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Hi All!

I just thought I’d switch things up by starting up my own site and share a bit more with you guys than I do on my bookstagram and Tumblr!

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Seher and I’m a reader based in Pakistan! I read just about everything I can get my hands on! That being said I adore fantasy and poetry! I used to post exclusively on Instagram, but now I’ve decided to try and maintain my own blog!

If you prefer Instagram, that’s all good! I’ve linked that below! And if you prefer getting your reviews and giveaways on Tumblr and Twitter, those will be here too!

I’m also using this as a more creative space, so you’ll also get plenty of tarot card posts, restaurant reviews (from Islamabad), and pictures of the sky after it rains! I’ll also be posting my writing update, which is something I’m trying to get back into!

This is The Girl Who Reads in chaos mode!

I maintain two tumblr accounts! Which does sound like a bit much, but both serve for different moods!

My book tumblr lets me post more content than I can on my bookstagram, so you’ll find more posts here (in the future) and more excerpts, etc!

https://bookstagramofmine.tumblr.com/

My poetry tumblr is a mood. Things that I love are posted there!

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/alliwanttodoiscollectpoetry

You can also find me on twitter (where I generally just cry and complain about life)

I listen to music on Deezer! I know its not spotify, but I just love the Flow button!

I have a lot of badges from all the sites I usually review on and now you have to see them because this is the first time I’ve had a place to put them! 🙂

100 Book Reviews
Reviews Published
Professional Reader

And last but not least, my google reviews!

  • The Wit and Wisdom of Hilda Ffnch by Juliet Warrington

    The Wit and Wisdom of Hilda Ffnch by Juliet Warrington
    The Wit and Wisdom of Hilda Ffinch

    Thank you Kaleidoscopic Book Tours for the chance to read and review this book!

    Some background to this!

    Kaleidoscopic Book Tours organised a tour in conjunction with Clink Street Publishing featuring some really awesome reads! While I’ve read My Body is My Business in the past, I read The Wit and Wisdom of Hilda Ffinch and Men I Dated So You Don’t Have To for this tour!

    I’m also spectacularly late because I managed to mess up all my dates!

    So with full apologies to the author, the tour organisers and the publishers, let’s start on this review!

    Clink Street Publishing

    Clink Street Publishing is a New York based publishing house that aims to blend the best of traditional and independent publishing.

    What this means is that they make sure their authors get generous royalties and a lot of creative freedom, but they also make sure there is someone there to make sure the book is edited well.

    Kudos to them because its reflected in the books I’ve read!

    Book Review for The Wit and Wisdom of Hilda Ffinch

    We all love agony aunt reads for a reason. They’re always funny because sometimes you’re like how has this person managed to get into this mess, but in this case it’s because the responses are so funny!

    Hilda Ffinch, a local author, gives out all this advice and is generally in the know about whatever has happened in her small town. When people wonder if they’re making an ass of themselves, she can tell them that they are and how to fix it.

    The book is nothing short of brilliantly funny! Hilda Ffinch is so great, I want to be friends with her, but at a distance, just so that I can get all the tea. The innuendos are brilliant, there are two or three responses where I was not sure what kind of pussy we were talking about! The titles are great!

    I want a sequel to the book ASAP! It’s a great debut by Juliet Warrington, and all 321 pages go by in a blink! I am honestly so mad that it doesn’t have more reviews on Goodreads!

    Blurb:

    England, 1940. With Adolf Hitler and his henchmen goose-stepping around and ranting for the Fatherland on the far side of the English Channel, the villagers of Little Hope in deepest, darkest Yorkshire, are doing their very best to Keep Calm and Carry On. It isn’t always easy, what with evacuees, air raids and a general shortage of knicker-elastic. Sometimes even the stiffest upper lip is wont to tremble. But help is at hand! Enter Mrs Hilda Ffinch, horrendously bored and terribly rich lady of the manor who takes it upon herself to step into the role of Agony Aunt for the local newspaper.

  • Men I Dated So You Don’t Have To by Verity Ellis

    Men I Dated So You Don’t Have To by Verity Ellis
    Men I Dated So You Don’t Have To by Verity Ellis

    We both stared at each other, wondering whether my dating life was a cause for concern or hysterics. I don’t think either of us knew the answer.

    Thank you Kaleidoscopic Tours for the chance to read and review Men I Dated So You Don’t Have To by Verity Ellis! The book came out earlier this year and was published by Clink Street Publishing! At 271 pages, it’s a very quick read, and while I loved the book, for the authors sake I’m glad that it’s not longer!

