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 | | Goodreads | Author’s Twitter: @LizLim | Author’s Website

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf | Email:

Biblioshelf Musings – Given to the Earth

Hello Bibliofriends,

I read Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (book 1 in this duology) when it came out back in 2017. It was one of the first books I ever received in my FairyLoot subscription and I became totally enamoured with the world featured in the story. As part of my 2020 reading mission to finally tick off some of those unfinished series, Given to the Earth was put on the August TBR list.

I originally intended to reread the first book in the series before attempting the finale however, with many books piling up on my shelves I settled for just reading the last few chapters of book one before embarking on the sequel. Needless to say, there are spoilers ahead for Given to the Sea, so if you haven’t read that yet and intend to… approach with caution!

Book: Given to the Earth
Series: Given Duology
Author: Mindy McGinnis
Genre: YA | Fantasy
Publication Date: 10th April 2018
Publisher: Putnam’s Childrens
Pages: 368
Rating: 📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Duty, fate, desire, and destiny collide in this intricately wrought tale, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.

Although she was born to save the kingdom by sacrificing herself to the rising sea, Khosa’s marriage to King Vincent has redeemed her. As the Queen of Stille, she’s untouchable. But being Queen hasn’t stopped her heart from longing for the King’s stepbrother, Donil. And it hasn’t stopped her body from longing for the sea itself, which still calls for her.

While Khosa is made to choose between loyalty and love, Dara is on a mission for vengeance. Years ago, the Pietra slaughtered the entire Indiri race, leaving only Dara and her twin, Donil, alive. Now, spurned by King Vincent, Dara has embarked on a mission to spill the blood of Pietra’s leader, Witt, and will stop at nothing to show his people the wrath of the last Indiri. 

As the waves crash ever closer to Stille, secrets are revealed, hearts are won and lost, and allegiances change like the shifting sand.

My Musings

OK, first off I feel like I need to address the elephant in the room with this series: the narration.
The Given duology is told from the perspectives of around 6 different characters. Some of the characters have 1st person narration so we read the chapter directly through their eyes; the rest feature third person narrations and we witness the events as an outsider to the story. Although there are character headings at the start of each chapter, there is no pattern as to who talks when and the constant flipping between narrative voices has been a bone of contention between some readers. For me, I wasn’t particularly bothered or distracted by this. Did it make me feel more distanced and less connected to some characters…? Yes, especially coupled with such short chapters. However, it clearly wasn’t enough to put me off reading this sequel and finding out how the story set up in Given to the Sea ended.

The main reason I liked this duology was for three very specific creatures/beings that form part of Given’s world.
> The Tangata cats are vicious and travel in packs called clowders. They are feared by many but the feature of one Tangata cat was a particularly memorable aspect of the story.
> The Indiri are a race of people, of which only the twins Dara and Donil remain. They have spotted skin like that of leopards and have magic that can connect with the earth and nature. I found them to be really intriguing characters and it was Dara’s narrative that I was especially drawn to in this sequel. Her journey, after the events of the first book, leads her upon an unexpected path which kept me guessing as to how it was going to be resolved.
> Finally, the Hadundun trees which soak spilled blood from the earth and have razor sharp leaves were such curious additions. It is their role within the story that ends up shaping certain character’s actions and consequences.
It is these creations which mostly drew me into this series and made me want to read until the very end. Their presence makes the vaguely medieval-style setting come alive and is one of my favourite aspects of the whole duology.

The plot itself was fairly straightforward. In dealing with the aftermath of the events from book 1, the characters now need to find a way to either deal with the consequences or find an escape. At first, this seems like a fairly simplistic trajectory, but typical complications along the way result in a tension-building, action-packed resolution with some shocking twists that I wasn’t quite expecting! There is tragedy, which I probably would have been more heartbroken over had I built a deeper relationship with the characters, but it still feels as if the author was prepared to take some risks with how certain characters fared during the ending of this series and I have respect for McGinnis in doing that.

Overall, Given to the Earth was a very satisfying end to a series which keep me guessing and entertained until the very end.

Why Should I Read This?

For: intriguing creatures and beings which make a plain(ish) world quite unique.
For: a love triangle where you genuinely don’t know which one you’re really rooting for.
For: a fulfilling and enjoyable (and in one case – brave!) ending to a series.

If you enjoyed Given to the Sea then you’ll probably be content with the ending to this series. It’s a hard duology/book to review and describe – a little vanilla, but the good kind…with the bean, and I definitely like it!

