For someone like me (Micky here), English classics are integral to why I like reading. I studied Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte for two years in high school and rather than putting me off, Jane Eyre became my favourite book and remains so to this day. The analysis of the characters, narrative, context and storyline only made me fonder of the book as a whole. That truly started off my love of books but it also got me inquisitive about English classics. Also, I am English, so reading about my country and the culture in a different era is usually enjoyable and sometimes discomforting.
I’m definitely a romance fan and so my leanings in this era of writing do tend towards those with a love story as part of it. I have often struggled with Dickens and Thackerey for example but I adore the Brontes, Austen, Gaskell, Eliot and Hardy. Here are my top ten English classic favourites.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
I’m also a fan of some international classics and here are my top five.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Little Women by Louisa May Allcott
Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
I find that now if I am going to read a classic, I have to readjust my expectations of how the read will pan out. With contemporary fiction, things often happen fast and with classical fiction you have to invest more time to the pacing. If anyone ever asks me where to start with English classics, I always recommend Persuasion by Jane Austen, its a shorter read and easy to get into with one of the best and original second chance romances ever created.
Hollis, for once, has little to say! Personally my all time favourite is PERSUASION by Jane Austen. I love the book, I love the adaptation (the Sally Hawkins version!), and I will forever recommend it. The only other classic that has come close, for me, is PRIDE & PREJUDICE. I want to say that NORTH & SOUTH by Elizabeth Gaskell makes this non-existent list, as I’m a huge huge fan of the adaptation, but the book put me to sleep after twenty pages. Yikes. I’ll just bow out now while I’m ahead and before admitting to how few classics I’ve actually read.. oh, too late.
Owen Nicholls’ Love, Unscripted is an uplifting love story, followingfilm projectionist Nick as he tries to understand the difference between love on the silver screen and love in real life. Perfect for fans of David Nicholls, Nick Hornby and Laura Barnett.
For film projectionist Nick, love should mirror what he sees on the big screen. And when he falls for Ellie on the eve of the 2008 presidential election, it finally does.
For four blissful years, Nick loved Ellie as much as he loved his job splicing film reels together in the local cinema. Life seemed… picture-perfect.
But now it’s 2012, Ellie has moved out and Nick’s trying to figure out where it all went wrong.
With Ellie gone and his life far from the happy ending he imagined, Nick wonders if their romance could ever again be as perfect as the night they met.
Can love really be as it is in the movies?
Title : Love, Unscripted Author : Owen Nicholls Format : Paperback ARC Page Count : 384 Genre : Romantic Comedy Publisher : Headline Release Date : August 22, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★
I’m going to keep this pretty brief but unfortunately LOVE, UNSCRIPTED didn’t work for me. I found the whole read a struggle and a bit of a chore.
Marketed as a romantic comedy, I found the wit to be mild at best. This is the story of the beginning and end of a relationship, what happens in-between and afterwards. It had great potential but I didn’t find either character particularly likeable. Nick was a geeky-guy, stuck in a rutt and unable to move forward, he projected all his motivation in life into the other person in his relationship and I felt the kind of pressure Ellie must have felt under. Ellie was definitely more appealing but I didn’t feel that the narrative gave the opportunity to get to know her particularly well. The element I enjoyed the most was Nick as the protagonist, even if he was a little irritating at times.
Nick and Ellie’s story is told in past and present, sometimes this works for me in a story but in this particular format, I struggled. I found the past narrative slow and the present more engaging, this approach was mostly in alternating chapters. In general, the pacing was slow for my taste.
I’m disappointed this didn’t work for me, maybe I had different expectations going in due to the rom-com marketing.
Thank you the publisher and amazon vine for the review copy.
Everyone knows what happens in the end. A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss. But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends. One feared, one royal, and one already dead.
Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch.
A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.
But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.
#2 Sea Witch Rising
“The Little Mermaid” takes a twisted turn in this thrilling sequel to villainess origin story Sea Witch, as the forces of land and sea clash in an epic battle for freedom, redemption, and true love.
