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!

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Black Lives Matter |Free Palestine | Junk Terror Bill

Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water

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

Book: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water

Author: Zen Cho

Year Published: 2020

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

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water was a novella pitched as a found family wuxia fantasy. It was a fun read with a fair bit of humour but it also had the themes of war, religion and identity woven in. 

The book really focused on the found family trope and I really liked the ragtag group of bandits and the strong bonds between them. I loved Tet Sang and Guet Imm so much and the way their relationship developed was perfect in every way. However, I couldn’t connect with any other characters apart from them and I wish the side characters got more ‘screen time’ too.

Although the book is described as wuxia there was definitely less martial arts action and more focus on world building, the dynamics between the characters, their emotions and how they were dealing with past traumas. Personally, I liked that about the novella but if you’re looking for an action-packed book this might not be for you.

I found the writing style quite hard to follow, some of the phrasing felt off to me and I had to go back and reread bits of it to understand what was happening. However, I really liked the dialogue and banter between the characters- quite a few scenes made me laugh. Even though it was a novella it packed in a lot of world building but in an interesting way that gradually revealed more about the world, the war, the customs and the religious beliefs.

I would definitely recommend this book as it’s a short, fun but also meaningful read however I do wish some aspects of characterization and plot had a bit more depth.

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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.

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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.

 

#SixforSunday · Uncategorized

#SixforSunday: STRANDED!

Hello my booksicles!

#SixforSunday is a weekly meme hosted by A Little But A Lot. This week’s theme is, ‘characters I’d like to be stranded with’– I’m going to assume it means stranded on a desert island!

If I had to be stranded with a character of my choice, I’d choose a character who firstly, has the right skills for survival/ escape and secondly, would be interesting to talk to so the whole experience isn’t too boring. So here are the characters I’d choose:

1) Silas from Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

I think Silas is awesome- he definitely ticks the ‘interesting to talk to’ box and I’m sure he’d have lots of exciting tales to tell. Also, as a demon he has many supernatural abilities that would aid our survival and he wouldn’t even have to eat so there’d be less strain on resources!

2) Nina Zenik from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Nina is amazing and I wouldn’t mind being stranded if it was with her. And we’d definitely survive- I have no doubt about that!

3) Lazlo Strange from Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I’d want to be stranded with Lazlo because he’d be able to tell a lot of interesting, whimsical stories but he also seems practical enough for survival.

4) Csorwe from The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

Csorwe would probably come up with a reckless, seemingly impossible plan to get off the island and we’d probably come near to death many times but ultimately survive.

5) Lia Mara from A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Lia Mara is smart and she doesn’t mind doing what needs to be done so together we’d make a detailed survival plan and once that’s in place we’d just chat about books.

6) Kell Maresh from A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Kell is an Antari and all his blood commands would be very useful for survival. And he could even teleport us to that same island in a parallel universe and it might not be a desert island there and we could escape!

Which characters would you want to be stranded with on a desert island? Which characters would you hate being stranded with? Let me know in the comments!

Twitter | Goodreads
Reviews · Uncategorized

Mini-view: The Never Tilting World

Book: The Never Tilting World

Author: Rin Chupeco

Year Published: 2019

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

∗ It was a climate fiction fantasy novel about a world called Aeon split between permanent day and permanent night with extreme weather and dangerous magical creatures.

∗ I absolutely loved it- it was so imaginative and action-packed!

∗ The world building was really well fleshed out. I liked learning how both the day and night sides coped with their situations.

∗ I loved the backstory. It was inspired by Assyrian mythology and was really intriguing.

∗ The plot was full of surprises and I never had a bored moment! I liked watching the two story lines converge.

Odessa was a goddess who lived on the night side of Aeon ruling a city called Aranth. She became braver and more sure of herself as the story progressed. Her character arc was all about fighting the allure of power and how it nearly corrupted her.

Lan was Odessa’s bodyguard. She was fierce, strong and disciplined and she had PTSD after a traumatic experience. I liked how she started to come to terms with what happened to her and open up her heart.