    Long story short, I loved the book! Verity Ellis writes well and keeps things funny, while still being gentle about herself and the men she dated. But she’s also a writer who genuinely makes it seem like you’re sitting next to a friend whose telling you all of her chaotic dating stories.

    I’ll be honest with you ; the title made it seem as though this would he a self help book. I’m so glad that it wasn’t! Of course, we do get plenty of advice from Lily.

    I think this book is suited to everyone dating in their twenties, realising the kind of mess they are and they kind of mess they’re in! Everyone may be an experience, but it’s also like I could do with some less character growth and more permanent relationship you know?

    I also loved the cover!

  • Giveaway and Book Review: The Widow’s Christmas Surprise by Jenna Jaxon

    Giveaway and Book Review: The Widow’s Christmas Surprise by Jenna Jaxon

    Thank you Goddess Fish Promotions for the chance to read and review The Widow’s Christmas Surprise by Jenna Jaxon

    Book Review: The Widow’s Christmas Surprise

    I’m a huge fan of regency romance, so when Goddess Fish Promotions sent around the sign ups for this book, I immediately had to join in! Long story short (if you don’t want to stick around for the whole review) it’s a solid read, with a really interesting plot.

    The Widow’s Christmas Surprise is book number 5 in The Widows Club series. Each book stars a woman, whose husband was martyred in the battle of Waterloo. While all the women are friends, each finds her own path to happiness, but with the support of each other. This particular book is 258 pages long and was published by Zebra Books, which is a Kensington Books imprint.

    I will say though, that this was waaaaaaay less fluffy and cute than I imagined it would be. Like this isn’t a feel good Christmas romance at all. So don’t be taken in by the cover!

    As a whole, I liked Maria and all the characters in the book. I also feel like Jenna Jaxon threw in an interesting development, with some really terrible people which kept it fairly interesting. The book did lose me in the middle a little, when Maria kept acting like a giddy child in love, despite doing her best to be so proper earlier. I do have to remind myself that it’s also because she is a really young character. I’m not sure what to make of her cousin Jane, because on one hand she helps Maria, but is also super conscious of her actions, even though she’s technically being inappropriate as well. I did like Hugh and how he was really solid and responsible.

    The Widow’s Christmas Surprise by Jenna Jaxon
    The Widow’s Christmas Surprise by Jenna Jaxon

    Giveaway

    Jenna Jaxon will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
    The Widow’s Christmas Surprise by Jenna Jaxon

    Blurb:

    The death of her husband has thrown Lady Maria Kersey’s future into doubt—and her heart into the arms of a man she cannot have. But Christmas with the Widows’ Club will bring choices—and surprises–that may change all her holidays to come . . .
     
    Maria just gave birth to her first child, a beautiful daughter—but the event is shrouded in sorrow.  A month earlier, Maria’s husband, Lord Kersey, was killed in a duel under compromising circumstances. Worse, Maria’s failure to provide a male heir has stripped her of any hope of an inheritance. Scorned by the ton, one of her few allies is her late husband’s steward, Hugh Granger. Hugh is everything her husband was not—warm, charming—and penniless. . . . 
     
    Hugh has fallen desperately in love with Maria, but has little to offer but comfort. As their attraction becomes impossible to resist, Maria flees to London to spend Christmas with her dearest friends, a group of widows who lost their own husbands in the Battle of Waterloo. Little does she know the holidays will reveal a twist of fate she never expected—proving that the greatest Christmas gift is the magic of true love . . .
     
     
    Visit us at http://www.kensingtonbooks.com

  • Giveaway: Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham

    Giveaway: Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham

    Book Tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources!

    Happy Saturday everyone!

    If you’re into historical thrillers and William Shakespeare, I have just the book for you! Thanks to Rachel, I’ve just finished Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham!

    Twelve Nights is a work of historical fiction set in Elizabethan times. The book first came out on the 6th of May and was published by Nerthus. It’s the first book in The Heavenly Charmers series and is available for free to Kindle Unlimited members. This is also not Penny Inghams first book; she’s written 3 others, all available of which are also on Kindle Unlimited.

    Giveaway

    I never post a giveaway at the end, but I would love it if you did continue reading my post!

    The winner of the giveaway will win a paperback copy of Twelve Nights (Open to UK Only)

    *Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

    Review

    Our main character, Magdalen, the wardrobe mistress of the theatre, stands accused of murdering a player; just because they think poison is a woman’s weapon. As Magdalen tries to find out who really murdered the other player, asking other people makes her a very visible target to kill next. She’s also hampered by how women were treated in that day and age, and her grandmother is catholic to boot. While everyone, besides the jailer and coroner, think she’s innocent, they aren’t able or sometimes willing to do a lot about that. When everyone is doing their best to just survive, you can’t stick your next out too much.

