The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, a review (Deathless #1)

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna is the first book in a trilogy, with the second book only being released recently. With that, I thought it was finally time for me to pick up book one.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

This book follows young girls who, at 16, have their blood tested to see if it runs pure. Runs red. If it doesn’t? If it runs gold? They are impure in the eyes of their god and must be killed. But the King has a new decree, one that states that those who are impure will instead be taken and trained as soldiers, intended to fight the Deathshreiks that terrorise the land.

I adored this book so much. The character development throughout is absolutely fantastic, how we see our main character alter from initially believing what she was taught to instead questioning this status quo and radically altering her perspective.

The world building is also done amazingly in this book, how the religion of the country is established as well as the history of the attacks. I also liked how the character backgrounds were developed, with the intricacies that were present and added a lot of depth to each individual.

On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 9, Atmosphere: 9, Writing: 8, Plot: 9, Intrigue: 9, Logic: 9, and Enjoyment: 10 giving an average of 9 and a 5* rating.

Highlight here for content warnings: The following warning is found in the book: “The Gilded Ones includes scenes of violence, including some graphic violence, which some readers may find distressing. Additional trigger warnings: death, disownment, loss of a parent/loved one, mutilation, paedophilia, rape, starvation, trauma, torture.

This is an absolutely beautiful YA fantasy book and I am incredibly excited to carry on with the series, with book two The Merciless Ones. With where book one ended off I need to know where the story is going next!

October Reading Wrap Up πŸŽƒ 2022

So it’s been more than 10 days since you last had a post from me, I’m sorry! Honestly I got really reading slumpy as well as just not that great overall, so I took some time away from work and from the bookish world and I’m doing a lot better for it. But I’m back with my October wrap up so let’s dive straight in!

I read very little this month, 2394 pages total but only finishing five books. Although I did read most of a few other books, those are carrying over to November (or as I’m calling it October Part 2) so they’ll be mentioned there.

First up? I finished Babel by R.F. Kuang! This was just the final 93 pages of the book that I finished up on the 1st October. I loved this book so much. It is a gorgeous dark academia set in 1800s Oxford that tackles racism, colonialism, the British empire and so much more. It’s heart wrenching, and despite being a very slow read (something I usually really don’t like) I found myself wanting more when I reached the final pages. It’s beautifully done and personally I think it deserves all the hype.

Next is The Imagination Chamber by Philip Pullman, one of my birthday books I was gifted (thank you Renette!) that is only 87 pages, and I needed a win so I thought why not! It’s a very quick read as it’s simply collections of Pullman’s extra ideas for scenes and character development within the world of His Dark Material’s and The Book of Dust. I enjoyed it a lot and I’m even more excited about the final book in the Book of Dust trilogy!

Then I read The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono, another birthday book (this time thanks go to Caitlyn!) that I picked up this month for a similar reason, it clocks at 42 pages. This one is an environmental read that is a gorgeous little ode to Mother Earth and I’m so glad I read it.

Then, the first book that I was actually on my tbr for this month, The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. Five star read this book is amazing! This is a YA dystopian written by a Nigerian author that follows young women who are marginalised for having the “wrong” colour blood. Gold. This book dives deep into identity, misogyny, and so much more. It’s an absolutely beautiful work and I’m so excited to read the second book next year!

And finally, the book that gave me no end of trouble. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I buddy read this with Kari, and without her I wouldn’t have gotten through this book! It’s a rough read. The final 250 pages I actually found mildly enjoyable, but considering this book is over 1000 pages long… that’s not exactly a glowing recommendation. This is a book that I recommend everyone reading the triggers for, but especially sexual assault and rape. I usually “hide” trigger warnings because I consider them spoilers, but it’s so severe in this book that I would be doing you a disservice if I hide those. On top of this, this book truly is just one huge essay on cathedral building with some historical fiction Follett decided to slide in. With this being such a behemoth to get through (both in page count and in content) it ground my reading to a halt. I wont’ be picking up any more Follett for a little while!

In the exact opposite of this… I got a ridiculous number of books in October because it was my birthday! I’m so grateful to everyone for all of these books, and very glad that I’m not doing balancing the books this month πŸ˜….

What was your best read this month? For me it was The Gilded Ones, that book is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend it!

