People of Abandoned Character | Review


Title: People of Abandoned Character
Author: Clare Whitfield
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery and Thriller, Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★☆
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of historical fiction centring on Jack the Ripper or set in the Victorian era, fans of mystery and thrillers
CW: domestic abuse, violence, death, anti-Semitism*

*I did feel uncomfortable with the casual anti-Semitism (Jewish characters facing prejudice from other characters). Whilst I can understand the sentiments do not necessarily reflect the author or the protagonist, rather the common prejudices held at that time, I’d like to inform readers it’s there. Also, this does not occur often and the protagonist questions the notions.

An absolute ripper of a book. What would you do if you suspected the man you loved and married was a serial killer?

People of Abandoned Character is a grim and brutal atmospheric thriller convoluted with abrupt twists and dark turns. Some twists I anticipated whilst others were unexpected. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the tumultuous ride and devoured this book in one sitting.

Set in 1880’s Victorian England, this novel follows a young woman named Susannah, as she navigates her life from ward nurse to a newly wedded wife. Charmed by the enigmatic surgeon Thomas, Susannah is swept off her feet into a sudden advantageous marriage. The promise of a life of stability with a loving husband is new and exciting to Susannah. However, upon returning from their honeymoon their once sweet kisses turn sour as Thomas’ endearing demeanour changes. Thomas who was once attentive, devoted, and charming becomes cold, surly, and volatile. With the rising coincidental spikes in crime and her husband’s erratic behaviour, Susannah grows suspicious. What if Thomas is the fearsome murderer?

First, I must mention the two major factors that made me thoroughly enjoy this book: the narration and the protagonist. Upon reading the first few pages, I instantly fell in love with the narration. Written in first-person, the voice is distinct and gripping yet humorous at times. The story is well-paced with an engaging protagonist. Susannah is an intriguing character who is both determined yet naïve and unconventional and I enjoyed witnessing the story unfurl from her perspective.

Originally from a lower social class and having little to no prospects, Susannah is no stranger to the poor, unfortunate circumstances and sometimes violent ends women face in that era. Despite that, we witness Susannah grapple society’s expectation using her quick wit and determination. Throughout the novel, you can’t help but cheer for Susannah. Often berated by her grandmother of being a person of abandoned character, Susannah examines herself, questioning her morality and decisions. However, as the audience, we can’t help but empathise with Susannah and her actions despite her flaws.

Also, this book explores aspects such as class and gender, presenting fascinating insight whilst drawing attention to the disparity between the rich and poor and the inequality between men and women. A sad tune that still rings true till this day.

Overall, this was a compelling read with great pacing and intriguing twists. I enjoyed this thoroughly (and was satisfied with the ending!) and would recommend this book. Now I cannot wait for my Goldsboro copy to arrive.

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

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How to Break and Evil Curse | Review

Title: How to Break an Evil Curse
Series: Chronicles of Fritillary #1
Author: Laura Morrison
Publisher: Black Spot Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Recommended for: people looking for a different take on fairy-tales, fans of satire, fantasy parodies, and snarky narrators

If you’re looking for a fairy-tale parody, this may be for you.


In ‘How to Break an Evil Curse’, the King’s firstborn is cursed to die if touched by sunlight. Princess Julianna, the unfortunate firstborn to the King of Fritillary is confined in darkness and dreams of a life of freedom. Disgruntled but also determined, Julianna decides to fight fate and live her life by escaping the somewhat nicely redecorated dungeon.

But first, how does one break an evil curse? Simple, really. The evil Wizard Farland admits there is a cure. All Julianna needs is to fall in love with a person that:
1. spent their whole life at sea,
2. whose parents are part of a travelling theatre troupe,
3. said person can play the banjo, accordion, and harpsichord, and
4. is allergic to asparagus.

“It is not impossible for such a person to exist, only improbable.”

Writing:
Firstly, I must state this: approach this with a light-hearted mind. The narration style may not be for everyone. Rather, it may come across as sarcastic to some, with fourth wall breaks, witty comments, and interesting footnotes. However, I feel the narration is a stylistic choice to add to the humorous tone and I find that it works well with the story.

