The Inside and Out Book Tag

Happy ThursTAG day Bibliofriends!

School officially starts again TOMORROW and my brain is full of a weird mix of excitement and nerves. So this final, final day of summer feels like the perfect time to have a go at The Inside and Out Book Tag which I was tagged in by the fabulous Riddhi over at Whispering Stories.

I loved the simplicity of this tag all about reading habits and preferences. It was great to take a break from book lists where I feel like I constantly just list the same books over and over again! 😂


  • Inside flap/back of the book summaries: Too much info? Or not enough?
    If it’s a paperback, I always read the blurb on the back of a book so it’s never too much info for me; if it’s a hardcover I tend to skip it – I’m aware there’s not necessarily any logic in that but that’s just what I do.

  • New book: What form do you want it in? Be honest: Audiobook, eBook, Paperback or Hardcover?
    I buy audiobooks and ebooks if I feel like I’m getting a good saving on the price. Most of my new books come from book subscription boxes so the majority are hardbacks but if I’m physically going into the bookshop I’ll buy paperbacks which is my preferred reading format.
  • Scribble while you read? Do you like to write in your books; take notes, make comments, or do you keep your books clean, clean, clean?
    AArrghhh! I can’t write in books – I think the only books I ever purposefully wrote in were my High School reading texts and even that was minimal. I can’t even bend a spine on purpose so there’s no way I’m taking the weapons of ink to those beautiful paper leaves.
  • Does it matter to you whether the author is male or female when you’re deciding on a book? What if you’re unsure of the author’s gender?
    Gender has never been a factor for me when buying a book and it’s not something I’m conscious of paying attention to, it’s the story that matters to me the most.

  • Ever read ahead? Or have you ever read the last page way before you got there?
    Guilty! I tend to flip to the final page of the actual story just to see what page number it finishes on without all of the acknowledgements and extra snippets etc… Sometimes though, I end up spoiling myself by catching sight of a word or character name and then my eyes just get sucked in!

  • Organised bookshelves or outrageous bookshelves?
    A mix of both! My organised bookshelf in my room is tidy and arranged mostly by size and TBR preference. The bookshelves in my office however are kind of organised, being in that they’re in alphabetical order according to genre but they’re also outrageously double stacked and crammed to bursting.

  • Have you ever bought a book based on the cover (alone)?
    Probably not – the cover or title definitely draws me in but I always tend to read what the book is about before buying it. The only exception is if it’s a book by one of my auto-buy authors, then it just goes straight in the bag with no knowledge of cover or blurb!

  • Take it outside to read, or stay in?
    Outside in summer, indoors in winter.

That’s a wrap! If this is the type of fun, easy tag that’s right up your street then consider yourself ‘tagged’ and drop me a pingback on your posts! I’d love to see how many of us have outrageous bookshelves or flip to the back pages for a sneak peek!

Enjoy the weekend ahead everybody and as always, drop me a comment to chat!

T xx

The Ancient History Book Tag

Happy weekend Bibliofriends!

I found this amazing book tag over at Stephen Writes and as a huge History fan I was immediately tagging myself to have a go! At University I did a Joint Honours degree in English Literature and History so this tag really does combine two of my biggest academic loves!

I think the origins of this tag came from Books Michelle’s channel over on BookTube so big thanks to her for creating it – go check it out!


The Stone Age: one of the first books you remember reading.

Reading was such a huge part of my childhood. I was so lucky to have parents who read to me every night and a Grandfather who would always buy me books from our weekly car boot sales. It’s so hard to pick just ‘one first book’ but some of my earliest reading memories involve Roald Dahl, Wizziwig by Geraldine McCaughrean and Care of Henry by Anne Fine.

Ancient Greece: your favourite myth-inspired book (doesn’t have to be Greek mythology), or retelling.

I’ve always been fascinated by myths and legends, they are the most historical stories of all time. As a child I used to think they were about real beings and creatures and I loved trying to find the balance in them between fantasy and reality. For me, Lore by Alexandra Bracken absolutely embodies this – I really liked the contemporary spin and clash between old meeting new.

The Roman Empire: a book featuring an impressive empire or kingdom.  

Lord Of The Rings is my favourite fictional empire in the whole book universe. I live in part of the world Tolkien was living and inspired by so I love seeing elements of the Middle Earth landscape every time I leave my house.

The Middle Ages, (or the Dark Ages): a book that is an absolute bummer.

This maybe a slight #unpopularopinion alert but I never really understood the hype surrounding Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin. I don’t think Lou and Reed’s characters grabbed me enough to get swept away by their story.

The Renaissance: a book that you’ve learned a lot from, or that made you think.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas definitely made a mark on me and made me think. Starr’s narrative and circumstances are so important at raising awareness of racial issues and how important it is that we come together rather than carry on tolerating hurtful segregation.

