Five Bookish Things I Learnt in 2021 | Book Rambles

After contemplating my reading habits and goals for 2020, I’ve discovered five bookish things I’ve learned in 2021 (when I write “you” I really mean “me”). And rather than make a long list of reading goals, I want to reapproach my current habits and develop sustainable reading habits both financially, mentally, and emotionally. So, without further ado, here are five bookish things I’ve learned in 2021.

1. Read what you want when you want

As a mood reader, I don’t necessarily have a problem with this. However, back in 2020, I followed the new releases and Bookstagram/Booktube trends and that exhausted me. As a result, in 2021 I decided to focus on books that interest me despite the trends and new releases. I picked up what I wanted and surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) I found that I enjoyed many of my reads.

2. You don’t NEED to be subscribed to all the book boxes

REALLY.
Your wallet will thank you. Trust me.

In 2020 I followed so many book trends and at one point was subscribed to 4 book boxes a month. Four. I was subscribed to Fairyloot, Illumicrate, Owlcrate, and Goldsboro and at times, I would buy Fox and Wit. That doesn’t sound bad, but remember, I’m mainly based in Australia and was paying approximately equal amounts of the box on shipping. I found that whilst I kept up with everything, I didn’t necessarily enjoy the monthly book picks. On top of that, I was gaining so much stuff. Now, I’m much more intentional with what I want to buy and own.

3. Don’t force yourself to read if you’re not enjoying it

Instead, temporarily DNF books.

DNF = did not finish

Sometimes the book isn’t for me at the time. And that’s okay. Usually, what works for me is to put the book down and read what I want instead. I’ll come back to the book when I feel like it and when I do, I usually find that I enjoy the book much more. However, if you truly don’t enjoy the book, don’t feel obligated to finish it. Our time is limited. Why waste it on a book that doesn’t serve any purpose for us?

4. It’s okay to let go of books that no longer serve you purpose

And that includes special editions.

If you read any of my previous posts, I’m attempting to declutter my books. Here’s a method that helped me declutter. I had such a gorgeous shelf of special edition books, however, my shelves were packed full of books I did not love nor read. What was the point? Everyone has their own rhyme and reason for their possessions and whilst some like to own books for the sake of owning (and that’s perfectly fine), I much prefer to own books I love and/or would reread. Right now I have limited space for books so I need to be more intentional with what I own. One big thing I had to really practice was letting go of special editions.

5. Go back to the library!!

You dont need to own every book you read.

Before joining Bookstagram, Booktok, and the online bookish community I used to (religiously) use the library. However, over time I started to buy more books as I wanted to own more. However, after more thought (and full bookcases), I wanted to be more intentional with what I own and what I spend more money on. I can still support authors through the library.

These five bookish things are what I want to be more conscientious of and I hope it would guide me to be more sustainable and intentional with my reading.

What was a bookish thing you learnt in 2021?

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Beautiful Books to Buy in 2022

Let’s put it out there: every book is beautiful. However, this post aims to curate books that have extra features that make them even more special. With the year 2021 coming to an end and 2022 looking around the corner, I figured I’d collate a list of beautiful books/special editions that will be released in 2022.

Okay, let’s define what I mean by beautiful books. Books on this list may include features such as the following:

  • Sprayed, stencilled, or digitally sprayed edges
  • Endpage art
  • Foiling on the dust jacket
  • Reverse art in dust jacket
  • Foiling on hardcover
  • Embossing on hardcover
  • Signed or digitally signed

I know I’m not being gentle with anyone’s wallets, including my own but I hope you enjoy this list.

Title: Legend
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: Science Fiction, dystopia
Price: £89 + shipping
Available: 11/01/2022
Features: Exclusive covers, stencilled sprayed edges, custom endpapers, signed
Where can I buy this? Fairyloot

Note: Please note that these editions will be available for Fairyloot’s subscribers first and may or may not be available for general sale due to limited numbers.


Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Genre: Fantasy
Price: £74 + shipping
Available: 22/02/2022
Features: Exclusive covers, reversible dust jackets, naked cover design with foil details, digitally sprayed edges, custom endpapers, signed
Where can I buy this? Fairyloot

Note: Please note that these editions will be available for Fairyloot’s subscribers first and may or may not be available for general sale due to limited numbers.


Title: The Book of Sand
Author: Theo Clare
Genre: Fantasy
Price: £24.99
576 Pages
Released: 13/01/2022
Features: Sprayed/stencilled edges, digital signature
Where can I buy this? Goldsboro

Click for Synopsis:

    SAND. A hostile world of burning sun.

    Outlines of several once-busy cities shimmer on the horizon. Now empty of inhabitants, their buildings lie in ruins.

    In the distance a group of people – a family – walk towards us.

    Ahead lies shelter: a ‘shuck’ the family call home and which they know they must reach before the light fails, as to be out after dark is to invite danger and almost certain death.

    To survive in this alien world of shifting sand, they must find an object hidden in or near water. But other families want it too. And they are willing to fight to the death to make it theirs.

    It is beginning to rain in Fairfax County, Virginia when McKenzie Strathie wakes up. An ordinary teenage girl living an ordinary life – except that the previous night she found a sand-lizard in her bed, and now she’s beginning to question everything around her, especially who she really is …

    Two very different worlds featuring a group of extraordinary characters driven to the very limit of their endurance in a place where only the strongest will survive.


Title: Ghosts (book 4)
Author: G. X. Todd
Genre: Crime
Price: £24.99
576 Pages
Released: 21/01/2022
Features: Sprayed edges, signed, numbered
Where can I buy this? Goldsboro

Click for Synopsis:

    The heart-stopping conclusion to the highly acclaimed Voices series, where there is no place left to hide and nowhere else to run.

