Reviews · Uncategorized

Monster Princess: Review of Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Thank you to Hodderscape for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

Author: Melissa Bashardoust

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 3.5/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 4.5/5
  • Overall: 4/5

Girl, Serpent Thorn was a novel reminiscent of a fairy tale. Influences from Persian mythology were intricately woven throughout creating a tapestry of deadly beauty with monsters and magic in every thread. One of my favourite parts was actually the author’s note at the end explaining the inspirations behind certain aspects of the book, an important one being an epic poem called The Shahnameh. It is clear that so much thought and love went into creating the world.

Soraya was a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. She had spent her entire life hidden away in the shadows, starved of human contact. Meanwhile, her twin brother was the shah and dwelled in the sunlight and adoration of the people. Soraya felt resentful and crushingly, achingly lonely but she tried not to show it. She thought innocent thoughts and actions were the only thing stopping her from becoming a monster but in her darkest hours she wondered if it would be easier to become the monster others already thought her to be.

I loved Soraya’s journey of self acceptance. This could have easily been a villain origin story but it wasn’t and while there were many moments when Soraya gave into her darker impulses she always brought herself back and rejected monstrosity. Her story showed that protecting someone with lies often isn’t protection at all and when too many secrets accumulate it can be more deadly than poison. Soraya’s relationship with Parvaneh was sweet and hopeful. Their romance wasn’t a major part of the book but the way they saw a beauty in each other that no one else did was heart warming.

In a lot of YA fantasy, the parents are often dead or have no part to play in the story. That wasn’t the case with Girl, Serpent, Thorn. I loved how Soraya’s relationship with her mother was portrayed. Many secrets surfaced between them and their relationship was often messy and strained but there was an overwhelming sense of love, appreciation and respect between them that grew as the story progressed.

The writing was gorgeous and lyrical and completely drew me in. However, I wish the plot was a bit stronger. Some of the events that happened felt too contrived or convenient and some details needed more explanation. However overall Girl, Serpent, Thorn was a magical, Persian-inspired read with a compelling main character and a f/f romance that I would definitely recommend.

Twitter Goodreads

Black Lives Matter |Free Palestine |Kashmir Bleeds|Junk Terror Bill

 

Reviews

Into the Shadow: Review of The Damned

Thank you to Hodderscape for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Read my review of The Beautiful here!

Book: The Damned (The Beautiful #2)

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 4/5
  • Characters: 4.5/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 4/5

The Damned was a magical read that expanded upon the first book well, answering many of the questions that I had whilst giving me more. I loved diving back into the glamorous yet monstrous world of The Beautiful and learning more about the characters. However, it wasn’t a five star read like the first book was for me because I felt like it tried to cram a bit too much in without adequate explanation.

Celine was grappling with the trauma of what happened to her at the end of The Beautiful. She felt like she had lost herself in the midst of confusion, nightmares and terror gripping her when she was perfectly safe. For Celine, this book was about self discovery– in more ways than one. She showed even more fortitude and determination than in the previous book and I was rooting for her throughout.

Celine took centre stage in The Beautiful and Bastien had little character development, whereas The Damned saw him take the spotlight and have his own arc too. His POV chapters were in the first person and in the present tense, as opposed to everyone else’s POV chapters being in the third person and the past tense, making it feel as if it was primarily his story. We get to see the most of his inner conflict as he dealt with his own trauma and navigated uncharted waters in a familiar world. He wanted to be a better version of himself despite the darkness inside him and he went on a journey to find out what that meant. I liked discovering more depth to his character and it helped me to better understand him.

“Love and loyalty are not always the same thing. Loyalty is easy. Love is doing what is right, even when it is difficult.”

I loved getting to learn more about the side characters especially Odette and Jae. I think they both deserve their own spin off books because they’re amazing and have the most interesting back stories. We get to see the POVs of so many more characters in comparison to The Beautiful such as Bastien, Odette, Jae, Arjun and more. I was actually surprised that we don’t see Celine’s POV until around a quarter of the book. I liked reading from new perspectives even though at first it slowed the pace down too much.

The Damned didn’t hold back with the supernatural: vampires, werewolves, fey, goblins and more. We are introduced to the magical realms of the summery Sylvan Vale and the wintry Sylvan Wyld– equally dangerous despite their appearances. The plot became more about the greater picture than any one character’s goals which I liked but, as I mentioned earlier, too many components were introduced without being properly fleshed out. The conflict between the Brotherhood and the Fallen could have also felt more high stakes.