The Industrial Revolution: a book featuring an invention or concept that you would love to have in your own life.

Ready Player One is one of my all-time favourite novels ever so I have to pick the OASIS for this one. It’s so vast that possibilities are endless. I could definitely imagine spending countless hours inside this virtual world if it were a real concept.

World War I & II: your favourite historical fiction book about the World Wars (or if you don’t have one, your favourite historical fiction book in general).

I don’t tend to read too much World War Fiction as I much prefer Tudor England or Renaissance history. When I was studying War literature for my A-Levels I remember loving Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. It was such a sentimental and lyrical read.

Present Day: a book everybody should read in present day according to you.

I found this prompt so difficult because I’m well aware that my tastes in fiction are completely different to everyone else’s so I chose a non-fiction book instead. A Life on our Planet by Sir David Attenborough really brought my attention to current environmental issues. Some of the facts and figures were quite shocking and devastating. I think it’s an informative book which seeks to give some different solutions and ways that the whole world can make changes to help each other look after planet earth.


That’s a wrap! Please feel free to tag yourself if you want to take part. Don’t forget to link it back to the original tag creator Books Michelle.

Do you like History? What are your favourite historical periods? Have you got a favourite historical read? As always, drop me a comment below to chat!

T xx

The Magical Readathon is BACK!

Happy Saturday Bibliofriends!

I used to adore picking my wizarding world careers to study for OWLs and NEWTs as part of The Magical Readathon every April and August hosted by the fabulous G (Book Roast). Well now it’s back with a majorly exciting overhaul! I mean, there is a entirely new fictional world, characters, provinces… everything! It’s like it’s own unique fantasy saga and I cannot wait to get stuck in and set up my TBR!

This September, we are getting our first glimpses into the world of Aeldia because G is hosting an introductory Readathon for participants to make their way through The Novice Path to Orilium Academy before the familiar format begins with brand new magical races, affinities and careers. I am bowled over at G’s amazing attention to detail. This must have taken absolutely hours to craft and put together. There are additional character profile prompts and challenges to take part in before April 2022 as well but for now I’m just going to stick with the first part of this epic Readathon of all Readathons!

If you’re a former Magical Readathon participant or you’re wanting to take part in more readathons in the future, you should definitely check out G’s launch video here and access the G drive complete with all maps, trackers, prompts and guides here.

All images, logos and graphics are G’s content from The Magical Readathon Google Drive.


Magical Readathon: Orilium – The Novice Path TBR

To complete the first challenge you only need to complete two of the prompts which is going to be super helpful to me as I start my new job in September and I’m slightly anxious it’s going to affect my reading whilst I get my head around everything! 🙈 That being said, of course I’ve still gone and mapped out a TBR for all 7 prompts! 😂

The Novice Path Entrance
Prompt: Read a book with a map
Book Choice: Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko
I can’t wait to read the sequel to Raybearer and discover what happens to Tarisai – the map in this book is pretty spectacular too.

Ashthorn Tree
Prompt: Read a book that keeps tempting you (or is on top of your TBR)
Book Choice: Dune by Frank Herbert
This book has been tempting me for so, so long! I’m totally in the mood to get stuck into this space opera before the movie comes out.

The Mist of Solitude
Prompt: Read a standalone
Book Choice: Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar
I adore the Nutcracker so I was thrilled to get this retelling as an eARC from Netgalley.

Ruin of the Skye
Prompt: Read a book featuring ghosts/haunted house, or other supernatural elements
Book Choice: Never Have I Ever by Isabel Yap
I heard about this haunting collection of short stories and legends from a Book Riot podcast and knew that I immediately had to purchase it.

Obsidian Falls
Prompt: Read a thriller or a mystery book
Book Choice: The Violent Season by Sara Walters
I read an early extract of this book from a Sourcebooks Fire newsletter and thankfully got approved for an eARC. It’s had some great reviews already and I’m hoping it’ll fit the ‘thriller’ part of this prompt perfectly.

Tower of Rumination
Prompt: Read a five star prediction
Book Choice: Useless Magic by Florence Welch
Florence Welch is one of my absolute idols! Her music tells so many stories and I love the macabre, mythological spells they weave. I’m so excited to get my hands on this and read it!

Orilium Academy Arc
Prompt: Read a book with a school setting
Book Choice: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
I’ve said many a time that I really need to read this series – well here’s hoping this readathon kicks me in the butt to actually do it!


And there is my September / Magical Readathon TBR! I definitely don’t think I’ll get round to reading all of them but at least the motivation to even attempt it will be there! 😂

Are you, or do you plan to take part in the Magical Readathon this September? Feel free to leave me your TBR links below or as always, drop me a comment to chat!

