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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!

  • NetGalley Approvals For The Week

    NetGalley Approvals For The Week

    Someone needs to stop me!

    I love NetGalley! I’ve read some gorgeous books because of it, but I also have a 56% feedback ratio that I’ll never catch up on!

    I have to read 109 books to get to the elusive 80%! I needed to read fewer books at the start of the week, but of course I had to request things, and wishes had to come true!

    Here are 7 amazing approvals I got this week!

    1. Butts by Heather Radke

    Title: Butts: A Backstory
    Author: Heather Rake
    Release Date: 22nd November, 2022
    Publisher: Avid Reader Press 

    Blurb:

    Whether we love them or hate them, think they’re sexy, think they’re strange, consider them too big, too small, or anywhere in between, humans have a complicated relationship with butts. It is a body part unique to humans, critical to our evolution and survival, and yet it has come to signify so much more: sex, desire, comedy, shame. A woman’s butt, in particular, is forever being assessed, criticized, and objectified, from anxious self-examinations trying on jeans in department store dressing rooms to enduring crass remarks while walking down a street or high school hallways. But why? In Butts: A Backstory, reporter, essayist, and RadioLab contributing editor Heather Radke is determined to find out. 

    Spanning nearly two centuries, this vivid cultural history takes us from the performance halls of 19th-century London to the aerobics studios of the 1980s, the music video set of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and the mountains of Arizona, where every year humans and horses race in a feat of gluteal endurance. Along the way, she meets evolutionary biologists who study how butts first developed; models whose measurements have defined jean sizing for millions of women; and the fitness gurus who created fads like “Buns of Steel.” She also examines the central importance of race through figures like Sarah Bartmann, once known as the “Venus Hottentot,” Josephine Baker, Jennifer Lopez, and other women of color whose butts have been idolized, envied, and despised. 

    Part deep dive reportage, part personal journey, part cabinet of curiosities, Butts is an entertaining, illuminating, and thoughtful examination of why certain silhouettes come in and out of fashion—and how larger ideas about race, control, liberation, and power affect our most private feelings about ourselves and others.

    2. Ledge by Stacey McEwan

    Title: Ledge
    Author: Stacey McEwan
    Release Date: 13th September, 2022
    Publisher: Angry Robot 

    Blurb:

    The stunning debut novel from TikTok sensation Stacey McEwan (stacebookspace), Ledge is the fantasy quest of the year, with a sizzling enemies to lovers romance. 

    In a place known as The Ledge, a civilization is trapped by a vast chasm and sheer mountain face. Rations are small, living is tough and there is no way to escape without befalling a deathly drop. What’s more, every season the people must present themselves as a human sacrifice to the Glacians – mysterious winged creatures who reside beyond The Ledge.

    Dawsyn, axe wielder and only remaining member of her family, has so far avoided the annual culling, but her luck has run out. She is ripped from her icy home with no idea what will happen to her on the other side. Enslaved? Murdered? Worse?

    Fortunately, a half-Glacian called Ryon offers to help them both escape, but how can she trust one of the very creatures that plagued her life? Dawsyn is a survivor, and she is not afraid to cut anyone down to live. 

    3. The Society for Soulless Girls by Laura Steven

    Title: The Society for Soulless Girls
    Author: Laura Steven
    Release Date: 13th September, 2022
    Publisher: Angry Robot 

    Blurb:

    Ten years ago, four students lost their lives in the infamous North Tower murders at the elite Carvell College of Arts, forcing Carvell to close its doors.

    Now Carvell is reopening, and fearless student Lottie is determined to find out what really happened. But when her roommate, Alice, stumbles upon a sinister soul-splitting ritual hidden in Carvell’s haunted library, the North Tower claims another victim.

    Can Lottie uncover the truth before the North Tower strikes again? Can Alice reverse the ritual before her monstrous alter ego consumes her? And can they stop flirting for literally fifteen seconds in order to do this?

    Exploring possession and ambition, lust and bloodlust, femininity and violence, The Society of Soulless Girls is perfect for fans of Ace of Spaces, The Secret History and The Inheritance Games.

    The Killing Code by Ellie Marney

    Title: The Killing Code
    Author: Ellie Marney
    Release Date: 13th September, 2022
    Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

    A historical mystery about a girl who risks everything to track down a vicious serial killer, for fans of The Enigma Game and Last Night at the Telegraph Club.

    Virginia, 1943: World War II is raging in Europe and on the Pacific front when Kit Sutherland is recruited to help the war effort as a codebreaker at Arlington Hall, a former girls’ college now serving as the site of a secret US Signal Intelligence facility. But Kit is soon involved in another kind of fight: government girls are being brutally murdered in Washington DC, and when Kit stumbles onto a bloody homicide scene, she is drawn into the hunt for the killer.

