I Hate You More | Book Review

Title: I Hate You More
Author: Lucy Gilmore
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
𝗦𝗽𝗶𝗰𝗲: 🌶 🌶
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of light-hearted romance, dogs, ambitious main characters
CW: mentions starving oneself, mentions gambling

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

Discover what makes Lucy Gilmore an instant fan favorite with this unforgettably funny enemies-to-lovers romcom starring:
• a grumpy dog show judge
• a determined former beauty queen
• and a Golden Retriever more interested in stealing bacon than winning Best in Show.


Ruby Taylor gave up pageant life the day she turned eighteen and figured she’d never look back. But when an old friend begs her to show her beloved Golden Retriever at the upcoming Canine Classic, Ruby reluctantly straps on her heels and gets to work.

If only she knew exactly what the adorably lazy lump of a dog was getting her into.

If there’s one thing veterinarian Spencer Wilson knows in this world, it’s dogs. Human beings are an entirely different animal. Especially stubborn, gorgeous women clearly in way over their heads. As judge for the local dog show, Spencer advises Ruby to quit while she still can, but her old fervor for winning has returned―and she wants to show the stern, broody-eyed judge that she’s more than just a pretty face. In the end, she’ll show him who’s best in show.

With many years of beauty pageantry under her belt and a taciturn Golden Retriever in lead, Ruby Taylor has what it takes to make her dog win the dog show. Never mind the fact that Wheezy, the Golden Retriever with questionable heritage, isn’t really her dog or may not respond to commands. Or calls. Or anything, really. But with a self-proclaimed dog trainer and numerous cheeseburgers in hand, Ruby and Wheezy have what it takes to win. The only thing standing in her way of winning is one particular dog show judge—Spencer Wilson.

As a veterinarian and dog show judge, Spencer thinks it’s an absolute joke and offence to the Classic Canine show that Wheezy, a mutt, is here to win. But with Ruby’s grit determination and Wheezy’s unique charm, they may just win more than a gold medal.

𝐆𝐔𝐒𝐇:
• The premise alone lured me to this book because who doesn’t love dogs, a veterinarian + dog judge love interest, and a dog pageant?!
• I liked the characters here: the star of the show, Wheezy, the questionable Golden Retriever was the cutest! The main character, Ruby, was ambitious, determined, and strived for more. The love interest was taciturn, strict, yet genuine and shy. The side characters (Mrs Orson, Eva, Caleb, etc.) were fun and endearing.
• This was an entertaining, cute quick read with funny and heart-warming moments. There was little spice but not too much.

𝐆𝐑𝐈𝐏𝐄:
• The relationship lacked depth. Whilst I enjoyed the two main characters and their interactions, I failed to see how their attractions developed into love and how they claimed to have loved each other.
• Some scenes felt like it came out of nowhere? I had to reread certain parts to ensure I did read it right.
• I appreciate how they wanted the MC (Ex-beauty pageant) to be more than her looks, however, the story constantly referred her to her outward appearance and it felt counterproductive at times.

𝐈𝐧 𝐚 𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐥, 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞:
✔ dogs
✔ grumpy X sunshine characters
✔ enemies (sort of) to lovers
✔ slow-burn romance

“𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐝𝐨 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐩𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐨. 𝐓𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐚 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐟𝐚𝐫 𝐭𝐨𝐨 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 𝐝𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐨𝐥𝐝. 𝐋𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐬𝐨 𝐦𝐮𝐜𝐡 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐬.”

~ 𝑳𝒖𝒄𝒚 𝑮𝒊𝒍𝒎𝒐𝒓𝒆, 𝑰 𝑯𝒂𝒕𝒆 𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝑴𝒐𝒓𝒆

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: self-acceptance, family dynamics

𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: fans of light-hearted romance, dogs, ambitious main characters

𝐂𝐖: mentions starving oneself, mentions gambling

Thank you to @NetGalley and the publisher (Sourcebook Casablanca) for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 𝐌𝐲 𝐟𝐮𝐥𝐥 𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐰 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐛𝐥𝐨𝐠: 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐣𝐨𝐲.𝐜𝐨𝐦 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐛𝐞 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐛𝐥𝐨𝐠 𝐮𝐩𝐨𝐧 𝐩𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐞.