Find out more about this book here:

Amazon |

Connect with me here:

Twitter | Goodreads | Book Sloth: @thebiblioshelf |Email:

Biblioshelf Musings: These Divided Shores

Hello Bibliofriends!

This week’s Biblioshelf Musing is ‘These Divided Shores’ by Sara Raasch which is the sequel to ‘These Rebel Waves’. I first read TRW when it arrived in the August 2018 Mutinous Pirates Fairyloot box. At first, the series wasn’t quite what I was expecting as the pirates were more riverboat looters (Stream Raiders) than the swashbuckling kind (which I guess speaks more about my stereotyping of what I consider pirates to be…). Given the motivational push of lockdown and my birthday, I finally took the plunge and ordered the sequel to tick the sequel off my TBR list.
[🚨Although there are no spoilers ahead for These Divided Shores, this review may naturally feature some spoilers for the first book in the series These Rebel Waves.]

Book: These Divided Shores by Sara Raasch
Genre: Fantasy / YA
Publication Date: 27th August 2019
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 560
Rating: 📚📚📚

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

The thrilling sequel to These Rebel Waves—full of deadly magic, double crosses, and a revolution—from Sara Raasch, the bestselling author of the Snow Like Ashes series.

As a child, she committed unforgivable acts to free Grace Loray from King Elazar of Argrid. Now Elazar’s plan to retake the island has surpassed Lu’s darkest fears: he’s holding her and his son, Ben, captive in an endlessly shifting prison, forcing them to make a weapon that will guarantee Elazar’s success. Escape is impossible—unless Lu becomes the ruthless soldier she hoped never to be again.

Vex failed to save Lu and Ben—and that torments him as much as his Shaking Sickness. With the disease worsening, Vex throws himself into the rebellion against Argrid. The remaining free armies are allied with the stream raider syndicates—and getting them to cooperate will take a strength Vex thought burned on a pyre six years ago.

Imprisoned, betrayed, and heartbroken, Ben is determined to end his father’s rampage. Watching Elazar sway the minds of Grace Loray as he did those of Argrid, Ben knows he has to play his father’s game of devotion to win this war. But how can a heretic prince defeat the Pious God?

As armies clash and magic rises, Lu, Vex, and Ben will confront their pasts . . . or lose their futures forever.

Botanical Magic

For me, the botanical magic elements are my favourite part of the series. Both books have a few page inserts between different phases of the story which contains a drawing of a magical plant and it’s various attributes and uses. This type of magical system felt so fresh compared to the wand-waving, elemental ‘magic-from-within’ types. I was really interested in the parts of the plot which discussed the accessibility and uses of these plants by both Grace Loray and Argrid. If you like plants and potions then you’ll probably enjoy reading about this magical system!

Grace Loray

The setting of These Divided Shores really compliments the botanical magic system in the novels. Places such as the Backswamp and the numerous streams and rivers which dominate the island all added to the jungle feeling and, even though I’m not from the US, it gave me a bayou feeling from somewhere like Louisiana or Florida mixed with a little bit of Amazon. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for any types of ‘water’ features in books or settings so Grace Loray was right up my street and the waterfall episode in the first book was one of my standout parts of the whole series.

Vex, Ben and Character Diversity

I really enjoyed how we got to explore the relationship between cousins Vex and Ben. It brought a fresh dynamic to the story rather than focusing on just the romantic relationships between other characters. I also enjoyed the way in which same-sex relationships were portrayed in the book. One of my pet hates is when same-sex couples feel forced into novels just for the sake of whereas in the Stream Raiders series they were included strongly but subtly at the same time, reinforcing them as normal parts of everyday Grace Loray lifestyles. Gunnar is a particular favourite character and it was nice to see a strong, masculine character also addressing his emotions and feelings openly.

Mini Battle, Mini Battle, Big Battle, End

For me, the pace and plot in These Divided Shores was a little on the slow side to get me through to the end of all 560 pages. In short, the aim of the book is to try and stop Argrid from making permanent magic and enforcing everyone to their rules. The Stream Raiders, having their own cultures and beliefs want to keep Grace Loray as part of a haven for all those who don’t want to surrender to the Pious God. To me, I don’t think I needed all of those pages, and what felt like battle after battle, for all of that to be resolved in the way it was. It always seems that post-battle resolutions get thrown in very quickly at the end even though quite often many nations and lives end up needing to be rebuilt. The ending of These Divided Shores felt slightly rushed compared to all that had happened before the final chapter. Thankfully, I enjoyed the setting, magic and characters enough to finish it all off but at times I did find it rather slow-going for me.


