Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman – A Review

Snow Glass Apples Neil Gaiman

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Colleen Doran
Retellings | Fantasy
Published by Dark Horse
Released August 20th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Many readers of this blog will know that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. I love the whimsy and darkness that permeate his stories. I had never heard of this Snow White reimagining before it was re-published by Dark Horse back in August, but the cover art immediately caught my eye.

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Snow, Glass, Apples is a reimagining of the Snow White fairy tale, where the step-mother isn’t the evil one, but the young girl, Snow White, is. I love that this is a horror-reimagining of the fairy tale, something I’ve never seen done before. The story was delightfully dark and twisted.

As wonderful as Neil Gaiman’s writing for this was, however, the art by Colleen Doran stole the spotlight. It’s gorgeous. I’ll be buying a physical copy of this before long just so I can look at the artwork whenever I want to. It’s perfect.

If you’re looking for a Snow White story with a happy ending, this isn’t for you. It’s very dark, there’s no happy ending, and the story involves vampires. For example:

“If it were today, I would have her heart cut out, true. But then I would have her head and arms and legs cut off. I would have them disembowel her. And then I would watch, in the town square, as the hangman heated the fire to white-heat with bellows, watch unblinking as he consigned each part of her to the fire. I would have archers around the square, who would shoot any bird or animal who came close to the flames, any raven or dog or hawk or rat. And I would not close my eyes until the princess was ash, and a gentle wind could scatter her like snow.

I did not do this thing, and we pay for our mistakes.”

It probably won’t happen, but I would love to see this story turned into a film or television show.

If you like Neil Gaiman or dark fairy tale reimaginings or just amazing art, definitely pick up this book.


What is your favorite Snow White retelling or reimagining? Let us know in the comments!




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Doctor Who: Nothing O’Clock by Neil Gaiman – A Review

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Doctor Who: Nothing O’Clock (E-Short #11) by Neil Gaiman
Science Fiction | Short Story
Published by Puffin
Released November 21, 2013
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

This is another book that I read for the 2019 Reading Rush, this time for the prompt “Read a book with a non-human main character.” I was coming down to the very last day of the challenge, so thankfully I had this short story downloaded to my Kindle already.

Nothing O’Clock is one of twelve short stories written to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. The series had some fantastic authors contribute to it, such as Holly Black and Patrick Ness. Each short stories tells a tale of a different Doctor.

So far this is the only one of the twelve that I’ve read, but that won’t be the case for long. Neil Gaiman wrote Nothing O’Clock, which follows the Eleventh Doctor (played by Matt Smith in the television series) and his companion Amy Pond.

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When the society of the Times Lords still existed, they built a prison for a species known as the Kin, who were eventually forgotten about, especially after the Time Lords were destroyed. The Kin have escaped, however, and their plan is to legally take over Earth. The Doctor, as can be expected, is having none of this, and it’s up to him to save the day and return the planet back to humanity.

Neil Gaiman is no stranger to Doctor Who. He’s also written two scripts for the television series – “The Doctor’s Wife” and “Nightmare in Silver.” “The Doctor’s Wife” is actually one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes. All of the stories/scripts that Gaiman have written have been for the Eleventh Doctor, and he does such a great job with him.

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Similar to the two scripts Gaiman wrote, Nothing O’Clock is just as dark, creepy, and silly as you’d expect. I’ve always been appreciative of writers who can write the Eleventh Doctor well, and find that perfect blend of hero and madman.

The story is surprisingly complex for how short it is and would have fit right into the television series. The reason I’m rating it three stars is mainly due to the fact that I’m comparing it to other Doctor Who stories – both in the television series and in written form. Compared to the rest of the Doctor Who universe, this story falls a bit flat. It’s still very enjoyable though, so if you’re a Doctor Who fan, this story is a must-read.

Finally, a quick note – this story is available as a Kindle ebook as well as being included in Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories, Trigger Warning


Have you read Nothing O’Clock or any of the other 50th anniversary short stories? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!




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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – A Review

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Magical Realism
Published by William Morrow Books
Released June 18, 2013
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

I re-read Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane during the 2019 Reading Rush as my selection for the “Read a book with five or more words in the title” prompt.

Neil Gaiman has been one of my favorite authors for years, and this was my third re-read of this particular book. It’s quite short (just 181 pages), so I was able to finish it in a single afternoon. It’s a magical realism story that deals with memories, sacrifice, and friendship, and has a very melancholy yet hopeful atmosphere.

