The Great Unhaul 2022: 20 Books I’m Donating Before I Move

As some of you may have seen in my Feb-March wrap up, I accepted a job offer last month and this means I’ll be moving to a new city in a few weeks’ time. It’s exciting, it’s scary, but it also means that it’s time for me to go through my bookcases and unhaul some things. Here are 20 books that I’ve decided to let go of:

  • The Near Witch – Victoria Schwab: This hurts because it’s a lovely hardcover (hardcovers are gold in Aus) and it’s signed! Yet, as much as I love Schwaby, The Near Witch didn’t do much for me. I appreciate it as her debut but I can see how far she’s come since.
  • Lore – Alexandra Bracken: I don’t have anything major against this book, but overall I was pretty apathetic towards it. I don’t think I’ll muster the energy to read a sequel. Probably due to my growing fatigue with repetitive YA fantasy stories and characters as I get older.
  • The Last Namsara – Kristen Ciccarelli: This one pains me because the sparkly cover is so pretty. Quite a lot of people really liked The Last Namsara but my reaction was lukewarm. The world-building was okay but the plot and romance didn’t do much to grab me. Goodbye, pretty sparkles.
  • Legend – Marie Lu: This is the kind of book I would have been nuts for had I read it at the time it came out. Reading it in 2019, though, my reaction was: it’s okay but nothing special. The characters were fine, the plot was fine, the rushed romance was unnecessary…I don’t know, I just need more these days. Time to unhaul.
  • When Dimple Met Rishi – Sandhya Menon: This wasn’t for me. It was nice to have a YA romance between 2 POC but I wasn’t a fan of the story and some of Dimple’s treatment of Rishi was…questionable. Almost want to keep it for that cheerful cover and orange spine, though.
  • Ready Player Two – Ernest Cline: While I love the cover & spine, there’s no way I’m re-reading this or recommending it to anyone. It’s just not very good, super disappointing considering it’s a sequel to a really fun read.
  • Chosen Ones – Veronica Roth: This wasn’t as bad as other reviewers made it sound, but it was definitely one of those books with a good concept and disappointing execution. It takes ages to get going and the characters are pretty eh. I have no plans to ever re-read it or read the sequel so to the unhaul pile it goes.
  • Girl Made of Stars – Ashley Herring Blake: This was a great YA contemporary that handled a challenging subject matter very well. The cover is lovely, too. However, it’s another YA book that I know I won’t re-read. Plus, there are other people who’ll benefit from having this more than me.
  • Stalking Jack the Ripper – Kerri Maniscalco: Why my pretty HARDBACKS? (As if I’m not in control of which ones go and stay). This book had a lot of potential, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I’ve often thought of giving the series a second chance but I think the time has come to let that idea go. These books were SUPER popular so maybe someone else will fall in love?
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins: For those of you familiar with my views on this book, I don’t need to offer an explanation for why it’s here. All I’ll say is BYEEEEEEEE!
  • All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven: I had a mixed reaction to this book and I think it’s partially because I was expecting more based on how popular it was. For the most part, I enjoyed it and I appreciate that Niven took on some very difficult topics, however, I wasn’t a fan of the way they were handled. I don’t see myself revisiting this so off to a new home with you!
  • More Than We Can Tell – Brigid Kemmerer: I adored Letters to the Lost and while More Than We Can Tell was a decent read, I didn’t fall in love with the story or the characters in the same way. This was particularly the case for the female lead, Emma. I liked it but not enough to hang onto.
  • Slayer – Kiersten White: As big a Buffy fan as I am and as mildly enjoyable as I found this, I remember very little about it and I don’t think I’ll ever read the sequel now. The world-building is good but the pacing and the characters have their issues. Still, I’m sure there will be plenty of people who’ll enjoy this in all its monster-butt-kicking glory.
  • Mirage – Somaiya Daud: Are we sure I read this? Okay, yes, I know I read it but seriously, I have no memory of anything besides it being a dystopian fantasy The Princess Switch. Must have been okay if I gave it 3 stars. Regardless, it’s going to join the pile.
  • The Flame in the Mist – Renee Adhieh: Another 3 star YA fantasy that I have few memories of. I know this was a sort of Mulan retelling but Japanese? I also vaguely remember the story being a bit flat and not liking many of the characters. Basically, to the pile.
  • Insurgent – Veronica Roth: Don’t we all wish that the books after Divergent had simply not happened? I know I do.
  • Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi: I think I just heard a few people scream in horror. I’m sorry! The setting/world-building here was great but the characters and the plot didn’t really do it for me in the way I’d been expecting from the crazy hype train. Time to say goodbye (I’m definitely sad to lose that stunning cover).
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor: I love Laini’s Strange the Dreamer duology but couldn’t muster the same enthusiasm for this series. I really liked the world-building, backstory and some of the characters but wasn’t a fan of the romance at all, which dominated the book. Not for me but maybe for someone else?
  • The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski: Another lovely looking hardback! It’s even got those fringed page edges! If only I were as fond of the content as I am the pretty cover. I ended up reading the sequel on kindle and found it slightly more enjoyable but I don’t really get the hype so unhaul it is.
  • Ash Princess – Laura Sebastian: I actually remember really enjoying this book, even though I knew it was like every other YA fantasy I’d read before. I even planned to read the sequel, which did not happen at all. Despite it being entertaining, like others on this list, I don’t see myself going back to it so it’s time to go.

Believe it or not, I’m unhauling more than double the number of books that I have listed here but because I’m trying not to actively bore you guys to tears, I thought 20 would suffice. I haven’t really done a proper clear-up of my shelves for a few years now and while it’s sad to be getting rid of things, I’ve realised I own a lot of books that I don’t really love and what’s the point of that? Despite the clean-out I still have multiple tightly packed boxes coming with me to my new place which I will get to lovingly reorganise.

What do you think of my unhaul? Are there any books listed here that you feel I’ve made a big mistake in letting go?

My Most Anticipated Releases of 2022 (Jan – Aug)

It’s another year and you know what that means: stacks of brand new, amazing-looking books heading our way! Just when you thought that you were finally starting to make some progress on your backlist and 2021 releases, 2022 books are here (well, sort of) to inflate that TBR to epic proportions again. Here are some of the books that I’m most looking forward to reading that are releasing between January & August:

To Paradise – Hanya Yanigihara | January

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In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him—and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.

These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.


Violeta – Isabel Allende | January

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Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life will be marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.

Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling…

She tells her story in the form of a letter to someone she loves above all others, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life will be shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and, ultimately, not one but two pandemics.


House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2) – Sarah J. Maas | February

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Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.

The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

x


The Paris Apartment – Lucy Foley | February

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Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.

The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.

The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge. Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.


Delilah Green Doesn’t Care – Ashley Herring Blake | February

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Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her.

When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.

Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to… 


Dead Silence – S. A. Barnes

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Claire Kovalik is days away from being unemployed—made obsolete—when her beacon repair crew picks up a strange distress signal. With nothing to lose and no desire to return to Earth, Claire and her team decide to investigate.

What they find at the other end of the signal is a shock: the Aurora, a famous luxury space-liner that vanished on its maiden tour of the solar system more than twenty years ago. A salvage claim like this could set Claire and her crew up for life. But a quick trip through the Aurora reveals something isn’t right.

Whispers in the dark. Flickers of movement. Words scrawled in blood. Claire must fight to hold onto her sanity and find out what really happened on the Aurora, before she and her crew meet the same ghastly fate.


Gallant – V. E. Schwab | March

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Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?


One Italian Summer – Rebecca Serle | March

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When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mom, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, their planned mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town Carol spent the summer right before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and, of course, delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears—in the flesh, healthy, sun-tanned, and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how—all she can focus on is that she has somehow, impossibly, gotten her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman before her. She is not exactly who Katy imagined she might be, however, and soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.


The Book of Cold Cases – Simone St. James | March

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In 1977, Claire Lake, Oregon, was shaken by the Lady Killer Murders: Two men, seemingly randomly, were murdered with the same gun, with strange notes left behind. Beth Greer was the perfect suspect–a rich, eccentric twenty-three-year-old woman, seen fleeing one of the crimes. But she was acquitted, and she retreated to the isolation of her mansion.

Oregon, 2017. Shea Collins is a receptionist, but by night, she runs a true crime website, the Book of Cold Cases–a passion fueled by the attempted abduction she escaped as a child. When she meets Beth by chance, Shea asks her for an interview. To Shea’s surprise, Beth says yes.