    Historical mystery is an interesting genre as a whole. It feels like it’s easier to get away with murder than it is to solve it because the tools are just so much more limited. It’s insane to see how the end comes about, especially when, she doesn’t really solve it herself.

    I thought it was interesting that the second they asked around about the player they were able to discover so many of his secrets. Everyone was pretty open about what dealings they had with the man, and who he was sleeping with. It’s also acknowledged that this was an addiction on his part; one that hurt not just him, but his last remaining family. I loved that he was made such a complicated character, but I really don’t want to spoil anything!

    At the same time, it’s important to acknowledge that there really isn’t a happy ending. For a poor woman on her own, in that day and age, there just couldn’t have been. Keep in mind that there is definite sexual harassment and violence in the story. I don’t think Penny Ingham added this to be sensational, but to depict what those times were like for women; despite there being a female ruler. In that sense it was really interesting to contrast the lives of Magdalen and Amelia Bassano.

    I hope that the second book wraps up a lot of things that the author started in the first one. For instance, what happens to Amelia Bassano ? I mean we know what happens to her in real life, but I’d love to see her in another book. Does Christopher Mountjoy get his comeuppance? Is she able to complete the order? There are, of course, other questions that I want answered, but I’m really trying to keep the spoilers to a minimum.

    About Penny Ingham:

    I was born and raised in Yorkshire where my father inspired my love of history from an early age. He is a born story teller and would take us to the top of Iron Age hillforts, often as dusk was falling, and regale us with stirring tales of battles lost and won. Not surprisingly, I went on to study Classics at university, and still love spending my summers on archaeological digs. For me, there is nothing more thrilling than finding an artefact that has not seen the light of day for thousands of years. I find so much inspiration for my novels from archaeology. 

    I have had a variety of jobs over the years, including working for the British Forces newspaper in Germany, and at the BBC. When our family was little, the only available space for me to write was a small walk-in wardrobe. The children used to say, ‘oh, mum’s in the cupboard again’. 

    I have written four historical novels: The King’s Daughter explores the story of Aethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians. The Saxon Wolves and the Saxon Plague are both set in fifth century AD, a time of enormous upheaval and uncertainty in Britain as the Romans departed and the Saxon era began. My latest is something a bit different. Twelve Nights is a crime thriller set in sixteenth century London, and features William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. 

    I now live with my husband in the Hampshire countryside. Like many others during the pandemic, we decided to try growing our own fruit and vegetables – with mixed results! We can only get better! 

    Blurb for Twelve Nights

    The Theatre

    London, 1592

    When a player is murdered, suspicion falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. The scandal-pamphlets vilify her. The coroner is convinced of her guilt.

    Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. Her much-loved grandmother is too old and sick. Will Shakespeare is benignly detached, and her friend Christopher Marlowe is wholly unreliable. Only one man offers his assistance, but dare she trust him when nothing about him rings true?

    With just two weeks until the inquest, Magdalen ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer – for all other roads lead to the gallows.

  • Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

    Belladonna by Adalyn Grace
    Belladonna by Adalyn Grace; a purple-pink cover, with 2 birds sitting on some branches of a plant with flowers and berries (presumably belladonna)

    But Death did not need to be seen; he was to be felt. He was a weight upon the chest, or a collar buttoned too tight. A fall into frigid, lethal waters. Death was suffocating, and he was ice.

    Book Review by The Girl Who Reads

    Thank you NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for the chance to read Belladonna by Adalyn Grace. In case someone doesn’t want to stick around for the full post, Belladonna is a fantastic read, perfect if you’re a fan of the V. E. Schwab books, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and Gallant.

    Belladonna comes out on the 30th of August. It’s a young adult book, and can be further classified as YA fantasy, YA thriller/ mystery, and historical fantasy. It’s 416 pages long and beautifully written. I can 100% imagine all the merchandise that people can make from this because the book is pretty quotable. I hate saying that but it’s true! I have 19 lines highlighted on my kindle! Belladonna is also the first book in the series by the same name, and while I’m not sure how many books we’ll get from the series, I can already tell you that I will request the second one on NetGalley as soon as I can and probably get pretty hardcover editions of all of them. The second book is titled Foxglove (according to Goodreads).

    It’s also not Adalyn Grace’s first book. She’s also the author of All the Stars and Teeth duopoly, which seems to have incredibly well received (NYT called the it the biggest YA fantasy of 2020).