    To find the man responsible for the gruesome murders and bring him to justice, Kit joins forces with other female codebreakers at Arlington Hall—gossip queen Dottie Crockford, sharp-tongued intelligence maven Moya Kershaw, and cleverly resourceful Violet DuLac from the segregated codebreaking unit. But as the girls begin to work together and develop friendships—and romance—that they never expected, two things begin to come clear: the murderer they’re hunting is closing in on them…and Kit is hiding a dangerous secret.

    5. The Grief Nurse by Angie Spoto

    Title: The Grief Nurse
    Author: Angie Spoto
    Release Date: 9th February, 2023
    Publisher: Sandstone Press

    Blurb:

    Imagine you could be rid of your sadness, your anxiety, your heartache, your fear. 

    Imagine you could take those feelings from others and turn them into something beautiful. 

    Lynx is a Grief Nurse. Kept by the Asters, a wealthy, influential family, to ensure they’re never troubled by negative emotions, she knows no other life.

    When news arrives that the Asters’ eldest son is dead, Lynx does what she can to alleviate their Sorrow. As guests flock to the Asters’ private island for the wake, bringing their own secrets, lies and grief, tensions rise.

    Then the bodies start to pile up.

    With romance, intrigue and spectacular gothic world-building, this spellbinding debut novel is immersive and unforgettable.

    6. Unquiet Spirits by Lee MurrayAngela Yuriko SmithLisa Kröger

    Title: Unquiet Spirits
    Author:  Lee MurrayAngela Yuriko SmithLisa Kröger
    Release Date: 14th February, 2023
    Publisher: Black Spot Books

    Blurb:

    From hungry ghosts, vampiric babies, and shapeshifting fox spirits to the avenging White Lady of urban legend, for generations, Asian women’s roles have been shaped and defined through myth and story. In Unquiet Spirits, Asian writers of horror reflect on the impact of superstition, spirits, and the supernatural in this unique collection of 21 personal essays exploring themes of otherness, identity, expectation, duty, and loss, and leading, ultimately, to understanding and empowerment.

    Unquiet Spirits is edited by multi-Bram Stoker Award®-winning author Lee Murray and Stoker®-winner Angela Yuriko Smith and includes a foreword by Stoker®-winner Lisa Kröger. This is the third in Murray and Smith’s series on Asian women-in-horror, which also includes the poetry collection TORTURED WILLOWS (2021) and the fiction short story collection, BLACK CRANES (2020), both of which have previously won the Bram Stoker Award®.

    7. Marple: Twelve New Stories by Agatha Christie; Naomi Alderman; Leigh Bardugo; Alyssa Cole; Lucy Foley; Elly Griffiths; Natalie Haynes; Jean Kwok; Val McDermid; Karen M. McManus; Dreda Say Mitchell; Kate Mosse; Ruth Ware

    Title: Marple: Twelve New Stories
    Author: (loads)
    Release Date: 15th September, 2022
    Publisher: HarperCollins

    Blurb:

    This collection of twelve original short stories, all featuring Jane Marple, will introduce the character to a whole new generation. Each author reimagines Agatha Christie’s Marple through their own unique perspective while staying true to the hallmarks of a traditional mystery.
    · Naomi Alderman
    · Leigh Bardugo
    · Alyssa Cole
    · Lucy Foley
    · Elly Griffiths
    · Natalie Haynes
    · Jean Kwok
    · Val McDermid
    · Karen M. McManus
    · Dreda Say Mitchell
    · Kate Mosse
    · Ruth Ware

    Miss Marple was first introduced to readers in a story Christie wrote for The Royal Magazine in 1927 and made her first appearance in a full-length novel in 1930’s The Murder at the Vicarage. It has been 45 years since Agatha Christie’s last Marple novel, Sleeping Murder, was published posthumously in 1976, and this collection of ingenious new stories by twelve Christie devotees will be a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains the most famous fictional female detective of all time.

  • With Fire In Their Blood by Kat Delacorte | Book Review

    With Fire In Their Blood by Kat Delacorte | Book Review
    With Fire in Their Blood by Kat Delacorte

    Thank you to Dave from The Write Reads for the chance to read and review With Fire in Their Blood by Kat Delacorte! And thank you NetGalley for providing the arc!

    ‘Climb the wall, Lilly,’ Nico Carenza said. ‘Please. I’m tired of losing things.’

    I did what he asked, then. Because I never thought I’d hear this boy beg me for anything.