October TBR πŸŽƒ

It’s officially spooky season!!! It’s also Gothtober season (hosted by the amazing Hannah), and it’s my birthday month!! (13th October, just saying). So this is always a super busy and hectic month for me… at least I’m not moving, starting a new job, and doing a video every single day like last year!! 🀣

I also wanted to try and theme my tbr around Kari this month, with her birthday being on the 15th October and with us adoring the same books. It seemed appropriate and also like it would set me up for some fantastic reads! Matching up “Kari reads” along with the Gothtober prompts wasn’t exactly easy, but I think I’ve done an okay job πŸ˜‚

I’m also not doing the tbr jar this month, instead I’ve got a huge stack of “Kari reads” that I’ll delve into if I finish up my main tbr.

To get my prompts for Gothtober I had to play a game 😈 no really, Hannah’s brother Ciaran made a game for us to generate different prompt lists for everyone! I just ran it one time and decided to make the the prompts work damn it!

The first prompt is a gothic mood read and of course that could just be a random book I pick up, but I’m going to match The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean to this prompt. Because I’m always in the mood for dark, book themed reads! This is also the September Illumicrate book, so I’ve gotta squeeze it in somewhere.

Next is a book that completes you and for this I’m going with Foundation by Mercedes Lackey. This was gifted to me by my uncle but it’s also an author that Kari absolutely adores, and given it’s a YA high fantasy (the type of book we match most on) it’s a pretty sure bet I’m gunna love this one!

A beautiful book could be so many that are on my shelves, but I’m putting my Goldsboro GSFF book in here and that’s Mindwalker by Kate Dylan with it’s stunning bright pink cover with hexagons and a woman holding a gun? Gimme. All I know about this one is it’s a sci-fi soooooo, I’m excited!

Then for the prompts that everyone gets, because of course. These are books by a BIPOC/BAME author, an LGBTQ+ book, and a book with disability representation. I love to try and combine these all into one, and I actually found out (through the Gothtober twitter account) that The Book Eaters would count for this. But instead I’m going to be reading Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon because I adore everything I’ve read by them and I need an excuse to pick this up!

For a book that I forgot I had I’m going with Dracula by Bram Stoker, because how the hell did I forget about this classic? And it’s SO gothic that it’s just the absolute perfect choice rn. Give me bats! πŸ¦‡

The next prompt is a murder mystery read and that fits in fantastically well with How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie which Hannah challenged me to read this October. All about a woman who’s jailed for murder, and she is a murderer, but she didn’t do this one and she’ll be damned if she goes down for someone elses crime!

A heavy book could have a few meanings, but I’m going with a big book and that’s The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I’m buddy reading this with Kari throughout October, and whilst I don’t think it actually is, it gives me dark academia vibes so I’m here for it being an October read.

My final prompt is a book that features a training montage and this is the perfect excuse to pick up The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. This has been sat on my tbr for too damn long and I’m excited to pick it up!

Then I’ve only (not including the Kari books) got one book left on my tbr, which isn’t linked to Gothtober, and that’s The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen, an Earth Science non-fiction. Because it’s my birthday month and I wanna read it πŸ˜‡.

I’m hoping that this TBR is pretty manageable, and even slightly too easy, cause I want to get to some more of the Kari stack! But October is also going to be a really busy month for me. Lots of live streams, catching up with family, and even a trip to London for my birthday! (my amazing partner got us tickets for the Eng vs USA football game ⚽). I’m also getting a new phone, finally. I’ve had mine since 2014…. 😢 and so I imagine I’m gunna be pretty glued to that. Let’s hope I can still squeeze the reading in!

What are you wanting to read in October? And are you joining in Gothtober? I hope so! Have a great month folks!

First Lines Friday! #28

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?

Today is the Ritual of Purity.

The nervous thought circles in my head as I hurry towards the barn, gathering my cloak to ward off the cold. It’s early morning, and the sun hasn’t yet begun to climb above the snow-dusted trees encircling our small farmhouse.

Scroll down to reveal the book!