I really enjoyed The Damned but it felt like it was mainly setting the stage for the next book. I originally thought this series was a duology but it turns out there’s going to be a third book and I cannot wait!

Twitter Goodreads

Black Lives Matter |Free Palestine |Kashmir Bleeds|Junk Terror Bill

 

Book Tags · Uncategorized

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag- 2020 Edition!

Hello booksicles!

Today, I bring you the Mid-Year Freakout Tag where I review my reading in the first half of the year. I’m not sure who started the tag but it’s very popular with book bloggers and booktubers alike! I didn’t do it last year but it looks fun and I was tagged by Azrah from Az You Read so I decided to give it a go!

Best book(s) you’ve read so far in 2020

The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty: This is the last book of the Daevabad trilogy and it truly was a beautiful conclusion to the series that filled me up with every emotion imaginable.

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles: This book comes out in August but I was lucky enough to read a review copy of it and trust me when I say that this book is fabulous! It is inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and full of glitz, magic and drama- I loved it!

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020

The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty: This is the second book of the Daevabad trilogy and I’d say it’s not just the best sequel I’ve read in 2020 but the best sequel I’ve read EVER!

New release(s) you haven’t read but want to

  • The Silence of Bones by June Hur
  • Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto
  • A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
  • Parachutes by Kelly Yang

Most anticipated release(s) for the second half of the year

  • A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
  • The Burning God by R. F. Kuang
  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (I have a review copy of this one which I’m really excited to read)

Biggest disappointment

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace: This was a really anticipated read but it fell so flat for me. I didn’t find it interesting at all and couldn’t connect to the characters.

Biggest surprise

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas: I had no idea what to expect from this book but I actually quite liked it?! It was a fun read although it was far longer than necessary.

Favorite new to me author(s)

  • Janella Angeles
  • Intisar Khanani
  • Zoraida Córdova

Newest fictional crush

Uh I don’t have one actually.

New favorite character(s)

  • Nahri from the Daevabad trilogy: I admire Nahri and how smart and unyielding she is in extremely trying situations. She is also so kind and she always chooses what is right for others over what would benefit her.
  • Alizayd al Qahtani from the Daevabad trilogy: He really grows over the trilogy and has a tendency to always say the wrong thing but he’s also very sincere and has the best intentions.
  • Kallia from Where Dreams Descend: Kallia is spectacular in every way. I love her determination and flair for the dramatic!

A book that made you cry

Not a single book made me cry this year, in general it is very rare that books make me cry at all even though I am an emotional person. When I feel sad about something in a book I don’t think it manifests as tears but my heart physically hurts. That being said, the book that was closest to making me cry was The Empire of Gold.

A book that made you happy

Once Upon An Eid is an anthology full of short stories about celebrating Eid by Muslim authors and when I read in in Ramadan this year it filled me with joy!

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year

I bought a hardcover of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and it’s stunning I love it!

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Well there are quite a lot of books I couldn’t mention them all! Some review copies I need to read are:

  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
  • The Once and Future Witches.by Alix E. Harrow
  • Crowning Soul by Sahira Javaid

And here are some other books I hope to read during 2020:

  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
  • Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K. S. Villoso
  • Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

So that’s the tag! I found some new favourites in the first half of 2020 and I hope to read some more amazing books during the rest of the year too.

I tag Zainab @ Em’s Bookish Musings and anyone else who wants to give this tag a try.

What has your favourite book of 2020 so far been? Let me know in the comments!

Twitter Goodreads


Black Lives Matter |Free Palestine | Junk Terror Bill

Reviews · Uncategorized

In The Spirit of Friendship: Review of Forest of Souls

Thank you to Page Street Kids for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: Forest of Souls

Author: Lori M. Lee

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 4/5
  • Characters: 4.5/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 4.5/5

Forest of Souls was a magical read about the strength of friendship and developing self worth. It was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I really liked it!

The main character was Sirscha, a spy-in-training who discovers she is the first soulguide in living memory and the only one capable of restraining the vicious, dangerous Dead Wood. I loved her uncompromising fierceness, skill and strength- she was a force that you definitely would not want to be on the wrong side of!

No matter how hard Sirscha trained and how skilled she became most people never saw any value in her because of her low station. This resulted in a fear of never being enough and a desire to be worthy and seek external validation that drove her every action. These fears, of failure and disappointing those around us, are something I think that many people can relate to and it’s amazing seeing Sirscha start to realise that her worth isn’t tied to what others think of her. 

