Anticipated ARCs Everyone Should Check Out | Book Rambles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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The Wolf and the Woodsman | Book Review

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

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑾𝒐𝒍𝒇 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑾𝒐𝒐𝒅𝒔𝒎𝒂𝒏, 𝑨𝒗𝒂 𝑹𝒆𝒊𝒅

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

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

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

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

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Book List: Enemies to Lovers

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

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

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

Why ‘enemies-to-lovers’ trope is fun:

  • the tension
  • the banter
  • growth
  • angst

About this list:

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

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

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

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

• retelling of The Little Mermaid
Uprooted
by Naomi Novik 

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

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

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

Kingdom of the Wicked
by Kerri Maniscalco

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

Do you have any recommendations for books in this category?

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How to Declutter Books

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

Why am I decluttering my books?

Why do I need to keep my books?

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

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

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

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Decluttering books: The Process

Step 1: Give yourself a time frame

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

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

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

Keep
Donate 
Sell

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

Questions for categorising books

Is this a duplicate?

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

Is this book still relevant to me?

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

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

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

What do to with the books:

Donate or sell

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

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

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

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

Additional tips:

define a specific a home to keep the books

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

keep books you would want to re-buy again 

be deliberate and intentional with books you want to own

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

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FairyLoot October 2020 | Unboxing

FairyLoot October 2020: Wicked Hearts 

𝗙𝗲𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸: Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

𝗠𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗵𝗹𝘆 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗱𝘀: Crescent City inspired characters illustrated by @arz28

𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗮𝘃𝗮𝗹 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗝𝗶𝗴𝘀𝗮𝘄 𝗣𝘂𝘇𝘇𝗹𝗲: illustrated by @sallteas

𝗙𝗼𝗶𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝘆𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗱𝘀 featuring characters from 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗵𝗮𝗱𝗼𝘄 𝗕𝗲𝘁𝘄𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗨𝘀, 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗲𝗮𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗳𝘂𝗹, 𝗦𝗼𝗿𝗰𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗼𝗳 𝗧𝗵𝗼𝗿𝗻𝘀, and 𝗘𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗗𝗮𝗿𝗸𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘀: illustrated by @arz28

𝗖𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗹𝗲𝘃𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗮 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗦𝗼𝗰𝗸𝘀: designed by @jezhawk

𝗦𝗮𝗹𝘁 & 𝗣𝗲𝗽𝗽𝗲𝗿 𝗦𝗵𝗮𝗸𝗲𝗿𝘀: designed by @noverantale

𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗬𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗴 𝗘𝗹𝗶𝘁𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗘𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗹 𝗣𝗶𝗻: designed by @alchemyandink

𝗞𝘆𝗹𝗼 𝗥𝗲𝗻 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗦𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗸𝗲𝗿𝘀: illustrated by @_saintdri

My Thoughts:


This is such a gorgeous box and upon opening this I actually gasped. Everything here was so gorgeous! 🤩✨ I was completely blown away with how gorgeous and cohesive the items were in this box. I honestly can’t get over how beautifully curated this box is.

Cost & Value: I believe this box really was worth the cost just alone with the book. However, the items included are not only gorgeous but useful, too. I love every item but my favourite would be the playing cards and socks. I’ll definitely use all the items.

Design: I am in awe with every item in this box. Everything is so cohesive with the theme and overall aesthetic. Also, did I mention how gorgeous the book is? Because the book is so gorgeous.

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.



𝐐𝐨𝐭𝐃: Have you read Kingdom of the Wicked? Otherwise, what’s your favourite romantic trope?

𝐀𝐨𝐭𝐃: I love enemies to lovers but I love it even more when they must work together begrudgingly 😁 my absolute favourite is rival to lovers 🥰💞

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ARCs I’m Excited to Read in February 2021 | Thoughts and Rambles

I must really thank the ARC gods because somehow I’ve been approved to read and review some of my highly anticipated reads this year. Here’s a few: 

 

Title: Hall of Smoke
Author: H.M. Long
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Pub date: 19 Jan 2021

GOODREADS LINK HERE

Why I wanted to read this:
• Gorgeous cover.
• Intriguing premise.
• A warrior main character on a mission for redemption? YES, I WANT IN.


An epic fantasy featuring warrior priestesses and fickle gods at war

Hessa is an Eangi: a warrior priestess of the Goddess of War, with the power to turn an enemy’s bones to dust with a scream. Banished for disobeying her goddess’s command to murder a traveller, she prays for forgiveness alone on a mountainside.

While she is gone, raiders raze her village and obliterate the Eangi priesthood. Grieving and alone, Hessa – the last Eangi – must find the traveller, atone for her weakness and secure her place with her loved ones in the High Halls. As clans from the north and legionaries from the south tear through her homeland, slaughtering everyone in their path, Hessa strives to win back her goddess’ favour.