T xx

#Friday56 – Six Crimson Cranes

Happy FriYAY Bibliofriends!

This week’s Friday 56 comes from Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim. I was blown away by the magical storytelling in this refresh of The Wild Swans! The attention to detail in descriptions was exquisite and I particularly love Kiki the sentient origami crane which was one of my reasons for choosing this part of my Friday 56 extract today!

Hosted by Freda’s Voice, the Friday 56 is a weekly bookish prompt. It’s quite easy to do and could cover no end of different books and genres so seems great if you’re looking for a quick snippet to discover something new!

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.


A fine, silvery-gold thread of magic rushed out of my lips and twisted across the bird’s wings before settling there, as if stitched onto the paper. Then her wings flapped once. Twice. And she lifted, circling my face.
“Kiki!”

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

You can check out my full, spoiler-free review of Six Crimson Cranes here.


Drop me a comment below or connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

Biblioshelf Musings – Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Hello Bibliofriends!

This week’s Biblioshelf Musings is Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim. Sometimes you start a novel and know immediately that you are going to absolutely love and devour it – Six Crimson Cranes was one of those books! It completely transported me into a world of utter magic and fairytale.

Thank you to the publishers Hodder and Stoughton and the author Elizabeth Lim for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I didn’t manage to finish reading the whole e-ARC before it was archived but I was so thrilled when an exclusive edition of Six Crimson Cranes arrived in my July Fairyloot box – it has the most beautifully detailed cover and the sprayed edges feature the six cranes and Kiki the origami crane! It’s a work of art and I love it so much!


Book: Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim
Genre: Fantasy / YA
Publication Date: 8th July 2021
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Pages: 454
Rating: 📚📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Peniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.

My Musings

Elizabeth Lim’s voice and storytelling style conjured up a whole world in my head which I found fascinating. From the mountains, forests, rivers and seas, from Iro to Gindara and the dragon realms and islands in between there was always a new landscape to get completely immersed and lost in. It’s definitely one I’m adding to my bucket list of fictional worlds that I need to travel to.

I enjoyed that this was more than just your average retelling of The Wild Swans. I’m more familiar with the Grimm version (The Twelve Brothers) but I enjoyed the way that the author stayed true to the Anderson fairytale by weaving it into a stunning narrative then filling it up with extra characters and additional plot points. There was plenty of action, drama and complicated obstacles for the characters to overcome. The whole narrative exuded a magical quality, almost like lots of little moments from my favourite Disney movies all weaved together like golden threads intermittently throughout.

Shiori’s character initially came across to me as quite childish and naïve, everything she was supposed to be as a Princess living a fairly sheltered life – but then following the curse and the hardships she faced, her character was given the space to grow and mature. By the end of the novel I was championing her due to how much she had evolved through all of her trials and tribulations. Kiki, the sentient origami crane was so adorable that I had to have a go at creating some of my own!

Seryu the dragon shapeshifter was so fascinating and I’m excited to hopefully explore a bit more of the Ai’Long Realm in the next book. Takkan’s role in the story brought a little bit of romance which I was completely here for, but I’m being a little sceptical of a potential love triangle appearing in the sequel… I could be barking up the complete wrong tree though so I guess I’ll have to wait for book 2 to find out!

Several years ago, I remember reading a Chinese proverb about how an invisible thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. As a big believer of fate and divine intervention etc. I was so taken by this idea and here, in Six Crimson Cranes, Elizabeth Lim incorporated it so beautifully into her storyline that it made me love this book even more. All of the magical elements and events relating to the threads of fate and Shiori’s weaving of the starstroke were so vivid that it definitely appealed to all of my reading tastebuds!

Just on a personal note, I found the ending to be slightly drawn with regards to one particular character. I appreciate that it was setting up for a sequel but I was way more interested in the outcome of the narrative between Raikama’s and Zairena’s characters because I found them so intriguing and hope we get to see them later in the series.

Overall, Six Crimson Cranes is one of my new favourite fairytale retellings. Elizabeth Lim’s story manages to exude mysticism, drama and folklore from every page. Stunning!


Find out more about this book here:

NetGalley | Publisher Website | Amazon | Waterstones | Bookshop.org | Goodreads | Author’s Twitter: @LizLim | Author’s Website

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf | Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

Zodiac Sign Book Tag

Howdy Bibliofriends,

I was browsing the book blogosphere the other day, when I came across this fabulous Zodiac Sign Book Tag over at And On She Reads and knew that I just had to do it! I wasn’t actually tagged but I’ve been needing to start my tagging game again.

I absolutely love the zodiac and am so into star signs and horoscopes! I read mine daily from Oscar Cainer (nephew of the fabulous Jonathan Cainer who sadly passed away several years ago). His readings are so spookily accurate that I had one of those in-depth charts drew up and everything. I am a typical Taurean bull – sometimes stubborn and argumentative but also stupidly loyal, generous and laid-back at the same time.

