T5W: Second = Best

Second books get a lot of criticism. If a series started out strong, then they have a lot to live up to, and sometimes they can seem like just a whole book’s worth of filler before a (hopefully) epic final novel… but I actually tend to really like them; with quite a few of my favourite series, I end up liking the second book best. 😊 So, naturally, I was thrilled to discover that this week’s Top 5 Wednesday theme was second books… Here’s my (heavily abridged) list:

5) A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J. Maas

This may be a bit of a cheat, since I haven’t finished the series yet, and so can’t know for sure whether A Court of Mist & Fury will be my favourite, but I couldn’t help including it here, simply because it was such a dramatic improvement over the first book… I liked A Court of Thorns & Roses, but the more I thought about it after I finished it, the more underwhelmed I felt; I was somewhat reluctant to even pick the sequel up, despite all the amazing things I’d been hearing about it… but, wow, was this book a huge step up. If you’re not sure about this series after book one, then rest assured that it’s worth it (so far🤞).

4) Lirael by Garth Nix

Nix’s Old Kingdom series is fantastic as a whole, but as much as I loved Sabriel and Touchstone in the first book, Lirael’s character arc in this book has always stuck with me. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that the new storyline that Lirael began was fantastic, and she had a wonderful set of sidekicks in Sam, Nick, and the Disreputable Dog. 😋

3) Half Wild by Sally Green

Not a huge amount happens in Half Wild compared to the other two books in the trilogy, so this may be something of an odd choice, but what I really love about this book is how, with the action slowed down, there was so much character and relationship development. In particular, there was some really amazing exploration of Nathan’s relationship with his estranged father Marcus, as well as his two potential love interests, Gabriel and Annalise…

2) Fire by Kristin Cashore

Fire is the second book in the Graceling Realm trilogy, and seems to be a lot of people’s least favourite entry… It’s certainly very different from the other two books – it’s even set in a different world! Kind of. But although I found the transition between books quite jarring (I wasn’t even expecting the change in protagonists, and that’s the least of the changes from Graceling), I very quickly became attached to the new characters, their world, and I loved how much this book effected the other two, despite their apparent disconnect… 💕

1) The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

His Dark Materials is such an incredible series, and deserves all the praise it’s ever received and more; it’s exciting, thought-provoking, heart-breaking, beautifully written… Naturally, I love all three books in the trilogy, and the spin-off novellas, and I’m eagerly awaiting The Book of Dust. But Will’s introduction, and how our own world was pulled into this story with him, is what makes me love The Subtle Knife so much. (It also gave me what was probably my first ever OTP. Lyra & Will forever. 😭)

And an honourable mention for Street Magic by Tamora Pierce, which is one of my favourite books of all time, and also the second book in The Circle Opens quartet… which is itself a follow-up to the Circle of Magic series. I didn’t include it on the main list mostly because I tend to think of it as being a sixth book rather than a second, but this is also a series that people should definitely read! 🙏

(Also, in no particular order: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta, The Boy Who Wept Blood by Den Patrick,  Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson… and probably about a hundred more. But I’ll stop here, for the sake of all our sanity.)

[Top 5 Wednesday is run by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. To find out more or join in, check out the Goodreads group.]

T5W: LGBTQ+

This is a day late, I know, so it’s more like a Top 5 Thursday than a Top 5 Wednesday, but I’ve been meaning to do a post of my favourite LGBTQ+ books for a while, so I wasn’t going to let this excuse pass me by. 😉

5) The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

A story about the crew of a spaceship, who’ve signed on to create a wormhole between two distant planets, a task that involves a long journey through deep space, and a lot of time with only each other for company. This book is, naturally, heavily character-driven, and the thing I like most about it is the sheer diversity of it, both in terms of race/species and relationships (and the “plus” part of LGBTQ+ plays a prominent role here). My favourite relationship in the book is between one of the crewmembers and the ship’s A.I., which is incredibly sweet, but the book also does a really great job of portraying same-sex relationships, inter-species relationships, and even polyamory.

