Six Degrees of Separation – October 2021

This is a monthly meme I came across, hosted by booksaremyfavouriteandthebest. The idea is to use the book chosen as the starting point for the month to create a chain of books linked in some way. Sounds fun, so I thought I’d give it a go. This month’s book is The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.

This is the first time I hear of this book, but apparently it’s a well known short story. Based on the synopsis, it sounds like a dystopian story about a lottery that no one wants to win. So based off of that, I’m going to link it to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. They both have a raffle type thing going, no one wants to be picked. Seems like a good match. 

I first read THG when I was in high-school and it kick-started a voracious appetite for YA fiction that stuck with me through to university. I believe one of the first books I read after reading THG was City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. So that will be my next link. 

city of bones

The City of Bones after which the book is named has a secret entrance in a cemetery and at the entrance, there is carved a quote from Virgil’s Aenid: The descent into hell is easy. This reminds me Dante’s Inferno. I suppose that could technically count as two links, but I’m actually going to count it as one, because that quote always makes me think of Inferno instead of its source. 

In Inferno, Dante takes through the nine circles of hell where various types of sinners are being punished. This makes me think of Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri maniscalco. This book is heavily inspired by Dante’s depiction of hell and also takes place in Italy.

In this series, the main character makes a deal with a demon prince of hell. In The Wardstone Chronicles, the Spook has a deal with a Boggart named Kratch, who appears as a large ginger cat and takes care of his home. 

The Spooks remind me of the Warders from The Demon Cycle series by Peter V. Brett as they both follow main characters that make it their life’s work to protect people from things that go bump in the night. 

So there you go. That is how to link The Lottery to The Painted Man in six steps. 

Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco – Review

52772417. sx318 Rating: 4.5 stars

Published: 2021

Genre: Fantasy, NA

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Synopsis: One sister.
Two sinful princes.
Infinite deception with a side of revenge…Welcome to Hell.

After selling her soul to become Queen of the Wicked, Emilia travels to the Seven Circles with the enigmatic Prince of Wrath, where she’s introduced to a seductive world of vice.

She vows to do whatever it takes to avenge her beloved sister, Vittoria…even if that means accepting the hand of the Prince of Pride, the king of demons.

***SPOILER ALERT*** This is the second book in the series and therefore the following review may contain spoilers for the first book. Read at your own peril. Review of the first book here.


This was every bit as addictive as the first one, I’ve been trying to get over my book hangover for the past 3 days and I have so far valiantly resisted the temptation to immediately re-read it. I even felt compelled to write this review, despite having completely ignored this blog for the better part of this year. Anyways, let’s talk about it. 

First thing to mention about this book is that is without a doubt character driven. Not a whole lot happens plot-wise. Instead, the focus is mainly the romance (and this is written as new adult, so it gets pretty steamy) and on Emilia adjusting to the Underworld. We get to meet some of Wrath’s other brothers, we get to meet some of Wrath’s court and of course, we get to know more about our favourite Prince of Hell (or my favourite anyway). I personally really enjoyed it, but it’s less plot driven than the previous book. Though it ends on a similar cliffhanger and I suspect there will be a lot more happening story wise in the next one. 

I loved seeing the underworld. Very Dante-esque, was very fun to get to see some of it. I would have loved for there to be more exploration of the Underworld if anything. But what we did get to see was very lush and decadent. There was a lot of sexual tension going around so if that’s your thing, you’re all covered. I’m personally not the biggest fan of smut, but this was actually pretty good. Didn’t make me cringe too much and was even occasionally enjoyable. Which is quite high praise coming from me.

Despite this being predominantly character driven, we did get a few story progression points and Emilia had a big eureka moment towards the end of the book. Although I do think that was actually a weak point of the book, as I felt that the main plot twist lacked impact. I can’t really elaborate on that too much without spoilers, but let’s just say that I think it should have had a much much higher emotional impact on Emilia. She just kinda shrugged it off. In fact, she had much stronger emotional responses to comparatively less important events. Which just kind of felt unrealistic and made the plot twist much less powerful. 

