The Thursday Murder Club | Currently Reading

This year I decided to venture off to genres I don’t often read—thrillers, mystery, and sci-fi. And guess what? I love them. 🥰

The Thursday Murder Club is a Goldsboro Premier book pick and I’m really enjoying it so far. Here, we follow a group of retirees as they use their knowledge, skills, past connections, and perhaps dubious methods to solve cold cases. One day, there’s a murder close to home and who better to pick up the case than the Thursday Murder Club?

𝐐𝐨𝐭𝐃: If you had to solve a murder with the protagonist of your last/current read, who is it and would you crack the case?

𝐀𝐨𝐭𝐃: I’d be working with the unorthodox members of the Thursday Murder Club (Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron) and I’m sure we’d crack the case 😁

I wanted to showcase the gorgeous details of the stencilled edges.
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Monstrous Heart | Review

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Title: Monstrous Heart

Series: The Monstrous Heart Trilogy (#1)

Author: Claire McKenna

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Where can I find this? GoodReads | Book Depository | Booktopia |

Recommended for: Fans of flowery writing, dark romance

 

In Monstrous Heart, we follow Arden, tasked to keep the lighthouse burning with her magical blood. Readers are promised a gothic feel so there’s a melancholic voice in the narration which works well with the story. However, there were some instances where the prose felt excessively flowery to the point of confusion (at the beginning). Despite that, I did like how the narration complemented the story and overall atmosphere of the novel.

Unfortunately, the world-building felt lacking in some areas. Whilst there was focus on certain aspects (such as characters) which was great, the narration never solidified the world thereby leaving readers confused and baseless. For example, terms and concepts were presented yet never fully explored. Also, the novel utilised words and places from our world (‘Fiction’ and ‘Manhattan’) as names of places which felt jarring upon reading.

Despite that, I did like how Arden was portrayed to be determined and hard-working. I also liked and was intrigued by the concept of sea monsters and the world. I just wished the world-building was fleshed out more. Monstrous Heart held so much promise, however, I feel that this book wasn’t for me. If you’re a fan of flowery writing and a determined protagonist, this may be for you. The elements in this story held great potential and I am curious to see more from this author.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

CW: sexual assault, attempted rape, and violence

 

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Bear | Review

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𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: Bear

𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫: Ben Queen

Illustrator: Joe Todd-Stanton

Publisher: Archaia

Genre: Children’s Fiction

𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

In Bear, we follow the paw steps of a guide dog named Bear. As a guide dog, Bear’s job is to assist his owner Patrick, who is blind. Patrick and Bear happily live their lives in-sync until the unthinkable happens—Bear loses his sight. Scared he’ll no longer be useful to Patrick and lose his job, Bear then follows the racoons to find a mysterious bear to teach Bear magic for his sight. Despite making friends in unlikely places, Bear finds trouble and then gets lost.

Bear’s search is rewarded and reunites with Patrick. Upon their reunion, Bear undergoes surgery for his eyes. Whilst Bear states he wasn’t “one hundred per cent” after the surgery, he notes that he gained something far greater than what he thought he ever wanted—he becomes Patrick’s friend.

Bear is such an endearing character and I found it easy to emotionally invest in him and his endeavours. I enjoyed the themes explored in this book and liked the unique premise of the story and how it highlights the importance of guide dogs. The book also educates the readers regarding how blindness impacts people.

This is a heart-warming read with themes of identity, friendship, and perseverance woven into Bear’s journey. Through his blindness and his tireless search, Bear discovers true friendship and acceptance. His emotional journey for purpose showcases resilience in the face of adversity.

Also, I LOVE the illustration! The artwork is adorable and colourful. The art panels are engaging, successfully evoking intended emotions upon reading the book.

This is a book I’d highly recommend and I’d definitely buy a copy. I can’t wait to read this to the kids.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Bad Book Buying Habits Anonymous | Book Confession + Haul

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Welcome to the Bad Book Buying Habits Anonymous. When was your last bookish purchase? I’ll start. Hi, I’m Joy and it’s been 0️⃣ days since I’ve last purchased a book.

