First Lines Friday – 02 April

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a brilliant idea, conceived and executed by a clever young woman, must be claimed by a man.”

Do you recognize the book these first lines come from?

Continue reading “First Lines Friday – 02 April”

First Lines Friday – 26 March

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“There’s blood on my hands, blood between my toes, blood speckled in my hair. It’s splashed across my chest, and to my horror, I can taste a few droplets on my lips.
There’s far too much of it staining the kitchen’s polished floors. No one can survive that much blood loss, not even the monster at my feet.”

Do you recognize the book these first lines come from?

Continue reading “First Lines Friday – 26 March”

Mini-Review: Beneath Black Sails Romantasy Series

The Beneath Black Sails series is currently unfinished and this is a review of the first two books. There’s a prequel novella that I haven’t read and probably won’t? According to Goodreads, the third and fourth books will be published sometime in 2021!

Beneath Black Sails (Beneath Black Sails #1)
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Panda Rating:


Sometimes it takes a pirate to catch a pirate.
With weather magic on her side, Lady Vice is the bane of the high seas, but she isn’t captain of her own ship. Yet. If she can persuade her captain to give her a command, she’ll be in charge of her own fate.


To pay off his family’s debts, Knigh Blackwood hunts pirates for the Royal Navy. And he’s damn good at it. When the bounty on Lady Vice increases, he’s determined to make her face justice, even if that means using unorthodox methods.


Forced to work together, neither can deny their mutual attraction. As they face battles at sea and schemes aboard their ship, they discover hints about a long-lost treasure that could be the answer to both their problems.


But treasure isn’t the only thing buried. Secrets best forgotten lie in wait that could blast them apart. And the closer Vice and Knigh grow, the greater the threat – to her freedom and to his family. Because for one to succeed, the other must fail.

This was a fast-paced and action-packed high-seas adventure with interesting characters and a good dose of a slow-burning fiery enemies-to-lovers romance. This was probably the most pirate-y romantasy that I have ever read and you know what? I was totally here for it. Major props to Sager because you can tell she has done her research and actually, the way she talks about ships and sailing breathes it to life! Vice and Knigh were polar opposites that oddly complemented each other, and had an interesting enemies-to-lovers romance that progressed naturally, but their sexual chemistry was obvious from day one. Vice took some getting used to and Knigh was also an imperfect hero, but they both experience a lot of growth and I was invested in their arcs. If you’re into nautical fantasy or romantasy then this is definitely one you should check out because it packs an entertaining punch with lots of fun twists and tons of pirate shenanigans!

My biggest frustration with the book was the lack of world-building. Sager sets the scene in a way that expects us to already know about the world and thus scant detail about the setting is provided. The author provides a detailed note at the end of the book where she divulges more information, but I felt like I learned more about the world in her note than I did in the whole book. Overall, a highly entertaining start to the series and after that tumultuous ending, I can’t wait to dive into book two!

Against Dark Tides (Beneath Black Sails #2)
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Panda Rating:


Enemies. Lovers. Enemies once more. Now they must work together to survive. 

Notorious pirate Lady Vice has lost everything: ship, crew, and friends. Even her body has betrayed her, leaving her magic weak. To make matters worse, she’s stuck at sea with the man who stabbed her in the back.

Knigh Blackwood is no longer a captain, no longer a pirate-hunter, no longer … anything. All he has left is the woman he betrayed, and she’d rather cut out his tongue with his own dagger than forgive him.

There’s just one thing that might make up for what they’ve lost: Drake’s treasure.
But they’re not the only ones searching for clues and the elusive X that marks the spot. Between them and the treasure stand a scheming duke, a former lover, and a sea monster thought the stuff of legends – not to mention Vice and Knigh’s complicated feelings for each other.

Can you hear that? It’s the resounding sound of disappointment!!! *womp womp womp…*

So… WOW, Vice made it really really really hard for me to love this book. Like, really hard. She took some getting used to in book one and redeemed herself by the end, but I was up to my eyeballs and drowning in frustration with her naïveté and childish petulance in this book and it really took the enjoyment out of the story for me! With the way book one ends, it’s no surprise that there would be a good dose of angst in book two, I just didn’t expect so much of it, and it took away from the fun of the story. While Vice was just plain bad, I found Knigh frustrating at times too. Their character arcs were just so woefully repetitive and although they do come to realise what they could’ve done better/differently, they really don’t grow.

The only character who saved the book for me was Perry. She’s not only a great trustworthy captain but an amazing friend. We get to see a strong friendship grow between Perry and Knigh and her influence on him was not only soothing, but I thought she also really brought out the best in him. We get a stronger villain in this book and he was truly despicable but I’m very curious about Mercia and how he’s linked to Knigh’s past and what role he’ll play in the future.

