Monday, November 30, 2020

November Wrap-Up






This month was a good one for me reading-wise. It definitely helped that I started listening to audiobooks via a Scribd free trial.


Lock Every Door by Riley Sager - library hardback - 3.5/5 stars.
Elysium Girls by Kate Pentecost - eARC - 2/5 stars - read my review here.

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary - hardback - 4/5 stars.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - audiobook - 4/5 stars.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust - eARC - 3/5 stars - read my review here.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo (Fatma el-Sha'arawi, #1) by P.
Unusually, I didn't buy any books this month!
I did, however, get approved for lots of books on NetGalley.

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar
 All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O'Donoghue

The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer, #1) by Lynette Noni
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
The Girls I've Been by Tess Sharpe
Dangerous Women by Hope Adams
As well as the reviews linked above, I reviewed These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong for its release day.

I hosted a book blitz and giveaway for Ruinsong by Julie Ember.


Leia: Princess of Alderaan (Star Wars) by Claudia Gray



What did you read or buy in November?



Saturday, November 28, 2020

Review - Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran



Title: Queen of Coin and Whispers

Author: Helen Corcoran

Pages: 464

Publisher: The O'Brien Press

Release Date: 1st June 2020


Blurb from Goodreads:

'She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade'

When Lia, an idealistic queen, falls for Xania, her new spymaster--who took the job to avenge her murdered father--they realise all isn't fair in love and treason.

Lia won’t mourn her uncle: he's left her a bankrupt kingdom considered easy pickings by its neighbours. She’s sworn to be a better ruler, but if she wants to push through her reforms, she needs to beat the Court at its own games. For years, Xania's been determined to uncover her father's murderer. She finally gets a chance when Lia gives her a choice: become her new spymaster, or take a one way trip to the executioner’s axe. It’s an easy decision.

When they fall for each other, their love complicates Lia’s responsibilities and Xania’s plans for vengeance. As they're drawn together amid royal suitors and new diplomats, they uncover treason that could not only end Lia’s reign, but ruin their weakened country. They must decide not only what to sacrifice for duty, but also for each other.

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US




My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to BooksGoSocial and NetGalley*

Lia is heir to the throne and when her uncle dies she inherits a kingdom that is close to bankruptcy. Lia wants to be a better ruler than her uncle and wants to bring prosperity to her land, but things might be harder than she hopes as she will have to keep the Court happy if Lia wants her laws to pass in parliament.

Lia appoints Xania, a young woman, to be her Master of Whispers. Lia wants revenge for her father's murder and plans to use her new position to get the proof she needs.

Neither Lia nor Xania planned on falling for each other and they will have to hide their feelings from the Court and visiting royalty.

Will Lia be a better ruler than her uncle?

Can Lia and Xania have a future together when Lia needs an heir?

Having heard lots of good things about this book, I was excited to read it. While it didn't quite live up to my expectations, I did enjoy it.

Lia and Xania were likeable and relatable protagonists. Lia had a lot of pressure on her shoulders and I was rooting for her to be able to do the things she wanted as queen. Xania was different to Lia, but they were both determined and loved their families. It was interesting to read as they grew closer and how they dealt with difficult situations.

The romance wasn't one of my favourites, but I didn't dislike it and I liked that it was a F/F romance.

The book was mostly set in the palace so we don't get to see much of the world the book is set in.

The plot was enjoyable overall, but I did find myself losing interest at one point, however, not long after that something happened that I wasn't expecting which drew me back in.

The writing style was easy to follow most of the time, but there were times when I felt that there could have been more description as I did find it difficult to differentiate between some characters when several were introduced at once.

I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't enjoy this more.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Book Blitz + Giveaway - Ruinsong by Julia Ember



 Ruinsong by Julia Ember

Published by: Farrar Straus and Giroux
Publication date: November 24th 2020
Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Romance, Young Adult


In Julia Ember’s dark and lush LGBTQ+ romantic fantasy Ruinsong, two young women from rival factions must work together to reunite their country, as they wrestle with their feelings for each other.

Her voice was her prison…
Now it’s her weapon.

In a world where magic is sung, a powerful mage named Cadence must choose between the two. For years, she has been forced to torture her country’s disgraced nobility at her ruthless queen’s bidding.

