Monday, 14 June 2021

A Song of Wraiths And Ruins Is One Of Its Kind

A Song of Wraiths and Ruins
Series: A Song of Wraiths and Ruins #1
Author: Roseanne A. Brown 
Publication Date: June 2nd 2020
For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.
But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.
When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?


Note: I wrote this review sometime last year, but never published it (don't ask me why).

A Song of Wraiths and Ruins was one of my most anticipated reads of 2020. I was really excited to dive into a world that included something I had never heard of in books - African Mythology. That was perhaps the most persuasive factor in my excitement for ASOWR release. In fact, it was actually my favourite aspect of the book. Not only did it lend a hand in making the plot much more intriguing, I also felt like I had gained something by learning about the different gods and cultural traditions of each tribe. It truly was an eye opener and one that I was respectfully in awe of.

I will also be honest and say that if it wasn't for this rather fascinating element, I may not have continued past the first 150 or so pages. Bear in mind that I did have rather high expectations for ASOWR. However, as much as Brown's writing was rich - I really enjoyed the world building, being able to envision the scenery and the characters appearance - I felt like the plot was slow, which resulted in a lack of engagement. For most of the first half, I didn't feel compelled to be concerned about what the characters did or which direction the plot went.

It wasn't until the plot was building towards the conflict (midway) and Karina and Malik began to interact with each other that I started to become invested. In fact, the moments between the two characters were my favourite. In particular, the dialogue they shared made the events and the emotions between them feel more real. I don't think I've ever enjoyed dialogue in a book as much as in ASOWR.

Once we got down to the last 200 pages of ASOWR, I was totally hooked. It was hard not to root for our protagonists as a pair and individually. The action had kicked in and the pacing had picked up, creating that exciting and gripping atmosphere I was after. There was also a particular moment between the two main characters that essentially changed my mind about the entirety of the book.

I cannot wait to see what happens to the both of them and again, much like how I felt about A Song of Wraiths and Ruins, I am eagerly awaiting its sequel!

Thursday, 4 February 2021

REVIEW: The Island by C.L Taylor

The Island
Author: C.L Taylor
Publication Date: 21st January 2021
Genre: YA Thriller
Welcome to The Island. Where your worst fears are about to come true…

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island. But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re coming true. Seven days in paradise. A deadly secret.

Who will make it off the island alive?


Disclaimer: I received a copy of *The Island* in exchange for an honest review.

I was really excited to dive into this once I got my hands on it. The mistake I made was reading right before bed because not only could I not put it down, I scared myself in the process as well.

The Island takes a hold of you and won't let go and there are three factors that contribute to this: 

1. The pacing of the story - it's quick to pick up and remains intense until the very last moment. I was captivated and didn't realise I had kept turning the page until 2 hours later, I had finished the entire book. 

2. The setting, which created a creepy and suspenseful atmosphere - a tropical island is usually known as paradise but Taylor is able to convey how quickly it can also turn into an isolated and threatening place. I was awestruck by the vibrant and lush setting, much like the characters, before starting to see the dangers around every corner, the longer the characters spent on the island. 

3. The characters' observations - this is another tick against Taylor's writing as she was able to manipulate my emotions through the lens of the narrators (there are two in this story). I'm still contemplating why she chose to include those two perspectives but it did make me stop and think as to who was the more reliable narrator. 

I was shocked by the ending and thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience at the time. I felt like beyond just being a thriller novel, Taylor was also able to address some really important themes such as trauma, grief and mental health, bringing awareness to these topics and how we should be generating conversation and showing more care to the people around us. I will say though that looking back now, as I finished this a few days ago, the plot wasn't as "hole-proof" as I thought. There are some moments where I can now say didn't read as well or were a little questionable. In fact, I can pinpoint a moment where the characters could have made a different call and things would have turned out for the better. It didn't really make sense to me why the characters never pointed it out. 

Overall, I think if you are a thriller fan, *The Island* will be right up your alley. It's got the suspense, mystery and engagement a thriller needs.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

21 Books I Want To Read In 2021

The time has come for a new Yearly TBR. I've gone for 21 not just because it is 2021 this year but also because last year I read 20 books and so the extra 1 will be somewhat of an achievement for me. 

If you've seen my reading list from last year then you might recognise some of the titles on this list - I didn't get to as many as I had wanted to. 

I tried to select a wide range of books, from fiction to non-fiction, various genres and a mix of diverse authors. In a sense I am trying to read intentionally. So without further ado.


Books Mentioned

The full list can also be found on my 2021 Reading List Shelf

What Do You Want To Read This Year?

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

2020. That's it, that's the title.

Honestly what can be said about 2020 that hasn't been said already? I have spent a good amount of time throughout this year reflecting on what 2020 has come to be but also more specifically, how it has affected and ultimately changed me. 

I sat down and thought of some words that I could use to describe this year for me: tumultuous, unexpected, challenging, learning, self-care, adapting, being alone, healing, appreciating, perspective, overcoming. Of all these words, I was happy to see that healing and appreciating made the list. 

Yes, 2020 was a difficult year on so many levels, but personally for me, it was also a year of taking the time given back to us and finding purpose for it. It allowed me to slow down and really reconnect with the passions I had been too "busy" for, work towards goals I had put off and most importantly become more self aware of where I was mentality and how best to heal. 