𝘗𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘦: 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘲𝘶𝘰𝘵𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘢𝘯 𝘈𝘥𝘷𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘙𝘦𝘢𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘊𝘰𝘱𝘺 (𝘈𝘙𝘊) 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘣𝘦 𝘴𝘶𝘣𝘫𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦 𝘶𝘱𝘰𝘯 𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯.

This book will be published on 2 November 2021, check it out!

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My Book Decluttering Journey (so far)

Back in February I counted all the hardback books I owned and discovered it was a total of 130-ish books. It may not look like a large sum of books for many, but before I started book blogging, I hardly owned any books (at most, like, 3 books) as I grew up being a library user and could never justify owning books as I moved a lot when I lived alone. However, everything changed upon joining Bookstagram. I fell down the rabbit hole of thinking I needed to own hardcover books of everything. Because, how else could I post books on Bookstagram, a visual platform of social media? (This is another topic for later…) So to me, owning 3 books to 130-ish books is a lot. Not only am I running out of shelf-space, I’m also drowning in my TBR. Please help

After a year, I’ve accumulated over 100 books. Whilst I love owning books, I feel like it weighs me down in terms of space and clutter. I want to curate my space with books I love and would enjoy re-reading and sharing. If you haven’t already seen it, I’ve written a post on How to Declutter Books (it’s mainly a post calling out myself lol). Anyway, this post is to see my progress on how I am with decluttering my books. This post is to keep myself accountable and also, I love making figures and tables.

Now, without further ado… let’s see how much damage I’ve done!

Number of Hardback Books I own in 2021

MonthBooks owned start of monthBooks I boughtBooks I declutteredTotal books at end of month
January136+ 2– 5133
February133+ 5– 4134
March134+ 5– 4135
April135+ 6– 2143
May143+ 40147
June147+ 30150
July150+ 9– 5154
August154+ 5* (pending)pending lol159*
Table 1. The total number of books I owned, bought, and decluttered each month of 2021.

Books owned at start of the year, January: 136.

Books owned at time of post (August): 159.

In January I did so well, decluttering 5 books and only purchasing 2! And then you see my rapid decline in decluttering books from May onwards. Obviously, I’m not doing that well because in the span of 8 months I have gained +23 books.

23 books!

But hey! I’m supporting authors, so yay! At least, that’s what I’m telling myself right now…

Although, in my defence, a major excuse factor that stops me from decluttering is the fact that I haven’t had time due to my city in lockdown for the past 2 months (woohoo, Sydney) and me being a HCW trying to confine my movement . And for August I’ve put aside a bunch of books I plan to declutter, which is about 8-9 books.

I don’t have a specific number of books I want to own, but I do want to be picky with what I own. Anyway, I’m glad to see my progress on this constant journey. Progress, not perfection!

PS. I didn’t count my books at the start of the year and had to do some MaTheMatiCS to figure this all out. So I’m very happy I managed to figure out the exact numbers! Hahaha… help. You wouldn’t believe that I was that kid who used to do advanced mathematics (secondary level) in primary school lmaooooo where are my braincells now???

Do you declutter your books?

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Like A Love Song | Book Review

Title: Like a Love Song
Author: Gabriela Martins
Publisher: Underlined
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: ★★★★
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of YA contemporary, fake-dating trope, and cute, fluffy romance
CW: racism, public humiliation

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

This debut paperback original romance follows a Latina teen pop star whose image takes a dive after a messy public breakup, until she’s set up with a swoon-worthy fake boyfriend.

Fake boyfriend. Real heartbreak?

Natalie is living her dream: topping the charts and setting records as a Brazilian pop star…until she’s dumped spectacularly on live television. Not only is it humiliating—it could end her career.

Her PR team’s desperate plan? A gorgeous yet oh-so-fake boyfriend. Nati reluctantly agrees, but William is not what she expected. She was hoping for a fierce bad boy—not a soft-hearted British indie film star. While she fights her way back to the top with a sweet and surprisingly swoon-worthy boy on her arm, she starts to fall for William—and realizes that maybe she’s the biggest fake of them all. Can she reclaim her voice and her heart?

Honestly, this was such a cute and entertaining read!

𝐆𝐔𝐒𝐇:
• Light-hearted, fast-paced and fun read
• This book explores assimilation and how it connects to one’s identity (I could personally relate to this aspect and appreciate reading it because I haven’t read many books that explore this). I love how it delves into one’s culture and the importance of self-acceptance and love. My younger self definitely needed a book like this!
• Positive female friendship. I adored how they celebrated and brought each other up. Love it.
• Love Nati’s growth and her journey.
• Would’ve loved this and needed this book when I was younger!