Beset by zealot soldiers, deceitful gods, and newly-awakened demons at every turn, Hessa burns her path towards redemption and revenge. But her journey reveals a harrowing truth: the gods are dying and the High Halls of the afterlife are fading. Soon Hessa’s trust in her goddess weakens with every unheeded prayer.

Thrust into a battle between the gods of the Old World and the New, Hessa realizes there is far more on the line than securing a life beyond her own death. Bigger, older powers slumber beneath the surface of her world. And they’re about to wake up.


Title: Spellmaker 
Author: Charlie N. Holmberg
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical
Pub date: 9 March 2021

GOODREADS LINK HERE

Why I wanted to read this:
• Love the premise.
• MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE TROPE YES!
• Okay, time for a confession: I didn’t realise this was a sequel so I binge read the first book and LOVED it.


Dead wizards, stolen enchantments, and broken promises force a young spellbreaker out of the shadows in the next thrilling installment of the Spellbreaker series by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Paper Magician.

England, 1895. An unsolved series of magician murders and opus thefts isn’t a puzzle to Elsie Camden. But to reveal a master spellcaster as the culprit means incriminating herself as an unregistered spellbreaker. When Elsie refuses to join forces with the charming assassin, her secret is exposed, she’s thrown in jail, and the murderer disappears. But Elsie’s hope hasn’t vanished.

Through a twist of luck, the elite magic user Bacchus Kelsey helps Elsie join the lawful, but with a caveat: they must marry to prove their cover story. Forced beneath a magical tutor while her bond with Bacchus grows, Elsie seeks to thwart the plans of England’s most devious criminal—if she can find them.

With hundreds of stolen spells at their disposal, the villain has a plan—and it involves seducing Elsie to the dark side. But even now that her secret is out, Elsie must be careful how she uses the new abilities she’s discovering, or she may play right into the criminal’s hands.


Title: The Shadow in the Glass
Author: J.J.A. Harwood
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Pub date: 18 March 2021

GOODREADS LINK HERE

Why I wanted to read this:
• Because I haven’t read any Cinderella retellings, okay?
• I’m so intrigued with the wishes and the price to pay!
• Look at the cover. I would love that on my shelf.


Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid.

Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter.

One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must to decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay it.

A smouldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella – perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern. 


Title: Ace of Spades
Author: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Contemporary
Pub date: 10 June 2021

GOODREADS LINK HERE

Why I wanted to read this:
• A Thriller!! Based in school.
• LOVE the cover.
• The premise, the themes… I need it all.


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… 


Title: Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder 
Author: T.A. Willberg
Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pub date: 10 June 2021

GOODREADS LINK HERE

Why I want to read this:
• Love the premise.
• MYSTERY! MURDER! MAYHEM!
• Have I pointed out the cover? Because it is so beautiful.


The letter was short. A name, a time, a place.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant for Miss Brickett’s named Michelle White receives a letter warning her that a heinous act is about to occur. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see—her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

Almost unwillingly, Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself being drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and mentor is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie—style locked-room mystery with an exciting new heroine detective at the helm.


Title: She Who Became the Sun
Author: Shelley Parker-Chan
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fantasy
Pub date: 22 July 2021

GOODREADS LINK HERE

Why I want to read this:
• Okay, let’s first establish the cover is gorgeous.
• A reimagining of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty? NEED.
• AHHH the synopsis is giving me Red River vibes and I need it.


Mulan meets The Song of Achilles in Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, a bold, queer, and lyrical reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty from an amazing new voice in literary fantasy.

To possess the Mandate of Heaven, the female monk Zhu will do anything

“I refuse to be nothing…”

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.


Have you noticed a similar pattern with how I pick my books? Why am I so drawn to pretty covers?

What entices you to pick up a book?

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2021 Reading Goals | Thoughts and Rambles

My 2021 Reading Goals

  1. Be more intentional with reading

What does being intentional mean for me? It means to purposely take action that is important to me. Being intentional is a personal experience. For me, rather than focus on x number of books read per year, I want to consume more books that bring me joy, inform, and challenge me.

What does that mean? I want to be more conscious of the books I choose to read and spend time and money on.

Books that bring me joy: books that make me think and feel (both positive and negative)

Books that inform me: where I learn something new and/or build upon existing knowledge

Books that challenge me: books that confront me, or is from a perspective I’m not familiar with, or aspects I’m ignorant of.

  • I want to read more backlist books (books that aren’t new releases)
  • I want to finish series I liked
  • I want to read more books I own

I don’t want to read or purchase books due to the hype if it doesn’t genuinely interest me.  Life is too short to fill my time and energy on books I’m not keen on. Which leads me to my next point.