They meet regularly at Beth’s mansion, though Shea is never comfortable there. Items move when she’s not looking, and she could swear she’s seen a girl outside the window. The allure of learning the truth about the case from the smart, charming Beth is too much to resist, but even as they grow closer, Shea senses something isn’t right. Is she making friends with a manipulative murderer, or are there other dangers lurking in the darkness of the Greer house?


Hook, Line, and Sinker (Bellinger Sisters #2) – Tessa Bailey | March

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King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time–in bed and out–and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?


The Golden Couple – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen | March

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If Avery Chambers can’t fix you in 10 sessions, she won’t take you on as a client. Her successes are phenomenal–she helps people overcome everything from domineering parents to assault–and almost absorb the emptiness she sometimes feels since her husband’s death.

Marissa and Mathew Bishop seem like the golden couple–until Marissa cheats. She wants to repair things, both because she loves her husband and for the sake of their 8-year-old son. After a friend forwards an article about Avery, Marissa takes a chance on this maverick therapist, who lost her license due to controversial methods.

When the Bishops glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger.


All My Rage – Sabaa Tahir | March

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Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.

Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.

Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.

When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.


Portrait of a Thief – Grace D. Li | April

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History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now. Will Chen plans to steal them back.

A senior at Harvard, Will fits comfortably in his carefully curated roles: a perfect student, an art history major and sometimes artist, the eldest son that has always been his parents’ American Dream. But when a shadowy Chinese corporation reaches out with an impossible—and illegal—job offer, Will finds himself something else as well: the leader of a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.

His crew is every heist archetype one can imagine—or at least, the closest he can get. A conman: Irene Chen, Will’s sister and a public policy major at Duke, who can talk her way out of anything. A thief: Daniel Liang, a premed student with steady hands just as capable of lockpicking as suturing. A getaway driver: Lily Wu, an engineering student who races cars in her free time. A hacker: Alex Huang, an MIT dropout turned Silicon Valley software engineer. Each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they’ve cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.

Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars—and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they’ve dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted attempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.


Book of Night – Holly Black | May

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In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.

Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.


I Kissed Shara Wheeler – Casey McQuiston | May

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Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny. But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.

On a furious hunt for answers, Chloe discovers she’s not the only one Shara kissed. There’s also Smith, Shara’s longtime quarterback sweetheart, and Rory, Shara’s bad boy neighbor with a crush. The three have nothing in common except Shara and the annoyingly cryptic notes she left behind, but together they must untangle Shara’s trail of clues and find her. It’ll be worth it, if Chloe can drag Shara back before graduation to beat her fair-and-square.

Thrown into an unlikely alliance, chasing a ghost through parties, break-ins, puzzles, and secrets revealed on monogrammed stationery, Chloe starts to suspect there might be more to this small town than she thought. And maybe—probably not, but maybe—more to Shara, too.


The Hacienda – Isabel Cañas | May

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In the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father is executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost. But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark its doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano? Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will help her.

Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to battle the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda. Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.


Something Wilder – Christina Lauren | May

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Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.


Siren Queen – Nghi Vo | May

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“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.

But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means becoming the monster herself.


Book Lovers – Emily Henry | May

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Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.

Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.

If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.


The House Across the Lake – Riley Sager | July

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Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of liquor, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple who live in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is rich; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage is not as perfect and placid as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey becomes consumed with finding out what happened to her. In the process, she uncovers eerie, darker truths that turn a tale of voyeurism and suspicion into a story of guilt, obsession and how looks can be very deceiving.


Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution – R. F. Kuang | August

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1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel.

Babel is the world’s center of translation and, more importantly, of silver-working: the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, to magical effect. Silver-working has made the British Empire unparalleled in power, and Babel’s research in foreign languages serves the Empire’s quest to colonize everything it encounters.

Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is a fairytale for Robin; a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge serves power, and for Robin, a Chinese boy raised in Britain, serving Babel inevitably means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to sabotaging the silver-working that supports imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? What is he willing to sacrifice to bring Babel down?


Husband Material (Boyfriend Material #2) – Alexis Hall | August

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Wanted: One (very real) husband. Nowhere near perfect but desperately trying his best.

In BOYFRIEND MATERIAL, Luc and Oliver met, pretended to fall in love, fell in love for real, dealt with heartbreak and disappointment and family and friends…and somehow figured out a way to make it work. Now it seems like everyone around them is getting married, and Luc’s feeling the social pressure to propose. But it’ll take more than four weddings, a funeral, and a bowl full of special curry to get these two from I don’t know what I’m doing to I do.

Good thing Oliver is such perfect HUSBAND MATERIAL.


Love in the Time of Serial Killers – Alicia Thompson | August

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Turns out that reading nothing but true crime isn’t exactly conducive to modern dating-and one woman is going to have to learn how to give love a chance when she’s used to suspecting the worst. PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation-if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years. It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). But it’s not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier-a genuinely nice guy who can pierce through her armor to her vulnerable heart underneath


Love on the Brain – Ali Hazelwood | August

Like an avenging, purple-haired Jedi bringing balance to the mansplained universe, Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project—a literal dream come true after years scraping by on the crumbs of academia—Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. And sure, he caught her in his powerfully corded arms like a romance novel hero when she accidentally damseled in distress on her first day in the lab. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school—archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

Now, her equipment is missing, the staff is ignoring her, and Bee finds her floundering career in somewhat of a pickle. Perhaps it’s her occipital cortex playing tricks on her, but Bee could swear she can see Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas…devouring her with those eyes. And the possibilities have all her neurons firing. But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?


Which 2022 releases are you most looking forward to?

2022 TBR: 20 Books I Want to Read in 2022

Happy new year, bookworms! I hope you’ve all been celebrating and that you’re ready to take on 2022. As I’ve done for the past two years, here I am again with a list of some of the books I’m hoping to read over the course of the next 12 months. These books are usually a mix of backlist reads and newer releases from the last 1-2 years that I, unfortunately, didn’t get around to when they first came out. New 2022 releases are a story for another day (aka. another post).

Confession time: I don’t have the best success rate when it comes to these posts. Over the past two years, I’ve managed to read about half the books I’ve planned to. Not bad, but er…could be better. However, I have higher hopes for this year’s list! Why? Because (a) I’m more determined and (b) I reduced the list down to 20 books. Want to achieve more? SET SMALLER GOALS! I’ve even re-added the handy little checkboxes I used in 2020 to help tick them off as I go. Now, let’s jump in.