    Seven years ago, the voices came. Some people could hear and others despised them for it. As death and destruction spread, a ghostly figure was waiting in the shadows. Now the Flitting Man is ready to show his face – and no one is safe.

    Pilgrim was made for this broken world. He’s chosen his path and will stop at nothing to see it through.

    Lacey grew up in this changing world. She’s lost almost everything to the Flitting Man, but her fight isn’t over yet.

    Albus sees this world as others cannot. And the friends that he’s kept safe are facing terrible danger.

    Addison belongs to a very different world. She might just be the future, if she survives…


Title: Pandora
Author: Susan Stokes-Chapman
Genre: Historical fiction
Price: £24.99
576 Pages
Released: 21/01/2022
Features: Sprayed edges, signed, numbered
Where can I buy this? Goldsboro

Click for Synopsis:

    A pure pleasure of a novel set in Georgian London, where the discovery of a mysterious ancient Greek vase sets in motion conspiracies, revelations and romance.

    Perfect for readers who loved The Binding and The Essex Serpent.

    London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.

    But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.

    orgeously atmospheric and deliciously page-turning, Pandora is a story of secrets and deception, love and fulfilment, fate and hope.

    A richly evocative and hugely enjoyable read, bubbling with mysteries, secrets and pleasures’ Joseph O’Connor


Title: The Winner’s Curse Trilogy
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Genre: Fantasy
Price: £75 + shipping
Available: 13/01/2022
Features: Exclusive covers, hidden covers, signed, sprayed edges
Where can I buy this? Illumicrate

Note: Please note that these editions will be available for Illumicrate’s subscribers first and may or may not be available for general sale due to limited numbers.


Title: Daughter of the Moon Goddess
Author: Sue Lynn Tan
Genre: Fantasy
Price: £14.99
400 Pages
Published: 20/01/2022
Features: Signed, sprayed edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess.

    A young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm, setting her on a dangerous path where those she loves are not the only ones at risk…

    Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when her magic flares and her existence is discovered, Xingyin is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

    Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to train in the Crown Prince’s service, learning to master archery and magic, despite the passion which flames between her and the emperor’s son.

    To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies, across the earth and skies.

    But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream -striking a dangerous bargain, where she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

    Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic, of loss and sacrifice – where love vies with honour, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.


Title: The Maid
Author: Nita Prose
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Crime & Mystery
Price: £14.99
352 Pages
Published: 20/01/2022
Features: Stencilled edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    I am your maid. I know so much about you. But what do you know about me?

    Molly the Maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests who pass through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?

    But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And so Molly becomes embroiled in a hunt for the truth, learning who to trust as she navigates the secret underbelly of the Regency Grand Hotel.

    Escapist, charming, and introducing a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how everyone deserves to be seen, and how the truth isn’t always black and white – it’s often found in the dirtier, grey areas in between…


Title: The Christie Affair
Author: Nina De Gramont
Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime & Mystery
Price: £16.99
368 Pages
Published: 20/01/2022
Features: Signed, sprayed/stencilled edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Only I know the truth of her disappearance.
    I’m no Hercule Poirot.
    I’m her husband’s mistress.

    Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.

    Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.

    After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.

    Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to…


Title: A Terrible Kindness
Author: Jo Browning Wroe
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Price: £14.99
400 Pages
Published: 20/01/2022
Features: Signed, exclusive cover colourway, sprayed/stencilled edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:
    Tonight nineteen-year-old William Lavery is dressed for success, his first black-tie do. It’s the Midlands Chapter of the Institute of Embalmers Ladies’ Night Dinner Dance, and William is taking Gloria in her sequined evening gown. He can barely believe his luck. But as the guests sip their drinks and smoke their post-dinner cigarettes a telegram delivers news of a tragedy. An event so terrible it will shake the nation. It is October 1966 and a landslide at a coal mine has buried a school: Aberfan. William decides he must act, so he stands and volunteers to attend. It will be his first job, and will be – although he’s yet to know it – a choice that threatens to sacrifice his own happiness. His work that night will force him to think about the little boy he was, and the losses he has worked so hard to bury. But compassion can have surprising consequences, because – as William discovers – giving so much to others can sometimes help us heal ourselves.

Title: Pandora
Author: Susan Stokes-Chapman
Genre: Historical fiction
Price: £14.99
352 Pages
Published: 27/01/2022
Features: Signed, exclusive endpapers, stencilled edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    A pure pleasure of a novel set in Georgian London, where the discovery of a mysterious ancient Greek vase sets in motion conspiracies, revelations and romance.

    London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.

    But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.

    Gorgeously atmospheric and deliciously page-turning, Pandora is a story of secrets and deception, love and fulfilment, fate and hope.


Title: Breathless
Author: Amy McCulloch
Genre: Crime & mystery
Price: £14.99
400 Pages
Published: 17/02/2022
Features: Stencilled edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    When struggling journalist Cecily Wong is invited to join an expedition to climb one of the world’s tallest mountains, it seems like the chance of a lifetime.

    She doesn’t realise how deadly the climb will be.

    As their small team starts to climb, things start to go wrong. There’s a theft. Then an accident. Then a mysterious note, pinned to her tent: there’s a murderer on the mountain.

    The higher they get, the more dangerous the climb becomes, and the more they need to trust one another.

    And that’s when Cecily finds the first body . . .


Title: The Embroidered Book
Author: Kate Heartfield
Genre: Historical fiction, Fantasy
Price: £14.99
400 Pages
Published: 17/02/2022
Features: Stencilled edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    A sweeping historical epic with a thread of magic, perfect for readers of THE FAMILIARS, THE BINDING, and THE MINIATURIST.

    ‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’

    1768. Charlotte arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Two years later, her sister Antoine is sent to France to marry another stranger. In the mirrored corridors of Versailles, they rename her Marie Antoinette.

