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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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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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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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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People of Abandoned Character | Review


Title: People of Abandoned Character
Author: Clare Whitfield
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery and Thriller, Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★☆
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of historical fiction centring on Jack the Ripper or set in the Victorian era, fans of mystery and thrillers
CW: domestic abuse, violence, death, anti-Semitism*

*I did feel uncomfortable with the casual anti-Semitism (Jewish characters facing prejudice from other characters). Whilst I can understand the sentiments do not necessarily reflect the author or the protagonist, rather the common prejudices held at that time, I’d like to inform readers it’s there. Also, this does not occur often and the protagonist questions the notions.

An absolute ripper of a book. What would you do if you suspected the man you loved and married was a serial killer?

People of Abandoned Character is a grim and brutal atmospheric thriller convoluted with abrupt twists and dark turns. Some twists I anticipated whilst others were unexpected. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the tumultuous ride and devoured this book in one sitting.

Set in 1880’s Victorian England, this novel follows a young woman named Susannah, as she navigates her life from ward nurse to a newly wedded wife. Charmed by the enigmatic surgeon Thomas, Susannah is swept off her feet into a sudden advantageous marriage. The promise of a life of stability with a loving husband is new and exciting to Susannah. However, upon returning from their honeymoon their once sweet kisses turn sour as Thomas’ endearing demeanour changes. Thomas who was once attentive, devoted, and charming becomes cold, surly, and volatile. With the rising coincidental spikes in crime and her husband’s erratic behaviour, Susannah grows suspicious. What if Thomas is the fearsome murderer?

First, I must mention the two major factors that made me thoroughly enjoy this book: the narration and the protagonist. Upon reading the first few pages, I instantly fell in love with the narration. Written in first-person, the voice is distinct and gripping yet humorous at times. The story is well-paced with an engaging protagonist. Susannah is an intriguing character who is both determined yet naïve and unconventional and I enjoyed witnessing the story unfurl from her perspective.

Originally from a lower social class and having little to no prospects, Susannah is no stranger to the poor, unfortunate circumstances and sometimes violent ends women face in that era. Despite that, we witness Susannah grapple society’s expectation using her quick wit and determination. Throughout the novel, you can’t help but cheer for Susannah. Often berated by her grandmother of being a person of abandoned character, Susannah examines herself, questioning her morality and decisions. However, as the audience, we can’t help but empathise with Susannah and her actions despite her flaws.

Also, this book explores aspects such as class and gender, presenting fascinating insight whilst drawing attention to the disparity between the rich and poor and the inequality between men and women. A sad tune that still rings true till this day.

Overall, this was a compelling read with great pacing and intriguing twists. I enjoyed this thoroughly (and was satisfied with the ending!) and would recommend this book. Now I cannot wait for my Goldsboro copy to arrive.

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

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The Midnight Bargain | Book Review

Title: The Midnight Bargain
Standalone
Author: C. L. Polk
Publisher: Erewhon Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Where can I get this? GoodReads | Book Depository | Booktopia | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of historical fiction set in Regency era, themes of politically arranged marriages, and feminism
CW: themes of misogyny (women wearing collars after marriage to subdue their magic and protect potential children)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Check out the synopsis below!

Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken?

“You will dance. You will eat cake. You will see starlight. You will have a kiss by midnight, and then our bargain is done.”

I liked how this book explores and woven the themes of gender equality, women’s freedom, and independence into the novel. However, I felt like this novel lacked nuance in some areas. I appreciated the rhetoric regarding equality, however, at times it felt too heavy-handed and on the nose, thereby affecting my reading experience towards the 80% mark of the story. In saying that, I do agree that the discussion regarding equality and independence is crucial, and whilst I may find it a bit on the nose at times others may not find it so.

Also, I liked how driven and determined the protagonist (Beatrice) was throughout the story. My two favourite characters were Beatrice, Nadi, and Ysbeta. I particularly liked Beatrice and Nadi’s dynamic. And I liked how Beatrice and Ysbeta grew together, fostering a great friendship.

However, unfortunately, I could not come to love the love interest (Ianthe). I felt like the romantic interest was too perfect in the sense that he was consistently understanding, open-minded despite living in and taking part in a world that constantly benefited him. It felt unrealistic. From the top of my head, I can’t think of any flaws. I mean, the love interest is even good looking and rich.

Despite the constant focus on the romance, the romance felt underdeveloped and rushed. I didn’t feel emotionally invested nor understood the romantic connection between the characters. I feel that there was no romantic build-up for me to really cheer for the two characters.