  • The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive 1#) – Brandon Sanderson  
    • Yes, it’s finally happening. I’m going to put on my big girl pants, ignore the enormous page count and see what the hype is about. Don’t let me down Sanderson!
  • Jade City – Fonda Lee ☐
    • I mentioned Jade City a couple of times in my December posts so I doubt you’re surprised to see it show up here. I’m looking forward to hopefully getting invested in another Asian fantasy series.
  • The Atlas Six – Olivie Blake ☑
    • I’ve wanted to read this for a while and with the new hardcover version being released in March, seems like the universe is trying to tell me something. Besides, I need a new dark academia book to obsess over.
  • The Goblin Emperor (The Goblin Emperor 1#) – Katherine Addison ☐
    • I only came across this book a little while ago but it sounds like a great fantasy read with a cinnamon roll lead, and I feel like 2022 will be my year of fantasy/sci-fi books.
  • A Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes 4#) – Sabaa Tahir ☐
    • It’s happening this year. I WILL finish this series. I’m manifesting it happening.
  • Cytonic (Skyward 3#) – Brandon Sanderson ☐
    • Continuing on with one of my absolute favourite YA series. I’m praying it’s as good as the last two, otherwise I may cry.
  • Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb 2#) – Tamsyn Muir ☐
    • I’ve had this sitting on my desk for a year now because I need to read a detailed summary of Gideon before I tackle it. Bring on the mind boggling world building and badass necromancers.
  • This is How You Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone ☐
    • It’s a novella. I have absolutely no excuse. Also, time travelling, rival spy lesbians.
  • The Likeness – Tana French
    • I’ve been wanting to try a Tana French book for a while. The Dublin Murder Squad series can be read out of order and since this one is a dark academia read, I’m keen to read it first.
  • The Hollows – Mark Edwards
    • It’s a thriller so, with me, that means it could go either way. It was cheap on the amazon store and involves a creepy campground in the forest. Fingers crossed.
  • The Burning Girls – C. J. Tudor
    • Every time I’m in the mood for a thriller/mystery read I come close to downloading this but change my mind. It sounds great so this year I’m determined to finally read it
  • My Best Friend’s Exorcism – Grady Hendrix
    • I feel like everyone’s been telling me how good this book is for years. I bought it as part of my 2021 post-lockdown haul so I’m doing it this year. There are like 3 Grady Hendrix books on my TBR so I’m looking foward to crossing one off.
  • Blonde – Joyce Carol Oates
    • Another chunky read that I’ve been putting off. But since the adaptation starring Ana de Armas is coming out in 2022, I better get on it!
  • Malibu Rising – Taylor Jenkins Reid
    • I put this off for the second half of last year because the right mood just didn’t arise, but I like TJR’s historical fiction and I’m interested in reading this one, so 2022 it is.
  • Migrations – Charlotte McConaghy
    • I really enjoyed McConaghy’s 2021 release, Once There Were Wolves, so I’m going back to her first adult besteller. It’s another environmental themed plot with personal drama thrown in. Hopefully it’ll be a good, short read.
  • The Lighthouse Witches – C. J. Cooke
    • This is a new addition to my TBR. It sounds very atmospheric & interesting, and I love a good Scottish setting. I’ve heard there are similarities to Netflix’s series ‘Dark’ but as I’ve never seen that it should still be surprising for me.
  • The View was Exhausting – Mikaella Clements, Onjuli Datta ☑
    • It’s contemporary but somehow this book is giving me Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo vibes. I’m not sure how it’ll go but this is the first book in a while I’ve spontaneously bought without doing a full online investigation first.
  • Seven Days in June – Tia Williams
    • I’ve been making my way through the GR choice award romance finalists for 2021 and this is the second last one on my list. I’m not usually a big second-chance-romance fan but I’ve heard great things, plus it’s about two authors which sounds cool.
  • The Charm Offensive – Alison Cochrun
    • I needed at least one contemporary romance and seeing as I picked this up in the sales, here it is! I’m looking forward to some Bachelor-esque romance fun with a twist.
  • Norweigan Wood – Haruki Marukami
    • Yes, it’s here again. Look, I almost started in December but eventually decided against it so we’re DEFINITELY doing it in 2022. Promise.

There you have it! 20 Books from a mix of different genres. Okay, yes, there’s a chunk of fantasy/sci-fi on there but I’m vibing with it at the moment. Completing this list should hopefully reduce my physical TBR pile by a good amount which is a major plus. Wish me luck, guys.

What books are on your 2022 TBR?

Books on My TBR: 500+ Page Books Whose Size Intimidates Me

Spoiler Alert. A lot of the books on this list are going to be fantasy. Why? Because Fantasy authors seem to look at a book and go, ‘You know what? Could be bigger’. So, here we are. This seems like a weird list to compile considering I only recently finished a 700+ page book but what can I say, I never claimed to be consistent in my anxieties.

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive 1#) – Brandon Sanderson

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It hurts me to say so, but I’ve been thinking about reading this book since 2016. That’s right, around five years. The poor thing has rave reviews everywhere you look, a 4.6(!) average Goodreads rating and it’s written by an author I’ve already read and liked things from. But you know what I see when I look at it – that 1007 page count. ONE THOUSAND AND SEVEN. Is this thing a book or a weapon? Perhaps it’s both. I couldn’t possibly hope to try and sum up the blurb for this novel here but the good thing is there are talented reviewers like Melanie (@ Mel To The Any) who are able to do it perfectly for me.


The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

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I was so keen read Priory once upon a time. Unlike other books on this list, I actually started reading it back in 2019 but after feeling overwhelmed and getting distracted, I put it down again. However, that doesn’t mean it’s given up a spot on my TBR. Every time I see that gorgeous orange cover I feel a mixture of longing and terror. At 830 pages, it’s smaller than The Way of Kings but still a wrist injury waiting to happen. Generally, the book follows four major characters from two kingdoms – the east who worship and ride dragons, and the west who fought a war against them and whose queen must have a daughter to prevent their return. I’ve heard it’s an epic read so here’s hoping I get there.


Dark Age (Red Rising Saga 5#) – Pierce Brown

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Would someone please explain to me why I’m somehow feeling intimidated by a book that is THE FIFTH in a series I have already read all the previous entries from (& one of my favourites, I might add)? Like, what? This makes no sense. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t enjoy book four as much as the first three. Regardless, Dark Age is still sitting on my shelf after goodness knows how long, in all its 750+ page glory. A lot of people have said this is the best book in the saga but I’ve also heard it’s the darkest, bleakest and most violent. Suddenly 750 pages seems a lot longer than it first did.


The Shining – Stephen King

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I considered using King’s monstrously sized The Stand but, in reality, I’ve wanted to read The Shining for longer. You’d think it would be because of the Kubric film adaptation but, unpopular opinion alert, I don’t like it very much. Mostly because nothing is bloody explained properly – it just drops in random things from the book with no context whatsoever. However, with over 650+ pages (varying depending on your edition) to work with, King has the time to weave an intricate plot, outline the history of the Overlook Hotel and create characters with rich backstories. It’s far from the biggest book on this list but still intimidating.


The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time 1#) – Robert Jordan

Buy The Eye Of The World: Book 1 of the Wheel of Time (Soon to be a major  TV series) Book Online at Low Prices in India | The Eye Of The

I’ve been hiding from my paperback of this book for around 7 years. It’s 804 pages, with tiny print and terrifying. Plus, it’s part of a series of 14 books that all look like this. Can you hear me screaming? If there was ever a time to use the word ‘intimidating’, here it is. And yet, I still want to get there one day. With all the buzz about the TV series lately, I’ve been feeling more inclined to give it a go but it’s hard to take that step and finally do it. This is another book that it’s difficult to provide a brief synopsis for but the series takes inspiration from Tolkien and involves the farm boy/chosen one destined to save the world from a dark entity trope. It starts out with three friends setting off on an adventure after their home is attacked and expands from there.


Jade City (The Green Bone Saga 1#) – Fonda Lee

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The Green Bone saga is another fantasy series I’ve continued to hear amazing things about and Jade City even won the World Fantasy award back in 2018. Jade City is the shortest book on this list at 544 pages but that doesn’t make it “short”. It’s a mafia/godfather-type fantasy set in a world in which magical jade is prized, traded and the control of which is fought for. However, when the introduction of a new drug gives more people the ability to wield it, conflict erupts between rival families Kaul and Ayt. This sounds awesome, even though I don’t usually gravitate towards gang narratives. Then again, I recently got into watching the series Sons of Anarchy so maybe I’ll completely love this.


Recently I’ve been feeling a little more inclined to start one of the larger books on my TBR. It might be because we’re reaching the end of the year and I’ve already hit my 2021 reading goal but it might also be a desire to read something complex and immersive. Whether that voice in the back of my head will win out, we shall see.

What are some of the bigger books on your TBR that you’ve been putting off?

Or, if you’re someone who simply eats doorstopper books for breakfast, what are the favourites you believe to be worth the time and effort?

And That’s a Wrap: September and October 2021 Edition

Would you look at me, being all good, and once again sticking to my plan to be consistent with my wrap up posts every two months? I had some mostly enjoyable picks over the last few months with only a couple of prominent disappointments thrown into the mix. We’re getting closer to the end of the year now so I’m still hoping to find a few more blow-my-socks-off 5 or 4.5 star reads as I’ve only really found one recently.

I didn’t end up getting through as many books this month for the Magical Readathon as I would have liked but considering one of them was over 700 pages long I’m going to cut myself some slack.

Empire of the Vampire – Jay Kristoff ★★★★.5 | Review

You can already tell by the rating I loved reading this one. The world-building was fantastic – super compelling and explained without bogging the story down. The sense of momentum was also great and I don’t think there was ever a point where I was bored, which is impressive for a book this size. The characters took some time to grow on me but after a while I came to really like a bunch of them. I especially enjoyed the relationship between lead Gabriel and street urchin Dior. There are a couple of little things that let the book down (e.g. some questionable humour choices) but I think if you enjoyed Nevernight you’ll probably like this. It’s a good mixture of action, adventure, romance, horror and devastating heartbreak. Also, the illustrations are freakin’ gorgeous.