    But the sisters are not powerless. When they were only children, Charlotte and Antoine discovered a book of spells – spells that seem to work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.

    In a world of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, Charlotte and Antoine use their secret skills to redefine their lives, becoming the most influential women of the age.

    But every spell requires a sacrifice. As love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.

    Brimming with romance, betrayal, and the hidden power of women, THE EMBROIDERED BOOK reveals and reimagines a dazzling period of history as you have never seen it before.


Title: Gallant
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Price: £17.99
448 Pages
Published: 01/03/2022
Features: Stencilled edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    Sixteen-year-old Olivia Prior is missing three things: a mother, a father, and a voice. Her mother vanished all at once, and her father by degrees, and her voice was a thing she never had to start with. She grew up at Merilance School for Girls. Now, nearing the end of her time there, Olivia receives a letter from an uncle she’s never met, her father’s older brother, summoning her to his estate, a place called Gallant.

    But when she arrives, she discovers that the letter she received was several years old. Her uncle is dead. The estate is empty, save for the servants. Olivia is permitted to remain, but must follow two rules: don’t go out after dusk, and always stay on the right side of a wall that runs along the estate’s western edge. Beyond it is another realm, ancient and magical, which calls to Olivia through her blood…



Title: The Atlas Six
Author: Olivie Blake
Genre: Fantasy
Price: £16.99
384 Pages
Published: 03/03/2022
Features: Sprayed edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake is the runaway TikTok must-read fantasy novel of the year. If you loved Ninth House and A Deadly Education, you’ll love this.

    The world’s best young magicians accept the opportunity of a lifetime.

    Six are chosen. Only five will walk away.

    The Alexandrian Society is a secret society of magical academicians, the best in the world. Their members are caretakers of lost knowledge from the greatest civilizations of antiquity. And those who earn a place among their number will secure a life of wealth, power, and prestige beyond their wildest dreams. Each decade, the world’s six most uniquely talented magicians are selected for initiation – and here are the chosen few…

    – Libby Rhodes and Nicolas Ferrer de Varona: inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds.
    – Reina Mori: a naturalist who can speak the language of life itself.
    – Parisa Kamali: a mind reader whose powers of seduction are unmatched.
    – Tristan Caine: the son of a crime kingpin who can see the secrets of the universe.
    – Callum Nova: an insanely rich pretty boy who could bring about the end of the world. He need only ask.

    When the candidates are recruited by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they are told they must spend one year together to qualify for initiation. During this time, they will be permitted access to the Society’s archives and judged on their contributions to arcane areas of knowledge. Five, they are told, will be initiated. One will be eliminated. If they can prove themselves to be the best, they will survive. Most of them.


Title: Run Rose Run
Author: Dolly Parton and James Paterson
Genre: Fantasy
Price: £20.00
400 Pages
Published: 07/03/2022
Features: Sprayed edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    From America’s most beloved superstar and its greatest storyteller – a thriller about a young singer-songwriter on the rise and on the run, and determined to do whatever it takes to survive.

    Every song tells a story.

    She’s a star on the rise, singing about the hard life behind her.

    She’s also on the run. Find a future, lose a past.

    Nashville is where she’s come to claim her destiny. It’s also where the darkness she’s fled might find her. And destroy her.

    Run, Rose, Run is a novel glittering with danger and desire – a story that only America’s #1 beloved entertainer and its #1 bestselling author could have created.


Title: Wild and Wicked Things
Author: Francesca May
Genre: Fantasy
Price: £12.99
432 Pages
Published: 31/03/2022
Features: Sprayed edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    In the aftermath of the First World War, a young woman gets swept into a glittering world filled with illicit magic, romance, blood debts and murder in this lush and decadent debut novel.

    On Crow Island, people whispered, real magic lurked just below the surface. But Annie Mason never expected her enigmatic new neighbour to be a witch.

    When she witnesses a confrontation between her best friend Bea and the infamous Emmeline Delacroix at one of Emmeline’s extravagantly illicit parties, Annie is drawn into a glittering, haunted world. A world where magic can buy what money cannot; a world where the consequence of a forbidden blood bargain might be death.


Title: Yinka, where is your husband?
Author: Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
Genre: Contemporary romance
Price: £14.99
352 Pages
Published: 31/03/2022
Features: Sprayed edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    The hotly anticipated debut of 2022 with a heroine to fall in love with.

    The Nigerian accent Dictionary
    Huzband (pronounced auz-band) noun
    1. A male partner in a marriage
    E.g. Yinka’s younger sister, Kemi, is married to Uche
    2. A non-existent man in a non-existent marriage whose whereabouts is often questioned, usually by Nigerian mums and aunties to single British Nigerian women
    E.g. So, Yinka. Tell me. Where is your huzband? Ah, ah. You’re thirty-one now!

    Yinka wants to find love. The problem is she also has a mum who thinks she’s better qualified to find it for her.

    She also has too many aunties who frequently pray for her delivery from singledom, a preference for chicken and chips over traditional Nigerian food, and a bum she’s sure is far too small as a result. Oh, and the fact that she’s a thirty-one-year-old South-Londoner who doesn’t believe in sex before marriage is a bit of an obstacle too…

    When her cousin gets engaged, Yinka commences Operation Find A Date for Rachel’s Wedding. Will Yinka find herself a huzband? And what if the thing she really needs is to find herself?


Title: Lessons in Chemistry
Author: Bonnie Garmus
Genre: Contemporary fiction; feminism
Price: £14.99
400 Pages
Published: 05/04/2022
Features: Sprayed edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    ‘Your ability to change everything – including yourself – starts here’ – Elizabeth Zott

    Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

    But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.

    But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

    Meet the unconventional, uncompromising Elizabeth Zott.


