And That’s a Wrap: February and March 2022 Edition

Another month is over and, as usual, that means it’s time for a reading wrap-up! Let’s jump in, shall we?

February this year wasn’t a huge reading month but I finished an ARC I had, re-read a favourite, and finished a fantastic 1000 page novel that I’ve had on my TBR for like 5 years, so you’ll hear absolutely no complaints from me!

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

I finally did it. I read the first (giant) book in The Stormlight Archive and it was fantastic. The first few chapters were slightly disorienting but after that, I enjoyed myself so much. The world-building is vast and impressive, and I loved the way the drama and action of the story ebbed and flowed over the course of the book. The climax, in particular, was so darn good – I just couldn’t stop reading. However, my favourite part was definitely the characters – they’re so well developed and it was really interesting seeing how their paths intertwined. I’m really keen to read the next book in the series so you can bet Words of Radiance will show up in one of these wrap-ups later in the year.

One Night on the Island – Josie Silver ★★ | Review

I really enjoyed Josie Silver’s One Day in December so I’d hoped this would be a similar experience, especially considering the cute blurb, but it was not to be. The setting for the book, a beautiful and remote Irish island complete with sweet locals, was great and I liked the story’s ideas of self-love and self-partnering (despite them feeling at odds with the romance). However, for something marketed as a romance, the relationship between leads Cleo & Mac seemed underdeveloped and downplayed in favour of their individual journeys. It also felt undermined by Mack’s unresolved marriage situation. Additionally, my warmth towards the characters themselves was…rocky. In the end, not for me.

Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney | Review ★★★★★

I love this book and it held up just as well the second time through as it did the first. I’d been planning on rereading this right before watching the adaptation (due in May) to refresh my memory but I got so excited about the prospect that I’ve done it several months early! Ah well. Worth it. Conversations won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but this is easily one of my favourite standalones.

Migrations – Charlotte McConaghy ★★★

I didn’t end up liking this as much as McConaghy’s most recent release, Once There Were Wolves, but it was a decent read. It’s slowly paced and tonally bleak due to its focus on humans’ devastating impact on the natural environment and the MC’s backstory. It’s about a woman named Franny who is desperate to find a place on a fishing vessel to follow the last migration of the Arctic Terns towards Antarctica. I know a lot of other readers have really loved Migrations and I can understand why that might be but I feel as though it took me a while to really understand Franny as a protagonist or the connection between her and her husband, something that was crucial to the emotional weight of the story. It’s very different from a lot of other books I’ve read, and I have this inexplicable feeling that I might enjoy it more in the form of the adaptation currently in the works.

March was a pretty good month for me reading-wise. I read 8 books (why are kindle books so much easier to read quickly??) and went on a brief historical-romance trip while waiting eagerly for the second season of Bridgerton to release on Netflix. However, my reading buzz came to somewhat of a screeching halt after reaching one book in particular. It won’t be hard to guess which from the star ratings.

The View was Exhausting – Mikaella Clements & Onjuli Datta ★★.5

I picked this up on a whim while at the book store one day. I had a good feeling about it and after seeing some Evelyn Hugo comparisons (the acting, fame, secret relationship vibe minus the historical setting), I was even keener. As it turned out, TVWE was okay but unmemorable. I didn’t dislike it but it didn’t inspire much of an I-need-to-keep-reading headspace. It’s about an actress called Whitman who has an on-off again fake relationship with a party boy named Leo which they utilise whenever her public persona needs a refresh. The characters were fine, although I can’t say I grew particularly attached to them and I found Whitman frustrating in the second half. The chemistry between Whitman and Leo was decent and I did want them to be happy together, but far from one of my favourite romances. Honestly, I don’t really have all that much to say about this one.

The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons 2#) – Julia Quinn ★★

I had a lacklustre reaction to the first Bridgertons book (despite loving the Netflix series) but I was determined to try this anyway. I liked it slightly more than book one and enjoyed Kate but the big problem is that Anthony’s still an ass. Might be because he says things like: “I don’t like being denied my rights” when Kate asks to hold off having sex for a week. I get it’s historical but jeez…my ovaries just shriveled. There are also a couple of story elements that feel a little silly, like why Kate & Anthony get married. Don’t get me wrong, though, there was fun stuff, too – Kate’s troublesome corgi, Newton, the Bridgertons playing aggressively competitive Pall-Mall (like croquet), and Colin being an absolute shit-stirrer. Not sure if I’ll read book 3 but one thing’s for sure, if I have to read the word “rake” again for the 1000th time, I will gouge my eyes out.

The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke 1#) – Tessa Dare ★★★★

After my disappointing experience with The Viscount Who Loved Me, I thought I’d give popular romance author Tessa Dare a try and, you know what, this was really good! As far as historical romance goes, it felt more on the modern side but I liked that because it meant we avoided a lot of the toxicity you often find in the genre. The writing was really funny, even slightly satirical at times, but so easy to get sucked into. I liked the characters, especially our heroine Emma, and thought the interactions between her and male lead Ash were sweet and fun. I wasn’t swooning or shipping as hard as I have with other romance couples but it was cute, fast-paced, and humorous so I’m definitely up for more. If you like rom-coms with historical flavour, this is a good choice.

The Governess Game (Girl Meets Duke 2#) – Tessa Dare ★★★★

I’d heard that a few people were disappointed with the second entry in this series but I actually enjoyed it slightly more than the first! Shocking, I know. I liked the setup for the story, the characters (especially the child wards of our male lead, Chase, one of which kept “killing” off her doll in a new way every day), the banter and chemistry, and Tessa Dare’s once again engaging and fun writing style. Clearly, I should be reading more of her books in the future.

Dead Silence – S. A. Barnes ★★★

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super vibing with this at the beginning. It took a little while to get into the swing of things and I wasn’t sure what to make of the characters or the split timeline. Yet, once I got toward the middle, it seemed to find its footing and I began to enjoy myself. I feel like it manages the cross-over between sci-fi, horror, mystery and slight romance fairly well. The world-building is comprehensive enough to support the story and there are a couple of good creepy moments. I thought the twist and explanation for events were pretty reasonable but the fact that a couple of things were left unexplained was annoying. I also wish there’d been more development to the side characters to increase the emotional impact of the story.

Hook, Line, and Sinker (Bellinger Sisters 2#) – Tessa Bailey ★★★★.5

I loved this. Surprisingly, even more than the first book! It’s the perfect combination of sweet and sexy. The romance was super enjoyable and the chemistry between Fox and Hannah was fantastic. I adored them together – the intimacy, the trust, the ease of their interactions! – but also I just really liked both of them as characters. The growth and development they undergo over the course of the book alongside their somewhat slowburn romance was so nice to see, especially Fox overcoming his negative perceptions of himself. Plus, the smut was pretty fire, too, just in case you were wondering. It’s probably not the best example of friends-to-lovers because the friendship isn’t exactly “solid” but I’ve never been a huge fan of that trope so no bothers here.

The Atlas Six – Olivie Blake ★★★ | Review

Finally, after what feels like forever, I read The Atlas Six. I wish I could say it was everything I was hoping for but, unfortunately, not. While I really liked the premise and found the characters interesting (despite some being underutilised), the writing style and I didn’t fully gel. I also wish that there had been slightly more structure to the magic system and the book’s plot aside from a few decent twists. Some more emotional conversations between the characters rather than the frequent, but admittedly captivating, attempts at power play would also have gone a long way. Still, I’m intrigued enough to read the sequel.