Another key aspect of this novel was unconditional friendship. I’ve never seen a YA fantasy that puts a friendship front and centre instead of a romance and it was a beautiful thing to behold. Saengo was Sirscha’s best friend and despite their differences, especially in rank, they were inseparable and would do anything for each other. Through all the trials and tribulations their friendship stood firm where others would have wavered and it gave them the strength to keep fighting for each other. My only wish is that Saengo gets more of an active role in the next book because I really would have liked to see more of her in action.

I’ve always been intrigued by magic systems in books and the system in Forest of Souls was one of the most interesting I’ve ever seen. The author has said that it was inspired by Hmong shamanism and it had a heavy emphasis on spirits and souls as the source of magic. It also had an elemental aspect with the five Shamanic Callings being fire, water, earth, wind and light. Separate to this there were also the Shadowblessed who could manipulate shadows. I loved how well fleshed out the system was and the fact that spirit familiars were necessary to channel the magic was probably my favourite part of it.

I loved the Dead Wood, the chilling forest of souls referenced by the title, as it was so morbid and visceral while also serving as a symbol for how hatred can endure and power can corrupt even the most well intentioned person. A large chunk of the book was spent in the Dead Wood and its surroundings which was great but I hope too see much more of the world in the sequel. Overall, Forest of Souls was a brilliant YA fantasy novel that is beautiful both inside and out.

Twitter Goodreads


Sereadipity supports Black Lives Matter and stands against racism and discrimination in all its forms. I intend to work harder to uplift Black voices and books by Black authors.

This carrd is constantly being updated with petitions, ways to donate, resources to educate ourselves and more. This thread by Myonna @itsmyoreads on Twitter has a list of videos by Black booktubers talking about Black Lives Matter, allyship and being Black in the book community that I’d recommend to watch and subscribe to their channels as well.

Interviews · Uncategorized

Sereadipity Interviews… Intisar Khanani!

Greetings, booksicles!

A while back I interviewed Intisar Khanani about Thorn her spellbinding retelling of The Goose Girl which came out earlier in the year. It is with great excitement that I share that interview with you today and I really appreciate the time Intisar took to answer my questions.

Here’s a bit about the book:

A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl.

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.

Interview:

Hello and thank you for doing this interview with me! Thorn is a retelling of The Goose Girl. Why do you like this fairy tale and therefore decide to retell it?

The Goose Girl is a rather strange story about a princess who goes off to marry her betrothed, has her identity stolen by her maid along the way, and happily goes off to be a goose girl upon arrival in her new land. She also has a talking horse (who never tells anyone what happened) and, in the original, can command the wind, though she apparently forgot to use this power to defend herself from the maid.

The story raises so many questions for me – mostly beginning with “Why?” Why not protect yourself from the maid? Why go off to be a servant without even attempting to reclaim your position? Why be complicit in your own silencing?

All these questions gave me lots of room to play, and to make the fairy tale my own while still remaining true to it. I loved the story growing up, even with all its plot holes and oddities, and so it was the perfect story to adopt when I decided to try my hand at writing a novel.

Tell us a bit about the protagonist, Alyrra, and her journey.

I wrote Alyrra in large part because I was sick and tired of seeing YA fantasy heroines who saved the day by transforming into warriors or superheroes or sorceresses – because, frankly, if that’s what it takes to save the day, we’re all in very big trouble. In trying to understand Alyrra further, I realized that the answer to one of the “why” questions above – why a princess would walk away from a position of privilege and power – was because she had never experienced it as such; she had never felt safe in her rank or title, so the opportunity to escape it would certainly appeal. And so, Alyrra comes from a history of abuse, something she struggles to overcome over the course of the book (because no, you can’t snap your fingers and get over it), and she saves the day by being true to herself and principles, and finding her own strength and voice. Honestly, I’m in awe of her.

[I’m in awe of Alyrra too!]

One of the main themes in the novel is justice and the many forms it can take. Why did you decide to explore this theme?

This was actually an issue I was really struggling with – not just justice, but mercy, and justice without mercy, and the line between justice and revenge – in the years that I was working on these revisions, and my questions found a natural home in this story. My first draft was a much lighter, fluffier book, but the story grew with me over the years, into what it is now.

Describe the prominent characters in Thorn as recipes.

Tough question! Augh!