    Review Time

    Signs has always been surrounded by poison; her parents death at a young age to her immunity from belladonna. As an heiress, she’s also been surrounded by poisonous people, who really just want access to her money so that they can finance their lives. As she moves to her final guardians home, she discovers that she may have the chance to actually live the life that she wants; one where she is a lady and be wooed and swept off her feet and have her own home. It’s just the home that she gets to is in disarray as her aunt has died and her cousin lies there kicking on deaths door.

    Signa trembled like a hummingbird. Someone had truly arrived to retrieve her. To whisk her away to a family high within the social hierarchy, with whom she might wear beautiful gowns and sip tea with other women and have the life she yearned for.

    Signa, as a charter goes through tremendous growth. She starts off as someone who doesn’t understand what her abilities could mean and is ready to be rescued, to someone who takes action when she needs to. She knows that if she doesn’t investigate, this group of people, who she is getting fond of, could all be gone soon; the life that she wanted could be gone, and she works to keep it.

    Spoilers Ahead:

    “Your name is no curse, Little Bird. I just like the taste of it.”

    I did feel like her relationship with Death was done a bit too quickly; I wish it had developed more. The way it was, it felt more like brutal attraction rather than something more.

    I loved how Blythe and Percy were set up, although I don’t understand what Percy’s plan for Blythe was, given that I know he did love her in some way. Byron was absolved too quickly, and I wish we had seen more of Charlotte in the book. I really did love how Adalyn Grace showed us that these young women, despite their wealth and, seemingly, good fortune, were trapped. It was also good to see Signa grow out of the desire to be one of them quickly. It was also really funny to see that it’s hinted to Signa that her mother, despite being very interesting and beautiful, wasn’t really a nice person, and that she just brushes it off and thinks that she could be more free like her mother.

    With all her pretenses lost, her words became sharper and more venomous. Possibly, it was because there was no need to impress him. No need for social graces and second-guessing her every thought and action. With him, there was no pretending. Perhaps this was simply who she was.

    Spoilers over

    I feel like most readers will just fall in love with the authors style of writing. She has a way of puts into words a lot of things we’ve felt but never really said out loud:

    Someone whose name alone could soften a voice.

    Like who says that?

    Anyway, as of me writing this, Belladonna is on sale, so I would 100% suggest you pre-order it!

    Question of the Day: What NetGalley approvals are you really excited to get into?

    Blurb for Belladonna

    New York Times bestselling author Adalyn Grace brings to life a highly romantic, Gothic-infused world of wealth, desire, and betrayal.

    Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being—and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy. Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.
     
    However, Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful—and more irresistible—than she ever dared imagine.

  • Nura and the Immortal Palace by M. T. Khan

    Nura and the Immortal Palace by M. T. Khan

    Book Tour organised by TBR and Beyond Tours

    What kind of magic is this?” I gasp. The makeup artist jinn only leans against the door frame of the dressing room with a smirk on his thick lips. “The kind that comes with money, beta.

    Nura and the Immortal Palace by M. T. Khan

    Housekeeping:

    Nura and the Immortal Palace is M. T. Khan’s debut novel, perfect for middle grade readers. It was published on the 5th of July by Jimmy Patterson, which is a Little, Brown and Company imprint. The 273 page long book is set in Pakistan and the world of the djinn.
    
    Nura is a child working in the mines trying to mine mica so that her mother doesn’t have to take up extra jobs. She’s also really fond of gulab jaman (who isn’t) and dreams of having the ability to buy few from vendors who charge even more when a poor kid comes up to buy them. She dreams of finding a mythical treasure in the mines so that her family never has to work again. After an accident that traps her best friend in the mines, Nura manages to dig down into the world of the djinn upon the invitation of her qareen.
    

    Review:

    I signed up for the TBR and Beyond Tour because I don’t think I’ve ever come across a middle grade novel that had djinn and was set in Pakistan. I hoped that M. T. Khan wouldn’t fall into the traps that most desi writers do by waxing lyrical about mangoes, and thankfully we get none of that.
    
    The book is fast paced and fun. I was so excited to see the appearance of the qareen, and the way the author included djinn stories in here. I loved the element of Ayatul Kursi in the book; and the way that it worked. I was a big fan of how we see that there are good djinn and not so great djinn, but they’re also living in a world that is eerily similar to ours; which is the cruz of the problem. The world that Khan set up was pretty interesting. 
    
    My problem with the book was that Khan did a lot of telling and not showing. I’m not sure if that’s just a problem I face as an adult reader, or if a child will feel them same. 
    
    (Note to self: need to test this book on my 11 year old cousin).

    Beyond the book

    Blurb for Nura and the Immortal Palace

    Aru Shah and the End of Time meets Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away in this mesmerizing portal fantasy that takes readers into the little-known world of Jinn.