Norweigan Wood – Haruki Murakami ★

There were several points during this that I should have DNF-ed and I regret not doing so because…oh, boy. Would someone please explain how this book was so popular that Murakami fled Japan to get away from the publicity? I don’t think I’ve ever had such an emotionally negative reaction to a novel before. Anger, disgust, boredom, frustration, disbelief – I ran the gamut. I mean, good lord, the red flags! The depiction of women, slight paedophilic vibes to some descriptions (actual paedophilia in one scene), handling of mental health, asshole MC that every character feels the need tell us is such a nice guy, suicide used FOUR times and not well, the constant (& pretentious) book/music title drops…I almost want to write a review just to rant and rage. I actually thought this was going to be fantastic but, plot twist, one star it is.


It’s been a lazy start to 2022 for blogging and of the limited posts that I’ve uploaded, a chunk of them have been book reviews. Admittedly, I don’t have a problem with that because, well, book blog. I’m hoping to up my posting frequency in April (the public holidays should help) but we’ll see how that goes since there will be a few things going on in my life over the coming weeks. Here are the posts from Feb & March that aren’t already linked above, just in case you missed them:


In life news, I’ve got a new job! I’ve been in my current position for several years now so I’m very excited (and a little nervous) about trying something new. My new role is in a different city from where I am now so over the next few weeks I’ll be getting ready to move, finding an apartment, buying furniture, and all that big stuff.

As far as non-bookish entertainment stuff goes, when it comes to TV I’ve been watching:

  • Love is Blind, S2: Bit of a frustrating experience this season and the editing is wild!
  • Arcane: League of Legends, S1: Why did I wait such a long time to watch this? It’s so good! The art is amazing and I really enjoyed the story. Such a bummer that season 2 will take so long to make. This is proof you can make good adaptations of video games if they’re done right.
  • Bridgerton, S2: I binged this like crazy. It was very different from the book, in some great and less problematic ways, but also some…not-so-good ways. There were too many subplots, I wasn’t a fan of the love triangle, and they dragged out the will-they-won’t they a tad too long. Some more post-marriage time would have been nice. However, the chemistry between Anthony & Kate and the last few minutes of the season, *chef’s kiss*.
  • Nevertheless, S1: I’ve never watched a K-drama before and my sister recommended this to deal with my boredom/post-Bridgerton depression (watching Pride & Prejudice helps, by the way). I’m not really sure what I think at this point or whether I want to continue but it’s always good to try different things.

For movies, the list is short. I went to see The Batman and loved it (despite all the people in the cinema trying to ruin it for me). So worth the wait. I’ve always wanted to see Batman actually act like his ‘World’s Greatest Detective’ moniker so this was right up my alley and I could definitely see the Seven, Zodiac, Bladerunner type influences. I also watched Deep Water on Amazon prime with Ben Affleck and Anna de Armas, and the only two things I’ll say are 1) the kid was adorable and 2) it’s 2 hours of my life I will never get back.

Gaming-wise, my The Sims 4 addiction has returned in a big way and kind of killed the progress I was making with Pokemon Legends: Arceus and Guardians of the Galaxy *sigh*.


And that’s it for February and March! I’m hoping you’ve all conveniently forgotten that I just skipped January when it comes to wrap-ups but what can I say, it wasn’t very eventful. I hope you’ve all had a great first quarter of the year and that more good things are yet to come.

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!

And That’s a Wrap: July and August 2021 Edition

So, you know how I said I was going to be consistent about doing wrap up posts to help when it came to my end of the year wrap up? Yeah, how about we just forget about that because it failed pretty much after April. Probably because I intended to do May and June together, hit a reading slump, finished only 1 book total in June and simply continued onward in the hopes that things would improve. Now, here we are.

The Maidens – Alex Michaelides ★★ | Review

I was really keen to read this one but tried not to let my expectations get away from me. Luckily I didn’t because I wasn’t the biggest fan by the end. The book revolves around a group therapist trying to solve some murders at Cambridge University, under the belief that they’re connected to a Greek tragedy professor and his female “study group” called ‘The Maidens’. While there were things I liked such as the setting, atmosphere, and way the book dealt with the MC’s grief, I couldn’t get past the weird dialogue choices, stupid decisions of the lead, underdeveloped subplot elements and multitude of unbelievable story components, especially the ending.

All of us Villains – Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman (ARC) ★★★★ | Review to Come

This book is pitched as The Hunger Games with magic so you can imagine how excited I was to get an ARC. It’s about a group of families who every generation are bound by a curse to send one of their teens into an arena to fight to the death for control of the town’s reserves of high magic. It wasn’t as bloody and action packed as I was expecting from the HG comparison but I still had a great time. The characters are really well crafted, the magic system is decently constructed and there’s an adequate build up to the arena. It also has romance elements which don’t overwhelm the story and some exciting plot threads that make me really keen for the sequel. There were a few things which could have been improved upon but, overall, a great YA fantasy read.

The Nowhere Child – Christian White ★★★★ | Review

Look at me actually reading some Australian fiction for a change! I probably should read more if it’s like this. The Nowhere Child is a split timeline book set both in the present and 1990s which deals with an Australian woman discovering she’s the victim of a 20+ year old kidnapping case in a small US town. This was a lot less of a dramatic thriller type mystery and more of a slower burn one than I expected. It focused on characters, relationships and how the kidnapping impacted the town, but I really enjoyed it. I was engaged pretty much right until the end and though that White’s writing was great, especially for a debut novel.

An Ember in the Ashes (Ember quartet 1#) – Sabaa Tahir (Re-Read) ★★★★.5

I’m finally doing my Ember re-read so I can read A Sky Beyond the Storm (I know I’m super behind). I was a little worried when I first started that it wasn’t going to be as good as I remembered but once I got past the opening chapters, I had a great time and sped through it. I still love Elias and Helene, and I think Laia grew on me more this time through. The plot is well constructed and entertaining, the world building is fantastic, and I like that the ending isn’t highly predictable. Maybe I just have a thing for competition plots. The last time I read this I gave it 4 stars but considering the YA fantasy books I’ve read since, I feel I undervalued it a little so I’m going to bump it up to a 4.5. I’ll try to reread the next book soon.


Blood of Elves (The Witcher 1#) – Andrzej Sapkowski ★★★

I rewatched the first season of The Witcher in late July and as, you can tell, suddenly became very interested in reading the first novel (I’ve already read the short stories). I didn’t mind this but there were plenty of times where I sat there wondering what the overall plot was. The middle of the book, in particular, felt very aimless. There are a lot of lengthy conversations and a great deal of time is spent world building, politically especially, in ways I’d probably find overwhelming if I weren’t already familiar with aspects of it. Still, I like Yennefer, with her brand of bitchy-snarkiness, and enjoy Ciri’s bond with both her and Geralt. Hopefully the next book has more magic/sword badassery and eventful plot drama now that Ciri has received both witcher and sorcery training.