Now, I may say buying second-hand books ‘don’t count’ but that doesn’t detract the fact I’m still running out of shelf space. 🙈 Anyway, rather than shame my book habits I wanted to display my latest book haul. We all know I’m always touting that I want to read more science fiction and thrillers. Well. I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole and loving it. 😁

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What’s was the last book you bought/borrowed?

I’ve pre-ordered A Deadly Education and Kingdom of the Wicked and I’m planning to buy Raybearers later this week. I’m excited for both as they all sound so promising (plus I’ve so many positive reviews about Raybearers).

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This Is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science is Tackling Unconscious Bias | Review

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Title: This Is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science is Tackling Unconscious Bias

Author: Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Illustrator: Drew Shannon

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Genre: Non-fiction, children’s fiction

Where Can I Find This? Goodreads | Book Depository | Booktopia

Rating: ★★★★★

A gorgeously illustrated book with fantastic information. This book is not only useful for children, but for teens and adults. Topics like stereotypes, prejudice, racism, and many more are covered and well approached. Furthermore, this book contains rhetoric questions and examples in history, keeping the read engaging and informative.

The art is bright and vivid, great for holding attention. The illustrations aren’t overwhelming and complement the text and subject well.

This book serves as a great introduction or place to spark conversation pertaining to stereotypes, prejudice, racism, sexism, and homophobia. I appreciate how carefully and effectively nuanced this book is, guiding the discussion points and possibly contributing to developing an understanding of such complex topics. Consequently, I’d highly recommend this for parents, educators, and anyone else interested in this. This is a book I’d definitely a copy for myself.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Waterstones Mail | Book Hauls

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Hope everyone has been well. Given this whole situation, I’m fully aware of how we (okay, I mean myself) have taken full advantage of online shopping.

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Anyway, props to the postal workers because I’ve received some book mail today. (I may or may not have obsessively checked the tracking every day since ordering but that’s not the focus here haha). Thankfully, I’ve managed to fight off temptation and reduce my original total of eight books down to four. Progress. Now, I’ve never worked in Waterstones, but I’ve ordered four books, paid for postage for one package and have been receiving each book one. By. One. (Insert privileged crying here). As of today, I’ve received two books. I’ve received the last book of a series (haha) and a standalone.

My anticipated book haul:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (1/3 of Winternight series)

The Winter and the Witch by Katherine Arden (3/3 of Winternight series)

Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M. Harris (standalone)

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (standalone)

Okay, I’ll be honest. I usually prefer UK covers over the US version and that definitely was the case for The Bear and the Nightingale. AND! Because vain Joy just had to purchase the UK versions, I disregarded the fact that the middle of the series was out of print. LOL. I usually prefer to have one type and one copy of a book/series but that usually isn’t the case. Have a gander of my The Folk In The Air trilogy: two copies of two of the books (first and last book) but!!! Again I’m missing the second book??!! I am noticing this reoccurring pattern here…

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Okay. Let’s ignore my terrible shopping habits and marvel at the two gorgeous books!

 

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Lobizona | Review

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Title: Lobizona

Author: Romina Garber

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Where can I find this? Goodreads | Book Depository | Booktopia | Google Play | Apple

“You’re saying if no one’s told my story before… I get to tell it the way I want?” ~ Romina Garber, Lobizona

Behold! Marvel at this cover art! Read the synopsis! Isn’t this promising? Doesn’t this make you wish you had a copy? Because, yes—after seeing the cover art and the synopsis, I desperately wanted to read this book. I needed this book. And the bookish gods of Netgalley smiled graciously on me and granted my earnest wish.

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my face @ netgalley. yes, I’m aware I’m probably annoying lol

In Lobizona, we follow Manuela (Manu) as she navigates life without detection. Hiding from both the US government and from the people of her father’s past, Manu is undocumented and unprotected. Isolated due to hiding, secrecy is Manu’s constant companion besides Perla and Ma. But hiding Manu isn’t the only secret that gets discovered. When Manu’s mother is taken by ICE, Manu discovers a magical world that is eerily familiar… Now in a magical world, Manu wages forward to uncover the secrets that gnawed on her since childhood. And just like the secrets that fought so hard to remain hidden, Manu must fight harder to uncover the truth.