Characters:
There is a large cast of characters in this book, however, they add to the story and it’s quite easy to follow. Although one may find certain characters to be shallow and two-dimensional, I feel like this story doesn’t take itself too seriously for you to do so.  Although I must say, I appreciate how Julianna has initiative. Once she wants something, she goes after it.

Enjoyment:
I can appreciate this book for what it offers—a unique take on classic fairy tales. The humour may not be for everyone as it’s sarcastic and sometimes nonsensical. However, if you enjoy such humour, you may thoroughly enjoy this.

This book may serve well as a ‘palate-cleanser’—when you’re looking for a book that is light-hearted, entertaining, and easy to read. I’d recommend those who pick this up to not take it seriously, and enjoy for what it is. Overall, I find this book to be a quirky and amusing read.

Recommended for: people looking for a different take on fairy-tales, fans of satire, fantasy parodies, and snarky narrators

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

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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: Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Where can I find this? GoodReads | Book Depository | Booktopia
Recommended for: Fans of gothic atmosphere, flowery writing
CW: sexual assault, attempted rape, and violence

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 (Harper Collins) for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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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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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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#ARCAugust Attempt |Book Thoughts

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Oh no. I think I developed a new bad habit and it’s in the form of constantly requesting titles on Netgalley. What’s Netgalley? Netgalley is a website where you can request Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) of books in exchange for reviews and raising awareness/sharing the love. My little eager heart has been requesting all these amazing books and I know there are various posts recommending you to NOT request away. And yet, here I am…

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I am unsurprised and unimpressed with myself haha. (Why am I like this?)

Does anyone have any specific criteria as to what they do and don’t request? Because I need an adult. How do I control myself?

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I like to read broadly as much as I can, so I’m always open with genres but I can see myself falling into a hole of continuously requesting for books (and I kind of am already?). There are so many great books out there! I don’t want to overwhelm myself with all these commitments (but let’s be honest, I’m always overwhelmed haha). Also, I like to keep my ratio above 80% because lol it tells you to and my vanity likes the badge.

Anyway, I’m a temperamental mood reader, so here’s the plan: I’m going to join #ARCAugust. Or at least, attempt to.

In actuality, I had been planned to binge read all my ARCs and I happened to see a friend post they’re taking part in #ARCAugust so why not join?

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BANNER

Chosen Ones — April (the publishers threw a wishbone at me???? thank you??)

The Girl and the Stars 30 April (currently reading)

Dark Skies — 5 May (writing review help)

Santiago’s Road Home 20 June *date changed (writing review help)

The Midnight Bargain 13 October (just go accepted??? wow thank you)

The Tea Dragon Tapestry13 October (currently reading)

How to Break an Evil Curse13 October (currently reading)

The Stitcher and the Mute12 November (my foolish self didn’t realise this was a SEQUEL; currently reading the first one)

The City of Zirdai21 June 2021 (AGAIN my foolish self didn’t realise this was a SEQUEL; currently reading the first one)

 

TO DO LIST:

☒ Read book ☐ write review ☐ post review close to the published date

There are three steps!! Three! Yet why is this so difficult? Why am I like this???

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Anyway, how’s your reading going? Do you read any ARCs? Otherwise, how do you organise your reading?

 

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Monthly Wrap-Up: April 2020

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What Grew in Larry’s Garden • Children’s Fiction • ★★★★
I Dream of a Journey • Children’s Fiction • ★★★★
The Fox and the Little Tanuki • Manga, Fantasy • ★★★★
Doctor Mouse • Children’s Fiction • ★★★
Why Do We Cry? • Children’s Fiction • ★★★★★
It Sounded Better in my Head • Young Adult, Contemporary • ★★★★
Ghosted in LA • Graphic Novel • ★★★
Cruel Beauty • Young Adult, Fantasy • ★★★★
Coraline • Children’s Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy • ★★★★
Lemon Child • Children’s Fiction • ★★★★
If You Were Night • Children’s Fiction • ★★★★
Bibi & Miyu • Manga, Fantasy • ★★★★
So You Want To Talk About Race • Non-fiction • ★★★★★
Time for Bed’s Story • Children’s Fiction • ★★★★
Little Wise Wolf • Children’s Fiction • ★★★

I read a total of 15 books, the majority of them were e-books and eARCs and a few were audiobooks. I highly enjoyed Coraline and highly recommend So You Want To Talk About Race.