The People in the Trees – Hanya Yanagihara ★★.5 | Review to Come

*Sigh* I started this book in June and didn’t finish it until more than halfway through August, an achievement considering I thought about DNF-ing it numerous times. It’s a fictional memoir which details the life of a Nobel-prize winning scientist who after travelling to a remote island in Micronesia discovers that a turtle there brings a sort of immortality to those who eat it. This book was super hard for me to rate and review because while I didn’t like the story (sometimes I was engaged, others I was super bored), I can’t deny that I’m impressed by it as a piece of literary fiction. It’s not an easy read and deals with super dark themes (e.g. child rape), but the narrative style and voice is extremely well done. It also explores ideas like colonialism and the destruction of the environment in impactful ways. It may not be a favourite, but I’ll be thinking about it for a long time to come.

Lock Every Door – Riley Sager ★★★★ | Review

This was $3 on the kindle store and one of the last two Sager books I had yet to read. My experiences with Sager have been varied so I wasn’t sure how this’d go but I enjoyed it. The concept is farfetched and over the top but I decided to just go with it. It’s about a woman who takes an apartment sitting job in a fancy New York building but starts to suspect something is wrong when one of the other sitters mysteriously disappears. Unlike The Final Girls, the pacing in this was really good and I read nearly all of it in one sitting. The level of tension is decent as well without being too much. As far as heroines go, I liked Jules – she was a fighter and I clearly understood the motivations for her actions. The big reveal is…a lot and brought down my rating somewhat, but like with The Last Time I Lied I found that it didn’t massively affect my overall enjoyment. No regrets about spending a lockdown day reading this one.

In the Dark – Loreth Anne White ★★★

This was good but I didn’t love it. In Agatha Christie fashion, In the Dark follows eight people as they travel to a wellness spa in isolated British Columbia. The group quickly finds that all is not as it seems and they’ve been invited there for sinister purposes. I really liked the set up for this, and the eerie vibes of the setting were great. The decision to concurrently feature the police & SAR investigation was mostly well done (if a little detail heavy) and tied in nicely to the other timeline. Plus, this plotline featured two strong characters I wouldn’t mind reading about again. However, there were points during the book where things lagged for me. The first two thirds were more enjoyable than the last, during which the tone shifted, and I found the ending slightly flat with more exposition than necessary. Also, while I appreciate what the story was trying to say about the effects of stress on group dynamics and people’s selfish sense of self-preservation, I do wish events had been more calculated (as was first insinuated) than spur of the moment.

The Push – Ashley Audrain ★★★★★

My second 5 star read of the year, hurray!!! Considering this book is on Goodreads’ list of the most read books of 2021 so far, I can’t believe it took me this long to hear about it. Because, holy moly, this steamrolled me emotionally. The writing was just raw, heartbreaking perfection. Loneliness, resentment, anxiety, defeat, and completely gut-wrenching grief, I felt it all with the main character. While it’s largely “pushed” as a thriller, it’s more of psychological drama with a heap of tension. The Push tells the story of Blythe, who becomes convinced that there is something wrong with her daughter Violet. Is she right or is it all in her head? This is a complex, brutal, and layered view of motherhood that contravenes the usual stereotype of perfection, completion and unconditional love. It’s a short, punchy read and I cannot recommend it enough!


Up until the last week or so, I’d bought almost no books at all in the last two months. I know, I’m shocked, too. Mainly because a) I’ve been unable to physically go to a bookstore (more on that later) and b) I haven’t been in a reading mood. One Last Stop was a gift from one of my best friends, sent as part of care package to boost my mood (which it did!). I was so excited to receive it and I’m looking forward to reading it in September. After going back and forth over what edition of EotV to buy for around a month, I finally pre-ordered the special Aussie red paperback edition. It should get here sometime next week, however, I was lucky enough to receive the first 300 or so pages early via Netgalley so I’ve started reading already to get a head start.

Yesterday I also ordered A Lesson in Vengeance and Once There Were Wolves online. I’m super keen for both and the latter will be signed by the author, which is pretty cool. My last purchase is a kindle one which can be attributed entirely to the fact that I re-watched Bridgerton S1 on Netflix last week. Even though I two starred the first book, I was kind of like, ‘what the hell, let’s just do it’ and bought the sequel. Let’s see what happens.


As usual, here’s the list of posts from the last two months additional to the book reviews already linked above. Just in case there’s something you missed that you’d be interested in:


Life wise, the only real update I have for you all is, unfortunately, Covid-19 related. Back in July, after months of zero cases, my home state in Australia experienced an outbreak of the Delta variant. A few weeks later Sydney was placed into lockdown and when numbers continued to grow, several government areas were placed under heavier restrictions. These limit people from leaving those areas (or your home) except for specific reasons. Unluckily, I live in one of the affected regions and have been unable to leave my house except for the occasional walk. My work hours have been reduced by a large amount (I’m still able to do some from home), but thank goodness I’ve been able to receive government support to cover this.

While the conditions here are nothing compared to what some countries have experienced, being stuck inside my house for a month, with more to come, hasn’t been the easiest time. It’s even harder in the face of people consistently flouting public health orders by hosting parties, refusing to wear masks, and attending anti-lockdown protests. Our case numbers are still awful at the moment but hopefully things will improve soon. Regardless, I’m extremely happy to have received my first vaccine dose this week.


I hope that you’re all doing well at the moment, in both life and reading, and that you and your families are staying safe. It’s scary to think that we’re already in September. I feel as though both this year and last have simultaneously taken forever and gone by in the blink of an eye. So, here’s to, fingers crossed, a great new month of reading! Much love.

Top 5 Tuesday: Books with Food on the Cover

This week’s topic for Top 5 Tuesday (created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm and now hosted by the lovely Meeghan at Meeghan Reads) is books with food on the cover! I was pretty excited for this topic until… I discovered that I’ve read barely any books with food based covers. Cue my disappointment. So, in order to actually have some semblance of a post, I decided to just showcase some awesome looking food covers that I’ve discovered during my travels through the internet.

Fair warning, I’ve read probably only around 5 of the books showcased here. But I’m not going to let that come between me and covers which showcase cake, pie, ice-cream, pizza, dumplings, pastries and any of the other food goodies in the world.

As it turns out, I was having so much fun finding covers with food on them, I thought: why not also include 5 books with food in the title?

And, of course, I couldn’t possibly leave beverages out of the mix. Here are 5 more covers which feature drinks!

Okay, I’m done now. Promise. My growling stomach can’t take any more. Time to go ferret out something to eat in the kitchen.

What are some of the best covers you’ve seen that feature food or drinks?

My Favourite Reads of 2021 (So Far)

Once again, we’ve hit July and that means another half year has bit the dust. For the last few years I’ve made a habit out of doing a mid-year favourites post. It’s something I really enjoy because not only does it allow me to look back at the amazing books I’ve loved the most over the last six months, but it’s interesting to compare it with my end of year top 10 rankings. Some books manage to remain among my best of the best while others get knocked out by other fantastic reads. It’s a book eat book world out there, guys.

In 2021 so far I’ve read 30 books and I’ll admit, this is less than what I was hoping or expecting to be at by now. The main reason is that I hit a major slump around early May and my reading over the last two months has been abysmal. Up until yesterday, the last book I’d finished was around June 2nd. Fingers crossed I manage to snap out of it soon and better things are in store for July. As it stands, I currently have 5 books on this list. It’s not a lot but I can genuinely say I loved reading each of these. In no particular order, they are:

The Burning God – R F Kuang

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To say I was looking forward to this book’s release is an understatement, so there were definitely some high expectations there. To my relief, although there were a few plotlines I wish had been handled slightly better/differently, I wasn’t disappointed. This final installment secured The Poppy War Series as one of my absolute favourites. The Burning God was a complete emotional rollercoaster and ended in such a dramatic way that I almost couldn’t process the gravity and scale of what had happened. It again really drove home the brutal realities of war and reminded readers that there are never any true victors. The writing was fantastic and the story and characters remained compelling. Memorable right to the very end. I can’t wait to read whatever Kuang does next.