The Stream Raiders series is definitely different to other fantasy books I’ve read and I’m glad that I actually bought the sequel to finish it off and see what happened to the characters and magical island which I had enjoyed reading about the first time round. If you enjoy stories about uprisings and the tactics behind different revolts then you’d probably enjoy it. Equally, if you’re after a different style of fantasy setting to the typical medieval castle types then you might just enjoy a little trip along the streams, rivers and botanical magic of Grace Loray!

Have you read These Divided Shores? What is your favourite type of fantasy setting? As always, drop me a comment to chat!

T xx

#SixForSunday – Series I Can Now Finish (Because I Have The Sequel!)

Happy Sunday Bibliofriends,

Can you believe we’re actually in the final weekend of June?! The month has flown so quickly!
I changed up the theme slightly for Six For Sunday this week as I had practically zero to contribute to today’s regular theme so I kind of made one up for myself. This S4S I have decided to focus on series I can now finish reading because I own the sequel! Those that catch up with my blog regularly may know that I’m not the best at actually finishing a series so for last month’s birthday, my bookish wishlist was composed almost entirely of sequels. These are the ones I’m planning to get finished before the summer is out!
For those who don’t already knowSix for Sunday is a weekly list-based meme created by Steph @ALittleButALot and has a different weekly prompt based on a monthly theme.

  • These Divided Shores by Sara Raasch [sequel to These Rebel Waves]
  • Shadow and Flame by Mindee Arnett [sequel to Onyx and Ivory]
  • All The Wandering Light by Heather Fawcett [sequel to Even The Darkest Stars]
  • Given to the Earth by Mindy McGinnis [sequel to Given to the Sea]
  • Cloak of Night by Evelyn Skye [sequel to Circle of Shadows]
  • Rage by Cora Carmack [sequel to Rage – book 2 of the trilogy]

Have you read any of these series? Got any recommendations on which one I should tackle first? As always, drop me a comment to chat!

T xx


Biblioshelf Musings – The Shadows Between Us

Howdy Bibliofriends!

This was my first time reading anything by Tricia Levenseller and if it’s anything to go by then it definitely won’t be the last time I read anything by her!

I received The Shadows Between Us in the Feb 2020 FairyLoot Rulebreakers box and can definitely see how this book fitted into the brief. Neither Alessandra or the Shadow King play by the rules or conform to convention. Billed as a Slytherin Romance I was expecting lots of sneaking, cunning and trickery throughout this book – let’s just say, it did not disappoint!

Book: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
Genre: Fantasy, Romance (YA)
Publication Date: 25th Feb 2020
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends [FairyLoot Exclusive]
Pages: 326
Rating: 📚📚📚📚

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:
1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.
No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.
But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

“They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart.
And they never will.
I buried Hektor Galanis in a hole so deep, even the devils of the earth couldn’t reach him.”

When your protagonist introduces the book with these lines, you know you’re going to be dealing with someone who oozes sass and feistiness. Alessandra absolutely delivered on this – imagine Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary mixed in with dash of Bellatrix Estrange and a hint of Anne Boleyn… that’s your girl!

Her determination to reach her goal was relentless and nobody was about to foil her plans no matter how powerful or what role they had at court; ‘hell hath no fury’ and all that…!

I enjoyed the change in Alessandra’s character as parts of her plan had to evolve and things didn’t necessarily go her way. She had to undergo a transformation of getting over past hurts and learning the art of compromise and teamwork. Although Alessandra’s personality comes across to the reader through narration and interactions with other characters, it also comes through in the way that she dresses.

Clothing in particular plays a huge role in this story. I love the way Levenseller picked one element of her world to focus on as the main source of description throughout. Rather than write huge chunks describing, castles, towns and kingdoms, Levenseller shows the reader the vibrancy and attitude of the Shadow King’s court through fashion. In a way, this was a brilliant move. I am a massive fan of world building and would happily read a book with an extra 150 pages just so I can get a clearer picture in my mind of the way the author wants us to view their creative universe – but to see the way in which changes at court or in people’s emotions/feelings were reflected through what they were wearing added a decadent feeling to the whole narrative. This also echoes the importance of fashion and clothing throughout history. Think back to Tudor times when certain colours and materials were only available to those with the right money for dyes and textiles; then fast-forward to the present day and think of how haute-couture is only available to those who can afford the price-tag or garner the right publicity and influence.

