Review: Wild Lily by K.M. Peyton (Spoiler-Free)

In April of 1921, Antony Sylvester celebrates his seventeenth birthday with a brand new aeroplane; a present from his wealthy, but distant father. Lily Gabriel is four years younger than Antony, head-over-heels in love with him, and the only person in his circle of friends who’s brave enough to do the parachute jump Antony so desperately wants to try. But is it truly courage, or is Lily just only driven by her desire to impress a boy so self-absorbed that he can’t see that the best thing that could ever happen to him may be about to pass him by.

This book felt incredibly nostalgic to me! It’s not connected to the Flambards series (the only other books of Peyton’s that I’ve read), but the setting and the subject matter were both incredibly reminiscent of The Edge of the Cloud (the second Flambards book) – and particularly the parts of the book that took place at Brooklands Airfield, a place that feels like an old friend to me, even though I’ve never been there. Aeroplanes aren’t something that I’ve thought about in quite some time, but Peyton was the author who first made me love love them, and Wild Lily really re-invigourated that love.

But despite being pre-disposed to like this book, it took me a while to really get into it; for the first third of the book I was worried that I wasn’t going to like it at all (which would have been a huge tragedy). It’s written in a very matter-of-fact style that it took me some time to get used to. Additionally, I initially really disliked Antony, who is spoiled and selfish, and although Lily was a wonderful character from the very start, the beginning of the book is largely dominated by Antony and his ego.

… So, he’s kind of a prat, but he did grow on me, and by the end of the book he came across as a more loveable one than he did at the beginning. As I got to know him better, his faults became less annoying and more tragic. And Lily, as I mentioned before, was a joy to read about; bold and adventurous, and unashamedly devoted to Antony without blinding herself to his flaws. I also really loved how fiercely protective she was of her little brother, who is frequently bullied because he was born with some kind of brain damage (possibly?).

Wild Lily didn’t go in the direction that I was expecting – or hoping for – it to, but it did so in a way that felt very true-to-life, and I found myself very satisfied with the way it ended. All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable book, with a slightly sad, but also touching storyline, and some really wonderful characters. I expect that this book will stay with me for a long time to come.

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February Wrap-Up

In a shocking turn of events, I managed to read seven whole books in February (as well as most of an eighth), despite it being a short month, and my being busy with work and friends – and the various podcasts I’ve managed to get myself hooked on… ^^’ A lot of these books are ones that I’ve been really eager to read, too, and I’m happy to say that they invariably lived up to (or surpassed) my expectations! XD Here’s what I read:

Michael Morpurgo//Kensuke's KingdomKensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo. A young boy – Michael – gets shipwrecked on an island, and meets an old man who was also wrecked there during the Second World War, and has been living alone ever since. A quick-paced and engaging read, with a great pair of lead characters. 🙂 Like most of Morpurgo’s books, there was a point in the story where it got very sad, and in this case it was the story of how Kensuke ended up on the island – not coincidentally, this was probably my favourite part of the book, along with the bits of Michael’s travel journal that we got to see before the shipwreck. I do wish, however, that Morpurgo wouldn’t include the author’s notes in his books that imply that they’re true stories; parts of Kensuke’s Kingdom may have been inspired by truth, but it’s definitely not the case that Morpurgo was shipwrecked as a child, and lived on an island with a group of orang-utang and an elderly Japanese man for a year… He did this in the introduction of War Horse, too (though to a lesser degree), and it’s beginning to feel a bit like a Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf situation… :/3 starsAlison Goodman//The Dark Days PactThe Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman. The second book in the Lady Helen series, which I’ve been obsessing over since reading The Dark Days Club last April – and this sequel really lived up to its predecessor, as well as my (ridiculously high) expectations! I’ve posted a review of The Dark Days Pact already, which you can find here, if you so desire, but in short, the only reason this book isn’t on my favourites list already is that I have an amazing feeling that the third book in the series will be even better! XD5 starsElise Kova//Air AwakensAir Awakens by Elise Kova. The first book in the Air Awakens series, which follows a young woman who works as an apprentice in the palace library, until one day she saves the life of the crown prince, and accidentally creates a magical bond between them in the process. I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting from this series, but I had a lot of fun reading this first book (which reminded me a lot in tone – and worldbuilding – of Avatar: the Last Airbender; a very favourable comparison, I promise 😉 ). The plot itself seemed rather simple, but it does seem to be laying a thorough groundwork for the rest of the series… I really loved all the characters, too, and fell completely in love with the world. I’m working on a review at the moment, which ought to be posted in the very near future.4 starsEmma Haughton//Cruel Heart BrokenCruel Heart Broken by Emma Haughton. A contemporary novel about a teenage girl called Laurie, who’s being torn apart by a big secret that she’s keeping from her family and friends. Her former best friend Charlie has done something he regrets, too, and it may already be too late for either of them to fix things. A hard-hitting, but also quite hopeful story, which I liked much more than I expected to… This was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for February, so (once again), I have a more detailed review of it up already; you can find it here.4 starsWild Lily//K.M. PeytonWild Lily by K.M. Peyton. A wonderful, enchanting novel set in the 20s about a young man called Antony who demands an aeroplane for his birthday, and Lily, a spirited young girl who’s willing to do pretty much anything to get him to see her worth. Such nostalgia! (Even though this book is in no way related to the Flambards series.) I loved Lily and Antony both so much, and the aeroplane scenes were amazing! I’ve said a few times before that K.M. Peyton is the author who first made me love aeroplanes, and Wild Lily really spoke to (and re-invigourated) that love. The very matter-of-fact writing style took a little while to get back into, so I was initially a little worried that I wouldn’t like this book that much, but once I managed it, I was hooked. ❤ My brief description doesn’t really do the story or characters justice, but I do intend to post a proper review of this book, too – look out for it soon!4 starsJ.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling (illustrated edition). The second book in the Harry Potter series, which I’ve been re-reading along with the Harry Potter & the Sacred Text podcast. This is actually my least favourite book in the series, but I still loved it, and Jim Kay’s beautiful illustrations really enhanced my reading experience this time around. If I have one criticism, then it would just be that there seemed to be a lot less illustrations in Chamber of Secrets than in the illustrated edition of the Philosopher’s Stone… and also the sheer number of – very realistic! – pictures of spiders. 😥5 stars

Renée Ahdieh//The Wrath & the DawnThe Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh. Thie first book in a duology that retells the story of A Thousand and One Nights, where a young woman named Shahrzad volunteers to marry the murderous king of Khorasan in order to avenge her best friend – his previous wife, whom he killed the morning after their marriage. This book was being super hyped-up a short while ago, so I didn’t want to go into it with my expectations so high that they could never be met, but I have to say, The Wrath & the Dawn blew way past everything I expected. I loved all the characters, and the stories that Shahrzad told Khalim in order to delay her own death (though there weren’t as many of them as I expected), and the overarching plot of the series seems to be moving in a really gripping direction. If I had one complaint, it would be that at the beginning of the book I felt the need to rush through Tariq’s chapters in order to return to Shahrzad’s storyline (i.e. what I was actually interested in), but that’s more to do with how addictive the Shahrzad chapters were than anything to do with Tariq’s storyline itself – and I did get pretty invested in it eventually. ^^’5 stars

November & December Haul

I’ve divided this post into two sections; the first for books that I bought myself, and the second for books that were Christmas presents. That second section, by the way, is almost twice as long as the first, because (amazingly) my book-buying ban (or “book-buying restriction”; I’m allowing myself to buy one book for every five that I read) is going really well at the moment! 😀 Anyway, here’s what I bought in the last two months:november/december haul

1) Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. The sequel to Illuminae, which I spent the whole of 2016 eagerly anticipating. This is another deep-space survival story told through IM transcripts and data logs and the like, but featuring two new protagonists – Hanna and Nik – and showing another aspect of the Kerenza incident that was documented in Illuminae. I read this book in December, so you can find my thoughts about it in my wrap-up for that month.

2) The World’s Best Street Food by Lonely Planet. Something in-between a cookbook and a guide book, this book was one of the books we had in our new products range at Oxfam this year, so I made sure to snap one up before they all sold out. I haven’t tried out any of the recipes yet, but the pictures are really beautiful, and I love that it includes information about the countries where all these interesting recipes come from.

3) The Monstrous Child by Francesca Simon. A re-telling of the tale of Hel, the Norse goddess of death, and Queen of the Underworld. I won’t lie, I mainly picked this book up because it had a really beautiful cover… but it also had an interesting premise. I read this book in December, too, so I’ve talked about it in the same post as Gemina, but I’m also hoping to post a full review of it in the not-so-distant future.