If We Were Villains – M. L. Ro

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I didn’t expect to fall in love with this book the way that I did. I really should have though considering its similarities to The Secret History but with Shakespeare instead of classical history. It follows a group of acting students whose friendships and lives start to destruct after one of them dies under tragic and dark circumstances. I was completely enthralled by this and got so invested in the characters (especially Oliver & James) who are designed like theater role stereotypes. The structure of the novel itself is so fantastically done as well and I really wish I had more knowledge of Shakespeare’s works so I could’ve appreciated all the little nuances even more. I regret not writing a proper review for this now. However, I did try at the time and had so much difficulty putting my thoughts into words. I’m sure I’ll reread it in the future so maybe then!


The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter

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The Good Daughter was my first introduction to Karin Slaughter’s books and I understand why she’s so popular because this was fantastically done. It’s technically a crime novel but the strength of the book is in its characters, particularly the two MCs, Sam & Charlie. They’re complex, well written and I really liked the way the book slowly dug into the childhood trauma surrounding their mother’s death and how this affected them into adulthood. The pacing is good and the ending is sastisfying, which is always nice for a novel like this. It’s definitely on the more dark and violent side of things, but I didn’t have a problem with it. I’ll 100% be trying out some of Slaughter’s other works.


The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

The Heart's Invisible Furies | Rakuten Kobo Australia

I picked up The Heart’s Invisible Furies based on recommendations made because I loved A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. While the two books are very different, I ended up loving this all the same. The book follows Cyril, a gay man living in Ireland in the decades before the legalisation of homosexuality. It wasn’t what I expected but in a great way, mostly due to the writing which has this magical blend of comedy and tragedy. It’s super quirky and absurd at times but it works. I also have a thing for books which follow characters over lengthy periods of their lives and this fits into that category. Because of the time jumps I did feel a little like I had missed out on things sometimes but was able to move past it quickly. I wish I’d gotten to know certain characters better to properly appreciate their big emotional moments but regardless, this was amazing and I’ve already got several of Boyne’s other books lined up to read.


Twice Shy – Sarah Hogle

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This book was so sweet and uplifting, and it’s cemented Sarah Hogle as an auto-buy author for me. It does get a bit corny and odd at times but you can’t help but love it anyway. The story is another version of the forced proximity trope and involves our leads co-inheriting a large house, then working to fix it up together. The characters are super loveable – dreamer, romantic Maybell & anxious, vulnerable Wesley – and really wonderful together. They have this lovely and gradual journey to understanding each other which I loved and they deal with their issues in such a healthy, non-frustrating way. There’s less banter and humour than in Hogle’s debut but that’s completely fine. Definitely recommended for those with Covid or mid-week blues.


Help me defeat my slump! Recommend me one of your favourite reads of 2021 so far and tell me why you enjoyed it so much.

Let’s Talk: Why I Love Re-Reading

If you’re anything like me, there’s always piles and piles of books that you plan on someday getting around to reading. No matter how many you finish, there’s more to take their place, and it often feels like there’s never enough time to read everything you want to. With this mentality, I can easily understand why some people choose to only ever read books once. It doesn’t matter whether it was the best thing since sliced bread or a burning dumpster fire, for them, once is enough. In my case though, I love re-reading books I’ve really enjoyed in years past. Sure, they’re nothing new and not exactly contributing to cutting down the growing unread pile sitting loosely stacked on my book cart, but I believe there are plenty of reasons to embrace the art of re-reading.

5 Reasons why I love to reread books | Writing and Communication Centre |  University of Waterloo

An *Almost* Guaranteed Great Read

One of the best things about re-reading is going into a book with the almost guaranteed knowledge that you’re going to enjoy yourself. I’ll admit, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule – for example, when we outgrow books we used to love – but for the most part it holds true. If you’re facing down a stretch of not so great reads or have been stuck in a bit of a reading slump, having something to reread that you already know and love is a great pick me up and will help kick you back into gear. It can also be really comforting for those who’ve been having a tough time or are particularly sensitive to certain triggers to know they can read something that’s going to give them exactly what they need at that particular moment in time without any nasty surprises. It’s like ordering your favourite dish off the menu because it’s exactly what you’re in the mood for.

New Things to Discover

Another aspect to re-reading I enjoy is that I pick up new things about a novel every time I read it. With books I really love, on my first read through I often get so caught up in the drama of the story that in my excitement to reach the climax I miss or gloss over little details and subtleties present in the writing, plotting and characterisation. Upon re-read I already know the path the story is going to take and, as a result, I’m able to view the journey to the big reveals in a brand new light, as well as the characters. This can sometimes drastically affect my opinions. My favourite thing, however, has to be coming across an author’s clever use of foreshadowing that I wasn’t able to appreciate the first time around. It’s also important to note that with particularly complex stories, rereading might sometimes be essential to my understanding of the full picture and what the author intended to get across in their work.

Prepping for Sequels

I tend to read a combination of both standalone books and series. With series, these books are usually released over a period of several years, or longer if the author is a popular one with multiple novels on the go at once (or you’re George RR Martin and Patrick Rothfuss). My memory isn’t always the best at keeping track of all the nitty-gritty plot and world building details of every book I read and this can make going into a newly released sequel challenging and confusing without first getting help from a re-read. Plus, having events fresh in my memory really helps me to emotionally connect with the sequel. Okay, yes, I could always try and track down a recap somewhere online but which is the more fun option?

Learning Experience

If you’re an aspiring author, the best way to improve your skills and encourage creative thinking is to re-read books that you’ve loved in the genre you want to write in. You’ve already read that book for the purpose of enjoyment and thought it passed the test, which means you can now reread it with a different mindset and think critically about what exactly it is that makes it work so well for you. You loved the writing? Great, what makes that author’s style and technique so appealing? Or if it’s the characters, how were they presented and developed to help them burrow their way into your heart? These are things we usually don’t pay attention to on our first read, I know I don’t, but they’re the perfect things to look out for on re-read.

A Chance for Revised Perspective

As I touched on in my 2020 post questioning the reliability of my past book ratings, it’s inevitable that as we get older our tastes, interests and reading experience develop and change. When this is applied to re-reading books it can potentially be a bad thing in that we realise we no longer enjoy a particular book as much as we used to, but it can also take a turn for the best! Sometimes growing older and going through certain life experiences allows you to connect with and understand certain characters and stories in ways you were never able to previously. Further education since your original read might allow you to grasp more complicated themes and ideas that previously went right over your head. Or perhaps, nowadays, you’re a more patient and introspective reader, one who enjoys slower, character-oriented novels to a greater extent than when you first read a particular book? Who knows, maybe your next favourite book is an old ‘meh’ book.


It’s easy to feel like re-reading is a waste of time or a stagnation of our reading progress. Yet, in reality, it can have a lot of value when it comes to personal enjoyment, comfort, learning and reflection. It’s definitely something I need to be less wary of doing on a regular basis and not something I should experience guilt over. Because when it comes down to it, if you’re enjoying what your reading, what else matters?