But when she is reunited with her childhood friend, a noblewoman with ties to the underground rebellion, she must finally make a choice: Take a stand to free their country from oppression, or follow in the queen’s footsteps and become a monster herself.

Purchase links:





Her grin widens; then she arches her back and twists from side to side. “My mattress is as hard as rock.” She works her fingers into her neck, massaging. “I don’t think anyone has replaced the beds in the east wing since the reign of Marianne V. If I dared to look under the bed, I’d probably find all manner of dead things.”

It’s the kind of joke she would have made when we were children. But now, I stare at the nape of her neck, at the soft sweep of a loose curl brushing her skin. My fingers twitch in my lap.

“I could fix it for you,” I say. My face reddens as the words escape.

She glances at me out of the corner of one eye, then folds forward so that she rests on her elbows. The movement is fluid and elegant. She smells of frost and lavender perfume. As the early morning sun catches her hair, it lights with amethyst and bronze.

My breath quickens. One of the buttons on her gown has come open, revealing a sliver of the smooth, perfect skin of her back. I wonder what it would be like to undo them one by one, to trace my fingers down the hollow of her spine, to follow the touch with my lips. What would her skin taste like? Would her back, so supple and firm, quiver when I kissed it? Would she arch up into my touch?

Or would she recoil?
I am a monster, and everything about this daydream is perfect, except for me.

I bite my lip. Remi has never given any sign of … an inclination, as Madam would call it. I have always been free to love any gender I choose, but I am a mage. I know how the rest of the queendom views relationships between two women. Things are slowly changing among the non-magical folk, but Remi was raised in the old beliefs of Queen Celeste’s court.

We are only beginning to be friends again. More than anything, I want her to think well of me.

I can’t hope for anything else.

She closes her eyes as I begin to sing and lets out a little sigh. I don’t need to look at her to loosen the knots that formed under her shoulder blades, but I can’t tear my eyes away. Her head tilts ever so slightly to the side. Her long lashes flutter down.

I’ve never considered healing to be intimate before, but as I heal Remi, I am aware of every breath, every subtle change my magic works inside her. Despite what I did to her in the Opera Hall, she is trusting me.

Author Bio

 Julia Ember is the author of The Seafarer's Kiss duology, a Norse myth inspired retelling of The Little Mermaid, published by Interlude Press (Duet Books), and Ruinsong, a standalone high fantasy reimagining of The Phantom of the Opera, forthcoming from Macmillan Kids (FSG) in November 2020. She lives with her wife and two fluffy cats in the Pacific Northwest.

Author links:

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Thursday, November 19, 2020

Review - Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo



Title: Clap When You Land

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo

Pages: 432

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Release Date: 5th May 2020


 Blurb from Goodeads: 

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people...

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal's office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance-and Papi's secrets-the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they've lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Papi's death uncovers all the painful truths he kept hidden, and the love he divided across an ocean. And now, Yahaira and Camino are both left to grapple with what this new sister means to them, and what it will now take to keep their dreams alive.

In a dual narrative novel in verse that brims with both grief and love, award-winning and bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.


Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Bonnier Zaffre and NetGalley*

Camino Rios only gets to see her father every summer when he comes to the Dominican Republic.

Yahaira Rios lives in New York City and hasn't talked to her father properly since she discovered that he was hiding another marriage.

When their father dies in a plane crash, both girls learn that their father had lived two lives and had two daughters.

Can they work through their grief and accept each other?

Elizabeth Acevedo's previous books have been a mixed bag for me - I really enjoyed Poet X but I wasn't a big fan of With The Fire On High. However, I liked the sound of Clap When You Land and decided to give it a go.

Camino and Yahaira were both likeable and relatable protagonists. They had grown up differently and had different experiences. It was interesting to read how they reacted to the news that they had a sister and to read as they interacted.

The dual settings of the Dominican Republic and New York were interesting and very different to each other.

The plot was good overall but it did feel like it took a little while to get going and nothing that happened surprised me. My interest did wane at one point and I don't feel that I connected to either Camino or Yahaira very much. I definitely didn't feel emotional about what was happening despite the sad (and what should have been moving) themes and moments.

The writing style was easy to follow and I liked the way the author wrote in verse, but my one gripe is that I felt there could have been a bit more description at times.

