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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Book Review: Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz

Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz

Genre: Young adult, contemporary fantasy

Publishing Info: October 2020 by Page Street Kids

Pages: 368

Star Rating: 3.5/5

Back Cover Summary:

Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.

But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.

Blazewrath Games is a creative and fun entry into the YA landscape, integrating fantasy elements into our contemporary world in a way that felt believable and magical. As much as I love high fantasy, there is something unique about the way contemporary fantasy makes magic feel closer, more real. The world Amparo Ortiz has created feels like a completely plausible alternative version of our own world. One where there are dragons, tournaments, and magic wand shops. Something about it just captured my imagination and that tingly magical feeling that you only get from some books.

We’re introduced to Lana, who dreams of playing in the Blazewrath World Cup for Puerto Rico. Lana is a very relatable character – she has dreams, is driven and has a strong belief in doing what is right. Amparo Ortiz also explores what it means to belong and Lana’s relationship with Puerto Rico after moving to the US as a child, and how that affects her identity and her place amongst the Puerto Rico team. A lot of readers will really connect to Lana’s internal struggles and appreciate seeing this represented on the page.

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Audiobook Review: Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin

Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance  

Publishing Info: Audiobook, July 2021, narrated by Holter Graham & Saskia Maarleveld

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:
The spellbinding conclusion to the New York Times and IndieBound bestselling trilogy Serpent & Dove. This stunning fantasy take on French witches and forbidden love is perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.

Evil always seeks a foothold. We must not give it one.

After a heartbreaking loss, Lou, Reid, Beau, and Coco are bent on vengeance more than ever before—and none more so than Lou.

But this is no longer the Lou they thought they knew. No longer the Lou that captured a chasseur’s heart. A darkness has settled over her, and this time it will take more than love to drive it out.

Gods & Monsters is the concluding novel in Shelby Mahurin’s Serpent & Dove series and, following an unexpected twist at the end of the previous instalment, I was intrigued to see how the story would conclude. While many fans of the first book found Blood & Honey disappointing, I found the character development and evolution of Lou and Reid’s relationship engaging, though there was a little too much filler in the plot department. Still, Gods & Monsters had a lot of work to do to bring the story round to a good conclusion and, while it did have a satisfying ending, the third novel sadly suffered from issues with the overall series structure.

The opening section of Gods & Monsters didn’t quite draw me in as much as I had hoped. Nicholina’s character was incredibly creepy, which I expect was the author’s intention, and the audiobook narrator did an excellent job of making her disturbing. Perhaps too good a job, as I felt a bit uncomfortable listening to this part of the audiobook. Lou also only had a small part in the first section, and without her presence, there was something missing.

After a while, I settled into the familiarity of the characters and Shelby Mahurin’s writing style, simply enjoying being back with these characters and enjoying the story. The character development was once again strong, with the characters challenged to face their deepest fears and truths about themselves they have yet to acknowledge.

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Top 10 Tuesday: 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

I didn’t do a great job of reading my anticipated releases last year so there are quite a few 2021 books that I really wanted to read but didn’t get round to. Here are ten of them! Hopefully I will get to some, if not all, of these this year.

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.

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Blade of Secrets by Tricia Levenseller

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

Thronebreakers by Rebecca Coffindaffer

Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

Broken Web by Lori M. Lee

What releases were you excited for in 2021? Are there any you didn’t get round to reading? Chat with me in the comments!

Anticipated 2022 Releases by Disabled, Chronically Ill and Neurodivergent Authors

As someone with a chronic illness, I am so excited to see how many books by disabled, chronically ill and neurodivergent authors are coming out this year and wanted to share a post with a few of the ones I’m looking forward to! Seeing good disability representation is so important, and it is great that more books by disabled authors are getting published, but there is still a long way for the publishing industry to go, as with many kinds of representation, in terms of good disability representation.


One for All by Lillie Lainoff (POTS rep)

A gender-bent retelling of The Three Musketeers, in which a girl with a chronic illness trains as a Musketeer and uncovers secrets, sisterhood, and self-love.

Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone in town thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl”; even her mother is desperate to marry her off for security. But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father—a former Musketeer and her greatest champion.

Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for a new kind of Musketeer: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a swordfight.

With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels for the first time like she has a purpose, like she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her first target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming, and breathlessly attractive—and he might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to lean on her friends, listen to her own body, and decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted.

This debut novel is a fierce, whirlwind adventure about the depth of found family, the strength that goes beyond the body, and the determination it takes to fight for what you love.

Add on Goodreads


You, Me, and Our Heartstrings by Melissa See (cerebral palsy & anxiety rep)

A fresh and fun teen romance starring a girl with cerebral palsy, and a boy with severe anxiety.

Daisy and Noah have the same plan: use the holiday concert to land a Julliard audition. But when they’re chosen to play a duet for the concert, they worry that their differences will sink their chances.

Noah, a cello prodigy from a long line of musicians, wants to stick to tradition. Daisy, a fiercely independent disabled violinist, is used to fighting for what she wants and likes to take risks. But the two surprise each other when they play. They fall perfectly in tune.

