their own kin.

On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate… Good Reads

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

I adore the Victorian period, particularly the Gothic. In this retelling, Goss creates a twisting and thrilling investigations, all centered around dark and devious investigations, creating monsters and hideous experiments. Including many famous figures from Victorian Gothic novels, this was one of my favourite reads of last month. I had so much fun reading it and can’t wait for the rest of the series.

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous. – Good Reads

Circe by Madeline Miller

I’m an absolute sucker for Greek mythology and this book is the one that kicked it off for me. I first read this novel last year through the audiobook on audible and it was wonderful. I fell in love with the magic and the power of Circe as a character. I reread Circe last month as part of Tazmyn’s (from teabooksandtazmyn on YouTube) Patreon book club and fell in love with it even more!

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love. – Good Reads

I will add a trigger warning for sexual assault for this read so that you are fully aware.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Man, I love this book. I do nothing but gush about it. This book broke me emotionally! A heartbreakingly beautiful retelling of Achilles, this book may just be one of my favourites for the year. Focused of Achilles and his relationship with Patroclus, this is a wonderful tale of companionship, loyalty, and destiny. You can read my full thoughts here.

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear. – Good Reads

And there with have it! I hope this post has given you lots of recommendations to go away and enjoy. What are some of your favourite retellings?

And here are the prompts is you want to take part or have a sneaky peak at what next week’s post will be.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet is a beautiful and heartbreaking account about race, identity, individualism, and survival. I went into this book thinking it would be one thing, and finished it having read a completely different books. I laughed, I smiled, and I weeped. This is, without doubt, one of the books that I will look back on at the end of the year and will be so thankful I read it.

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?Good Reads

For me, what makes this book so utterly stunning is the characters. This narrative is so character driven that you can’t help but feel utterly devoted to them. As we follow Desiree as she is forced to return to Mallard, the small town she fled with her sister years ago, her determination and strength to provide a safe space for her daughter is utterly heroic. I found Desiree such a phenomenal character, especially considering she was always kept in the shadows growing up in comparison to Stella. She was the unreliable one, the reckless one, the one everyone expected to cause trouble. Yet in the end, she’s the one who hands by everyone, sacrificing herself to be there for others.

The narrative spans generations, meaning we witness Stella and Desiree as they grow up and eventually escape, as well as looking at how their decisions regarding their identity in turn affects their daughters. Because of the way the omniscient narrative works you spend time within each character’s consciousness, it was fascinating to see each character’s interpretation of themselves and those that surround them. This was often so beautiful because you were witness to the doubt that creeps within them, and how unnecessary it was.

The concept of ‘becoming white’ and ‘escaping blackness’ was harrowing and heartbreaking, especially because both were only possible with the ‘white’ perception of identity. There was the suggestion that only to a white society were such ideas essential and dishonest, a performance rather that something integral to a person. A huge discussion within this novel is the idea of honesty and illusion, and I found the paranoia that consumes Stella completely harrowing.

This novel is tragic but so completely important. I was astounded by its beauty and speechless as it’s honesty. If your looking for your next read, look no further than this powerful novel.

Favourite June Reads ~ Sunday Stack #11

Hello lovelies and welcome to the first #sundaystack post of July. If you aren’t aware, each week I’ve been running a #sundaystack series over on my bookstagram and here and I have been absolutely loving it. It has been so much fun to design over lockdown and something that I am determined to continue. It has also been wonderful to see so many people getting involved as well and I have definitely been taking done loads of recommendations, much to the resentment of my TBR. I will leave the prompts below should you wish to take part. If you do, make sure to tag me so I can check them out ☺️

This month I read I read 8 books, which isn’t quite as impressive as last month, but I’m still happy with it. July was a MONTH so that fact I got any reading down is impressive. I was meant to be taking part in the MakeYourMythtaker readathon but, to be honest, the month got away from me and I really needed to be a mood reader. It was also a very mixed month, with books I adored and books that I just couldn’t get on with. I’m hoping that this month with the TotallySpiesathon is much more successful!

What I read in July:

Rival Queens: The Betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots by Kate Williams – ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Circe by Madeline Miller- ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin – ⭐️⭐️

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Strange Cade of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

But what about my favourites? For this stack, I’ve picked four books that blew me away in particular this month, including two that I’m hoping to continue into the future with!

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

I absolutely adored this read! I’m not usually into prose or poetry but there is something so utterly astounding about this that I couldn’t help but become obsessed with it. And the author also gushed about my review which was just MAD! This book is heartbreakingly beautiful in every possible way and if you still haven’t read it yet, please do.

The Kingdom of Copper by S.A Chakraborty

This is the second book in the City of Brass series, the first of which I also read this month. And boy-oh-boy did I love this! I don’t think I’ve ever been so connected to so many characters as quickly as I did with these books. I picked Kingdom of Copper for this stack because I think it was one of the best sequels I have ever read! It didn’t feel like a copy of the first but truly a book within its own right. I can’t wait to enjoy the finale and find out what happens!

Circe by Madeline Miller

This was a reread for me and I’m so glad that I picked this up this month. I picked this up as part of Tazmyn’s (at teabooksandtazmyn over on youtube ) Patreon bookclub and fell in love with it all over again. I think this is the book that made me fall in love with Greek mythology Retellings, something I have been obsessively drawn to ever since. Circe is such a phenomenal character and Miller’s writing style just leaves me astounded. Also, a little shout out to this bookclub but it’s one of the loveliest groups I’ve ever been part of, the group Instagram chat filled with bookish loveliness and fluffy pets. If you’re looking for a good bookclub to join, I cannot recommend this one enough.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

Continuing with Patreon book clubs, I picked this one up for Jean’s (over at Jeansbookishthoughts in Youtube) and have to say it completely surprised me. This is a historical fiction come retelling come murder investigation and left me completely hooked. I loved how much fun this reads was, and the interweaving of famous literary characters as they are dropped into the narratives as suspects and victims. I cannot wait to continue with this series, and have even got my mum hooked!

And there we have it! Whilst June wasn’t the best reading month I’ve had, it did see me finding some new favourites, revisiting old ones, and even completing my Goodreads challenge. What was your favourite read of the month?