    Nura longs for the simple pleasure of many things—to wear a beautiful red dupatta or to bite into a sweet gulab. But with her mom hard at work in a run-down sweatshop and three younger siblings to feed, Nura must spend her days earning money by mica mining. But it’s not just the extra rupees in her pocket Nura is after. Local rumor says there’s buried treasure in the mine, and Nura knows that finding it could change the course of her family’s life forever.

    Her plan backfires when the mines collapse and four kids, including her best friend, Faisal, are claimed dead. Nura refuses to believe it and shovels her way through the dirt hoping to find him. Instead, she finds herself at the entrance to a strange world of purple skies and pink seas—a portal to the opulent realm of jinn, inhabited by the trickster creatures from her mother’s cautionary tales. Yet they aren’t nearly as treacherous as her mother made them out to be, because Nura is invited to a luxury jinn hotel, where she’s given everything she could ever imagine and more. 

    But there’s a dark truth lurking beneath all that glitter and gold, and when Nura crosses the owner’s son and is banished to the working quarters, she realizes she isn’t the only human who’s ended up in the hotel’s clutches. Faisal and the other missing children are there, too, and if Nura can’t find a way to help them all escape, they’ll be bound to work for the hotel forever.Set in a rural industrial town in Pakistan and full of hope, heart, and humor, Nura and the Immortal Palace is inspired by M.T. Khan’s own Pakistani Muslim heritage. 

    About the Author:

    M.T. Khan is a speculative fiction author with a penchant for all things myth, science, and philosophy. She focuses on stories that combine all three, dreaming of evocative worlds and dark possibilities.

    When she’s not writing, M.T. Khan has her nose deep in physics textbooks or glued to her CAD computer as she majors in Mechanical Engineering. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, she currently resides in Toronto, Canada, with a hyperactive cat and an ever-increasing selection of tea.

  • The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia

    The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia

    A book that covers a great deal in a small amount of space! Perfect for lovers of found fantasy, blood magic, and migration.

    4 out of 5 stars!

    Firuz-jan, you cannot appreciate the dangers a tool possesses unless you are hurt by it. Only then can you learn how to use it properly to prevent such pain. How else can we promise the world we pose no threat?”

    Housekeeping!

    Thank you NetGalley for the chance to read and review The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia.

    Naseem Jamnia is an editor at Sword & Kettle Press, which is a small press of feminist speculative fiction and poetry. They also have some chapbooks which I’m interested in (in case anyone wants to get me something for no reason or as an early birthday present). While they have published some short stories, The Bruising of Qilwa is their debut novella.

    The Bruising of Qilwa is being published by Tachyon Publications (they published The Tangleroot Palace which is just love) on the 9th of August. At just under 200 pages (191) it’s classified as a novella. 

    “But you don’t know what it was like to go through that training… You have no idea what it’s like to be a blood magic user by affinity. No clue what our culture does and doesn’t condone.”

    Now onto the actual review!

    Our main charter Firuz is a practitioner of blood magic who does their best to hide it as they arrived in Qilwa with their family. Living in the slums, Firuz (who has some medical training) starts work as a clinic with Kofi training them, as the city is threatened by a pandemic blamed on the refugees. As the illness changes it’s nature, Firuz has to do their best to find out how to stop an illness spread by someone adept in blood magic.

    There are a lot of themes that stand out in this little book. For those interested in found family, this will be a nuanced fantasy that covers the love, the worry and the hurt of those relationships. For those interested in magic, the details on balance will stand out. For those interested in migration and encounters between communities at the frontier, the relationship between Sassanians and Dilmunis will be fascinating (especially after Kofi’s small lesson). 

    It would also be amiss to not comment on how The Bruising of Qilwa is also an incredibly queer read. Our main character and their brother is trans, everyone is introduced with their pronouns at the start, and the author also makes use of neopronouns (hu and ey) in the book. I’m sorry to say that I’m not used to that in books, and was sure that hos was a type, until I got to hu and realised that this was another pronoun. Firuz also uses they/them pronouns and is asexual (I think).

    Firuz is also a great character to read about. They’re doing their best to juggle the demands of work and end up neglecting their younger brother. They feel incredibly guilty for having managed to get a home outside of the slums, and they aren’t incredibly powerful themselves.

    I will say that I found the ending too rushed. I would have wanted more with Kofi, more hints of everything that was to come. I think that could have been elaborated on instead of just happening like that. The history lesson with Sassanians and Dilmunis was great, but I didn’t feel like any of that was properly explored in the story and it felt like it was just thrown in.

