10 books I SWEAR I’ll finish by the end of the year

In the spirit of the Books Alive Reading Challenge, I present to you, from my neverending TBR pile, my must-reads (I swear) by the end of the year.

As I also review non-romance books, I’ve listed 5 romances and 5 non-romances (in no particular order):

1. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

ShantaramShantaramShantaram is the story of a man known as Lindsay, who made his way to Bombay from Australia. Throughout his life he’s been a prisoner, a slum doctor, a forger, gun runner, mafia guerilla, among other things. This massive novel has received rave reviews and has a possible movie adaptation, featuring Johnny Depp, in the works. Everyone that I know who has read this autobiography (yes, it’s based on a true story) has been totally sucked in and hasn’t been able to put it down, despite it being 944 pages. (Maybe I’ll read this one last!)

This book is listed in The Guide. If you buy it from a participating bookshop during the Books Alive campaign, you can get a free book with your purchase.

2. Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

The GargoyleThe GargoyleThe GargoyleMy obsession with books has led me to trawl through the different genres on Amazon to see if I can find the next big thing that I will be interested in. I found this book advertised heavily on the site last year. It’s been touted as a “timeless love story” where a severely burnt man wakes up from his accident to find a woman sitting at the foot of his bed. She’s a sculptress of gargoyles, and she claims that they were once lovers in medieval Europe. This is where the story is meant to begin. I have yet to begin it.

3. Balkan Ghosts by Robert D. Kaplan

Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through HistoryI ordered this book from Amazon earlier this year, when I found that I couldn’t find a good travelogue/history of the Balkan area. I felt that most books about Europe focused on the west, or the very east (i.e. Turkey) and didn’t really go down to that bit. This book covers the author’s journeys throughout the Balkan area (Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, etc.) before, during, and a bit after the Balkan war of the early 90s. He has repeatedly said that he does not want it to be considered a history, but more of a catalogue of his own experiences, and how he perceives the region. I hope it does not disappoint.

4. Lords of the Horizons by Jason Goodwin

Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman EmpireLords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman EmpireI first heard of this book 10 years ago and purchased a hardcover edition when I first visited America. I subsequently lent it to someone (if memory serves, even possibly an ex-boyfriend) and never got it back, thus never getting to read it! Ten years later, I finally got to visit Turkey and decided that I needed to read more about it.

Jason Goodwin has written quite a few books on Turkey—some are travelogues, some are fiction. This one is a history of the Ottoman Empire, from when they first conquered the old capital of Byzantium, covering aspects of their culture and traditions.

5. In Europe by Geert Mak (translated by Sam Garrett)

In Europe: Travels Through the Twentieth CenturyWhen the European Union decided to convert to a single currency in 1999, Geert Mak (who is Dutch, in case you were wondering) decided to take a journey around Europe, tracing that century’s history and how it led to that moment. He begins with a little intro from the late 1800s and goes on to cover the wars, which I think he does quite extensively. What I’ve liked about this so far is that Mak doesn’t just visit the most conventional places with the big players—such as France, Germany, etc.—but he also ends up in small towns in Lithuania, or Sweden, or in places that you don’t ever remember history happened. I have been reading this book forever. (The receipt that doubles as its bookmark says June 9, 2008!) The reason I’ve stopped is because a lot of the history involves how these countries were affected by the wars, and sometimes it just gets kind of depressing. I pick it up every now and then, and read bits and pieces.

6. My Lord and Spymaster by Joanna Bourne

My Lord and SpymasterWhen I read her first book, The Spymaster’s Lady, I wrote Joanna Bourne a fan girl letter saying how much I loved it. When this book came out she wrote me to tell me that it was released, in about September last year. Of course, I already had it by then and resolved to tell her about it when I finished reading it. Then I went overseas and of course I have never read this book. Much to my embarrassment.

Also, I borrowed it. :-) –Kat

7. Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs

Bone CrossedBone CrossedMercy Thompson, the heroine of this series, is one of my favourites. She’s strong, she kicks butt, but she’s also vulnerable, relatively normal (when she doesn’t turn into a coyote), slightly commitment-phobic and not over-the-top. I recommend this series to everyone. When I found out the next book in the series was going to be in hardcover I freaked out and bought it off Amazon, only to find the UK edition comes in paperback (okaaaay). I swear I will read this soon.

Blue Diablo: A Corine Solomon NovelThe Prince of Midnight8. Blue Diablo by Anne Aguirre

If I don’t read this book eventually, Kat will kill me.

By that she means I’ll nag her to death. –Kat

9. Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale

Refer to #8!

I am determined to find a Kinsale for Wandergurl. –Kat

10. El Duque y Yo by Julia Quinn

elduqueOne day I decided to practise reading in Spanish. I have yet to finish a book (though I’ve read several magazines and read the papers online everyday) but decided to start with something familiar. So I bought The Duke and I—a book that, I have since realised, I know by heart, so much so that when I start to read this in Spanish I already know what’s next in English. I will finish this book in Spanish, I swear. Also, Lady Whistledown isn’t as funny in Spanish, but oh, well.

I will probably eventually write a review for all these books (how else will I prove that I have read them?!?) but right now I’m only hoping that I can finish this entire list. This of course doesn’t mean that the TBR won’t get added to along the way, but for now, here we go!

Wandergurl is a sometime traveller who spends her daylight hours making sure that things go the way they're supposed to with minimum bureaucracy (don't ask!). A firm believer that thirty is the new twenty, she will probably never look her age (or act it!). An enthusiastic football supporter (that would be soccer to you) she will get up at odd hours to watch a game, and of course it's not just because the players are hot. She loves history, geography and is pretty good at trivia, thanks to her propensity to remember random bits of celebrity gossip. When not reading or travelling, she can be found indulging in her other passion -- eating -- and can be found at Wake up and smell the coffee.


  1. SarahT says:

    I loved both Shantaram and The Gargoyle. I’m forcing myself to wait to read Bone Crossed when it comes out in mass market paperback in January. Great list!

  2. Kat says:

    I was shocked when I found out Wandergurl lent me the book without having read it herself. Bourne writes beautifully. I love, love, love her vulnerable heroines.

  3. AnimeJune says:

    “Prince of Midnight” is on my TBR pile too – after I read Kinsale’s “For My Lady’s Heart,” the flat-out best medieval romance I’ve ever read, I picked up all of her books I could find! I’m also eagerly awaiting her next book, “Lessons in French” which comes out in January.

  4. Kat says:

    I LOVE For My Lady’s Heart, and Shadowheart (the sequel) best of all. Prince of Midnight is just lovely. Lots of angst and nuances and all the stuff I love about Kinsale books. :-D I couldn’t recommend a medieval romance to Wandergurl because she worries too much about hygiene. Heh.

  5. Kat says:

    BTW, AnimeJune, thanks for commenting here. I found your blog a while back (maybe through Maili? I can’t remember now), but I didn’t bookmark it and couldn’t remember where it was. Now I know!

  6. nathan says:

    i like the book “a child called it” it is about a ten year old kid who gets abused by his mother (this is back before their was a law about child abuse

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