Title: With This Kiss
Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Genre: Contemporary romance
Price: £14.99
400 Pages
Published: 14/04/2022
Features: Sprayed edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    With This Kiss is the brand-new magical love story from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author, coming soon.

    When their lips touch, will she seal his fate?

    From the outside, Lorelai is an ordinary young woman with a normal life. She loves reading, she works at the local cinema and she adores living with her best friend. But she carries a painful burden, something she’s kept hidden for years; whenever she kisses someone on the lips, she sees how they are going to die. But she’s never known if she’s seeing what was always meant to be, or if her kiss is the thing that decides their destiny. And so, she hasn’t kissed anyone since she was sixteen.

    Then she meets Grayson. Sweet, clever, funny Grayson. And for the first time in years she yearns for a man’s kiss. But she can’t… or can she? And if she does, should she try to intervene and change what she sees?

    Spellbinding, magical and utterly original, With This Kiss is one love story you will never forget.


Title: A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting
Author: Sophie Irwin
Genre: Historical romance
Price: £14.99
400 Pages
Published: 05/04/2022
Features: Sprayed edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    The season is about to begin – and there’s not a minute to lose.

    Kitty Talbot needs a fortune. Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. This is 1818 after all, and only men have the privilege of seeking their own riches.

    With only twelve weeks until the bailiffs call, launching herself into London society is the only avenue open to her, and Kitty must use every ounce of cunning and ingenuity she possesses to climb the ranks.

    The only one to see through her plans is the worldly Lord Radcliffe and he is determined to thwart her at any cost, especially when it comes to his own brother falling for her charms.

    Can Kitty secure a fortune and save her sisters from poverty? There is not a day to lose and no one – not even a lord – will stand in her way…


Title: Do No Harm
Author: Jack Jordan
Genre: Contemporary fiction; feminism
Price: £12.99
432 Pages
Published: 26/05/2022
Features: Sprayed edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    My child has been taken. And I’ve been given a choice…
    Kill a patient on the operating table. Or never see my son again.

    The man lies on the table in front of me.
    As a surgeon, it’s my job to save him.
    As a mother, I know I must kill him.
    You might think that I’m a monster.
    But there really is only one choice.
    I must get away with murder.
    Or I will never see my son again.

    I’VE SAVED MANY LIVES.
    WOULD YOU TRUST ME WITH YOURS?


Title: Blade Breaker
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Genre: Fantasy
Price: £16.99
576 Pages
Published: 28/06/2022
Features: Sprayed edges
Where can I buy this? Waterstones

Click for Synopsis:

    The fate of the world rests on a blade’s edge.

    Fighting beside her band of unlikely companions, Corayne is learning to embrace her ancient lineage and wield her father’s powerful sword. But while she successfully closed one of the Spindles, her journey is far from over.

    Queen Erida’s army marches across Allward with her consort, Taristan, right beside them, opening more portals into nightmarish worlds, razing kingdoms to the ground.

    Corayne has no choice but to assemble an army of her own if she’s to save the realm as she knows it. But perilous lands await her and the companions, and they face assassins, otherworldly beasts, and tempestuous seas all as they rally a divided Ward to fight behind them.

    But Taristan has unleashed an evil far more wicked than his corpse armies. Something deadly waits in the shadows; something that might consume the world before there’s any hope for victory.

Have any special editions to suggest? Let me know down below!

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Do you know any other special editions releasing in 2022 I missed?

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Pardon my absence, I’ve been struggling + books to warm your (*my) cold soulless body (that aren’t YA)

Hi, friends! How are you? Hope this blog post finds you well!

How this blog post finds me

Sorry for being away. I swear I’m alive. Being a frontliner* sucks. Lol. ANYWAY!

With everything going on, I’ve been looking for some heart-warming reads that are easy to consume.

P.s who is giving me access to NetGalley?? WHO?? Because my requests keep getting accepted. And whilst I’m happy with every acceptance (YAY, validation!), that means I must WORK. Nevertheless, I keep getting surprised my requests get accepted despite knowing it was me who’s been logging on and begging for ARCs. Why am I like this lol.

𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: The Tea Dragon Tapestry
𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫: K. O’Neill
𝐈𝐥𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐫: K. O’Neill
𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: Comics & Graphic Novels
𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐫: Oni Press


Behold! The Tea Dragon Tapestry is a magical heartwarming story. This book is the equivalent of the perfect marshmallow in the form of a book! However, said marshmallow isn’t edible, but it is sure is light, fluffy, and just melts your heart. Plus, it leaves you a slight concern of developing early-onset diabetes from all the sweetness it exudes. Let me just get this out of the way first: I am in love with the art style. The illustrations are gorgeous, soft, and beautifully detailed. The panels are engaging and the art captures and evokes emotions well. This graphic novel is not only heart-warming in the sense of characters and story-telling, but it also explores other avenues such as disabilities, grief, loss, and acceptance. Overall, this was an amazing book and I would highly recommend this book to everyone.


𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: grief, loss, disabilities, acceptance, purpose
𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: fans of graphic novels, people looking for a wholesome, heart-warming read, basically recommend this to everyone
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Oni Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: That Can Be Arranged
𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫: Huda Fahmy
𝐈𝐥𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐫: Huda Fahmy
𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: Comics & Graphic Novels, Humour
𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐫: Andrews McMeel Publishing

I’ve been following Fahmy’s Instagram for quite some time and always thought her comics and content were truly funny and great. And this book definitely delivered. ‘That Can Be Arranged’ is an endearing read where we follow Fahmy’s journey to finding a husband. I liked the insights Fahmy shared upon her journey (self-worth, self-love, taking initiative, staying true to your belief, etc.) and how she kept a light-hearted tone despite covering some serious topics. I truly enjoyed this read. There were plenty of moments that made me smile and chuckle.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: love, self-love, self-worth, taking initiative, staying true to your beliefs
𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: I’d definitely recommend this to any hopeless romantics, fans of Jane Austen, and anyone curious about this book.
Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: Bear
𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫: Ben Queen
𝐈𝐥𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐫: Joe Todd-Stanton
𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: Comics & Graphic Novels
𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐫: BOOM! Studios