Some random observations: I was happy that the food descriptions were toned down in this book. I found them very distracting in the first book and they constantly pulled me out of the story. The lack of communication between Wrath and Emilia continues in this book especially at the beginning, but they definitely get better. Wrath is still super dreamy. And also a cutie. Okay I’m done. Read this book, it’s fun. 

March 2021 Wrap Up

In keeping with my usual annual trend, I have read fewer books in march than the first two months of the year and have now reached my usual monthly average of 5 books, although I am more than halfway through 3 others. For some reason, I always start the year reading a ton and then read progressively less until I reach around 5-6 books a month. anyway, let’s talk about the books. It was a pretty meh month for me, I think most of the books I read were okay, but not ones that I loved. 

Blood Upon the Sand by Bradley Beaulieu


This one was carried over from February and only really the last quarter or so of the book was read in March. As I mentioned in my February wrap-up, I just don’t love this series. Maybe i’d enjoy it better in physical format… I’m not sure. It’s just not gripping me the way I wish it did. On paper I should love this, but for some reason, it’s just not doing it for me. I might give it another book before deciding if I want to finish the series or not, I’m not sure. I gave it 3.25/5 stars.

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

escaping houdini

Finally, like 3 years later, I continued with this series. I still really enjoy it. I like Kerri Maniscalco’s books in general. I think I probably prefer her other series just slightly more cause it’s fantasy. But this is by far the best YA mystery series I’ve ever read. Also, the romance is great too. 3.75/5 stars

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy

This was a re-read for me and I didn’t love it as much as I did the first time around. I don’t know why, i just found it less funny. I do want to continue with this series, that’s why I re-read this, but yeah it didn’t do it for me so much this time around. 3.5/5 stars

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

spinning silver

Another re-read and the only book I read this month that was over 4 stars. I am a sucker for Naomi Novik’s fairy-tales. I’m not sure I’m super interested in her other stuff. I tried Temeraire and it was okay, but I couldn’t get past the second book. And I haven’t tried her new book. But I will read any fairy-tale inspired book she puts out. 5/5 stars

A Deal With the elf King by Elise Kova


This is a Hades and Persephone/ Beauty and the Beast inspired story and if you know me, you know that is my favourite romance trope. I don’t know what that says about me, but I’m just a sucker for it. And this one was pretty good. I really enjoyed it for what it was. it didn’t have a very elaborate plot, but the world was cool, I enjoyed the characters, i liked the romance. Definitely would recommend if you’re shopping for some Hades/persephone action. 3.5/5 stars. 

Those are the books I completed in March, but I did start (and read about half) of three others. I was slightly slumpy this month so I just struggled a little finding what I wanted to read.

The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman


I’ve read the first two books in this series this year and really enjoyed them. This one however is weaker than the first two I think. It’s still alright, but I was also like I said pretty slumpy and it wasn’t really doing it for me. I got maybe 2/3 into the book and I definitely plan on finishing it because I really like this series and i want to read the rest of it, but yeah, this is just a weaker book in my opinion and hopefully the next one picks up. 

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

This is a Little mermaid inspired story. I’ve never been a huge fan of The Little mermaid, so I’m not loving this. But I do think it’s cool and I like this version better that original. This isn’t a direct retelling, it’s more dark. Much more slow-burn. So i like a lot of elements about it. I think it’s a solid book for what it is, but I’m not loving it and like i said before, I’ve been slumpy so I have less motivation to finish it. But I do want to finish it, I am halfway through it so I’m not DNFing it. 

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb


I feel like I sound like a broken record at this point, but again, this is not doing it for me right now. I think it’s a weaker book than pretty much all of the Elderlings books so far. I’m going to finish it because I need to in order to continue with the Elderlings books, but yeah this one is just meh. I’m halfway through it and I feel like literally nothing has happened. I feel like even the first Fitz book was more engaging than this one. 

January 2021 Wrap Up

Generally speaking, January is always a strong reading month for me. I don’t know what it is about the new year that just makes me read twice as much as I normally do. As such, I read 13 books in January and I actually enjoyed all of them. So this will be a long post. Let’s get into it.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden


This was a re-read for me. I have read the whole series and it’s one of my favourite series. And just such a solid start to the year. Cause I think everyone can agree we just need a better 2021. This also got me in the mood for some angsty  enemies to lovers fantasy romance. Which is totally reflected in the following books in this wrap up. I of course, gave this 5/5 stars. 