I am a little disappointed that I didn't enjoy this more.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Review - These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1) by Chloe Gong



Title: These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)

Author: Chloe Gong

Pages: 464

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Release Date: 17th November 2020


Blurb from Goodreads: 

 The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang-a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette's first love...and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns-and grudges-aside and work together, for if they can't stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley*

Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai are the heirs to rival gangs in 1920s Shanghai.

The gangs struggle to keep their hold on the city as foreigners and Communism rise in power.

Then a monster appears, threatening the lives of everyone in the city.

Can Roma and Juliette put their pasts and the blood feud behind them in order to work together to save their families and Shanghai?


I'm not a big Romeo and Juliet fan, but when I heard that there was a retelling set in 1920s Shanghai with a monster in it, I immediately wanted to read it.

Roma and Juliette were both relatable and likeable protagonists. I enjoyed finding out more about them as well as their families and the gangs. Both of them were under huge pressure as heirs to gangs and had people wanting to usurp them, so it was interesting reading how they dealt with that.

I really liked Roma's friends - Marshall (who was the comic relief), and Bendikt - as well as Juliette's cousin, Kathleen. They all did what they could to to help the heir of their gang and I would be proud to call them my friends.

The setting was interesting, especially as I don't know much about the history of Shanghai. The book was written so that it felt like I was running through Shanghai alongside Roma and Juliette.

I really liked the diversity and representation in the novel.

While the characters were probably my favourite part of the book, the plot was enjoyable and held my attention. I did guess a couple of twists, but that didn't take away from my enjoyment.

The writing style was easy to follow and understand, but it did take me a little while to really get into the storyline and it wasn't until the last few chapters where I was on the edge of my seat.

I am very intrigued to see what happens in the sequel, which I definitely intend to read.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read that I would recommend.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Review - Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust



Title: Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Author: Melissa Bashardoust

Pages: 384

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Release Date: 16th April 2020


Blurb from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Mina is motherless, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone. In fact, it has never beat at all, for her father cut it out and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle, Mina forms a plan: win the king's heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she'll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen's image. Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina, but when her father makes her queen of the southern territories, Mina starts to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do - and who to be - in order to win back the only mother she's ever known . . . or else defeat her once and for all.

 Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US





My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley*

Mina lives with her father who is a magician. They are shunned by the local villagers and Mina leads a lonely existence. She has never known love and cannot love because of the glass heart her father put in her chest.

When Mina and her father move to Whitespring Castle where the king resides, Mina decides to use her beauty to capture the king’s heart and become queen in the hopes that she will finally know love. But marrying the king will mean becoming stepmother to the young princess, Lynet.

Lynet is always being compared to her mother, the late queen. When she’s fifteen, Lynet finds out why she resembles her mother so eerily – Mina’s father, the magician, created Lynet from snow using the dead queen’s image.

As Lynet learns the truth and events lead to strains in Mina and Lynet’s relationship, the princess must decide on her future and whether Mina is now her enemy.

Will Lynet take Mina’s place on the throne?

I was a bit hesitant going into Girls Made of Snow and Glass as I recently DNFd the author’s most recent book, but I ended up enjoying this one a lot more.

Mina and Lynet were both relatable and likeable protagonists who I felt sorry for – Mina because she grew up with a father who didn’t treat her well, and Lynet because her father was trying to mould her into her dead mother. Both of them had also been lied to. I was surprised that I liked Mina more and found her chapters more interesting.

I haven’t read many Snow White retellings, but I think this is my favourite as I liked the way the relationship between Mina and Lynet was explored and handled.

The magic was intriguing and I felt that there was just the right amount of it in the novel.

The plot was interesting and held my attention, but I wasn’t gripped and I didn’t feel overly invested in what happened. I liked the way the novel ended.

The writing style was easy to follow and I didn’t feel confused at what was happening at any point.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read.


Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Five Popular Series I Still Need to Read



I've had a copy of the first book in this series for several years now, but I haven't picked it up yet despite having heard good things about this series.


Blurb for Three Dark Crowns (book one):

Three sisters. One crown. A fight to the death.

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn't solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it's not just a game of win or lose . . . it's life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown.






I really have no excuse for not having read any of the books in this series yet. Especially as I've had copies of both An Ember in the Ashes AND A Torch Against the Night for several years.