Runa will not let her twin sister die. Alia traded her voice to the Sea Witch for a shot at happiness with a prince who doesn’t love her. And his rejection will literally kill her—unless Runa intervenes.
Under the sea, Evie craves her own freedom—but liberation from her role as Sea Witch will require an exchange she may not be willing to make. With their hearts’ desires at odds, what will Runa and Evie be willing to sacrifice to save their worlds?
Told from alternating perspectives, this epic fairy tale retelling is a romantic and heart-wrenching story about the complications of sisterhood, the uncompromising nature of magic, and the cost of redemption.
Title : Sea Witch/Sea Witch Rising Author : Sarah Henning Series : Sea Witch Format : library/finished review copy Page Count : 368/416 Genre : YA Fantasy Publisher : Harper Collins Release Date : August 8, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★
4 star review of Sea Witch
Okay, so that was so much more in every way, more than I anticipated and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride of this clever retelling. I really couldn’t anticipate the direction of the characters or the story based on my knowledge of the original tale, the movie or my expectations.
There’s a foursome of friends in this book, some childhood friends and there was a coming of age and changing of affection vibe to the foundation of the storytelling. At the fore was Evie, the lead protagonist, her best friend Anna, her other best friend Nik and also Ikir (two princes). It’s a tale with undertones of different sides of the track. The Scandinavian feel to the story was rich and welcome as was the magic.
The narrative unfurled mainly in the present but with the gradual revealing of a tragedy told in the past. Annemette’s appearance had me on my guard but her tale was tragic and full of neediness. Evie was a loyal but confused friend. Magic was taboo in this world and Evie’s natural aptitude to the craft caused such a risk.
The story brings some complications to friendships and growing attractions. Betrayal was on the menu as were twists in the storyline. I didn’t see some of the turns in this story and I loved where it went. The epilogue left me shocked. Roll on book two, I can’t wait to read you!
3.5-4 star review of Sea Witch Rising
That epilogue at the end of SEA WITCH was a killer and so SEA WITCH RISING picks up at that point in time where on land in Denmark, Europe is poised for World War II. Evie returns in her end role from the previous book and my favourite part of this book was Evie.
The Sea Witch was more of an endearing character, with more humanity than Disney portrayed and this led to a richer story for me. The connections to Niklas’ family made for a story that spun generations. There were a new set of Mer-characters, Alia and Runa and the Sea King came more to the fore. On land, there was some history repeating and new characters in the form of Will and Sofie mainly. Runa was a strong protagonist alongside Evie and I really liked her character.
I found the first part of this story very strong but the was some waning in the plot in the second half, all this was mitigated by a strong culmination in the story overall, which ultimately left me satisfied.
As a duet, these books were a solid YA fantasy read with a great take on Hans Christian Andersons’ original tales and they swept into my imagination making a colourful picture. I liked how the Sea Witch was ‘born’ and humanised and this aspect will remain my favourite element of these tales. The covers are particularly beautiful and I must say they look eye-catching on my shelf. I’ll be looking out for Sarah Henning’s upcoming contemporary books as I did enjoy her writing.
Thank you to the publisher and the amazon vine programme for this review copy.
As the renowned granddaughter of Isabella Camherst (Lady Trent, of the riveting and daring Draconic adventure memoirs) Audrey Camherst has always known she, too, would want to make her scholarly mark upon a chosen field of study.
When Lord Gleinheigh recruits Audrey to decipher a series of ancient tablets holding the secrets of the ancient Draconean civilization, she has no idea that her research will plunge her into an intricate conspiracy, one meant to incite rebellion and invoke war. Alongside dearest childhood friend and fellow archeologist Kudshayn, must find proof of the conspiracy before it’s too late.
TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT is a delightful fantasy of manners, the heir to the award-winning Natural History of Dragons series, a perfect stepping stone into an alternate Victorian-esque fantasy landscape.
Title : Turning Darkness Into Light Author : Marie Brennan Format : Paperback (Finished Copy) Page Count : 400 Genre : Fantasy Publisher : Titan Books Release Date : August 20, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★
Micky’s 2.5 -3 star review
Do you like dragons, mystery and ancient antiquities with a bit of an Indiana Jones feeling? If the answer is yes then TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT might be the book for you. It is marketed as a standalone fantasy and it can standalone, however I do believe that readers of Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent series will have a great advantage when reading this.