Our main character returns to his hometown for a funeral and ends up at an old house at the end of the lane where he grew up. He sets down at the pond and remembers his childhood, especially his friend Lettie Hempstock, and all of the unusual and magical events that took place when he was a child.

There are monsters, magical lands, an adorable kitten that’s pulled from the ground, and so much more. Lettie, her mother, and her grandmother are all amazing characters, and they’re the real stars of this novel.

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You’re left wondering if these events really happened, and that’s part of the magic of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, along with some of Gaiman’s other books. There are questions that you’ll think of while reading this book that are never explicitly answered, but it does not at all take away from the story. In fact, it makes it more enchanting.

The reason Gaiman is one of my favorite authors is his ability to write fantastical, dark, and whimsical narratives, and this novel is an absolutely perfect example of that.

This book features a child as the main character, but it’s typically found in the adult section of bookstores. I think this is a book that people of all age ranges can enjoy. There are a few scenes that feature suicide and sex, although none of these scenes are particularly graphic, so I feel that it’s definitely okay for the young adult audience.

I’m not going to lie – this is a very difficult book to review, especially when I’m not trying to spoil anything. I really believe that this is a book that you should go into blind. While I understand that Neil Gaiman’s writing isn’t for everyone, if you have enjoyed any of his other novels, please give this one on a shot! I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.


Have you read The Ocean at the End of the Lane? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!


Want more Neil Gaiman? Here are a few reviews of his other books:

Good Omens The Graveyard Book The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch


Check out these other books you might enjoy:

Summer of Salt Furthermore | The Night Circus | White is for Witching | City of Ghosts | The Price Guide to the Occult | The Light Between Worlds




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If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – A Review

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Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Humor | Fantasy
Published by William Marrow
Released May 1, 1990
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

I’m furious at myself for not reading this book sooner! It’s been on my TBR for years, and despite Neil Gaiman being one of my favorite authors, for some reason unknown to me, I never found time to read it. I was finally prompted to pick it up since the Amazon Prime series based on it, starring David Tennant, is premiering on May 31st.

This book is hilarious. If you are a fan of funny, absurdist, fantastical novels such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxyyou will absolutely adore this novel.

The synopsis itself is intriguing: Crowley (a demon) and Aziraphale (an angel) are both living on earth and enjoying themselves. As they’ve been there for literal ages, they have reached a pact to let each other do what they will without interference from the other. Eventually, the Antichrist is born, but he is misplaced due to a botched baby-switching. The rest of the story is Crowley and Aziraphale trying to locate the Antichrist to stop the Apocalypse from happening.

There are other characters as well: the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; Newton Pulsifer, a modern-day witchfinder, along with his Witchfinder Sergeant, Shadwell; Madame Tracy, a medium and “painted Jezebel;” and Anathema Device, who is the descendant of Agnes Nutter, who wrote the only accurate book of prophecies. These characters are all bizarre in their own ways, but their stories weave together wonderfully.

Despite the absurdity of the novel, there are bits of wisdom scattered throughout, such as this statement by Aziraphale:

“Evil always contains the seeds of its own destruction. It is ultimately negative, and therefore encompasses its downfall even at its moments of apparent triumph. No matter how grandiose, how well-planned, how apparently foolproof an evil plan, the inherent sinfulness will by definition rebound upon its instigators. No matter how apparently successful it may seem upon the way, at the end it will wreck itself. It will founder upon the rocks on iniquity and sink headfirst to vanish without trace into the seas of oblivion.”

The novel is a fun adventure and there were so many times when I caught myself laughing out loud while I was reading it at work, which isn’t something that happens often. This is one of those books that I know I’ll be able to read over and over again without getting tired of it.

If you like the style of either Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett on their own, chances are you’ll enjoy this.

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman – A Review

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The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch
Written by Neil Gaiman
Art by Michael Zulli
Graphic Novel
Goodreads
Released April 1, 2008
Published by Dark Horse Books
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_stars

I had never heard of this Neil Gaiman graphic novel until I came across it while perusing the comic book shelves at my local library. As I’ve mentioned so many times on this blog, I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, so I added it to my pile without looking at the synopsis or anything else.

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch is about a group of four people, including Miss Finch, who go to an urban underground circus together. A lot of bizarre things happen, and the acts of the circus are all over the place – from flying ghostly apparitions to a man hanging from the ceiling by his nipples to a guy in a fish costume motorcycling around the audience. Miss Finch disappears, and we’re left wondering what happened to her.

