Top 5 Wednesday| A Lil' Spring Reading

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly blog group that comes together to discuss that week's topic by putting together a list of five books, tropes, and characters. The idea was first curated by the wonderful Lainey at GingerReadLainey and is now run by Samantha from ThoughtsonTomes.

The clocks have moved back and there's a light breeze in the air (who am I kidding, I live in North Wales) and I'm struggling to stay inside and finish my degree. Nothing new.

I am at the most part a mood reader, so you'd think that this weeks topic, Spring Reads, would be an easy one for me. I'll be talking about books that both remind me of spring and that I want to read this season. 

I really enjoy books that either look towards summer (I can't believe I no longer get summer holidays now I'm almost graduated) or look towards winter (my favourite season). 

1. Other Words for Smoke 
Sarah Maria Griffin 

I recently just got this one in the post from TitanBooks and I know that as soon as I finish my current read this is going to be up next. I've been anticipating this books since last summer. This is one of those books that I feel is going to give me that taste of summer with its bi, witchy, feminist fairy tale.

2. The Unbound (The Dark Vaults #2)
V.E. Schwab

We all know I could read V's books all year round. But there is something to be said about her books at the cusp of Spring. The Unbound is the only one of her earlier books that I am yet to give a reread, so I anticipate treating myself with her wonderful words as a treat when my deadlines get a little rough.
3. Nights at the Circus
Angela Carter

I love Angela Carters's stories. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories are one of my all-time favourite short story collections. I have no idea why her books seem to come up during this time of year (might be something to do with when I was revising for my A-Levels).
4. All That She Can See
Carrie Hope Fletcher

There is a lot of magical realism on this list, and I'm really not that surprised. Maybe it's that fresh breezy air that convinces my mind that there might just be some magic in the world? 
I've read Carrie's two previous works (All I Know Now; On the Other Side) and they were really fun to read. 
5. A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1)
Deborah Harkness

This might be the longest novel on this list and one that doesn't really say spring to me. However, it is one that I really want to get to and possibly go on to watch the TV adaption that aired last year. 

TAG| The Rapid Fire Book Tag

Hello! Welcome back! Or if you're new to my blog, double Hello!

I was going through my drafts and realized that I had this already written up and ready to post. However, I may or may not have forgotten who originally tagged me. (Editing this in 2019, I still can't find out who, so if it were you - please, let me know so I can link to your blog!) 

The original tag was created by GirlReading!

Right, no more rambling, let's just get straight to it.

1. Do you prefer e-book or physical books?


2. Do you prefer paperback or hardback?

To read? Paperback.
For decoration? Hardback

3. Do you prefer in-store or online shopping?

Online may be cheaper but there is nothing like a good ol' bookshop.

4. Do you prefer trilogies or series?


5. Do you prefer heroes or villains?

Call it my Slytherin side... Villians.

6. What is a book I want everyone to read?

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

7. What is one underrated book you would recommend?

Pantomime by Laura Lam
All the Lonely People by David Owen

8. What is the last book you finished?

The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab

9. What is the last book you bought?

It was a pre-order of The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

10. What is the weirdest thing you have used a bookmark?

I've been thinking of writing a whole blog post on this. A snippet: my cats' paw.

11. Used books, yes or no?

Yes, as long as they are clean.

12.  What is your top 3 favourite genres?

(YA) Romance

13. Borrow or buy?


14. Characters or plot?

Characters (but depends on writing and genre).

15. Long or short books?

Long(er) during the winter.
Short(er) during the summer.

16. Long or short chapters?

No preference.

17. First 3 books that you think of.

The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams
The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

18. A book that made you laugh or cry.

Laugh: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Cry: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E.Schwab

19. Our world or the fictional world?

Fictional... duh?

20. Audiobooks, yes or no?

Yes, I have anxiety which peeps up as I'm about to sleep. Audiobooks help me switch off and drift off to sleep.

21. Have you ever judged a book by its cover?

Who hasn't?

22. Book to Movie or Book to TV adaptation?

Book to TV Adaption (Good Omens, anyone?).

23. A movie or TV Adaption I prefer to the books?

Don't sue me, I loved the comics growing up (cause Gerard Way stan circa 2010) but Umbrella Academy. Klaus is the love of my life. My love for Robert Sheehan has been reignited, Shadowhunter and Misfits me is quaking. I just loved how they developed the characters and translated it to the screen.

24. Series or standalone?

Again, depends. Both?

REVIEW| The Near Witch (#gifted)

The Near Witch
V.E. Schwab

Add to Goodreads

UK Publisher: Titan Books

UK Release Date: March 12th, 2019

DISCLAIMER: I received this book from the publisher, for free, in exchange for an honest and truthful review.  My views are all my own.

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. 

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. 

There are no strangers in the town of Near. 

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. 

But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. 

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. 

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.

 If you're going into this expecting the flawed perfection of Vicious, or the high stakes of A Darker Shade of Magic then I'm about to tell you to step down now, because The Near Witch has no comparisons. Instead, you should perhaps look at it as a debut that is a feast of atmospheric and beautifully crafted writing, characters that leap of the page and somehow perfects the strange and quiet storytelling that suitably fits this modern fairytale. 

"Of every aspect of the moor, the earth and stone and rain and fire, the wind is the strongest one in Near. Here on the outskirts of the village, the wind is always pressing close, making windows groan. It whispers and it howls and it sings. It can bend its voice and cast it into any shape, long and thin enough to slide beneath the door, stout enough to seem a thing of weight and breath and bone. “The wind was here when you were born, when I was born, when our house was built, when the Council was formed, and even when the Near Witch lived."

From the get-go, The Near Witch is a story of sisters, mothers, and women alike.  Lexi is strong-willed and rebellious, driven by the need to protect the children of the village as well as her little sister Wren. Exactly like the kind of heroine that this story needed to entice me into the strange little village of Near. 

I loved the two witch sisters, Magda and Dreska, and how they encompassed the strange and otherness of the elemental magic in the story and would have loved to have stayed with them for longer on the page. This is the trouble with debuts, every word, every scene, every stray sub-plot gets erased from the page unless it serves the story 100%. I would have like to have spent more time with Lexi and the people of the town.

For writing alone, I would have given this five stars, however, the romance sub-plot left me rolling my eyes, just a teeny tiny bit; very much like the YA of its time.  However, even though it falls into the trope of insta-love, I couldn't help but get that warm fuzziness I get during fluffy contemporaries - hand holding and heads on laps are just my greatest weakness, okay? 

“Funny how when we start to tell a secret, we can’t stop. Something falls open in us, and the sheer momentum of letting go pushes us on.”

A highly underrated story, The Near Witch is a highly recognizable debut novel that could be seen as the umbrella that encompasses all of Schwab's later works; it's the start of a thematic thread that has been tied and unraveled into each one of her stories since:

"...the fear of the inside toward the outside, the antagonism between those who belong, and those who don't."

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