𝐆𝐑𝐈𝐏𝐄:
• Maybe it’s just me, but I would’ve appreciated more communication on William’s end, especially towards the end of the book.

𝐈𝐧 𝐚 𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐥, 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞:
✔ fake-dating trope
✔ golden retriever/cinnamon roll love interest
✔ only one bed
✔ opposites attract
✔ celebrity main characters

“𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐨 𝐈 𝐭𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐨𝐮𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐭 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐮𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐚𝐥𝐬𝐨 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐲 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐲 𝐭𝐨 𝐝𝐨 𝐯𝐨𝐥𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐰𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐲 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐜 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐲 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞?”

~ 𝑮𝒂𝒃𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒍𝒂 𝑴𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒊𝒏𝒔, 𝑳𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒂 𝑳𝒐𝒗𝒆 𝑺𝒐𝒏𝒈

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: assimilation and reconnecting to your culture (Brazilian-American), identity, coming of age

𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: fans of YA contemporary, fans of fake-dating trope,

𝐂𝐖: racism, public humiliation

Thank you to @NetGalley and the publisher (@GetUnderlined) for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 ❀

𝐐𝐨𝐭𝐃: What are you currently reading and what’s a song that reminds you of it?

𝐀𝐨𝐭𝐃: Obviously, I thought of “Love you like a love song” by Selena Gomez when I read this book and man that song is so nostalgic for me.

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Ace of Spades | Book Review

Title: Ace of Spades
Author: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé 
Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Rating: ★★★★
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: everyone, fans of YA thrillers and thrillers
CW: racism, death, homophobia, gaslighting, abuse (bullying, etc.)

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice.

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light.


Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power.

Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game… 

𝐆𝐔𝐒𝐇:
• love the narration, the tension and the suspense! I NEEDED to find the answers and refused to put this book down
• I love the two main characters—Chiamaka and Devon are both strong and endearing characters in their own right. Chiamaka’s strong-willed, go-getter attitude is something I admire
• Devon is sweet and caring, but willing to do what it takes for his loved ones
• The ending!

𝐆𝐑𝐈𝐏𝐄:
• pacing at the first 20% felt slow although I can understand the set-up

𝗧𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀 𝘄𝗵𝗶𝗹𝘀𝘁 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴:

0-10%: Wow, this is so fun. I already like the narration. Chiamaka is the best and I like Devon

Wait WHAT!!!!!! What are they talking about???!!

17%: Ahhh!! The gaslighting is so annoying!!

I don’t know if it’s just my version and the format, but it’s difficult to know who’s narrating at times. (Or maybe I just lack the brain cells… yes, that must be it…)

Chiamaka is pretty naive at times… I DON’T LIKE THIS PERSON, CHI!!

Ahhh!! Don’t trust anyone!! PLEASE!!!

25% ONWARDS: asdhjlsgkl;gslk ????!!!!

Cue song: ‘Oh no’ by Capone.

Honestly, from the 25% mark to the 100% I was on the edge of my seat, anxiously flying through the pages. BUT to ease things up, I did enjoy the ending.

but I’m still thinking about everything… and it’s got me like this:

TO SUM IT UP:

𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐛𝐨𝐨𝐤:
• A nuanced take on and the exploration of institutional and systematic racism, classism, white supremacy, and sexuality
• A queer black story that shows a peek of living under the gaze of white supremacy

♠️ Ace of Spades is a heart-racing and heart-wrenching story with compelling and endearing characters and haunting social commentary. Real and raw, terrifying and thought-provoking, Ace of Spades is a must-read.

“𝐈 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐩 𝐦𝐲𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐚𝐩𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐢𝐳𝐢𝐧𝐠-𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐈 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐛𝐞 𝐬𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐲 𝐟𝐨𝐫? 𝐄𝐱𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨𝐨 𝐥𝐨𝐮𝐝?”

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, Ace of Spades

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: race, class, sexuality, and familial themes

𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: everyone, fans of YA thrillers, and thrillers

𝐂𝐖: racism, death, homophobia, gaslighting, abuse (bullying, etc.)

Thank you to @NetGalley and the publisher (@UsborneYA) for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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Anticipated ARCs Everyone Should Check Out | Book Rambles

The ARC Gods have been quite generous and I feel that I must share some ARCS Im so excited to read. Some of these have been on my highly anticipated reads list and some Ive discovered via NetGalley.

