November Reading Wrap Up

I tried to keep my November tbr small and still failed, but I managed to get through a fair amount of them! I didn’t finish up my Goldsboro or Illumicrate books, so I’m going to leave those for now and if I do finish my December tbr in good time I’ll squeeze them in before the end of the year.

Dracula by Bram Stoker is the classic vampire novel that I was finishing up from October. Truthfully I had been expecting to just find this fine. But I loved it! The character development was so engaging and the female characters? Actually being appreciated and fleshed out? *French kiss*.

Mindwalker by Kate Dylan is another book I was finishing up from my October TBR. It’s a fabulous Sci-Fi story

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean is the final book that I was finishing up from my October reads.

Van Gogh by Meyer Schapiro is a book that I found in a charity shop in October. It is a non-fiction which shows large prints of selected van Gogh paintings alongside Schapiro’s thoughts and analysis on the work. It was a little overly academic for me at times, but I did enjoy learning more about this artist that I love.

Between Starshine and Clay by Sarah Ladipo Manyika was sent to me by the wonderful people over at Footnote, and I’m so very grateful because this book was fantastic. I really enjoyed how Ladipo Manyika told us the stories she was learning, utilising different styles and methods. We hear so many stories from wide across the diaspora and I will definitely be looking to learn more about every person included in this book!

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb is a book Celine wanted me to read, and now I have I totally see why. This book was amazing! Exactly the type of fantasy that I adore and oh dear I’m in love with this series just one book in! Watching the growth of this young boy, isolated from everyone around him, and the struggles he faces. The character development. All of it is just amazing and you all (if you enjoy fantasy) need to pick this book up!

How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie is a book that Hannah had put on my tbr for October, clearly it didn’t happen that month but I wanted it to still happen so I got in gear and read it in November. At the start I hated our main character, but I pushed through and I’m glad I did! This is such a wild book and a lot of fun. The ending? Frustrating. Honestly Mackie WHY. But apart from that? Fun!

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal is the book that Hannah actually put on my tbr for November, and again she picked an amazing book. This is set in London and follows a young British Indian woman who doesn’t fit in with the cultural expectations but ends up with a job in her local temple… teaching the elderly women how to write erotic stories. But this book is about so much more. It’s about racism, feminism, community, and culture. It’s a really beautiful book and one I’ll definitely be recommending! There are scenes of written erotica in here, as we see the widow’s stories, which as a Demi weren’t what I was here for. But I did enjoy the rest of the book.

Dune by Frank Herbert was my final read for November and I buddy read this with Eleanor (and Chels tried but life was lifeing). There weren’t any chapter breaks in this book, which obviously was an issue while buddy reading. So that was frustrating. And the synopsis is written badly in my edition as it spoils something which doesn’t actually occur until over 200 pages in. I think I’ll appreciate this book a lot more on reread but it was simply fine for this first read through. Now I need to decide if I’m continuing with the series or if I’m leaving this here.

I did also read some of Silver Under Nightfall of Rin Chupeco and The Whispering Dark by Kelly Andrew, which hopefully I’ll be finishing up before the end of the year. I’m enjoying both of them, Silver a lot more, and I hope that carries on as I finish up the books.

Overall I’m really happy with how this reading month ended up, with a fair few books read! What is the best book you read in November? I’m debating between Assassin’s Apprentice and Dracula!

Miss Peregrine’s for Adults? ๐Ÿฆ…

I got Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro in a Goldsboro GSFF box, and god is it gorgeous. But on top of that, it’s a damn good book. Coming in at just under 700 pages it’s definitely a big boi, but I think it’s worth it.

Ordinary Monsters is set in late 1800s, in the UK (mainly Scotland but with time spent in England) along with travels to places including the US and Japan. There are children who have mysterious powers, and a man who has set up a school/community for them in the Scottish highlands sends out staff to find them and bring them back to the Institute. To keep them protected. We primarily follow Charlie and Marlow, two young boys from the US. One is Black and despite being in Mississippi and having been treated with violence, Charlie has no scars. The other travelled across the pond from London to end up working in a circus in the US, and he can make himself glow blue.

I’ve barely even scratched the surface with the details inside this book. I could go on and on about each and every character, their backstory, and what we learn about them. Everything within this book has been so well developed. I’ve even found myself wanting to know about each and every side plot that was mentioned. I want to know everything about this world.