Haidee (my favourite character) was also a goddess who lived on the day side of Aeon and ruled the Golden City. Her and Odessa were twins but neither of them knew. She was really smart as a mechanic, extremely caring and definitely reminded me of myself at times.

Arjun lived in the desert on the day side of Aeon and he went with Haidee on her journey. He was an amputee and also really smart and resourceful. My favourite thing about him was how he pretended to be all gruff but his softer side gradually emerged as the novel progressed.

∗ Both the romances were adorable and flawlessly done.

∗ Even though the climate change was caused by a magical disaster the message of being responsible for the damage we cause to our world applies to us all.

∗ It’s a brilliant, creative novel- I’d definitely recommend it!

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.

To find out more about the book, check out this interview I did with the author, Rin Chupeco.

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Interviews · Uncategorized

Sereadipity Interviews… Rin Chupeco!

Hello my bookish dolugongs! I’m so excited to share this interview I did with the lovely Rin Chupeco about The Never Tilting World. You can read my review of the book here!


About The Never Tilting World:

Publication date: 15th October 2019

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.
Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.


Hello Rin, thank you so much for doing this interview with me! Climate change and the balance between humans and nature are very important themes in The Never Tilting World. Why did you decide to base the novel on these themes and frame them in a fantasy setting?

I live in a country (the Philippines) that is extremely susceptible to the effects of climate change, and would be very vulnerable should bad policies be enacted. I haven’t read a lot of YA books that focused on this particular aspect and thought there should be more books that reflected that reality, which I know is a weird thing to say when it’s very obviously a fantasy book. But I’ve always found that fantasy can take aspects of reality and put readers at a respectable distance from those issues, enough that the themes can have some measure of objectivity that the readers can later choose to unpack once they’re ready to deal with them personally. Someone else actually suggested that initial visual – that of a world torn between night and day – and I was excited by the idea of taking that image and turning it into a story, of making it a conflict that people can relate to. Eyeball planets are actually a thing in science, and hypotheses suggest that they can actually sustain life, albeit very limitedly.

I loved the world building in the book, especially the history of the goddesses and the story behind why they always had to be twins. What inspired you to create and integrate these fascinating legends into the novel?

A lot of the myth I took from Assyrian mythology, primarily from the legend of the goddess Inanna, who obviously has the same name as the very first goddess in the book and is the ancestress to my goddesses Haidee and Odessa. I took a very general summary of that mythology and then added my own spin to it by making them less about being a revered, distant goddesses of worship and more like your average girls who also just happen to have exceptionally powerful abilities capable of wrecking the planet if they so chose – and, as the story reveals, they in fact did choose to!

If there’s one thing about this novel it’s that it’s incredibly imaginative. Everything from sand deserts to rainbow haired goddesses to shadow demons to milking giant sandworms. Where do you get such awesome ideas from?

I seriously have no clue! Ideas pop into my head on the daily, traipsing in and out with impunity into my brain because I never bothered to change the lock. With the goddesses and their rainbow hair – well, I’ve always been a huge fan of anime, and the joke is that you can spot who the main character is in the first episode if they have differently colored hair. So I just really doubled down on that. Dolugongs, for example, are probably just a spin on my pets, except I tried to think of the coolest but most inappropriate/ inconvenient pet to have, and came up with the dolphin-dugong hybrid. Giant sand worms probably came from my interest in cryptozoology, where some massive worms are said to live in deserts and eat people.

The Never Tilting World is written from four different points of view, which perspective did you enjoy writing the most?

I hate to admit it, but I like writing Arjun’s POV best because he is the most like me. He’s really fond of acting tough because acting tough is how he’s survived so far, but at his center lives a very soft cinnamon roll of a boy who really just wants friends and falls very easily for the person who is nicest to them. He also has a bit of my snark – I usually describe him as a Hufflepuff who’s convinced he’s a Gryffindor, and I think that’s very accurate. That said, there’s a little bit of myself in all four – Haidee who can be a bit bossy, romance-loving Odessa, and Lan who really hates asking other people for help.

If Odessa, Lan, Haidee and Arjun lived in the modern world, what would their hobbies be?

