BIRTHDAYS & BOOKS!

Hey everyone! So, today, in honour of the lovely Esme’s birthday, I’m going to looking at books that she loves! What you’ll find below is a list of 23 books – one for each year that she’s graced this planet! – that I know she loved, and that I’m dying to read! And who knows, maybe i’ll even get around to some of them this year! We’ll see. So, happy birthday, Esme! And here’s to you and your favourite books!

RELEASE by PATRICK NESS

This is an easy first choice! I love Patrick Ness, and i’m even lucky enough to have had the pleasure of meeting him twice – the first time with Esme! He’s such an incredibly delightful man, and I attended one of his talks shortly after my last birthday, at which he spoke proudly of this book, the LGBT+ themes, and so much more. I think he’s so intriguing and enlightening, so witty and fun, and just an immense talent. Not to mention, the copy of this that Esme read was, in fact, a copy she’d borrowed from me, so it seems only right that I take a dive into this immediately!

THE LAST OF AUGUST by BRITTANY CAVALLARO
&
THE CASE FOR JAMIE by BRITTANY CAVALLARO

Books number two and three are going to slot nicely together, being that they’re from the same series! I’m an absolute sucker for retellings, especially Sherlock Holmes retellings, and I loved the first Charlotte Holmes book. The absolutely lovely Becca gifted me the first book last year, and I flew through it with such delight, and I’m so so happy to see that both she and Esme have been enjoying the rest of the series! I’ll be absolutely gutted to see the series come to an end when the final one is released this year, but I can’t wait to follow Charlotte and Jamie on some more of their adventures! Plus – Esme has been (lovingly) badgering me to get my bum in gear and pick this up!

THE BOOK THIEF by MARKUS ZUSAK

I can imagine i’m in a very slim minority of book bloggers that can say they haven’t read The Book Thief, and I’m well aware of how desperately I need to change that! I’ve wanted to read this book for years now, so I have absolutely no excuse for what’s been stopping me, other than the fact that there’s just so many excellent books that keep distracting me! But, I’ll get there, and I do plan on making this a priority at some stage as I have heard only absolutely phenomenal things about it.

THE MORTAL ENGINES by PHILIP REEVE

This is a funny one, as technically I’m the one who recommended this book to Esme! Despite never having read any of the series myself! I haven’t seen the movie, either, and I know Esme has, as well as having devoured the first two in the series, so I certainly have to crack on and dive in soon. My brother isn’t a reader at all, and really struggles to read anything away from comic books – and even then, it’s often tough! – but he’s been recommending this series to me for years, having read it back when he was at school, and he always talks about how much he loves it. So, naturally, I’ve been banging on about them for years too, even though i’m something of a fraud! Still, Esme and I had a good little chat about both the book and the movie, and i’m sure once I motivate myself I’ll be glad!

EVERY DAY by DAVID LEVITHAN

David Levithan is another gent that I was so lucky to meet, and it just so happened to be at the aforementioned talk that I went to with Patrick Ness, too! I’ve mentioned both briefly in past blogs, but it’s still always worth mentioning what an absolute delight David was. He was incredibly lovely, very thoughtful, and he (and Patrick, too!) had an incredible amount to say about representation within literature, specifically Young Adult, and the way in which authors need to step up, and step outside of their usual white male box that they’re so accustomed to. This has been on my TBR for ages, and Jenny and I got around to watching the movie adaptation last month on Netflix, and I have to say it was an utter delight. Levithan’s collab with John Green was the first ever LGBT+ book I’d ever read as a teen, and I know that he’s come leaps and bounds since then, so I can’t wait to finally get to read more of his work – especially after such high praise from Jenny and Esme!