This book has a feminist tone all the way through and the main protagonist, Audrey is commissioned to study and translate some rare tablets recently found. Audrey is a young but accomplished academic type, from a family of similar types. Audrey was likeable, she took risks and she knew that she needed help. That help came in the shape of Kudshayn, another archeologist.
With Kudshayn, my confusion about the world only grew and I have to say I struggled with being in the dark through most of the book. There is little world building and assumptions are made that the reader can just go with what’s happening and accept the odd, vague reveal about the world and species existing. The Draconean species and culture was not explained adequately and I do believe that to standalone, more world building was needed.
The book is told in a variety of styles, the contemporary, many letters and some newspaper articles. I enjoyed the variety of storytelling styles. Audrey’s POV is occasionally interspersed by Kudshayn and another POV. The story builds and builds around this translation of tablets to a great crescendo, involving a variety of characters and criminal activity.
This was an interesting but sometimes frustrating read for me. I loved the cover, the idea of the story and Marie Brennan’s writing was enjoyable in the main. I would consider going back and reading the Lady Trent series.
Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone! As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.
THE LAST WIDOW is the ninth installment in the Will Trent series. If you’re already a fan of these books, or this author, the less you know the better. But considering the end of book eight in this series? I. Can’t. Wait.
TURNING DARKNESS INTO LIGHT is a standalone fantasy by Marie Brennan set in an existing world explored in a series by this author. It’s a suspenseful fantasy with dragons, other civilisations and sounds like an Indiana Jones-esque historical fantasy. Micky’s review will be up later.
Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!
**Reviews edited April 2021. Micky & Hollis have left their original ratings and reviews but we would like to state that we hadn’t realised the harmful elements of the books in this series until now. For that, we are really sorry – we are referring to Asian stereotyping, antisemitic and albinism elements that have hurt readers. If our original reviews were conveyed as an endorsement of these issues, we want to apologise for that. We are learning and will continue to do so.**
Assassin Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church ministry think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending Consul Scaeva and Cardinal Duomo, or avenging her familia. And after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia begins to suspect the motives of the Red Church itself.
When it’s announced that Scaeva and Duomo will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end them. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between loyalty and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.
Title : Godsgrave Author : Jay Kristoff Series : The Nevernight Chronicle Format : eBook/audio Page Count : 448 Genre : NA fantasy Publisher : St Martin’s Press Release Date : September 5, 2017
“The problem with being a librarian is there’s some lessons you just can’t learn from a book. And the problem with being an assassin is there’s some mysteries you just can’t solve by stabbing fuck out of them.”
If you, too, have read GODSGRAVE, I have no doubt this is one of probably only two reactions you had to that ending. Because hahahahah.. etc.
“You’re not helping.” “.. I am offering moral support..“ “You’re being an annoying little shit.” “.. that too..”
But the sound of my mania aside, this was heads and bloody tails above book one. I had seen potential in NEVERNIGHT but there was just something missing, some depth, or some.. thing. I don’t even know. But GODSGRAVE? It had all the blood, violence, and sex of book one but somehow didn’t feel like a YA book trying not to be a YA book. This one seemed to find its own niche, revel in its unique existence, and just thrive in its adultness; instead of trying to find the balance between the YA and the dark.
“He was a hero.” “We all think that of our parents. They give us life, after all. It’s easy to mistake them for gods.“
The whole setting for book two is so different, and I loved it, even if the drive is still the same. The goal, the end game, nothing has changed. Mia is out for revenge and she has to get very creative in how she goes about that. And oh are the twists glorious. O glory!
“How do you endure the unendurable?“ “We have a saying in Vaan : in every breath, hope abides. Just keeping breathing, little Crow.“
And then there’s that ending. Big reveals, big surprises, big climax. If I didn’t have an ARC of book three at my fingertips I would be s h r i e k i n g right now. Or just laugh myself silly. As above.