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While this was an interesting graphic novel, it wasn’t one of my favorite Neil Gaiman works. It was difficult for me to get past how much I disliked the art. It wasn’t that the art was bad, it was just of a style that I personally don’t enjoy in comics or graphic novels. It was a little rough around the edges and had a watercolor quality to it. Again, I think the art is good and does seem to work for the story, I just wasn’t a fan of it.

My favorite books or stories are the type that leaves you guessing and thinking about it even after you close the book. This is not one of those. While the story was entertaining, after I finished it I found that I stopped thinking about it after setting it down. I didn’t realize this at the time I read it, but apparently, this is a graphic novel adaptation of one of Gaiman’s short stories. I feel that I may have appreciated it more in story format. The graphic novel format felt too short and rushed.

This was by no means a terrible graphic novel or story, and it was mildly entertaining, but it just wasn’t for me. I definitely favor Neil Gaiman’s novels more than his graphic novels. I’ve read three of them, and none of them lived up to my expectations.


Have you read The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch? What did you think?

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – A Review

“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

The Book

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Middle-Grade | Magical Realism | Supernatural | Fantasy
Published by HarperCollins
Released September 30, 2008
Goodreads
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thrift Books

Synopsis

An infant accidentally escapes the murder of his entire family and finds shelter in a nearby graveyard. The ghosts in the graveyard adopt the child and name him Nobody Owens, or Bod for short.

Bod is raised by the ghosts, along with his guardian, Silas, who’s not quite dead and not quite living. Bod is given the freedom of the graveyard and learns many tricks, including how to fade into the background and visit dreams.

Bod is kept from leaving the graveyard because dangers lurk outside of the gates. Namely, Jack, the man who murdered Bod’s original family, is still out to get him.

Growing up in a graveyard certainly isn’t boring though. Bod has a ton of adventures with both the living and dead. Ultimately, he must confront the man who is responsible for his family’s demise.

Review

I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors and that The Graveyard Book is one of my favorite books of all time. I have no idea how many times I’ve read this book, but it’s a pretty high number. I’ve also listened to the audiobook, narrated by Neil Gaiman, a couple of times.

There are so many reasons I adore this novel as much as I do. First, it’s a fun adventure story that deals with complicated subjects, such as murder. One of the best things about The Graveyard Book is that Gaiman writes in a concise, casual way, which is striking against the backdrop of violence. The best place to see this is in the opening chapter when Jack is murdering the family.

Bod is a very well-written character who learns to live despite being surrounded by the dead. He wants to see the world and meet people. Growing up in a graveyard only makes him want to live more, and I love that about Bod. He’s also an immensely likable character.

So many of the side characters in the book are just as enjoyable as Bod; we’ve got Silas, Bod’s mysterious guardian; Liza, who was drowned for witchcraft; Miss Lupescu, Bod’s teacher that has more to her than meets the eye; and a trio of nasty ghouls: the Duke of Westminster, the Honorable Archibald Fitzhugh, and the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

Another reason I enjoy this book so much is that I’ve always been the sort of person who hangs around in graveyards. In fact, when I lived in Asheville, NC, much of my free time was spent at Riverside Cemetary, where I would go to get away from people, read, meditate, have picnics. Graveyards are very peaceful places, and I loved reading a book set in one that wasn’t your standard horror story.

This book will make you smile and you will like Bod so much that you really want him to succeed in life. It’s well-written and just lovely. This book would be a great place to start if you’re new to Neil Gaiman.

Verdict

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This story is perfect. I have zero complaints, and I know I’m going to continue to reread this book frequently.

The 10 Most Exciting Comic Books Released This Week

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s comic book release day! Here are some of the most exciting issues coming out. For a complete list, head over to Midtown Comics.

Not sure where to buy your comics? Check out Comic Shop Locator for shops near you. If you don’t live in an area with a local shop, you can purchase from Midtown Comics, directly from the publisher, or through Comixology if you prefer digital copies.

Curse Words #17 by Charles Soule and Ryan Browne

Curse Words is one of my favorite currently-running series. It’s a fun story about wizards and magic, it’s quirky, and the art and colors are stunning.

Mr & Mrs X #4 by Kelly Thompson and Oscar Bazaldua

Gambit has been one of my favorite Marvel characters since I watched the X-Men cartoons as a child, and when he and Rogue got married earlier this year, I quite literally screeched from excitement. I love everything about this series, and Kelly Thompson is a wonderful comic book writer.

Shuri #1 by Nnedi Okorafor and Leonardo Romero

Nnedi Okorafor is the author of the Binti series. I’m thrilled that Shuri is getting her own series, and they couldn’t have chosen a better writer.