ROOM by EMMA DONOGHUE

Oddly enough, I actually started this book years ago, yet I never got around to finishing. That was due to no fault of Donoghue’s, but thanks to a rather miserable reading slump that I found myself in around the time that I was in college. I absolutely could not get through a single book around the 2013 – 2015 mark, and it was an absolute nightmare. Room, of course, is a book that can be heavily triggering to some, me in particular, and so one might even assume the content would be a little off-putting for me. And, yet, Donoghue’s style of writing and approach to such a story was so well done that I never found myself in a state of unease. I love Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, so i’d love to get around to the movie at some stage after reading the book, too, so I know it’s on me to finally take that step and pick it back up again. I originally bought it years back for my mum, and she loved it and spoke profusely of the style of writing and how powerful it was, so I can only assume it will have been worth the wait.

IT ONLY HAPPENS IN THE MOVIES by HOLLY BOURNE

This is an easy one! Esme actually bought me this gem for Christmas, and I’m so excited to read it! It’s been on my TBR for a while, and she spoke so highly of it after reading it herself, that it left me absolutely giddy and eager to dive in. The entire premise sounds completely up my alley, and I’ve also heard an abundance of wonderful things about Holly Bourne and her writing, so I can’t wait!

FOOLS AND MORTALS by BERNARD CORNWELL

Last year, when Esme was off sunning and singing in Spain, I picked this little gem up at work. Now, I work at a Clinic as a receptionist, and we have a little shelf where our customers and patients can discard books after they’re finished with them, and other readers can come along, make a donation of their choosing (either to Eleanor Hospiceor our local air ambulances), and take away anything they so wish! However, we’re only a small clinic, and our shelves get a little packed and full. My boss knows i’m a big reader, so she’s always letting me take first pick of any new books that have been brought in. Luckily for me, I spotted this one, and it immediately took my fancy! Less than a week later, Esme found the exact same book on one of her little hotel-hunts while working out in Spain, so I did what any good, lazy person would do; I told her to read it first so she could let me know if it was worth the trouble! I know, I know, i’m terrible. But, luckily, she loved it, and she only fuelled my excitement all the more.

CRAZY RICH ASIANS by KEVIN KWAN

I’m sure, by now, everybody knows about this series! The movie adaptation was a huge hit, and rightfully so. Now, I know a lot of people can be a bit iffy about watching movie adaptations before reading a book, but it doesn’t really phase me. I used to think that it made me something less of a book-lover, and in my teens i’d often feel guilty for not having read certain books, but now I’m just happy to read and watch whatever I please! All the same, I had been dying to pick this up, but with both myself and my brother eager to watch the movie, there was no use waiting on me! Still, I loved it dearly, and I have such a heavy attachment to so many of the characters just from the movie alone, that I know i’m going to love this series once I do pick it up. I’ve heard wonderful things about it from so many different people, and I have a whole lot of faith in Esme’s opinion, too!

IF WE WERE VILLAINS by M.L. RIO

Okay, putting this on an Esme list after Jenny has been trying to force it on me for what feels like an eternity seems a little unfair, but even so! It is a book that Esme loved, and today’s her day (sorry Jen!). Every single time I compile an ‘up next’ TBR, this lands somewhere near the top, and still I haven’t managed to get around to it. I have no excuse whatsoever, it’s an absolute disgrace, but I am determined to get around to it before the year is out. It sounds like everything that I would love and more, and i’ve only heard impossibly excellent things about it. I will admit i’ve had a few spoilers here and there, which has definitely been a huge part in me putting it off; i’m a very forgetful person, so I keep telling myself to just wait until i’ve entirely forgotten everything I already do know so I can go in blind! All the same, i’ve had enough people telling me that i’m going to love it when I do get around to it, so who am I to let them down!!

FINGERSMITH by SARAH WATERS

Whenever Esme and I hang out, our days are inevitably spent working up a sweat as we march up and down flights and flights of stairs, and darting around London, making sure there’s not a single square mile ofFoyles and Waterstones that we miss. And, of course, between having a nose around all the independent book shops and charity shops that we happen across, we top it all off with a perfectly British end to the day; with a nice cup of tea! On one of our most recent literary travels, we got to talking about Sarah Waters, who our lovely friend Jenny is a particular fan of. We both decided we’d take a dive into her novels, having not only heard incredible things about her writing, but also for want of more wlw content within our reading! Naturally, Esme decided that once I’d gotten around to reading Tipping the Velvet, that we should do a nifty little swap of our Sarah Waters’ books! So, while I still haven’t read Tipping the Velvet, i’m still extremely excited to get my hands on Fingersmith at some stage, and to see just what it is Esme loved so much about it!