Miro does such a great job at exploring this magical world nestled within our own. I’m able to understand the magic system (as much as our characters do) as well as the community that has been built up and what their aims are for themselves and for humanity. And yet despite this there is still so much more that I want to know about the world! I was so relieved when I finished this and saw that there would be two more books. There is so much that can still be explored within this series!

I’m doing such a bad job of explaining this book, and that’s because it was just that good! I’m trying not to give any spoilers while I gush about this amazing tome and it’s so difficult!

It’s a lot easier to describe this book if you’ve read the Peculiar Children series though. Because this seems very much like the adult version of that. We explore the outside world more than you do in PC (especially in the first book) as well as tackling much darker and more complex themes. But the core concept of the book is still the same. There are magical children, they are taken to a big old house where they look after them and teach them to use magic, but things aren’t as they seem and dark forces want to ruin everything.

Bloody fantastic. That’s what it is.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10. With an average of 9.14 and a 5* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: violence, death, gore, racism, blood, murder, injury detail, body horror, child abuse, gun violence, child death, mental illness, physical abuse, self harm, slavery, torture, kidnapping, abandonment, death of parent, addiction, confinement, miscarriage, misogyny, rape, xenophobia, police brutality, gaslighting.

I think the only reason this didn’t rate higher is because I finished The Travelling Cat Chronicles just before it and that made me weep my eyes out! But this is an amazing and fantastic read. If I’ve piqued your interest at all, please please consider giving this book a shot!

Have you read this? If so I need to know what you thought! And have you read Peculiar Children? I know a lot more people have read those books, and they’re fun!

The Collarbound, a review

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Goldsboro does an amazing job at picking their GSFF books and I always know I’m going to enjoy the book each month. The Collarbound by Rebecca Zahabi has been no exception.

This is the first book in a new series, where we follow two POVs. It’s based in a city with a school for mages, as well as with a population of a different race that is treated as lesser. There are clear allegories to how Black people have been treated with this race. One of the POVs is of a refuge new to the city, she has tattoos that were given to her as a baby. These tattoos mark her out as belonging to a different race, one she doesn’t belong to, that is treated as less within this society. This combined with her being new to the city means she is treated very differently to the other students. The other POV follows a man who is collarbound. He has a golden collar around his neck, which marks him out as someone who is controlled. Someone who *must* do what is commanded by the one who put him in the collar.

As you can probably tell, I struggle to describe what this book is about. Unfortunately, that’s one of the few points where this book falls down. It’s an incredibly interesting story, and I will 100% be continuing with the series. But it doesn’t have a conclusive storyline currently. There is a lot going on and non of it is easy to explain.

Despite this, I did enjoy the book. Don’t get me wrong, it’s engaging! I really want to learn more about the world, about its magic system, and about the people we’ve been introduced to but we don’t know the backgrounds of. The character development is strong in this book, and is what saved it for me. There are so many different characters we are introduced to, and we get to see them interact with new information and learn more about their lives constantly. If you like character based books? This is one for you.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 8, Atmosphere: 7, Writing: 7, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 6, Logic: 7, Enjoyment: 7, which totals 7 and gives a 4* rating.

Highlight here for trigger warnings: racism, slavery, ableism, police brutality, violence, corporal punishment, emotional abuse.

This definitely isn’t a read for everyone, and like I said above I think it would be most suited to those who prefer a character based read. But if that is something you enjoy I recommend giving this one a shot, I think this series could develop into something amazing!

Jane Austen July TBR! 2022

Thank you for baring with a little post break. I might have gotten back from my hols on Tuesday but that didn’t mean I was recovered! (We got in at about 3am, boy was I tired) But that isn’t what you’re here for. It’s tbr time!

I chose not to pick something from my tbr jar this month. I clearly just need a bit of a break and so I’ll leave that for now. If you want to see my tbr in video form then please check that out here!

Considering just how badly I did in June (seriously, just wait for the wrap up, it’s bad) I tried to keep this tbr on the smaller side, as well as transferring over some books from last month.

The first book I transferred over was The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien which I want to read via audiobook. I’ve never read the Lord of the Rings book, and I’m determined to change that sooner rather than later!

Secondly I transferred Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch which is a high fantasy following a DC in the Met Police in a magical London. I took this all the way to Italy with me, and didn’t read a single page. But I did see that the font was pretty big, so this should actually be a nice and easy read.