4) The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

The gay character (who I won’t name here for the benefit of the one person in the world who hasn’t read this series yet, a.k.a. Chloë) in this series is actually closeted for the majority of it (as well as the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, in which he also plays a fairly prominent role), but his forced coming-out scene in The House of Hades is one of my favourite moments in any of Riordan’s books, ever. So many feelings! 😥 I’m not a huge fan of the eventual pairing that Riordan seemingly picked out of a hat for him (something that I’ve been forced to confront more and more recently, as I’ve just started reading The Trials of Apollo series, which is set not long after Heroes of Olympus), but he himself is a really wonderful, well-rounded character, and I love how the (quite sudden) revelation of his sexuality didn’t change his role in the books in the slightest.

3) The Boy Who Wept Blood by Den Patrick

The second book in the Erebus Sequence (though the first one reads very much like a prequel, so I think that The Boy Who Wept Blood might actually be a better starting point for this series), which follows a group of Orfani – people who are all remarkably talented and highly educated, but horrifically deformed – in a gothic fantasy setting. The main character in this book (who is also present in The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, but only as a small child) struggles a lot with his sexuality, as his world is about as accepting of homosexuality as our own, over 100 years ago… so, not very much. :/

2) The Half Life trilogy by Sally Green

The main pairing in Sally Green’s Half Life trilogy – which follows a young man who’s half-Black Witch and half-White Witch, and persecuted by both societies – took me somewhat by surprise. It was a relationship I was rooting for from their very first meeting, and I was aware of comments that Green had made on social media that they were perfect for each other, but somehow it always seemed like Nathan would be running from his feelings until long after the series’ ending. (And also, he had a girlfriend, which didn’t bode hugely well.) Needless to say, I was overjoyed when it became canon. 😀 These were two amazing characters, and a beautiful, heartbreaking, and incredibly realistic love story, despite their fantastical circumstances.

1) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Lastly, one of my favourite books of all time, Carry On, which tells the story of Simon and Baz at Watford School of Magicks, where a mysterious being known as the Insidious Humdrum is threatening magic’s very existence. It’s actually a spin-off of another of Rowell’s books, Fangirl, whose main character writes fanfiction of the mega-successful Simon Snow series (which is the Harry Potter of the Fangirl universe). It’s all very meta (and also fantastic)… So pretty much everyone knew from the time the book was announced that Simon and Baz were going to be a couple, and their relationship played a major part in the novel, without eclipsing the main storyline in the slightest. It was just there, slowly and wonderfully developing in the background, while all the drama and mysteries unfolded around it.

You might have noticed that none of the books on this list (except maybe Carry On) advertise themselves as LGBTQ+ stories (i.e. books that deliberately focus on sexuality, and how it influences the lives of their protagonists). This wasn’t exactly a deliberate choice, but although there are plenty of specifically-LGBTQ+ books that I really like (and when you’re writing a book specifically about LGBTQ+ issues, then the only way your readers won’t know about it going in is if they don’t bother to read the blurb), I really appreciate it when authors don’t feel the need to make a big deal out of their characters’ sexuality… and I feel that it goes a long way towards normalising diversity in literature, without trivialising the struggles that LGBTQ+ people face in society.

Also, an honourable mention for Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson, which has a special place in my heart as one of the few books out there (and the only one I’ve read so far) with an openly asexual lead character. It’s also a really good book, of course, just not quite as amazing as most of the books on this list. (It was such a difficult choice!)

[Top 5 Wednesday is run by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. To find out more or join in, check out the Goodreads group.]

The Harry Potter Tag

harry potter tagToday I will be doing the Harry Potter Tag, which I’ve been seeing around quite a bit recently, looking absolutely fabulous (with help from that lovely artwork 😉 )! The tag (and aforementioned art) was created by Lashaan & Trang from Bookidote, and I was tagged by Poppy from Poppy’s Best of Books, whose blog you should check out for more bookish awesomeness. 😀 There’s only one rule for this tag: No picking Harry Potter for any of the answers! 😮flagrateHolly Bourne//Soulmates1) A book with a theme you found interesting, but would like to be re-written.

Soulmates by Holly Bourne was a book that I picked up because its premise – that meeting your soulmate isn’t always a good thing – sounded really interesting, but this book was terrible. And I don’t say that lightly. 😡alohomoraTamora Pierce//First Test2) The first book in a series that really hooked you.

There have been so many, but going way back, I’d like to mention First Test by Tamora Pierce, which not only got me into the Protector of the Small series, but the whole Tortall universe, and later on, her other books as well.accioDavid Gaider//Dragon Age: Library Edition3) A book you wish you could have right now.