4) The Graces by Laure Eve.Twilight-esque, but (deliberately) super-creepy story about a teenage girl who moves to a new town, and becomes caught up in the town’s fascination with a local family called the Graces – who are rumoured to be witches. Look out for a mini-review of this book soon, as I finished reading it a few days ago, and have a lot to say.


These next few books were Christmas presents from various (wonderful) friends and relatives! People don’t often give me books as presents, as it’s difficult to find things that I’ll definitely be interested in, but don’t already have, but everyone seemed to anticipate me really well this time around! I haven’t read any of these quite yet, but I’m super-excited for them all. XD

christmas haul1) The Dark Volume by G.W. Dahlquist. The second book in Dahlquist’s The Glass Books series, which I know basically nothing about. I picked this book out for myself, & mysteriously found it in my stocking on Christmas morning ( 😉 ), but I will need to get hold of the first book in the series before I can read this one.

2) Hyrule Historia. A thing of beauty, given to me by my friend Chloë (from SSJTimeLord and Her Books), which is all about the history, art and making of the Legend of Zelda series of games. I’ve been wanting this book for so long, it’s kind of hard to believe that I finally have it in my hands… ❤

3) How to Bake by Paul Hollywood. Another beautiful book about bread, which was given to me by my parents. I’ve started making sourdough recently, and this book seems to have a lot of tips that I can learn from (and also some interesting new variations to try). 🙂

4) Wild Lily by K.M. Peyton. I’ve described this book a couple of times before as “a new book about aeroplanes from the author who first made me love aeroplanes”, and I don’t think there’s really any more that I can add to that, except that I’m really, really looking forward to it, and I really, really hope that it’s good. (I’m sure it is.) This wonderful book was a gift from my aunt and uncle, Lucy and Mark.

5) The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman. This book and the next were both from my other aunt and uncle, Catty & David, and they’re completely unknown to me. From reviews, I’ve managed to glean that this one is some kind of magical-realism mystery novel that focuses on the relationship between a mother and daughter… it definitely looks like it could be interesting.

6) Rainforest by Jenny Diski. I know even less about this book, but it did come with a recommendation from Catty, who apparently really enjoyed it. Neither this nor the last book really sound like things that I would’ve picked out for myself, but I am trying to branch out a bit in my reading this year, so hopefully they’ll both be good for that – and getting to try new kinds of books is part of the fun of receiving them as gifts!

7) Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes. Lastly, the fourth book in the Falling Kingdoms series, which was a present from my cousin Laila. 🙂 I’ve been waiting to read this for a long time now, as I didn’t want to buy it before it was out in paperback… and now I have it! (Possibly) Interesting trivia: Falling Kingdoms was one of the first books I read in 2016, and Rebel Spring (the sequel) was the first book I bought. It seems oddly fitting that the latest(-but-one) book in the series should be the last new book I received in the year. 😛

#HolidayBookTubeAThon: TBR!

Happy Christmas, everyone! It’s (almost) time for the Holiday Booktubeathon once again, which means that I will be spending next weekend reading away. 🙂 I’m not really going to be sticking to the challenges – which you can find in the official announcement video – too closely, as I’m going to be surprisingly busy over the Booktubeathon period and I don’t know how much reading time I’ll be able to fit in, but I do still have a tentative TBR:

Rick Riordan//Percy Jackson & the Greek Heroes1) Percy Jackson & the Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan. I started reading this today, and I’d like to have finished it before the Booktubeathon starts, but if I haven’t, then this’ll be my first priority. A collection of Greek heroic myths, hilariously re-told by the one and only Percy Jackson

Marie Rutkoski//The Winner's Curse2) The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski. The first book in the Winner’s trilogy, which was super-popular a little while ago, & which I’ve heard fantastic things about. I picked this up today in the 12 Days of Kindle sale (along with way too many other things ^^’ ), and I’m super-excited to read it, even though I don’t know too much about the story.

Wild Lily//K.M. Peyton3) Wild Lily by K.M. Peyton. If I manage to finish both of those, then I’ll be picking up Wild Lily next, a new book about aeroplanes from the author who first made me love aeroplanes. This will also count for a challenge (a book that was a gift), so I suppose there’s a small chance that I might manage to complete one of them this year! 😛

I haven’t previously bothered with mini-reviews for the Holiday Booktubethon, since there’s always so much else going on, but I will be making an attempt at it this year, so keep an eye out for updates (if you think they’re something worth anticipating 😉 )!