Six Crimson Cranes • by Elizabeth Lim
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publish Date: 8 July 2021

Why I’m excited to read it:
– fan of Elizabeth’s writing (written Spin the Dawn)
– intriguing premise
– arranged marriage trope

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These Hollow Vows • Lexi Ryan
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publish Date: 20 Jult 2021

Why I’m excited to read it:
– promising premise! desperate to read it
– love stories to do with Fae
– love triangle (lol we know I love the drama)

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She Who Became the Sun • Shelley Parker-Chan
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Pan Macmillan, Mantle
Publish Date: 22 July 2021

Why I’m excited to read it:
– historical fantasy re-imagining of Zhu Yuanzhang!!
– intriguing premise
– tragedy, yearning, ambition, and magic

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Not Here to be Liked • Michelle Quach
Genre: Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Publish Date: 16 September

Why I’m excited to read it:
– rivals to lovers!!
– features an unlikeable female character & intersectional feminism
– coming of age

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Little Thieves • Margaret Owen
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publish Date: 5 October 2021

Why I’m excited to read it:
– huge fan of Margaret Owen (author of The Merciful Crow)
– LOVE the premise!
– unlikeable MC, yes please!

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Iron Widow • Ziran Jay Zhao
Genre: Science Fiction, retelling
Publisher: Oneworld Publications, Rock the Boat
Publish Date: 7 October 2021

Why I’m excited to read it:
– retelling of Wu Zetian!!!
– FINALLY! A Polyam instead of a love triangle!
– Im in love with the premise, the cover, everything

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Within These Wicked Walls • Lauren Blackwood
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Publish Date: 9 November 2021

Why I’m excited to read it:
– Ethiopian inspired retelling of Jane Eyre
– Okay, Ive never finished reading the original Jane Eyre but Im excited
– Intriguing premise, gothic atmosphere


Have you read any of these books? Or are any of these books are on your radar?

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The Wolf and the Woodsman | Book Review

Title: The Wolf and the Woodsman
Author: Ava Reid
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of atmospheric reads set in a magical forest setting, fans of intricate world-building, fans of enemies to lovers
CW: torture, animal deaths, death, self-harm, gore (dismemberment, amputation, mutilation) antisemitism, child abuse, cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all. 

𝐆𝐔𝐒𝐇:
• rich and evocative world-building, great atmospheric read
• compelling, lyrical writing
• Jewish mythology inspired
• Prideful prince brought to his knees
• Évike’s (MC) relationship with a certain family member

𝐆𝐑𝐈𝐏𝐄:
• pacing especially the last 10%
• I wish we could witness more resolution regarding certain aspects

Writing:
The writing style immediately drew me in. Whimsical and magical at times, there’s a dark and gritty atmosphere throughout the novel which is quite fitting to the tone of the story.

Romance:
If you’re a fan of enemies-to-lovers that are not only stuck with each other but must work together, boy, do I have a book for you. There’s a romance that will bring you to your knees. Your knees.

Setting & World-Building:
As previously mentioned, this novel is inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology. Additionally, the author states that this is a work reflecting and exploring nation-building. Therefore, brutal themes such as cultural genocide, ethnic cleansing, and religious persecution are explored in this novel.

Also, the scenes and experiences in this novel may give off visceral reactions. There were times where I had to physically put down the book and think, pace around the room, and pick the book up again. For me, being in the diaspora, struggles with identity and searching for a sense of belonging evoked such feelings and emotions I can’t quite articulate yet as I witnessed Évike’s journey. Évike is a character that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Despite exploring heavy themes, Reid ensures that joy, wit, and hope are woven throughout the story and I adored it. This is particularly evident when Évike is reunited with a certain character and certain interactions with characters.

Overall, The Wolf and the Woodsman is a riveting read, a book that must be savoured upon reading.

“𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐨𝐝, 𝐚𝐬 𝐈 𝐝𝐨, 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐯𝐢𝐯𝐚𝐥 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐚 𝐛𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐰𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞.
𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐝𝐚𝐲. 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐬𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐬𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐭𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐰.”

𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑾𝒐𝒍𝒇 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑾𝒐𝒐𝒅𝒔𝒎𝒂𝒏, 𝑨𝒗𝒂 𝑹𝒆𝒊𝒅

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: culture, religion, and identity are explored in this novel

𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: fans of atmospheric reads set in a magical forest setting, fans of intricate world-building, fans of enemies to lovers

𝐂𝐖: torture, animal deaths, death, self-harm, gore (dismemberment, amputation, mutilation) antisemitism, child abuse, cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing

Thank you to @NetGalley and the publisher (@DelRey) for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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Book List: Enemies to Lovers

The enemies-to-lovers trope follows the convention of when two (or more) characters begin as enemies or possess a dislike and/or rivalry dynamic which later develops into a romantic relationship.

There is a specific difference in the character dynamics and nuance between enemies to lovers and rival to lovers – with the main difference being the severity of antagonism, feelings and thoughts between the affected characters. Furthermore, rivals to lovers may not necessarily be ‘enemies’, rather, the characters may strongly dislike the other whether or not sharing the same or similar goal. For the sake of simplicity, I’ve categorised the two tropes together (although I have a stronger preference to rivals to lovers compared to enemies to lovers).  

This category includes the following: reluctance to like, dislike to like, hate to love, rivals to lovers, enemies to lovers

Why ‘enemies-to-lovers’ trope is fun:

  • the tension
  • the banter
  • growth
  • angst

About this list:

This list will provide books that pertain the enemies-to-lovers trope and information regarding the book and author, such as representation in the books and of the author. Please note: I haven’t read all the books listed. If there’s any information needed (such as representation, content warnings, etc.) to be added please let me know.

Also, I feel that it is important to note that I intentionally list information such as the author’s identity in terms of ethnicity, gender, religion, whether the author identifies being neurodivergent or disabled if the author enclosed such information. Why disclose such information? Representation matters. I endeavour to be as accurate as possible with such information, however, if there’s any error please let me know so I can amend it.

Book CoverBook Title and AuthorInformation
An Affair of Poisons
by Addie Thorley 

Down Comes the Night
by Allison Saft 
Rep: bisexual protagnist
Sorcery of Thorns
by Margaret Rogerson 
The Candle in the Flame
by Nafiza Azad 
Rep: Author of Colour (South-East Asian), Muslim Author
The Shadows Between Us
by Tricia Levenseller 
To Kill a Kingdom
by Alexandra Christo 

• retelling of The Little Mermaid
Uprooted
by Naomi Novik 

Book CoverBook Title and AuthorInformation
Bone Crier’s Moon
by Kathryn Purdie 
Crier’s War
by Nina Varela 
Rep: f/f relationship
Dance of Thieves
by Mary E. Pearson
Daughter of the Pirate King
by Tricia Levenseller 
Hunted by the Sky
by Tanaz Bhathena
Rep: Author of Colour (South Asian diaspora; Indian)
Medieval India inspired world, Indian and Persian mythology inspired
These Violent Delights
by Chloe Gong 
Rep: Author of Colour (East Asian diaspora; Shanghai)
• retelling of Romeo and Juliet
The Bridge Kingdom
by Danielle L. Jensen
Note: New Adult
The Storm Crow
by Kalyn Josephson 
Rep: mental health
The Wrath and the Dawn
by Renée Ahdieh 
Rep: Author of Colour (American-Korean)
• Retelling of 1001 Nights
Ancient Arabia inspired world
We Hunt the Flame
(Sands of Arawiya #1)
by Hafsah Faizal 
Rep: Author of Colour (South + West Asian diaspora), Muslim Author
Ancient Arabia inspired world

Book CoverBook Title and AuthorInformation
A Curse So Dark and Lonely
by Brigid Kemmerer 
Rep: protagonist with MS
• retelling of Beauty and the Beast
Blood Heir
by Amélie Wen Zhao 
Rep: Author of Colour (East Asian diaspora)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
by Laini Taylor
Dark of the West
by Joanna Hathaway 
Serpent and Dove
by Shelby Mahurin 
The Bone Witch
by Rin Chupeco
Rep: Author of Colour (South East Asian; Filipino)
The Cruel Prince
by Holly Black 
The Tiger at Midnight
by Swati Teerdhala 
Rep: Author of Colour (Indian-American)
Indian history and Hindu mythology inspired world
The Winner’s Curse
by Marie Rutkoski 

Book CoverBook Title and AuthorInformation
An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir
Rep: Author of Colour (Pakistani-American), Muslim author

Kingdom of the Wicked
by Kerri Maniscalco

Shatter Me
by Tahereh Mafi
Rep: Author of Colour (Iranian-American), Muslim author

Do you have any recommendations for books in this category?