Princess Alyrra (aka Thorn): Honey cakes, maybe? She’s naturally sweet and rather understated. Admittedly, she has a core of iron, but you shouldn’t put that in the recipe.

Prince Kestrin: Cinnamon bun inside a puzzle box. Seriously. There has to be a recipe for that somewhere.

Red Hawk (a thief lord): Tagine made with ghost peppers. Yeah, that’s not a recipe, but he’s down home and friendly and also hecka dangerous.

Sage (a friend): A nice bowl of lentil soup, no airs, all substance and warmth. You know, all told, I think Sage is the safest bet here.

Sorry if these were not quite the answers you were looking for… XD

[These were exactly the sort of answers I was looking for! And for anyone who doesn’t know, ghost peppers are some of the hottest in the world!]

Were there any specific cultures/ mythologies that inspired Thorn?

Not per se. I drew very, very lightly from specific North African cultures (and, actually, climate, flora, and fauna), but I wanted the kingdom of Menaiya to be more fantasy than a clear parallel to reality. Similarly, Alyrra’s homeland of Adania has only a passing resemblance to an old German hall, and only if you squint just so.

Are there any other fairy tales would you want to retell in the future?

So many! I am currently trying really hard to refrain from writing a gender-swapped Sleeping Beauty set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future, in which a young girl accidentally wakes up a Fae lord who was put in cryogenic sleep for Very Good Reasons. And I’ve also got a Red Riding Hood retelling beckoning me, featuring a military courier and a pack of enemy werewolves. So many books, so little time!

[Please write these stories Intisar, PLEASE!]

Thorn was originally self-published as an e-book. How were the experiences of self-publishing and traditional publishing different?

In a lot of ways, they were very similar, except that I had a team of support through my publishers. So, for example, I always go through multiple rounds of edits with beta readers and freelance editor. In this case, I did everything I could do with those folks, and then took my manuscript to my editor and her team in order to kick it up another notch.

With marketing, my UK publisher, Hot Key, was incredibly engaged and came up with some fantastic ways to reach and engage readers. HarperTeen was much more opaque, though I suspect a lot was going on out of sight. But I still had to do all the same marketing I would have done for an indie release, plus whatever else I could do – not a surprise, mind you! Whether you publish yourself or go the traditional route, authors nowadays are fully expected to engage in their own marketing.

Can you tell us a bit about The Theft of Sunlight? And will we get any more books featuring Alyrra?

The Theft of Sunlight features Rae, who is introduced at the end of Thorn via the included short story, The Bone Knife. In Theft, Rae heads to the capital city from her home, and somehow (strangely enough) finds herself serving Princess Alyrra as an attendant. (It is rather odd, but you know, I think there was an author involved in arranging that.) The story picks up within a week or so of Thorn ending, so we do get to see Alyrra (and Kestrin, and a few other friends) again, but all from Rae’s perspective as she takes up a few strands that were left loose at the end of the last book. I’m afraid I don’t have any more books featuring Alyrra as a point-of-view character – her story is largely told – but we will get to catch up with her through other folks’ eyes. 🙂

About the author:

Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. Prior to publishing her novels, Intisar worked as a public health consultant on projects relating to infant mortality and minority health, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy.

To find out about new releases, giveaways, and so forth, subscribe to Intisar’s monthly author newsletter.

Thank you again to Intisar Khanani for answering my questions!



Sereadipity supports Black Lives Matter and stands against racism and discrimination in all its forms. I intend to work harder to uplift Black voices and books by Black authors.

This carrd is constantly being updated with petitions, ways to donate, resources to educate ourselves and more. This thread by Myonna @itsmyoreads on Twitter has a list of videos by Black booktubers talking about Black Lives Matter, allyship and being Black in the book community that I’d recommend to watch and subscribe to their channels as well.

Reviews · Uncategorized

The Black Cat: Review of The Court of Miracles

Thank you to the author, Kester Grant, for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: The Court of Miracles

Author: Kester Grant

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 3/5
  • Writing: 3/5
  • Overall: 3/5

The Court of Miracles was a novel inspired by Les Misérables, set in an alternate, early 1800s Paris where the French Revolution had failed. There was a lot that I liked and enjoyed about the book but I also felt a lack of connection to the characters and the plot which lessened the overall impact for me.

