#TopTenTuesday: 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To.

This week’s TTT list is probably one of the easiest for me to compile because there are so many books that were released last year that I wanted to read but didn’t get the chance to for one reason or another. The only difficult part was narrowing down which books to list here because there are definitely way more than ten! 😂 These titles have wormed their way to the top of my list and I’m hoping to read them sooner rather than later in 2022 (note to self: remember these words!)!

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Blog Tour Review: Coming Back by Jessi Zabarsky

Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for Coming Back by Jessi Zabarsky.
Special thanks to Random House Graphic for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Be sure to click here or on the banner above to check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Coming Back
Publisher: Random House Graphic
Publication Date: 18 January 2022
Genre: Graphic Novel, LGBTQ+

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

A beautiful graphic novel fantasy romance that follows two young women who have to go on their own separate adventures to discover the truth about themselves and about each other.

Preet is magic.
Valissa is not.

Everyone in their village has magic in their bones, and Preet is the strongest of them all. Without any power of her own, how can Valissa ever be worthy of Preet’s love? When their home is attacked, Valissa has a chance to prove herself, but that means leaving Preet behind. On her own for the first time Preet breaks the village’s most sacred laws, and is rejected from the only home she’s ever known and sent into a new world.

Divided by different paths, insecurities, and distance, will Valissa and Preet be able to find their way back to each other?

A beautiful story of two young women who are so focused on proving they’re meant to be together that they end up hurting each other in the process. This gorgeous graphic novel is an LGTBQ+ romance about young love and how it can grow into something strong no matter what obstacles get in the way.

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Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp

We’re back with another Sundays in Bed With… meme! This meme dares to ask you what book has been in your bed this morning and is hosted by Midnight Book Girl. Come share what book you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed with, or which book you wish you had time to read today!

I’ll be spending the rest of my Sunday in bed with… Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews. This is the second novella in the Kinsmen series. I recently picked up my first book by IA and I really enjoyed the balance of sci-fi and romance! I’m looking forward to reading more from them in the future 😊

Talent is power. And revenge is sweet.

In a distant, future world Kinsmen—small powerful groups of genetically and technologically advanced families—control vast financial empires. They are their own country, their own rulers, and their only limits are other Kinsmen. The struggle for power is a bloody, full-contact sport: in business, on the battlefield…and sometimes in the bedroom.
Claire Shannon is a killer…and her weapon is her mind.

Born on a planet torn by war for over 300 years, Claire is a soldier: a psycher, with the ability to read, control, and destroy the minds of enemy psychers and to infiltrate the biological network where they battle to death.

When Claire’s faction loses the war, she barely escapes extermination from both sides, as her talent brands her as too dangerous to society. By so-deeply burying her ability that she avoids detection, Claire is instead deported to Rada as a refugee, where she must find work to remain. She finds a job as personal assistant to Venturo Escana, a premiere kinsman; one of Rada’s most wealthy entrepreneurs—and most powerful psychers.

She thought she had left war behind, but now she must hide her skills and her growing feelings from Venturo…and this battle might just cost her everything… 

What are you currently reading?

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Book Review: King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair

Goodreads: King of Battle and Blood (Adrian X Isolde #1)
Published: 30 November 2021
Genre: Fantasy Romance (Romantasy)

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Their Union Is His Revenge.

Isolde de Lara considers her wedding day her death day. To end a years-long war, she is to marry vampire king, Adrian Aleksandr Vasiliev, and kill him. ⠀

But her assassination attempt is thwarted and Adrian threatens that if Isolde tries kill him again, he will raise her as the undead. Faced with the possibility of becoming the thing she hates most, Isolde seeks other ways to defy him and survive the brutal vampire court. ⠀

Except it isn’t the court she fears most—it’s Adrain. Despite their undeniable chemistry, she wonders why the king——fierce, savage, merciless—chose her as consort. ⠀

The answer will shatter her world. 

TL;DR: If you love vampires, witches, and other paranormal creatures, a fantasy world full of political intrigue and backstabbing drama, and an extremely steamy but nonetheless swoony romance between fated lovers, then I would recommend checking this one out! This was strongly reminiscent of JLA’s From Blood and Ash books with the same addicting qualities to it but I personally enjoyed my reading experience of this one so much more (take that as you will but pls no attack lol)! 😂

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Let’s Talk Bookish: Book Buying Bans – Yea or Nay?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @Eternity Books  & Dani @ Literary Lion, where we get to discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts! You can check out these pages for January 2022 prompts & a full list of the past prompts!

Now without further ado… The topic asks us about:

DO BOOK BUYING BANS WORK FOR YOU?