I really want to get my hands on the Dragon Age: Library Edition by David Gaider and various different illustrators, which is a bind-up of the three comic books that have been released for the series so far – but I’m not letting myself buy any more books until there’s some space on my TBR shelf. 😦 One day, however, it shall be mine!avada kedavraGeorge R.R. Martin//A Storm of Swords4) A killer book. In both senses.

A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. This is my favourite book in the A Song of Ice & Fire series – there were so many excited twists and turns! It’s also probably the bloodiest of the books so far.confundoBeate Grimsrud//A Fool, Free5) A book you found really confusing.

A Fool, Free by Beate Grimsrud was quite confusing in places, because Eli was such an unreliable narrator. It was mostly confusing in a good way though, & I did enjoy it – you can read my review here.expecto patronumRainbow Rowell//Carry On6) Your spirit animal book.

I’m not entirely sure how to interpret this one, but I figure it means a book that spoke to you in some way? 😕 So I’m going to go with Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, every word of which just made me ridiculously happy (as is something of a theme with Rainbow Rowell’s writing). XDsectumsempraSally Green//Half Bad7) A dark and twisted book.

The whole Half Life trilogy by Sally Green, which is surprisingly dark and gritty for a YA series – it starts off with a child being tortured, and goes on from there… o_OapareciumE. Lockhart//The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks8) A book that was more than it seemed, and surprised you in a good way.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart was a book that I expected to be a quirky boarding school romance story. Instead, it turned out to be about prank wars and upsetting the status quo, and was full of brilliant social commentary, which was way better – and it’s now one of my favourite books! 😀nomineesLast up, I nominate:

Books you should be reading if you love Game of Thrones!

So, the new series of Game of Thrones is finally here! No spoilers, please; I’m not up-to-date with the show at all. ^^’ I am, however, all caught up on the books, and (not-so-patiently) awaiting the next one… Waiting is hard. 😦 But I’ve got you covered! With luck, these excellent series will be enough to tide you over until The Winds of Winter is released!

Peter V. Brett//The Painted Man1) The Demon Cycle series by Peter V. Brett. A seemingly quite traditional fantasy series, which follows a small group of protagonists living in a world that’s beset by demons which come up from the Core every night. This series only gets more complex as it goes on, however, introducing several new conflicts in the later books, and sympathetic (as well as despicable) characters on every side. This series made my heart so confused.

Mark Lawrence//Prince of Thorns2) The Broken Empire series by Mark Lawrence. If you like dark fantasy, then this series is perfect for you, as it’s one of the darkest things I’ve ever read. It follows a largely amoral prince, aiming to avenge the death of his mother and brother, and to become king, but prone to looting and pillaging, and murder and rape – a terrifying (but perfect) mix of Robb Stark and Ramsay Bolton that I wouldn’t have thought was even possible before reading this…

Rae Carson//Fire and Thorns3) The Fire & Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson. Another fantasy series, but this time following a young, insecure princess called Elisa who’s sent away from her home against her will, in order to marry the ruler of a neighbouring kingdom. The story puts a lot of emphasis on religion – as Elisa was born with something called a Godstone, which marks her for an important religious duty – and her struggle to adapt to her new home, and her responsibility towards it, but the reason I think it will appeal to Game of Thrones fans is because of Elisa’s incredible growth as a character, which was very reminiscent of Danaerys Targaryen (and, to a lesser extent, Sansa Stark) in the first couple of A Song of Ice & Fire books.

Sally Green//Half Bad4) The Half Life trilogy by Sally Green. A dark fantasy series set in a world where there are “good” White Witches and “evil” Black Witches, who live isolated from one another, and despise each other. Nathan, the main character in these books, has been raised by his mother’s White family, but is an outcast in White society, as his father is one of the most notorious Black Witches around. I’m kind of obsessed with this series at the moment, but the main reason I’m adding it to this list is that Sally Green is not at all afraid to make her characters suffer.

5) Philippa Gregory//The White QueenThe Cousins’ War series by Philippa Gregory. This last recommendation is blind, as I haven’t read the books… I have seen the BBC adaptation of the first book, which was really well done (and made me feel a lot of the same things as Game of Thrones). But I’m mainly recommending this series – which is a novelisation of the War of the Roses – is because this time period was a major inspiration for the events in A Song of Ice & Fire.