The plot-line was a relatively simple one to follow and with most of the narrative being dialogue, it really helped to speed up the pace of the novel and digest what was going on. In true Slytherin style, the amount of deceptions and variety of motivations from different characters helped to keep me guessing who was actually trustworthy right until the very end – but even then I didn’t think the ending would necessarily be as simple as it was.

If you like your romances with a hint of black magic, then The Shadows Between Us would probably be right up your street. This was a wickedly dark, entrancing read which had me gripped right from the first page. It is filled with secrets, court politics and a romance developed from deception. I enjoyed the way that Alessandra was a woman championing her equal rights and standing up for herself and what she believed in. She came across as a woman with ambition who was willing to work her ass off to get there, rather than stomp around pouting with a sense of entitlement. The romance between her and the Shadow King is one of my new favourite relationships from the fictional world – they are so well-suited to each other and I’m a little gutted that there isn’t a sequel just so I can see what happens next.

Have you read The Shadows Between Us? Would you recommend any other Tricia Levenseller books? What other Hogwarts House romance are you craving in your bookish lives? As always, drop me a comment to chat! 🙂

T xx

5 Biblioshelf Musings about…Onyx and Ivory [Spoiler Free]

Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

Series: Rime Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: May 12th 2018

Publisher: Balzer & Bray (Fairyloot Exclusive Edition)

Pages: 512

Rating: 4/5 Shelfie Stacks 📚📚📚📚

Onyx and Ivory is the first in a series of books by Mindee Arnett called The Rime Chronicles.

Synopsis from Goodreads

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king years ago. Now Kate lives as an outcast, clinging to the fringes of society as a member of the Relay, the imperial courier service. Only those most skilled in riding and bow hunting ride for the Relay; and only the fastest survive, for when dark falls, the nightdrakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: she is a wilder, born with magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals. But it’s this magic that she needs to keep hidden, as being a wilder is forbidden, punishable by death or exile. And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by nightdrakes in broad daylight—the only survivor her childhood friend, her first love, the boy she swore to forget, the boy who broke her heart.The high king’s second son, Corwin Tormane, never asked to lead. Even as he waits for the uror—the once-in-a-generation ritual to decide which of the king’s children will succeed him—he knows it’s always been his brother who will assume the throne. And that’s fine by him. He’d rather spend his days away from the palace, away from the sight of his father, broken with sickness from the attempt on his life. But the peacekeeping tour Corwin is on has given him too much time to reflect upon the night he saved his father’s life—the night he condemned the would-be killer to death and lost the girl he loved. Which is why he takes it on himself to investigate rumors of unrest in one of the remote city-states, only for his caravan to be attacked—and for him to be saved by Kate.With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin have to put the past behind them. The threat of drakes who attack in the daylight is only the beginning of a darker menace stirring in the kingdom—one whose origins have dire implications for Kate’s father’s attack upon the king and will thrust them into the middle of a brewing civil war in the kingdom of Rime.


Ok, we need to talk about the Magists…These guys hold the monopoly on magic in Rime – if you’re not a magist then you shouldn’t be doing magic at all; you’re a wilder and you’re an outlaw. The only way to access magic in Rime is to buy it off a magist. This really struck a cord with me. Somewhere in the World Wide Web is an infographic which shows 10 major companies who supposedly control the world because they own pretty much every other ‘big business’ that’s out there saturating our mass market. Now I’m not going to go on a political rampage here, but I couldn’t help but link the role of the magists in Rime to these top ten companies. The way the magists are able to control everyone, including the royals who run the country, really pulled me into the story. I was immediately suspicious of them and quite incensed to be honest.


If you have read some of my recent posts then you’ll be getting to know that I love horses. 🐎 I am massively envious of Kate’s wilder ability to talk to them! The horse theme and Arnett’s love for these wondrous creatures definitely came through in her writing and really appealed to the horse-enthusiast in me.

Supporting characters

The band of supporting characters in this novel are absolute gold. Bonner’s loyalty; Signe’s sass; Dal’s dark humour; Raith’s mysterious-ness; Corwin’s Princely charms… I loved them all and they complement Kate perfectly! Each of them had their own role to play in the story and I found myself wanting to learn more and more about all of their backstories. A truly fabulous cast of characters.