Rock Paper Scissors – Alice Feeney ★★

I went into Rock Paper Scissors without any real expectations except that it would involve a decent twist, but this just wasn’t really my kind of thriller. The atmosphere of the spooky, repurposed church in a snowstorm was excellent and the major plot twist, which I didn’t pick, was actually pulled off pretty well so props for that. However, the characters fell flat for me and I found myself bored by the plot during large chunks. It also felt as though it weirdly changed directions halfway through? The ending was somewhat confusing and not my cup of tea, too. In other words, I don’t really get the bunch of 4 and 5 star ratings I’ve seen for this one.

A Lesson in Vengeance – Victoria Lee ★★★

I was really looking forward to this one. There’s something about those witchy, dark academia vibes that I can’t resist and they were definitely on point here because the atmosphere was *chefs kiss*. I enjoyed the ambiguity as to whether the supernatural elements were real or just in MC Felicity’s head and that the author somehow managed to make the obvious plot twist feel strangely unexpected (well, for me). I didn’t mind the central relationship between Felicity & Ellis, and the dark turn it took. However, I wish more was done with the plot surrounding the historical “witches” they were researching and that the side characters were better fleshed out. The plot did get a bit slow at times and there were a few elements that I found kind of unbelievable, even for dark academia level pretentiousness. I’m also still unsure how I feel about Felicity as a lead. Overall, good but not amazing.

I had fun getting into the Spooktober spirit this month with ghosts, demons and crazed human killers. And then there’s that one random and very out of place looking contemporary romance that was unplanned but I was just really in the mood for at the time.

The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson ★★ | Review

This was a disappointing start to spooky season. For how short Hill House is, it really shouldn’t have taken me as long to finish as it did. Mainly because I was bored for such large stretches of it. There were a couple of creepy and more interesting moments, especially the ending which went out with a bang, but they were buried amongst so many other meandering and mind-numbing scenes. The fact that I wasn’t particularly keen on the characters or the writing style probably didn’t help either. However, having done a bit of searching and reading into some of the book’s themes and ideas I can see how this might be something you need to discuss and analyse to fully appreciate it.

The Book of Accidents – Chuck Wendig ★★★.5

This was so different from what I was expecting. I went in thinking it was going to be a haunted house story but it was much more complex. TBoA centres around the Graves family, Nate, Maddie and Oliver, who move into Nate’s childhood home after the death of his abusive father only for weird things to start happening. At 500+ pages, it’s chunkier than many other books I’ve read recently and probably could have been shorter without sacrificing quality, but for the most part I was okay with the pacing. The supernatural elements do feel a little…out there at times but the story’s largely grounded by the familial bonds at its heart. While I did enjoy this, I didn’t love it and found that by the end I still had quite a few unanswered questions. Plus, the author tended to harp on about the miseries of the world too much at times, which was kind of a mood killer.

Kingdom of the Cursed – Kerri Maniscalco ★★★.5 | Review to come

KotC wasn’t originally on my TBR for this month but only because I didn’t think I’d actually find it in stock at my local bookstores. So I was pretty surprised and excited to find it. The feel of this was really different from KotW, mainly because while the first book was YA, this one is definitely more new adult with a lot more sexual content (which I actually think suits it better). The first half felt mainly like a romance and the fantasy elements didn’t kick in until later on. The romance was pretty enjoyable and hot except for one uncomfortable chapter, but the other plot elements confused me a lot, especially the ending. I also wish we’d gotten to see more of the different parts of Hell than we did and that there’d been some more plotting and scheming akin to The Folk of the Air series.

My Heart is a Chainsaw – Stephen Graham Jones ★★★ | Review

I was actually pretty excited about this book and while I didn’t get exactly what I was hoping for, it wasn’t an unenjoyable read. It deals with an outsider named Jade who is obsessed with horror (in particular slasher) films. She becomes convinced that a real-life slasher is starting in her small town after bodies start showing up. There are an enormous amount of horror references in this that can feel overwhelming if your knowledge is limited. After a great opening, the pacing is also pretty slow for the first three quarters of the book, which requires patience and concentration, before culminating in a gory, action-packed, slasher-fun-filled climax. This is another read where I wasn’t super keen on the writing style or the characters but I like that it brings some Native-American rep to a normally very white genre.

It Happened One Summer – Tessa Bailey ★★★★

This most certainly was not on my Spooktober TBR but I wanted something light to read on my kindle whilst trying out my new bathtub and next thing I knew I was bingeing it. IHOS is a fun Schitt’s Creek inspired romance about an influencer party girl named Piper who gets sent to a small fishing town by her step-father after an out-of-control party and falls in love with a gruff fisherman. It’s very steamy as far as romances go – I probably could have used a little bit less steam to be honest because it was very dominant in the second half. Brendan as a love interest also verged into being too alpha for my liking at times. Overall though, the premise was cute, the chemistry between Piper and Brendan was great, and I thought the characterisation & journey of both leads was done really well.

Most of the books shown here were bought during one very enthusiastic trip to the bookstore after being stuck in lockdown for around 2.5 months. You have no idea how overjoyed I was to be standing in an actual store again after dealing with extensive postal delays for online purchases in previous weeks. As usual, there would be more books listed in this section but I read a couple of my purchases straight away. I’m really excited to get stuck into all of these because they sound so good!

I was also approved for an ARC of One Night on the Island by Josie Silver the other day which was a nice surprise. It doesn’t come out until Feb 2022 so I’m not in a massive rush to read it but the premise sounds cute and I really enjoyed Silver’s One Day in December when I read it last year so I might end up reading this sooner rather than later when the need for another romance binge hits me.

Other than the book reviews linked above, here are the posts you might have missed over the last few months:

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

tv & Movies

New Netflix Series 'Squid Game' Drops Its Ensemble Poster and Main Trailer  - ZAPZEE

Being stuck inside meant there was a lot of watching going on over the past few months. Here are some of the things I got through:

  • Squid Game – Yes, I caved to FOMO and binge watched this over 2 days. I love competition plots so no surprise that I really enjoyed it. It’s great to see a non-US show taking the world by storm for a change.
  • You, S3: Another binge watch. I liked the start but it did get a little ‘eh’ around the middle before picking up again. Some elements of the show are starting to get a little repetitive though. Biggest shock was ending up loving Sherry and Cary by the end.
  • Sex Education, S3: YES. I’d been waiting for this for ages and wasn’t disappointed. I love how much growth some of the characters had this season and still adore my girl Aimee. I’m not sure how next season will go and am starting to worry it’s about to run its course. Really hope I’m wrong though because this show brings me such joy.
  • Lucifer, S6: Having to say goodbye to one of my fave shows was pretty heartbreaking. I had a few issues with the series’ overarching plot but the showrunners showed so much love to the fans. The ending was perfectly bittersweet.
  • SO MANY Horror Movies: For Spooktober, my sister and I watched & ranked 20 horror movies. I’m a huge wimp so I usually avoid horror films but I took the plunge. Some of our favourites were Scream, The Cabin in the Woods, A Nightmare on Elm Street and It Follows.

games

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition high quality poster (9162x12960 resolution)  (download link is in the first comment) : r/masseffect

There was also a lot of gaming going on during lockdown…

  • Batman Arkham Series: I’ve been getting back into replaying these lately. I have so many new games to play but there’s something about the old comfort ones that are so good. I’ll blame the hype around the 2022 Batman movie.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: I finally finished! This was a long game but I really enjoyed it. I’m keen to replay at some point and take a different pathway to experience a new storyline and give characters different endings.
  • Mass Effect Legendary Edition: This is one of my favourite video game series ever so it was super exciting to play through them all again with remastered graphics and on the PS4 instead of PC. Still amazing.

Life

As I mentioned, I was extremely happy to finally get out of lockdown at the beginning of this month so I’m once again back at work, double vaccinated, and just trying to return to normal. This weekend I’ll be leaving the city for a few days for the first time in ages to visit some family which will be really nice. In more mundane news, I went to the hairdresser for the first time in a year, thank god, and tried something new by going red. I’m still getting used to it when I look in the mirror but it’s a fun change. This month I also started posting to my Bookstagram again. I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with it and the algorithm has been extremely disheartening after such a long break, but we’ll see how things go.


That’s it from me for another wrap up. I hope I haven’t entirely bored you to death and that you’re all doing really well, finding joy surrounded by piles of wonderful books. Until next time, happy reading!

