Reviews · Uncategorized

Monster Princess: Review of Girl, Serpent, Thorn

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

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


A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

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.

Have you read Girl, Serpent, Thorn? Who was your favourite character? Let me know in the comments!

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Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Silence of the Girls

Book: The Silence of the Girls

Author: Pat Barker

Year Published: 2018

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

The Silence of the Girls was a moving retelling that focused on what the women had to endure whilst recounting the events of The Iliad by Homer. It wasn’t as breathtaking as other Greek mythology retellings I’ve read (such as Circe by Madeline Miller) but it was still a rather powerful read.

The book is primarily told from the perspective of Briseis. She was the queen of Lyrnessus until Achilles sacked the city and killed every male- young or old. And what happened to the women of Lyrnessus? They all became slaves to the men who killed their families and destroyed their home. Briseis became Achilles’ ‘war prize’, concubine and slave.

Seeing the events of the Trojan War through Briseis’ eyes was interesting because in tales of Greek mythology everything is so focused on The Trials and Triumphs of the Great and Powerful Heroes that no one seems to care about the women, silently suffering in the background.  Through Briseis’ inner thoughts, feelings and fears a whole new side to these Great and Powerful Heroes was revealed. A side that saw women as ‘war prizes’ to be awarded, used and passed on as one pleased, as objects that existed to serve as opposed to human beings with rights and lives that they were crushing every second of every day. Because no one sang songs about the women, theirs was a song of silence: of quiet tears, of broken hearts and of crushed hopes.

However, half way through the book, Achilles started to get some chapters from his perspective which was quite disappointing because I thought it was Briseis’ story and I wanted to learn more about her, not him. And while Achilles was portrayed as a very complex character- from his insecurities about his mother leaving to his strong friendship with Patroclus and his hunger for fame and glory– I didn’t want to read from his point of view, I felt as if he was stealing the limelight from Briseis. The only thing I got from his perspective was how much he utterly dismissed Briseis.

This was not a romance story. This was not a happy story. This was a story about how although women always ended up paying the greatest prices, nobody seemed to care.

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

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#RetellingAThon · Uncategorized

Retelling-A-Thon is Coming to Town!

Hello my bookish turnips!

I am extremely excited to announce that I will be co-hosting the retelling readathon of the century: the Retelling-A-Thon!

Are you a fan of fairy tales? Obsessed with myth and legend? Then join us for the entire month of August to revisit those timeless tales that will always have a place in our hearts!

The hosts, who came up with this awesome idea, are Tay and Missy from Frayed Books (Twitter, Instagram).

The other co-hosts are:

Go check out and follow their amazing blogs!

The readathon lasts an entire month with a different prompts for every week, however you get to choose which week(s) you participate in. The four categories/teams are: mythology, Shakespeare, fairy tales and classics. They will each have their own week.

Click here to sign up via a Google Form and choose your team!

There is no points system- your only competitor is yourself, the only requirement is to enjoy yourself! Later on, we will post graphics so that you can submit your tbr and final stats. Here is an Epic Reads graphic to give you some inspiration (but remember it’s not limited to YA).

At the end of each week there will be a giveaway for a book related to that week’s theme- more information on that will be on Twitter during the readathon.

We will be releasing the prompts next week so that you can start planning your tbr. Until then, express your overwhelming excitement using this hashtag on social media:


Put on your glass slippers and get ready to go to the ball with Retelling-A-Thon 2019!

What are your favourite retellings? Let me know in the comments!

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Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: Below

Book: Below

Author: Alexandria Warwick

Year Published: 2020

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

Below was a tale of love, brutality and how love can survive despite brutality. It was inspired by Inuit mythology, and it engulfed me in an unceremonious world of snarling frost and piercing cold and took me on the most enchanting ride.

How do we define our identities? Is it our faces? Our families? Our heritages? Our cultures? Our names? The legacies we leave behind? The lies and truths we tell ourselves? It’s all of these things and more. This book explored the idea of who we are when all of these fundamental things are stripped away from us, what is left to cling on to, what kind of lives we can lead if we don’t know who we are or have people around us to witness their passing.

The protagonist was Apaay, who was constantly trying to prove herself to the world and never feeling as if her efforts were enough. She wasn’t the strongest hunter or the most skilled tracker in her village, she wasn’t the cleverest or the kindest or the most beautiful. All she wanted was to be recognised and praised for something- to prove that she wasn’t useless. She loved her family and she wanted to make them proud and be able to support them no matter what.

One day, the mysterious demon called the Face Stealer struck her village and stole Apaay’s sister’s face, leaving her with only two tiny slits on her face for breathing. Torn apart by grief, sorrow and anger and the desperate desire to prove her worth, Apaay set off across the tundra to find the Face Stealer’s lair and retrieve her sister’s face. However, to accomplish her mission, she must play the games of a twisted girl named Yuki and the Face Stealer and navigate her way through a magical labyrinth.

Apaay was an amazing character and I admired her strength and determination. She was physically and emotionally battered, bruised, burnt and broken in every way but she never gave up. Her love for her sister very literally sent her to the ends of the earth. Along the way, she also went on a journey of self-discovery and realised that she was enough as she was. She didn’t need to be the best tracker or hunter or the kindest person in her village. She didn’t need to try to be someone she was not because she already was formidable in her own right- she just never realised it. She was fierce, courageous, resilient, resourceful and she persevered no matter what.

Below was an original and imaginative novel- it was impossible to predict what fantastically terrifying predicament would befall Apaay next. It’s a book that I would definitely recommend and I’m so excited for the next book in the series!