    To sum, this was a 4 out of 5 star read, and I hope to see more from Naseem Jamnia in the future!

    Blurb:

    In this intricate debut fantasy introducing a queernormative Persian-inspired world, a nonbinary refugee practitioner of blood magic discovers a strange disease that causes political rifts in their new homeland. Persian-American author Naseem Jamnia has crafted a gripping narrative with a moving, nuanced exploration of immigration, gender, healing, and family. Powerful and fascinating, The Bruising of Qilwa is the newest arrival in the era of fantasy classics such as the Broken Earth Trilogy, The Four Profound Weaves, and Who Fears Death.

    Firuz-e Jafari is fortunate enough to have immigrated to the Free Democratic City-State of Qilwa, fleeing the slaughter of other traditional Sassanian blood magic practitioners in their homeland. Despite the status of refugees in their new home, Firuz has a good job at a free healing clinic in Qilwa, working with Kofi, a kindly new employer, and mentoring Afsoneh, a troubled orphan refugee with powerful magic.

    But Firuz and Kofi have discovered a terrible new disease which leaves mysterious bruises on its victims. The illness is spreading quickly through Qilwa, and there are dangerous accusations of ineptly performed blood magic. In order to survive, Firuz must break a deadly cycle of prejudice, untangle sociopolitical constraints, and find a fresh start for their both their blood and found family.

  • The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

    The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

    Thank you NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for the chance to read and review The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill!

    The Woman in the Library came out on the 7th of June. This is not Sulari Gentill’s first book; she also has a 10 book long series Rowland Sinclair WWII Mysteries. The Woman in the Library is 292 pages long (at least the kindle version is) and it’s a work of epistolary fiction. It’s currently top of that list on the amazon charts. 

    What is epistolary fiction?

    Epistolary fiction is when a novel is told through a series of letters, but it’s also a genre that expands to include novels that only have parts told through letters and contain other documents such as diary entries, newspaper clippings, emails, or are told entirely through these other documents. I’m linking the wikipedia page on this, but some really famous works that I’ve read are 

    The princess diaries 
    Griffin and Sabine (if you haven’t read this you’re really missing out)
    Bridget jones diary 
    The diary of a london call girl 
    Dracula
    Carrie

    And these are the titles on the wikipedia page. If the genre is this broad, then I think most of us can come up with a dozen epistolary novels we’ve read.

    Back to The Woman in the Library

    Sulari Gentill’s new book is set towards the start of the pandemic. It starts off fairly wholesome. Our main character, Hannah, is writing another book (she’s a published writer) and corresponding with her pen pal and fan, Leo, and sending him chapters. Leo is also writing a novel but has been getting turned down by agents and publishers. As the pandemic sets in Hannah’s plans to visit the US get derailed, but she keeps writing the book. It’s an amateur sleuth novel (which is one of the genre’s that The Woman in the Library belongs to), while Leo keeps helping her by digging up information on the city the book is set in. Of course, as the novel progresses, we realise that there is much more going on.

    Within the novel that Hannah writes we have four strangers bonded by a scream in the library. They end up becoming friends bonded by the murder and the weird stuff that happens to Freddie, the main character. We’re told by Leo who the killer is early (we can only presume that this is an email from Hannah to Leo as we never do see her emails), and it’s interesting to see the characters come to that conclusion slowly. We’re shown that Freddie really liked the killer and doesn’t want to believe it’s him; she’s the unreliable narrator but we’re also still curious to see if she’s right or not.

    The Woman in the library has a banging plot. Like the plot is phenomenal (I’m not revealing anymore because spoilers) and so interesting that I had to finish the book. I just wish that Sulari Gentills writing matched up. This book has so much potential but it just fell short and it’s hard to explain that to another person unless they’ve read it but I’ll try.

    Hannah sends each chapter to Leo to read. Leo reads the chapter and writes a short email back on how much he loves everything and sends her helpful information on the US. Those chapters are not well written. I couldn’t fathom anyone liking Cain or Freddie or chapter-Leo, or Whit or Marigold. Leo’s love of Marigold and love for everything Hannah wrote was a little annoying. On the one hand, that could be intentional, to show that this is a writer working through things, but on the other hand, as it formed the bulk of the book, it also took away from the novel, even though that plot was great. I would have liked to have seen better chapters sent from Hannah to Leo, and smaller corrections like phrases and things. 