The final transferred book is Book of Night by Holly Black which is another one that I just didn’t have time for. This was the Illumicrate book for last month and it kind of works out that I’m reading it this month, as I don’t intend on reading We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo because of the racist issues that some have highlighted. So I can read last months instead.

The first of my “new” tbr books is Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro which is the Goldsboro GSFF book I got last month. I knew nothing about it until I filmed my tbr, and I read the first paragraph of the synopsis and fell in love. So despite this being around 600 pages I’m really excited to dive in! Goldsboro seems to know my reading taste so damn well!

Pompeii by Salvatore Nappo is a non-fiction all about the buried Roman town. Possibly this is one I should’ve read before we went and had a tour by an active archaeologist… but regardless I think it’ll be fun. It is quite out of date, as it’s technically been on my tbr since 1997. When I was 1… So it’s not the most up to date but hey, it’ll be interesting nontheless!

The prequel to Pet, Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi is a short little book that arrive at the very end of June and I’m hyped for. It’s a fantasy that follows Pet’s mum when she was younger. I don’t want to say too much in case it spoils Pet!

And then finally, onto the title of this post. Jane Austen July.

The book that is definitely on my tbr is Northanger Abbey (by Jane Austen of course) because it’s the shortest one left of Austen’s that I’ve not read yet! Look I’ve been having a time and I need to make things easier on myself.

And the second Austen book, and final book on my tbr, is Sense and Sensibility which is the next shortest, and is also (I’m simplifying massively here) like a first draft of Pride and Prejudice. So I won’t be mad if I miss this one, but I think it should be one I can get through without too much trouble. We’ll see ๐Ÿ˜

And that’s my tbr! 7 books in total, smaller than my usual tbr’s, but I hope I can actually get through them all and make a good dent. And if I read them all? Well then I can get through some of the books I’ve gotten so far this year that I’ve not read yet!

What are you wanting to read in july? Will you be reading any Austen? Please let me know!!

Wild and Wicked Things, a review

My Goldsboro GSFF book for April, Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May, is set in 1920s England in a world which banned magic after it was used to manipulate soldiers during WWI. Magic in this universe is herbal, added to teas, chocolates, and drinks. But there’s an island where people flout this rule. And this is where our main character, Annie, is headed.

This book was absolutely fantastic. It was full of twists and turns, witchy magic galore, darkness, blood, and I found myself reading as my eyes fluttered shut. I didn’t want to stop reading but I couldn’t stay awake!

The magic system I found absolutely fascinating. There is both the herbal magic, and also blood magic, both of which act in similar ways but seem to garner different results (and take different amounts from the people who enact them). In addition, I thought that the background of the banning of magic, and of the island’s proclivity for it, was really interesting. It’s not the focus of the story, but it definitely adds another dimension to this not-quite-reality world.

There is some beautiful character development throughout this novel. Our main character starts out as an incredibly shy girl who has never left her home village, and who tries not to disturb the status quo. This, if it wasn’t obvious, changes. But we also see some significant changes in our other characters, from those we have as POVs as well as those in the background. If you’re looking for LGBTQ+ rep, then you’ve come to the right place. We have non-binary representation, as well as gay and lesbian characters, who are the primary focus of the story.

I did see this touted as a Great Gatsby retelling, and whilst I can see the influence that Gatsby had, it’s definitely more of an inspiration situation rather than a direct influence. We do have parties, and longing after someone who is taken now (and in an unhappy marriage). And there is disaster that strikes. But this is, at least to me, a backdrop to the magical plotline. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! I adore the magical components of this book. Just be aware of what you’re going in to.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 9, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 10, Logic: 9 and Enjoyment: 10, which gives a score of 9.25 and a 5* rating!

Highlight here for trigger warnings: alcohol/drug use, anxiety/panic attacks, visions/hallucinations, parental death, death of a loved one, murder, domestic abuse, forced name change, discrimination against masculine dress, body dysphoria, gender/appearance dysphoria, gore (blood), parental neglect, emotional abuse, pregnancy, abortion, rape, self harm.

Overall? I adored this. Oh god it was so good. Honestly whoever is picking out the books at Goldsboro for their GSFF box seems to have my taste down to a T! One or two more amazing books like these and I’ll trust them completely.

Have you read Wild and Wicked Things? Do you want to? Let me know! If you like witchy magic and dark vibes then I totally recommend this one.