In Bear, we follow the paw steps of a guide dog named Bear. As a guide dog, Bear’s job is to assist his owner Patrick, who is blind. Patrick and Bear happily live their lives in-sync until the unthinkable happens—Bear loses his sight. Scared he’ll no longer be useful to Patrick and lose his job, Bear then follows the racoons to find a mysterious bear to teach Bear magic for his sight. Despite making friends in unlikely places, Bear finds trouble and then gets lost. Bear’s search is rewarded and reunites with Patrick. After their reunion, Bear undergoes surgery for his eyes. Whilst Bear states he wasn’t “one hundred per cent” after the surgery, he notes that he gained something far greater than what he thought he ever wanted—he becomes Patrick’s friend.

Bear is such an endearing character and I found it easy to emotionally invest in him and his endeavours. I enjoyed the themes explored in this book and liked the unique premise of the story and how it highlights the importance of guide dogs. The book also educates the readers regarding how blindness impacts people.

This is a heart-warming read with themes of identity, friendship, and perseverance woven into Bear’s journey. Through his blindness and his tireless search, Bear discovers true friendship and acceptance. His emotional journey for purpose showcases resilience in the face of adversity. Also, I LOVE the illustration! The artwork is adorable and colourful. The art panels are engaging, successfully evoking intended emotions upon reading the book.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: friendship, acceptance, resilience
𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: This is a book I’d highly recommend and I’d definitely buy a copy. I can’t wait to read this to the kids.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.



𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: All The Colors of Life
𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫: Lisa Aisato
𝐈𝐥𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐫: Lisa Aisato
𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: Arts & Photography
𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐫: Arctis Books

𝐆𝐔𝐒𝐇:
• Gorgeous, breathtakingly beautiful illustrations depicting different phases of life accompanied by short poems.
• The illustrations are vivid, whimsical, and engaging. I can’t get over how stunning, atmospheric, and expressive each picture is and how well fitted it was to the prose.
• I feel like this book would be a perfect coffee table book. Great to peruse and keep around.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: the exploration of human experiences and life
𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: fans of art, everyone
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Artics Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.



𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: Beneath the Trees
𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫: Dav
𝐈𝐥𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐫: Dav
𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: Children’s Fiction
𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐫: Diamond Book Distributors


𝐆𝐔𝐒𝐇:
• A charming read about a character (Mister Grumpf) who is a grumpy badger trying to rake leaves in front of his house however, gets continually distracted by his neighbours
• Simple and fun read with a great message (helping those in need)
• Gorgeous art style with vibrant and a beautiful colour scheme befitting for Autumn/Fall
• The ending made me chuckle
• Perfect Autumnal read

𝐈𝐧 𝐚 𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐥, 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞:
✔ grumpy characters with a heart of gold
✔ seasonal mood reader looking for a cozy read
✔ fan of Disney-like art style/storytelling

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: community, never judge a person by their appearance, kindness
𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: everyone, fans of Disney, those looking for a charming and cozy read
Thank you to @NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.



𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: My Pet Cloud
𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫: Amanda Rawson Hill
𝐈𝐥𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐫: Laia Arriols
𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: Children’s Fiction
𝐏𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐫: Capstone


𝐆𝐔𝐒𝐇:
• A sweet and charming story about a boy and a pet cloud
• Not only is this a cute read that explores the importance and responsibilities of owning a pet but there is also an educational factor regarding weather and science
• Beautiful illustrations with a gentle colour palette, befitting of the narrative and themes
• Perfect read before bedtime

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: responsibilities of having a pet, friendship, educational (weather and science)
𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: young children, curious children, children wanting pets (great conversation starter when discussing responsibilities and compassion)
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Capstone for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


How are you?
What are some of your favourite heart-warming reads?

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Iron Widow | ARC Book Review + incoherent thoughts

Title: Iron Widow
Author: Xiran Jay Zhao
Publisher: Rock the Boat
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of unhinged, selfish protagonist, Poppy War (similiar to Rin—angry protagonist fighting in a war)
CW: death, war, torture, murder, reference to sexual assault (no on-page depiction), misogyny, suicide ideation, and alcohol depiction

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Upon finishing this book I was so incoherent. This was one of my highest anticipated read for 2021 and I’m at loss for words.

OKAY! Before I get into the review, here’s an original piece inspired by the book.
As I was telling my partner about this story, this song came into fruition.
They made this song and this is their interpretation (when Zetian gets out of the chrysalis).
I named the song “Rise from the Chrysalis”

Let’s do my typical Gush / Gripe and then I’ll get into more details with everything.

𝐆𝐔𝐒𝐇:
• Addictive to read. The writing style is simple and straight-forward.
• The relationship developing into a polyamorous relationship, exploring different avenues and boundaries of romantic love.
• I did like how this book made me think about it even a few days later. I love it when books do this.

𝐆𝐑𝐈𝐏𝐄:
• I didn’t feel grounded in the world. Despite this being in a new, vast world, I failed to see beyond the pages (this could be a me thing, though).
• Wish there were more development in the polyam.
• The take on “smashing the patriarchy” in this book.

𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐃𝐄𝐓𝐀𝐈𝐋𝐒

Characters

Wu Zetian: the protagonist, inspired by the only female emperor in Chinese history.
• Angry and unhinged
• pilots mecha
• looks mean, is mean


Li Shimin:
• replace the coffee with alcohol
• pilots the “Vermillion Bird”, is a mecha partner to Zetian
• looks mean, is a cinnamon roll


Gao Yizhi:
• blessed with good looks and money
• superpower is being rich
• looks like a cinnamon roll, can be mean

The Romance

I appreciate how this story develops a love triangle into a polyamorous relationship. I liked that. However, I wished the relationship had more depth into it. As readers, we witness the characters interact and develop however, I feel like the romance could have had more build up especially between everyone and Li Shimin. In saying that, I did like how it explored more avenues in love and to not be bound by just one person and have the ability, trust and openness.