    I’ve been having a hard time remembering character names these days, but with a glorious book like this one, I think it’ll be a while before I forget them!
       
    Let me make it clear from the start that I absolutely love this book! Yes, I need to pretend that a girl moves to Italy and has no trouble communicating with everyone. Yes, I’ll believe that all Italians from the mountains are beautiful. I’m okay with that and you will too!

    Housekeeping:

    With Fire in Their Blood is Kat Delacorte debut novel that comes out on the 1st of September, to make up for august slipping away like a bottle of wine. It’s a 416 page long book and is published by Penguin. While it broadly falls under young adult, it also comes under YA supernatural mysteries & thrillers. It’s also the first book in the series Skeleton Keepers.

    Blurb:

    When sixteen-year-old Lilly arrives in Castello, she isn’t impressed.

    A secluded town in the Italian mountains is not where she saw her last years of high school playing out.

    Divided for generations by a brutal clan-family war, the two halves of Castello are kept from destroying each other by the mysterious General, a leader determined to maintain order and ‘purity’. . . whatever the cost.

    Lilly falls in with the rebellious Liza, brooding Nico and sensitive Christian, and sparks begin to fly. But in a city where love can lead to ruin, Lilly isn’t sure she can trust anyone — not even herself.

    And then she accidentally breaks Castello’s most important rule: when the General’s men come to test your blood, you’d better not be anything more than human…

    Book Review:


    Kat Delacorte might be a debut novelist, but she writes like a pro, and I genuinely thought I’d go to her goodreads and see more things she’s published. I can’t, so dropping the hint that Kat you need to write more.
     
    Each character is fantastic. I loved Lilly’s resentment and anger, and how she called her mother by her name, which was a good touch by the author. I loved the way her abilities started to spark and how she just didn’t realize that it was her and not someone else. There was excellent world-building by the author; like perfect gothic story set in a small town where everyone lies vibes. I didn’t have to focus on the book, it drew me in on it’s own!

    Liza was my favorite by far though. You need to read the book to know. Kat Delacorte built up some excellent chemistry between the two of them, subtle but powerful. I am mad that Nico didn’t get more time in the book because how do you write a book for a generation of people raised on Percy Jackson and not make Nico your main from the get go? It’s just not acceptable!
     
    I loved the General and what he really wanted. I was also a huge fan of Professor Marconi! Basically I have no complaints about this book and I just want the next part!

    “Luckily, we aren’t all believers.”

    About the Author

    Kat Delacorte was eleven years old when her family moved from the United States to a small town in central Italy. She soon began writing stories about her new friends developing superpowers, and she hasn’t looked back since. She graduated with a BA in History from Columbia University, and lives in Venice, Italy. 

    Kat Delacorte
    @bookstagramofmine

    I’ve been having a hard time remembering character names these days, but I won’t forget anyone from With Fire in Their Blood by Kat Delacorte! #booktok #booktour #bookreview #booktour

    ♬ Carolina – From The Motion Picture “Where The Crawdads Sing” – Taylor Swift
  • The Reluctant Bridegroom by Arabella Sheraton

    The Reluctant Bridegroom by Arabella Sheraton

    Thank you Dorothy from Pump Up Your Book for the chance to read and review The Reluctant Bridegroom by Arabella Sheraton!

    Book Review by The Girl Who Reads for Pump Up Your Book

    If you’re in the mood for a clean romance novel, then The Reluctant Bridegroom is the book for you! It’s got plenty of twists, a great happy ending, and a couple of characters who come into their own!

    The Reluctant Bridegroom first came out on the 10th of April, 2015. It’s the 6th book in the series An Authentic Regency Romance. It’s 208 pages long, making it a short read. The book was self-published by the author, which means if you’re a fam of supporting solid indie authors then Arabella Sheraton is one for you!

    Regency romance is one of my favourite genres! It’s fun and pretty with a happy ending, and just enough drama and twists to make it interesting! That being said, certain tropes can be done to death and smut is generally the way to go as well as the heroine’s point of view! Of course, these are just my observations, and I may not have read enough to have these opinions, so feel free to correct me! This is why I liked that we focused on the earls point of view and not Miranda’s! I also did enjoy the cross-class friendship that Miranda had, which is something not often depicted! Miranda’s father was one of my favourites because he was so very real; the kind of father that a lot of people have, who tries in his own stubborn way! 

    While I read this book in one sitting, I do things certain things could be improved! Miranda’s escape and subsequent recover was far too rushed; the author only wrote 208 pages and had space to go into that a little more! It was also highlighted that the earl liked to race curricles and go hunting earlier in the book and I feel like some part of him pursuing his interests should have come up! 

  • 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.