Audiobook Review: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy

Publishing Info: Audiobook by Hodder & Stoughton Audio, ARC, narrated by Laurie Catherine Winkel and P.J. Ochlan

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

Paris, 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets.

Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: an engineer with a debt to pay; a historian banished from his home; a dancer with a sinister past; and a brother in arms if not blood.

Together they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history – but only if they can stay alive.

From New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi comes a novel set in Paris during a time of extraordinary change – one that is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous desires . .

Thank you so much to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing an audio ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Gilded Wolves originally came out a few years ago, but is now being published with shiny new covers in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton. Despite having heard a lot about this book, I had never read it, so was excited to get to read an audio ARC ahead of the UK audio release.

The amount of worldbuilding at the start is a little overwhelming, with so many details to get to grips with. However, the world and magic system is so creative and magical, and I was entranced from the very first page. I was totally swept away by the imaginative Forging and intriguing applications of the characters’ abilities.

I absolutely adore a good heist novel and there were plenty of twists in this one, along with a fantastic cast of characters. One of my favourite things about The Gilded Wolves is the characters, the friendships and relationships between them, their interactions and humour – that is what kept bringing me back to this book. It’s also great to see such a diverse multi POV cast, with BIPOC, LGBT, and autistic characters. Roshani Chokshi explores racism, colonialism, and many other important themes, interweaving these in well with the characters’ stories and showing the impact these issues have had on their lives.

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Audiobook Review: Breathe and Count Back From Ten

Breathe and Count Back From Ten by Natalia Sylvester

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Publishing Info: Audiobook by HarperAudio, May 2022, narrated by Frankie Corzo

Star Rating: 5/5

Back Cover Summary:

Verónica has had many surgeries to manage her disability. The best form of rehabilitation is swimming, so she spends hours in the pool, but not just to strengthen her body. Her Florida town is home to Mermaid Cove, a kitschy underwater attraction where professional mermaids perform in giant tanks…and Verónica wants to audition. But her conservative Peruvian parents would never go for it. And they definitely would never let her be with Alex, her cute new neighbor. She decides it’s time to seize control of her life, but her plans come crashing down when she learns her parents have been hiding the truth from her—the truth about her own body.

I have found it quite difficult finding the right words for this review, and have found myself feeling quite emotional as I reflect on my feelings. Breathe and Count Back From Ten is a is so clearly written from the heart, and it spoke to my own. I wish I’d had this book as a teen, when I felt alone and afraid growing up chronically ill, when I didn’t know how to understand or express what I was feeling. Like the protagonist, the author has hip dysplasia and is Peruvian-American, and this story is written authentically from her own experiences.

Although I don’t share Verónica’s disability, I could relate to her thoughts and feelings around being disabled, stigma, and ableism. The author captures the experience of being disabled and articulates the complex and conflicting emotions of this experience so well. I found it so incredibly relatable as a disabled person, it truly touched me, and I am so thankful to Natalia Sylvester for sharing this story. It is raw and honest, and exactly the kind of disability representation we need more of.

This novel is beautifully written, lyrical and emotive, and the audiobook is narrated excellently by Frankie Corzo. The interweaving of the mythology of mermaids, Verónica’s own journey to become a mermaid, and her journey as a disabled person, is so beautifully done.  

Breathe and Count Back From Ten is also a story about identity, belonging, family, dreams, friendship, and love. Although my review has focused on the disability representation so far, I also loved seeing Verónica’s relationships grow with her family. Plus, there is a very sweet romance which I adored. 

This novel is absolutely stunning and I had no hesitations in giving it the full five stars. This book is a must-read and is absolutely one of my favourite books.

Top 10 Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2022

Somehow, we are already half way through the year and it’s the time to look ahead to all the exciting releases coming out in the second half of the year. Here are 10 that I am looking forward to!

Top 10 Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish, but has now moved to That Artsy Reader Girl. If you’re interested in taking part click here.


Master of Iron by Tricia Levenseller

In Master of Iron, the conclusion to Tricia Levenseller’s exciting Bladesmith YA fantasy duology, a magically gifted blacksmith with social anxiety must race against the clock to save her beloved sister and stop a devastating war.

Eighteen-year-old Ziva may have defeated a deadly warlord, but the price was almost too much. Ziva is forced into a breakneck race to a nearby city with the handsome mercenary, Kellyn, and the young scholar, Petrik, to find a powerful magical healer who can save her sister’s life.

When the events that follow lead to Ziva and Kellyn’s capture by an ambitious prince, Ziva is forced into the very situation she’s been dreading: magicking dangerous weapons meant for world domination.

The forge has always been Ziva’s safe space, a place to avoid society and the anxiety it causes her, but now it is her prison, and she’s not sure just how much of herself she’ll have to sacrifice to save Kellyn and take center stage in the very war she’s been trying to stop.

Blade of Secrets ended on such a cliffhanger, so I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel! Tricia Levenseller always writes such fun fantasy books.


Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen

A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.

I love political intrigue and court life in fantasy books so I’m really excited for this one!


The Comeback by Lily Chu

Ariadne Hui thrives on routine. So what if everything in her life is planned down to the minute: That’s the way she likes it. If she’s going to make partner in Toronto’s most prestigious law firm, she needs to stay focused at all times.

But when she comes home after yet another soul-sucking day to find an unfamiliar, gorgeous man camped out in her living room, focus is the last thing on her mind. Especially when her roommate explains this is Choi Jihoon, her cousin freshly arrived from Seoul to mend a broken heart. He just needs a few weeks to rest and heal; Ari will barely even know he’s there. (Yeah, right.)

