· By Jessica Paul
Liv's All-Time Favourites
Uprooted - Naomi Novik
The perfect introduction into adult fantasy, and definitely the book that made me go ‘oh this is what reading can be.’ Naomi Novik’s wonderful novel creates a rich Eastern-European based world, where a deadly forest is slowly poisoning the neighbouring valley. Only the Dragon, an immortal magician of unfathomable power, can protect them . . . but at a cost. Every ten years a girl is taken, and Agnieszka is stunned when it is her. Thrown into the chaotic world of politics, magic, and ancient power that is stirring in the dark, Agnieszka and the Dragon must fight to protect everything she holds dear. Fast-paced, unpredictable, romantic, and with a heroine who just does not know when to quit, this book will always be a firm favourite.
A Marvellous Light - Freya Marske
If someone held a gun to my head and asked what my favourite book was, it would be this one. For me, this is the perfect story. Everything I want, done beautifully.
In Edwardian London, Sir Robin Blythe is accidentally assigned to the job of Liaison to the Magical World. As if finding out that magic is real wasn’t enough, he’s then cursed by mysterious magicians on the hunt for his predecessor. Enter Edwin Courcey, his hostile counterpart who clearly wants nothing more than to forget all about it. Forced together by Robin’s deadly curse and the threat of magical conspiracy, the two are launched into a magical hunt for the culprits. With beautiful world-building, unique magic systems, stunning language, and a romance that had my heart aching, this is everything I want in a fantasy.
A Thousand Ships - Natalie Haynes
Mythology retellings are nothing new anymore - they line the shelves of every bookshop, and you probably have at least one at home right now. But for me, it will always be A Thousand Ships that stands out. Classicist and standup comedian Natalie Haynes retells the story of Troy through the perspectives of the women involved. Everyone from the enslaved Briseis, the furious Penelope left behind, the Amazons who fought with Achilles and the goddesses who watch it all happen. Haynes weaves between these women with such delicacy, while maintaining the strength of their voice. It culminates in a book that is breathtakingly full of rage. A stunner.
A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles
This runaway word-of-mouth success is the book we have hand-sold the most numbers of in our time open. Beautifully written, poignant, hopefull and resting firmly on the shoulders of a protagonist who is the picture of grace and kindness. In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is escorted out of the Kremlin and into the Hotel Metropol. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat, he is sentenced to life under house arrest, in the hotel attic overlooking the Red Square. Held within the walls, Alexander must watch as decades pass and Russia transforms. This book is warm and welcoming and Alexander's wit and charm carries the reader through every page. An absolute beauty. Perfect for book clubs too!
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
Need I say more? A classic for a reason, Austen will always have a special place in every booklover’s heart.
Regency England. When Elizabeth Bennet first meets Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, his conceit, arrogance and rudeness is enough to make her seriously dislike him. And it seems the feeling is mutual. But, in a sparkling comedy of manners, their lives become more and more intertwined. Austen’s wit, sharp-eyed observance of regency society, and her intricate plots make her the standout name of English Literature, for good reason too.
In Memoriam - Alice Winn
Having read this in early March, it has already taken a spot as my favourite of the year, no matter what. An absolutely outstanding debut, one of those books that will leave you grasping at straws trying to describe it, and just waving it in people’s faces instead.
1914 and war seems far away for schoolboys Henry Gaunt and Sydney Ellwood. Their beloved public boarding school is their haven, but soon is ripped apart by losses. Pressured into joining up, Gaunt writes back to his friends of the things he sees, lying to them as they ‘play at war.’ But all too soon they join him, and their idyllic lives become a thing of the past. An epic tale of heartbreak and hope, the tragedy of young lives lost and the desperation of forbidden love when death waits at the doorstep. A book to make you weep, and thank the author for it. Absolute perfection.
Legendborn - Tracy Deonn
As a firm lover of Young Adult fiction, this is one of the standouts in my experience. An epic and layered story of destiny and history and the underlying ties that family will hold.
Bree Matthews is struggling with the questions that surround the death of her mother, and when she moves to an early-programme at college she sees something that turns her world on end. Magic is real, monsters are everywhere, and she is soon swept into a deadly world of secret societies rooted in Arthurian legend. She must gain entry to the society in order to find out what happened to her mother, but the rising tide of demons on campus, and the suspicions of the powerful mage Sel are enough to keep her busy. This is the perfect dark-academia fantasy for upper-YA readers. Gripping, full of drama, diverse and poignant, Tracy Deonn manages to weave an explosive adventure with the touching hurt of a girl trying to find herself again. Fantastic.
A Taste of Gold and Iron - Alexandra Rowland
Another fantasy recommendation for you, and at this rate who is surprised? The epic standalone political fantasy is a masterpiece in the unsaid, the literary weaving of emotion and duty and yearning, while still flashing with sharp humour. Prince Kadou has never wanted power, and is perfectly happy to sit in the shadow of his sister the Queen. But when a hunting accident goes wrong and he is accused of trying to murder her partner, Kadou takes charge of an investigation into counterfeit currency to prove his loyalty. To do so, he must enlist the help of a new bodyguard, the steadfast and honourable Evemer. What seems to be a simple investigation soon spirals out of control, and the the two are forced into situations where duty and emotion become blurred. A rich and spiralling political fantasy full of conspiracy and yearning. A book to make you gasp and giggle within the same line.