The Rules:

  • Link back to the creator, Just Dreamland – their blog has been taken down but they may still be active on Pinterest.
  • Link back to the person who tagged you! Thanks you And On She Reads ☺️
  • Answer all the prompts.
  • Use the original graphics and credit the creator (I couldn’t find them!)
  • Tag at least 5 bloggers and provide links to their blogs.
  • Name your Zodiac sign!
  • Don’t forget to add #ItsAZodiacThing tag.
  • Enjoy!

The Prompts:

ARIES: A wild and powerful book, compelling from start to finish. Every page intoxicated your heart with incredible imagery.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow – Alix’s writing just created this intoxicating atmosphere in my brain from the very first page; it’s a stunningly written book.

TAURUS: A heart-wrenching story of a forbidden love that could tear a family apart

Romanov by Nadine Brandes – a Bolshevik soldier and a Romanov princess… this one definitely had me reaching for the tissues!

GEMINI: A book that is cheeky, quippy, and witty

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman – I laughed so much during this book. It appealed to my sense of humour so much.

CANCER:A bittersweet book that spoke to your sensitive heart

The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue by V.E. Schwab – This book! 💗💔💗 I adore Addie and Henry, I’m still not really over that ending to be honest!

LEO: A book with drama, love, fancy wear, and hope

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller – As soon as I read this prompt, this was the first book to pop into my head. The attention to detail on the dresses and the sassy attitudes of the characters was brilliant.

VIRGO:A tender story of self-love, self-determination, self-discovery, perseverance, romance, friendship, and family

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – I mean, that’s a pretty big list of things to have in one book and LOTR seems to have all of them in buckets!

LIBRA: A book that has a remarkably refreshing and frank outlook on life. One of the realest books you’ve ever read.

Remember This When You’re Sad by Maggy Van Eijk – A memoir which is so honest and moving. It was so powerful and really put some of my own issues into perspective.

SCORPIO: A book with a good plot twist. A book that is psychologically thrilling and emotionally chilling, and haunted you from the first page to the last.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince / Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
OR
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This prompt was tricky. Those final two Harry Potter books had my head in an absolute spin so that’s the plot twist part – but then Gone Girl fulfils the psychologically thrilling, chilling and haunting vibes.

SAGITTARIUS: An adventurous, summer read

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

I hear summer and I immediately think of the beach, therefore I first thought of Beach Read by Emily Henry – which, whilst being a great summer read, I wouldn’t consider it my type of ‘thrills and spills’ adventure so my other choice would have to be Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. I love the whole treasure/clue hunting vibe.

CAPRICORN: A book that has everything to do with friendship

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I love the way the Crows all stick together, I don;t think there’s any way they would have pulled off half of their stunts had their friendship not been as strong.

AQUARIUS: A quirky and unique book

Pretty Little Mistakes by Heather McElhatten – It’s one of those ‘choose your own path’ books. I only ever found this one for adults so it’s definitely unique on my shelves!

PISCES: A book that bewitched and enchanted you with its lyrical words, and transmuted your imaginative mind

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – One of my all time favourite authors. His writing just transports me to another dimension. It’s beautiful!

I’m not great at tagging people but if you’re reading this and want to give it a go then consider yourself tagged!!

Do you believe in star signs? What are some of your favourite books featuring stars and planets? As always, drop me a comment below to chat!

Have a great week Bibliofriends!

T xx

Biblioshelf Musings – Can You Sign My Tentacle? by Brandon O’Brien

Hello Bibliofriends!

This week’s Biblioshelf Musings is Can You Sign My Tentacle? by Brandon O’Brien – a beguiling, unique collection of poetry which merges together a hybrid mix of contemporary hip-hop and folklorian Lovecraft monsters in a fun fusion of science-fiction and poetry. On the surface, it offers an entertaining, comedic chronicle; however, between the lines it offers something much more meaningful and profound.

Thank you to the publishers Interstellar Flight Press and the author Brandon O’Brien for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


Book: Can You Sign My Tentacle? by Brandon O’Brien
Genre: Science Fiction / Horror / Poetry
Publication Date: 20th August 2021
Publisher: Interstellar Flight Press
Pages: 75
Rating: 📚📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Cthulhu meets hip-hop in this book of horror poems that flips the eldritch genre upside down. Lovecraftian-inspired nightmares are reversed as O’Brien asks readers to see Blackness as radically significant. Can You Sign My Tentacle? explores the monsters we know and the ones that hide behind racism, sexism, and violence, resulting in poems that are both comic and cosmic.