The Invisible Library by Genevive Cogman


This book was a lot of fun. I picked it up almost at random. One of the books in the series was on my recommended listens on Audible. So I listened to a preview and the narration was absolutely awful. But I read one of the reviews that highly recommended just reading the physical book. so I bought it on a whim and I ended up really enjoying it. It had dragons, it had fae, it had a magical library, it had this cool steampunk vibe. It gave me some The Infernal Devices vibes. It was just a lot of fun and there was also a maybe potential future slow burn, kinda angsty romance, which was just fuel on the fire kindled by The Bear and the Nightingale. Thoroughly enjoyed, I’ve already bought the next few books in the series, so looking forward to continuing with it soon. 4/5 stars.

The Fool’s Fate by Robin Hobb


Continuing on with the Elderlings. This is the final book in the third Elderlings series. I read 6 Elderling books last year. I’m really loving them on audio. I think I will take a little bit of a break for now, but I do want to continue with the next series later this year. They just get better and better as more and more of the world and the overarching story is revealed. The Fool is the best character ever. I loved seeing the interplay between the different series. It’s just such masterful writing even though the Fitz books aren’t my favourites. I’m not a huge fan of Fitz as a character. I find him a bit… just annoying. But still this series is much better than his first one and I still really loved it. 4/5 stars. 

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson


I read A Sorcery of Thorns a couple of years ago and was pleasantly surprised by it. So I decided to pick this up when I was struck by my angsty fantasy romance craving and this hit the spot so well for me. It does have some pacing issues and it’s a bit insta lovey, but I still loved it. I loved the atmosphere, I loved the take on the fae and their inability to create anything. I’m also a sucker for the fae Courts and their magic being tied to their courts. so, yeah this was a lot of fun, I think I read it in two sittings. 3.5/5 stars

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco


I have already reviewed this one so I won’t talk too much about it for the sake of shortening this post, but I adored it. It’s by far my favourite (non re-read) of the year so far and I definitely recommend listening to the audiobook. I cannot wait for the next one. 4.5/5 stars

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


So, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a thing for Swedish humour authors. I love Jonas Jonasson’s books and now Fredrik Backman, This book was hilarious and heartwarming and just beautiful. I put if off for so long because honestly if you read the synopsis, it sounds boring as hell. I mean, I had heard great things about it, but even so I was never strongly tempted. But I’m so glad I gave it a try. I’m definitely going to be reading more of Backman’s books. 4.5/5 stars. 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas


This was another re-read for me. I still loved it. I will say though, i definitely don’t love the writing. I don’t think I ever loved the writing, I just didn’t have any objections to it. But now I do. But I still just love the story and the characters and the world though so I still loved the book. But if I had read it for the first time now, I probably would have given it 4 stars because of the writing. However, since I tend not to change my rating for re-reads unless I have a vastly different opinion on them, it still got 5/5 stars.

The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson

alloy of law

Finally continued with the Mistborn books. I liked this a lot. I wouldn’t expect to not like any Sanderson books. But it’s probably my least favourite Sanderson book I’ve read so far. I think the main reason is that it’s so short. It’s not even 400 pages when I’m used to 1000 page monsters from him. And while it’s in an already established world so it doesn’t need as much world building, I still just wanted more and felt like this was just not on the same level as what I’m used to. If any other author had written this book, it would probably have been 4 stars at least. But on this occasion, Sanderson is just suffering from success, really (and my really high expectations) and only earned 3.5/5 stars.