In terms of the world-building and magic system, I liked how intriguing the magic system was. However, this could be due to my lack of understanding, but I found the magic system vague. Despite that, I did find the magic system fascinating and enjoyed it.

Without getting spoiler-y, I both liked and not-so-liked the ending. I found it unrewarding in the sense of how it opposes certain themes presented throughout the novel regarding marriage, children, and Beatrice pursuing her passion. I felt the ending felt too convenient to be believable. Despite that, I did like how Beatrice chose and paved her own path for both career and family (I’m trying to be as vague as possible here).

GUSH:

  •  Gripping, I devoured this book in one sitting –
  • Interesting world and magic 
  • Determined protagonist wanting to pursue their passion and a strong sense of women empowerment

GRIPE:

  • I didn’t feel too invested in the romance
  • Not enough information regarding the world-building and magic –
  • The ending felt too convenient

 

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

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


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How to Break and Evil Curse | Review

Title: How to Break an Evil Curse
Series: Chronicles of Fritillary #1
Author: Laura Morrison
Publisher: Black Spot Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Recommended for: people looking for a different take on fairy-tales, fans of satire, fantasy parodies, and snarky narrators

If you’re looking for a fairy-tale parody, this may be for you.


In ‘How to Break an Evil Curse’, the King’s firstborn is cursed to die if touched by sunlight. Princess Julianna, the unfortunate firstborn to the King of Fritillary is confined in darkness and dreams of a life of freedom. Disgruntled but also determined, Julianna decides to fight fate and live her life by escaping the somewhat nicely redecorated dungeon.

But first, how does one break an evil curse? Simple, really. The evil Wizard Farland admits there is a cure. All Julianna needs is to fall in love with a person that:
1. spent their whole life at sea,
2. whose parents are part of a travelling theatre troupe,
3. said person can play the banjo, accordion, and harpsichord, and
4. is allergic to asparagus.

“It is not impossible for such a person to exist, only improbable.”

Writing:
Firstly, I must state this: approach this with a light-hearted mind. The narration style may not be for everyone. Rather, it may come across as sarcastic to some, with fourth wall breaks, witty comments, and interesting footnotes. However, I feel the narration is a stylistic choice to add to the humorous tone and I find that it works well with the story.

Characters:
There is a large cast of characters in this book, however, they add to the story and it’s quite easy to follow. Although one may find certain characters to be shallow and two-dimensional, I feel like this story doesn’t take itself too seriously for you to do so.  Although I must say, I appreciate how Julianna has initiative. Once she wants something, she goes after it.

Enjoyment:
I can appreciate this book for what it offers—a unique take on classic fairy tales. The humour may not be for everyone as it’s sarcastic and sometimes nonsensical. However, if you enjoy such humour, you may thoroughly enjoy this.

This book may serve well as a ‘palate-cleanser’—when you’re looking for a book that is light-hearted, entertaining, and easy to read. I’d recommend those who pick this up to not take it seriously, and enjoy for what it is. Overall, I find this book to be a quirky and amusing read.

Recommended for: people looking for a different take on fairy-tales, fans of satire, fantasy parodies, and snarky narrators

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Kingdom of Sea and Stone | Book Tour | Review

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

You can check out the Tour Schedule here.

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BOOK INFO:

Title: Kingdom of Sea and Stone
Series: Crown of Coral and Pearl #2
Author: Mara Rutherford
Publisher:
Release Date: October 6th 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Indigo

Check out the synopsis below!

Ever since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister’s place, she’s wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.
As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed—and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them…

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Review

Rating: ★★★★☆
Recommended for: fans of YA Fantasy, sea settings,

Writing:
Like the first novel, Kingdom of Sea and Stone was a delight to read. I found the writing style straightforward and engaging. Rutherford describes scenes well without weighing the narrative down with too many descriptions. I liked how I could read both books in a single sitting.

Characters:
First and foremost, this novel is solely told in first POV of Nor and I appreciated Nor’s character growth depicted here. As we journey through the story we witness as she takes action and courage whilst remaining the same empathetic and kind-hearted she was in the first book. This book takes a shift and explores themes such as freedom, purpose, and love.

However, akin to the first book I found Nor’s internal struggle to take centre stage (romance in the first book and self-discovery in the second). I appreciate it when books explore a characters internal struggle, however, I found the increased focus on that aspect to downplay other aspects (such as the war, etc.) in the book thereby affecting the pacing. Despite it being slower paced, I appreciate how this book went into great length into Nor’s journey both physically and mentally.