Odessa would be an avid romance book blogger and would be The Ripped Bodice’s biggest customer. Haidee would still be a gearhead and work in auto shops and would absolutely have her own car that she’d built with her own hands. Lan would be very into fitness and martial arts, and would have tried to make a go for the Olympics at some earlier point in her life. Arjun would probably just like doing as little work as possible, staying in and playing video games (but would be horribly embarrassed for anyone to learn he helps out at soup kitchens on Saturdays)

Do you have any recommendations for other climate change related books?

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi! I don’t know if The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin counts, but I wanna give that a shoutout all the same!

Can you give us any hints as to what to expect from the sequel to The Never Tilting World?

Indiana Jones-style adventures. The arrival of more characters you’ve only been shortly introduced to in the first book. A lot more unraveling of the facts behind the goddess myths and their repercussions. More demonic shadows seeking blood, more politics. Arjun complaining about everything, and Haidee shutting him up. Unexpected deaths. And, as always, more chances for redemption!


About the author:

Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.

She is represented by Rebecca Podos of the Helen Rees Agency. She is also fond of speaking in the third person, and may as well finish this short bio in this manner. While she does not always get to check her Goodreads page, she does answer questions posed to her here as promptly as she is able to. Find her at the following places instead:

Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Blog

For updates, events, and new releases, sign up for her newsletter at http://www.rinchupeco.com/newsletter.


Thank you so much again to Rin Chupeco for doing this interview with me- it was an honour!

Goodreads | Twitter

Blog Tours · Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

7 Books About Royalty (Kingdom Cold Blog Tour)

Hello my bookish barnacles! Welcome to my second stop on the Kingdom Cold Blog Tour where I talk about seven amazing books about royalty. If there’s one thing that Kingdom Cold has a lot of it’s kings, queens, princesses and princes so if you like these books, Kingdom Cold is for you!


About the book:

Title: Kingdom Cold
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Publisher: Self-published
Publication date: 14 February 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis:
Attempted murder, that’s how sixteen-year-old Princess Charlotte’s engagement starts. It seems like the only thing she has in common with Prince Young of Vires is their mutual discontent. When her kingdom’s attacked, Charlotte’s parents renegotiate her hand in marriage to a handsome stranger with a sinister plan. With the people Charlotte loves dying around her, and her kingdom’s future at stake, the only person she can turn to is the prince she betrayed. But, should she save her kingdom or her heart? One must fall.

Book links:
Amazon |Goodreads


My own quote graphics:


7 Books About Royalty:

(1) The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas:

This series is about a queen trying to take back her kingdom from the people who stole it from her and it’s full of royalty. Throughout the series we see both Aelin and also Dorian develop from quite immature, carefree princesses and princes to wise, just queens and kings.

(2) Descendant of the Crane by Joan He:

Descendant of the Crane is a brilliant Chinese-inspired fantasy about a smart and cunning princess called Yan Hesina who embraced her role as queen when her father died so that she could discover his murderer. It is a fantastic read full of mystery and court intrigue! Read my review here.

(3) The Beholder by Anna Bright:

An alternate history novel where Selah, the Seneschal-elect of Potomac, went on a voyage to visit various princes and choose a suitor to marry. It is a light read that I would recommend to romance fans or people who love fairy tales. Read my review here.

(4) We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal:

We Hunt the Flame is set in a world inspired by ancient Arabia and it was about a hunter called Zafira and a prince called Nasir go on a quest to save their world from an ancient evil. It is worth a read for anyone looking for a diverse fantasy. Read my review here.

(5) The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty:

This book is set in 18th century Cairo and it’s not about human royalty but djinn royalty who lived in the magical city of Daevabad. Full of scheming, betrayals, and rich world building, The City of Brass was a book about royalty with a fresh twist. Read my review here.

(6) And I Darken by Kiersten White:

And I Darken is one of my favourite books and it is a reimagined historical story based on Vlad the Impaler. Lada Dragwlya did not fit into the stereotype of a princess in her time. She was unapologetically brutal and ruthless and her only goal was exacting her vengeance and reclaiming her homeland, Wallachia, for her own. This book isn’t just a book about royalty but a book about a girl trying to make her place in a world where every single person was against her and where she had to fight twice and hard and be twice as cruel to get what she wanted.