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier


This is probably my least favourite book that I read so far this year. I still enjoyed it, but it just lacked something. I think mainly, the main character just lacked agency and was just kind of a spectator to her own life. And that kind of annoyed me cause she had such potential to be a strong, badass character. I’m kind of happy with where I left the story, so I’m not sure if I will continue with this series. 3/5 stars

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger


I was a little bit disappointed by this book. I had heard amazing things about it and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. the writing was a bit tacky and it had some romance elements that I didn’t like. It’s a middle grade book, so I don’t want crushes and romance, I want magic and adventure and friendship. So it was so jarring whenever the romance elements showed up. It was like it just kept switching between middle grade and YA and I didn’t like it. But I did enjoy the adventure and the world and I am interested in continuing with the series, but I was just a little disappointed. 3.5/5 stars

Skulduggery Pleasant 10-12 by Derek Landy

I read the majority of the Skulduggery books last year and I’m just about caught up with it. I have one book left which I’m currently reading. This is just such a fun series and it did such a good job at following Valkyrie since she was a child and changing the tone of that as she grew. I love this series and I’m excited for anything else coming in the series. I’m not sure how many books are planned in the series, I know there is one coming out this year, but not sure beyond that. Either way, this is a solid 4 star series for me. 

And that is it for January. Hopefully, I continue as well as I did this month for the whole year. 

Books I’m glad I listened to on audio

The past couple of years, I really delved into audiobooks and discovered that some books I actually prefer as audio books and listening to them as opposed to reading them actually increases my enjoyment of them. This isn’t true for all books, I’m very picky about narrators and some books I would rather just read myself regardless of the narrator. But these are some books I am glad I consumed as audiobooks.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco


This was such an amazing audiobook. The narrator was fantastic at creating the right kind of atmosphere for this book and on top of that, the production of the book was also great. The sound effects used were fantastic and everything came together splendidly. I definitely recommend this as an audiobook and I will be continuing with the series on audio for sure.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman


I loved this book, it was so beautiful and funny and just wonderful. But I don’t think I’d have really reached for it in a physical format anytime soon. It’s not really a genre I really read much of and the synopsis really does not do it justice. It sounds kind of boring based on the synopsis in all honesty. but with audiobooks, I tend to branch out more, especially that audible lets you return audiobboks if you don’t like them. So I’m really glad I gave this a try and Fredrik Backman is now up there with Jonas Jonasson on my list of Swedish humour authors I love.

The Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb

I read the first book in physical format and it didn’t work for me that well. I found it difficult to get through. Granted, her first series does slug a bit, but just in general, I think her books and her writing style works better for me as audiobooks. And it goes to show that I listened to 6 Elderling books last year, where between reading her first book and her second one, it took me 2 years. So I’m definitely glad I gave this a go on audio, because I do really enjoy the story.

Nonfiction books

I read a few in 2020 and I want to continue to do that. I find I’m much more inclined to pick non-fiction books as audiobook. I can listen to them while I’m cooking or doing something else and I don’t get bored. I find that if I just sit down to read them, I get bored and I end up not enjoying them and not learning much.

How not to write

A while back, I re-read some of the early Shadowhunter books and if you’ve read them, you know the first few books are not that well written. So I started this series about weird writing choices (Part 1 | Part 2). I’m currently reading another book from around that time (2008-2010, twilightish era) and they all just have this same vibe. Characterised by tacky, overly dramatic, weird “quirky” writing. So I decided to extend this series from weird phrases, to general writing things that I find irritating. These are observations that I’ve either made in one or more books and I use examples from the books I’ve most recently read, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re exclusive to those books or even that I think those books are bad.

Weird adverbs used to describe speech

One that I particularly noticed in the book I’m currently reading (The Iron King by Julie Kagawa) is “intelligently”. Used when someone interjections basically. For example: “‘How’re you feeling, princess?’ ‘Uh,’ I said intelligently.” I mean I get what it’s trying to convey, but I just find it jarring and annoying. especially that not every line of dialogue needs a descriptor. Like, if (as in this case) it’s a conversation between two people and they’re the only ones in the room, you only need to qualify who’s speaking at the start of the conversation or if there’s a pause in the conversation, or if the way that someone said something is relevant. Like if their tone of voice changes or something like that. But in this case, it just serves no purpose other than… trying to be funny, I suppose? But not doing a very good job at it.
Another one that actually comes from one of my favourite books story and character-wise (A Court of Mist and Fury), but which upon my latest reread, I found somewhat lacking in the writing department, is “purred”. Everyone’s always purring and that’s just such a weird imagery to me. I know it’s trying to convey a kind of sly, seductive tone of voice, but firstly I can’t understand what about cat purring conveys seduction. To me, it conveys contentment. But leaving that aside… it’s such a weird word to use. I just find myself imagining all sounding like chain smokers or something. There’s no other way for me to marry the sound of purring and the sound of human speech.