Children’s Fiction | Review

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Title: The Not BAD Animals

Author: Sophie Corrigan

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

 

A fun book that is both educational and great for reducing certain animal stigma. There is a large variety of animals known to have a bad rep (such as spiders, black cats, wolves, etc.) and on the first two-page spread the pages comprise of the myth and misconception with darker, heavier tones. The following spread uncovers the truth and the whole atmosphere changes dramatically with light and friendlier tones. I found the illustration effective, cute and engaging.

However, I feel like this is best for bite-sized moments as it can be a little overwhelming with many little facts regarding numerous animals. Despite that, I really enjoyed the book. The illustration and execution were exceptional. A great read. I’d recommend this book.

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


 

cover185188-mediumTitle: Oops! Step by step.

Author: Mack van Gageldonk

Publisher: Clavis Publishing

Genre: Children’s fiction

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

At first, I wasn’t sure if it was my version but the illustration was jarring and felt incomplete. Unfortunately, the art was a huge aspect and thus affected the read. I would have read this to my niece or nephew, but given the art style, I don’t feel like it would capture and hold their attention for the whole book.

Other than that, this is an easy book with simple art.

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


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Title: The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo

Author: Elaine Bickell

Illustrator: Raymond McGrath

Publisher: Philomel Books

Genre: Children’s fiction

Rating: ★★★★★

 

 

The illustration is bright and vivid, complimenting the story well. The rhyming texts are fun and engaging and the book invites reader participation at the end.

I’d definitely recommend this book and I can’t wait to read this with my nephew and niece.

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

Children’s Fiction Books | Review

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Title: Play Like an Animal

Author: Maria Gianferrari,

Illustrator: Mia Powell

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

 

‘Play Like an Animal’ is a fun read. The story-telling is engaging and the illustration is gorgeous and vivid. I like how the art captures each of the animal’s actions and how each page is appealing. The little fun facts were a great bonus (especially for the curious).

I’d definitely recommend this read and can’t wait to read this to my niece.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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Title: If…

Author: Sarah Perry

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Publisher: Getty Publications

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

 

 

This is a simple yet complex book. Filled with beautiful and intricate illustration and imaginative scenarios, ‘If…’ is a fun read with a great concept. I loved the art, it was vivid and unique.

‘If…’ would be a fun read for children (and adults), encouraging creativity and for minds to roam free. I’d recommend this book to both children and adults.

Thank you to NetGalley and the Getty Publications for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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Title: A Surprising Friendship

Author: Andrew Wald

Illustrator: Tara J. Hannon

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

 

‘A Surprising Friendship’ is an endearing story filled with beautiful illustration (the art complimented the story well) and a sweet message. This book focuses on an unexpected friendship formed between a goose and bear and how differences matter little. I liked how this book shows that a good friendship surpasses seasons. This is a book I’ll definitely read to my niece.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Something Wicked | Review

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Title: Something Wicked

Author: Nicole M. Rubino

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal

Publisher: Magnolia Press

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

 

 

 

 

 

The premise is full of intrigue and promise—witches and witch hunters situated in Salem. In ‘Something Wicked’ we follow Theo, a girl who seemingly received bad luck for her seventeenth birthday (bad break-up? Check. Car crash? Check.). After a series of unfortunate events and tragedy, Theo moves to Salem with her aunt.

I was immediately hooked on the premise. I liked the setting of modern-day Salem and the opening scene. I also love stories where someone discovers their powers and true origins. However, despite the that, I found the plot a bit mediocre and predictable at some points with an amalgamation of YA tropes. Furthermore, I felt the foreshadowing to be a little heavy-handed. Whilst there is plenty of drama and action, it was a quick and easy read.

Unfortunately, this book is riddled with common tropes I’m not so fond of (such as girl on girl hate, not like other girls™, etc.) and therefore affected my reading experience. This book wasn’t for me. I feel like this book would be suitable for younger teens, pre-teens, or people who don’t mind such tropes or are new to fantasy/paranormal romance. If you’re looking for a quick and easy read and into witches and forbidden romance, this may be for you.

I received an eARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and the author.

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