I've seen so much love for this series and I hope I get to start it soon.

Blurb for An Ember in the Ashes (book one):

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death.

When Laia's grandparents are brutally murdered and her brother arrested for treason by the empire, the only people she has left to turn to are the rebels.

But in exchange for their help in saving her brother, they demand that Laia spy on the ruthless Commandant of Blackcliff, the Empire's greatest military academy. Should she fail it's more than her brother's freedom at risk . . . Laia's very life is at stake.

There, she meets Elias, the academy's finest soldier. But Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he's being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined – and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.






I've had a copy of The Kiss of Deception for ages now (you might be sensing a theme here) and haven't read it yet. This is another series that I've heard good things about and definitely want to get to at some point.

Blurb for The Kiss of Deception:

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.



I claimed my sister's copy of The Darkest Minds when she unhauled it. That was over a year ago now and I still haven't gotten around it, surprise, surprise.

Blurb for The Darkest Minds (book one):

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.


I must be one of the only book bloggers that hasn't read the Percy Jackson series yet.

I definitely plan to read it before the Disney+ series starts, especially as I know so many people love these books.

Blurb for Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief:

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus's stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.






Have you read any of these series?

Would you recommend them?




Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Review - Elysium Girls by Kate Pentecost




 Title: Elysium Girls

Author: Kate Pentecost

Pages: 400

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Release Date: 14th April 2020


Blurb from Goodreads: 

When a walled city in Oklahoma is used as a chessboard in a battle between gods, Sal must join forces with a powerful desert girl gang to beat Life and Death at their own game.

In this sweeping Dust Bowl-inspired fantasy, a ten-year game between Life and Death pits the walled Oklahoma city of Elysium—including a girl gang of witches and a demon who longs for humanity—against the supernatural in order to judge mankind. When Sal is named Successor to Mother Morevna, a powerful witch and leader of Elysium, she jumps at the chance to prove herself to the town. Ever since she was a kid, Sal has been plagued by false visions of rain, and though people think she's a liar, she knows she's a leader. Even the arrival of enigmatic outsider Asa—a human-obsessed demon in disguise—doesn't shake her confidence in her ability. Until a terrible mistake results in both Sal and Asa's exile into the Desert of Dust and Steel. Face-to-face with a brutal, unforgiving landscape, Sal and Asa join a gang of girls headed by another Elysium exile—and young witch herself—Olivia Rosales. In order to atone for their mistake, they create a cavalry of magic powered, scrap metal horses to save Elysium from the coming apocalypse. But Sal, Asa, and Olivia must do more than simply tip the scales in Elysium's favor—only by reinventing the rules can they beat the Life and Death at their own game.

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

My Review:

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley*

Sal lives in Elysium, a walled city surrounded by desert that the gods Life and Death are playing with in a ten-year-long game.

The leader of Elysium is the magic-wielding Mother Morevna. When Sal is named as Mother Morevna's successor, the inhabitants of Elysium go from shunning Sal for her false childhood prophecy of rain, to being more friendly and welcoming.

Then a demon called Asa arrives at Elysium. His presence threatens Sal who is trying to prove herself.

When an accident leads to both Sal and Asa being banished, they find themselves in the desert with few supplies and not long until Life and Death's game is over.

Can Sal and Asa save Elysium?

Who will win the game of the gods?

The premise of Elysium Girls intrigued me - mostly the idea of a walled city being used as a game played between two gods.

Sal was a likeable and relatable protagonist. She was shunned by nearly everyone in Elysium because of visions she'd had as a child, and didn't have any family because her parents were dead. I could definitely understand why Sal felt she had to prove herself so much, even though she shouldn't have had to.

Apart from Sal, my favourite characters were Lucy and Asa who were both likeable.

I liked the mix of magic and the westerny vibes of the setting of Elysium. I also liked that there were different kinds of magic.

The plot was ok, but it failed to hold my attention and I was pretty bored. I found myself skim-reading more than once and did consider DNFing, which I probably should have done because I didn't enjoy what I was reading.

The writing style was ok, but I wasn't invested in what happened.

Unfortunately, this was a book where the concept held promise, but the execution didn't work for me.

I'm disappointed that I didn't enjoy this more.

Overall, this was an ok read.