Excessive use of nicknames

Also conveniently illustrated by my previous quote. This particular character calls the man character “princess” every single time he addresses her (and yes, I know she really is a princess, but my point is still valid). Look, I get nicknames, pet names whatever. And they’re okay in moderation or if they replace the actual name of the character. But when it’s used ad nauseam, when every single time one character addresses another, they add the nickname… again, it’s jarring, repetitive and serves no real purpose whatsoever. Except making the writing seem tacky. Though I imagine the intention is to make the characters seem quirky.

Excessive or weirdly placed emphasis

This is another one that comes to you courtesy of ACOMAF. There’s so much emphasis, either through repeating a word or phrase (e.g. “He laughed – laughed – out loud for the first time in months”), or through italics (e.g. “He laughed out loud for the first time in months”) or both (e.g. “He laughed – laughed – out loud for the first time in months”). Don’t get me wrong, either of these types of emphasis are not in themselves necessarily bad writing, and when used appropriately can be very useful. But I’ve found that SJM just did it to the extent that the characters constantly seemed in utter disbelief of everything that was happening and it was just jarring. It also made it seem like she doesn’t trust her readers to understand anything that is any way significant unless it’s thoroughly pointed out to them. Which just gets irritating. Emphasis should be used sparingly and your story should highlight significant things without you having to constantly provide emphasis.  Just as a general rule of thumb, you should write as if you don’t think that your readers have the intelligence of a pencil case and can figure some stuff out for themselves. done 2 gif

Excessive exposition of character’s emotions

In the same vein, another thing that really stood out to me in ACOMAF and something that I have encountered particularly in YA books is explaining why a character is feeling a certain way in a certain moment. This is not necessarily a bad thing, again, there are circumstances in which that might be the way to go. But when your reader already knows the reasons for those feelings, we don’t need an internal monologue that lays out every single reason why that feeling is being felt. We already know and are capable of empathising without being told every single reason why we should empathise. So for example, if we know that character A has gone through a traumatic event and character B at some point finds out about it or realises how traumatised character A is or whatever, and feels for them. We don’t need an internal monologue that explain to us why character B feels for character A. We already know and generally, as I said, you ought to write as if you expect your readers not to be stupid or incapable of empathy. It just takes up unnecessary word count and it’s just irritating. stop_it_hellboy
This turned out to be a bit longer than I had expected, but that’s it for now. I don’t doubt I’ll be back with more at some point. But for now, let me know about writing choices that you find irritating.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco


Rating: 4.5 stars

Published: 2020

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Synopsis: Emilia and her twin sister Victoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Victoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to discover who did this, and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, the outlier among the seven demon brethren, always choosing duty over pleasure. He’s been tasked by his master with investigating a series of women’s murders on the island. When Emilia and Wrath’s fates collide, it’s clear this disturbing mystery will take a bewitching turn…

Damn, this book was so good. I loved it way more than I expected to, which is kind of how it went with Stalking Jack the Ripper as well. For the sake of preventing me from dissembling into incoherence inserting some sort of structure into this review, let’s first talk about the few things I enjoyed less and that prevented it from being a 5 star read for me.

The main thing I didn’t really enjoy and that pulled me out of the story was the excessive description of foods. I think it’s probably just a personal preference rather than bad writing, but whenever Emilia started listing ingredients for whatever food… it bored me and it took me right out of the story. I strongly dislike cooking and while I enjoy eating food, I don’t particularly want to know how it’s made. That made the first few chapters of the book really drag for me since they were very food-focused. As the plot progressed, it wasn’t as prominent anymore, but it still happened occasionally and I just found it jarring. 

Another thing that bothered me was the lack of communication between Wrath and Emilia. Like, I understand that they’re kind of enemies and he’s a demon so she’s loath to trust him. But sometimes, it just didn’t make any sense and so many issues would have been avoided if she’d just talked to him. Overall, I really enjoyed their dynamic, but occasionally I felt that Emilia in particular was just irrational in an almost absurd way. Wrath was also reserved, but I felt that his reluctance was more natural and made more sense. 

