August 2022 Wrap Up

It’s September and that means autumn is coming! But first, let’s look back at August! I only finished one book but have two other books that I’m part way through. I realised I gushed about my new kitten last month and didn’t share any photos so here’s a cute pic of Ember! I probably won’t be posting much for the next few weeks as I have started weekly hydrotherapy for my AS which I am finding quite tiring so am resting a lot. I have four sessions and I’m really hoping they will help with my symptoms.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches (audiobook) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I adored this cosy contemporary fantasy romance! It’s such a lovely book and a perfect pick for autumn. It has found family, which I love! I would definitely recommend the audiobook as the narration is fantastic and I loved listening to it.

My Fairyloot edition of Violet Made of Thorns arrived and it is very pretty. I also ordered a hardback copy of Breathe and Count Back From Ten after listening to the audiobook because I loved it so much and it meant so much to me, so wanted to have a copy on my shelf.

Writing progress is still very slow! I now have pain in my arms which is affecting my ability to type, so I’ve not been writing very often. I have now finished chapter two though!

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

Audiobook ARC Review: The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Genre: Contemporary fantasy, romance

Publishing Info: Audiobook by Hodder & Stoughton Audio, ARC, narrated by Samara MacLaren

Star Rating: 4/5

Back Cover Summary:

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos “pretending” to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….

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

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches is a very sweet and charming read that drew me in from the start and enveloped me in warmth and magic. Add to your cauldron a house by the sea, found family, a grumpy librarian, some romance, three children in need of a witch to teach them, an adorable dog, a dash of humour, and a sprinkle of magic, and you have the perfect potion for a heart-warming story.

There are quite a few characters but the author paints each of them so vividly that I felt like I was seeing old friends, and instantly fell in love with the charm of Nowhere House and its inhabitants. Of course, with three young witches unable to control their powers, disaster is sure to follow and there were plenty of opportunities for humour which Sangu Mandanna delivered spot on, and I found myself smiling and laughing at many points as I listened.

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July 2022 Wrap Up

What happened to July? And half of August? The time has disappeared and I’m only just posting my July wrap up! Things have been busy the last few weeks. We got an adorable new tortie kitten called Ember who is very sweet with a healthy dose of trouble. The weather here in the UK has been incredibly hot and I do not cope well with hot weather so the last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle. I am very much looking forward to autumn!   

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – It took me a while to get into this one but I ended up really loving it! I enjoyed Elizabeth Lim’s first duology so I had high hopes for Six Crimson Cranes. Despite struggling a bit with the first half, things picked up in the second half and there were some fantastic twists and action!

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi (audiobook) ⭐⭐⭐ – When I started reading this book I really thought it was going to be a new favourite. I loved the imaginative worldbuilding and enjoyed the interactions between the main cast. However, I had mixed feelings about the plot and the tonal shift at the end was a bit jarring and just didn’t work for me sadly.

Since I finished all of the Agatha Christie books on my shelves, I picked up a new one recently – The Mystery of the Blue Train. My Goldsboro edition of Fevered Star also finally arrived. They shipped it to my old address (even though my new address was on the order!) but they were very quick to respond to my email and send out another copy to the correct address.

I have slowly been getting back into writing again but have been finding it quite difficult with the brain fog that comes with long covid. I’m now on the second chapter of my WIP and hopefully I will continue making progress with it!

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

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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