Plot
The book weaves Argentinean folklore surrounding lobizon and bruja into Manu’s world which presents an interesting aspect into the novel. I liked how Argentinean culture was incorporated into the storytelling. Garber naturally incorporates Spanish into the dialogue. I appreciate how flawless and natural it was. However, the Spanish can make the reading experience disjointed if you’re not familiar with the language. There were times where the narrator (Manu) will translate, and other times where one can gauge the meaning from context and times where you won’t get it. I’ll be honest, I’ve never formally learnt Spanish nor learnt how to read it but can only understand and pick it up from sound (because 1. I’m uneducated hahah and 2. that’s how I learnt—when a family member spoke). Often, I’d have to pause and read passages aloud for my two brain cells to figure out the translation. Yes, I’m a child of immigrant parents and as a result, lost my mother’s tongue to assimilating to the culture I lived in… I’m like the meme:

‘Me? Bilingual? More like, bye-lingual’

Therefore, pausing and rereading some phrases often impacted my reading experience. I’m already a slow reader haha… ANYWAY! I like how Garber unapologetically and fluidly weaves Spanish into her novel.

Lobizona is broken down into four phases. I won’t say much to spoil the story; however, the story really picks up in phase two for me. In phase two, we discover more about this magical world. The world-building felt a little thin and due to that, the story felt more of magical realism rather than fantasy.

This book takes a while to get into the promised action. After the 40%, that’s where all the action began and it was great. Although, the pacing felt disjointed at times. For example, the first 40-50% of the book we are dragging our feet to this magical world. And then, at the last 15-20% action happens! All! At! Once! I’d appreciate if there were moments for the audience to process all that is going on.

Despite the pacing, I did appreciate Garber’s writing style. Garber weaves emotions well into her characters without weighing down the narrative with too many descriptions. The read was compelling and I read this novel in one sitting.

Characters
I love an underdog character. With everything going on, you can’t help but root for Manu! I was invested in her and her dreams. Yeah, she has her insecurities and doubts, but Manu is determined despite all odds. She dreams and yearns for more and when an opportunity shows itself, she’ll take it. I liked that about her. However, the chosen one trope is strong in this one. If you’re not a fan, you may not enjoy the incessant specialness of Manu. I’m a fan of the chosen trope so I’m never really bothered by such things—in fact, I relish in it.

Other than Manu, there is a large cast in this book (I can’t remember all their names but I remember Cata and Sasya—the two other girls). I enjoyed Manu’s and Sasya’s interactions. Sasya is a kind and gentle soul, the welcoming friend to Manu. Whereas, Cata is perceived to be the ‘mean girl’ who is ruthless to Manu. I wasn’t a fan of how that part was portrayed like the typical ‘popular girl mean to the new girl’ trope.

Another aspect I didn’t enjoy was the romance. long sigh yes, the romance. I didn’t like how the romance gave a forbidden vibe to it (spoiler-y: more like almost cheating vibes). And when the truth came out it felt convenient and cheap. Also, I couldn’t understand why the love interest and Manu had feelings for each other? It felt superficial. I would rather focus on other pressing matters, such as Manu’s mother and Manu’s discoveries.

Enjoyment
Aside from the romance, there were many aspects I liked. I liked how alienation and challenging the norm was a major factor in this book. I liked how the themes of alienation and immigration were woven in the story. Manu’s fear of discovery rings true to too many people. Garber writes well, enveloping the reader into Manu’s world that you feel the constant fear and even the threat in living. But despite the fear, there’s the unyielding hope. It was hope in the characters that I loved in this book. Lobizon grapples with and comments on various themes such as misogyny, privilege, undocumented immigrants, amongst many more and I deeply appreciated it did so.

I, myself am a child of immigrants and I have experienced cultural assimilation so on one side, parts of this book resonated with me. I liked how powerful Garber wrote various aspects (especially the first phase). Again, I liked how she wove another language into her book so naturally and how this book was an easy and compelling read. I just wished there were more. In actuality, I think I had higher expectations due to wanting to really love this book. (Why do I do this to myself?) Despite that, I’m very curious to see where this tale (or… tail) will go.