“You don’t find any irony in earning your place in a cult of assassins by saving half a dozen lives?“ “I killed almost a hundred men in the process.”
If you gave NEVERNIGHT a chance and just didn’t love it, for whatever reason, I would highly recommend pushing on. This was a rewarding, riveting, raucous experience, even if it took me forever to read, and I don’t regret a single moment spent with this thicc monster.
Micky’s 3.5-4 star review
3.5 – 4 stars
GODSGRAVE didn’t blow me away in the same way that NEVERNIGHT did. I missed T, I don’t like Ashlin so that was a struggle throughout and most of all I missed the Red Church. In NEVERNIGHT, the book really took off for me when Mia got to the Red Church, so that was a hole in my story heart.
The first third of the book had me confused, there seemed to be three different timelines and situations at play and I just couldn’t put them together, even though each was engaging on its own. I think some of this was to do with the disconnect audio sometimes brings where you can’t go back over a passage easily, or flick through previous pages. When those storylines finally wove together, I felt more involved in the story.
Mia remains one of the most fascinating characters I’ve ever read, getting into her head (it’s damn sketchy in there) is like running the gauntlet but still I continue. Mia and Ash, I mean some of that was a little hot blushy, but I overall don’t buy into their relationship. And again, I miss T.
Jay Kristoff knows how to leave you with boom, boom and boom at the end. The reveals just came like a run of bullets and I sat there with my jaw open. He has guarenteed my continuing investment in this series and I look forward to DARKDAWN even while I shield my heart a little.
They call him the Duke of Ruin. To an undaunted wallflower, he’s just the beast next door.
Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society—and now he wants to get even.
Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.
When her imposing—and attractive—new neighbor demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.
Done, Gabriel says. How hard can it be to find homes for a few kittens?
And a two-legged dog.
And a foul-mouthed parrot.
And a goat, an otter, a hedgehog . . .
Easier said than done, for a cold-blooded bastard who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse. Soon he’s covered in cat hair, knee-deep in adorable, and bewitched by a shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. Now she’s set her mind and heart on saving him.
Not if he ruins her first.
Title : The Wallflower Wager Author : Tessa Dare Series : Girl Meets Duke #3 Format : eARC Page Count : 368 Genre : Historical Romance Publisher : Avon Release Date : August 13, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
I think I have found a Dare book that has pipped ‘When the Scot Ties the Knot’ to the top spot because THE WALLFLOWER WAGER delighted my reading heart in the best way possible. Gush alert!
This is a novel of wit, with a rich and heart-warming story and characters that I want to read again and again. I was laughing along by a few pages in and the humour really didn’t ebb at all. The story of Penny and Gabe was one literally surrounded by animals – goats, an otter, a parrot, kittens and a disabled dog. It was enchanting and I now feel attached to them all.
This was also a story of insecurities and hearts looking for a home. Penny was a spinster-hermit, she had retreated to her life with animals, content in her small circle of company. The way Gabe and Penny met had me highlighting so many moments in the book and from there, these two were hilarious and full of chemistry. Gabe was a self-made man with a reputation for unscrupulous business dealings. I loved the developing friendship between these two. They had a real platonic connection and as this developed into more, the friendship remained. I adored them and I loved their shared ideals and values.
Now I’ve come to look at all the quotes I’ve highlighted and they’re all either super-racy or spoilery, so I won’t be sharing those but just know that the banter, dialogue and narrative is fun and delicious.
Thank you Ms Dare for bringing this delightful story into my life. I will re-read this without a doubt.
Thank you to Avon Publishing and Edelweiss for the early copy.
ERIC: There was the day we were born. There was the minute Morgan and I decided we were best friends for life. The years where we stuck by each other’s side—as Morgan’s mom died, as he moved across town, as I joined the football team, as my parents started fighting. But sometimes I worry that Morgan and I won’t be best friends forever. That there’ll be a day, a minute, a second, where it all falls apart and there’s no turning back the clock.