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Tips For A Reading Slump? | Book Confessions

Book confession time: I bought these books (The Daevebad Trilogy) in hopes to finally read and complete this series after constant recommendations and empty promises to myself. And guess what? I end up marvelling at these books and picking up a different book. 

I’m discovering that perhaps I love purchasing books more than reading them right now and I need an intervention! Why am I like this? 

So, I took my plights to Bookstagram and some booksta friends recommended me their tips:

 

Reading Slump Tips:

  • Reading is for pleasure. Read what you want when you want. Don’t force yourself
  • Try varying different lengths of books (graphic novels, light novels, novella, etc.)
  • Find a book that holds your interest, even if you flip through 10 books to find 1
  • Carry an e-book reader or Kindle app to read anywhere
  • Try an audiobook
  • Re-read favourites
  • Keep a page tracker

What are reading slump tips that work for you?

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Pride and Premeditation | Book Tour Review

Hello and welcome to my stop. This stop includes a book review.

You can check out the Tour Schedule here.

BOOK INFO:

Title: Pride and Premeditation
Series: Jane Austen Murder Mystery #1
Author: Tirzah Price
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: April 6 2021
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction Mystery
Where can I get this?
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Indigo | IndieBound

Check out the synopsis below!

Perfect for fans of the Lady Janies and Stalking Jack the Ripper, the first book in the Jane Austen Murder Mysteries series is a clever retelling of Pride and Prejudice that reimagines the iconic settings, characters, and romances in a thrilling and high-stakes whodunit.

When a scandalous murder shocks London high society, seventeen-year-old aspiring lawyer Lizzie Bennet seizes the opportunity to prove herself, despite the interference of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates.

Convinced the authorities have imprisoned the wrong person, Lizzie vows to solve the murder on her own. But as the case—and her feelings for Darcy—become more complicated, Lizzie discovers that her dream job could make her happy, but it might also get her killed.

An Austen inspired murder mystery featuring Miss Elizabeth Bennett, daughter of Mr Bennett of Longbourne and Sons (yes, the law firm that employs no sons but rather an obnoxious person with the name Mr Collins) and her plight to secure a no, not a husband but a permanent position in her fathers law firm. And though the prime suspect Mr Bingley is open to Lizzie’s service there is another issue she must face—Mr Bingley’s detestable and delectable lawyer, Mr Darcy of Pemberley Associates.

Writing:
Immediately upon reading this book Pride nods to the original and unforgettable Pride and Prejudice opening line.

“𝐈𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐚 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐭𝐡 𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰𝐥𝐞𝐝𝐠𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐚 𝐛𝐫𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐚, 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐱𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐚 𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧, 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐝 𝐛𝐲 𝐚 𝐦𝐚𝐧.”

The opening line is a fun and witty start and it instantly drew me into the story. The writing style is easy to follow and the pacing I appreciate the author’s take and how they seamlessly incorporate their own style. Rather than think of this to be a strict P&P retelling I’d like to think of this as an Austen inspired murder mystery with the memorable P&P traits and moments.

Characters:
The characters in this novel don’t stray far from the original Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth is a headstrong heroine and a delight to follow. My only gripe is that the sisters and family don’t appear often and the sisters fell more to the background.

Romance:
Whilst there are romantic aspects later in the story I did appreciate how the story focuses more on the mystery.

Setting & World-Building:
I felt a little disorientated due to the language and action gives off the impression the story takes place in the Victorian Era however, certain instances or aspects would indicate that the story takes place in the Regency era.

Overall, Pride and Premeditation is a fun Austen inspired murder mystery. Despite being a murder mystery, Pride and Premeditation is a fun and light-hearted read. Perfect for fans of YA murder mystery and Jane Austen.

Recommend for: fans of YA historic fiction, YA murder mystery, fans of pride and prejudice

CW: death, murder, stabbing, drowning, kidnapping, sexism, racism, use of firearms

Some of my favourite quotes:

Please note: the quotes listed here are cited from an Advance Reading Copy (ARC) and may be subjected to change upon publication.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a brilliant idea, conceived and executed by a clever young woman, must be claimed by a man.”

