The Embroidered Book, a review

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield is a historical fantasy starting in the 1760s, following sisters Charlotte and Marie Antoinette. Both who become Queens and have a major impact on their respective new countries. But in this world, people can do magic, if they know the ingredients, and are willing to pay the price.

Historical fiction used to be very much my thing when I was younger, but in recent years I’ve moved away from it. Meaning that without this being the Goldsboro GSFF pick I probably wouldn’t have read it. And boy oh boy am I so glad that I was influenced to pick this up!!

This book is incredibly historically accurate. Every friendship, every enemy, every political move and alliance, can all be backed up by historians. Heartfield did an incredible job in the research for this book. This book made me so interested in these two women that I went to research them myself, thinking that surely there would be things that were missed and/or not factually accurate. In reality it just confirmed everything that had been shown in the book.

The only historical inaccuracy I could find in this book? The magic! (obvs) And I thought the magic was done so well and was a magic system I’d never come across before! Individuals have to sacrifice something important to them (specified for the spell) at each point of a five pointed star, to make the magic work. This can be a physical object, or they can write down a hope/dream/love and this will be taken from them and sacrificed. I thought it was done fantastically and was such an interesting aspect of the story.

On CAWPILE I rated this book: Characters: 10, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 10, and enjoyment: 10. Giving an average score of 9 and a 5* rating!

I won’t lie to you folks, I did struggle a little to get through this book at first. Purely because it’s just so big! (it’s around 700 pages and my copy is hardback) and when I first finished it, I thought it was a 4 star read. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and every time I mentioned it I started gushing! And for me? Well that’s easily the signs of a five star read!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: death, violence, domestic abuse, misogyny, murder, arranged marriage, partner violence, child illness and death, miscarriage, endemic disease, racism, colonialism, imperialism, accusations of paedophilia, and mutilation of corpses.

Have you read The Embroidered Book, or would you consider reading it after this? I’m so so glad that I delved into this book and I’m very much here for more historical fantasies!

Opposite Titles Challenge!

I saw this floating around on Instagram (@lu.cyreads specifically) and thought that this would be fun! Book titles that are complete and utter opposites of one another! To steal one from Lucy’s post as an example: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare, and The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter. You get the idea?

So I’ve been scrounging my goodreads shelves, and here are 3 opposites that I could find!


Holes by Louis Sachar



The Ascent of Everest by John Hunt

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Death Bringer by Derek Landy

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

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a place called perfect



The Vile Village by Lemony Snicket

What do you think? Are these opposite enough? It’s surprisingly tough to do! Please do try out the tag, it’s so fun!!

First Lines Friday! #25

It’s time for another First Lines Friday! Hosted by Wandering Words!!

What if, instead of judging a book by its cover or its author, we judged the book by its opening lines?

Here is how it works:

– Pick a book and open to the first page.

– Copy the first few lines without revealing which book it is.

– Reveal the book!

So… do these first lines entice you?

Arent Hayes howled in pain as a rock slammed into his massive back.

Another whistled by his ear, a third striking his knee, causing him to stumble, bringing jeers from the pitiless mob, who were already searching the ground for more missiles to throw. Hundreds of them were being held back by the city watch, their spittle-flecked lips shouting insults, their eyes black with malice.

Scroll down to reveal the book!

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The Devil and the Dark Water: The mind-blowing new murder mystery from the  Sunday Times bestselling author eBook : Turton, Stuart:  Kindle Store
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

I am so excited to read this book. I read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Turton and really enjoyed it, giving the book 4 stars, and I’m really hoping for more of the same from book #2! This time our characters are stuck on board a ship in 1634, where devilry stops the smooth sailing and there’s a mystery to be solved. I’m hoping to add this one onto my September tbr and fingers crossed I’ll love it!

Borrowed Time – a review

The same as the last time I read a Doctor Who fiction book, I expected it to be just… eh… and I actually really enjoyed it!!