Other than that, this book was everything that I wanted. I find myself recently really craving lush and decadent either fae or other kind of paranormal being, enemies to lovers romance, but not… too romancey. Like more slow burn and also other things going on. I already knew Maniscalco is great at writing gothic mysteries, so I wasn’t surprised by that, but this just hit the spot so well and left me craving more. I can’t believe I have to wait until October for the next one. 

The setting was so lush and atmospheric. Obviously, since it’s set in our world, there’s not that much world-building to do, but just the way the mythology of the world was set up just drew me right in and was so evocative. Especially the audiobook, the sound effects they used along with the narration was just… chef’s kiss. I definitely recommend this book as an audiobook. 

In terms of characters… I absolutely loved Wrath. I’m a sucker for a dark, brooding, powerful hunk with hidden but hinted at soft squishy centre. I also liked Emilia well enough. She was kind of the more boring twin, Victoria was definitely more fun for the brief time she was present. but that was kind of the point and we got to see how what she was going through changed Emilia. I definitely like the Emilia at the end of the book more than the Emilia at the beginning. She’s far more interesting and I look forward to seeing where her character goes from here.  Also… Emilia and Wrath had better be endgame is all I’m gonna say. 

Overall, I highly recommend this. It is quite dark and very… occulty, so if that’s something that makes you uncomfortable, maybe it’s not for you. It’s also pretty gory at times so that’s something else to be mindful of. But otherwise, I definitely recommend this. 

Adult/YA Books Without Romance Recommendations

Some petitions you should check out:

Justice for Toyin | Justice for Tony McDadeJustice for Sheku Bayoh

Some UK resources. I feel like a lot of people in the UK are saying “Oh, well that doesn’t happen here.” It does.


A booktube channel I’ve discovered recently and I think is dope:

I’m not the biggest fan of romance and I just want to read stuff with no romance sometimes. However, it’s really, REALLY difficult to find any books that are not marketed for children that do not have any romance in them. So if you have any recommendations for me, I would love to hear them. But here are some that I’ve enjoyed that had no romance.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton


This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s a who done it mystery with some elements of fantasy/sci-fi. I could not stop reading this. I think I finished it in 2 sittings. There is no romance whatsoever, it’s all about solving the crime and it’s fantastic.

The Gift by Alison Croggon


I didn’t love this book, I had some issues with it. But I did enjoy it and at least in the first book, there is no romance. I can’t say about the rest of them because I haven’t read them yet, but I do intend to continue with the series. And I feel like any series without romance in the first book will likely not have the biggest focus on romance even if it does eventually appears in the story.

The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

hundred year old man

This book is absolutely hilarious. I believe there is some kind of romance between side characters, but it’s very much an afterthought. There’s no like… romancey scenes or anything. I don’t know how to explain it, but basically there may as well be no romance. I have read all of Jonas Jonasson’s books and loved the majority of them. They’re so funny and poignant at the same time. I don’t know why more people don’t talk about them.

The Martian by Andy Weir


No romance. Just a guy on Mars. I loved this book so much. I know a lot of people know about it, but I’d still recommend it!

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch


The first one has no romance in it, however, the second book in this series does have a little bit of romance and I suspect there will be more in subsequent books. However, the first book is just a fantastic bit of fun unhindered by romance and I love it for it.

Temerarie by Naomi Novik


No romance, just the bromance between a guy and his dragon.

This is all I can actually think of. Which kind of highlights my point from earllier. Of the literal hundreds of books I’ve ever read, I can only think of 6 that have no romance in them.

Mid-Year Book freakout tag 2020 edition

This is my fourth year doing this. I have not done any wrap-ups this year, I don’t think. I’ve re-read a LOT of books so far. Like probably half the books I read were re-reads. So yeah, let’s see how this goes. I will try not to use re-reads for any of the questions.

Best book you’ve read so far in 2020

Foundryside is actually the latest of the books I read and it is by far one the best book I’ve read this year. It’s just a phenomenal book, I have a review of it if you want to hear more of my thoughts.