(7) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh:

This was a retelling of the classical One Thousand and One Nights tale where a girl, Shahrzad, had to tell the Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid, stories every night so that he wouldn’t kill her by morning. It was a cleverly-crafted story with multi-faceted characters and a gripping plot.


About the author:

Brittni Chenelle currently lives in Seoul, Korea, which inspires her multicultural fantasy books. Her favourite genres to read and write are young adult fantasy, young adult romance, fairytale retellings, and young adult dystopian novels. She’s very passionate about equal representation and makes a point to include characters from different backgrounds and cultures in her fantasy stories. Here are five fun facts about Brittni:

  1. She lives in South Korea. It’s true. She does most of her updates in the morning or at night to account for the time difference. She also infuses most of her novels with her observations about Korean culture.
  2. She’s a Type 1 Diabetic. She uses an insulin pump for survival and refers to her diabetes as “Beetie” which is what inspired her children’s book “Life with Beetie”. When she wants something from her parents she tells them, “My Beetie hurts.” It’s a trick that has never failed her.
  3. She doesn’t really BELIEVE in fiction. Despite all the; Dragons, Elves, and Magic present in her novel “Involuted the Tale of the Red Ribbon Tree”, Brittni INSISTS that it’s a true story.
  4. She’s OBSESSED with dark chocolate. She made me put that in and would also like me to inform you (on an unrelated note) that her birthday is in May.
  5. Sorry guys, she’s married. If you ask her, she’ll tell you her husband saved her life but every time someone asks “how?” she gives a different reason. I’ve overheard her give about 4 different reasons, but I bet she has more. He must be an amazing guy.

Author links:
Author website (and newsletter) |Blog |Goodreads |Instagram |Facebook |Twitter


Blog Tour Schedule:

Thank you to Caffeine Book Tours for choosing me to do this tour!


What are your favourite books about royalty? Let me know in the comments!

Goodreads| Twitter

Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Resurrectionist of Caligo

Book: The Resurrectionist of Caligo

Authors: Wendy Trimboli, Alicia Zaloga

Year Published: 2019

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

The Resurrectionist of Caligo was a Victorian fantasy and murder mystery with strong themes of medicine, grief and illness. It had a promising premise and although I liked the ideas in it, I felt slightly let down by it at the same time.

Roger Weathersby was a resurrectionist– a person who unlawfully unearthed corpses to sell on to medical schools. However, when he one day discovered a strange and horrifying corpse he began to follow the clues surrounding a string of terrible yet similar murders along with the help of his former friend, princess Sibylla, and together they went down a dark and dangerous path from which there was no return.

I liked the way Roger’s character was developed because although at first glance he seemed like a careless rogue he was actually a really kind person who just wasn’t very good at dealing with authority and had a knack for getting himself into messy situations. I liked the way he looked out for Ada and her mother.

Sibylla was interesting because she could seem petty at times but she did care deeply for her people. My only problem with her was that she wasn’t particularly memorable in any way. Now, when I think about the book I can’t think of one thing she did that really stood out to me or was very admirable. The dynamic between Roger and Sibylla was… weird. They did like (maybe love?) each other and though their relationship did grow stronger once more I felt like it didn’t really go anywhere.

Also, this novel had major pacing issues. I’m pretty sure around 68% of the way through it I found myself wondering whether the main story was going to get started yet, then realising to my horror that I’d already surpassed over half the book. It was extremely slow at the start and then at the end there was a few plot twists and reveals and that was it. The ending was ambiguous and while I sometimes appreciate books that are open-ended I didn’t like this one because it didn’t give me any sense of conclusion or leave me with any implications or thoughts to ponder over.

The Resurrectionist of Caligo is a creative yet flawed read. I think it’s worthwhile giving it a go- just don’t go in with very high expectations.