In Borrowed Time we not only follow the Pond trio, but also the lives of two bankers who want to out-compete each other to get that promotion. But they never seem to have quite enough time to get everything done.


Of course, capitalism has a solution for that! Buy time! The world will freeze around you as you sort out that powerpoint for the presentation tomorrow as well as do the boss’ work and spend time with your family. It’s all so simple! Until it isn’t.

I’m sure you can guess the repercussions of this, and that it’s not risk free. Well the Doctor, Amy and Rory happen to stumble upon a group of people using these devices and they attempt to save them.

This was such a fun book! I didn’t expect to be so absorbed and to enjoy it so much, I think I need higher expectations for these Doctor Who books! I only have one left from this 3 book box set so I’m looking forward to picking it up!

My CAWPILE ratings were:

  • Characters: 8
  • Atmosphere: 7
  • Writing: 6
  • Plot: 6
  • Intrigue: 7
  • Logic: 6
  • Enjoyment: 7

Totalling 6.71 for a nice 3 stars!

Highlight for trigger warnings: sudden onset of aging, mild violence

These books are definitely just for Doctor Who fans (or potential fans), but within that bracket they’re really enjoyable and I might have to pick up more in the future!

Meet the book blogger!

Hey! My name’s Abi, and I like reading!

I mostly like reading fantasy books, although I’m trying to branch more into sci-fi as well. I do love a good non-fiction book and sometimes I’ll pick up mysteries, classics and a few historical fictions.

I’ve been reading all my life, yeah I know. I’m one of the annoying ones. My mum remembers me as an infant with the newspaper in my hands cause I was always wanting to read something. I used to read every single road sign we passed as we drove because I wanted to constantly read! (and I can’t read in cars or I’ll vomit. Trust me. I’ve tried. Repeatedly)

You can find me a few places online. Here, of course. But also on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. I publish a video once a week, on Sundays, on YouTube. And I post a picture every day on Instagram. So if you want something a little more consistent than my blog I recommend you check me out there!

I own probably 1000 books. I can’t actually count them at the moment. Currently I live with my parents again and they don’t have the space for me to have all of my books out, so they’re packed away in various boxes with just my tbr (well most of it) and a hundred or so of my read books out on display. I also try to unhaul my books, with kids books going straight to the primary school (4-12 years old) that my mum works at and the rest going to charity. Which essentially means I have no clue how many books are in this house anymore! I’ll count them one day once I move in with my partner and can have them all on display.

Out of all my books, I would estimate I have about 140 on my physical tbr. Books on my shelves that I’ve not read. One day I want to get this number to be around 40! But it’ll be a while before I hit that!

I mainly read physical books, and mainly in paperback (that’s cause of cost and cause paperbacks are more common in the UK than the US). I do have a kindle, gifted to me by my lovely partner, that I read arcs on and books that I want to grab quickly and cheaply. I do sometimes listen to audiobooks but I can struggle to focus on the plot through audio so it’s a rare format for me.

My favourite book until I was 18 was The Gift by Alison Croggon (which is the first book in the Pellinor series). I still adore the book but there are a few other contenders now for the top spot including Before the Coffee Gets Cold, The Bone Season, Priory, and more! One day I’ll need to reread them all together and pick a favourite!

So that’s me, my bookish aspects summarised. This doesn’t even include the mess that is my life! But tell me about you, what’s your favourite genre? And do you own physical books or ebooks? Let me know!!

Gone – a review


A book series that I’ve been seeing around for years, and I’ve finally gotten to it! Gone is a staple of YA literature from when the age bracket was first starting to become prominent. Because it was considered to be more of a boys book I didn’t pick it up at the time (thanks mum) but I’ve seen it so often in charity shops since and had to pick it up and give it a go!

Within this book we follow 15 year old Sam, as well as a few others around the US town they live in. They’re just living their normal lives, going to school, trying to avoid the bullies, not getting on with their parents. Until in the blink of an eye everyone over 15 disappears. Suddenly it’s a world overrun by children. And shit breaks lose.