    I saw the thing with email-Leo coming. I don’t know if other readers did or did not, but I didn’t mind that. Again, the plot is great. But my problem is that the chapters were not good enough to hold my interest and by the end I was skimming; at that point if there was a change in the style of Hannahs writing (which Leo pointed out was getting heavy handed), I didn’t pick up on it. Had those earlier chapters been more put together I would have loved seeing this happen. I also didn’t like the ending to the chapters, which could have been better done. I wish the killer was different; this felt like garbage.

  • Book Review: Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse

    Book Review: Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse
    Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse - Random Things Tour poster

    When it comes, will it come without warning, 
    Just as I’m picking my nose?
    Will it knock on my door in the morning, 
    Or tread in the bus on my toes?
    Will it come like a change in the weather? 
    Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
    Will it alter my life altogether? 
    O tell me the truth about love.

    O Tell Me the Truth About Love ~ W.H. Auden

    Thank you Random Things Tours for the chance to read and review this book!

    Tell Me The Truth about Love by Susanna Abse came out on the 19th of May, 2022. The book is 221 pages long and was published by Ebury Press, which is a Penguin Imprint. It is also Susanna Abe’s first published book. It’s based on Susanna’s experience as a psychoanalytic therapist (she started practising in 1991), and while it’s technically non-fiction, in the interest of privacy (and just not being terrible) Susanna has blurred the lines between a few of her clients.

    While the premise seemed really interesting, I was unsure of how I would feel about reading a therapists point of view of their patients. Confidentiality is a really important thing; would I go to a therapist if I thought they would include a chapter about me in their book? Absolutely not; I would much rather suffer. This is why I felt a lot better after reading the authors note in the front where she acknowledges that she’s drawn from her experience to describe scenarios, rather than take people’s actual stories.

    Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse
    Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse

    Susanna is a good writer. She doesn’t make any of these stories feel staged or stilted. She’s also honest about her owns shortcomings and about the situations where she could have done better, and even the ones where things don’t work because the patients aren’t that invested. I also loved the chapter titles, which are support creative! I think this is a solid book if you’d like to understand more about yourself and the way people around you think.

    I read something similar in the past, Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Salon. While that book was a bit more entertaining, I feel like Abse was infinitely gentler about her patients, which means if you’re interested in something like this, Tell Me The Truth About Love will be more palatable.

    Tell Me the Truth About Love by Susanna Abse

    Blurb for Tell Me the Truth About Love

    Drawing on more than 30 years of working closely with people who have encountered hurdles in their love lives, psychoanalytic psychotherapist, former chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council, and presenter of Channel 4 News ‘Britain on the Couch’, Susanna Abse, takes us deep inside one of the most fascinating realms there is: other people’s relationships.

    The 13 case histories in this book are inspired and informed by tens of thousands of sessions with many hundreds of patients. These stories, which take us deep into the heart of the consulting room, shed light on some of the universal themes and eternal dilemmas we face in our love lives.

    The result is a book of solace, wisdom, and insight into how, and why, we love.

    Susanna Abse

    About the Author

    SUSANNA ABSE is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist who has worked in private practice with couples, individuals and parents since 1991.

    She is the chair of The British Psychoanalytic Council and spent a decade as CEO of the charity Tavistock Relationships. She has also recently been presenting Britain on the Couch for Channel 4 News and contributes regularly as an expert on print features about relationships.

    She has published widely on couple therapy, parenting, and family policy and how these areas need to be at the heart of progressive welfare provision, a subject on which she lectures and teaches.

    Susanna is a Senior Fellow of the Tavistock Institute for Medical Psychology, a fellow of the Centre for Social Policy at Dartington; a previous Leadership Fellow at St George’s House, Windsor Castle, as well as a Member of the Advisory Board of Couple and Family Psychoanalysis. She is also Co-Editor of The Library of Couple and Family Psychoanalysis for Routledge Books. Between 2016-18, she was a member of the University of Birmingham mental health policy commission “Investing in a Resilient Generation”.

  • Interview with the author and book review: Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After by Anne E. Beall

    Interview with the author and book review: Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After by Anne E. Beall
    Cinderella Didn't Live Happily Ever After by Anne E. Beall

    Interview with Anne E. Beall; the author of Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After!

    Thank you iRead Book Tours for the chance to read and review Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After by Anne E. Beall! Over here, you guys will be able to read my mini review and also dive into the interview!

    Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After was published by Beall Research, Inc. on the 13th of November, 2018. At 127 pages, it’s a short read, but one that talks about a lot of overarching themes that you see in the Grimm’s fairy tales. It’s a good book for those who are interested in feminist theory and literary criticism. 

    We’ve all always known that happy ever after is usually not as happy as we imagine it will be. Not just because as we grow older we realise that even the things we do out of love and with the best intentions can fall apart, but as the poem goes, “the world is at least fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative estimate.” Cinderella won’t live happily ever after, not because we don’t want her too, but because the numbers don’t add up to a one.