I love how Price starts the opening line similar to the original Pride and Prejudice

Come now. I love my daughters. That’s precisely why I do not want to inflict Mr Collins’s presence upon them.

I laughed when I read this. I liked how Price depicts Mr Bennet

Do you purposefully misunderstand everything I say, Miss Bennet?

Do you purposefully overlook all inconvenient truths, Mr Darcy?

Love the banter between Miss Bennet and Mr Darcy. A great indication of what’s to come in the novel.

TIRZAH PRICE

Tirzah Price grew up on a farm in Michigan, where she read every book she could get her hands on and never outgrew her love for YA fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a former bookseller and librarian. Now, she’s a contributing editor at Book Riot, where she can be found recommending books on the site, newsletters, podcasts, and social media accounts. When she’s not writing, reading, or thinking about YA books, she splits her time between experimenting in the kitchen and knitting enough socks to last the fierce Michigan winters.

Tirzah is pronounced TEER-zuh. Pronouns are she/her.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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Also, check out my Bookstagram post!

Again, please feel free to follow the next tour stops. The Tour Schedule can be found here.

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How to Declutter Books

Books often hold sentimental value to a person. Whilst everyone is different and holds different priorities and motivations, there is often an emotional connection between reader and book. Sometimes people feel anxious at the thought of decluttering their book collection and that is totally understandable and valid. Purging books is a personal choice and journey. Before purging it is important to identify your intentions.

Why am I decluttering my books?

Why do I need to keep my books?

If you are a book collector and possessing multiple copies and/or special editions brings you joy—then that is important aspect to acknowledge. For example, “I keep books because I read and collect them. I love reading and owning books give me joy I love seeing my shelves full.”

If you are not too concerned with owning special editions and drowning in the number of books perhaps consider why you need to keep all the books. 

Before you begin the process, consider yourself and your collection.

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Decluttering books: The Process

Step 1: Give yourself a time frame

Remember, be realistic with yourself. Give yourself a reasonable time frame to do this process. Some people need to do declutter in one go, some need to achieve this over increments of time.

As much as I’d like to think I can achieve this in one hit, I know I won’t. 

Step 2: Look at your book collection and categorise your books to

Keep
Donate 
Sell

That’s it! These are the steps! Haha. But if you struggle with decluttering (like me) or unsure how to categorise your books, ask yourself the following questions:

Questions for categorising books

Is this a duplicate?

    • Unless you’re an avid book collector, most often you don’t need multiple copies of a book. Check for duplicates and decide which copy you want. For optimal results be ruthless with yourself.

Is this book still relevant to me?

    • How do you determine what’s relevant for you? You get to decide the parameters. However, an example of books that have lost relevance for me include magazines, textbooks, and travel materials that have lost its relevance due to being outdated, unneeded, or unnecessary. If the book does not serve a purpose, if it holds no value to you, perhaps you no longer need it.

Have I read this and/or will I read this again?

    • Books you haven’t read:
      • Set realistic expectations on yourself: will I truly read this?
        • If the answer is no, consider why you won’t read the book and decide whether there is a need or reason to keep the book. 
  •  
  • Books you have read—will you re-read it?
    • First and foremost: books are meant to be read. Consider why you want to keep the book. A book’s initial purpose is to be consumed. If you have read the book then the book has served its primary purpose. If you want to re-read/share/happily gaze at the book then perhaps you can and should keep the book.
  • The “Just in case” books:
    • Consider if you were to lose this book—would this bother you? If not, then perhaps the book no longer serves a purpose for you.
    • Am I able to replace this book should I need it again? (For example, library copy, digital format, is this an out of print book?)

What do to with the books:

Donate or sell

  • Donate to:
    • The public library
    • Schools
    • Thrift stores
    • People you know who would appreciate the book

If it is difficult to let go of books remember this:

  • Do I have access to a library and if so, am I able to borrow this book?
  • Can I consume this book via digital format? Audiobooks and/or e-readers?
  • Why do I own this particular book?

If you do declutter books that gives potential shelf space for more books!

Additional tips:

define a specific a home to keep the books

get rid of books you don’t usually re-read

keep books you would want to re-buy again 

be deliberate and intentional with books you want to own

I write this blog mainly to myself as I don’t want to hold onto books that I don’t love nor hold any value to me. If you have any tips or pointers on decluttering I’d love it if you’d share them!

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