X-Men Black Mystique #1 by Seanan McGuire, Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, and Marco Failla

This issue is all about the life and adventures of Raven Darkholme, also known as Mystique. She’s always been an intriguing character to me, so I’m looking forward to reading this.

American Gods My Ainsel #7 by Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell, and Scott Hampton

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, and American Gods is one of my favorite books. This is a comic book retelling of Gaiman’s novel.

Injustice 2 #36 by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo

I’m mentioning this one simply because I believe that Tom Taylor is one of the best comic book writers currently working. His work on All-New Wolverine was incredible.

Gideon Falls #7 by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino

While I haven’t actually read this series myself yet, I’ve heard from so many others that this is a great series. It’s already been picked up for a television series.

Stellar #5 by Joseph Keatinge and Bret Blevins

In this new series, “Stellar visits the family she never had – and fights for her life, with more on the line than ever before!”

Daredevil Vol 5 #609 by Charles Soule and Phil Noto

With the much-anticipated release of season three of Netflix’s Daredevil being released today (!), now is the perfect time to start reading the comic series, or get caught up with it.

Infinity Wars Weapon Hex #1 by Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, and Gerardo Sandoval

Part of the on-going Infinity Wars Marvel event, this issue focuses on Wanda, part of a dark weapons programs, and one of the deadliest people now on earth.

 

What issues are you most excited about this week?

October TBR

It’s finally October! I love this month so much. Pumpkin everything, the leaves changing color, spooky stuff everywhere, cooler weather… there’s just so much to love. The fall is a time when I always feel rejuvenated and at my happiest.

Since it’s the first day of the month, that means it’s time to put together my TBR list for the month. I doubt I’m going to be able to get through everything on the list, but I am certainly going to try! I also have a habit of picking up books on a whim, so expect this list to change a little.

Currently Reading:

Want to Read:

And then also, a healthy dose of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.

What are you planning on reading this month?


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Header image thanks to Elke Bürgin on Unsplash

Friday Favorites: Penny W

Friday Favorites is a new weekly feature that asks readers to share their favorite books. My boyfriend convinced me to start with my own, so here we are. If you would like to contribute just shoot me a message!

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Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m an avid reader and book blogger, when I’m not spending long hours working in a call center. I’m a huge Star Trek fan, magic delights me, and I wish I could spend all of my time in the mountains. I also collect gnomes and have the cutest cat in existence (see below for proof).

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What type of books are you drawn to?

Definitely science fiction and fantasy, with a focus on anything post-apocalyptic. I also read a lot of contemporary fiction, classics, comic books, and scientific non-fiction. The only genre I don’t read much of is romance.

If you could spend a night hanging out with three authors, living or dead, who would you choose?

Neil Gaiman, for sure. I adore all of his books and have always wanted to meet him. Douglas Adams, because his mind worked in wonderfully weird ways. Margeret Atwood, so I can pick her brain about all of her amazing books.

Which classic or popular book do you hate?

William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying

William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. In all honesty, I should probably give this book another chance because it’s been almost a decade since I read it. However, when I read it in my tenth grade AP English class, it was one of the only books that I didn’t finish. I hated the stream of consciousness narrative, and because of this book, I’m now wary of reading anything by Faulkner.

How do you keep track of books you’ve finished and books you want to read?

I use Goodreads obsessively. It’s so easy to keep track of every single book I read, and my TBR list is out of control. I also keep a handwritten book journal to record books I’ve finished and a few little notes about them.

What are your five favorite books, and why?

  • Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is my favorite book of all time. There is so much that I love about it: the anonymity of the main characters, the perfectly written desolation and horror of their world, and the immense love between father and son. I’ve read this book at least ten times, and it always leaves me sobbing uncontrollably.
  • I stumbled upon Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance by accident when I was wandering around my high school library back in 2004. The novel takes place in India in 1975 and follows several characters as they try to live as best they can. The thing about the book that strikes me the most is simply how real and tragic the characters’ lives are. You find yourself caring about them as if they were your own family.
  • As everyone who knows me or has read this blog is aware of by now, Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. I came across The Graveyard Book in a used bookstore in Asheville, NC, and read it the same night. When I was growing up (and even now, if I’m being honest), I’ve always found myself spending a great deal of time in graveyards, whether I’m meditating, having a picnic, or just wandering around, looking for interesting tombstones. It’s no wonder, then, that this young adult novel of a boy named Nobody being raised by ghosts in an overgrown graveyard is one of my favorites. The audiobook version, read by Neil Gaiman himself, is also worth checking out.
  • My mother introduced me to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit when I was a child, and it’s been my go-to fantasy novel ever since. It’s a perfect adventure story, and simply fun to read. My mother had a beautiful green leather-bound edition, and I used to pull it out of our bookshelf periodically just to hold it and admire it. When I’m feeling down for any reason, I usually find myself wanting to reread this book, because it always leaves me feeling happy and nostalgic.
  • Finally, we come to Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories. My brother introduced me to Rushdie’s work through The Satanic Verses and The Ground Beneath Her Feetboth marvelous and beautifully written works. Rushie writes very poetically, and I’ve always adored that. Haroun and the Sea of Stories, unlike many of his other books, is a very quick read, and follows the story of a father and son. The father is known for his storytelling, but one day finds he’s lost that ability. His son travels to the magical Sea of Stories to find a cure. It’s an amazing book, and one I can’t recommend enough.