[An aside: You know how, since Game of Thrones became popular, almost every fantasy book that’s come out has had the tagline “Perfect for fans of Game of Thrones!”, or words to that effect? And then they all turn out to be nothing like it, or only like it in some incredibly superficial way? (I’m looking at you, Falling Kingdoms.) I can’t be the only person bothered by this, right? :/ Well anyway, I hope I’ve done a little better in that respect.]

April Haul

You remember what I’ve been saying for the last couple of months, about how impressed I’ve been by my self-control? Well… so much for that! 😳 I went a little crazy last month – all but one of these (fifteen!) books was bought on impulse, and while I’ve read a few of them already (and really enjoyed them), it’s still a little embarrassing to see them all together like this… Does this mean that book hauls might be good for me?! Shock therapy, maybe? 😉 But regardless, here’s what I bought in April:

April haul 20161) Half Lost by Sally Green. The final book in the Half Life trilogy, which I’ve absolutely loved – and this conclusion was well worth the wait! I still didn’t like it quite as much as Half Wild (the second book in the series), but it wrapped up the series really well… and kind of broke my heart. 😥

2) The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman. The first book in the Lady Helen series, which is set in Regency London, and is about hunting demons! (Some of my favourite things! It’s almost like it was written specifically for me! 😉 ) I’ve already read this one, too, and you can read my full review here!

3) Across the Universe by Beth Revis. The first book in the Across the Universe series, which is a space opera, I believe… I don’t actually know much about this book, but I’ve heard that it’s very good, and I’ve been dying to read it for quite a while… It’ll happen soon, I hope.

4) The Melancholy of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Sigh of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Boredom of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Disappearance of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Rampage of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Wavering of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Intrigues of Haruhi Suzumiya, The Indignation of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya & The Surprise of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa. The entire, ten-book Haruhi Suzumiya series, which is best known in the West for its anime adaptation, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The series follows a high schooler called Kyon, who gets dragged by chance into the chaotic world of his classmate Haruhi, who has (unbeknownst to her) the power to destroy the world if she ever gets tired of it… These books are pretty wacky, but I’ve read the first one already, and they’re also a lot of fun. 🙂

5) Starflight by Melissa Landers. A space adventure following a teenage girl making her way to the outskirts of the known galaxy in order to get a better chance of finding a job, and the former classmate she runs into who hires her as his indentured servant for the duration of the trip, in return for the price of her ticket – but for not-so-noble purposes. Another book that I read almost as soon as I brought it home, and that I really loved. 😀 My book-sense was really on-the-mark in April!

6) Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr. Lastly, I also picked up the second book in the Wicked Lovely series (though I didn’t realise that it was part of a series at the time), mostly because it’d been sitting on the shelf at the second-hand bookshop where I work for several weeks, and it was making me sad that no-one else had bought it… ^^’ This is a paranormal romance series about fairies, I believe, but the summary sounds intriguingly dark. I’m looking forward to reading this soon, hopefully (but first I need to pick up Wicked Lovely…).

April Wrap-Up

I was in top form last month! For some reason, reading’s pretty much the only thing I’ve wanted to do, and I’ve had some really great luck (or intuition?) with the books I picked up, as well; I gave almost everything I read in April either 4 or 5 stars! In total, I managed to read 9 novels, 2 short stories, and one (short) graphic novel. 😀

Genevieve Cogman//The Invisible LibraryThe Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. A great mystery/adventure story about a librarian called Irene, who works as an agent for the Invisible Library, collecting rare books from different worlds and returning them to the Library to be preserved. This book was action-paced from start to finish, and incredibly exciting. I loved trying to puzzle out Irene’s quest, and it was quite refreshing that the characters seemed to figure things out at a similar pace that I did (getting left behind in mystery books is always frustrating, but so is waiting for the characters to catch on to something that seems obvious). The characters themselves were all wonderful, as well: Irene, Kai and Vale in particular, but I also loved the way that Irene’s history with Bradamant was tied into the story, and even the villains were a delight to read. Highly recommended!5 stars