The story followed Nina Thénardier for many years of her life, with a few time skips, who was a member of the Thieves’ Guild of The Court of Miracles constantly trying to protect those she loved. The Court of Miracles was basically a criminal underworld consisting of people cast out from and struggling in society, seeking the safety, protection and belonging they couldn’t find anywhere else. It was divided into nine guilds with different specialties for example The Guild of Thieves, The Guild of Smugglers, The Guild of Assassins, etc. Things like race, religion and even family ties made no difference in the Miracle Court, Nina herself was French-Algerian and many side characters were POC.

Nina was clever, agile and decisive, the best thief of her guild and known as ‘The Black Cat’. She often got herself into and out of dangerous situations and came up with complex plots to achieve her goals. There was no boundary, no obstacle she would overcome to protect and save her loved ones. I admired her survival instinct and bravery but there was something missing and I couldn’t bring myself to care. I think it’s because I found the writing style quite detached and sometimes even disjointed and I struggled to understand her feelings, motivations and thought processes. However, I did find her relationship with Ettie (her adopted sister) really sweet.

The mysterious Miracle Court with its rules, conflicts and lore was well fleshed out and I also liked how the book conveyed the grim depths of the struggles of the poor and contrasted it to the opulent indifference of the rich. The plot had multiple time skips and minimal explanation of what was happening in favour of explaining the world and history that made it very hard to follow and connect with, so much so that even the major plot twists at the end had little to no effect on me. However, I had no prior knowledge of Les Misérables so maybe if I did it would have helped, I’m not sure.

Overall, I liked The Court of Miracles but while it had the makings of a new favourite it fell short for me and I’m still not sure if I’ll want to read the sequel, however, if it sounds like an interesting read to you I’d still reccomend you to give it a try.

Twitter Goodreads


Sereadipity supports Black Lives Matter and stands against racism and discrimination in all its forms. I intend to work harder to uplift Black voices and books by Black authors.

This carrd is constantly being updated with petitions, ways to donate, resources to educate ourselves and more. This thread by Myonna @itsmyoreads on Twitter has a list of videos by Black booktubers talking about Black Lives Matter, allyship and being Black in the book community that I’d recommend to watch and subscribe to their channels as well.

 

Reviews · Uncategorized

Stolen Memories, Stolen Lives: Review of Incendiary

Thank you to Hodderscape for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I interviewed Zoraida Córdova for the Incendiary blog tour- read it here!

Book: Incendiary

Author: Zoraida Córdova

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 4.5/5
  • Characters: 4.5/5
  • Writing: 4.5/5
  • Overall: 4.5/5

Incendiary was an action-packed fantasy set in a world inspired by 15th century Spain, reimagining the Inquisition. While it had many of the tropes that are common in YA fantasy such as a main character with rare/ special powers it didn’t feel boring or unoriginal to me and managed to make those common tropes exciting.

One of my favourite aspects of the book was the magic system. It was heavily based on the senses and the mind which is not something I see often (most magic systems I’ve seen are more physical or elemental). In the book, the kingdom of Puerto Leones conquered neighbouring Memoria and sought to wipe out its magically gifted people, the Moria. They had magical abilities of four types: Robári (can take people’s memories), Persuári (can influence and bring people’s emotions to life), Ventári (can tell if someone is lying) and Illusionári (capable of conjuring illusions). Moria with no magic were called Olvidados

Moria were feared, hunted, persecuted and killed by the crown of Puerto Leones and the Robári were the most feared of them all. Which brings us to our main character, Renata Convida, a Robári who was kidnapped by the King’s Justice as a child and was used to steal memories from royal enemies. Memories that contained information leading to the deaths of thousands of Moria. However, the Moria rebels (called the Whispers) rescued her and let her join their ranks but they never let her have their trust. When Dez, the commander of her unit and the only person who truly trusted and cared about Ren, was captured, Ren had to go under cover and complete his mission no matter the cost.

Ren’s character development was amazing and I really felt sorry for her. Her mind was filled with so many stolen memories yet she couldn’t remember so many of her own. Her people would never forget her actions that caused so much harm and pain and she lived with the burden of that guilt even though her actions were the result of manipulation as a child. Her relationship with the King’s Justice was so twisted- how could she hate him when he was good to her? How could she love him when he made her do monstrous deeds she didn’t understand at the time? This conflict inside her led to her need to prove she was capable and worthy of trust and every time she failed the pain deepened

I did predict the majority of the plot twists but they were still quite thrilling and there were still a couple of shocking twists I didn’t see coming. Incendiary was a gripping fantasy full of espionage and betrayal that you don’t want to miss.