Jihoon is kindness and chaos personified, and it isn’t long before she’s falling, hard. But when one wrong step leads to a world-shaking truth, Ari finds herself thrust onto the world stage: not as the competent, steely lawyer she’s fought so hard to become, but as the mystery woman on the arm of a man the entire world claims to know. Now with her heart, her future, and her sense of self on the line, Ari will have to cut through all the pretty lies to find the truth of her relationship…and discover the Ariadne Hui she’s finally ready to be.

I read a lot of SFF but I read Lily Chu’s The Stand-In earlier this year and absolutely adored it, so I’m looking forward to her next novel.

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June 2022 Wrap Up

Hello everyone! June has been a busy month for me so I haven’t had loads of time for reading but I did finish two audiobooks, and I’ve nearly finished reading Six Crimson Cranes. We went for a day trip to Cambridge for my birthday and went punting on the river which was fun.

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah (audiobook) ⭐⭐⭐ – This book was a magical adventure and I wish I had loved it more. For some reason, I just didn’t click with it. But it is a great book and I’m sure lots of other people will love it.

Breathe and Count Back From Ten by Natalia Sylvester (audiobook) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This is my first 5 star read of the year! I have been working on my review for this book and trying to find the right words to describe how it made me feel. This book is stunningly written and I felt such a strong connection to it. Breathe and Count Back From Ten is about a disabled protagonist, written by a disabled author, and Natalia Sylvester really captured the experiences, feelings, and emotions of being disabled so well, it was deeply relatable for me. Full review coming soon!

I’ve been trying not to buy too many new books, but it was my birthday this month so I did get a couple of new ones – Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth. Gideon is one of my favourite books so I’m so happy to have this book on my shelves now, and I’m excited to read Harrow.

What books have you enjoyed this month? Chat with me in the comments!

Audiobook Review: The Stardust Thief by Cheslea Abdullah

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

Genre: Adult, Fantasy

Publishing Info: Audiobook by Hachette Audio UK, May 2022, narrated by Nikki Massoud, Rasha Zamamiri, Sean Rohani

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights, this book weaves together the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp.

Neither here nor there, but long ago . . .

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

Full of adventure and magic, The Stardust Thief takes readers on a journey through an Arab-inspired fantasy world where our protagonists take on a perilous quest fraught with danger. This fantasy debut is inspired by One Thousand and One Nights and uses storytelling as a theme throughout, weaving the stories and myths the protagonists know with the truth of the jinn they come to discover.

It took a little while for me to really get into this book. However, I enjoyed it more as the story progressed. There were some great twists in the second half which left me terrified for my favourite characters, as well as exciting and magical action. The novel focuses on the quest and the characters’ journeys, so if you are looking for fantasy without romance, I’d recommend giving this one a go.

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Fairyloot April 2022 Unboxing

Fairyloot recently launched a book only option for their YA subscription, something I have been hoping they would do for a long time. As I’ve now switched to the book only option, the April 2022 box was my last full box. It might miss out on some great future items, but I just didn’t want my space getting cluttered with so many things, so I think the book only is the right option for me.

Fairyloot is a UK-based YA fantasy subscription box. If you subscribe, you get a box a month which includes a hardback book and 5-6 exclusive goodies around a theme.

The theme for April was ‘Bittersweet’! Let’s see what was inside…

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Audiobook Review: The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Dark Academia

Publishing Info: Audiobook, March 2022, Tor, narrated by Steve West, Siho Ellsmore, Munirih Grace, James Patrick Cronin, David Monteith, Damian Lynch, Caitlin Kelly, Andy Ingalls

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

When the world’s best magicians are offered an extraordinary opportunity, saying yes is easy. Each could join the secretive Alexandrian Society, whose custodians guard lost knowledge from ancient civilizations. Their members enjoy a lifetime of power and prestige. Yet each decade, only six practitioners are invited – to fill five places.

Contenders Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona are inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds. Parisa Kamali is a telepath, who sees the mind’s deepest secrets. Reina Mori is a naturalist who can perceive and understand the flow of life itself. And Callum Nova is an empath, who can manipulate the desires of others. Finally there’s Tristan Caine, whose powers mystify even himself.

Following recruitment by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they travel to the Society’s London headquarters. Here, each must study and innovate within esoteric subject areas. And if they can prove themselves, over the course of a year, they’ll survive. Most of them.

The Atlas Six is one of 2022’s most talked about releases. Originally self-published, the novel was picked up by Tor Books and rereleased. With the intense amount of hype around this book, I felt a little wary going in as I didn’t want to be left disappointed. Dark academia is also not my usual genre of choice, but I was intrigued by the premise and decided to take a chance on something outside my comfort zone.

The opening intrigued me and the smooth writing style drew me in. It did, however, take a while to introduce all six point of view characters, and the formula of Atlas approaching each of them to make offers to join the Alexandrian Society felt a little repetitive after the first couple.

Having multiple POVs worked really well in this novel. It was fascinating seeing everything from different perspectives and getting to see how all the characters viewed each other, building tension very nicely. They are basically all morally grey in some way and each have an interesting backstory. There was a different narrator for each POV which was really effective, making it easier to distinguish the characters and feel immersed in each viewpoint.

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May 2022 Wrap Up

I’m not sure what happened to May but it seemed to go by in a blur and I only managed to read one book. It’s been a difficult month as I’m still not feeling that well. I got diagnosed with a new chronic illness and haven’t started treatment yet. So I will probably still be blogging only occasionally for a while until I start feeling a bit better again.

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake (audiobook) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Dark academia is not usually my thing but I actually really enjoyed this one! It was great having a different narrator for each POV and I loved all of the intrigue. Full review coming soon!

I added a couple of gorgeous new books to my shelves this month – A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin and The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah.

What books have you enjoyed this month? Chat with me in the comments!