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arrow-pointing-down-animation-with-transparent-background_sao3efrlx_thumbnail-full04  | Arrow painting, Arrow pointing down, Transparent backgroundarrow-pointing-down-animation-with-transparent-background_sao3efrlx_thumbnail-full04  | Arrow painting, Arrow pointing down, Transparent background
The Gilded Ones (Gilded, 1) : Namina Forna: Amazon.co.uk: Books
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

When I spotted this beautiful paperback with sprayed edges in Tesco’s I could not resist!! This is a YA fantasy that I’ve heard so so much about where those with golden blood are outcast from society. But our protagonist takes her future into her own hands and fights back! I’m so excited to delve into this!

10 books, 10 countries

Whilst we’re stuck in *current situations* travel seems like a distant dream to most of us. Especially international travel. So I thought it could be fun to talk about travelling the world in books!! Here are 10 books which take place outside of England and the US, which are the most common places for books popular on the internet to be set. (there’s also no Aussie books on this list because I HARP on about my Aussie faves enough as it is!)

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Amazon.co.uk: Kawaguchi, Toshikazu,  Trousselot, Geoffrey: 9781529029581: Books

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi – translated

This book is set in Japan and written by a Japanese author!

We rotate around a coffee shop which has the ability to sent you back in time, but only within limited confines. This is such a beautiful and heart wrenching book and I cannot recommend it highly enough!

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra: Baby Ganesh Agency Book 1  (Baby Ganesh series) eBook : Khan, Vaseem: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan

This book is set in India and written by a British Indian author!

This is such a fun cosy mystery and I adore this series. Our main character is a retired police officer who is bequeathed a baby elephant in his uncle’s will! And that elephant of course has a big part in the plot!

The Silver Mine by Selma LagerlΓΆf

The Silver Mine by Selma Lagerlof – translated

This book is set in Sweden and written by a Swedish author!

This teeny tiny book follows a mining town which discovers a seam of valuable minerals and how they react to this. It’s delightful.

The Stone of Destiny: A Four Treasures Novel (Book 1) (The Four Treasures)  : Caroline Logan: Amazon.co.uk: Books

The Stone of Destiny by Caroline Logan

This book is set in Scotland and written by a Scottish author!

This book focuses around the Scottish folk lore of Selkies, seals who can turn into human beings, and a rough and gruff young girl who is isolated from the rest of society. It’s delightful!

Skulduggery Pleasant #1: Skulduggery Pleasant - Scholastic Kids' Club

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

This book is set in Ireland and written by an Irish author!

A skeleton detective and a teenage girl run around Ireland, solving magical mysteries and being completely badass. As we all know, I adore this series more than life itself. How could I not include it?!

Long Walk To Freedom Book Summary (PDF) by Nelson Mandela - Two Minute Books

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

This book is set in South Africa and written by a South African author!

This is Mandela’s memoir, so it is deep and it’s long, but it’s a fantastic read. I actually read 500+ pages of this book all in one day. Don’t ask me how. I don’t know. But I’m not complaining! A wonderfully written memoir.

The Gilded Ones (Gilded, 1) : Namina Forna: Amazon.co.uk: Books

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

This book is inspired by West Africa and written by an author from Sierra Leone!

The first book on this list that I’ve not read yet. Blood that runs gold or red. An unequal society. Girls and woman fighting for equality. Yes. Just yes.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi | Waterstones

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This book is set in Ghana and written by a Ghanaian author!

This book follows two sisters on different paths and how their descendants live. One stays in Ghana living in luxury, and the other is enslaved and shipped to America where her children and grandchildren are destined to be raised in slavery. I definitely need to read this.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

This book is set in Botswana and written by a Zimbabwean author!

I feel it is important to point out this book is written by a white man. But he’s born and raised in Zimbabwe and Botswana. This appears to be a cosy mystery vibe and I’m very excited to get around to this series at some point! I love cosy mysteries with a twist!

The Star of Kazan : Ibbotson, Eva: Amazon.co.uk: Books

The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson

This book is set in Austria and written by a British author who was born in Austria!

This last book goes back to one I have read. I adored this book as a child following a young girl who was abandoned at a church as a baby. She’s raised lovingly in the slave quarters of a house but one day her birth mother returns for her. But things in her new-found family aren’t quite as they seem. I love it so much and as always with Ibbotson’s writing it’s beautiful.

And there you have it! 10 books set in countries that you might not read as much from! Have you read any of these? And what books set outside of the US and England do you recommend?!