Book Recommendations: June 2021

Ahhh it’s June, and we’re almost halfway through the year. I can’t believe how time has flown! 

This month I’ve chosen an array of books I recommend – as usual in the Fiction, Non-Fiction, Fantasy, and Young Adult genres. There’s a bit of magic and adventure, philosophy and politics to keep all engrossed.

Fiction – ‘Sophie’s World’ by Jostein Gardner

Synopsis

When 14-year-old Sophie encounters a mysterious mentor who introduces her to philosophy, mysteries deepen in her own life. Why does she keep getting postcards addressed to another girl? Who is the other girl? And who, for that matter, is Sophie herself? To solve the riddle, she uses her new knowledge of philosophy, but the truth is far stranger than she could have imagined.

Why I Recommend

This is a lovely story, starting with Sophie herself as she receives a strange present and encounters an equally strange man who teaches her all about philosophy throughout the ages. The book details the many different types of philosophy throughout, on a journey from the beginning of philosophy to the most recent ideas, explaining what it means as if you were Sophie yourself, and takes you along the journey through the plot alongside.

“Human beings will never cease to wonder about their own existence.”

I very much loved this book, namely because I’m intrigued by philosophy and it explains the different types in clear detail from beginning to current times. Almost as if it were an introduction to each type. If you want to get a breakdown of the different avenues of philosophy this is a great way to start. But the story itself is intriguing, as Sophie learns and discovers secrets about herself along the way.

Purchase New at Waterstones

Purchase Secondhand at World of Books

Non-Fiction – ‘Breverton’s Phantasmagoria’ by Terry Breverton

Synopsis

A Cornucopia of Mythical Places, People, Beings, and Beasts

Where does the boogeyman come from?
What creatures feast on faithful men?
How do you defeat a minotaur
What really riles a dragon
Where would you find real-life werewolves?
What happened to Atlantis?

From dragons, vampires, werewolves and fairies to flying carpets, lost cities and modern-day mysteries, this delightful compendium of over 250 weird and wonderful legends, myths, and monsters will entertain and astound anyone thralled by the unknown.

Why I Recommend

I absolutely love anything to do with myths and legends, so this compendium was right up my street. It’s non-fiction, even if a lot of the creatures are fiction, and there’s descriptions of real-life places like Stonehenge alongside unicorns and dragons.

The great thing about this book is it’s set-up in alphabetical order and lists short descriptions of all types of mythical and magical creatures, legends and folklore, and mysteries that stump people to this day.

There are great little illustrations throughout, sort of sepia and white rather than black and white. Plus you have an index at the back as well as a reference page to read further. The book is split into sections like Mysterious, Magical and Weird People, Magical Places of Legend and Reality, and Mysteries of the Deep.

If you’re a fan of myths and legends, I definitely recommend adding this book to your collection.

Purchase New at Waterstones

Purchase Secondhand at World of Books

Fantasy – ‘Stardust’ by Neil Gaiman

Synopsis

Stardust is an utterly charming fairy tale in the tradition of The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story. Neil Gaiman, creator of the darkly elegant Sandman comics and author of The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, tells the story of young Tristran Thorn and his adventures in the land of Faerie. One fateful night, Tristran promises his beloved that he will retrieve a fallen star for her from beyond the Wall that stands between their rural English town (called, appropriately, Wall) and the Faerie realm. No one ever ventures beyond the Wall except to attend an enchanted flea market that is held every nine years (and during which, unbeknownst to him, Tristran was conceived). But Tristran bravely sets out to fetch the fallen star and thus win the hand of his love.

Why I Recommend

Even if you’ve seen the film Stardust and know the plot, I implore you to read the book. There’s extra bits – of course – in the book that don’t play out in the film, but generally both book and film stick to the same plotline.

“Every lover is in his heart a madman, and in his heart a minstrel.”

Tristran Thorne lives an ordinary life in the town of Wall, never knowing that there is something extraordinary about him. When he goes on the hunt for a falling star, to impress a girl he loves, he has no clue on the adventure that befalls him, and it’s a journey of discovery and a magical love he could never have imagined. 

This happens to be one of my favourite Neil Gaiman novels. It’s one of his shorter novels, but that doesn’t mean it’s short of magic and mystery – just as many of his books are. I love the idea of a falling star being in human form in faerie, and the characters are vibrant and well-developed throughout. The ending is a little different in the book than the film, but I actually preferred the book ending. It seems fitting for the magical world of faerie.

I recommend this book if you’re up for a lovely magical story of love and adventure, by one of the masters of fantasy.

Purchase New at Waterstones

Purchase Secondhand at World of Books

Young Adult – ‘Red Queen’ by Victoria Aveyard

Synopsis

This is a world divided by blood—red or silver. The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance—Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

Why I Recommend

A superpowers Young Adult novel, this is filled with political intrigue and character dynamics. It’s an interesting take on the dystopian genre as well, and it’s easy to dive into.

“I feel, well, alive. Like I’ve been living my whole life blind and now I’ve opened my eyes.”

Mare seems like a standard seventeen-year-old Red at the start of the book, trying to find work to help her family, as well as thieving where she can. She is stunned to discover she has superpowers, and therein begins the trouble when the Silvers find out. She gets involved with royal politics, all the while trying to control her powers along the way, as well as helping with the Red Guard to destroy the Silver regime from within. 

I liked Mare’s character quite a lot. She is believable as a teenager yet still a strong character. She is well-rounded as a character, and the plot works well around her. The other characters of the Silvers are a mix between terrible to sympathetic. This is a world Mare has only dipped into, and now she’s experiencing it head on.

So, If you’re up for a good young adult novel with dystopian vibes and superpowers, I’d thoroughly recommend Victoria Aveyard’s series. 

Purchase New at Waterstones

Purchase Secondhand at World of Books

Kate @ Kandid Chronicles


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