After their performance goes viral, the rest of the country falls for them just as surely as they’re falling for each other. But viral fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. No one seems to care about their talent or their music at all. People have rewritten their love story into one where Daisy is an inspiration for overcoming her cerebral palsy and Noah is a saint for seeing past it.

Daisy is tired of her disability being the only thing people see about her, and all of the attention sends Noah’s anxiety disorder into high speed. They can see their dream coming closer than it’s ever been before. But is the cost suddenly too high?

Add on Goodreads

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

There are some exciting looking sequels coming out this year but I am so behind on reading 2021 releases so there are very few sequels on this list! There are, however, many debuts and new releases by familiar authors that I am very excited for this year.

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.


Scorpica by G. R. Macallister

A centuries-long peace is shattered in a matriarchal society when a decade passes without a single girl being born in this sweeping epic fantasy that’s perfect for fans of Robin Hobb and Circe.

Five hundred years of peace between queendoms shatters when girls inexplicably stop being born. As the Drought of Girls stretches across a generation, it sets off a cascade of political and personal consequences across all five queendoms of the known world, throwing long-standing alliances into disarray as each queendom begins to turn on each other—and new threats to each nation rise from within.

Uniting the stories of women from across the queendoms, this propulsive, gripping epic fantasy follows a warrior queen who must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne, a healer in hiding desperate to protect the secret of her daughter’s explosive power, a queen whose desperation to retain control leads her to risk using the darkest magic, a near-immortal sorcerer demigod powerful enough to remake the world for her own ends—and the generation of lastborn girls, the ones born just before the Drought, who must bear the hopes and traditions of their nations if the queendoms are to survive.

The synopsis for this book gives me Priory of the Orange Tree vibes and I would love to read more epic fantasy with queendoms, so I am highly anticipating this one’s release.


Castles in Their Bones by Laura Sebastian

A spellbinding story of three princesses and the destiny they were born for: seduction, conquest, and the crown. Immerse yourself in the first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the author of the New York Times bestselling Ash Princess series.

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other?

I’ve not read Laura Sebastian’s previous books, but something about this cover and description caught my attention. I love multi perspective stories, and the concept behind this one sounds really intriguing.


Gallant by V. E. Schwab

Sixteen-year-old Olivia Prior is missing three things: a mother, a father, and a voice. Her mother vanished all at once, and her father by degrees, and her voice was a thing she never had to start with.

She grew up at Merilance School for Girls. Now, nearing the end of her time there, Olivia receives a letter from an uncle she’s never met, her father’s older brother, summoning her to his estate, a place called Gallant. But when she arrives, she discovers that the letter she received was several years old. Her uncle is dead. The estate is empty, save for the servants. Olivia is permitted to remain, but must follow two rules: don’t go out after dusk, and always stay on the right side of a wall that runs along the estate’s western edge.

Beyond it is another realm, ancient and magical, which calls to Olivia through her blood…

From the Sunday Times-bestselling author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, and A Darker Shade of Magic comes a standalone novel where The Secret Garden meets Stardust.

I only discovered V. E. Schwab a couple of years ago (I know, very late to the party) and have loved both of her books I’ve read so far, so of course I’ll be snapping up her latest release.

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December 2021 Wrap Up

It’s the last day of 2021! Today I’m looking back at the books I read in December. I had a bit of a disappointing reading month and felt in a bit of a slump but have been reading The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels over the holidays and it’s fun, ridiculous and hilarious, and just the kind of book I needed to get me out of a slump.

Knot My Type (audiobook) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I don’t read romance very often but I loved this one. It’s got excellent disability rep and a sweet love story that I really enjoyed.

Girls of Paper and Fire ⭐⭐⭐ – I found this book a little slow and didn’t find it very memorable, though I thought the worldbuilding was interesting. It was a good book, but I didn’t love it. I think it just wasn’t a book for me, but would encourage others to give it a go.

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare (audiobook) ⭐⭐⭐ – The finale of the Dark Artifices series was a bit of a let-down for me and I was especially disappointed as Lady Midnight was one of her best. Queen of Air and Darkness was just too long and drawn out. I’m glad I finished the series but think the last instalment would have benefited from some trimming.

This month, I have sadly not had much time for writing. It seemed to be a very busy month, and I am still struggling to fully shake off covid. But I am looking forward to continuing to plan my next book in the new year. I’ve had a lot of ideas and can’t wait to start writing again.

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

Top 10 Tuesday: Best Books I Read In 2021

I cannot believe it’s nearly the end of the year and it’s time to pick my 10 favourite reads of 2021! I read some great books this year and it’s always hard to narrow it down, but here are my 10 best reads.

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.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – This is hands down my favourite book of the year. It was so imaginative and unique, and I was totally hooked on the mysterious story. The audiobook narration was brilliant as well and brought all the characters to life so vividly.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor – I can’t get enough of Laini Taylor’s writing. It’s so lyrical and emotive, I get drawn into every book of hers I read, and Days of Blood and Starlight was no exception.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – I finally tackled this chonky book this year and I’m so glad I did because I loved it. The worldbuilding is incredibly detailed and although it is very long, it didn’t feel slow, and I found myself propelled through the pages.

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