Books On My TBR: 5 Star Reading Predictions

Recently, I was going back over the books I’ve read so far this year and discovered something a little sad. So far in 2021 I’ve only given two books 5 stars! Crazy right? Well, I guess not that crazy for those who know me and how picky I am about my 5 star ratings. Don’t get me wrong, there have been a couple of 4.5 stars, but it seems as though this year I’ve rarely reached the obsessive love level I always hope to be at after finishing something. With that in mind, I thought it might be a good idea to do a 5-star prediction list. I’ve only done this once or twice in the past (okay, more like 1.5 since some of the same books were on both posts due to my usual procrastination) and I’ve had some mixed results. Clearly I’m not always the best judge of what my personal reading tastes are. Oops. However, I’m hoping for a better outcome this time around and that this will be a good way to get excited about some great looking reads. Hopefully it’ll also encourage me to actually sit down and read them. A bookworm can dream, right?

So here are 6 books I’m predicting (& praying) to find some 5 star magic with!

One Last Stop – Casey McQuiston

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Yes, this book is still on my TBR…I know, I know. Red, White and Royal Blue was my second favourite read of 2019. So you can imagine how excited I was when One Last Stop was announced. It’s a f/f romance set in NYC about a twenty-three year-old waitress/student called August who meets punk-rocker, Jane, on the subway. The only problem is that Jane has magically traveled in time from the 1970s and can’t remember how or much about her past. I put this one off for a while after seeing some mixed reviews but having now also seen a heap of positive ones, I’m feeling so much more excited. I’ve decided to be optimistic and hope for a 5-star rating because one of the reasons I loved RW&RB so much was the writing and that’s something I can reasonably expect to translate well between books, even though the plot will be different. Don’t let me down Casey!


A Ladder to the Sky – John Boyne

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I’m adding this book for 3 reasons. First, it’s written by John Boyne, whose book The Heart’s Invisible Furies is already on my list of fave reads for 2021. Second, the premise sounds so intriguing and different. And third, reviewers I trust have said it’s amazing. So yes, I’m really hoping to strike gold on this one! It’s about a young, charming man called Maurice who makes his way into the literary world of fame by getting close to, manipulating, and then stealing the stories of others. As time goes on, he has to go further and further to get what he needs to stay in the spotlight. I haven’t read many writer based books previously but they seem to have increased in popularity lately, so why not get on trend?


Once There Were Wolves – Charlotte McConaghy

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This is a more recent addition to my TBR. I’m not entirely sure why, but I have a really good feeling about this book. I haven’t even read McConaghy’s previous (and very popular) novel, Migrations. There have been some really positive reviews and I’m interested in the premise because it’s not something I’d normally immediately pick up. It’s about Inti Flynn, the leader of a team of biologists who are reintroducing gray wolves to the Scottish Highlands to improve the balance of the natural environment. Inti brings her twin sister Aggie along hoping it’ll help her recover from the past. However, things turn ugly when a farmer is mauled to death and people blame the wolves. Inti doesn’t believe they’re behind it, but then who is? This seems like it’ll be a good mix of drama, mystery and romance in a beautiful setting so fingers crossed for 5 stars.


The Atlas Six – Olivie Blake

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I’ve lost track of how long I’ve wanted to read this and haven’t. And it makes zero sense because it sounds like all my magical dark academia dreams come true. At this rate the new, flashy 2022 hardcover will be out before I finally read it. The book is about a secret group of magical academics called the Alexandrian Society. Every ten years they choose six talented magicians to compete for 5 slots in their ranks as the caretakers of lost knowledge from great civilisations of antiquity. Our characters are recruited by a man named Atlas Blakely and have one year to prove their contributions to the impossible subjects of time & space, luck & thought, and life & death. How amazing does that sound? 5 star rating kind of amazing, hopefully.


Beautiful World, Where Are You – Sally Rooney

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Including this book is a risky choice but I’m doing it anyway. The reason it’s risky is that while I loved Conversations with Friends and gave it 5 stars, when I read Rooney’s more popular Normal People I only gave it 3. So this could blow my socks off or possibly end up decent yet kind of middle of the road. Hopefully it’s the former. BWWAY is about four millennials (two of which are best friends), Alice, Eileen, Felix and Simon, and follows them as they navigate life in all its awkwardness, heartbreak, confusion and joy. I’m preparing myself to feel…things, including the sudden desire to move to Ireland.


Cytonic (Skyward 3#) – Brandon Sanderson

Cytonic, The Third Skyward Novel by Brandon Sanderson | 9781473217942 |  Booktopia

I’m jumping the gun with this book because it won’t release until the end of the month, but you can bet anything you own that I’ll be buying it as soon as it comes out. I’m almost positive that Cytonic will be a high rating for me because book 1 was a 5 star read and book 2 was 4.5 stars. Bodes well doesn’t it? I’ll be absolutely devastated and heartbroken if things go the other way so let’s not even entertain that realm of possibility. I can’t really do a synopsis for this one because there’d be spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read this series yet, but if that’s you – what are you waiting for? It’s one of my favourites and it’s AMAZING!


Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? Are they worthy 5 star predictions, or am I just setting myself up for disappointment?

Spooktober: Books Based On Your Favourite Halloween/Horror Creatures

When it comes to Halloween everyone has their favourite supernatural creatures, even if you don’t necessarily enjoy them within the context of horror books. For that reason, I thought it might be fun to bring together books based on some of the more popular monsters & creatures. For variety purposes, I’ve tried to include a mix of different books – YA/Adult, genres, tones, etc.

As usual, let me preface this by saying that I have NOT read all of the books mentioned here but I’ve done my best to research and ensure I’ve correctly allocated them.


Ghost & Ghouls

I love me some ghost-y shenanigans. After all, what’s more Halloween than a haunted house? Good ghost stories always seem to expertly walk the line between spooky and emotional and I think that’s why we enjoy them so much.

  • THE SUN DOWN MOTEL – SIMONE ST. JAMES: In dual timelines (1982 & the present), two women work the night shift at a haunted motel whilst investigating the disappearances & murders of other young women in the small, run-down town.
  • THE DIVINERS – LIBBA BRAY: In 1920s New York, a group of young people with psychic abilities and the owner of an occult museum help investigate a serious of ritualistic murders that may be being committed by a violent spirit.
  • NINTH HOUSE – LEIGH BARDUGO: Alex Stern, gifted with the ability to see ghosts, joins the mysterious ‘Ninth House’ at Yale, tasked with keeping the secret societies’ occult exploits in check. She finds herself investigating a murder on campus with potential links to them.
  • THE SHINING – STEPHEN KING: After taking a job as the off-season caretaker for the Overlook Hotel, writer Jack Torrence moves his family to Colarado. However, his uniquely gifted 5 year old son begins to notice something sinister about the Overlook.
  • KILL CREEK – SCOTT THOMAS: Four master horror authors agree to spend a night in The Finch House, one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses. What starts out as a publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for their lives as the horror follows them home.
  • THE DEAD AND THE DARK – COURTNEY GOULD: After teens go missing, Logan moves with her ghost-hunter dads to Snakebite, Oregon. She teams up with Ashley Barton (who is being haunted by the ghost of her boyfriend, Logan, the first boy to disappear) to investigate.

Demons & The Devil

What’s Halloween without the occasional loose demon causing havoc or a visit from the devil in the form of a body breaking possession? Well, if hellish vibes are what float your boat, here are a few reads with demonic flair.

  • THE DEVIL MAKES THREE – TORI BOVALINO: While working at her school library for the summer, Tess makes a bargain with the headmaster’s intolerable son, Eliot, which results in them discovering an ancient grimoire and accidentally unleashing a book-bound demon.
  • THE EXORCIST – WILLIAM PETER BLATTAY: Two priests and a desperate mother fight to free the soul of 12-year old Regan from an evil supernatural entity. I’m sure you know the movie.
  • GOOD OMENS – NEIL GAIMAN & TERRY PRATCHETT: A fussy angel, Aziraphale, and a fast-living demon, Crowley, team up to avert the apocalypse based on the prophecy of a 17th century witch. Only problem is, somebody has misplaced the Antichrist.
  • HORNS – JOE HILL: Following the rape and murder of his girlfriend, Ig finds himself the town outcast, convicted in the court of public opinion. However, after a night of drinking, he wakes up with a set of horns growing from his skull and some special abilities to go with them.
  • MY BEST-FRIEND’S EXORCISM – GRADY HENDRIX: Abby & Gretchen have been BFFs since 5th grade. After Gretchen disappears during a night of fun, she comes back…not right. The conclusion: She’s possessed by a demon. And so, Abby embarks on a quest to save her.
  • KINGDOM OF THE WICKED – KERRI MANISCALCO: After her sister is murdered, Sicilian witch Emilia uses dark magic to summon a demon prince, Wrath, for answers. The two make a deal and set out to find who or what is killing women on the island and why.