MORGAN: I know that every birthday should feel like a new beginning, but I’m trapped in this mixed-up body, in this wrong life, in Nowheresville, Tennessee, on repeat. With a dad who cares about his football team more than me, a mom I miss more than anything, and a best friend who can never know my biggest secret…
We don’t know any serious bookworms (we are very serious, I hope you know this) that don’t have a procrastination problem when it comes to their TBR. We can procrastinate about hyped books, friend’s recs and gifted books (Hollis is really good at this one). Whatever your reason, most bookies have some books that have been on their TBR rather a long time. Let’s talk about them and why we behave in this weird way.
Micky here. I procrastinate for procrastination’s sake, I think. I get all sorts of stubborn, internal adolescent rebellion for no reason whatsoever if I feel pressured to read a book I’m just not feeling at that time. Sometimes I’ll jump on a hyped book like it’s chocolate but more often than not I need to wait for the hype to die down and sometimes it’s taken me a couple of years to reach for a book after this. Big books also scare me, like the 800-1000 page books, because I think of all the other books I could be reading when I’m reading a tome. Anyway, that’s my psychology and now I’m going to list the books that have been on my TBR (that I own) for the longest time.
Now, Hollis is extremely organised with her reading, probably the opposite of a procrastinator but lets ask her if she has a book or two to list. Er.. Hollis!
I would just like to go on the record that this post feels like a personal attack considering there are certain books a certain someone has gifted me that she is fully aware that I haven’t read. Yet. Her name rhymes with.. you so fine you blow my mind, hey!
But anyway, I honestly couldn’t tell you why I procrastinate on some books vs others. I know my major reading flaw is to prioritize things I need to read vs want to read but I’m also not a mood reader (as discussed before) so this never really feels like a huge bother, y’know? That said, there’s also some pressure felt to love said recommended/gifted books and maybe I’m shying away because I have a tendency to poop on peoples’ parades. Anyway, excuses aside, here’s the list of books that have been specifically recommended to me (because the other list, of things I just want to read, is wayyyy too long) and are literally on my kindle and that I’m terrible for not yet attempting.
People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.
Nobody knows that Zafira is the Hunter. Forced to disguise herself as a man, she braves the cursed forest to feed her people. If she is exposed as a girl, all of her achievements will be rejected.
Nasir is the infamous Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If he refuses he will be punished in the most brutal of ways.
Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya – but neither wants to be. And when Zafira embarks on a quest to restore magic to her suffering world, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve magic and kill the hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds, and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine . . .
Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, Hafsah Faizal’s We Hunt the Flame – first in the Sands of Arawiya duology – is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.
Title : We Hunt The Flame Author : Hafsah Faisal Series : Sands of Arawiya #1 Format : eARC Page Count : 480 Genre : YA Fantasy Publisher : Macmillan Children’s Books Release Date : August 8, 2019
Reviewer : Micky Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”
This debut was crafted with skill, complexity and a writing maturity that speaks of more experience than a first book. I bought into this story from the first few pages and it was the kind of tale that built and pulled you in more as you read.
WE HUNT THE FLAME is a fantasy needing quite a bit of world building but this was cleverly accomplished in the background and not with lengthy explanation or description. As the story played out, I understood and grasped increasing details about Arawiya, Sharr and the cultures of the different races within this land.
“We are all flesh and blood, soul and heart. Capable of malevolence, just as much as benevolence. One wrong does not make evil.”
There are two protagonists in this tale, Zafira, the huntress masquerading as a hunter and Nasir, the Prince of Darkness, an assassin. Both these characters were deep, complex and Nasir in particular, was not particularly likeable until you began to know more about him. The whole story was leading to their journey together as a reluctant gang on a mission. There were great characters in this gang and Altair was a particular favourite. This is a story of good and evil on a grand scale but also the inner battle for good and evil on a personal level.
The story was steadily paced at first, but from about a quarter of the way in, the tempo increased and it was fast-paced all the way to the end. There was the feeling of quest and adventure, sliced with danger and a sinister power. All was not what it seemed and there were two fantastic plot twists towards the end, followed by an explosive ending.
I simply cannot wait to read more from this world. I feel attached to the characters, I truly enjoyed the creation of Arawiya and Hafsah Faisal’s writing was a joy. This author has such potential and I hope to read much more from her in the future.