(SUGGESTED BY JILLIAN @ JILLIAN THE BOOKISH BUTTERFLY)
Prompts: The book community is full of consumerism. People want to not just read their favourite books, but own them as well. Sometimes this can get…a little out of hand. How do you control your spending/buying books you don’t have time to read? Does setting a book buying ban work for you? How long do you usually ban yourself for?

“Sometimes this can get…a little out of hand” 👀

I can still hear the echoes of the above phrase still ringing in my head, especially as I sit and contemplate how I’ve liberally indulged in book-buying since the start of 2022, which was literally 14 days ago. At this point, to say that I’ve been treating myself, might be an understatement and though I initially justified this splurge by saying that I really didn’t buy books last year, my brain has very conveniently blocked out all the eBooks I happily one-clicked because “out of sight, out of mind” and all that, right? 🤷🏻‍♀️

I will say though that despite all the one-clicking of eBooks, I am actually spending less on books than I was previously. When I first joined the book community, it was through bookstagram and I immediately jumped in on all the book-buying hype and my physical library grew immensely over a very short period of time; it was unsurprisingly unsustainable!

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT!

When I was still buying books like it was going out of fashion, I did set bans several times and they were successful—I resisted temptation and I was pretty proud of myself for not buying all the books! The longest I ever set a ban was 5 months and even then I didn’t buy books. That said, the minute these bans ended, I’d look up the books that I catalogued for buying while I was banned, and I would start “treating” myself to a certain number of them for the length of time I was banned (i.e. 2-3 books for each month I was on the ban). 🙄 So, ultimately, it was pretty pointless? 😂

Learning OVER TIME

A combination of things have helped me stop buying books so often. First, I left bookstagram. I know it’s not the same experience for everyone, but since I stopped trolling the feeds looking at everyone’s gorgeous bookish pictures, I’ve also stopped feeling the overwhelming need to constantly buy all the books. Yes, I’m still tempted to buy books when I see people talk about them all over blogs and book Twitter, but there’s less urgency for me to get my hands on it/them—especially when I think about all the books that are still sitting unread on my physical and digital shelves.

For physical books: I’ve started to focus more on quality over quantity for my physical shelves but it’s not a hard rule! 😂 But as much as I’d love to keep adding more and more hardcovers/ paperbacks to my shelves, international shipping is so freaking expensive and even when it’s free, it often takes forever and a day to arrive! In the last year, I’ve mostly bought special editions of favourites and while they’re way more pricey than your average version, they’re so worth it!

For digital books: These days I do the most indulging with eBooks but I usually tend to wait for good deals before buying them. One trick I learned was to do semi-regular checks of my wishlist and sort them from lowest-to-highest price to see if any have good deals. I’m surprised by how many popular titles/anticipated releases I’ve bought for £0.99-£2.00 as a result (some of the more recent titles include: Iron Widow, Defy the Night and Raybearer)!

BOOK BUYING BAN: YEA OR NAY?

While I’m not opposed to book-buying bans, I’ve found through experimentation (and knowing myself, lol) that they ultimately don’t work for me. That said, my priorities have changed over the years and as much as I want to own every single book under the sun, I’m also very aware of all the books that are still sitting unread on my shelf and as I get older, the guilt over leaving them unread has started to hit me harder! 🤣 Plus, international shipping is painfully high and since I stopped working full-time, it’s been easier to refrain from indulging so often. So… It’s a NAY for me!

Do you set book buying bans for yourself? If you do, how long do you set them for and do they work for you? What’s the longest you’ve banned yourself? If you don’t, how do you control your book buying habits?

Book Review: The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

Goodreads: The Wolf and the Woodsman
Published: 08 June 2021
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all. 

TL;DR: I started off really enjoying this fantastical world that’s richly infused with magic and folklore, not to mention being very excited about the enemies-to-lovers romance that I’ve been hearing all about. Sadly, I found myself losing steam thanks to the erratic pacing, plus I also found it difficult to connect to and care about our main characters—which meant that although there were some swoony moments between Gáspár and Évike, I didn’t end up being blown away by their chemistry or romance. No one’s more disappointed than I am that I didn’t enjoy this one more because I was absolutely ready to love this and thought I’d be kicking off my 2022 with a banging 5-star read. 😮‍💨 Still, I’m glad that I gave it a try; I didn’t dislike it but if I’m honest, I feel kind of meh about it.

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#WWWWednesday: 12 January 2022

Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Post divider: What did you just finish reading?

We’re halfway through the month of January (can you believe?) and since last week’s check-in, I’ve managed to read seven books. I’m surprisingly reading a lot of graphic novels but I ain’t mad about it cos I enjoyed them all! 🥰 This was mostly winning, save for one that ended up being the first 1-star rating I’ve given in a while… 👀

The Wedding Setup: A Short Story by Sonali Dev ★★★★½
This short story made me upset that I hadn’t yet read anything else by Dev but I plan to rectify that right away. I loved the writing, the cultural references, the way Dev explored loss/grief, mother-daughter relationships and intercultural relationships. The romance had me swooning (Emmitt was 😍) and I had such a fantastic time reading this! Check out my review.