    Even though the book is short it’s a really good one that allows a reader to really get a good sense of the major themes they’ll see when reading these fairy tales. It’s also great to see that the analysis is data driven. I won’t go into the statistical significance stuff, because I’m an Econ major who shouldn’t have graduated with a degree in econ, but I do think that they give a good sense of how common certain aspects of these stories are. Anne also includes the number and tables at the end, which I think is a great way to allow a reader to conduct their own analysis and invite further conversation.

    While Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After is a book for people of all ages, I would definitely want to give this to a reader in their teens, just to help them become less afraid of numbers and to show them the way data can be used in literature.

    Giveaway!

    CINDERELLA DID NOT LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER Book Tour Giveaway https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js
    Anne E. Beall

    A bit about Anne E. Beall

    A leader in the field of market research and one of the few female CEOs in the industry, Anne E. Beall is the author of 10 books in business, gender studies, and mindfulness, including Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily EverAfter: The Hidden Messages in Fairy Talesand The Psychology of Gender. Her book Heartfelt Connections was named one of the top 100 Notable Indie books in 2016 by Shelf Unbound, and she has published nearly a dozen business articles in noted journals. Her books have been featured in People Magazine, Toronto Sun, Hers Magazine, and Ms. Career Girl, and she has been interviewed by NBC, NPR, and WGN. Having received her PhD in social psychology from Yale University, Anne resides in Evanston, Illinois and is the founder of the market consultancy company Beall Research.

    And here is the interview!

    Why is the title of your book, Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After?

    Women within these stories have little agency and are fairly powerless after they marry. Queens and princesses are the most unhappy characters—queens express sadness and cry more than any other character. The reason for their sorrow is that other women often attack them, sometimes they have their children taken from them, and they’re punished by the king (their husband). If this pattern holds, Cinderella will not have a peaceful life. Given the appeal of the prince, she will be the envy of many ladies. She is also bringing less to the table than the prince, who has wealth, status, and a kingdom. Research shows that when you bring fewer resources to a relationship, you have less power in it, which is what happens to many queens in fairy tales.

    Don’t fairy tales change over time?

    Fairy tales adapt to the teller and location through a variety of contexts (e.g., forest vs. desert) and the dialogue also changes. But often the basic story remains. For example, one of the earliest Cinderella stories featured a Greek slave named Rhodopis. She was bathing when an eagle stole her sandal and dropped into the King of Egypt’s lap. He was holding a meeting at the time and was moved by the beauty of the sandal as well as the strangeness of the situation. He asked his advisors to locate the sandal’s owner, which took a while. They finally located Rhodopis, who eventually became his wife. This story is from around the first century BC! So, you can see the essential tale is the same from thousands of years ago.

    Cinderella Didn't Live Happily Ever After by Anne E. Beall Tour Banner
    Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After by Anne E. Beall Tour Banner

    People Magazine featured your book and then NBC interviewed you. What was that like?

    It was totally amazing, and it surprised me when the magazine picked it up. People became interested in the book because characters in fairy tales vary in terms of the emotions they experience. For example, kings and princes are the happiest characters, whereas queens are the saddest. They found that data interesting and worthy of an article. I was also invited to appear on an NBC morning show in Tampa because they found the book relevant when Meghan Markle left the royal family. Everyone wanted to understand why marrying a prince might not turn out well. It was a dream come true to have major media interested in my book.

    What is your favorite fairy tale and why?

    Believe it or not—my favorite fairy tale is Cinderella. It’s one of the oldest fairy tales and there are at least 1,500 versions around the world! I love the idea of a woman getting out of a terrible situation. And I like the idea of marriage as an avenue to a new life. It’s a sweet story and there is a reason it has stood the test of time. I also like the reversed gendered version where a princess saves a man who is downtrodden, and they begin a new life together. It’s just a lovely idea.

    Do you think people really take fairy tales seriously?

    While writing this book, it struck me how often people used the phrases “happily ever after,” “fairy tale,” “princess, queen, king, and queen.” These phrases are a huge part of our culture and I believe many people aspire to have a life of wealth and privilege—a fairy tale life. However, these tales often showcase women as passive and weak, whereas men are portrayed as active and strong, which are traditional gender stereotypes. Powerful women in these tales are often evil, whereas powerful men are mostly good. These ideas may form a lens through which we see the world. For example, little girls who get a heavy dose of princess culture may look to males to save them when things get difficult. So, to answer your question, these are fun entertaining stories, but at some level we should all take them seriously—they are a huge part of our culture.