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

Goodreads| Twitter

 

Reviews · Uncategorized

Beware the Jabberwock! Review of Wonderland

Book: Wonderland

Editors: Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane

Year Published: 2019

Overall Rating: 3.75 stars

Wonderland was a magical anthology full of short stories inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. All the stories managed to capture the wondrous yet morbid whimsy of Wonderland as they were full of imagination and followed no rules. It was a mixed bag– some were amazing and some not so much. Here’s a brief summary of the stories and my thoughts on them:

Alice in Armour by Jane Yolen- 3 stars:

This was an amusing poem which I liked but it didn’t greatly impress me.

Wonders Never Cease by Robert Shearman- 2.5 stars:

“Just because love dies, it doesn’t mean you can’t go on.”

This story was about life, love and death and even though I understood it was trying to convey a deep message I thought the writing was confused and just generally muddled and I didn’t enjoy it.

There Were No Birds to Fly by M.R. Carey- 5 stars:

“If you follow the rules… you’ll live a whole lot longer”

This was so wonderfully creepy and mysterious and I did not see the ending coming. I liked how the narrator of the story was clearly hiding something and their intentions were gradually revealed. Also, it gave me very strong Birdbox vibes so if you liked that book/ movie you will probably like this.

The White Queen’s Pawn by Genevieve Cogman- 4 stars:

The White Queen’s Pawn was quite short and not much happened but it still had an impact. I loved how it slowly went from a seemingly normal situation to something scary and macabre!

Dream Girl by Cavan Scott- 5 stars:

This one started off in Wonderland, from the perspective of the Hatter, and ended on a very unexpected and refreshing plot twist. I loved it! Furthermore, I appreciated how the ‘Alice character’ didn’t fit the visual stereotypes surrounding her.

Good Dog, Alice! by Juliet Marillier- 4.5 stars:

When a girl called Dorothea calls her dog ‘Alice’, she doesn’t realise how useful her pet will become. This was another short story with an ending that came out of the blue but it was also quite satisfying.

The Hunting of the Jabberwock by Jonathan Green- 4 stars:

As the title suggests, this story was inspired by the ‘Jabberwocky’ poem and was about a young man trying to slay the Jabberwocky to earn his glory but comes to some unsettling realisations. I liked how the story included the whimsical nonsense language from the ‘Jabberwocky’ poem.

About Time by George Mann- 3.5 stars:

This story was about how our fears can affect our realities and the power of believing that something is real. It also had quite a sweet ending.

Smoke ’em if You Got ’em by Angela Slatter- 3 stars:

This one took Alice to the Wild West and while I liked the ideas behind it and the direct writing style it just didn’t create much of an impact on me.

Vanished Summer Glory by Rio Youers- 4 stars:

Vanished Summer Glory was a poignant story about grief, loss and love and it was really touching and quite saddening to read.

Black Kitty by Catriona Ward- 3 stars:

It was quite weird and I still don’t quite understand what on Earth went on in this one but I guess it gets credit for creativity!

The Night Parade by Laura Mauro- 4.5 stars:

This one was inspired by Japanese mythology which was intriguing and original. I also liked how the ending left me with so many theories and thoughts about all the implied things that could have caused the things that happened.

What Makes a Monster by L.L. McKinney- 3 stars:

What Makes a Monster was set in the author’s A Blade so Black universe and it was about some rather cool monster hunters. At the start I thought I was going to enjoy this story very much but it didn’t impress me as much as I thought it would although it was still good.

The White Queen’s Dictum by James Lovegrove- 4.5 stars:

This one had a lovely hint of supernatural and while I saw the plot twist coming I enjoyed the dramatic irony of it. It was based on the idea that ‘impossible things’ can sometimes be more real than you first think.

Temp Work by Lilith Saintcrow- 2.5 stars:

Temp Work was heavily based on sci-fi but I didn’t enjoy it because the plot didn’t interest me.

Eat Me, Drink Me by Alison Littlewood- 2 stars:

An utterly weird and confusing story and my least favourite in the anthology.

How I Comes to be the Treacle Queen by Cat Rambo- 3.5 stars:

This story was extremely imaginative with a strong narrative voice and I was satisfied with the way it ended. I also liked how it explored previously uncharted territory in Wonderland.

Six Impossible Things by Mark Chadbourn- 3 stars:

It was quite touching and nostalgic tale and I liked how it included the history behind the original ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ book.