My Musings

What initially drew me to read Can You Sign My Tentacle?
Well first off, the title alone piqued my curiosity; then to discover that this was the work of a Caribbean author who has composed a strange blend of SFF, horror and poetry, I just had to open that cover and dive straight in.

Despite being a self-proclaimed SFF fan, I’ve never read any Lovecraft so I had no idea of the meaning behind the Cthulhu references until much later on. That being said, I feel this enabled me to approach O’Brien’s collection with a wholly open-mind.

O’Brien does not shy away from tackling some of the big themes of racism, sexism and violence, but through this unusual mix of varying genres, his messages tend to pop out and command your attention in a way that may be much less fun or remarkable in traditional prose.

There are some wonderful phrases and language. As a bit of a logophile, I was struck by the beautiful and bizarre range of vocabulary that Brandon utilised across his writing.

Notably in The Metaphysics of a Wine, In Theory and Practice, the concoction of academia-style concepts mixed with the celestial, paranormal-esque commentary of being lost in the throes of dancing captivated me. Other poems such as The One, Lovecraft Thesis #3 and Time, and Time Again were particular favourites.

The Author’s Note at the end (along with a little help from Google) helped me to understand how O’Brien’s use of the eldritch genre brought Can You Sign My Tentacle? to life. It tied together some of the loose connections that I hadn’t grasped from my initial reading and clarified the Lovecraft references along with the author’s influences and inspiration for writing this collection of poems.

I really, really like this book. It’s different, it’s highly entertaining yet meaningful at the same time. The poems are curious and provocative. The whole theme of the collection and ideas behind the Cthulhu/Lovecraft mix are totally original and have taught me something new; not just about the medley of Science-Fiction and Poetry as genres, but about the over-inflated concept of self-importance and that nobody or nothing is infallible.

In a world where cancel culture seems to be increasingly (somewhat shockingly) normalised, O’Brien’s narrative seems to challenge this notion and turn it on its head. Just as Lovecraft was undoubtedly a talented writer who has done much to shape the SFF genre, O’Brien shows that rather than ‘cancelling’ or criticising his creative legacy, we can turn his prejudices into a weapon and opportunity for education and awareness. He shows that we can learn from past denigrations and champions how today’s society can shift away from the attitudes, mistakes and short-sightedness of those who came before us.

I went into Can You Sign My Tentacle? looking for something a bit on the offbeat, peculiar side – I came out of it with something undoubtedly more meaningful. O’Brien is truly a voice to be celebrated. He has written such a thought-provoking, original masterpiece with a trailblazing message which will stay in my mind for a long time to come.


About the Author

Brandon O’Brien is a writer, performance poet, teaching artist and game designer from Trinidad and Tobago. His work has been shortlisted for the 2014 Alice Yard Prize for Art Writing, the 2014 and 2015 Small Axe Literary Competitions, and the inaugural Ignyte Award for Best Speculative Poetry. His work is published in Uncanny Magazine, Strange Horizons, Reckoning, and New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean, among others. He is the former Poetry editor of FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction.

Virtual Book Launch

Interstellar Flight Press are holding their first ever Virtual Book Launch for Can You Sign My Tentacle? It’s a free event on Zoom so check out the details below if you’re interested!

Here’s the details! Sign up via Eventbrite to join us.

Date: August 20th at 6:00pm EST / 5:00 PM CDT

Online via Zoom/Eventbrite

You will receive info from Eventbrite on how to access the event after you register. This event is FREE to attend.

Find out more about this book here:

NetGalley | Publisher Website | Amazon | Waterstones | Goodreads | Author’s Twitter

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf | Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

Biblioshelf Musings – These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden

Hello Bibliofriends!

This week’s Biblioshelf Musings is These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden – a gritty, adult fantasy with a cast of characters that break apart but rejoin together in an epic, sweeping conclusion. I would really like to thank Rebecca for sending me a complimentary copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.


Book: These Violent Nights by Rebecca Crunden
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: 31st March 2021
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 484
Rating: 📚📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Once upon a time, inhabitants of another world tore a hole through the universe and came to Earth. They called themselves Suriias, and rivalled humans in knowledge and skill with one great exception: they had magic.

War followed. Humanity lost. And three hundred years later, humans are on the brink of extinction.

Orphans Thorn and Thistle live in hiding. They are the last of their families, the last of their friends. They scrape by, stealing to survive and living on the streets or hiding in sheds. But even under the brutal regime of the Suriias, there are places where humans can mingle in secret with magical sympathisers, and one night Thistle gets an unexpected offer of marriage from a Suriia with high standing and friends in all the right places. For Thistle, it’s a chance at safety and comfort; for Thorn, it’s a chance to find the ones who killed her parents.

And so the pair move into the capital city of Courtenz. An urban monstrosity of magic and might, false friends and flying cars, drones and death tolls, the new city promises a fresh start – and new love – for both.