To start, as usual, with the negatives first. First up, fatphobia and discrimination of autistic people. There is rampant fatphobia throughout this book, which unfortunately was very common in YA books at the time this was published (in 2008), with the bad characters being stereotyped as larger and the main protagonists not having their size mentioned at all. One of the main characters younger brothers is autistic, and the discrimination against them is heavy. There is some that is noted as bad within the book itself, although the r-word is printed on page and most people don’t speak up. However, there are also aspects of his portrayal which are harmful against autistic people. There’s one instance I can think of which is built into the plot itself and made me uncomfortable. I’m not autistic however, so I would look for own voices reviews to know more on this.

One last negative is about the author. I don’t know much about this at all, as in nothing. But. I’ve heard he’s an awful person. A cursory google search suggests that this is mainly in regards to his views towards disabled people being burdens (which is fucking bullshit), but there may be more there as well that you might want to look into. This is something that I need to look into myself as I really enjoyed his Messenger of Fear novels and had intended to purchase the third book in the trilogy.

Now. Onto the positives! This was a really fun book! At the beginning I wasn’t that invested, most likely because I’ve seen this concept done before (thank you CBBC for the amazing Sparticle Mystery series!) so the set-up wasn’t interesting, I’d seen it done before. If you haven’t then it would probably be more interesting for you! But once it got into the action, getting into the specifics of each characters plight and their specific aims and intents whilst the adults were gone (as well as their reactions to turning 16), this was where the book really turned around for me. I was completely invested, rushing through the end half of this book and I was gripped for each twist and turn.

This is a standard last 00s YA dystopian so definitely take that into account if you’re going to pick this up. To be quite honest, other than the fomo there isn’t really any reason to pick this book up over many others that don’t have these problematic elements. But I totally understand fomo so no judgement there. I’ll be picking up Hunger, which is book 2, already sitting and waiting on my shelves. I don’t know if I’ll read any further into the series though. It all rests on book 2!

Friction – a review

Frictions is the second book from a mini box set I was gifted of short Swedish classics, sadly, unlike the first book from the set I read this wasn’t so much of a hit.

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The premise of the story is we’re following a man who is married but has fell in love with another woman. It talks about the ostracisation of the two of them and their struggles. On its own that concept isn’t so bad, but it’s the execution that I’m not so keen on. I’m sure in it’s time this was accepted but nowadays?

Basically, this is ridiculously sexist. Strindberg attempts to make our protagonist seem like a well rounded but troubled man. Instead, in a modern climate at least, he comes off like an unhappy idiot. And a sexist one at that. Our main character demonstrates the belief that men can grow and change over time as they mature and increase their intelligence, but that women are stagnant and cannot match up to the minds of men.

Strindberg seems to be attempting to praise these women for the role they play in essentially mothering our main character, but instead all this achieves is to highlight his antiquated views of gender roles and the place of women within society.

The entire time I was just… annoyed. Annoyed and frustrated at this baby of a “man” who couldn’t seem to grasp that the world doesn’t revolve around him and that him acting as though it does is ruining the lives of the people around him.

This book was a very interesting look into Swedish classic literature and their society at this time, and that’s why I gave it 2 stars. But the poor characterisation and obvious sexism made this an unenjoyable read.

A Wish After Midnight – a review


Me and Caitlyn read A Wish After Midnight for the Small Press Book Club back in January, it was Cailtyn’s pick and I’m so grateful as this was an amazing read! I ended up giving it 4 stars out of 5.

After hearing about Kindred by Octavia E Butler, this story has a very similar premise. We follow a young girl in modern day Brooklyn (well 2014, it was modern at the time of writing) who is dealing with racism in the present day. Through mysterious circumstances she ends up being transported back to the times of the American Civil War and she has to live through the racism and prejudice present in that time period.

My main negative about this book, just to get it out of the way, is that the beginning is incredibly slow. We spend a lot of time just chilling with Genna (the main character) in modern day Brooklyn with no hint of anything untoward taking place. Once I settled into the rhythm of this I didn’t mind, it’s written well and was quite enjoyable. But when you go in expecting some time travel shenanigans it is a bit slow to start.

