#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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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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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!

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Let’s Talk Bookish: 2022 Reading/Blogging Goals

Hello, friends! It’s been a while since I did a Let’s Talk Bookish post but I thought what better time to dive back into these posts than at the start of a new year, right?!


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:

2022 READING GOALS

(SUGGESTED BY DANI @ LITERARY LION)
Prompts: As we enter the new year many of us will be setting goals on Goodreads and choosing new year’s resolutions. What are your goals related to your blog or books/reading in general? Are you going to have resolutions this year, and if not why not?

QUICK RECAP of 2021 goals/resolutions

I’m just gonna come out and say it: I didn’t do a great job of achieving my 2021 goals/resolutions. 🙃 I was so convinced at the start of the year that it would be my year and well, a couple of slumps, weird reading moods, and burnouts later, and that wasn’t the case at all. I felt pretty shoddy about it when I realised just how little I accomplished but after a little internal monologuing, I decided that it’s okay. Of course, I’m disappointed that I didn’t achieve what I set out to do, but I had as much of a rough personal year as a lot of others did—but the high point is: we got through it!

I thought I’d share a review of some of my 2021 goals/resolutions before moving on to 2022:

  • Read 150 books (GR challenge)this is the only goal I achieved as I ended up reading 199 books!
  • Tackle my existing physical shelves (at least 50 books)yeah, no. this really didn’t end up happening as i participated in a slightly overwhelming number of blog tours last year 😂
  • Catalogue all my physical/digital booksi didn’t even end up making/downloading a library tracker until january 2022 so… 🙈
  • Prioritise reading Asian (South/Southeast Asian) authorsi read 13 books by asian authors and considering i read almost 200 books, i didn’t do well with this one!
  • Read more amazing Middle Grade Fantasy!i read a few mg fantasies that i really enjoyed but 2021 ended up being the year of romance, and i think 2022 is going to follow suit.
  • Grow my blog to 800 followerssadly, i didn’t achieve this and have been in 700 followers limbo for the past 8 months but i’m honestly just happy to have a few regular readers who engage with me, especially after posting so erratically in 2021
  • Read more non-fiction (at least 4 books)nope. non-fiction stood no chance 🥲

IS THERE HOPE FOR MY 2022 READING GOALS?

Oof, that recap was a little more painful than I anticipated (😮‍💨) but I’m not gonna let that stop me from trying again in 2022! I also know myself and I’ve never been very good at sticking to resolutions or slaying goals. I’ve always kind of taken things as they come and just going with whatever flow I’m on, but I also like having a general idea of where I’m heading and what I want to work towards. All that to say, I’ll have these goals but I’ll try not to take them too seriously? It’s chaotic but we’re rolling with it, ok? 🤓

THE 2022 READING/BLOGGING GOALS

I’m gonna keep it pretty simple this year and include one or two ideas that I’ve been thinking about doing for the past year and I’m pretty excited about it, so hopefully, that means it’ll happen! 😂

  • Read 150 booksGoodreads Reading Challenge
  • Read 50 backlist titles – Because I really want to focus on getting the backlist read this year!
  • Complete the 2022 Popsugar Reading Challenge – I’m trying. Again. Maybe 2022 is the year I’ll finally complete it 😂 why not be ambitious, right?
  • Fill in my Library Tracker – I’m starting with recording my ebooks and then I’ll move onto my physical books!
  • Grow my blog to 800 followers – why not be a little more ambitious, eh?
  • Start my Re-read Project – I had this idea to re-read some of the books that I rated 4-5 stars before I started my book blog. I’d love to see whether I still feel the same way about them and I want to give them actual reviews this time! I hope to at least read 2-3 series or ~10 books.

That’s it for my 2022 reading and blogging goals! Do you set yearly goals for reading and blogging? Do you find setting goals helpful or is it just pressure you don’t need?

#WWWWednesday: 05 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?

Since last week I’ve managed to finish seven books. Most of them were erotic romances, as I was chasing my 200 reads in 2021 (and still didn’t succeed but it’s fine lol)! I still find that I’ve carried over the weird reading mood from 2021 but I’m hoping that’ll fade as 2022 rolls on.

Before Girl (Vital Signs #1) by Kate Canterbary ★★★☆☆
I have an unpopular opinion for this one and I’m sad that I didn’t enjoy it. I just couldn’t vibe with the chaotic energy of the characters. I think this is definitely a me thing and not because of the book! Still plan to try another book by Canterbary though! RTC.

The Lick Series Box Set (Lick #1-3) by Naima Simone ★★★★☆
I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed this one. It’s erotica so the sex does play a big role in the plot (and it was very kinky and steamy) but I thought the character development was done well for novellas! The third book (Only For You) about Killian was my favourite though. Defo keen to try more by this author! RTC.

Continue reading “#WWWWednesday: 05 January 2022”