World-building

I loved the premise of this story (sci-fi Chinese inspired world), however, I just wished there were more descriptions and world-building. I wasn’t too familiar with what chrysalis were and what they really looked like until I googled images. I do like straight-forward prose, but I didn’t feel grounded in the world whilst reading this.

Men = bad, women = bad (AKA my biggest gripe) (minor spoilers, ahoy!)

I just have a few qualms regarding Zetian and the narrative: whilst I’m aware this is fiction and Zetian nor the author is not here to “teach” the reader anything (a common emotional and mental burden for many minorities), I can’t help but question how this is a “smashing the patriarchy”.

This is supposed to be smashing down the patriarchy but I feel like it’s just killing evil men.

I failed to see how this was a feminist read because it does not bring women up. Zetian questions the world and the systematic evils whilst simultaneously looking down on other women, especially those who live a life that is viewed as a traditionally feminine role (being a mother, married, etc.). I thought the point of equality should be women could choose their paths in life “traditionally feminine” or not? Furthermore, there’s hardly any positive female relationships throughout this whole novel. Zetian speaks of love for her “Big Sister” (am unsure of her name) yet we the audience never experienced nor witnessed their relationship other than a few flashbacks here and there. How can this ring true to us? Despite Zetian being “for women”, she has very few positive female relationships and interactions. The majority of Zetian’s relationships with women are negative or end negatively. Furthermore, she looks down on others due to their choices (what about survival and social conditioning?) I do hope this means there’s room for growth or exploration in future novels.

One thing that rubbed me the wrong way was how the notion of traditional femininity (for example through the sister and the kind friend) is questioned then rejected and then deemed as “the bad choice”. Instead, reacting in anger and fully rejecting femininity is the “right answer”.

It feels so… binary. There’s no nuance. No discussion. Yes, perhaps finding true equality is to break down the systemic oppression and foundation. Perhaps the answer and the actionable steps will be messy. However, what Zetian truly wants is freedom and choice. Yet, she looks down on other women should they choose to marry or have children?

Also, there’s no discussion regarding her love interest’s complicity in this world. One killed his family due to a horrible circumstance, he feels bad about hurting women… The other, well, his mother was killed by his evil father so naturally, men = bad. Finding Zetian and her morals made them realise, that yes, women do get a say???!!

Whilst there is a passing acknowledgement of privilege and guilt of both her love interests… that’s it?

In a world where everyone is indoctrinated to think and therefore act a certain way, where did they gain this insight? I can understand Zetian’s thought process as she’s endured the hardship. But the men? They are most comfortable in this world. They have the most to gain. Especially, the rich love interest. How did he dismantle his thinking? His mother died? Right, that would fuel his fire to hate his father and to jump onto the father issues bandwagon…

Let’s talk about the family dynamics.
From Zetian’s point of view, her family has failed her due to their complicity and their treatment towards her. In response to her family failing Zetian, she kills them. I can’t get over how Zetian kills her own family. In cold blood. Yes, her family wasn’t good to her. I’m not here to defend either action, because there is no excuse for abuse. Let me reiterate: there is no excuse for abuse.

I wanted to scrutinise Zetian and her relationship between her mother (and grandmother). Zetian states she would want it better for her mother and grandmother… but let’s look a little deeper, shall we?? Zetian states her mother plays the role of being subservient to the father.

“It’s not about having it easy. It’s about keeping peace in the family.”

Zetian’s mother to Zetian

“She’d [the mother] step cautiously around him [the father] as if he were a bomb, worrying about her every move for fear of setting him off.”

Hmmm… this quote and scenario reminds me of abuse… Walking on eggshells with your partner, being afraid, not being able to be open, difficult to say “no”, partner dictates everything… Yeah, it sounds like abuse. Perhaps the mother is a victim of abuse and remains complicit in it towards Zetian. However, it’s important to note how hard it is to get out. So hard!! How can her mother and grandmother break such a vicious traumatic cycle?? With no therapy or support or knowledge? In a world where women solely rely on men (their husbands), how will they survive? How? Zetian wants her mum to create a scene, to fight back for her. But how? There’s no resources. There’s no help. Whilst Zetian may not be afraid to die, that doesn’t mean other people want to. Zetian vilifies/looks down on her mother (which, sounds like the mother is a victim of either domestic/emotional/mental abuse). There’s no redemption for them. Just death. I…

“You tell them over and over, until it’s the only truth they’re capable of living.”

The rage is natural and understandable. However, challenging and breaking down systems with cold blood murder and no remorse or afterthought? I really don’t think killing people in cold blood is the answer. Because it begs the question, who gives you authority to deem who dies and who doesn’t?

“It is not me who is wrong. It’s everyone else.”

Zetian

Whilst I enjoyed this, these characters are definitely not the heroes.

I really am convinced that this is a villain origin story, in which I don’t mind. In fact, I love selfish female main characters!!! But don’t sell me that this is how you smash the patriarchy—with NO rationale logic, no compassion or empathy for anyone but your love interests.

Zetian is flawed and unhinged. As an audience, we see her wrath and rage. It’s palpable. It’s understandable, even. However, I don’t think she’s someone we should deem a hero. I cannot agree killing innocent is the answer to smashing the patriarchy (friends, this is a war crime help). Nor do I agree with the whole hypocrisy of it all.

“I’ve destroyed the Kaihuang watchtower. I did not care who was in there.”