The Relay

‘Running the gauntlet’ is the phrase I would use to try summing up what the Relay Riders have to do every day whilst delivering things around the world of Rime. And perhaps it’s my mischievous side coming through but this sounds like such a cool job! You get to ride your horse all across the country whilst trying to avoid the dangerous nightdrakes that come out in the dark…only to find that you then have to start dodging the daydrakes too – Royal Mail eat your heat out, these guys are the badass, tough-nuts of the Postie world! I’m definitely adding Relay Rider to my list of ‘fictional jobs I wish I could do’.


It didn’t take long at all for me to become engrossed in this story. The world building, characterisation and plot devices were everything I wanted from a fantasy story. I liked the suspense of trying to guess who the villains were (and whilst I guessed some of it, I definitely didn’t get all of it). I was rooting for the romance between Kate and Corwin. I was intrigued by the types of magic both from the magists and the wilders. I was thrilled by the fight scenes.

All in all, this made for a brilliant series starter which is why I gave Onyx and Ivory 4 Shelfie Stacks and put the sequel, Shadow and Flame, straight onto my TBR.

Have you read Onyx and Ivory? Did you love it as much as I did? Drop me a comment and let me know! ☺️


Friday 56 – A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Happy Friday Bibliofriends!

The weekend is finally here and it’s Friday 56 time. After receiving A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer in Fairyloot’s February ‘Beast and Beauty Box’, I aimed to take part in their readalong (you can access their blog here), however as with all good intentions, work seemed to get in the way! Nevertheless, I’ve managed to make a start and am just up to Chapter 10. I’m really surprised by how quickly I became invested in the two main characters, Rhen and Harper; I’m definitely hooked!

‘I run my fingers over the surface of the map, dried paint slick where it notates cities. Wildthorne Valley. Hutchins Forge. Blackrock Plains. At the center of the map, near Silvermoon Harbour, is an elaborately painted castle.
The map doesn’t look like the United States, that’s for sure.’

Plot Synopsis (thanks Goodreads!)
Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

I can’t wait to see what happens in this retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It feels fresh with Harper being a modern-day US girl but still in-keeping with the traditional fairytale style with Rhen’s chivalrous charms.

Have you read ACSDAL? Did you take part in the Fairyloot readalong?

Drop me a comment below to chat. Enjoy your weekend!

T xx

FairyLoot February Unboxing – Twisted Tales

*Spoliers ahead!*IMG_7805

The following post contains spoilers about the items contained in February’s FairyLoot box so tread carefully if you don’t want to spoil the surprise!

The very minute the theme ‘Twisted Tales’ for this box was unveiled, I was super excited! It had ‘dark fairy tales’ written all over it and not most because of the stunning Red Riding Hood style artwork by @taratjah

IMG_7795The first item I came across was a beautiful Hinterland candle from Wick and Fable which was designed (along with the author) to tie into the setting of this month’s book. The scent of the candle was Oakmoss and Tea Leaves and it smells so Spring-like and fresh! I think it is my favourite FairyLoot candle so far and I can’t wait to burn it.

Next up was an exclusive ‘Grimm Tales’ Mug with a design from Aunjuli Art featuring loads of different nods to various fairytales including Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, The Princess and the Frog amongst many more! I’m going to have so much fun spotting them all!

IMG_7796       IMG_7799     IMG_7798

IMG_7800Perfect for a winter warm-up was a packet of luminously green ‘Poisonous Apple’ bath salts from Little Heart as well as some exclusively designed Hansel and Gretel inspired socks featuring witch hats and gingerbread houses. I love pinkish/purple colour of them!


IMG_7801The final piece of bookish merch was a stunning Ink and Wonder woodmark (wooden bookmark) which had a gorgeous Little Red Riding image and quote on it. I have Lord of the Rings one of these from a previous FairyLoot box but I just can’t bring myself to use them in case they broken, and then I would be distraught!

The book for this month was The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. It was an exclusive hardback edition of the book featuring the cover from the UK paperback. On the cover of the book, underneath the jacket, was an embossed image of a pair of gates which ties into the storyline of the book. The book itself was an enjoyable read paying homage to the legacy of fairy tale and storytelling. I’ll hopefully be posting a review of it within the next week or so.