Are you someone who likes to reread books or are you a one-take type of reader? Why/why not?

If you do enjoy re-reading, what are some of the books you like to reread and why?

And That’s a Wrap: March and April 2021

We are a quarter of the year down (somehow) and that means it’s time for another wrap up post. The last two months feel like they’ve passed quickly but I’m pretty sure I say that every wrap up. In recent months, I’ve had some good reads and some not so good reads, occasionally got off my butt and did some blogging, and as usual made frequent trips to the book store (I’ve gotta keep my TBR on its toes, after all). Here’s what’s been going on in March and April.

A bit of a mixed month in March – fantasy, thrillers, romance, even a classic. In the end though, there were a couple of eh reads and only one book managed to crack the 4 star rating threshold.

Chosen Ones – Veronica Roth ★★.5 | Review

I feel like I say this a lot but, a great concept with disappointing execution. I really loved the idea – looking at the trauma that comes with being a prophesied saviour of the world. However, the reality was a slog to get through until the last third or so, which was really good but too little too late. I also had difficulty connecting with and getting invested in the characters which brought down the enjoyment factor a lot. Although this is Roth’s first adult novel, the characters and writing still have a very YA vibe to them but this makes sense within the context of the story. The book’s use of redacted files, newspaper clippings, etc. to provide background and world building was a fun touch.

The One – John Marrs ★★★.5

I now understand why people make Black Mirror comparisons with this book. A test that uses our DNA to determine our soulmate? What an intriguing idea for a novel. Although The One is classified as a thriller, it didn’t really feel like one for most of the time I was reading it. Only really towards the end. The short chapters and approachable writing made it really easy to get stuck into but the frequent cliffhangers, which often turned out to be nothing, became frustrating after a while (I just want to go to bed, okay?!). There are quite a few character POVs in this book, probably one or two too many, and I experienced plenty of moments where I was annoyed to leave a character I was interested in at a dramatic scene only to go back to a character I wasn’t. Overall, pretty well done but I wanted more.

Kingdom of the Wicked – Kerri Maniscalco ★★★ | Review

Witchcraft, demons, murder, supernatural romance…there was no way I could resist giving this a read. It took me a while to really click with Kingdom of the Wicked and part of that was due to some issues with the writing style, however, I had a lot of fun in the second half. I found the lead, Emilia, frustrating and naive at times, and her love interest, the demon prince, Wrath, was interesting but underdeveloped. Still, I did like their interactions with one another. The atmosphere was great and I loved the transportive descriptions of Palermo. While the ending was rushed and confusing, I have really high hopes for an exciting sequel.

Final Girls – Riley Sager ★★

This was not what I was expecting. For a thriller, the pacing in Final Girls was extremely slow. Half the time the main storyline faded into the background in favour of monotonous scenes and an unnecessary side plot. Things did pick up eventually, thank goodness, but the ending didn’t really feel like it fit the rest of the story, which was a bummer. I’m still not sure how I feel about the MC, Quincy, as her journey was somewhat all over the place but I was happy with where she ended up. I also enjoyed Sager’s use of concurrent past and present timelines again which really served to increase the tension. Bonus points for the horror movie trope usage.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier ★★★★

I’ve wanted to read Rebecca for years so I’m super glad I’ve finally done it. The story is great – more psychological suspense than the Gothic romance critics classified it as. I loved the idea of a young woman struggling to find herself in a new marriage and stuck in the shadow of someone considered to have been the epitome of charm, beauty and wit. Rebecca has its slow points but they don’t overstay their welcome and ensure a gradual build up to the big reveals. I liked and disliked the writing. There were times where I was glued to the page and others I was bored with the overwhelming amount of descriptive detail. The ending was also too abrupt for my liking. Yet, I can’t deny, du Maurier’s prose is beautiful. I do wish that I’d read the book first instead of watching the 2020 adaptation though, as I feel like it ruined the mystery and tension for me. I probably would have rated it higher had I done so.

Layla – Colleen Hoover ★★.5

This was not what I was expecting. At all. I somehow missed the fact that it’s a paranormal romance so I was really surprised when a ghost showed up. That aside, I was pretty apathetic towards Layla for the most part. The plot was slow and most of the characters felt underdeveloped. I also wasn’t a big fan of the MC, Leeds, who’s an asshole for reasons I can’t explain without major spoilers, and this made being stuck inside his head a trial. However, the twists at the end turned it around for me somewhat and boosted my rating, even though they’re a little over the top, coincidental and try to absolve Leeds of his dick-ishness.


April was a good month of reading! My lowest rated book was 3.5 stars and I certainly cannot complain about that. I did happen to read mostly books I’d just bought which isn’t exactly great for my existing TBR but what can I say, I’m a mood reader – sue me.

Our Year of Maybe – Rachel Lynn Solomon ★★★★

This was a great YA contemporary read. It’s a slightly more mature young adult novel, which I enjoyed, and tackles themes like chronic illness, coming out, losing your virginity, co-dependency, religious belief, and the way friendships change over time. However, it does so in a way that doesn’t feel like it’s talking down to its audience or underestimating their ability to relate/understand. The writing is good and the two lead POVs, Sophie and Peter, sounded different from one another as well as felt like real teens just trying to deal with big changes in their lives. After this, I’m looking forward to reading Rachel Lynn Solomon’s other books.

The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter ★★★★.5

This was fantastically written and I get why Slaughter has remained such a popular crime author for so long. While The Good Daughter does have an overarching crime plot – a school shooting – which is good but could have been slightly more meaty, where the book really excels is its complex, well rounded and emotionally crafted characters. The relationship between the two MCs, sisters Sam & Charlie, and the way the novel handles their shared trauma was really well done, especially the use of dual POVs. The pacing is great as well, starting out with a bang and, aside from a few overly lengthy conversations, retaining strong momentum throughout. If you’re not into graphic, dark and violent reads, this won’t be for you but otherwise, I really recommend it.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder – Holly Jackson ★★★★

There’s been a lot of hype around this book so I was cautious about getting my hopes up too high, but in the end this was a really enjoyable YA mystery read! I loved the use of mixed media with third person to tell the story and thought it was a fun and effective narrative choice that really made me feel like I was piecing the mystery together with the characters. The plot was engaging but still made room for emotional investment in the characters (Ravi and Pip were cute). My biggest thing, though, is that the climax wasn’t disappointing! Colour me shocked. There were definitely a few things that bugged me (the odd & corny epilogue, an unnecessary dog death, etc.) but I’ll 100% be reading the sequel.

None Shall Sleep – Ellie Marney ★★★.5

If, like me, you’re into Silence of the Lambs or Mindhunter, and are interested in seeing a YA approach, None Shall Sleep is the book for you. This was an addictive read and I loved how much tension Marney managed to instill into her scenes, especially the conversations between our lead Emma, and her sociopathic interview subject, Simon. The writing is on the clinical side which works well in some instances but lessens the emotional impact of character centered moments and may be why I feel like the book didn’t delve as deeply into the two main characters’ traumas as it could have. The climax is really gripping and exciting but I can’t help wishing that Emma and Travis’s investigative efforts had paid off more and that the actual investigation itself had been drawn out longer.