Revolution in Wonder by Jane Yolen- 3.5 stars:

Another humorous, clever poem which concluded the anthology nicely!

Overall, this was a really interesting read and I liked reading all of the different takes on Wonderland. I’m not going to lie- I hate Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the animated Disney adaptation gave me nightmares as a child. However, this anthology makes me feel like giving the books (and the movies) another chance!

Thank you to Titan Books for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Interviews · Uncategorized

Sereadipity Interviews… Annie Sullivan!

Hi, hello! I’m honoured to share this interview which I did with the amazing Annie Sullivan about her latest release, Tiger Queen. You can read my review of the book here!


About Tiger Queen:

Publication date: 10th September 2019

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.


Hello and thank you for doing this interview with me! Tiger Queen is a retelling of ‘The Lady, Or The Tiger?’. Which elements of the short story did you adapt and include in your novel?

Yes! Tiger Queen is heavily inspired by that short story, and I kept a great deal of the original story. Everything from the king throwing the princess’ lover into the arena to the princess having to help choose what door gets opened made it into my version. But I also included a lot of new elements in my novel, like the fact that the society is running out of water. Plus, the original story ends with a cliffhanger. In my version, I give the story the ending it always should have had!

The world that the book is set in has very interesting and unique customs, legends and beliefs. What were the inspirations behind these various cultures and traditions?

I love coming up with new creatures. I often do a lot of research into what animals and insects live in a certain environment, and I then I see how I can twist them so they belong in a fantasy setting. For example, I created Grieving Spiders, which are so named because if you get bitten by one, everyone around you will be grieving because you’ll die. So overall, the setting was inspired by the creatures that live in desserts, but it was also inspired by the time I spent in Antarctica. Believe it or not, Antarctica is actually one of the world’s largest desserts because it is so dry, and I wrote a lot of Tiger Queen while I was there. I simply replaced the endless stretches of snow with sand. However, since I was writing about the desert, I worked with a sensitivity reader just to ensure that I didn’t delve into any harmful stereotypes of desert cultures.

Kateri was a brave, strong character who went on a great journey of self-discovery. What inspired her character and what were the challenges of writing her?

I loved writing Kateri because she is so strong. She was practically born with a sword in her hand and won’t back down from a fight. She’s fiercely loyal and a little bit stubborn. I think she gets those elements from me. I loyal to a fault and can be stubborn when I think I’m right. But overall, her strength was inspired by the landscape she lives in because you have to be strong in order to survive the Achran desert.

I would say the challenge of writing such a strong character is making her relatable and giving her a softer side that can still come through. It takes her a while to open up, but Kateri eventually learns to trust others.

Did you have to do a lot of research before writing Tiger Queen? What was your main method of research and what interesting things did you find out?

A lot of the research I did was into what types of creatures live in the desert. I had so much fun taking actual insects and twisting them into something new and dangerous. I also did some research into clothing and food that would be common in the desert. Outside of that, I made a lot of it since it is a fantasy world.

How do you write? Do you carefully outline or discover the story as you go? Was writing this book a different experience from writing your other book, A Touch of Gold?

I’m a total “panster,” meaning I fly by the seat of my pants. I don’t outline. I like to discover the story right along with the reader. Sometimes that means I write myself into a corner, but then I go back and start again until I get it right. I might know where the story is going to end up, but I don’t always know how we’re going to get there until we do.

And I would say this book was very different. Just the fact that there’s no real magic involved made it easier to write because magic complicates things—who has it, how you get it, how can it be used, etc.

Which books would you recommend to people who enjoyed Tiger Queen?

What a fun question! I think people who love Tiger Queen will love books like:


About the author:

Annie Sullivan is a Young Adult author from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has been featured in Curly Red Stories and Punchnels. She loves fairy tales, everything Jane Austen, and traveling and exploring new cultures. When she’s not off on her own adventures, she’s teaching classes at the Indiana Writers Center and working as the Copy Specialist at John Wiley and Sons, Inc. publishing company, having also worked there in Editorial and Publicity roles. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram (@annsulliva).

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Thank you so much to Annie Sullivan for doing this interview with me- it was a pleasure!

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