Next month’s box is themed ‘Memorable Moments’ and will be a special purple two-year anniversary box. Despite my best efforts, I’ve already been snooping all over Goodreads to match the book description and suss out what the book is (I’ll never learn!). I’m really excited to see what the exclusive hardcover is like and the items linked to fandoms including LOTR, Harry Potter, GOT and Shadowhunters! Honestly, if FairyLoot did anymore than one box a month my bank account would be in serious danger!

Everless – book review

  • Everless by Sara Holland
  • Published 4th January 2018 by Orchard Books
  • 368 pages
  • Rated: 5/5 Blood-irons

“Time is a prison. She is the key.”
This book felt like it bled me dry – pun definitely intended! I binge read it in a couple of days and am waiting on tenterhooks for book 2! I received this book in the December Oh So Regal box from FairyLoot.


Everless is the debut novel by Sara Holland and is the first in a so far untitled series.
“In the land of Sempera, the rich control everything – even time. Ever since the age of alchemy and sorcery, hours, days and years have been extracted from blood and bound to iron coins. The rich live for centuries; the poor bleed themselves dry.
Jules and her father are behind on their rent and low on hours. To stop him from draining himself to clear their debts, Jules takes a job at Everless, the grand estate of the cruel Gerling family.
There, Jules encounters danger and temptation in the guise of the Gerling heir, Roan, who is soon to be married. But the web of secrets at Everless stretches beyond her desire, and the truths Jules must uncover will change her life for ever … and possibly the future of time itself.”

The concept of ‘time is money’ has been around since the Ancient Greek times and has slowly trickled its way through history when it was, albeit mistakenly attributed to Benjamin Franklin who’d used it in his 1748 essay Advice to a Young Tradesman. In the world of Everless, time literally is money; citizens go to have their blood bled, diminishing their life span, which gets melted down into blood-irons, the currency of Sempera. Those blood-irons are used for paying rent to the time collectors (read tax collectors) on behalf of the rich people who own all of the land and villages.
For me, Holland has struck gold (pun again intended, sorry not sorry) by weaving elements of our own realities into this fantasy environment. I’m not sure if she did this intentionally but Everless smacks of that old Robin Hood story of the rich stealing from the poor, something which can still be prevalent in many countries today. The idea of the elite and the 1% owning everything whilst we peasants have to ask permission or apply for licences just to be able to do simple things like drive, pay taxes on the wages and incomes we spent our own hours of life earning just to be able to afford a living, be registered at birth, have a National Insurance number, pay VAT on goods we buy in shops, who really does own the ground we actually walk upon…? The list is everless! I could go on forever with this! So as you can see, Holland really hit my nerve with her Semperean world where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, purely for the parallels that I read in it of our own lives on planet Earth.

Jules in the opening scene reminded me so much of Katniss Everdeen and Feyre Archeron, the way she hunts through the woods trying in earnest to find food to trade or sell. She has no self pity and enough sass to make her a believable and strong lead character, although at times, just a few, I feel that I’m more invested in her story and what is happening to her, rather than being concerned with the person that is Jules herself…if that makes sense?! Mostly, everything she does, whether out of naivety or her own admitted selfishness is for her Papa and the good of her friends and family. She has a determination and grit which desires to see a little bit of justice in the world, someone who is not afraid to stand up and fight for what they believe in whilst still retaining humility and nervousness about how she can accomplish what she needs to. Her story throughout the novel really intrigued me as it begun to unravel and although I guessed or had my suspicions of some elements within the plot, others pulled the rug out from under my feet and were so unexpected that I would actually gasp aloud whilst reading and immediately Snapchat my friend who was reading the book at the same time as me! Some of those moments…that is what I live for in a book! Fair play Sara Holland, you kept me on my toes!

The Sorceress and the Alchemist were great plot devices and well laid out. I loved how they merged with the characters within the story and it gave the book that traditional fairy/folktale feeling. It’s got me wondering whether theirs is an old tale which inspired Holland to write Everless or whether she’s just taken two well known character tropes and devised their narratives from that. Either way, I really enjoyed the dynamic that it brought to the story.

If you love a good ending which leaves you dangling off the precipice of the White Cliffs of Dover then Everless should satisfy that need. Towards the ending, the story increasingly quickens in pace, just as the world around Jules starts to unravel yet knit together at the same time! And then…bam! In the space of a few pages, again drop-jaw moment, something happens from out of the blue and you end up shouting, “I knew it!” out loud in front of your family and doing 😱 face multiple times as the book finishes in front of your very eyes! Ok, there are unanswered questions to do with minor characters which I’m not sure will be revealed in the second book as I don’t know how they would link to the main plot. Shoving that aside, if I had enough blood-irons I could spend eons raving about what I love in this story and I only hope that I’m not waiting lightyears for the next instalment!