Vampires

Nothing beats a classic blood sucker book. Maybe you like them brutal, bloody and terrifying? Or perhaps brooding and in the midst of a moral crisis? Or MAYBE you just want to get your lust on? Well, either way, there’s a book for you.

  • DRACULA – BRAM STOKER – The classic vampire novel. Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to do business with the noble Count Dracula only to discover a horrifying secret. To thwart Dracula’s evil designs, Jonathan and friends, led by Professor Van Helsing, must embark on an nightmarish adventure. 
  • LET THE RIGHT ONE IN – JOHN AJVIDE LINDQVIST: In 1981 Blackberge, Sweden, bodies begin to show up drained of blood. Meanwhile, bullied,12-year-old Oskar makes a new friend in Eli – a girl who only comes out at night, smells odd and has never seen a Rubik’s cube.
  • THE PASSAGE – JUSTIN CRONIN: A series of military experiments on a group of prison inmates go horribly wrong, resulting in a vampire apocalypse which wipes out all but a few pockets of humans in North America. Their only hope might just be a little girl from Iowa.
  • INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE -ANNE RICE: Vampire Louis de Pointe du Lac tells his 200 year life story to a reporter. He details his turning by the sinister Lestat, his bond with a child vampire named Claudia, and their travels across Europe to meet more of their kind.
  • THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB’S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES – GRADY HENDRIX: A book club of Charleston mothers investigate a mysterious newcomer to town after several local children go missing, only to discover that vampires are terrifyingly real.
  • DEAD UNTIL DARK – CHARLAINE HARRIS: Cocktail waitress and telepath Sookie Stackhouse’s life changes suddenly when a handsome vampire comes to town and her neighbours start turning up dead. There are heaps of vampire romances out there so I thought I’d include one I’ve read & liked.
  • VAMPIRE ACADEMY – RICHELLE MEAD: Couldn’t resist including my fave YA vampire series. When psychically bonded best friends Rose & Lissa return to Saint Vladimir’s, a school for good vampires (Moroi) and their future half-vampire bodyguards (Dhampirs), it soon becomes clear they’re in danger from more than just the evil vampires (Strigoi) outside the school walls.

Witches

All about that old black magic? Well, here are some magical reads. There were a heap of witch-y books out there that I could have used for this post but I decided seven would be plenty.

  • THE RULES OF MAGIC – ALICE HOFFMAN: The Owens family is bound by a centuries old curse that kills anyone they fall in love with. The book follows siblings Franny, Jet & Vincent growing up in 50s/60s New York and discovering their magical heritage and abilities.
  • PAYBACK’S A WITCH – LANA HARPER: In a small town during a spell-casting competition, three witches come together to enact vengeance on the warlock who broke all of their hearts, only for two of them to end up falling for each other.
  • SERPENT & DOVE – SHELBY MAHURIN: Lou, a thief & witch in hiding from her coven, ends up wed to a witch hunter, Reid, in a world in which humans and witches have long been at war. Despite the secrets between the two of them, they fall in love.
  • THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING – ALEXIS HENDERSON: In a strictly religious community, outsider Immanuelle begins to question the teachings of the Prophet when the spirits of dead witches gift her a journal previously belonging to her dead mother. Accidentally triggering a revenge curse, she must then choose whether or not to save the townspeople.
  • THE WITCH’S HEART – GENEVIEVE GORNICHEC: Re-imagining Norse Mythology, this book tells the story of the witch Angrboda, exiled by Odin for refusing to reveal the future and mother to three of Loki’s children. Angroboda must decide whether to accept fate or fight it.
  • THE NATURE OF WITCHES – RACHEL GRIFFIN: Clara, an Everwitch, is special in that her magic is connected to every season. When other witches start to lose control of their magic, sending the world toward an ecological disaster, Clara soon becomes the only hope of saving it.
  • BLOOD LIKE MAGIC – ESTELLE SAMBURY: To come into her powers, Voya must complete The Trial or risk her entire family losing their magic. The task: kill her first love. Voya signs up for a genetic matchmaking program only to be paired with the infuriating Luke. Soon it becomes a question of her heritage or her morality?

Werewolves & Shapeshifters

This was definitely the toughest category to find books for, mostly on the werewolf side because there don’t seem to be many well reviewed werewolf reads outside the romance genre. While I certainly included some romance picks, keeping my selections broad was challenging here.

  • SHIVER – MAGGIE STIEFVATER: After surviving a wolf attack as a child, Grace has long watched the wolves behind her house, fixated on one with yellow eyes. Sam lives two lives – human in the warmer months, wolf over winter. When the two finally, properly meet, Grace recognises Sam instantly and their relationship evolves. Can a cure be found or will they be torn apart by the dropping temperature?
  • THE WOLF’S HOUR – ROBERT R. McCAMMON: This book is basically like if James Bond had been working during WWII and happened to be a werewolf. Told in dual timelines, it follows MC, Michael’s, efforts to foil a Nazi plan called Iron Fist and his early years in Russia during which he was turned.
  • BITTEN – KELLY ARMSTRONG: Elena Michaels, the world’s only female werewolf, is trying to live life as a regular human when her former pack leader calls asking for help with a rogue wolf killing humans. This brings her back in contact with her ex/the man who turned her, Clay.
  • WICKED FOX – KAT CHO: In Seoul, Miyoung, a half-gumiho (nine-tail fox who feeds on the energy of men) accidentally loses her fox spirit after she saves a boy named Jihoon from a goblin attack. In the aftermath, the two form a bond, but when a shaman gives Miyoung the chance to reunite with her spirit, she must choose between immortality or Jihoon’s life.
  • IT – STEPHEN KING: Seven teens come together to face off against a supernatural entity killing children that disguises itself as a clown. 27 years later they are called back to town to fulfill their vow to fight IT again should it ever return.
  • THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS – STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES: Ten years after a hunting transgression, four American Indian men must fight for their lives as they are hunted by a vengeful shapeshifting creature known as the Elk-Head Woman.

Zombies & The Undead

Is death really the end? Not in these books, at least. If you’re someone who enjoys thinking about how they’d fair in a zombie apocalypse or likes tales of resurrection, this is the category for you.

  • UNDEAD GIRL GANG – LILY ANDERSON: When Mila’s best friend Riley and two others die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe it was a suicide pact. And so, armed with a grimoire, she brings them back to life. Now with only 7 days until the spell ends, she’ll need to wrangle the undead teens long enough to discover the identity of their murderer.
  • WARM BODIES – ISAAC MARION: R is a zombie with no life or memory of who he was before he was undead. Then he meets Julie – a living girl who brings colour to his grey existence and who, after consuming the brains of her boyfriend, R can’t help but want to protect.
  • GIDEON THE NINTH – TAMSYN MUIR: In a galactic empire of 9 planets, each home to a House practicing a type of necromancy, the house heirs and their bodyguards are invited by the Emperor to undergo a difficult and deadly trial to become Lyctors – his immortal disciples and living saints. This should probably be in the witch category but necromancy, so…
  • WORLD WAR Z – MAX BROOKS: Max Brooks provides an “oral history” of survivors’ experiences during the zombie apocalypse. Told in a series of vignettes, the book travels the world, detailing people’s accounts from the first discovery of African Rabies through to The Great Panic and beyond.
  • THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS – M. R. CAREY: Set in a world in which a fungus turns human beings into mindless people eaters, Melanie and the children she goes to school with are special – while they are affected by the disease and eat human flesh, they retain their thoughts and emotions. Are they potentially a cure for humanity?
  • BRUJA BORN – ZORAIDA CORDOVA – After her boyfriend dies in a bus crash, Lula uses dark magic to bring him back. However, in doing so she turns all the bodies from the accident into casi muertos (creatures between living & dead). Now the only thing standing between them and freedom is Lula’s death.