Zetian

The thing is, I don’t mind questionable morals and morally grey characters (love unhinged and selfish characters) but what really unsettled me was the fact that the narrative never questions Zetian’s actions or morals. Instead, we’re positioned to think that every move Zetian calls for a cheer and that THIS is how you break down the patriarchy. Yay! You killed your only female friend because she betrayed you (never mind the fact that she had her two toddler children held as hostages). Yay! You killed your own mother! Yay! You tortured and killed a man! Yay! You tore down a whole fucking tower with people in it. Innocents? What’s that! War crime? Never heard of her!!!!

There is literally this quote right here:

“New bargain: defy us, and all of you and your family will die!”

Whoa, what the fuck.

For a topic as complex as breaking down systematic misogyny and the patriarchy, I feel like there needs to be a range of discussion, a messy journey of learning and unlearning and questioning everything including yourself. Everyone needs to take the internal journey and intentionally address their own bias and comfort. Unfortunately, this did not happen to that extent throughout the novel.

There’s no nuance. There’s no conversation. Just death.

Despite my gripes, I do hope that this means there’s consequences and growth in future novels. I am curious to see where this will go.

𝐈𝐧 𝐚 𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐥, 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞:
✔ Pacific Rim / Zoids / Gundam Wing / Neon Genesis Evangelion / mecha vibes
✔ Poly love triangle (finally!!)
✔ Unhinged main character taking on the patriarchy with her own bare hands in her own manner
✔ inspired by East Asian mythology and historical figures

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: misogyny, sexism

𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: fans of unhinged, selfish protagonist, Poppy War (similar character dynamics—angry protagonist fighting in a war)

𝐂𝐖: death, war, torture, murder, reference to sexual assault (no on-page depiction), misogyny, suicide ideation, and alcohol depiction

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

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

Have you read this? Will you be reading Iron Widow?
If you’ve read this, what’s your thoughts on it?

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Jade Fire Gold | Book Review + Tour

Hello and welcome to my stop. Here, this post will include a review, creative content (music), and favourite quotes.
Many thanks to @CaffeineTours and Harper Teen for the opportunity take part in this tour.

You can check out the Tour Schedule here.

UK edition
Art: Aaron Munday
US edition
Art: GUWEIZ


Title: Jade Fire Gold
Author: June CL Tan
Publisher: Harper Teen (US)
Age group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of character-driven stories, fans of YA fantasy,
On-page Representation: POC (Chinese-coded characters), LGBTQ+ (Sapphic, gay)
Trigger and Content Warnings: self-harm (gouging, eye horror; non-graphic), child abuse (physical, verbal, emotional manipulation/gaslighting), parent death (implied, off-page), character deaths, mentions and descriptions of fantasy/magical violence (blood, war, political violence), mentions and descriptions of physical symptoms that might be triggering to those with emetophobia, alcohol consumption

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

Girls of Paper and Fire meets The Tiger at Midnight in June CL Tan’s stunning debut, inspired by Chinese mythology, with rich magic and an epic slow-burn romance.

In an empire on the brink of war . . .

Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.

Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.

When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities.

But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.

Ferocious action, shadowy intrigue, and a captivating romance collide in June CL Tan’s debut, a stunning homage to the Xianxia novel with a tender, beating heart, perfect for fans of The Bone Witch and We Hunt the Flame.

I asked my partner to create music to accompany this book.
I thought this tune was so fitting and atmospheric whilst read the book—especially at tense times!
Feel free to listen to it.

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour.

OKAY. First things first, we’ve all read the synopsis? Yes? Yes! Now, let me get this off my chest:

This book was pitched as ‘Avatar the Last Airbender’ inspired! More specifically, inspired by Zutara (Zuko X Katara) dynamics??? My little twelve-year-old self is celebrating. OUR TIME HAS COME!!! Zutara!!!! 😩😭🎉

Yes, please play the song included above as it adds to the hype. Trust me.

AND THEN! Not only does this novel pays homage to Xianxia (Chinese fantasy influenced byChinese mythology, martial arts, religion, and other traditional elements) perfect for fans of We Hunt the Flame?? Good-bye, monies!

Yes, as exemplified above, Jade Fire Gold was a highly anticipated read.

Alright, now that’s out of my system, the review time.

Told in dual POV, we follow Ahn, the orphaned girl with a mysterious past and Altan, an exiled prince with revenge on his mind. When their paths in twined Ahn sees the opportunity to unlock her memories and powers whilst Altan see this as a means to avenge his family and reclaim the throne.

However, in order to gain, one must give. And the two may have bargained more than they can pay.

𝐖𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠:
The writing is simple and easy to follow which makes the narrative easily digestible. Despite the writing being quite straightforward, it paints beautiful scenery, strong emotions, and great attention into little details which are important aspects (such s as weaponry, colour and clothing).

However, my main concern whilst reading this was that I found the pacing jarring at times. For example, there would be moments where I feel like I was trudging through the desert, in the middle of the day with no water (this was only the first ~30%). And then there are times were it feels like we’re rushing through a whirlwind of events.

Of course, this could be a “me” thing as I like to get into the ‘meat’ of the plot early in the book soo I can divulge myself with more details throughout the journey. Don’t let this deter you!

𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝-𝐛𝐮𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠:
I’m a huge fan of Asian mythology and Asian-inspired stories, so I found it enjoyable finding little nuggets or Lore sprinkles throughout the novel.

𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬:
Ahn: one of the protagonist starts off naive and I found her passive at the beginning but I did like how she started to develop and become more confident and critical.

Altan: I found it hard to connect to his character due to his angst, however, I did come to appreciate his character. I liked how he started becoming more open and honest.