One of the passions that I fell back in love with was reading! And not just that but blogging. Ironic because I haven't posted since October but consistency has never been my strongest suit on here. Oops. I am so, so proud of myself for being able to actually enjoy reading again as well as reaching a total of 20 books. It probably doesn't seem like much compared to many other readers out there but considering the previous years I barely read anything, 20 books is a great achievement for me. I can also say that I read some high quality books that pushed me to think critically, reflect and learn. 

My Year of Reading

These were the 20 books I read this year

Quick Stats

  • 11 were YA books
  • 4 were Middle Grade 
  • 2 were Non-Fiction
  • May and June were my biggest reading months, finishing 5 books in each month. 
  • 6 five star reads
  • 13 new authors
  • I read 4/13 of my 2020 Reading List

My Top Five Books

Final Thoughts

Like I said, I felt like I read some really great quality books, especially with my average rating this year being 4-4.5. It could be that I have an easier rating system but I thoroughly enjoyed every read and they all remain memorable to me. I tried to broaden my range of books, from genre to authors and I want to continue to do so. I'm glad I read books from Australian authors set in Australia as well as discovered new authors that I now want to continue supporting. I wanted to read some classics but didn't get to it, however, was happy to have read some non-fiction. I definitely dropped off reading by the end of the year (October onwards) but doing this review actually makes me quite excited for 2021 and what I will end up reading! 

How Was Your Reading Year?

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

Five Shows I've Been Loving Recently

Interrupting our usual Tuesday schedule of Top Ten Tuesday posts, I instead wanted to share what shows I've recently been watching and have to come love. For some time I was rewatching good old comfort shows just as a way to pass time. However, I finally decided it was time to find some new series to get into and I've been thoroughly surprised by how much I've enjoyed the following shows.

1. Raised By Wolves

Source: Binge 
"After Earth has been destroyed, androids must raise children on a mysterious planet. Meanwhile the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences." 

Hands down, this has been the most bizarre show I've come across. For those familiar with Scott Ridley, you most likely would be aware of his particular writing and visual styles. I, however, have never watched anything produced by him. So yes, I was in for a huge shock, which I loved. The strangeness of it all kept me invested in the show, thinking "surely it can't get worse", and was proven wrong every episode. There's a lot to think about regarding religion, morals, nature vs. nurture and what makes you really human, which I really appreciate. I'm not just consuming the show, I'm actually engaging with the content. I also want to applaud the actresses and actors for delivering incredible performances so far. I cannot wait for season 2!

2. Carmen Sandiego (Season 3)

Source: Netflix 

A master thief who uses her skills for good, Carmen Sandiego travels the world foiling V.I.L.E's evil plans - with help from her savvy sidekicks. 

My girl is back! If you didn't already know, I am an avid fan of the Carmen Sandiego series on Netflix. I did feature it in my "Five Movies & TV Shows That Will Delight Your Inner Child" post and mentioned how much of 12 year old I really am for loving animated series and movies. I find every episode enjoyable, for its adventurous nature alongside learning tidbits about the different countries she travels to, which is essentially the whole point of the Carmen Sandiego franchise. It's a shame that season 3 wasn't as long as the previous ones, however, the show has been renewed for a fourth season so yay!

 Sweet Magnolias

Source: Netflix

Lifelong friends Maddie, Helen and Dana Sue lift each other up as they juggle relationships, family and careers in the small, Southern town of Serenity.

I've only finished the first episode but already I'm in love. I am a sucker for TV shows revolving around small towns and the lives of the people living in it. There's comfort in seeing how these towns people bind together to protect each other but underneath is drama just waiting to burst out and threaten everything they are familiar with. The three ladies, Maddie, Helen and Dana Sue definitely play a large part in me being invested (only after one episode) in the show. I've found their friendship endearing, wanting to be part of this trio and only hope the best for them. Also, the colouring of the show is quite satisfying to the eye, which is an added bonus. If you're a fan of Good Witch, which I am as well (no surprises here), this would be right up your alley.

4. Good Omens
Source: Prime Video

Aziraphale and Crowley, of Heaven and Hell respectively, have grown rather fond of the Earth. So it's terrible news that it's about to end. The armies of Good and Evil are amassing. The Four Horsemen are ready to ride. Everything is going according to the Divine Plan ... except that someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist. Can our heroes find him and stop Armageddon before it's too late?

Based on Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchet's novel Good Omens, you'll find Michael Sheen and David Tennant delivering a rather spectacular and humorous performance of a devil and angel trying very hard to stay on Earth - even if it means going behind the back of their "team". I actually read the novel awhile back and would have to say this is another rare moment where the visual adaptation has made me appreciate the book more than what I originally thought of it. I found when I read it that there was a lot going on and it did become hard to keep track of (review here). However, the TV show does a great job in laying out the characters and plot line, making it a lot more understandable. A big part of that is having a narrator walk you through it all. 

5. Criminal Minds
 (too many seasons) 

Source: Prime Video

Profilers who analyse the most twisted criminal minds

This is a re-watch for me. It's been awhile since I've seen the show so I picked up where I left off and then went back to season 1 to do it all over again. If anything, Criminal Minds is very much a guilty pleasure for me, which is utterly strange to say considering how gory and disturbing it is. I managed to binge basically 14 seasons in 4 weeks before my dreams started morphing into serial killer dreams. That made me slow down slightly. Still, I find this show fascinating for seemingly being able to open up the mind of a very troubled person to understand why they commit such crimes and keeping me on the edge of my seat every episode. Of course I am totally aware that this show is overly dramatised and not all cases can be solved in a 45 minute time frame but it makes for a thrilling watch. 

What Have You Been Watching Recently?