With the whirlwind that was the Toronto Fringe Festival over for another year, I have more time on my hands and what better way to ease back into blogging than with a book tag? Thanks to the wonderful Rachel @ pace, amore, libri for the tag!
Find a book on your shelves with a
blue pink cover. What made you pick up the book in the first place?
I read John Boyne’s latest novel, The Heart’s Invisible Furies (which I went on to name my favourite book of 2017) and intended to read more of his works, but it was Rachel’s rave that bumped this one to the top of my TBR. Rachel, Steph, and I share a love for painful books that hurt in the best possible way, so when Rachel sent us this text, I knew I had to pick it up!
I may not have been as destroyed by The Absolutist as I was by The Heart’s Invisible Furies, but I did love it and am now a card-carrying member of the John Boyne fanclub.
Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy but did. Why did you read it in the first place?
I knew that Room by Emma Donoghue was beloved by critics, but based on the subject matter and synopsis alone, I really didn’t expect to enjoy it. I picked the novel up with some trepidation when the book club I was in a few years ago chose it as our next read. I’m thrilled to say that I was wrong. I loved Room and gave it a full five stars, finding it distressing yes, but also powerful, inventive, and incredibly well-paced. I really miss being in a book club because it opened me up to reading books I never would have picked up on my own. Some of them, like In Cold Blood, Room, and The Devil in the White City, I enjoyed. Some of the choices – I did not. Either way though I read more broadly than I do when left to my own devices and that’s never a bad thing.
Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick up a book at random. How did you discover this book?
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I first encountered this book on a university course list while completing my English degree! I read a lot of mediocre books in university but this was not one of them. From the moment I encountered it in my Science-Fiction and Fantasy Literature course I fell in love. It’s definitely my favourite Gaiman novel that I’ve read so far, and re-reading was that much rewarding after I had visited London and actually been on the Underground.
Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?
In an effort to get away from listing the, by now surely into double-digits, recommendations I’ve directly or indirectly received from Rachel, I was introduced to Y.S. Lee’s The Agency series by my friend Annmarie. There’s a great shortage of good YA historical fiction out there, so I really enjoyed this quartet about an all-female spy agency in Victorian London. The first book is called A Spy in the House and introduces the banter-filled dialogue that is a hallmark of the relationship between the protagonist and her love interest. I love Mary Quinn herself as well. She’s independent, resourceful, and feisty at a time when women were supposed to be anything but.
Pick a book you discovered through book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a wonderful example of a book that honestly does live up to the hype. Obviously it had appeared on bestseller lists and book blogs since before I even started blogging and I always meant to pick it up, but it took me awhile to get to it. I’m so glad that I did because it’s not only an important book thematically, it’s also damned well-written. Starr is a compelling protagonist, the book is complex and doesn’t paint everyone with the same brush, and although moral lessons are imparted, they never feel heavy-handed.
Find a book on your shelves with a one word title. What drew you to this book?
Melusine by Sarah Monette has a truly awful cover, but it was recommended to me by my friend Kiera, who also enjoys painful (usually fantasy) books. She lent me her copy (the books are, devastatingly, out of print) and I fell in love. The four book series features political intrigue (another fav trope of mine), brilliant world-building, and shifts perspectives between Felix, a flamboyant, often infuriating, wizard and his half-brother Mildmay, a gruff, street-smart thief and assassin with a crippling inferiority complex. I have a love-hate relationship with Felix, but Mildmay is one of my favourite fictional characters of all time. Their voices are so different it’s difficult to believe they’re written by the same author and the books are among my absolute favourites, although they deal with dark subject matter and are not for the faint of heart.
What book did you discover through a film/TV adaptation?
The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff. For some reason, probably the fact that even though objectively it’s bad, it contains several tropes that I enjoy in fiction, I like the action-adventure movie The Eagle starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell. I’d been meaning to read the middle grade historical fiction book from the 1950s that it was based on for years, but only got around to it when I saw the book for sale while visiting Housesteads Roman Fort in Northumberland a few months ago.
Think of your all-time favorite books. When did you read these and why did you pick them up in the first place?
I’m just choosing a few of my favourites here: The Game of Kings (Book #1 in The Lymond Chronicles) by Dorothy Dunnett, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.
Two reasons for The Lymond Chronicles: 1) I was reading C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince series (back when it was being published chapter by chapter on Livejournal) and she often mentioned the influence that Dunnett had on her writing (try reading Captive Prince after you’ve read Lymond – there are A LOT of similarities) and how Dunnett’s writing was a masterclass in tension; 2) I was looking for more historical fiction recs and Dunnett’s name came up on multiple message boards in the same sentence as authors like Sharon Kay Penman, who I’d enjoyed.
I was a long-time fan of the musical Les Miserables. From a young age I played the cassette and sang along with the songs even before I understood what they were about. When I was a teenager I read a very abridged (I think it was about 500 pages) version of the novel and honestly thought that was it, it was only when I got a bit older that I realized I hadn’t actually read Les Miserables as it was intended. I tackled the unabridged version over the winter in 2011 and although it’s definitely a “project book”, it requires dedication to get through, it’s honestly one of my favourite books and brought me to tears.
I read and enjoyed Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy so I picked up Six of Crows because I enjoyed the world that she had created and found it original within YA Fantasy fiction. I was blown away. The Grisha trilogy is enjoyable, but not on the same level as Six of Crows, which along with its sequel are among my favourite books ever!
I’ve been out of the loop, so I’m not sure who’s been tagged or not, but if you’re interested in doing this tag, consider yourself tagged!