Pick my December classic!

2015 Classics Challenge

I can’t believe we’re coming to the end of the 2015 Classics Challenge! (But don’t worry, the challenge will return in 2016!). I’m reading Charles Dickens’ Great Expectation this month, but, as promised, you get to pick my December classic! In January, you picked Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen for me to read. Now choose from the classics below!

For pre-1945 classics, I picked Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. I’ve never read anything by her before, so it seems a good time to start. And I’m curious about Three Men in a Boat – it’s meant to be very funny! I also picked two post-1945 classics. I chose John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos and newly bought We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – both spooky in their own ways! And lastly, I included two children’s classics. I’m very much looking forward to reading both Dodie Smith’s The Hundred and One Dalmatians, beautifully illustrated by Alex T. Smith, and Susan Cooper’s fantasy adventure, The Dark is Rising. But which one I pick up in December is up to you!

What will be your last classic of the year?


Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners (#1)
Young adult fiction (fantasy, historical, mystery, horror)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads
Challenge: Halloween TBR – #3

I’ve owned The Diviners for over 3 years and I finally picked it up as part of this year’s Halloween reads. Hurrah! I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this 1920s murder mystery. Evie O’Neill’s secret ability has led her from small-town Ohio to sparkling New York City, full of speakeasies and Ziegfield girls. She’s living with Uncle ‘Unc’ Will at the Museum of Creepy Crawlies when she befriends a whole host of alluring characters: Sam, Jericho, Mabel and Theta, all with their own credible histories and drawn by beautiful writing. Together they attempt to solve the murders before it’s too late.

The mystery of creepy Naughty John was certainly an experience. Libba Bray has an impressive ability to make it as eerie as possible – from our opening chapter, where we’re introduced to something terrible being unleashed, to the chilling points of view of the victims before they’re murdered. She presents New York as somewhere dark and dangerous, but also intriguing.  Although I’ve never been a superfan of 1920s America, it was difficult to resist. It was compelling and magical and sinister, with scary things lurking in the shadows. I couldn’t help but be drawn to it – by both the glamour and the grittiness.

The Diviners is wonderfully crafted, with incredible detail. We’re told so much about the time, the characters, and the mystery. The reader accompanies Evie and friends on their investigation into the gruesome, brutal murders occurring across the city, with links to religion and the occult. If I had any reservations at all, it would be that I’d have preferred the story to be ~200 pages shorter to tighten it up and make it a little more fast-paced, which appeals to me as a slow reader. But this extra time did mean that we got to delve into the characters’ complicated pasts. It enabled Libba Bray to bring 1920s New York City to life.

The Diviners is a stunning mystery that takes us back to the Roaring Twenties and the supernatural horrors found there. I’m looking forward to meeting new Diviners and a new mystery in Lair of Dreams.

Published: September 2012
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (US) Atom (UK)
Pages: 592

Books On My TBR / HalloweenBooks On My TBR / Halloween

Illumicrate Unboxing

Illumicrate Unboxing
I wrote about my friend Daphne’s new business, Illumicrate, a little while ago. Illumicrate is a quarterly subscription box for book lovers. I said I’d do an unboxing post when my crate arrived – and I’m glad to say that time has come! I receive express delivery (i.e. I made Daphne bring mine to a book event we were both going to) and opened it as soon as I got home. I don’t want to spoilt it for anyone who hasn’t received their box yet, so click ‘continue reading’ to see what’s inside!

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Behold the Pretty Books! / October Book Haul

Behold the Pretty Books! / October Book Haul
Here are the books I acquired in October!

I went on a mini book shopping spree for Books Are My Bag – an amazing nationwide campaign to celebrate bookshops – and bought Chris Riddell’s Goth Girl and the Wuthering Fright. I attended an event with Chris Riddell and Emily Gravett at Waterstones Piccadilly, and it was lovely to hear how they both started out. I also bought Draw It! Colour It! Creatures, featuring many of my favourite children’s illustrators. And lastly, I bought a copy of Waterstones’ spooky October rediscovered classic, We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

I attended a brilliant Regency Tea at Walker Books and heard from three fascinating authors: Nat Luurtsema, Alison Goodman & Richard Kurti. We were given copies of Maladapted, Hour of the Bees, 20 Questions for Gloria and The Dark Days Club. I’m also particularly excited to read Nat’s hilarious story, Goldfish.

I was also sent a few books for review: Six of Crows and This Raging Light,  both highly recommended to me. And I borrowed Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella from Jim. It looks adorable, illustrated by the lovely Laura Ellen Anderson!

Behold the Pretty Books! / October Book Haul
From NetGalley, I downloaded Beautiful Broken Things, A Little Life, Number 11 and Fortune Smiles. I’ve been intrigued by A LittleLife  since it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and I’ve heard amazing things about Beautiful Broken Things from early reviewers.

I can’t wait to get stuck in! Have you read any of these?

Behold the Pretty Books! / October Book HaulBehold the Pretty Books! / October Book Haul
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Book Review: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Book Review: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud

Series: Lockwood & Co. (#2)
Shelved: Children’s fiction (fantasy, paranormal – ghosts, mystery, horror)
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads
Challenge: Halloween TBR – #2

I forgot how much I love Lockwood, George and Lucy. They’re one of my favourite trios in children’s fiction at the moment, rivalling the most famous of them all. Each character shines, from Lockwood’s inexplicable ability to act and think both like a teenage boy and an old man, George’s chaotic dedication to researching archives and consuming biscuits, and Lucy’s impressive intelligence and determination to solve even the most dangerous of cases and support her argumentative friends. She’s been working at Lockwood & Co. for a year now – and they’d be lost without her.

The Whispering Skull shares a lot less backstory than The Screaming Staircase because the reader is already familiar with the Problem and different types of ghosts, meaning we’re thrown straight into the mystery. This time, powerful supernatural artefacts across London have been stolen, and their warders brutally murdered. Lockwood & Co. have messed up yet another case and are feeling dejected after their triumph solving the mystery of the screaming staircase. That is, until they are called to investigate serious paranormal activity at Kensal Green Cemetery. A suspicious grave of a Victorian doctor has been discovered and inside it, a mirror made of bones with mysterious powers. It has been stolen in the night and it’s up to Lockwood & Co. to solve the case. They must reluctantly work alongside fellow detectives – the Fittes Agency – with a little healthy (and humiliating) competition. And with help from the mysterious whispering skull, housed in a jar in the Lockwood & Co. residence – one of the strongest characters in the book!

The Whispering Skull is a worthy sequel to The Screaming Staircase. It’s full of mystery, adventure, humour – and lots of ghosts! I loved getting to know the trio even more, especially the reserved Anthony Lockwood. I enjoyed watching Lucy’s crush on Lockwood develop, with tension that rivals young adult contemporary romance! It is such a fun series – with the character interactions being a memorable highlight – and I have heard that the third book, The Hollow Boy, is the best so far. I should probably pick it up soon, yes?

“Well, I make that one murder victim, one police interrogation and one conversation with a ghost,” George said. “Now that’s what I call a busy evening.” Lockwood nodded. “To think some people just watch television.”

Published: September 2014
Publisher: Random House Children’s Publishers (UK) Disney Hyperion (US)
Pages: 496
Source: Thank you to the publisher for providing this book for review!

Books On My TBR / Halloween