The only other book that I read this year and can compare is The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. This book totally deserves its hype, it’s one of the coolest mysteries that I’ve read. I can’t wait to see what Stuart Turton has in store in the future.

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020


I read both the books in this series this year and man, this is another favourite series. One of the best middle grades I’ve read in some time. It’s so fun anf wholesome and magical. It’s exactly what I want in a middle grade book and I just want more. I can’t wait for the third book.

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to


This was released in April. I obviously haven’t read it yet, I only just finished the first book, but I am soooo excited to pick this up! I have to say… for once I actually like the US covers for this series better than the UK ones. This almost never happens.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

It’s pretty much a tie between these two, even though I still need to finish Oathbringer. So maybe I’m anticipating Hollowpox more because I am caught up with the series.

Biggest disappointment


The Magicians by Lev Grossman. This was a DNF for me. I really wanted to read this series. I knew the the first book wasn’t the best, so I didn’t go in with huge expectations, but I absolutely hated everything about it. I hated the characters, I was bored out of my mind. I just could not push through this book.

Biggest surprise


This is a book that is outside my usual genres. I do read non-fiction, but not nearly as much as SFF books. And when I do read non-fiction, I like it because I learn things. But I don’t necessarily think they’re entertaining. But this was actually supremely entertaining. It was funny. I found myself laughing frequently. I actually plan to re-read this just because it was so entertaining. I especially recommend the audiobook.

Favourite new author (Debut or new to you)

See first question.

Newest fictional crush

I don’t really get crushes anymore.

Newest favorite character


Clef from Foundryside. I know this is the third or fourth question I answer with this series, but I just loved it that much!

Book that made you cry

I don’t think there has been one.

Book that made you happy


This series definitely made me happy.

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)


This cover is GORGEOUS!

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Basically all the Brandon Sanderson!

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett – Book Review

Rating: 4.75/5

Genre: Fantasy, adult

Pubilshed: 2018

Author: Robert Jackson Bennett

Synopsis: Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artefact of unimaginable power. Now someone wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them. To have a chance at surviving Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies.

This book was such a delight! It’s been a while since I’ve completely LOVED a book so much. I loved every character (with one exception), I loved the writing, I loved the world, I loved the story. It’s just fantastic! Robert Jackson Bennett is now the newest addition to my list of favourite authors. 

The story is set in this steampunky urban fantasy type thing. That sentence made no sense, but I’m going with it. This has a magic system so unique and complex, I loved it so much. It’s probably one of my favourite magic systems I’ve ever read. It rivals Brandon Sanderson’s magic systems and even surpasses some of them. If not all. It just has so much character. The magic system itself is almost like a character. It’s fantastic and I adored it.

It’s been a while since I loved a cast of characters so much. I think they’re generally great, with one exception. I did not love the love interest. I really wanted there to not be a romance at all. The fact that there was is what actually bumped it down a quarter of a star. The love interest is… fine. I just found her to be kind of… bland. I think to be honest, my very, very strong desire for there not to be a romance definitely played  played a part in my dislike of the love interest, but I also just thought she didn’t really stand out in any way. One thing I really am not looking forward to is the romance in the subsequent books. It’s so hard to find books without any romance and I thought this might be one of them because the love interest didn’t show up until maybe halfway through. But yeah… that’s just personal preference and if you don’t have that same problem, you’ll probably love it. 

I also found the main antagonist to be just a tiny bit… moustache twirling. It was one of those things where they make the villain be every evil thing ever just because. Without any nuance. Like “This guy is super evil. He likes to kill people. And is greedy. And he’s a rapist. Oh, and in his spare time, he kills puppies. Because he is SUPER EVIL!”. However, there was so much going on that it didn’t bother me too much and it was mostly made up for in other ways. 

The story was so fast paced. It was just one thing after another. If you love heist stories, you’ll love this. If you love stuff like The Lies of Locke Lamora and Six of Crows and those kind of heist stories, you’ll love this. If you like stories about unlikely allies and found family, you’ll love this. It’s just got so many awesome things going for it. I would 100% recommend, though do be aware that it’s fairly gory.