Twitter Goodreads


Sereadipity supports Black Lives Matter and stands against racism and discrimination in all its forms. I intend to work harder to uplift Black voices and books by Black authors.

This carrd is constantly being updated with petitions, ways to donate, resources to educate ourselves and more. This thread by Myonna @itsmyoreads on Twitter has a list of videos by Black booktubers talking about Black Lives Matter, allyship and being Black in the book community that I’d recommend to watch and subscribe to their channels as well.

Reviews · Uncategorized

The Golden Dragon: Review of Don’t Call the Wolf

Thank you to HarperTeen for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: Don’t Call the Wolf

Author: Aleksandra Ross

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 3.5/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 3/5

Don’t Call the Wolf was a story inspired by Polish mythology with all the wisp-like trappings of a fairy tale. The ambiance of the monster-ridden forest and the themes of fate, loyalty and kindness drew me in and I was enjoying it until the last few chapters where I felt let down by an ending that was too rushed and didn’t make that much sense.

Ren was the human-lynx shifter queen of her forest, fighting a losing battle against the monsters and the Golden Dragon plaguing her lands. She was loved by the animals she presided over and reviled by the humans in the nearby village as a monster. The help she needed came in the form of a dragon slayer called Lukasz– the last of the Wolf-Lords. Seventeen years ago his family had fled their home as the Golden Dragon descended upon it and ever since, one by one, his brothers returned in an attempt to slay it only to be never seen again.

I liked the fairy tale structure of the book with the regular flashbacks to Lukasz’s brothers and the story behind each one’s disappearance. It created an ominous sense of fate and inevitability that constantly made me wonder if their quest was futile as so many had failed before them which kept me on edge. I also loved the aspects from Slavic folklore such as the strzygi, nawia and even Baba Yaga.

My main issue was that the ending of the book felt so contrived and rushed in what was attempt to surprise the reader and invert the usual tropes but just didn’t make any sense and disappointed me.

I would recommend Don’t Call the Wolf to anyone who loves stories inspired by fairy tales and folklore or books that explore themes such as what makes a person a monster and if people can be born evil or if they are made but be warned that the ending may disappoint.

Twitter Goodreads

Sereadipity supports Black Lives Matter and stands against racism and discrimination in all its forms. I intend to work harder to uplift Black voices and books by Black authors.

This carrd is constantly being updated with petitions, ways to donate, resources to educate ourselves and more. This thread by Myonna @itsmyoreads on Twitter has a list of videos by Black booktubers talking about Black Lives Matter, allyship and being Black in the book community that I’d recommend to watch and subscribe to their channels as well.

 

 

Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

10 SFF Books by Muslim Authors

Ramadan Kareem my booksicles!

It’s my favourite month of the year- Ramadan! Which means it’s also the perfect time for some brilliant fantasy and sci-fi recommendations by Muslim authors for your #MuslimShelfSpace. Some are books that I’ve read and enjoyed and others are from my tbr and they are all perfect for the Ramadan Readathon hosted by Nadia at Headscarves and Hardbacks.

1) An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

  • A gripping read full of magic, jinn, plot twists galore and a fight for freedom. But be warned: Sabaa Tahir will kill your darlings. The other books in the series are A Torch Against the Night and A Reaper at the Gates with the final book, A Sky Beyond the Storm being released this December!

2) We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

  • This one is set in a fantasy world inspired by Ancient Arabia where a lost artefact must be found in order to restore magic along with a fun cast of characters and a good bit of enemies to lovers. The sequel, We Free the Stars, will be released next January.

3) The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty

  • A con woman meets a djinn warrior in 18th century Cairo and they go to a city called Daevabad where six djinn tribes reside. The other books in the trilogy are called The Kingdom of Copper and The Empire of Gold which will come out this June!

4) Thorn by Intisar Khanani

  • A stunning retelling of The Goose Girl fairy tale where a girl succeeds by finding her inner strength and sticking to her core beliefs. It’s a standalone but the author has also written a series called The Sunbolt Chronicles.

5) The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

  • It’s 2099. The world has been engulfed by the sea, life continues underwater and Leyla McQueen decides to compete in the London Submersible Marathon in a bid to win her father’s freedom. This book is the first in a duology.

6) The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

  • A historical fantasy set in 1491 Grenada about a flight for freedom and the importance of tolerance and love. G. Willow Wilson is also the author of the Ms. Marvel comics and Alif the Unseen.