But if there’s one thing Thorn knows for certain, it’s that dreams can swiftly turn into nightmares.

My Musings

I sometimes find that I read so many Fantasy novels that fit into the YA age bracket that I can often end up putting myself into a bit of a rut and end up crying out for something just a little more on the dark side…
Well readers, These Violent Nights was it.

Earth has been torn apart by a War involving humans and supernatural beings who came to Earth from Salfar via a Tear in the dimensions of the universe. At the start of the novel, we are introduced to the fascinating, magically-built world of Courtenz with its metropolitan vibes, modern skyscrapers and technologically advanced Coach travel. In this world there is no place for humans; they are outcasts, kept as slaves or treated as the dregs of society. We really begin to feel the segregation of humans through the eyes of Thorn and Thistle who struggle to keep themselves alive and hidden.

As Thorn and Thistle’s world collides with their Suriia enemies, the first part of the novel showcases Thorn’s animosity towards Kol and Nithin and her mistrust of their true intentions. It drives the plot forward as she sets out to try and track down those responsible for her parents’ death whilst also attempting to find a new group of humans to band together with and escape the magical hell she has found herself caught up in.

From the diverse range of Suriia backgrounds and abilities, to the harrowing levels of violence and segregation between the humans and magic-bearers, there was plenty of complex world-building and plot politics to get stuck into. I enjoyed that the differences of the Frai, Vrykos, Ghuls (amongst others) was explained alongside the backdrop of information about how the world came to be as it is now. There was lots to take in, but not too much that it overwhelmed the action within the story.

The structuring of the novel is quite different to other stories I’ve read before. At times, the narrative felt like it was three linked novellas forming as one complete story arc. As the end of Part One rolls into Part Two we get left on a cliffhanger then introduced to an entirely new cast of characters as the story veers away from Thorn’s viewpoint. The reader gets to experience a new group of Suriia and human characters who live in a different part of this strange, dystopian Earth Crunden has created. In Lucien’s part of the world, humans pose more of a resistance and threat to the magic-bearers and this new story dynamic keeps the whole novel fresh and action-packed – all the while wondering what and where we are going to be taken next.

By the time Part Three begins, characters from both preceding parts collide. We get to see the aftermath of that cliffhanger at the end of Part One whilst also benefitting from a greater understanding of the world and circumstances of the groups of characters that dwell within it from explanations within Part Two. The final part of the novel brings the world of Salfar to the fore and provides a more traditional fantasy element than the previous parts of the story. It seeks to tie up the loose ends which came before it and supplies a neatly wrapped up conclusion (with some pretty, sneaky twists along the way)!

This three part plot was a bold way to structure the novel and even though it initially felt a little strange to leave one set of characters behind completely, it really paid off in the final climax of the novel as plots and conspiracies merge back together with both Suriia and humans now fighting for a common cause.

Overall, These Violent Nights is a dark, gritty and edgy adult fantasy novel which, as its title suggests, is packed with a ferocious wildness and complex, multi-layered plot. It’s most compelling element for me is how poignant the divide between Suriias and humans could so very easily be transposed into today’s real world issues: race, gender, vaxxed and unvaxxed… As my mind probably read way too deeply into that element of the story (too much Twitter doomscrolling!), the unsettling feeling which the novel invoked in me was exactly the type of vibe I was looking for after reading many fluffily-wrapped up happy endings.

Ultimately, underlying all of that segregation, revolution and warfare, These Violent Nights brings about an immensely memorable and strong group of characters to champion. Characters who overcome their personal issues and fight to craft out a world they truly believe in. A cast who sacrifice and compromise, who break down their barriers, who overcome their differences, all with the aim of trying to bring about a more understanding, hopeful and harmonious future for all… and that’s got to be something worth fighting for, isn’t it?


Why Should I Read This?

For a dystopian future Earth which could easily be reminiscent of today’s segregated societies.
For the intriguing design structure of the three-part narrative.
For an originally crafted fantasy world and magical beings.

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Waterstones | Goodreads | Author’s Website |

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf | Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

Biblioshelf Musings – All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue

Hello Bibliofriends!

This week’s Biblioshelf Musings is All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue. I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers, Walker Books, for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

This book completely had me at the word ‘tarot’. I’ve always been intrigued by the art and origins of tarot reading so having a spooky deck of cards as the centrepiece for a novel really hooked me into the story and seemed quite different to other tropes/plot drivers that I’ve read about recently. Combined with a diverse band of main characters and set against a backdrop of Irish politics, this YA novel gave me plenty to enjoy.