My Life in Books

I can’t seem to find (and therefore credit) the person who created this tag, but I was tagged by The Quirky Book Nerd (who has a wonderful blog that you should all check out) – much to my delight! 😀 I’ve had my eye on this tag for a while now (it seemed super-fun), and had actually been planning on doing it soon whether I was tagged or not. It is, however, always nice to be tagged~ 🙂 I hope you enjoy it!

1) Find a book for each of your initials.

K.M. Peyton//Flambards Philip Reeve//Mortal Engines Garth Nix//Sabriel Rick Riordan//The Son of Neptune Tamora Pierce//The Woman Who Rides Like a Man

Flambards by K.M. Peyton
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Sabriel by Garth Nix
The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

Frances Hodgson Burnett//A Little Princess2) Count your age along your bookshelf – what book did you get?

I’m 26, which (discounting my shelves for study guides, comics and manga, which I usually try not to use for tags) lands me right in the middle of my miniature section of Children’s Classics, where I ended up with A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Anthony Horowitz//The Devil & His Boy3) Pick a book set in your city/county/country.

I don’t think I’ve read any books that are set in Cambridge itself, so instead I’ll go with The Devil & His Boy by Anthony Horowitz, which is at least set in England (and is also a really great book that I don’t mention much!).

Marissa Meyer//Fairest4) Pick a book to represent a place you’d like to travel to.

Can I pick the moon? I’d love to go to the moon. Fairest by Marissa Meyer. 😉

Fredrik Backman//My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises5) Pick a book that’s your favourite colour.

My favourite colour is orange, which isn’t the most common colour for books… I do own a couple, though, and one of them is My Grandmother Sends Her Regards & Apologises by Fredrick Backman, which has a lovely shade of orange on the spine, in particular. 🙂

J.R.R. Tolkien//The Hobbit6) What book do you have the fondest memories of?

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. My love of fantasy was seeded in me early on in life – my dad used to read this book to me and my sister before bed when we were both little.

7) Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?

George R.R. Martin//A Dance with DragonsProbably A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin, which I carried around in my purse for several months before I finally managed to finish it (I remember it clearly: I constantly had a very sore shoulder from the weight of the book, and I also ended up mangling the dust jacket… :/ ). It wasn’t just that the book was long – I made it through the rest of the series easily enough, and they’re all super-long, too – but most of the book was taken up with either Daenerys or Jon Snow chapters, and they’re my least-favourite POV characters in the series.

David Mitchell//Cloud AtlasDavid Mitchell//The Bone Clocks8) Which book on your TBR will give you the biggest sense of accomplishment to have finished?

Either Cloud Atlas or The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. These two have been sitting on my TBR shelf for a while now, because although I like David Mitchell’s writing, I also find it quite tough to get through. So, yeah, I’ll be pretty proud when I finally manage to finish these. 🙂

9) I tag:

Thematic Recs: Horses

Thematic Recs is back! It’s certainly been a while… 😳 I’m actually going pony trekking in Iceland tomorrow, which is super-exciting, but also means I’m not going to be able to reply to comments/etc. for a while (this, and the next couple of posts are all written in advance and scheduled). Anyway, since I’m getting back into horse-riding again, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite horse-y books! 😀

K.M. Peyton//Flambards1) The Flambards series by K.M. Peyton. The story of a girl called Christina, who goes to live with her cousins in the countryside, because her uncle is hoping to use her inheritance to end their financial troubles. I read the first book, Flambards, as a set text in school, when I was 11, and I really loved it. The second book in the series (The Edge of the Cloud) isn’t really a horse book, but Christina does a lot of riding in the other three! (A lot of the people I’ve talked to aren’t too keen on this series, because it contains fox hunting, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a major theme – especially after the first book.)

Elizabeth Goudge//The Little White Horse2) The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. Another story about a young orphaned girl going to live in the country with her cousin – this time the protagonist is thirteen-year-old Maria Merryweather – but that’s really where the similarities to Flambards end… When she gets to her cousin’s house, she finds out that there’s a curse on her family, which has caused significant damage to their relationships with one another. Throughout the story, Maria catches glimpses of an apparition of the little white horse from the title, and it plays an important role in her uncovering the secrets of Moonacre Manor. This book was made into a film in 2008, with the title The Secret of Moonacre, and the adaptation is also worth watching, though it’s quite different from the book.