No ARCs this time but there’s always purchases. As usual, I bought more books over the last two months than I’ve got listed here but these are the ones from the bunch that I still have yet to read. Overall, not too bad, especially when I consider the fact that most of these aren’t ridiculously long reads. People in the Trees and A Ladder to the Sky are books by two authors I’ve already read something from and loved so I’m really hoping lightening strikes twice. Death on the Nile and The Nowhere Child were bought during my mystery craze in March and I have high hopes for them.


Here are the posts you may have missed over the last two months:


Stardew Valley

Lately, I’ve been spending more time on video games than I have in a while. I’ve recently gotten into Stardew Valley, something that’s supposed to be relaxing (it’s a farming sim) but I’ve come to realise that I’m too highly strung for relaxing games to actually be, you know, relaxing. I’ve also finished a couple of Nintendo switch games recently like Luigi’s mansion 3 and Pokemon Let’s Go: Pikachu, but my newest obsession is Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I’m addicted.

Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Twelfth Season: Amazon.ca: Ellen Pompeo;  Patrick Dempsey; Justin Chambers; James Pickens Jr.; Chandra Wilson;  Jessica Capshaw; Sarah Drew; Jerrika Hinton; Camilla Luddington; Kevin  McKidd; Sara Ramirez; Caterina Scorsone;

TV wise, I’ve been binge watching my way through seasons of Grey’s Anatomy (I’m still a million years behind airing television though) and season 2 of The Circle US on Netflix. I’ve also casually been watching this wonderfully sweet Australian series called Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds. It’s about a study which pairs elderly people with young kids to help improve the adults’ quality of life and the kids’ social skills. It’s can be sad at times but it’s mostly really uplifting and nice. Perfect for dark Covid times.

Over the last few weeks I’ve also been trying to incorporate more exercise into my routine. It’s been a challenge getting up an extra hour or so early in order to fit it in before work and I’m so unfit it’s ridiculous, but I know it’s really important for my health, physical and mental, so I’m going to do my best to keep with it. Even though a dodgy ankle is making it more difficult than expected…


That’s it from me! Last year I got a bit slack when it came to my wrap ups and by the time I wanted to do my end of year posts I struggled remembering everything. So, in 2021 I’m going to make sure I’m much more consistent with it.

How have your last few months been? What have you been reading? Any new favourites to report?

Let’s Talk: The Types of Blog Posts I Enjoy Reading Most

As a book blogger, I’m always trying to come up with interesting and different post ideas to explore. However, I also have a selection of post types that are favourites of mine to write. But are the posts I enjoy writing also the ones I gravitate towards the most as a reader? Well, yes and no. On occasion, I do find that there are some types of posts I really enjoy reading from others which I find tedious to write myself. Then, on the flip side, there are posts that I like writing even though I know I’m unlikely to read something similar from another blogger. Bizarre, but that’s the truth. So, here are the categories of book blog posts that I find I enjoy/click on the most.

Lists/Rankings

Now, this is a type of post that I both enjoy writing and reading. From a reader perspective, it’s always fun to see how other bookworms rank or organise certain books (or things connected to them) in relation to specific topics. You get a lot of insight into the types of books, narratives and characters bloggers enjoy and there’s nothing like finding someone else who has the same favourites as you do. Even better, a lot of the time I end up finding new books to read because people have spoken so passionately about them or ranked them so highly.

Book Reviews for Anticipated or New Releases

When it comes to singular book reviews, I tend to only check out book blogs for those dealing with new or upcoming releases. Sorry, guys! Normally it’s because I’ve been looking forward to these books and am interested in reading a somewhat lengthier and more in depth review about them. I know this isn’t the best approach as it means I’m cutting myself off from potentially being introduced to some amazing backlist books I have yet to hear about. Unfortunately, it’s just the way I am. Despite often writing backlist book reviews for my own blog, I find that I usually source my reviews for these types of books in bulk through Goodreads (in other words, if you’d like to be GR friends, hit me up & I will happily read your backlist book reviews!).

Wrap Ups/Mini Book Reviews

Being someone with questionable patience and a short attention span at times (I’m flawed, I know), I really appreciate a good wrap up or mini-reviews post. I love getting a broad overview of what others have been reading and seeing people’s brief thoughts on a bunch of different books. I’m not especially picky when it comes to the types of books covered, but I do tend to click on posts which feature books I recognise. Personally, I always find writing wrap ups and mini reviews tough because once I get stuck into writing a review, the words keep spewing out. Luckily many bloggers are much better at this than I am.

Book Tags

Like lists, this is another post that falls under the ‘enjoy reading and writing’ heading. It’s purely because they’re so much fun and, again, give you insight into bloggers’ favourite things. Depending on the prompts, the way certain tags are answered can also encourage me add books to my TBR for particular tropes, character types or qualities that I would never have known about just by reading the blurb. Tags with quirky themes which link into my other interests are super enjoyable, too, particularly when they involve prompts that are tricky or different from the norm. Bonus interest points for when people try their hand at creating new tags.

Book Hauls & TBRs

My reason for enjoying these types of posts is extremely simple: I love seeing what other people are excited to read! There’s something so uplifting about seeing a stack of books that you just had to splurge on because they all sounded so wonderful or a list of titles that you can’t wait to get stuck into this month, hoping they’ll all be 5 stars. I especially enjoy when that excitement rubs off on me and I end up going out to pick up one of those same books for myself. Added bonus, these types of posts are usually quick, easy reads and great for when you only have limited time to check in with other bloggers.

Blogging Guides & How To Posts

I’ve been blogging for a few years now so I have a basic understanding about many of the things associated with it (emphasis on basic though, very basic). But, there are always so many new things for me to learn and others that I could improve or be doing better at. This is where the experience of other amazing bloggers comes into play. I love reading helpful posts with tips and guides on content, graphics, photography, SEO, and everything you can possibly think of that could assist me on my blogging journey. Blogging can be hard work sometimes and it doesn’t always pay off in the way you hope, so it’s great to find a post to assist you in better achieving your goals and making you feel a bit less stupid.


Everyone enjoys something different so I know not all of my most enjoyable types of posts to read will be the same as yours. What are your favourite types of posts? Are there any post categories that you actively avoid?

And That’s a Wrap: Jan and Feb 2021 Edition

As hard as it is to believe, we’re already two months down on 2021. Summer is over and I am so ready for Autumn to hit me up. I’ve been watching less TV over the last few months and reading more than normal, which is why I’m around 6 books ahead of where I was this time last year. Who would have thought, in order to make reading goal progress you just have to…read more? I know, I’m shocked too. Now, before you scroll down and see for yourself, let’s just get it out of the way early: yes, there’s a lot of ACOTAR going on in this wrap up.

In January I read a total of 9 books. *blinks* I’m still confused as to how I did this, especially since several of them were pretty chunky.

The Duke and I (Bridgertons 1#) – Julia Quinn ★★ | Review

As you can already tell, I liked the adaptation better than the book here. I didn’t mind the first half. Sure, there’s A LOT of dialogue and we’re reminded that Daphne knows about men because of her brothers 50 million times, but the banter is good and the friends to lovers shift is nice. The second half, however, is.. icky. Simon telling Daphne that he “owns” her, NO. Daphne taking advantage of drunken Simon to get pregnant against his wishes, MILLION TIMES NO. Also my god, the last couple of pages are so sappy I was inwardly cringing. Not what I was hoping for.

The Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager ★★★★

I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. The story revolves around the reopening of a summer camp that three girls went missing at 15 years before. The camp setting was a great choice and provided some quality, creepy atmosphere and tension. I really liked the way the book utilised past and present timelines and how these wove together. The idea of an unreliable narrator was good but I do think it could have been used to better effect. There are parts of the climax that feel unbelievable and lazy, although the epilogue is great. I only wish that the reveals presented in it had been integrated into the main story rather than just the last couple of pages. I’ll definitely be checking out Sager’s other books.

The Burning God (The Poppy War 3#) – R. F. Kuang ★★★★.5

This series is officially one of my favourites. I finished TBG and stared at the wall for ten minutes trying to process the emotional roller-coaster of it all. There were a couple of plot threads I wish had been handled more satisfyingly or with greater purpose (e.g. The Trifecta) but overall, this was great and I wasn’t disappointed. The writing and world building is still fantastic, and I continue to remain in awe over how complex Kuang’s characters, relationships and plotlines are. Nothing is ever easy or what it seems, characters always exist in shades of grey, and despite what the victors lead you to believe, there are no true winners in war. The Burning God is grim, compelling, bloody, and memorable right til the end.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (ACOTAR 1#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★

This is the third time I’ve read this book and my thoughts haven’t changed much. It’s still a solid three star read for me – enjoyable but nothing mind-blowing. I think that’s mainly because most of the action doesn’t start until well into the book, many of my favourite characters aren’t introduced until book two and Feyre as a lead is on the boring side until later.

A Court of Mist and Fury (ACOTAR 2#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★★.5 | Review

ACOMAF is my favourite of the original series, but I think that’s the general consensus. I still loved it but while my original review was 5 stars, on re-read I’m knocking it down to 4.5. The second time around I definitely felt the length of the book. As much as I adore the slow-burn of Feyre and Rhys, overall it’s a bit slow at times and probably could have been cut down somewhat. Also, the storyline outside the romance could be better handled and I still agree with myself that the climax is rushed and kind of convenient.

A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOTAR 3#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★.5 | Review

ACOWAR was also noticeably less enjoyable on re-read. Not hugely so, but enough to push it down from 4 stars to 3.5. I still had fun and love the characters but a couple of things impacted the enjoyment factor. First, the constant uses of ‘mate’, ‘female’ and ‘male’ bugged me more this time and were pretty uncomfortable. Second, there’s a few too many Feysand sex scenes. I love a bit of steam but there comes a point where it becomes repetitive and boring. Third, having just binge-read the previous two books, I found that the 700 page run dragged a lot more this time. And lastly, there are some major plot conveniences, especially when it comes to the death count of characters we know the names of.

From Blood and Ash (Blood and Ash 1#) – Jennifer L. Armentrout ★★.5 | Review

Blame Goodreads. The hype made me do it. While it may not have lived up to it, I had an alright time just the same. This book is a trope mine-field and very predictable because of it. The pacing is messy at times and the world building is questionable, too. There’s also a couple of noticeable and repetitive issues with the writing itself. Regardless, it’s a pretty addictive read with decent characters and an engaging enough romance. Not the best fantasy-romance I’ve read by a long shot, but fun enough for me to want to read the sequel.

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire (Blood and Ash 2#) – Jennifer L. Armentrout ★.5 | Review

I’d heard that the sequel was better than the first book. Um, no. Definitely, no. My main issue with AKoFaF was the lack of plot. Almost nothing happens and for a 600+ page book, that’s saying a lot. The Poppy-Hawke angst was really frustrating and repetitive, and I will never understand why JLA decided that the fake dating trope route was the way to go. This felt a lot more romance based than book one and the vampire aspect was definitely played up more too (which I did like). I’m kind of annoyed because I wasn’t planning on reading the next book but then I got to the last few chapters and they were actually interesting so now…ugh. I think I’m in for more suffering.

If We Were Villains – M. L. Rio ★★★★★

To my surprise, I loved this book! There are a lot of similarities to Donna Tartt’s The Secret History but as blasphemous as it sounds, I liked this slightly more. The story follows a group of Shakespeare players/friends who slowly implode after they let one of their number die. Watching the lies, secrets and guilt slowly tear everything apart was enthralling and I was hooked. I love how Shakespeare’s plays were incorporated into the story (life imitates art) and the way the book was structured like a Shakespearean tragedy. The characters are designed to feel like stereotypes but Rio tries to get underneath the surface to explore their strengths, insecurities, and relationships. James and Oliver’s bond in particular was so good and their scenes were magnetic. Honestly, I’m shocked this was a debut and I’m positive I’ll re-read it in the future.


February was closer to my usual reading pace, still slightly ahead of normal though, and included two of my most anticipated 2021 releases. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up with as many high rated books as I did in January (then again, part of January was taken up by re-reads) and I finished up on 6 books.

Lore – Alexandra Bracken ★★★

I really thought I’d love this book considering it was pitched as The Hunger Games meets Percy Jackson but, in the end, I couldn’t get past a 3 star rating. I really liked the use of Greek mythology and world building (the NYC setting gave me serious Mortal Instruments vibes) but I found myself disinterested in the plot and characters for large stretches. My engagement picked up after the halfway mark but not as much as I wanted it to. One of the other problems I had was that the main villain of the story felt very flat in that there was barely anything to him aside from wanting power for power’s sake, which is super boring. Still, a fairly well-done YA urban fantasy.

The Project – Courtney Summers ★★★.5 | Review

I’d been really looking forward to reading The Project ever since it was announced because I loved Sadie. While this didn’t reach the highs of Sadie in terms of emotional intensity and immersion for me, I still enjoyed it. Well, as much as you can “enjoy” a book about a cult with such dark themes and content. It’s a slow read which takes time to really showcase what it’s trying to say but it’s also very clever, subtle and insidious in how it goes about it. I like that Summers isn’t afraid to use typically unlikeable heroines and that the heart of the book was another complex sisterly relationship. The ending may have let me down in some ways but overall, a strong and emotionally grounded story.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne ★★★★.5

I’m so glad I finally got around to reading this. It follows the life of an adopted, gay man named Cyril living in Ireland in the decades before homosexuality became legalised. The writing in this is so darn good! I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that’s managed to blend comedy and tragedy together as well as this book does. The dialogue is perfection – it’s so quick-witted and flows beautifully. It’s a quirky read and feels a little absurdist at times with the events that occur and coincidences that pop up, but it works. I only wish that I’d gotten to know certain characters better to properly feel the emotional moments surrounding them. I’ve already added two of Boyne’s other books to my to-read shelf.

A Court of Frost and Starlight (ACOTAR 3.1#) – Sarah J. Maas (REREAD) ★★★ | Review

Like the other ACOTAR books, ACOFAS has also gone down rating wise on re-read. I like that the novella tries to show the impact of the war, but it does feel a lot like fan-fiction-ish fluff. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and as a lover of these characters it’s fun seeing them get drunk, have snowball fights and hang out. However, there’s a lot of shopping, talking about gifts for solstice and SO MUCH Feysand acting like sex-crazed teens for such a short read. Can you not for just two seconds? Feyre’s sections also felt more tedious this time through. I do appreciate the way it sets up Cassian and Nesta’s story in ACOSF though.