Book: All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue
Genre: Teens / YA
Publication Date: 27th May 2021
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 304
Rating: 📚📚📚📖

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Maeve Chambers doesn’t have much going for her. Not only does she feel like the sole idiot in a family of geniuses, she managed to drive away her best friend Lily a year ago. But when she finds a pack of dusty old tarot cards at school, and begins to give scarily accurate readings to the girls in her class, she realizes she’s found her gift at last. Things are looking up – until she discovers a strange card in the deck that definitely shouldn’t be there. And two days after she convinces her ex-best friend to have a reading, Lily disappears.

Can Maeve, her new friend Fiona and Lily’s brother Roe find her? And will their special talents be enough to bring Lily back, before she’s gone for good?

My Musings

All Our Hidden Gifts centres around our main character Maeve who finds a mysterious deck of tarot cards (along with a working cassette walkman) whilst she’s on detention at her all-girls Catholic school St. Bernadettes. For someone who isn’t that academic, Maeve finds it surprising easily to grasp the rules of tarot reading and begins hosting sessions for the girls at her school. Upon the strange appearance of an eerie ‘Housekeeper’ card and the mysterious vanishing of her former best friend Lily, Maeve embarks on a journey with sidekicks Roe and Fiona to try and solve the mystery of Lily’s disappearance. On their way, they uncover peculiar happenings in their small Irish town and get drawn into the conflicting politics of religion, pride and magic.

I loved the presence of the tarot cards as a key driver in this novel – I’ve always had some kind of magical fascination with them and the way the peculiar Housekeeper card has such an impact on Maeve’s life was gripping, I’m just so pleased that I haven’t found a Housekeeper card in my own tarot deck because that would definitely freak me out!

Maeve is such a young and honest lead. Whilst some of her choices are a little naive or questionable, particularly friendship-wise, I like the honesty in which she confronts her actions. Caroline’s portrayal of Maeve seems so authentic to that young, teenage girl going-through-the-motions-of-high-school that I really bought into her as a character and as someone who also went to an all-girls school.

The supporting characters complement Maeve really well. Roe’s exploration of his sexuality and expression of identity was refreshing and poignant in the way it related to some of the more political conflicts going on around the main storyline. Fiona’s Asian influences also drew a unique parallel with both Maeve’s and Roe’s experiences. Their diversity added a great deal of depth to the storyline whilst also helping Maeve to see the true values and meanings of friendship.

The magical element of the plot goes beyond just the tarot deck. Amongst the talk of otherworldly dimensions and summonings of spirits, Maeve’s experiences with homemade spells and witchcraft keep this element of the story quite realistic and believable without straying too far into the realms of complete fantasy. As Maeve discovers why she has such an affinity with the tarot deck, we start to understand a little more about her powers and tie up some of the looser ends within the story.

What I really enjoyed about this story was the way the author addresses some of the more political and controversial attitudes of Irish society. In our modern world of freedom, self-expression and pride, we can sometimes forget the ongoing struggles people face while trying to be their authentic selves in communities which are still devoutly conservative or religious. Whilst this forms a central part of the narrative for Roe’s character, O’Donoghue communicates this sensitively – raising awareness without giving too much of a historical/political narrative. Her tone is in-keeping with the rest of the novel and subtly gives the reader something to think about without going beyond the Teens/YA audience barrier. The Irish representation is something I haven’t experienced before in stories within this genre so it added to my enjoyment of the novel.

I have a special mention of adoration for the part of the narrative centring around Sister Assumpta and her decrepit VW Beetle. I hate spoilers so I won’t really mention it here but the presence of this in the story and the discoveries Maeve makes in that little car kept me flipping page after page to get to the bottom of those curiosities!

Overall, All Our Hidden Gifts is ultimately the book which broke me out of my reading slump. I loved the tarot element and the friendship between Maeve, Roe and Fiona. It was magical without being overly fantastical and is fitting of its ‘Teen/YA’ age bracket, although I personally feel this fits into the younger side of the YA genre. Roe’s character gave me food-for-thought and the backdrop of Irish sensitivities brought a new representation to my reading diet. News has it that there’s a follow-up novel planned. Whilst I’m left feeling contented about the ending of All Our Hidden Gifts, it will be really fascinating to see where O’Donoghue takes this story next.


Why Should I Read This?

For the tarot element and the creepy Housekeeper card (think the creature from The Grudge with the Grim from Harry Potter).
For an original fantasy set in the backdrop of Irish politics and conservatism.
For a band of diverse characters who help each other to bring out the best in themselves.

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Waterstones | Bookshop.org | Goodreads | Author’s Website | Publisher Website

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf | Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com

Biblioshelf Musings – The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox

Hello Bibliofriends!