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

Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Beholder

Book: The Beholder

Author: Anna Bright

Year Published: 2019

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

It’s important for people to know exactly what they’re getting into, so to avoid confusion: this book is not a retelling of a specific story. Rather, it incorporates many myths and fairy tales into the storyline. Also, it is most certainly not a retelling of The Odyssey– the characters travel on a ship to far away lands and there’s a person called Homer but the similarities end there.

The Beholder was an alternate history novel, set in a world slightly similar to ours but heavily influenced by myths and fairy tales. It wasn’t perfect but it was still alright I did enjoy reading it.

The story followed Selah, the seneschal-elect of Potomac. After an embarrassing rejection, her troublesome step-mother forces her to travel across the ocean and meet a myriad of suitors in various countries that she must choose from in order to ‘do her duty’. Selah seemed like the average teenager trying to find her place in the world. She was quite shy, bookish and had a great love for fairy tales. During the duration of the book she grows in confidence and comes into her own which was a pleasure to see. However, some of her and the other characters’ actions were very unrealistic and the romance element was cute but contrived.

It wasn’t amazing but I liked it and the ending leaves many unanswered questions which I hope will be answered in the next book.

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

Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: Crown of Feathers (the one with the phoenixes!!!)

Book: Crown of Feathers

Author: Nicki Pau Preto

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 4.5/5
  • Characters: 4.5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 5 feather-crowned stars!

When I realised that this book was not only about phoenixes but also phoenix riders I knew I had to read it. I probably love phoenixes just as much (or maybe even more) than I love dragons and I really hoped this book would do these ferocious, fiery creatures justice. It sure did. It probably increased my love for phoenixes tenfold. If I could, I would definitely become a phoenix rider without hesitation.

“Like poetry on wings, soaring through ash and flame”

Crown of Feathers told the tale of a people still recovering from the aftermath of a brutal war and trying to live in peace in the face of oppression and discrimination.

Apart from the phoenixes, I loved the world building and the history of the novel. It was clear that the author took her time to fully flesh out her world and all that happened in it. I’ve seen other people complaining about there being too much info-dumping in the book which ruined their reading experience, however, I actually liked it. It didn’t feel like info-dumping to me because the extra information was relavant to the story line and was actually really intriguing.

The plot was quite slow-paced and character-focused which was interesting but some parts felt a bit unnecessary and could have easily been taken out. The book was from three character perspectives which I think was handled pretty well.

“I am a daughter of death….From the ashes I rose, like a phoenix from the pyre”

16 years before the start of the book there was the Blood War between two sisters: Avalkyra and Pheronia. Avalkyra was an animage and a phoenix rider. After the war, animages were feared by the Empire and any known animages had to pay a tax or become a debt-bonded slave.

POV Characters:

☆ Veronyka was an animage who lived in hiding with her sister Val. Val’s love for Veronyka was twisted and she showed it by controlling her life and never allowing her to settle in any place or form long lasting friendships with anyone- all apparently for Veronyka’s own good. After having been betrayed by Val, Veronyka left her to join a group of phoenix riders. However, there was one problem: they only accepted boys and men. Therefore, Veronyka disguised herself as a boy to gain entry and fulfill her greatest wish of becoming a rider.

I liked Veronyka- she was definitely my favourite character and the POV character I connected the most with. She was brave and strong without hurting or controlling people, she was compassionate and would never force an animal to do something for her, she would just kindly request. Despite everything that had happened, she was always full of hope that the future would hold better things and her determination to make that future happen knew no bounds. Out of all of the POVs, she seemed to get the most, ‘screen time’ which was good because her story was fascinating but it also would have been good to give the other two perspectives more time to develop.

“Some families you were born into. Others you made along the way.”

☆ Tristan was an animage and an apprentice phoenix rider who was the son of the commander of the phoenix riders. He never felt like he was good enough for his father because no matter how well he did his father would always pick out the one thing he had done wrong and make him suffer for it. I thought he was a kind and understanding character. He valued honesty and tried his best to change the things he thought were wrong. However, he was the POV character I felt the most distant from and it was harder for me to empathise with his emotions in comparison to the other characters. Also, I feel like his relationship with his phoenix could have been portrayed better.

☆ Sev was an animage in hiding who was a soldier for the empire. His parents were phoenix riders who had died in an attack when he was young and ever since that tragic event, Sev spent his life running away from who he was and living in fear. He buried his animage identity deep in favour of living in peace and out of slavery while his fellow animages suffered. During the book, his character develops so much and he realises the importance of having people he belonged with and people he would do anything to protect. He realised that instead of hiding his identity he should embrace it and use it to help others like him. I found him to be a really interesting character and I wish we got to see his perspective more in the book. Also, his relationship with Kade was so briefly mentioned and never got time to develop which is something I hope happens in the next book.

I know this book wasn’t perfect in every way but I enjoyed reading it so, so much. What really differentiates a four star book from a five star book for me is the emotions it evokes from me. Whilst I was reading it, every plot twist shocked me to the core (there were so many and I didn’t predict some of them!) and I felt the pain, sorrow, happiness and anger of the characters as if it were my own. Crown of Feathers was a truly magical read for me and deserves five fiery, feather-crowned stars!

Thank you to Black & White Publishing and Nicki Pau Preto for providing me with a digital arc of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The quotes I used are from an arc of the book and may change upon publication.

If you’re a fellow phoenix/ dragon fan, let me know in the comments!