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One of the first books you fell in love with
My favourite picture book is a gorgeously illustrated book called The Balloon Tree by Phoebe Gilman. When Princess Leora’s father, the King, travels to a neighbouring kingdom, he tells Leora to signal him by sending up balloons if anything goes wrong. But her uncle, the archduke, is plotting to take over the kingdom. He locks Leora in her room and orders that every balloon in the kingdom be popped. With the help of a wizard, a boy, and the last balloon in the kingdom, she plants a balloon tree that blossoms into thousands of balloons and saves her kingdom from the evil archduke. Funnily enough I actually don’t like balloons and the popping noise makes me flinch, but I love this book anyway! As an adult working in a kids section of a bookstore, I often recommended this classic to customers and I hope other little girls and boys enjoyed it as much as I did!
A book you knew you were going to love from the first page
I knew instantly that Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell would be my kind of book from the sense of humour on the first page. The book opens as follows:
“Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians. They met upon the third Wednesday of every month and read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic.
They were gentleman-magicians, which is to say they had never harmed any one by magic – nor ever done any one the slightest good. In fact, to own the truth, not one of these magicians had ever cast the smallest spell, nor by magic caused one leaf to tremble upon a tree, made one mote of dust to alter its course or changed a single hair upon any one’s head. But, with this one minor reservation, they enjoyed a reputation as some of the wisest and most magical gentlemen in Yorkshire.”
This is still one of the best opening pages I’ve ever read. I love how it sets the scene by introducing the state of magic in the world and the type of people who practice it, and I adore the wry humour in this book. The fact that it begins in my favourite historical period, Georgian England, certainly doesn’t hurt either!
A book you didn’t think you would love as much as you do
Believe it or not, when I read The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett for the first time in 2012 I wasn’t sure if I would read the rest of the six book series until I was about two-thirds of the way in. Fast-forward five years and I’ve re-read the book two or three times and am planning a full series re-read starting in January! The Game of Kings was Dorothy Dunnett’s first novel and it’s a dense read, but so incredibly worth persevering through. Part of the reason why it’s a more difficult read is that Dunnett lets us see the protagonist, Francis Crawford of Lymond, only through the eyes of other characters, most of whom don’t have the full story. Re-reading the novel, when you’re aware of what Lymond’s motives and goals is a really interesting experience.
The character who will always have a place in your heart
I will always have a soft spot for Mildmay the Fox from Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series. A former kept-thief and assassin, Mildmay suffers an injury that permanently damages his leg, ending his burglary career and crippling his already low self-esteem. This isn’t helped by a fraught relationship with his half-brother Felix, a wizard, who puts Mildmay down further based on his grammatically incorrect and lower-class method of speaking, or by the sexual and appearance issues he has from his upbringing. Although Mildmay can’t see it, he’s also loyal to a fault, more intelligent than he gives himself credit for, kind, and shy. The Doctrine of Labyrinths series is, in short, a series about two incredibly damaged people who try to get better but the journey is more one step forward, two steps back than a straightforward march.
Character you love on the page, but would never want to meet in real life
Don’t get me wrong, I love Francis Crawford of Lymond from Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles a lot. He is one of my favourite literary characters of all time, but I would NEVER EVER want to meet him. Okay, maybe I’d like to catch a glimpse of him from a distance and see what those cornflower blue eyes, yellow hair soft as a nestling, and long fingers, look like in person, just don’t introduce me!
Literary couple you will ship until the day you die
I have to go with Ronan Lynch and Adam Parrish from Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle, one of few slow-burn romances where I physically made squealing noises when they kissed and had to remember to breathe. I love this relationship so much and I think they complement each other so well.
An author whose writing style you fell in love with
I have my issues with the way that Patrick Rothfuss has written women so far in his The Kingkiller Chronicles series, but I adore his prose. There’s a lyrical quality to his writing and a sense that this is an author who loves telling stories. His world-building is often wonderful (particularly “sympathy”, the magic system he develops, and the communication system of the Adem in The Wise Man’s Fear) and I mostly enjoy the more modern dialogue used for characters in his world.
A book recommended to you by a friend/family member that you quickly fell for too
Book blogging friend Rachel of pace, amore, libri recommended A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara in a roundabout way. She was mostly posting to warn the majority of people not to read it due to the massive number of triggers contained in this book and the utter pain of it. Me, being me, read this and went ‘oooohh this sounds like something I’d like!’ Sure enough, I LOVED this book. It’s every bit as triggery and dark as I’d heard and I’d definitely be cautious in recommending it to others, but if it’s your type of book (heavy on the hurt), you will probably love it as much as we did. What an exquisitely written dark fairy tale with characters who mean so much to me!
Piece of book-related merchandise that you had to own
I have a large mug collection that’s threatening to take over another shelf in my kitchen, but I couldn’t resist this ‘No Mourners, No Funerals’ mug! It looks like the artist has changed the font since I bought the mug (and tbh I kind of prefer the version I have) but it’s still pretty great and her shop has a ton of other gorgeous book-related mugs too.
An author whose works you love so much that you auto-buy/borrow their new releases
Appropriately enough after showing off my mug, the answer here is Leigh Bardugo. I’ve never been let down by anything of hers I’ve read (although I’m definitely glad I read the Grisha books before the Six of Crows duology). I thought The Language of Thorns was gorgeous, and I look forward to reading her Nikolai series(!!!) and anything else she chooses to write!
Rachel at pace, amore, libri
Steph at Lost Purple Quill
Hadeer at Hadeer Writes
Darque Dreamer Reads
As always, feel free not to do this, and if you aren’t tagged but think it looks interesting please go for it and link back to me so I can read your answers!
Happy Fall everyone!