Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: My picks for 'Books Set In Europe'.


While I didn't go on many holidays abroad while growing up, I've managed to go to a fair few places in my later years. All of them have been in Europe! It's seriously such a wonderfully diverse continent with so many cultural experiences to offer. I have picked a few books from the UK for this list, but I've tried very hard to be as diverse as possible and include other countries! I've chosen those picks that best show off the cultural aspects of that country (varying dependant on time period) too.

1) 'The Tale Of Raw Head & Bloody Bones' by Jack Wolf.

Setting: England

Set during the Eighteenth Century, this book sets itself at some points in the countryside of Berkshire, and at others in the centre of London. Wolf is amazing with his descriptive work and while the plot itself is very dark and twisted, I thought this was a fantastic choice because I really got a feel for the setting while reading. In fact it's one of the best books for painting a gorgeous picture of Georgian England and the comparison between country and city living.

2) 'Rivers Of London' by Ben Aaronovitch.

Setting: England

I mention this book a lot I know, but it truly is the most detailed and well-researched description of modern-day London that I've ever read. While some of the paranormal aspects might be hard to find in real-life, there are some amazing references to various tourist hot-spots in the city that I live in and love, as well as some lesser known cafes, bars and places to visit. If London in particular interests a reader, I would recommend this book for sure!

3) 'Dot' by Araminta Hall.

Setting: Wales

I've only ever been to Wales twice, and some of my favourite things were found in the villages rather than the huge city of Cardiff. I haven't actually been to Druith, where 'Dot' is set, but I imagine it very clearly being like my own holiday destination of Llangollen. A village cut off, with rolling hills, unpredictable weather and very little in the way of signal. 'Dot' is a great book due to it's story too, though I feel that some people would find this book a little slow. London does also feature in this story, though only briefly.

4) 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak.

Setting: Germany

I had a little trouble picking a book for Germany, as I've read a few that are set there. In the end though, I went for an old favourite that is, of course, set during Hitler's regime in the mid 1900s. Set from Death's narrative, I adored every page of this book. The descriptions, pictures, and events perfectly portray the way that life was during that terrifying time. Hands down, this is my favourite book. Ever.

5) 'Child 44' by Tom Rob-Smith.

Setting: Russia

This book was recommended to me by my flat-mate a year or so ago and I adored it. I was a little clueless about Russian history, in particular the era of the Soviet Union and I found this a very distinct approach to explaining the views of Stalin's Government and why it was so difficult for the people living there. A book full of non-stop thrills, action and suspense, it gives a great view of both Moscow and rural Russia too.

6) 'The Miniaturist' by Jessie Burton.

Setting: Netherlands

I've been to Amsterdam once (this year in fact) and really liked it there! With so many interesting places to explore and visit, it's hard not to. This book gives a different perspective, as it's set in the late 1600s, but I thought it did a great job at giving a glimpse of the history of the country, as well as including an interesting story. 

7) 'Let The Right One In' by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Setting: Sweden

Set in the poorer parts of Stockholm, I really do commend this book for being the one that really made vampires scary again. The Swedish film interpretation was very good, as was the play. It's set in the 1980s, so very recent, and it's clear when reading that life was very hard for the people living in that area. The descriptions are brutal at times, but necessary in giving a clear picture of a less beautiful and perfect Sweden than I'm used to seeing on TV.

8) 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker.

Setting: England, Romania & Budapest

As you can see, this book travels around a bit but it's fantastic at doing so! Stoker is exceptionally skilled at description and I could clearly envisage everything, from the mountainous routes to Dracula's abode, to the savagely chilling moors of Yorkshire. It's clear why this book is a classic, and it's certainly another book that will be enjoyed by fans of Vampires.

9) 'Bitter Greens' by Kate Forsyth.

Setting: France & Italy

This book is an absolutely gorgeous retelling of 'Rapunzel', and rather than presenting it in a Fantasy land, Forsyth chose real-world historical periods as her setting: the French court of Sun-King Louis XIV in Versailles and Venice in the early 1500s being the two main ones. I seriously recommend this story for an interesting adaptation of a tale that's been retold hundreds of times. Forsyth really knows her stuff world-building wise!

10) 'Daughter Of Smoke & Bone' by Laini Taylor.

Setting: Czech Republic

I've heard that Prague is an absolutely beautiful city, but Laini Taylor's urban fantasy is the only time I've read about it! No one can fault her apt, detailed descriptions of the place, and reading about it really made me want to go and see the beauty for myself. Not only that, but Taylor introduces a darker, more Gothic side to the place which I really liked. Definitely a place for the bucket list!