Ella Frances Sanders//Lost in TranslationLost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders. An adorable collection of words that have no clear equivalent in any other language. (The word I found most relatable was tsundoku, which is Japanese for a continually-growing pile of unread books. 😉 ). This book is perfect for any lover of words (or cute illustrations)! I actually bought this as a birthday present for my dad, but of course I couldn’t resist reading it myself first. 😛5 starsAlison Goodman//The Dark Days ClubThe Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman. A Regency-era historical fantasy about the young Lady Helen, who one day discovers that she has the ability to fight a kind of demon called “Deceivers”, and is drawn into the sinister world of the Dark Days Club, an organisation of people with powers like her own. This book was so much fun! I almost regret reading it, since I’m now going to have to wait another year to read the sequel! 😥 I loved all the characters, and the plot intrigued and surprised and excited me in equal measures; I ended up staying up until 4 in the morning on a work night, simply because I just had to read “one more chapter” (by which I mean the whole book). I’ve written a full review of this book, which you can read here.5 starsSally Green//Half TruthsHalf Truths by Sally Green. The second spin-off novella in the Half Life trilogy, which takse place during the beginning of Half Bad, but is told from Gabriel’s perspective. I don’t have too much to say about this, except that I wish it’d been longer, so there would’ve been more Nathan in it (it ends pretty soon after Gabriel and Nathan first meet).4 starsSally Green//Half LostHalf Lost by Sally Green. The third and final book in the Half Life trilogy, which was released at the end of March… I feel like I’ve waited forever for this book, but it was absolutely worth it. Obviously there’s not much that I can say about the plot, since this is a sequel, but it was equal parts disturbing, heartwarming, and heartbreaking, which is what I’ve come to expect from this series… Half Wild is still my favourite in the series, but this was an excellent concluding novel – even though I spent most of the last part of the book trying not to cry (and only mostly succeeding). 😥5 starsMelissa Landers//StarflightStarflight by Melissa Landers. A space adventure following a teenage girl on her way to the fringes of the galaxy in order to find some semblance of a happy life, despite her criminal record, and the spoilt son of a fuel tycoon, who hires her on as an indentured servant in excange for her fare – but mostly just so he can make her journey hell. This book was the perfect antidote to my post-Half Lost melancholy; it was just so much fun! 😀 The characters were all wonderful, and Doran and Solara’s romance was surprisingly not cheesy at all. The plot was action-packed, taking quite a few surprising (in the best possible way) turns before reaching its conclusion, and the fast-paced narrative suited the story perfectly.5 starsPeter V. Brett//The Skull ThroneThe Skull Throne by Peter V. Brett. The fourth book in the Demon Cycle series, which I’ve been readalong-ing with Chloë. I have so many mixed feelings about this book… :/ In terms of pacing, the whole book was one long, drawn-out climax, and game-changing twists were being thrown around like no-one’s business. This really felt like the follow-up that The Daylight War needed. And it was well-written, and I really loved some of the earlier plot and character developments (e.g. Arlen and Jardir finally getting a chance to talk things out, Sikvah turning out to be awesome, and the way Thamos really seemed to humanise Leesha). In some ways, this is the best book in the series so far… But almost the entire second half of the book just made me angry. The story’s certainly moving in an interesting direction now, but I really dislike the steps that Brett took in order to get it there. It’s been a long time since a book has made me feel this much hate, and while it’s a good thing that Brett’s managed to get me that invested in the story he’s telling, it’s still a really uncomfortable feeling. I’m definitely glad to be taking a break from this series while I wait for the last book to be released… ^^’4 starsNagaru Tanigawa//The Melancholy of Haruhi SuzumiyaThe Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa. The first book in the Haruhi Suzumiya series, which follows a high school boy known only by his nickname Kyon, who gets dragged into the frequently ridiculous life of his classmate Haruhi – a girl who has (though she’s not aware of it) the power to destroy the world on a whim. Another book that was just pure fun. 🙂 I love Kyon’s narrative, and how he deals with all Haruhi’s drama… I watched the anime adaptation of this series years ago, and my main take-away from that was “fun, but weird”; that still holds true for this  novel, but I also found it much less confusing than its counterpart.4 starsBeate Grimsrud//A Fool, FreeA Fool, Free by Beate Grimsrud. A vaguely autobiographical-feeling (though not, as far as I can tell, actually an autobiography) novel about an author and filmmaker who suffers from schizophrenia. I ultimately enjoyed reading this book, but had some pretty mixed feelings about it… but since it was my Library Scavenger Hunt pick for April, I’ve written a mini-review where I’ve talked about it more – read it here!3 stars