7) Mirage by Somaiya Daud

  • Mirage explores themes of colonialism, erasure, appropriation and more in a Moroccan-inspired setting following the story of eighteen-year-old Amani. The sequel, Court of Lions, will be released this August.

8) The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad

  • This book is set in Noor, a beautiful city along the Silk road and is, in the author’s own words, about ‘women being women in the most fantastic ways possible’.

9) The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan

  • The Companions of Hira fight the dark power of the Talisman and search for a text called The Bloodprint. This book is the first instalment of The Khorasan Archives with the others being The Black Khan,  The Blue Eye and The Bladebone being released this year. 

10) The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

  • Described in the summary as ‘a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair’ and about some children who are sucked into a game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand. The sequel coming out this August is called The Battle.

What are your favourite SFF books my Muslim authors? Let me know in the comments!

Twitter Goodreads

 

Interviews · Uncategorized

Sereadipity Interviews… Liz Lawson: Rapid Fire Style!

Hello my booksicles!

I hope you’re all staying safe in these trying times. Today, The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson is out in the world and in celebration I’m doing a rapid fire Q&A with her about her debut novel. Her book launch, along with everything else, had to be cancelled (although there is a virtual launch today) and now more than any other time it’s important to band together and show our support.

Here’s a bit about The Lucky Ones:

May is a survivor. But she doesn’t feel like one. She feels angry. And lost. And alone. Eleven months after the school shooting that killed her twin brother, May still doesn’t know why she was the only one to walk out of the band room that day. No one gets what she went through–no one saw and heard what she did. No one can possibly understand how it feels to be her.

Zach lost his old life when his mother decided to defend the shooter. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends bailed, and now he spends his time hanging out with his little sister…and the one faithful friend who stuck around. His best friend is needy and demanding, but he won’t let Zach disappear into himself. Which is how Zach ends up at band practice that night.

The same night May goes with her best friend to audition for a new band.

Which is how May meets Zach.

And how Zach meets May.

And how both might figure out that surviving could be an option after all.

Interview:

What is your favourite quote from The Lucky Ones?

“People aren’t just the sum of their mistakes. The world isn’t black and white – the best thing you can do for yourself is to look at the spaces between those poles to see that extremes aren’t useful to anyone.”

Whilst writing: music or no music?

Music! It’s a huge part of how I get into the mood of my books.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Plantser! (Although more a pantser than a plotter if I had to choose between those two!).

What was your most interesting piece of research you did for the Lucky Ones?

I read the book COLUMBINE, which is not light reading, but was incredibly eye opening.

What is your favourite writing snack?

Coffee!! Always coffee (not actually a food, but SO NECESSARY).

What was the main inspiration behind The Lucky Ones?

All the survivors of school shootings and all the kids who are faced with a world where shootings are a reality.

What were your favourite books as a child?

  • The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman

What was your favourite book of 2019:

How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow.

And your most anticipated book of 2020?

The Cousins by Karen McManus (which I actually got the opportunity to read already and it’s SO GOOD).

Who is the author that most inspires you?

Leigh Bardugo. She’s succcccch a badass.

Books you would recommend for fans of The Lucky Ones:

  • How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow
  • The Truth Project by Dante Medema (out fall 2020)

What is the main message for readers to take away from The Lucky Ones?

I’d love for people to get a strong message of hope — that there is light on the other side of darkness.

A fun fact about one of the characters in The Lucky Ones:

Lucy is loosely based on an old friend of mine!

What came first: the characters or the names?

The characters!

Were there other contenders for the title of The Lucky Ones?

Nope that was the only title from the start, and I’m so glad it stuck.

Describe your upcoming release, In Silent Seas We Drown, in one sentence:

A story about addiction and secrets and the ripple effects those things can have on both family and friends.

Sum up both May and Zach in a few words each:

  • May: angry lost lonely
  • Zach: bewildered anxious tentatively hopeful

About the author:

Liz Lawson has been writing for most of her life in one way or another. She has her Masters in Communications with a Concentration in Rhetoric from Villanova University, and has written for a variety of publications including PASTE MAGAZINE. When she’s not writing, she works as a music supervisor for film & television.

Liz resides in Los Angeles, CA, where she lives with an adorable toddler, a fantastic husband, and two VERY bratty cats. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @lzlwsn.

Thank you so much to Liz Lawson for taking the time to answer my questions!

Twitter Goodreads