Tamora Pierce//Wild Magic3) The Immortals quartet by Tamora Pierce. A four-book series that follows a girl called Daine, who has wild magic (which lets her talk to, transform into, and heal animals, as well as some other things that I’m probably forgetting…). When we first meet Daine, she’s travelling alone, except for her pony Cloud, who she introduces as both her best friend and her only remaining family. In general, Tamora Pierce writes her animal characters really well (and the Protector of the Small quartet in particular has some great horse characters), but of all of them, I think The Immortals is the most “horse-hearted”~ 😉

C.S. Lewis//The Horse and His Boy4) The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. The third Chronicles of Narnia book, though it’s actually more of a companion novel, as the series’ main protagonists only make brief appearances. Instead, this book follows Shasta, an orphan who teams up with the talking Narnian horse, Bree, in order to escape from the land of Calormen. It’s set during the time-skip at the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, while the Pevensie siblings are all ruling Narnia as grown ups, and before they find their way back through the wardrobe to England.

March Haul

A worrying thing happened a couple of weeks ago: My Dad came into my room to wake me up, sat down on the bed, looked around for a moment, and then said, “Frances, I think you shouldn’t buy any more books.” This was, I suppose, an intervention (of sorts), but my my excuse this time is that I bought most of these books at the Oxford Literary Festival – and so clearly should not count towards book-buying bans! The Cambridge Literary Festival also happened just last weekend, and I went, but I think that now I really should cut back…

In other news, I thought I’d do something a little different for my haul photo this month, since so many of the books I bought in March were both beautiful and rather oddly-shaped! What do you think?

March Haul

1) Jane, the Fox and Me by Isabelle Arsenault & Fanny Britt. A beautifully-drawn graphic novel about a girl who’s being bullied at school. I read this towards the beginning of March, so all my thoughts on it are in my March wrap-up.

2) The River of Lost Souls by Isabel Greenberg. A short comic about Charon, the ferryman in Greek mythology. I’ve also read this already, so, again, there’s more about it in my last wrap-up.

3) The Snow Queen and Other Stories by Isabel Greenberg. Another comic, this one based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. This book, along with The River of Lost Souls, seems to only be available from Isabel Greenberg’s Etsy store.

4) The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman. A re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, with elements mixed in from Snow White, and beautiful illustrations by Chris Riddell. I’d been on the edge about buying this for a while, but I finally decided to pick it up while I was in Oxford, ’cause I was really in the mood for fairytales… 🙂

5) Killing the Dead by Marcus Sedgwick. A short story that was published for World Book Day. I really don’t know anything else about it, except that I’ve really liked what I’ve read of Marcus Sedgwick’s writing so far.

6) Nowhere People by Paulo Scott. These next three books on the list were something of an impulse buy, which I picked up mainly because I really want to read more culturally diverse books this year… Paolo Scott is a Brazilian author, and this book was originally written in Brazilian (naturally).

7) By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel. See (6) for reasoning. This book was originally written in Spanish, and is, I believe, set in West Africa.

8) The Alphabet of Birds by SJ Naudé. Again, see above. This was translated from Afrikaans, and Naudé is a South African author.

9) Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp by Philip Pullman. Another impulse buy from Oxford, but I’ve always loved Philip Pullman’s writing, and the illustrations in this book were absolutely beautiful!

10) Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist’s Guide to Britain by David Crystal & Hilary Crystal. A book about the history of various different English words (presumably, most of them particular to Britain). I’ve read a couple of David Crystal’s other books, and enjoyed them, and I’m looking forward to reading this, too. 🙂

11) 100 Ghosts by Doogie Horner. A collection of cartoon ghosts, with various different cute and quirky themes.

12) Flambards in Summer and Flambards Divided by K.M. Peyton. The new Oxford University Press editions of the last two Flambards books, which I read years ago. I bought the first two at the beginning of the year, and have been eagerly waiting for these to be released, so that I could finally have a matching set!

13) Sorry, I’m British! An Insider’s Romp Through Britain from A to Z by Ben Crystal. Another book about Britishisms, though this one looks to have a more humourous approach…

14) The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris. A novel inspired by (or possibly a re-telling of) the stories about Loki in Norse mythology. I’ve always been interested in Norse myths, but even more so now than I have been previously, because I’m so excited about Rick Riordan’s new Asgard series. 😀

15) The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst. A biography of Lewis Carroll which I bought in Oxford (which was quite fitting, since that’s where he lived). I’ve only read the introduction so far, but since I’m going to go to a talk by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst later this month, I’m hoping I’ll have a chance to read some more of it soon (& maybe get it signed!).