A Court of Silver Flames (ACOTAR 4#) – Sarah J. Maas ★★★.5 | Review to Come

What a ride. There were certain parts of ACOSF that I really liked and others that were a let down or just frustrating. In the good column was Nesta’s journey. I would have liked a teensy bit more gradual mental/emotional development to go with the physical, but overall I was really happy. Also in that category was the friendship element which I adored. Super sweet and so much female empowerment. In the ‘not so good’ column was the human queen/magician/Eris plot, which I honestly did not care about except for cool magical objects, and the over reliance on sex scenes to build the Cassian-Nesta relationship. Finally, in the GTFO column, we have the Feysand storyline. Like, why? Why are you trying to steal my babies’ limelight? And Rhys, you’re massively on my shit list after this book.

Piranesi – Susanna Clarke ★★.5

This is one of those ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ experiences. For the first 70 pages or so I was bored, confused and considered DNF. Yet, I decided to stick it out to page 100 and shortly after that it started to grow on me. There were definitely stretches of this that I enjoyed but l feel in the end that I wanted so much more from it. Viewed broadly, I like the basic concepts of Piranesi‘s tale (a labyrinth classical mansion in another universe, scholars with crazy theories, an unreliable narrator who has to unravel a mystery of sorts, etc.) but I feel like it either should have been shorter, to cut down the empty beginning, or longer to properly develop the background events, characters, and dramatic reveals. On the whole, different, weird, and something I see other people really liking but not for me.


So, I actually bought a couple more books over the last two months but since I managed to read them during this period as well, I’d rather not list them here again and double up. Besides, it makes me feel better about how much money I spent. Living in a state of denial works for me, thank you very much. A few very different types of books here and I’m looking forward to each of them. I’m so excited I got approved for an ARC of She Who Became the Sun. It’s due out in July which makes me want to hold off on reading it for a while but that may be difficult as it’s being promoted as Mulan meets The Song of Achilles which, as you can imagine, makes me do love heart eyes.


Just in case you missed them, other than my book reviews which are linked above, here are the posts I published over the last two months:


Not much to report so far. Lately I’ve been trying to get some online courses done which relate to qualifications I need to stay in my job. It’s been pretty time consuming and painful, and motivation is low. This month I also started posting the occasional photo to my bookstagram again. The effect my long absence has had on how the algorithm shows my posts to people now compared to how it did a year ago has been disheartening and frustrating but I guess the only thing to do is keep at it, I guess.

On the social side, I finally got to see one of my closest friends recently after not having seen her in over a year. I’m sure you can all relate to this – the struggles of Covid-19. We’re extremely lucky that we live in Australia where our government has managed the virus so well but border restrictions and closures since things first started have made it very hard to see people in different states. My friend and I had a good catch up and went to see Frozen The Musical which was a lot of fun but definitely an experience in having so few people in the audience.


I hope 2021 is treating you all well so far and that good things are in store for March. Let me know what your favourite reads from the last two months were and what you’re most looking forward to next month!

Let’s Talk: How Reliable Are My Past Book Reviews and Ratings?

This post is going to be several hundred words of me trashing myself. Just thought I would let you know in advance. Probably not the best decision for a book blogger, the whole basis of her blog being that people actually trust her reviews and ratings, but eh, let’s just go with it.

Book reviews and ratings are extremely subjective. What one person loves and gives five stars to, another person might hate entirely or not even bother to finish. Then there’s the fact that everyone has their own rating systems and ideas about what a specific star level means. It’s chaos, chaos I tell you! But what about the subjectivity between the reviews and ratings of an individual reviewer? If I look back at my reading, reviews and ratings of the last few years there’s definitely some major changes evident in the types of books I read, ways I review and things I consider in deciding my opinion of something. As you might expect, this makes me question the reliability of my past ratings and reviews.

Scaredy Pants Reviewer

I’ve mentioned in the past that, until recently, the idea of using low and really high star ratings was something that made me extremely nervous. Lord knows why. Where my silly brain was concerned, five stars was the god-tier reserved exclusively for Harry Potter and a one star rating was pretty much non-existent. Anything I loved was 4 stars, ‘okay’ or somewhat flawed reads got 3 stars, and to get 2 stars, heaven forbid, you really had to grind my gears. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, this isn’t something I worry about too much anymore. If I really love something, it’s five stars. If it sucks or it’s not for me, 1 and 2 star ratings exist for a reason. However, looking back at the large number of 3 star and 4 star books that make up the bulk of my Goodreads ‘read’ shelf, I can’t help but wonder where things would sit if I had rated them with my current attitude and closer to how I really felt.

Change in Interests, Tastes & Reading Experience

The things we enjoy and the reasons we enjoy them change substantially over the course of our lives. Music I had on loop as a teen, in most cases, isn’t my go to in my mid-twenties (except maybe Taylor Swift & The High School Musical Soundtrack – those will always bop). The same thing applies to books. Over the years, as I’ve read more books from different genres and authors I’ve been exposed to a range of tropes, clichés, character & story archetypes, and writing styles. As a result, things that I once thought were original, exciting or humorous are now…less so. With this experience, my tastes and interests have also gradually shifted toward other things. For these reasons, I’m almost positive that were I to read certain books from years ago now, I’d feel very differently about them. But does that make my reviews and ratings of them less reliable?

This is a bit of a tough call. Although older and more widely read Ashley has better taste and awareness (I hope), my younger self was: (a) experiencing those books for the first time, (b) for YA reads, closer in age to the intended target audience and better able to relate to the characters’ emotions and experiences, and (c) perhaps reading about certain tropes, stories & character types before they became overused. Would I still love Harry Potter as much had I read it for the first time in my twenties? Maybe, maybe not. I hope so, at least, but I guess I’ll never know.

However, with this in mind, I will say that I often have to resist the urge to go back and edit my old reviews (they’re tragic, really) and ratings to make them more in line with my current ideas. It’s extremely tempting, but something I know I need to avoid to prevent further damaging their reliability.

Memory Based Ratings

Now for another tricky one. Review websites have only existed for a certain number of years and it’s fair to say that most people will have read a lot of books before ever deciding to start formally rating, reviewing and discussing them online. By the time we begin to do so, there’s a degree of separation between now and when we actually read those books, leaving us to rely largely on our memory of the content and how we felt about it.

I don’t know about you, but I often forget whether I remembered to unplug my straightener and pack my charger of a morning. So the very suggestion that I’m also able to remember how much I liked a book I read five plus years ago well enough to accurately rate and discuss it seems like a pigs flying kind of scenario. Do I have a general idea? Sure, but is it detailed enough to consider my casual clicking of the Goodreads star buttons for books I read pre-the site entirely reliable ratings? Eh, probably not.

Don’t get me wrong, for books I obsessively loved or hated, this is probably less of a problem as the emotions associated with them are particularly strong, but with the ones in the middle, perhaps take them with a grain of salt.


So, how reliable are my past reviews and ratings? I suppose the answer is: it’s complicated. It all depends on the book, really – when I read it, what I rated it, how memorable it was, and so on and so forth. If that sounds messy to you, you’d be right! Then again, the fact that there are variations in the accuracy and quality of the reviews of an individual reviewer is no different than the mixed bag we usually sift through from multiple reviewers in deciding whether to read a book or not. I suppose it all comes down to finding reviewers who share your interests, tastes and views. When they recommend something, sometimes they’re on the money and other times they’re not. How reliable I am is up to you.

(But as a suggestion, maybe, just maybe check the year on individual reviews & ratings, and hold tasteless, illegible, teen Ashley to a lower standard. Please and thank you!)