Also, one major aspect I loved in the first book was the twin’s relationship. I adored their strong love for each other and I rejoiced to see them reunite here. Luckily, we get to witness more of Zadie and her interactions with Nor (as well as Zadie/Nor/Sami but the three best friend dynamic wasn’t as depicted as I would’ve liked it). I liked how

There were few recurring characters and some new faces. I quickly grew fond to a few of the new characters and liked how they spiced the story up. There were hidden agendas, unclear motivations, and unexpected twists and I was here for all of them.

Romance:
Whilst some may disagree with me, stating the romance was lacking in comparison to the predecessor, I preferred the romantic resolution presented in this novel. Perhaps I wasn’t as invested in the romance due to it being a little too convenient for me in the first book. However, I did get frustrated at some parts of the book where I feel that a simple straightforward conversation would’ve prevented certain situations but hey, I did enjoy the drama of it all so… 😂😂 Anyway, I can’t complain with how the romance ended (but mind you some may find it lacking).

Setting & World-Building:
I liked how this book explores further than Varenia and Ilara, journeying to a land named Galeth. Rutherford described the scenery well, incorporating little details of the land and culture throughout the story which helped grounded me into this fantastical world. Galeth was refreshingly different to Varenia in various ways (ruling, customs, expectations, etc.). I initially fell in love with how Rutherford depicted Varenia so exploring different lands was quite fun (though I missed the sea).

Overall, this was a pleasant conclusion to the highly anticipated sequel. There is a different shift in terms of pacing and themes compared to the previous book and I did enjoy the thoughtfulness and depth that went behind it all. Be prepared to meet new faces, see new places, and a fun ride!

Recommend for: fans of YA fantasy with political intrigue, character growth depicted in first POV

CW: violence, death


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.

Father kissed my forehead. “My girl, take heart. No journey worth taking was ever easy.”

I loved this. I’m a sucker for a good parent/child dynamic and this interaction highlighted a tender moment between Nor and her father. Little do we know how much this quote really sets our story!

“Hope is like a kite. Hold on to it tight enough, and even the fiercest storm can’t claim it.”

A great nod to book one! I adored this!

“Because that was what it meant to be free: I could choose.”

“Ceren had said love was my weakness, once. But I knew now that love was the strength that would sustain me out there in the world, and it was the bond that would ensure I always came back.”

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MARA RUTHERFORD

Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. Originally from California, Mara has since lived all over the world along with her Marine-turned-diplomat husband. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies from the University of London. When she’s not writing or chasing after her two sons, she can usually be found pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone, whether at a traditional Russian banya or an Incan archaeological site. She is the author of CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL (2019), its sequel, KINGDOM OF SEA AND STONE (2020), and LUMINOUS (2021).

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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Okay, the fun bit… the giveaway!

Prize: Finished copy of Kingdom of Sea and Stone (US Only)

Check out the giveaway here and GOOD LUCK! 

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

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Monstrous Heart | Review

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Title: Monstrous Heart
Series: The Monstrous Heart Trilogy #1
Author: Claire McKenna
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Where can I find this? GoodReads | Book Depository | Booktopia
Recommended for: Fans of gothic atmosphere, flowery writing
CW: sexual assault, attempted rape, and violence

In Monstrous Heart, we follow Arden, tasked to keep the lighthouse burning with her magical blood. Readers are promised a gothic feel so there’s a melancholic voice in the narration which works well with the story. However, there were some instances where the prose felt excessively flowery to the point of confusion (at the beginning). Despite that, I did like how the narration complemented the story and overall atmosphere of the novel.

Unfortunately, the world-building felt lacking in some areas. Whilst there was focus on certain aspects (such as characters) which was great, the narration never solidified the world thereby leaving readers confused and baseless. For example, terms and concepts were presented yet never fully explored. Also, the novel utilised words and places from our world (‘Fiction’ and ‘Manhattan’) as names of places which felt jarring upon reading.

Despite that, I did like how Arden was portrayed to be determined and hard-working. I also liked and was intrigued by the concept of sea monsters and the world. I just wished the world-building was fleshed out more.

Monstrous Heart held so much promise, however, I feel that this book wasn’t for me. If you’re a fan of flowery writing and a determined protagonist, this may be for you. The elements in this story held great potential and I am curious to see more from this author.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers (Harper Collins) for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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