The rest of this book was fantastic. It actually left me speechless, and if you know me anywhere online or irl you know that’s a difficult thing to do! Elliott knows exactly how to play with the readers emotions, leaving me unable to put the book down and needing to know what happened next! And when it came to an end? I knew straight away that I needed a sequel! Luckily, there is one! And it’s definitely something I’ll need to pick up!

This was a wonderful read and I’m so glad that Caitlyn got us to pick it up!

The Pale Dreamer – a review

Another short book from the beginning of the year! I was determined I was going to catch up on The Bone Season series and this was the next step after reading The Song Rising at the end of 2020. I ended up reading all 90 pages in one day and I absolutely adored getting to see more into the world that Samantha Shannon has built.

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This prequel follows a 16 year old Paige (who is 19 at the start of the main series) who has recently started working for Jaxon Hall, one of the most notorious mime-lords. She wants to prove her worth to him as the newest member and the latest event in the underworld is the perfect chance for her to do so, but of course this won’t go as smoothly as she’d like.

This is a fantastic novella, it provides another dimension to the relationship between Paige and the others within the underworld, both working with Jaxon and against him. It makes Paige’s reasoning for her decisions in The Bone Season much more understandable and explains the connection and the debt she feels towards Jaxon. It also gives us some more insight into the relationship between Paige and Nick, and also Paige and Eliza. These details feed throughout the entire series, and I’ve noticed threads of them in even the most recent book so it’s wonderful to see them here!

All in all this is a lovely little novella that I really wouldn’t miss out on if you’re a fan of The Bone Season. It adds dimension to the world that isn’t necessarily needed but is wonderful to have and it really deepens your connection to Paige and the others. So of course I rated this 5*!

The Secret Commonwealth – a reivew

If you’d like to know just how far behind on reviews I am… I read this book in December 2020. Right look. There were other reviews that needed to come first, some specific review copies and some War and Peace ones (which I’m also behind on, look, shut up). But I’m here now. And this was a helluva book. I’d put off reading this for quite a while as it’s a big book, but the lovely Eleanor had read it and posted a video review that I really wanted to watch so I sat my arse down and read this. And wow. What a book. Such a mixture of both good and bad! I’m not the biggest tabber or note maker whilst I read, but I made so many notes through the whole of this!

The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

Despite all of these notes that I made, I won’t be talking much about them here. They’re all quite spoiler heavy and I don’t want to risk ruining the book for someone who hasn’t picked it up yet. I will say that this book, opposite to La Belle Sauvage, is set after the events of His Dark Materials. We once again are following Lyra, now in her early 20s, as she navigates the world and her relationship to it. We see how her and Pan’s relationship has changed since the… incident in the main series (I’m tryna keep things spoiler free here!) and the struggles that they go through.

I did think that Lyra was quite childish for someone in her early 20s. Whenever she’s arguing with Pan her points are just so silly and juvenile, and as someone who is in her early 20s herself, it just feels a little bit young for the age range Pullman is aiming for. Contrary to this, there’s a relationship that feels a little too adult and I don’t quite know how I feel about it just now. I don’t want to say anything more specific than that, cause again spoilers. But it is something that just didn’t sit quite right with me and I’m going to have to see how things develop in book three before I make my final decision.

As just a general summary, this book was an interesting middle book with lots of plot development in order to bring us up to speed for the third book but also some confusing aspects such as the seeming abandonment of previous events and a few questionable choices. Overall though I did enjoy the book and I’m looking forward to reading book three, especially after that cliffhanger that we were left on at the end!!

Highlight here to see trigger warnings: attempted rape, murder, police violence, rape mention, racism, religious fundamentalism, sexism, sexual assault, stalking, suppression of free speech, violence, xenophobia

Have you read this book? Or any of the other books from the Book of Dust or His Dark Materials trilogies? Let me know what you thought of them and whether you’re going to be picking up book three!