SALT TO THE SEA by RUTA SEPETYS

No surprises here, but this is yet another book that’s been living on my shelf for what seems like an eternity, sadly staring up at me and waiting to be read! I’m the absolute worst for buying and buying and buying books when I’ve got shelves and shelves full of them unread at home! Not that I should base my judgement on a book on other peoples’ opinions, but even just a quick glance at my goodreads friends list and I can see the the vast majority of people I know gave this a whopping five stars! And if that’s not a good sign then I don’t know what is. I know this book is likely to give me a bit of a punch in the gut, given its setting, but sometimes (and weirdly enough) that’s what we need!

THE PROFESSOR by CHARLOTTE BRONTE

Esme? A BRONTE fan? No, no, I must be mistaken… mustn’t I?! Alright, okay, enough jokes. This is actually another of the books that she bought me for Christmas, and I am currently hanging my head in shame for not having actually read it. I know how much both Esme and Jenny love their Brontes, and I’ve been promising them I’ll pick up at least one book by one of the sisters, yet I’ve failed them thus far. With The Professor being a shorter read, it certainly feels like a less daunting way to take my first step into Bronte-land, and the premise does sound extremely cute!

MOXIE by JENNIFER MATHIEU

I don’t have a lot to say on this one, actually. Not because I don’t want to read it – I do! – but merely because I don’t actually own it just yet, and the sole reason for my obsession with reading it is how much Esme has talked it up to me! Her love for this book gave me the highest of expectations, but in the best possible way, and I know that any book that gets Esme giddy is one worth checking out!

ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by GAIL HONEYMAN

The fact that I haven’t read this is probably the greatest injustice, given that it’s been on my TBR and physical shelves for an age, and it seems like exactly the kind of book i’ll love. I’ve heard absolutely excellent things about Eleanor Oliphant, and I very distinctly recall Esme flying through it, herself, so that certainly bodes well! A definite must this year, I think.

HOW TO BE A HEROINE by SAMANTHA ELLIS

I have a bit of a confession here: Though this is a book that Esme read and, seemingly, enjoyed, that’s not technically the reason I had it on my TBR, and why I picked it for this list! Now, I know what you’re all going to be thinking, it’s the age old bit of advice that any book-lover is given, echoed most recently by everyone’s favourite Nanny, Mary Poppins; the cover is not the book. I know that, I do, but… I really love the cover of this particular book, and truthfully it’s the thing that caught my eye about it long before the title or the synopsis. And frankly, I think that’s one of the best ways to grab new readers! If your cover is worth staring at, it’s going to draw people in, and people are going to want to know what it is, and what it’s about. So A+ work there. But, silliness aside, I know that Esme enjoyed this, and it certainly does sound like a delight. I’m not always big on non-fiction, in all honesty. I find a lot of non-fiction excellent, of course, and I don’t completely shut myself off to the idea, but I do find that you have to be particularly compelling in a way that can often be difficult when talking about reality over fiction, and there are certain things that need to be done to really grab your reader and ensure they’re not bored (though, of course, that goes for any book!). That being said, this sounds like an excellent read, and Samantha Ellis certainly has my attention!

A MONSTER CALLS by PATRICK NESS

Another mention for the lovely Patrick Ness! In truth, I’d read absolutely anything if Patrick Ness wrote it down. I couldn’t care less what it was. I just think he’s an absolute marvel of a writer and human being, and A Monster Calls has been on my TBR for such a long time now, even since before I read his Chaos Walking books. Having heard a multitude of wonderful things about this book, the movie, and the stage production, in all its different formats, I have very high hopes!