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Recommended for: fans of fantasy schools with magical creatures, fans of YA fantasy, latinx readers looking for latinx authors, people looking for diverse books

Content warning: xenophobia, sexism, bullying, trauma, misogyny, homophobia

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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This Book Is Anti-Racist | Review

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Title: This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work

Author: Tiffany Jewell

Illustrator: Aurelia Durand

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Genre: Children’s non-fiction

Rating: ★★★★★

 

 

This book serves as a great source for information for recognising racism and intentionally taking action to address and help dismantle it. This book presents information that is both applicable at an individual and a group level. Furthermore, not only does this book armour the reader with information, but it also provides practical activities such as reflection and journaling throughout the read. The reflective and journaling activities are extremely beneficial, enabling readers to effectively dismantle concepts and therefore grapple better in reacting to various situations.

The book is divided into four sections and comprises of concepts that are broken down into concise chapters within the sections. The four sections of this book consist of:

1. Waking up: understanding and growing into my identities
The first phase introduces concepts such as identity, social constructions, and defines racism whilst providing examples and activities to deconstruct and help identify.

2. Opening the window: making sense of the world
The second phase builds upon the first, presenting a little bit of world history (mainly in the West) as well as introducing more deeper concepts such as micro-aggressions, colonisation, assimilation, amongst many other concepts. I appreciate how this book mentions colonisation and the effects of it.

3. Choosing my path: taking action and responding to racism
Following that, the third section concentrates reacting to racism and ways to do so.

4. Holding the door open: working in solidarity against racism
Finally, the final phase focuses on the portrayal of privilege and allyship.

I liked how the book introduced topics like intersectionality, concepts such as gender, neurodiversity, class, religion, amongst many other factors are considered and discussed.

Also, I loved the illustrations—they’re bright and vivid, complementing the book well. The art style keeps the reader engaged without detracting too much attention away from the narrative.

As a PoC (person of colour) myself, this book truly resonated with me and I deeply appreciate this book. Despite being a PoC, I, too have much to learn. And quite frankly, there is always more to learn in this field and I definitely learnt something new upon reading this book. Moreover, despite being marketed for a younger audience, I feel that this book is suitable for all ages. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Overall, this is a highly beneficial book, presenting important information regarding racism whilst also emphasising application in real-world scenarios.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Unboxing: May FairyLoot 2020

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May FairyLoot 2020: Desert Dreams

I was pleasantly surprised upon seeing a FairyLoot box on my doorstep. And this month did not disappoint! This was such a gorgeous box and I’m so glad to be subscribed to FairyLoot. And now, for the unboxing…

Featured Book: Girl, Serpent, Thorn: by Melissa Bashardoust

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Blurb from Goodreads

With an exclusive pink cover, green sprayed edges, reverse artwork in the dust jacket illustrated by @orikye, and signed by the author, this book is my favourite cover change yet from FairyLoot! This edition is absolutely gorgeous.

Monthly Character Cards: Throne of Glass inspired characters designed by @Gabriella.bujdoso

City of Brass inspired Tea Towel: designed by @eviebookish

Dessert Bath Salts: made by Little Heart Gifts

An Ember in the Ashes inspired Tribal Desert Candle: by Wick and Fable

The Forbidden Wish inspired Sunglasses Pouch: designed by @kitstercronk

Hero of the Fall inspired Wooden Spoon: designed by @kdpletters

We Hunt the Flame inspired Bookish Tin: designed by @chattynora

This box arrived earlier than my other boxes so I was surprised when it turned up. Also, my tracking wasn’t updated. Yes, my boxes had been shipped with Hermes…

Anyway! Other than the book, I absolutely loved the Bookish Tin! I love the design and how useful it can be. I’m not sure what I’d put in the tin right now (probably tea, or something) but I’ve already placed it on my shelf. Overall, this was a gorgeous box and again, I was thoroughly impressed.

What are your thoughts on this box? Like any of the items?

 

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Book International Giveaway

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To celebrate my Bookstagram anniversary, I’m holding an International book giveaway where there will be two winners. One winner will win a book of their choice equivalent to $25 and another winner will be an Australian based person who will win a bookish swag pack (candles, book art, book prints, etc.). 

For more details, check out my Bookstagram.

For more details of my International Book Giveaway, check out my Bookstagram. Here is the post.

 

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