Finally, leave us with your favorite bookish quote.

Wherever you go, you take yourelf with you - Neil Gaiman

Week of 9/4/18: Exciting New Books

“Tuesday is neither here nor there in the hierarchy of the week.”
― Anthony T. Hincks

So, I know it’s a little late, but there are a ton of books coming out this week that I’m so ready for. Let’s get right to it.

  1. I’d Rather Be Reading – Anne Bogel
    Id Rather Be Reading - Anne Bogel
    Non-fiction/Memoir
    Goodreads
    I love Anne Bogel’s blog Modern Mrs. Darcy, and I pre-ordered this book as soon as I was able to. What more could you ask for than a book about books, from one of the best literature bloggers out there!
  2. The Silence of the Girls – Pat Barker
    The Silence of the Girls - Pat Barker
    Fiction
    Goodreads
    This was one of the two books I got from Book of the Month Club, and as soon as I read the description I became excited to start reading it. It focuses on the women from The Illiad, particularly Briseis, who becomes a slave and concubine to Achilles and his conquering army.
  3. The Wildlands – Abby Geni
    The Wildlands - Abby Geni
    Fiction
    Goodreads
    Taking place after a tornado destroys their hometown, Cora and Tucker McCloud team up to act against animal testing and cruelty. Although I’m confused as to why all of the book blurbs I keep seeing mention a “Category 5 tornado” (tornadoes are rated on the EF/Enhanced Fujita scale, hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson Category 1-5 scale), I’m still curious about this book.
  4. Sadie – Courtney Summers
    Sadie - Courtney Summers
    Young Adult/Thriller
    Goodreads
    Everywhere I look, there are rave reviews of this book. I haven’t read a lot of young adult mysteries, so I’m looking forward to giving this one a shot. It follows the story of Sadie after the murder of her younger sister, Mattie.
  5. Citizen Illegal – Jose Olivarez
    Citizen Illegal - Jose Olivarez
    Poetry
    Goodreads
    Contemporary poetry about immigration, race, class, and the state of modern America. This is Jose Olivarez’s debut.
  6. Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree – Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
    Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree - Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
    Young Adult
    Goodreads
    A village is attacked by Boko Haram and a young girl is kidnapped along with the other women of her village. The author based the book on real interviews with victims of the terrorist organization’s kidnappings. I doubt this is going to be an easy read, but I feel like it’s going to be an important one.
  7. Tales of Valhalla: Norse Myths and Legends – Hannah Whittock, Martyn Whittock
    Tales of Valhalla - Martyn and Hannah Whittock
    Mythology
    Goodreads
    Norse mythology is always interesting, so I’m excited to have another book to read on the topic. I adored Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, so I have high hopes that I’ll enjoy this one just as much.
  8. The Golden State – Lydia Kiesling
    The Golden State - Lydia Kiesling.jpeg
    Fiction
    Goodreads
    Lydia Kiesling makes her debut with this novel about a single mother named Daphne leaving her home in San Francisco after her husband, an immigrant, is denied re-entry into the United States. The book deals with Daphne’s anxiety and loneliness. I’ve heard amazing things about this book.
  9. The Lost Queen by Signe Pike
    The Lost Queen - Signe Pike
    Fantasy
    Goodreads
    I’ve been wanting to read a good fantasy book lately, and this one seems great. It takes place in sixth-century Scotland and follows Queen Languroreth. The novel deals with the arrival of Christianity to the nation, brought by the Anglo-Saxons as they invade the isles.
  10. The Forbidden Place – Susanne Jansson
    The Forbidden Place - Susanne Jansson
    Mystery/Thriller
    Goodreads
    Taking place in a Swedish village called Mossmarken, a biologist comes across a body in the bogs. Sounds like a simple mystery novel, but then bodies start floating to the surface, one of them with pockets full of gold.