Overall, while we get more high-seas adventures and there’s even a treasure hunt and the introduction of The Kraken(!!), I’m sad to say that this was a pretty disappointing sequel. I really wanted less Vice and more Perry, as well as the blossoming friendship between Perry and Knigh. That said, I feel like I want to know what happens next because the end of book two did seem promising. I hope that I’m not disappointed again!

And that’s a wrap, folks! Do you find sequels are more often disappointing than not? Have you read any of the Beneath Black Sails series or is it on your TBR?

The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black – #BookReview

Goodreads: The Queen of Nothing
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Panda Rating:

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…

WELL. I closed this book with a lot of new, mixed and surprising feelings for many characters that I honestly didn’t care all that much about to start with. This was a pretty good conclusion although it was really nothing mind-blowing. Honestly, if I had been more invested in the characters from book one, I might even go so far as to say that I might’ve been disappointed with this ending. But if you like clean happy endings (and I mean who doesn’t?), then I think that The Queen of Nothing will tick all your boxes and leave you feeling satisfied.

Continue reading “The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black – #BookReview”

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones – #BookReview

Goodreads: The Bone Houses
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror
Panda Rating:

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves.

I was expecting to be terrified reading this ‘historical fantasy horror’, especially considering the title and it’s basically about zombies, but it had just the right amount of spook that even a chicken like me could read it alone at night! What a treat of a read this was 😍 Even before picking it up, I knew I’d enjoy it but I didn’t expect to not want to leave it for even a second!

“The anticipation of the loss hurts nearly as much as the loss itself. You find yourself trying to hold on to every detail, because you’ll never have them again.”

The writing was simple, atmospheric and the story read a little bit like a fairytale. I liked how things were so simply but vividly described but mostly I loved the magic in the story. It’s woven through so naturally it was almost difficult to picture the world differently. Although this is a fantasy, I was wondering what country inspired the story, and it’s Welsh folklore/mythology! I haven’t read anything Welsh inspired before (at least not to my knowledge) so that was pretty cool. The plot was fast paced and well paced. There were some ‘quieter’ moments towards the end of the book, but it didn’t slow the story down. There wasn’t much surprising in the plot though–it was quite linear which made it easy to predict what would happen in the end, but that’s OK. There were still some unique elements to the story that made it enjoyable!

What really made the story for me were the characters. Ryn is incredibly fierce, loyal and stubborn. She has a temper that gets the best of her at times, and while she does make some stupid decisions without thinking of the consequences, you can’t help but love her anyway. She’s hanging on to the past in the hopes that one day her father will return and it broke my heart a little bit. She’s the character that makes you feel safe and like everything’s going to be okay because they’re around. We don’t learn or spend a lot of time with her siblings but I loved Ceri! She’s a bright light in a dark story and her bubbly personality and love for baking and animals had me smiling from ear-to-ear.

“She was half a wild creature that loved a graveyard, the first taste of misty night air, and the heft of a shovel. She knew how things died. And in her darkest moments, she feared she did not know how to live.”

Then we have Ellis, the mapmaker who comes into town. Little is known about him at first, but it was pretty easy to figure out his story as we learn more about the curse. I loved Ellis’ character a lot! He had a certain innocence about him that stemmed from his questions about his past but he also had some great dry/sarcastic humor! I even liked the romance that bloomed! It’s progression felt natural and I liked the easy banter that flowed between them. Although they’re opposites in so many respects, they share a keen understanding in their loneliness, losses and grief, and as such complemented each other quite well. Opposites definitely attracted here!

Also, did I mention the amazing goat yet?! Because it definitely might have stolen the show! I loved it as much as everyone told me I would and I know that sounds weird AF but trust me, when you read this, you’ll love the goat too! I pre-ordered the book just so I could get that extra story about the goat! Overall, I’m so glad that I finally read this book. I enjoyed so much about it and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a fantastical zombie fairytale-esque story that’s just a little on the spooky side!

Have you read The Wicked King or is it on your TBR?

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black – #BookReview

Goodreads: The Wicked King
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Panda Rating:

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

3.5 stars for that pre-epilogue ending! And just when I thought that things were turning around and I’d like this newly established alliance, that ending had to go and happen! I’m shook but also angry? But also, I get it too? This seems to have really messed with my feelings (of which I thought I didn’t have many of for this series) 🤣

The Cruel Prince: ★★★½ – ★★★★☆
The Wicked King: ★★★½
The Queen of Nothing: ???

Continue reading “The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black – #BookReview”