• Nicole Courtney

5 Standalones to beat that reading slump! #1

What's worse than a reading slump? A reading slump when you are self-isolating! Luckily for you, I have created a list of 5 standalones that I read over the years that I am sure can beat that nasty reading slump of yours!


As standalones, they are easy to get into and you don’t then have that guilty feeling of needing to finish a series when you have ( like me) a huge load of other series that just need you to read them *bookshelf drops on head*.


Without further delay - here are 5 standalones for you to try in a reading slump!


#1 - A SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY / ROMANCE

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Genre : Young Adult / Science Fiction

Rating : ★★★★★



Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?


Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.


Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.


But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?


Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

I would still consider this book to be my introduction to the Sci-fi genre. Beforehand, I would focus mostly on fantasy and this book, which I acquired thanks to our awesome library made me discover and love the Science Fiction Genre.


The story is written as diary entries, a first-person story that focuses on Romy as she is travelling through space. Her only communication is with a mystery boy J. Love blossoms and Romy can’t wait to countdown the days until she finally gets to meet her love…


A lot darker than I expected, there are twists throughout the book and I did not see the ending! I cried and cried and cried...


Chapters are relatively short, sometimes being a page each and I read this book within a few hours. I could not simply stop!


If science fiction is something you fancy, or you would just like to keep your toes lightly into the genre, I would highly recommend this book.


#2 - YOUNG ADULT / ADULT FANTASY

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Genre : Young Adult / Adult Fantasy

Rating : ★★★★★



A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.


The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.


Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.


Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.


Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

Just a warning - this book is very very long! At 800 pages, I originally received this book as a birthday present, and then shortly thereafter the world went into lockdown. Even in lockdown, this book took me a long time to read. But this book is so so worth it!


Dragons? Check. Swoon-worthy romance? Check. A detailed, well-developed magic system? Check. Baddass female protagonists and assassins? Check.


This book was hours of fun! Think Game of Thrones - you follow different characters from the East and West each with their own problems and desires in life. Shannon does a pretty good job at creating memorable characters, an epic fantasy world to sink your teeth into, and believable, emotional characters.


My biggest suggestion with this book? Keep a record of who is in the East and West because for the first 100 or so pages, I was pretty overwhelmed. Keeping a journal kept me a lot and thereafter I was eager just to go get one more chapter of a character I was really vouching for, in particular, if I had to wait a few chapters for them - the agony was unbelievable!


#3 FANTASY AND FAE

Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Genre : Young Adult Fantasy

Rating : ★★★★



Every enchantment has a price.


With a flick of her paintbrush, Isobel creates stunning portraits for a dangerous set of clients: the fair folk. These immortal creatures cannot bake bread or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and they trade valuable enchantments for Isobel’s paintings. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—Isobel makes a deadly mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes, a weakness that could cost him his throne, and even his life.


Furious, Rook spirits Isobel away to his kingdom to stand trial for her crime. But something is seriously amiss in his world, and they are attacked from every side. With Isobel and Rook depending upon each other for survival, their alliance blossoms into trust, perhaps even love . . . a forbidden emotion that would violate the fair folks’ ruthless laws, rendering both their lives forfeit. What force could Isobel's paintings conjure that is powerful enough to defy the ancient malice of the fairy courts?


Isobel and Rook journey along a knife-edge in a lush world where beauty masks corruption and the cost of survival might be more frightening than death itself.

If you love anything to do with Fae then you will love this standalone. Featuring: A sexy male brooding fae prince, a talented human female, and dangers beyond their comprehension.


Prince Rook of the Autumn court orders a painting from Isobel that ultimately leads them on a perilous journey across the fae lands, meanwhile, they can't help but fall in love.


Rogerson’s writing is simply beautiful. I love magical fae reals but the level of detail this author includes is simply amazing. Throughout the book, I felt like I WAS in the fairy realm. My heart would flutter every time there was a sound in the forest - I was on alert for danger.


While the pacing of this book is certainly slow ( sometimes toooo slow) the writing and the characters certainly make up for it. If you love Sarah J Maas and her fairies as well as Holly Black’s - Enchantment of Ravens is what I would imagine if Court of Thorns and Roses had a baby with Cruel Prince. Overall a perfect fae read.


#4 ARTHURIAN LEGEND RETELLING

Book of Mordred by Vivian Van Velde

Genre : Young Adult Fantasy / Retelling

Rating : ★★★★


Dark forces are taking hold in the kingdom of Camelot: King Arthur struggles to keep his knights in line as they steadily divide themselves into factions; the great Merlin has vanished at the hands of his lover and pupil, Nimue; wizards all over the countryside battle for whatever measures of power they can find. At the center of the maelstrom stands Keira, an innocent girl who possesses the ability to foretell the fate of her world. When Keira is kidnapped from her village home, her mother, Alayna, flees to Camelot and finds Mordred, an enigmatic knight who will ultimately become Keira’s greatest champion, Alayna’s greatest love, and King Arthur’s greatest enemy.


In the long tradition of Arthurian legend, Mordred has been characterized as a buffoon, a false knight, and a bloodthirsty traitor. The Book of Mordred reveals a mysterious man through the eyes of three women who love him.

I don’t know about you but I love the origin or backstories of villains in books. It's my favourite, in particular, if there is romance involved ( swoons). This is a book that focuses on Mordred, the main antagonist of the King Arthur legend.


The story is from a few female protagonists including Alayna whose daughter gets kidnapped, her daughter Keira and the famous sorcerer Nimue. The book is divided into a few parts. Each part focuses on a different protagonist and their relationship with Mordred.


Just to be clear - I love King Arthur retellings and this one felt like my dream came true…


Part 1 was great - the story felt fresh and nicely paced. Velde really focussed on developing our love for Mordred and giving him a human feel. Relationships between characters were well developed and overall felt ‘nice and fluffy’.


Part 2 - this is where the story was rushed and before I knew it everything was on fire, the pacing became too fast and I was left with a bit of a hollow feeling in my chest of - is that it?!


If you love knights, magic, and tragic love this would be a satisfying standalone for you to check out!


#5 SHORT STORY COLLECTION

The Mistletoe Bride and Other Haunting Tales by Kate Mosse

Genre : Horror / Historical Fiction

Rating : ★★★★



A wonderfully atmospheric collection of stories from one of our most captivating writers, inspired by ghost stories, traditional folk tales and country legends from England and France. These tales are richly populated by spirits and ghosts seeking revenge; by grief-stricken women and haunted men coming to terms with their destiny - all rooted deep in the elemental landscapes of Sussex, Brittany and the Languedoc.


The collection will include The Mistletoe Bride, La Fille de Melisande, Red Letter Day, The Lending Library, The House on the Hill.

Let's be clear - horror stories are not usually my thing. My overactive imagination makes me have nightmares from haunting spooky stories easily. Originally I got this book out of the library in a bit of a hurry, as my time was running out. The cover looked interesting and so I thought to give it a go.


I was not disappointed. Mosse gives us small shorts burst of horror with some nice twists. The Mistletoe bride was my favourite and written from a first-person perspective, the story really gave me goosebumps. I cried at the end of this story - can’t say why because of spoilers but you would have to read it to check it out!


With the stunning setting of Sussex, Brittany and Languedoc the settings and atmosphere make each of these shorts stories believable and beautiful.


If you want stories that are short, spooky but ones that you can read at night without nightmares, this short story collection is suitable for you!



Have you read any of these books?

What do you think?

Happy Reading!


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