Miscellaneous Monsters & Creatures

  • MONSTRUMOLOGIST – RICK YANCEY: In Victorian New England, orphan Will Henry is the assistant to Dr Warthrop, a man specialising in the study of monsters. The two are tasked with tracking down and removing a terrifying creature feeding on humans.
  • THIS SAVAGE SONG – V. E. SCHWAB: In the city of Verity, humanity’s darkest deeds result in the creation of monsters. Split into 2 independently controlled districts based on their approach to handling the monsters, there are fears the city will soon collapse into conflict.
  • A DEADLY EDUCATION – NAOMI NOVIK: At a school for mages with a low survival rate due to the constant influx of monster attacks, El Higgins does her best to survive the school year whilst keeping a handle on her talent for destructive (& potentially world ending) magic.
  • FRANKENSTEIN – MARY SHELLEY: Do I need to summarise this one? Consumed by ambition, Dr Victor Frankenstein builds a hideous creature out of human corpses and brings it to life. But which of the two is the true monster?

If I missed your favourite creature, I’m sorry! Really though, there were more I wish I could have included but this post was starting to verge on War & Peace levels already and we couldn’t have that.

What’s your favourite halloween-ish creature and what’s a book you enjoy that features it?

Spooktober: My Halloween Themed October 2021 TBR

Ignoring the fact that we’re already a week into October and I’m only just doing this now, here is my Halloween themed Spooktober TBR! There are 10 books on this list but as you likely already know, there is NO way I’ll get through all of them over the next 3.5 half weeks. However, because your girl is a serious mood reader, I need to have OPTIONS. I may also add something here or there if I happen to come across a book and suddenly get an irresistible urge to read it.

Putting this TBR together was more difficult than I expected because of accessibility issues. Due to Covid there have been some serious stock problems and shipping delays where I live. Combine this with some later AUS release dates for a few books already available overseas and you can understand my dilemma. As a result, many of my reads for this month will be kindle purchases. There were a few books I wish I could have included but couldn’t because (a) there’s no way for me to get a copy in the next few weeks or (b) I really want a physical copy and am willing to wait for one to become available. In the end, I’m excited about my TBR and really looking forward to getting stuck into it!


The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson*

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Four seekers arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

* I can already tick this one off! (Since I’m posting my TBR so late).


To Break A Covenant – Alison Ames

To Break a Covenant by Alison Ames

Moon Basin has been haunted for as long as anyone can remember. It started when an explosion in the mine killed sixteen people. The disaster made it impossible to live in town, with underground fires spewing ash into the sky. But life in New Basin is just as fraught. The ex-mining town relies on its haunted reputation to bring in tourists, but there’s more truth to the rumors than most are willing to admit, and the mine still has a hold on everyone who lives there.

Clem and Nina form a perfect loop—best friends forever, and perhaps something more. Their circle opens up for a strange girl named Lisey with a knack for training crows, and Piper, whose father is fascinated with the mine in a way that’s anything but ordinary. The people of New Basin start experiencing strange phenomena—sleepwalking, night terrors, voices that only they can hear. And no matter how many vans of ghost hunters roll through, nobody can get to the bottom of what’s really going on. Which is why the girls decide to enter the mine themselves.


My Heart is a Chainsaw – Stephen Graham Jones

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Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.

Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges… a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body.


Payback’s a Witch – Lana Harper

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Got to have something fun and light to break up all the haunted house reads!

Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one – in part because she hasn’t been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams. But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She’s determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.

On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov – an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts – who is fresh off a bad breakup . . . with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden – unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in?But most concerning of all: Why can’t she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov?


Pumpkinheads – Rainbow Rowell & Faith Erin Hicks

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

A quick read that I feel as though I’ve had on my TBR FOREVER.

Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends. Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .What if their last shift was an adventure?


The Book of Accidents – Chuck Wendig

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Long ago, Nathan lived in a house in the country with his abusive father—and has never told his family what happened there. Long ago, Maddie was a little girl making dolls in her bedroom when she saw something she shouldn’t have—and is trying to remember that lost trauma by making haunting sculptures. Long ago, something sinister, something hungry, walked in the tunnels and the mountains and the coal mines of their hometown in rural Pennsylvania.

Now, Nate and Maddie Graves are married, and they have moved back to their hometown with their son, Oliver. And now what happened long ago is happening again . . . and it is happening to Oliver. He meets a strange boy who becomes his best friend, a boy with secrets of his own and a taste for dark magic. This dark magic puts them at the heart of a battle of good versus evil and a fight for the soul of the family—and perhaps for all of the world. But the Graves family has a secret weapon in this battle: their love for one another.


My Best Friend’s Exorcism – Grady Hendrix

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There were a heap of Grady Hendrix options for this TBR but I decided to go with this one because it seems to be the most popular, but also I’m all for those female friendship vibes.

Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fifth grade, when they bonded over a shared love of E.T., roller-skating parties, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. But when they arrive at high school, things change. Gretchen begins to act….different. And as the strange coincidences and bizarre behavior start to pile up, Abby realizes there’s only one possible explanation: Gretchen, her favorite person in the world, has a demon living inside her. And Abby is not about to let anyone or anything come between her and her best friend. With help from some unlikely allies, Abby embarks on a quest to save Gretchen. But is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?


Summer Sons – Lee Mandelo

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Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six months later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom that hungers for him.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble. And there is something awful lurking, waiting for those walls to fall.


White Smoke – Tiffany D. Jackson

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I planned to read this last month as part of my Magical Readathon but didn’t get around to it. However, it’s perfectly suited to this month’s TBR so maybe it’s a good thing I held off.

Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper.

The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.

But “running from ghosts” is just a metaphor, right? As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.


The Shining – Stephen King

The Shining by Stephen King - Books - Hachette Australia

I’m going to add this one just in case I’m feeling brave and ambitious because it’s a chunker. It’s unlikely, especially considering how long I’ve wanted to read it and haven’t, but you never know. Plus, what would spooky season be without some King?

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote…and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old. 


These should definitely keep me busy for the rest of the month. Hopefully I have a few really enjoyable books here. The end of the year and my top 10 ranking is getting closer and closer, after all!

Are you planning on getting into the spooky season with some Halloween-ish reads?

New to my Goodreads TBR: Adult Contemporary Romances

There was a time, eons ago, that I honestly believed I was cleaning up my ridiculously overstuffed TBR. And…now look at me. Why are there so many amazing sounding books out there, dying for me to read them??? Bookworming is hard, guys.

Lately I’ve been adding a lot of books to my TBR (look, once you start you head down a rabbit hole and it’s very difficult to stop) and the majority of them have either been thrillers or contemporary romances. So, I thought it might be nice to share with you some of the latter that I’ve recently discovered, just in case they’re something that catches your eye, too.


The Charm Offensive – Alison Cochrun

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Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

An opposites attract, grumpy-sunshine, LGBTI, the-bachelor-reality-type-show romance book? Please, sign me the hell up already.


People We Meet on Vacation – Emily Henry

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Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together. Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees. Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

I read Emily Henry’s Beach Read last year and although I gave it 3.5 stars, it wasn’t my favourite romance ever. So, when I heard about PWMoV a while back I was originally like, eh, maybe later. As you can see, my attitude has now changed. Lately I’ve been seeing some great reviews from people I trust on this one and I can’t deny that the blurb is making me really want to read it, so why not?


The Ex-Hex – Erin Sterling (aka Rachel Hawkins)

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Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two.

That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all.

Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

I’m not sure when it happened, but 2021 seems to have somehow turned into the year of the witch romance. I’m not complaining though because I love romance, I love magic/witches, so why not mix the two? This seems like a fun take on the second chance romance trope with plenty of magical hijinkss and I’m looking forward to it.


The Love Hypothesis – Ali Hazelwood

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As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding…six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

I hear that this started its life as Reylo fanfiction, but I’ve also heard it’s fluffy, tropey goodness involving, once again, the grumpy-sunshine dynamic and some fire smut. So…we’re going to do it. Plus, the cover is cute.


It Happened One Summer – Tessa Bailey

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Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart. 

This rom-com is said to be Schitt’s Creek inspired and I’m not sure what that will mean for me considering I only made it through 1 episode and couldn’t bring myself to watch more because I found it so annoying (please don’t murder me in my sleep). Still, the premise seems really enjoyable and I’ve heard that Tessa Bailey’s books are pretty darn steamy.


Payback’s a Witch – Lana Harper

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Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one—in part because she hasn’t been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams.

But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She’s determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.

On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov—an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts—who is fresh off a bad breakup . . . with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden—unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in? But most concerning of all: Why can’t she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov?