𝐑𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞:
I admit I’m a huge sucker for the enemies-to-lovers trope, I enjoy it mainly because I love seeing the relationship develop over time (and often begrudgingly 😏) and I love the banter. In this case, there was no romance until about halfway, which I didn’t mind it so! I just wished we could’ve seen the two develop their relationship more. As I really enjoyed reading Ahn and Altan’s interactions and dynamics.

𝐆𝐔𝐒𝐇:
• The writing is simple and easy which made this book quick to fly though
• Intriguing world-building yet consists of common elements in a YA Fantasy, therefore perfect for those who enjoy certain tropes (Royal characters, reunited with someone, dislike to like, finding the magical artefact, etc.) and genres (fantasy).

𝐆𝐑𝐈𝐏𝐄:
• The pacing at times (tit took me a while to get into the first 30% or so of the book but then I got so hooked after that)

• Why was there a need to put chopsticks in ones hair?? That really took me out.

Being of Asian descent and being a diaspora, I’m aware of the historical context of the use of chopsticks in the hair and the micro aggression regarding that. However, I acknowledge that I am not a Chinese and therefore, perhaps I’m not familiar with all the nuance.

Edit:

I read another review and noted that the author responded to concerns regarding chopsticks in the hair. I suggest you check out this review!

The author stated that the chopsticks were not for use of eating but rather a concealed weapon.

𝐈𝐧 𝐚 𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐥, 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞:
✔ Zutara inspired dynamics (exiled Prince X peasant girl with mysterious powers)
✔ forbidden magic
✔ East Asian (Chinese) mythology inspired fantasy

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: empire (explores imperialism), legacy, fate, choice, and power

𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: fans of character driven stories, fans of YA fantasy or new to or enjoy Xianxia or Chinese influenced mythology

𝐂𝐖: death, war, gore, torture, murder

Thank you to Caffeine Tours and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Some favourite quotes:

“𝐇𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐲 𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐰𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐛𝐲 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐯𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐬.”

“𝐈𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐢𝐜𝐞. 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬: 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐰𝐞𝐢𝐠𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐞𝐪𝐮𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬.”

“𝐒𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐬, 𝐝𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐝𝐨.”

June CL Tan grew up in Singapore where she was raised on a diet of classic books and wuxia movies, caffeine and congee. She holds various degrees in communication studies, education, and film. After teaching for a few years, she took a detour into the finance industry. To no one’s surprise, she soon realized her mistake and made her escape. Now, she resides in New York City, talking to imaginary people and creating fantastical worlds under the watchful eye of her crafty cat. She enjoys telling stories that draw on both the traditional and modern to create something fresh to the eye, but familiar to the heart. Jade Fire Gold is her debut novel. 

Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | TikTok

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

Have you read this? Will you be reading Jade Fire Gold?

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Lakesedge | Book Review

UK edition
US edition

Title: Lakesedge
Author: Lyndall Clipstone
Publisher: Titan Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of gothic romance fantasy, fans of For the Wolf, House of Salt and Sorrow, fans of flowery writing
CW: emotional + physical parental abuse, body horror, gore, exploration of death + grief, drowning, self-injury (e.g. cutting)

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

A lush gothic fantasy about monsters and magic, set on the banks of a cursed lake. Perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Brigid Kemmerer.

There are monsters in the world.

When Violeta Graceling arrives at haunted Lakesedge estate, she expects to find a monster. She knows the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the estate nor the monster are what they seem.

There are monsters in the woods.

As Leta falls for Rowan, she discovers he is bound to the Lord Under, the sinister death god lurking in the black waters of the lake. A creature to whom Leta is inexplicably drawn…

There’s a monster in the shadows, and now it knows my name.

Now, to save Rowan—and herself—Leta must confront the darkness in her past, including unraveling the mystery of her connection to the Lord Under.

𝐆 𝐔𝐒𝐇:
• Dark, gothic read incorporating a simple yet beautiful writing style. The beautiful descriptors evoke a rich and eerie atmosphere. Normally, I enjoy a straightforward type of writing, but here the narrative was fun and easy to read.
• Intriguing premise with promising concepts—magic? Broody love interest with a mysterious past? Suffocating atmosphere and spooky mansions? Yes, please!

𝐆𝐑𝐈𝐏𝐄:
• I know I mentioned how I enjoyed the writing, however, I understand that it won’t be for everyone. The flowery language paints pretty pictures and can get repetitive if you’re not a fan or think about it too closely (I don’t know what silt and shadows taste like? And I’m not sure I want to…)
• Whilst I somewhat like the main character, she can seem a bit too self-sacrificial at times and her poor choices™ did frustrate me more than once. I also didn’t appreciate how she never communicates anything with anyone!! Despite promising her younger brother that “we’ll figure things out together” she runs out and does things herself with no consideration of anyone. I really empathise with her younger brother. How can someone be so “selfless” and selfish at the same time??
• I really enjoyed the first part of the book and then… arghhh!!! Why did I think this was a stand-alone??

𝐈𝐧 𝐚 𝐧𝐮𝐭𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐥, 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞:
✔ monster boys
✔ sibling love
✔ eerie atmospheric reads

“𝐈’𝐯𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐤𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐧 𝐡𝐢𝐦 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐚 𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫.
𝐈’𝐯𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐢𝐭 𝐟𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐡𝐮𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫.
𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐈 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐛𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐡 𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐭.”

~ 𝑳𝒚𝒏𝒅𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝑪𝒍𝒊𝒑𝒔𝒐𝒏𝒆, 𝑳𝒂𝒌𝒆𝒔𝒆𝒅𝒈𝒆

Please note: This is NOT a stand-alone.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐦𝐞𝐬: first love, sacrificing yourself for others

𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫: fans of gothic romance fantasy, fans of For the Wolf, House of Salt and Sorrow, Down Comes the Night

𝐂𝐖: emotional + physical parental abuse, body horror, gore, exploration of death + grief, drowning, self-injury (e.g. cutting)

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

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

Are you reading any spooky reads this month?
Otherwise, what do you plan to read?

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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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