Huntley Fitzpatrick//My Life Next DoorMy Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. A contemporary romance that follows a teenage girl called Samantha, who lives next door to the warm but chaotic Garrett family, whom her driven, political mother completely disapproves of. So naturally, Samantha ends up falling for one of the Garrett boys. Everything about this book was just wonderful: The characters, the storyline, the relationships, the writing… Samantha was very relatable, and she and Jase were incredibly cute together, and I loved how much we got to see of the two of them as a couple; so many romances just focus on the main characters getting together, and then end once they’re actually in a relationship. The focus on Jase and Samantha’s families was really nice as well, and the more dramatic turns that the plot took towards the end were incredibly gripping.5 starsMy Heart is Either Broken by Megan Abbott (from Dangerous Women). A short story about a man trying to deal with the disappearance of his daughter, and the fact that the police and the public all seem to suspect that his wife was the one responsible. I’m not usually one for crime novels, but I actually really enjoyed this one – it had a wonderfully sinister feel to it, and since it was a short story rather than a full novel, it wasn’t long enough to drag…4 starsMorgan Matson//Second Chance SummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. A bittersweet story about a teenage girl called Taylor, who’s spending the summer with her parents and siblings at the lake house that they haven’t visited in years (since she had an argument with two of her friends there, and ran away rather than try to fix their relationship), as a last chance for some quality time as a family, since her father only has a few months left to live. Naturally, this book was very sad, but it was also uplifting at times; Taylor got a chance to really get to know her father before his death, and their shared grief let her connect with her brother and sister in a way that she never had before. She also had the “second chance” referred to in the title – with her former best friend Lucy, and her ex-boyfriend Henry, with whom she’d had a disastrous parting… Taylor’s tendency to run away from her problems could sometimes be frustrating, and was perhaps a little overdone, but she was still very relatable, and the writing was excellent. I actually liked this book even better than Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, though I would still recommend reading that book first, as there’s a nice cameo near the beginning of the book!4 stars

T5W: Books that deal with tough topics

Time for another Top 5 Wednesday! I haven’t done one of these since November, which is shockingly long ago, and I seem to have missed some really interesting themes! Speaking of which: Today’s theme is books with “hard” topics, such as mental health, illness, sexual assault, etc. And since I’m a sucker for a good tear-jerker (as books that touch on these topics often are), I’ve managed to find quite a few on my bookshelves. 😉 As always, it was difficult narrowing it down to just five, but here are some of my favourites:

Katie McGarry//Crash Into You5) Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

The Pushing the Limits series is full of characters with difficult backgrounds (orphans, runaways, drug dealers, etc.) but I singled out Crash Into You for a couple of reasons, even though most of its themes aren’t quite so heavy as in the other books in the series. Firstly, because it’s my favourite book in the series – but more importantly, because Rachel (one of the book’s two protagonists) suffers from anxiety, which is something I’ve not come across often in my literary wanderings, and makes for a really interesting read.

Haruki Murakami//Norwegian Wood4) Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

What to say about Norwegian Wood? It’s a hard-hitter right from the beginning, with Toru narrating his childhood best friend’s suicide, and much of the book also deals with depression… it only gets darker as it goes on. Murakami’s slow, ponderous – almost hypnotic – writing style fits the tone of the novel perfectly, and had me caught up in its atmosphere for a long time after I’d finished reading.

Lionel Shriver//We Need to Talk about Kevin3) We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver

The story of a woman trying to raise a child who hates her, and is strongly implied to be a psychopath. Of course, Eva is an incredibly unreliable narrator, and her opinions colour everything in this book – which is written in the form of letters to her husband – but I think it still counts. 🙂

Jenn Bennett//Night Owls2) Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

The “tough topic” in this book came as something of a surprise to me when I first picked it up, but I thought it was incredibly well-integrated into the story. Really, this book is a cute romance between aspiring medical illustrator Beatrix, and notorious teenage graffiti artist Jack – but later on, there’s an important new character introduced, who suffers from schizophrenia.

Sally Green//Half Bad1) The Half Life trilogy by Sally Green

Okay, so I’ll admit that this is mostly at no. 1 because I’m currently getting close to the end of Half Lost, and am obsessed. In my defence, though, it’s a brilliant series, and seriously dark in places (by which I mean from beginning to end). Even when we’re first introduced to Nathan (the main character), he’s locked in a cage, and is being tortured on a regular basis… and it never seems to let up. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll get a happy ending, but I’m definitely not going to hold my breath.

[Top 5 Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey. To find out more, or to join in, please check out the Goodreads group.]