This week’s Biblioshelf Musings is for The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox. I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers, Penguin Michael Joseph UK, for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

After reading The Absolute Book, I found myself struggling to verbalise my reflections of reading it. Sometimes my head was brimming with thoughts, other times there was a void as if I had forgotten the last 600 pages of story which had just unfolded in front of me. This is more an indication of my headspace at the time I was reading the book as opposed to a true representation of the kind of novel The Absolute Book is. I’ve tried to work around this and make this apparent through my following review so apologies if what comes after this is a little stilted!


Book: The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
Genre: General Fiction / Fantasy / Mystery
Publication Date: 18th March 2021
Publisher: Penguin Michael Joseph
Pages: 628
Rating: 📚📚📚📖

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Taryn Cornick barely remembers the family library. Since her sister was murdered, she’s forgotten so much.

Now it’s all coming back. The fire. The thief. The scroll box. People are asking questions about the library. Questions that might relate to her sister’s murder.

And something called The Absolute Book.

A book in which secrets are written – and which everyone believes only she can find. They insist Taryn be the hunter. But she knows the truth.

She is the hunted . . .

The Absolute Book is a tale of sisters, ancient blood, a forgotten library, murder, revenge and a book that might just have the answer to everything.

My Musings

I found The Absolute Book to be a pleasantly challenging read. The blend of magical realism mingling with portals to fantastical worlds, hitchhiking demons and a dazzlingly curious box named ‘The Firestarter’ gave me a lot to get my head around.

The main characters had enigmatic secrets leading my brain to try and stretch to reach for what was actually unfolding between the lines. Each part of the story was full of gradual reveals; things happened which I only fully understood afterwards when other characters discussed and explained the events to each other.

Taryn’s ongoing suffering surrounding the death of her sister and the repercussions which follow, prove to be a key driving force behind the actions and events within the novel. This provided a mysterious whodunnit feel adding suspense and intrigue to the plot. 

The shiftiness of Shift (puns aplenty!) created a conundrum of unreliability which was brilliantly perplexing for the characters as well as the readers who were trying to keep up with them.

An interweaving of fairytale and folklore from different mythologies generates a multidimensional world complementing the complexities of the storyline incredibly well. From the Celtic Sidhe faerieland, the presence of shapeshifters and Norse talking birds, to the alluded references to Merlin, portal gates on ley lines and influences from the most notable of the ‘stories-about-stories’ genre, this book is jampacked with an epic range of fantasy motifs and themes to command your attention.

Tolkein-esque expositions pepper the narrative appealing to those of us who enjoy our world-building on the lavishly rich side. The homage to libraries and guardianship of books and memories speaks out to our bookish afflictions.


From Heaven to Hell and all of the human or faerie purgatories in-between, The Absolute Book is entirely deserving of its high acclaim from professional reviewers and critics. 

When I read this book at the end of March, I was trying to fit to a NetGalley deadline. Global pandemic aside, there was a lot of background noise which stymied me from giving it the attention it deserved. It also made this review quite difficult to write. In that respect, I feel like I let The Absolute Book down.

Netting in at over 600 pages, this is not your light-hearted beach read or just something to provide a meaningless distraction amidst everyday life. The Absolute Book is a tale which deserves an almost essay-like dissection to reveal its multitude of wonders and the exquisite depth and breadth of its writing. It’s exactly the type of book that warrants a reread – it’s earned that. I feel I need to give this novel another chance to discover all of the hidden gems and fantasy Easter eggs which have been lovingly crafted into its pages.

I found Nina Hall’s review from The Guardian a wonderfully fitting analysis of just how much The Absolute Book has to offer readers. Her piece is the main incentive for me adding this book to my reread list. You can check out her review here.

Why Should I Read This?

For the loving ode to stories and libraries which forms a central part of the storyline.
For the amazing mix of fairytale, folklore and mythology all merged and mingled together.
For the challenge – it’s an adult fantasy offering a thrilling complexity unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

Further Reading:

Elizabeth Knox: Why I Wrote The Absolute Book – This post, by the author herself, reveals some helpful insights as to the motivations behind different plot elements, as well as a beneficial hint at some of the influences she used to craft her world and characters.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Knox is an award-winning New Zealand author who has published over a dozen books. Her novel The Vintner’s Luck won the Deutz Medal for fiction in the 1999 Montana New Zealand Book Awards and the 2001 Tasmania Pacific Region Prize, while Daylight was shortlisted for Best Book in the South Pacific & South East Asian Region of the 2004 Commonwealth Writers Prize. Elizabeth has an ONZM, is an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate and won the Prime Minister’s Award of Fiction in 2019. She teaches World Building at Victoria University and lives in Wellington, New Zealand, with her husband and her son.
(Taken from Penguin Michael Joseph January – June 2021 Publishing Catalogue)

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon | Waterstones | Bookshop.org | Goodreads | Author’s Website | Publisher Website

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf | Email: thebiblioshelf@gmail.com