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  1. Develop a regular reading routine

My next point stems from being intentional, but it still stands on its own. Everyone is busy. Reading time is limited. Reading often takes our leisure time. And with today’s society, time is our most precious currency. I’m too broke to spend my time on things that don’t serve a purpose or be wasteful with it. Therefore, developing a regular reading routine may be extremely beneficial.

  • I aim to read at least 10 minutes a day. Ten minutes. In the greater scheme of things, it’s not something too big but it’s a realistic goal with my schedule. I can easily read in my break/time off/commuting. Plus, ten minutes doesn’t put a big pressure on me to achieve such things.

Shouting to the void that I want to have a regular reading routine is all fine and dandy but I need to have tools or an approach to ensure I achieve such goals. SooOooo…

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  1. Keep a consistent reading journal

Reading journals don’t need to be aesthetic. There, I said it! And I must continuously remind myself of this: READING GOALS DON’T NEED TO BE PERFECT AND PRETTY, DAMN IT. I’ve constantly struggled with keeping a reading journal due to me wanting to make it aesthetic rather than useful. And ugh I hate being a perfectionist, but I’m working on it.

What does a Reading Journal consist of? Anything you want. Reading journals are a testament of what you want in regards to reading and books.

What I will include in my reading journal:

    • Book Log (Information such as: Title, author, publisher, etc.)
    • Bookish thoughts
    • Book review or reading response
    • Reading Challenges
    • Book lists (bucket lists, books I love, TBR, etc.)

I want to incorporate a consistent reading journal because of the many benefits. Benefits of a reading journal include (but are not limited to):

  • Greater focus on reading and being intentional with my time and reading goals
  • More meaningful and better reflection on what I read and learned

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  1. Read owned books

Of the 115 books I own (not including duplicates), I have read 26 books. 26 out of 115. Meaning, if this was a test I would fail. My reading rate is 22% of the books I currently own. I have unread almost 80% of my owned books. I need to do better.

Last year, I fell down the rabbit hole of purchasing new releases and hyped books and bought the books before having a change to read them. Whilst I love supporting authors, it was unsustainable for both my shelf space and wallet.

I want to bring my reading rate of up to at least 50% of book I own. Meaning, whatever number of books I own I will aim to read at least half of that. I want to be intentional with what I purchase and own. A books true purpose is to be read and damn it, I will fulfil my books dream!

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  1. Declutter the books

I know there’s a saying “you can never have too many books”. And that’s true. However, for myself, I don’t like the idea of owning books I don’t plan to read. Therefore, I’d like to keep that shelf space free for a book I would like rather than owning a book just for the sake of owning it. I want to consciously curate my shelf space with books I love and am genuinely interested in.

It’s already past the middle of January and I’ve already purged 7 books I don’t plan to read or have already read and didn’t love. Yay! Progress, not perfection.

I know I can’t speak for everyone, and different people enjoy books differently. That’s okay. I just need to set realistic boundaries for myself and shelf space.

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Do you have any reading goals? If so, what are they? Let me know!

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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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OwlCrate October 2020 | Unboxing

OwlCrate October 2020: Legends and Lore

𝗙𝗲𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

𝗠𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗵𝗹𝘆 𝗘𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗹 𝗣𝗶𝗻: designed by @HeyAtlasCreative

𝗪𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝗶𝗻 𝗠𝗼𝗼𝗻𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗪𝗶𝗻𝗱 𝗖𝗵𝗶𝗺𝗲𝘀: from Team @OwlCrate

𝗦𝗽𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗗𝗮𝘄𝗻 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗕𝗼𝘄𝗹 𝗖𝗼𝘇𝘆: designed by Janine Lecour

𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝗿-𝗧𝗼𝘂𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗱 𝗤𝘂𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗕𝗮𝗺𝗯𝗼𝗼 𝗣𝗵𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗱: designed by @LadyChubbLetters

𝗚𝗶𝗿𝗹𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗣𝗮𝗽𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗙𝗶𝗿𝗲 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗚𝗹𝗮𝘀𝘀 𝗡𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗙𝗶𝗹𝗲: by Team OwlCrate

𝗔 𝗦𝗼𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗳 𝗪𝗿𝗮𝗶𝘁𝗵𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗥𝘂𝗶𝗻 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗦𝗼𝗮𝗽 𝗕𝗮𝗿: created by @MotherlandEssentials

𝗥𝗮𝘆𝗯𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗿 𝗔𝘂𝗱𝗶𝗼𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸: complimentary from Libro.FM

𝗢𝘄𝗹𝗖𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗲𝘅𝗰𝗹𝘂𝘀𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝘀𝗻𝗲𝗮𝗸 𝗽𝗲𝗲𝗸 𝗼𝗳 𝗪𝗲 𝗙𝗿𝗲𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘀

 

My thoughts:

With the limited sneak peaks for that month I was so excited for this box. Not only due to the theme and the book in question, but also how it exclusively features BIPOC sellers and inspired books. However, upon opening the box, I couldn’t help but feel… disappointed. I feel like this theme could have been explored further and be more creative in terms of design and items. I’ll be honest, I feel cheated with this box. I am a POC myself, so naturally, I want to support BIPOC sellers but I feel like this box doesn’t showcase the theme well. Plus, with the lack of BIPOC sellers… I just… SIGH

In terms of the theme, designs, and items, I felt like there was no cohesiveness. I don’t know how the items and design relate to the the inspired books and overall theme. The items feel so randomly shoved together and I suppose this may be due to the fact that I haven’t read some of the books. However, for the books listed that I have read, I don’t understand the choice of items.  For example, I mean, one could do so much with Spin the Dawn. I feel like only the design relates the the book. And not to criticise the design or item–I do appreciate the item and design. The bowl cozy design is gorgeous and wonderfully made. However, I question how it relates to Spin the Dawn other than the cover of the book?  I don’t know.  Like, I do appreciate how useful the items are, but I don’t understand how they relate to each other and the theme?

Cost: I really do not feel like this box was worth my money. However, I am an international buyer so I understand that our currency is weaker than the USD plus shipping expenses, however, I feel like other than the soap, the items could be purchased on cheap websites like WISH and ALIEXPRESS for a fraction of the price. Friends, with the change of shipping, I pay approximately $77+ AUD for this box.  I just feel like slapping quotes on items and claiming it’s exclusive… I don’t think I can justify paying over $77 for that… Also, other than the soap, I would not purchase any of this items for myself. I wouldn’t go as far as say that I’m a minimalist, but I don’t really like to purchase items I don’t use nor need. It’s a shame because since discovering OwlCrate last year I’ve always loved them. I enjoy their monthly picks and loved their items. Perhaps this particular month wasn’t for me.

Conclusion: I’m not too fond of the items but I do love this month’s book. I accidentally slipped up my dates and purchased the November box, so, I will see how that box goes and will determine whether I would like to continue OwlCrate or not. Which is a huge bummer because I usually love OwlCrate book picks and their items.

What are your thoughts on this box?

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FairyLoot September 2020 | Unboxing

FairyLoot September 2020: Under the Sea

𝗙𝗲𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗕𝗼𝗼𝗸: Fable by Adrienne Young

Not the best picture, but the edges are sprayed a gorgeous glittery aquamarine colour
Author’s signature

𝗠𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗵𝗹𝘆 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗱𝘀: Nevernight inspired characters illustrated by Katherine Britt

𝗧𝗼 𝗞𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗮 𝗞𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗱𝗼𝗺 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗠𝘂𝗴: designed by @gabrielleragusi

Quote: “It’s like holding a story rather than a poison she feels wild and infinite in my arms.”

𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗲𝗮 𝗪𝗶𝘁𝗰𝗵 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗣𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗹 𝗖𝗮𝘀𝗲: designed by Ink and Wonder

𝗛𝗮𝗶𝗿 𝗕𝗿𝘂𝘀𝗵: with a nautical design

𝗢𝗺𝗯𝗿é 𝗠𝗲𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗦𝘁𝗿𝗮𝘄𝘀: with quotes ‘’make waves” and “beach please”

𝗨𝗿𝘀𝘂𝗹𝗮 𝗶𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗱 𝗘𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗹 𝗞𝗲𝘆𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗶𝗻: designed by Ink and Wonder

Quote: “Poor Unfortunate Souls”

𝗣𝗼𝘀𝘁𝗰𝗮𝗿𝗱 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗔𝘁𝗹𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗶𝘀: illustrated by @taratjah

What are your thoughts on this box?

My thoughts: I absolutely love nautical themes and aesthetic, however, this didn’t have the same oomph factor as last months for both items and design. For me, I believe it’s due to the fact that there are so many avenues one can go with a nautical theme. It feels like this month has focused on the ‘Little Mermaid’ rather than an overall sea setting or books with a sea setting. I guess this is reflective on the name of the theme. 🙈😅

In terms of items, I like how useful the mug, hairbrush, and reuseable straws are, but I usually prefer buy my own type of hairbrush. Also, this hairbrush may not be useful for all types of hair. However, I thought the resuseable straws were a great idea.

In terms of design, I love how cohesive this theme is for colour. I love the use of blue and aquamarine. However, the pencil case is not my favourite item nor do I feel like I have much use for the enamel keychain. Nevertheless, the items are gorgeous.

𝐐𝐨𝐭𝐃: Have you read Fabled? What are your thoughts on it? Otherwise, what did you think of this box?

𝐀𝐨𝐭𝐃: I’m so excited to read Fable! I’ve heard so many great things about 😄 plus I absolutely love books with a sea setting 🌊

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