Books you need to read now – a.k.a. my favourite books of 2018

I’ve read a lot of great books this year but there have been some that have stuck out as being pretty darn special. Over the next two weeks I’ll be sharing my top 5 favourites. Have you read an exceptional book this year? Let me know in the comments or on social and I’ll add it to my list.


Today I’m going to kick things off with a book that really struck me as something quite exceptional. It’s The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan. If you haven’t read it, you must.

The book tells the story of teenager Leigh as she grapples with her mother’s suicide. Guided by a mysterious red bird, Leigh travels to Taiwan to visit with grandparents she has never met. There she enters a world of colour and mystery where she tries to fit together all the jigsaw pieces of her life into something that helps her to unlock her family’s secrets and make sense of her immense loss.

Pan weaves in the story of Leigh’s best friend Axel and recounts key moments in their unfolding relationship. Moments that are sweet and nostalgic, moments that sometimes seem to be the only things that are tethering Leigh to reality. Their relationship is one built on a mutual appreciation of music, creativity and art – especially the distinct colours used to describe how they are both feeling.

Pan has this beautiful, visceral way of describing the dream-like world that Leigh escapes into. A world of heartbreaking loss that is painted with these vivid colours.

“We watch the sky turn to purple turn to black, watch the winds ushering the clouds overhead. I wonder: If you peel away all that darkness, would you find that deep YInMn blue? Maybe that’s where all the other colours are hiding – in a dimension of the world we just can’t see, between our sky and the rest of the universe.”

Suicide & mental health

At the core of the story is the suicide of Leigh’s mother and the effect her mental health had on Leigh and her father. Mental health, and suicide, are topics that we as a society need to destigmatize and some of the best ways of doing this are by talking about it, writing about it and reading about it.

As a society we can no longer afford for suicide to be something we don’t talk about and seeing it written about in such a gentle, yet thought provoking way gives me hope that the younger people reading books like this one will be more tolerant, open and accepting to people who may be battling the same demons as Leigh’s mother was.

Final thoughts

Read this book and be prepared for a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love, loss and acceptance.

Make sure you follow Emily on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram and Twitter.

Book Review – The Wrath and the Dawn – Renée Ahdieh

wrathWhen I bought The Wrath and the Dawn and began reading it was like I had stepped into a new world. I’ve never read One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights) – the book upon which this story is based –  so I had absolutely no reference point but Ahdieh is a masterful storyteller. In this book she weaves a magical tale of the relationship between a courageous young woman and a damaged King, supported by a cast of characters so rich and diverse that I felt I was sharing the same air with them.

There are countless examples of Ahdieh’s brilliant writing in this book, I mean, the whole thing is outstanding. But there are gems scattered throughout which I highlighted with abandon. I think my favourite line out of the whole book – and it’s not anything profound, I just think it’s simple and beautiful is “And he smiled a smile to shame the sun.” That line makes my heart soar.

You won’t be able to put it down, I promise. I gave The Wrath and the Dawn 5 out of 5 stars

9 of the best take anywhere notebooks

If you carry your notebook around with you (in your bag, thrown onto the back seat of the car etc) you’ll know the importance of sturdiness. The last thing you need is a cover that is dog-eared or scratched up or ruined. Not only does it make your notebook look tatty, it also kills inspiration.

You needn’t worry about such things with these notebooks. They’ve been designed for rough and rugged use. You can take them anywhere and they’ll withstand the toughest treatment.

(While Moleskine’s don’t appear on this list their omission is definitely not a snub. I use Moleskines all the time and I think they are superb. I wanted to showcase some other notebooks – perhaps ones you’ve never heard of – because it’s a big, wide world out there and it’s full of new notebooks to discover.)

A6 Bonded leather notebook – Follow your path – kikki.k

12 x 17 – blank pages in Red – Ciak

Dante Notebook – Fabriano

Slim ruled journal 3 pack – C.R. Gibson

Little Black Book – Smythson

Hard Bound Cloth Gray A4 – Whitelines

Master notebook – Leuchtturm1917

Make My Day notebook – Daycraft – Nation State

Kate Spade Journal – NoteMaker

The Vintage Book Of the Month Club

Another entry in the ‘wish I thought of that’ folder (and gee the folder is getting bigger) is this simple, but awesome idea called the Vintage Book Of the Month Club.

I can’t contain my excitement about it!

Every month you’re sent a gorgeous hardcover book that was written and/or copyrighted prior to 1970. You can choose different options – Non-Fiction for Him/Her, Fiction for Him/Her, Children’s Books or a mixture of all options.

Sound too good to be true? Get your subscriptions from Ms. Jeannie Ology.

What are you reading this Christmas? Win a book pack worth $150!

Tim Winton's EyrieI have a shameful amount of books on my to-read pile. It certainly gives my to-read magazine pile a run for its money! One book that I’m going to be adding to the collection is Tim Winton’s Eyrie.

I watched a Jennifer Byrne Presents: Tim Winton piece a few weeks ago and hearing Winton talk about the setting of Eyrie reminded me of the Johnston Court apartment building in the centre of Fremantle.

I don’t know, perhaps it’s just me but that place has a weird vibe. I remember viewing a pokey little apartment with a friend about 20 years ago. When I told Mum the address of the apartment she was shocked because she’d lived in the exact same apartment years before. It’s like the building has tendrils that weave their way through the community. It seems like everyone I know has a Johnston Court story.

I don’t know if Winton’s Eyrie setting was Johnston Court or an amalgamation of a whole bunch of different places. Either way I can’t wait to read it.

You can grab a copy of Eyrie here or have a look through Bookworld’s super handy gift catalogue.

Win! Win! Win!
Want to win a mega-amazing Bookworld bookpack worth $150? Of course you do! All you have to do is head over to the Bookworld Giftshop and leave me a comment telling me what book is #1 on your to-read pile! Aussie’s only (sorry). Entries close MONDAY 2ND DECEMBER at 11:59PM AWST!.


I’ve mentioned before how much I love books. Even thought I adore my Kindle there will always be something special about reading a brand new hardcover.

In the past I’ve used bookplates to stamp my ownership on my personal library but with my collection growing at a steady rate it’s not something I’ve kept up with. Do you put bookplates or book stamps on your books? Would you be more inclined to do so if you had bookplates that looked like these pretties?

top row
#1 – This is the Property by Barn Stationery.
#2 – Babushka Doll Bookplates by Pixels Plus Paper.
#3 – Custom bookplates by Nancy Nikko Design.

middle row
#4 – Books Can Take You Anywhere by The Little Fox.
#5 – Ex Libris banner by extase.
#6 – Mushroom bookplates by Typothecary Letterpress.

bottom row
#7 – Owl bookplates by Whimsy Whimsical.
#8 – Star Pals by Trafalgar Square.
#9 – Monogrammed bookplates by Pearenthical Press.