See what I mean? WITCH ROMANCES. But in this case, it’s LESBIAN WITCH ROMANCE! It’s like a revenge story with a magical tournament and romance all in one!!! Can you tell I’m excited? Because I am. I really am. This book doesn’t release until early October so there’s still a few more weeks but I’ll be on that, for sure.


Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters 3#) – Talia Hibbert

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Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry—and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car—supposedly by accident. Yeah, right.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen—and his spare bedroom. Jacob hates everything about it. Or rather, he should. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore—and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior. 

Have I read the second book in this series yet? That would be a no (It’s on my TBR, alright?). Do I still really want to read this? Very much so, yes. It’s set in a B&B and has enemies to lovers, basically its a resounding yes from me.


Seven Days in June – Tia Williams

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Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York. When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas, but the eyebrows of New York’s Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can’t deny their chemistry-or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since.

Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva’s not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered. . .

This book is still a contemporary romance but it’s a lot more dramatic in vibe than others on this list. I’ve read some really great things about it and heard that it hits you in the emotions hard. Both the lead characters are writers, which sounds really interesting. They’re also black, which is great considering how white the romance genre can be at times. Here’s hoping for an enjoyable read.


Are any of these contemporary romances on your TBR, too? Or if you’ve read any of them already, what did you think?

Are there any other contemporary romances than you’re really excited to read soon?

Magical Readathon 2021: September TBR

Yes, I am fully aware that we’re already a week into September and I’m only now just posting my TBR. SSSSHHHHHHH! I’m an indecisive nut, okay and picking monthly TBRs is hard for me but, unfortunately, that’s part of completing a readathon. Speaking of which…

It’s back! Yes, that’s right, Magical Readathon (created by G at Book Roast) is returning again in 2021. But not as we know it. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, up until this year, Magical Readathon was based around Harry Potter and completing prompts related to Hogwarts exam subjects. However, after the J K Rowling controversies of 2020, G was worried about how continuing the readathon in its current form would make members of the trans community feel. And so, she has completely overhauled it in spectacular fashion. For Magical Readathon 2.0, G has created an entirely new fantasy world, Aeldia, with a full booklet devoted to describing its history, continents, and inhabitants (all with illustrations I might add!).

The Novice Path

G intends for the readathon to return to a magical academy type vibe in 2022. But, as a way of introducing us all to Aeldia first, she’s developed a readathon for September 2021 based around ‘The Novice Path’ – the path designed to “test” new students seeking to reach & study at Orilium Academy. The path involves a series of obstacles/landmarks which, as you’d expect, are overcome by completing reading prompts. G’s kept things pretty easy in that you only need to complete a minimum of 2 prompts to successfully reach the academy. Still, you’re more than welcome to do as many as you want, as long as you use different reads.

As usual, I’m not 100% sure which prompts I want to do and books I’ll be in the mood for so I’ve decided to find a book for (almost) each one and see where September takes me. Here are my picks:

The Novice Path: A Book with a Map

A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT (EMBER QUARTET 2#) – SABAA TAHIR (RE-READ)

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Time to continue with my Ember reread on the road to finally reading A Sky Beyond the Storm. I’m excited! I definitely want to tackle this in September because I have a terrible habit of starting series rereads and then abandoning them midway through (*cough* The Bone Season *cough*). So, best to keep going while the motivation is there. If my memory serves me correctly, when I first read this, I think I may have even enjoyed it the slightest bit more than book one. Seems hard to believe, having just reread An Ember in the Ashes, but I think it had something to do with the adventurous spirit of it all, broader world building and some good political drama. Guess we shall see.


AshtHorn Tree: A Book That Keeps Tempting You

ONE LAST STOP – CASEY McQUISTON

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Red, White and Royal Blue was my second favourite read of 2019. So you can imagine how excited I was when One Last Stop was announced. It’s a f/f romance set in NYC about twenty-three year-old waitress/uni-student called August who meets punk-rocker, Jane, on the subway. The only problem is that Jane has magically traveled to the present from the 1970s and can’t seem to remember how or much about her past. I was a little worried about reading this after seeing some middle of the road reviews. Since then though, I’ve also seen a heap of super positive ones, too, so I’m feeling excited again. I’ve been looking at this sitting on my desk for weeks now, daring me to read it, so it seems like now is finally the time!


The Mist of Solitude: A Standalone

Just to give myself more flexibility, I’m going to leave this one open as a freebie in case I discover something during the month that I really, really want to read all of a sudden (which, let’s face it, is typical me). The prompt for this landmark is ‘a standalone’ so it’s extremely broad and will allow me to read a very large number of books. Maybe I’ll feel like another romance or perhaps a mystery. Or, maybe I’ll be a good little bookworm for a change and read something off my existing TBR…It could happen, right? Right?


Ruin of the Skye: A Book Featuring Ghosts, A Haunted House or Other Supernatural Elements

WHITE SMOKE – TIFFANY D. JACKSON

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I’ve never read a Tiffany D. Jackson book before but after the amazing things I’ve heard about her previous novels, Monday’s Not Coming and Grown, I thought her September release White Smoke might be a good pick for this prompt (although I’ll have to read it after the 14th) It’s about a girl named Marigold who moves to the Midwest after her mother remarries and gets a new job, which includes a house as a relocation bonus. But after moving in, they start to notice things going missing, doors opening on their own, voices in the walls and a weird smell in the vents. Plus, Mari’s step-sister has been talking about a mysterious “friend” who wants Mari gone. I have no idea if this will be an actual ghost/haunted house story but seeing as that’s what it’s pitched as, I feel like it meets the requirements.


Obsidian Falls: a Thriller/Mystery Book

ROCK PAPER SCISSORS – ALICE FEENEY

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It’s very likely that I’ll complete this prompt because lately I’ve had a massive thing for binge-reading thrillers in 1-2 days. Usually my ability to do relies on me buying something off the Amazon kindle store on a whim based on whatever my mood is and just blazing on through it, so my choice for this prompt could change. At the moment I’m planning on reading Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney. It’s a new release and follows a couple with marital problems who win a weekend away to Scotland but find that things start to go wrong when they get there, begging the question: did they really randomly win this trip? I’ve heard that there’s a great twist in this one, and I love getting my mind blown by those, so here’s hoping for an exciting and quick read.


Tower of Rumination: A 5-Star Prediction

EMPIRE OF THE VAMPIRE – JAY KRISTOFF

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At over 700 pages this seems pretty ambitious, but considering I only have to complete a minimum of 2 prompts, I can afford to be ambitious. My physical copy has only just arrived, however I was lucky enough to receive the first 300 or so pages via Netgalley so I was able to get started early. I’m really liking it so far so hopefully my 5 star prediction becomes a reality. It’s set in a world in which the sun is almost completely blocked out, allowing vampires to seize control. The plot centres around an imprisoned man named Gabriel, the last member of a holy order called the Silversaints, who is telling his life story to a vampire. He details his education, great love, the destruction of his order, and his quest to find the Holy Grail, which is said to be able to end the eternal night.


Orilium Academy Arc: A Book with a School Setting

A LESSON IN VENGEANCE – VICTORIA LEE

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Since I just did a massive dark academia book post, there were a lot of potential options for this prompt. I’ve decided that if it ends up being one of my chosen ones, I’ll use A Lesson in Vengeance for it. I’ve been excited about this book for months so hopefully I’m not disappointed. It’s about two girls at a boarding school in the Catskill mountains who are researching the mysterious deaths of a group of students who were believed to be witches and are rumoured to still haunt the school grounds. It also involves a sapphic romance between the two MCs – one is a prodigy author and the other has returned to the school after dropping out following her girlfriend’s death.


Create a Character

The fun doesn’t stop there. For those looking to participate in the readathon in 2022, we also have up until April to create our own character! By completing particular prompts we get to choose our magical student’s background, home continent, and race. Want to be a wild roaming dwarf from the desert continent of Daerune? Go for it. Or how about one of the ancient earthlings with cool elemental abilities who lives in the lush forests of Irtheria? The choice is yours. I’m nowhere near a fast enough reader to do this during September on top of The Novice Path prompts so I’ll try to shape my student over the next few months instead.


Are any of you also participating in Magical Readathon this month? If so, I’m sure you were much more organised in selecting your TBR than I was. Let me know which prompts you’re most looking forward to completing and the books you’ve selected for them!