THE HAND MAID’S TALE by MARGARET ATWOOD

Am I one of the very few people left on this planet who hasn’t either read or watched The Hand Maid’s Tale? Quite possibly! Now, the problem with a story like this, for me, is that it touches upon a subject that I have a great difficulty in reading/consuming. Much like the previously mentioned Room, I know that the topic at hand here is going to be one that’s particularly hard to swallow for me, for a number of reasons. That being said, I know just how much Esme – and the rest of the world – adores Margaret Atwood, and I do have an incredible amount of faith in her writing, and her ability to translate these monstrosities and heinous acts, but in a way that compels the reader in a constructive way. So often, stories that depict violence of such a nature – be it domestic violence or sexual assault/abuse of any kind – they’re done in such a way that I find so jarring and concerning, often so explicit and damaging. This, however, feels like a story that not only needs to be told, but one that’s being handled with the exact amount of care and precision that it requires.

MY MOST EXCELLENT YEAR by STEVE KLUGER

This one’s an easy addition to the list! I mean, it’s an LGBT+ read, which is always a good start, because diversity is never a bad thing. Combine that with Esme’s review, which pretty much screamed pure joy (she compared it to candy floss!), then i’m absolutely sold. Sometimes what we all need is a good, cheesy, cheerful read to lift our spirits, and I think it’s only a matter of time before I relent and snag myself a copy!

JANE EYRE by CHARLOTTE BRONTE

ANOTHER Bronte book, you ask? But you haven’t even read The Professor yet, you scream! I know, I know. I’m a mess. But Jane Eyre is one of Esme’s all time favourite books, and one thing I do want to try and do more of is read my friends forever favourites, to get a little glimpse into their minds and the things that make them happy! And, Jane Eyre is certainly one of the classics to end all classics, and i’m definitely intrigued to take a little dive into Jane’s world. I have absolutely no idea what i’m going to make of it, and I know that it’s definitely a story that conflicts a lot of people (his attic!!!!!!!), but I am definitely eager to find out.

THE BAD BEGINNING by LEMONY SNICKET

This one’s sort of a cheat? I have actually read this, just as i’ve read a couple of its sequels, but it was a very long time ago. Years, in fact. And I really do love A Series of Unfortunate Events, i’ve just been a bit of a slacker as far as finishing the series goes. I have no doubt there’s a number of details that have long since gotten lost in my absolutely abysmal memory, and I also know that Esme would live and die for each one of these children, so I’d love to get back on the saddle and finish up the series, and finally immerse myself in Snicket’s world once again!

REBECCA by DAPHNE DU MAURIER

Last, but by no means least, Rebecca. This has been on my list for a while, and is one of the many books that made an appearance in my 2019 reading challenge post, as one of the classics i’m most eager to check out this year. I know i’m being repetitive now, but this is genuinely a book i’ve heard nothing but excellent things about. I know there’s an adaptation approaching with the lovely Lily James and the dapper Armie Hammer (both of whom I am severely and devastatingly in love with), but even with that aside, it sounds like such an extraordinarily compelling story, and one that’s going to leave me reeling for months on end, no doubt! Esme gave this a stellar rating, and between her and Jenny they’ve both been encouraging me to read it this year, so it’s an absolute must!

Okay, now that all of that senseless rambling’s out of the way, thank you so much if you actually stuck it out to get here! 2019 is hopefully going to be an excellent one as far as books go, and I can’t wait to fill you all in on some of my bookish adventures this year, as well as to get a glorious peek at Esme’s own ones, too!

Now, if you haven’t already, please go ahead and wish Esme a happy happy birthday! It’s nearing the end of the day over here, but if you could all just shoot on over and send her ALL the love and light this world, because she absolutely deserves it. Though i’ve known Esme for a good while now, i’ve only been friends with her for just a couple, and even then it feels like i’ve known her forever. She has had such an incredibly positive impact on my life, and has definitely changed my world for the better. I’m so proud to call her my friend, and to have her lighting up each and every one of my days, and I hope you’re all lucky enough to have someone as excellent in your life, too!

So that’s all from today, but I hope everyone has had an absolutely excellent weekend, and please do feel free to comment below if any of the books above have jumped out at you too!

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