Beauty of the Wildfire

Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović
Published: August 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 405IMG_6790

‘Wicked Like a Wildfire’ was beautiful both inside and out. From the moment it revealed itself from my black Fairyloot bag as part of the Otherworlds box, my hopes and expectations were sky high and for me – it did not disappoint!

The story follows two sisters, Iris and Malina, who have to hide their ancestral, ‘gleaming’ magical abilities from the other residents of their coastal Montenegrin village, Cattaro. Iris has the ability to fractalise (I think I made that word up!) flowers and turn them into intricate glassworks whereas Lina is able to read or create moods and emotions through music, epitomising the idea of mood music. When their mother is mysteriously attacked and disappears, the two sisters must work together to discover the truth behind their powers and heritage along with the strange curse which haunts their family line.

Familial relationships are at the heart and soul of this book. Whilst I don’t have any sisters to relate Iris and Lina’s bond to, Popović did a brilliant job of conveying the deep meaning of sisterhood between different generations of characters within the book. This makes the lengths and sacrifices characters must face all the more believable. One relationship which did resonate with me was the one between Iris and her mother. Now whilst I wasn’t quite following the traits of Iris in my teenage years, the friction between the pair definitely brought about a sense of nostalgia for my own relationship with my mother. The battle between trying to be yourself yet match up to another’s expectation brought back quite a lot of feelings from my own childhood and instantly allowed me to connect with Iris.

Other relationships in the book are equally well developed and explored. The romance is not overdone or overshadowing of the main plot whilst still allowing the characters to move forward within the story. The diverse sexualities of characters are written with a subtle innocence which enables the sisters to be honest and true to themselves as well as giving them the courage to stand up for what they believe in and desire most.
One warning – keep a track of the names of the characters. Without giving any spoilers away, the character names are used as a brilliant plot device within the novel and I did have to make a conscious effort to try and keep up with which one was which!

To say this book is a feast for all the senses is a bit of an understatement. Now Wicked Like a Wildfire does have a kind of marmite feeling about it; if you absolutely devour description and world building then you should be enchanted by what Popović has written. The themes of magic and beauty which run throughout this whole narrative are enriched by the pure levels of sensory description which leap off every page. From every sight, to every taste, to every smell, Lana’s world really does come alive in your mind and completely encompassed me, so much so that I felt like I was there with them on their journey. Although set in the modern day, I imagine Iris and Malina’s world as something out of a pre-Raphaelite painting. The symbolism and descriptions from when they ‘eat the moon’ or gleam their magic is so kaleidoscopic and detailed that it becomes emblazoned in the back of your mind and the lightness of it drastically balances out the evil and darkness coming from the curse and villainous elements of the story.

I was thrilled when I found out that Cattaro is actually a real-life place and is known as Kotor in Montenegro. When reading books set in actual places I often Google some of the main landmarks and the setting, just to get a better picture of the character’s world. Appealing to my love of history and architecture, Popović has given stunning representations of locations such as the old town of Kotor as well as the religious buildings Our Lady of the Rocks and the Abbey of St. George on islets near Perast. Before reading Wicked Like a Wildfire, Montenegro was not really a place where I felt compelled to visit, however after Popović has so expertly brought the place to life on the page it has definitely been added to my travel bucket list.

Yes, the pace and detailed, descriptive nature of this book may not suit every reader, but there are many many things which I love about this story and the way it all comes together. I enjoyed the pace and the length of time spent building this magical world and the deep relationships between the characters; I enjoyed that I could explore the historical Montenegrin settings through the experiences of Malina and Iris, and writing which made it pop right off the page; I enjoyed the aspects of magic and the way it was intrinsically linked with beauty and nature; I enjoyed the fairytale-like qualities of the story and the elements of Balkan folklore which become prevalent towards the end; I enjoy that I have questions which are left unanswered at the end, but moreover, above anything else, I adored the sense of escape and wonder that this book allowed me to feel.

Roll on Fierce Like a Firestorm. If it’s anywhere near as good as Wicked Like a Wildfire, then I’m sure it will be one compelling ride!