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#TopTenTuesday: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Most recent additions to my book collection.

After years of saying “I’ll catalogue my books”, I’m happy to say I’ve made a start and I finally finished cataloguing all my eBooks yesterday! I’ve already made a fair few (eBook) purchases this year (welp! 🙈) but I’m staying on top of things and adding them directly to my catalogue after each purchase. It might seem like no big deal but I’m feeling pretty freaking accomplished right now 😂 But I digress…

After seeing so many amazing yearly wrap-ups and being tempted by others’ favourites that were already on my wishlist, I decided to treat myself since I actually didn’t go wild buying that many new books last year (ebook and otherwise). I might be making up for that this year (probably even this month alone lol, jokes, maybe).

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Blog Tour Review: Crushing by Sophie Burrows

🥳 Happy Pub Day to Crushing! 🥳

Special thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for inviting me to be on the blog tour and for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Crushing
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: 11 January 2022
Genre: Graphic Novel, Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

She’s lonely and searching for a connection. He’s lonely and afraid to reach out.
Life in the big city means being surrounded by connections—making them, missing them, and longing for them. But is finding someone else really the answer to their problems?

Crushing, the stunning debut graphic novel from Sophie Burrows, is a story told in silence; a story without words but bursting with meaning; a story about loneliness and love.

Achingly beautiful, quietly defiant, and full of subtle wit and wisdom, Crushing is a unique meditation on the human condition in the twenty-first century, and a timely examination of young adult life in an age of isolation
.

buy a copy

Sophie Burrows is an award winning British writer, illustrator and comics creator. Inspired by the everyday, she loves to tell stories which explore themes of human behaviour, mental health and relationships. In 2019 she graduated from the MA in Children’s Book Illustration course at Cambridge School of Art, and subsequently won Student Illustrator of the Year 2019 at the V&A Illustration Awards.

Her first picture book as writer/illustrator, Ig Pig and Og Frog! was released in 2020, and her debut graphic novel, Crushing , publishes in 2021. Alongside her illustration, Sophie is also an associate lecturer and teaches on the MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art.

Sophie lives and works in London with her partner Daniel. Besides drawing, she also loves to cook, and enjoys being creative in the kitchen. She is an avid music lover, and often spends her spare time watching live music and going to festivals. 

twitter | Instagram

TL;DR: Crushing is a graphic novel that I think will resonate with many of us because we’ve all felt loneliness and do feel lonely, especially since the pandemic. The artwork was simple, beautiful and vibrant with pops of red amidst the black and white, and the style complemented the quietness of the story very well. There was no plot but we follow the lives of our two protagonists as they navigate their everyday situations, searching for opportunities and connections, and it was simply so relatable. There may not be a happy ever after just yet but it’s certainly a hopeful new beginning! 🥰

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ARC Review: The Wedding Setup by Sonali Dev

Special thanks to Amazon Original Stories for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Wedding Setup
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
Published: 11 January 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Ayesha Shetty lost her brother seven years ago, the same time she lost everything else important to her: her dreams, her fierce independence, and the man she loved. Not wanting to see her mother hurt anymore, she put her wild self away and became the dutiful daughter her mother needed and took on her brother’s role in the family business.

Now her best friend’s big, fat Indian wedding is a chance to get away from her endless duties at the restaurant and maybe even have some fun (if she remembers how). But a setup arranged by her mother, with a doctor no less, is the last thing she needs. The fact that he checks all her mother’s boxes just makes everything better…and worse.

Then Emmitt Hughes shows up. Her brother’s best friend. The love she once chose over family duties and her responsibilities. The one she asked to leave, and who did. The one who knows the real Ayesha. Torn between a love from the past that could cost her the only person she has left and her sense of obligation to her mother, will Ayesha find the strength to stop thinking about what everyone else wants and finally put herself first? Or is the old Ayesha truly gone for good?

TL;DR: I’m honestly a little disappointed (in myself) that I haven’t picked up anything by Sonali Dev until this short story because I loved everything about this second-chance romance with hilarious and well-intentioned meddling BFFs, mothers, and aunties. Dev’s writing is humorous, heartfelt, and packed with emotion, and her characters were realistic and relatable. If this short story is a good indication of what her full-length romances are like then I’ve definitely been missing out and I absolutely cannot wait to read more of Dev’s books asap!

Continue reading “ARC Review: The Wedding Setup by Sonali Dev”