First Lines Friday- 14 January 2022

First Lines Friday is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

This week’s First Lines Friday book is a 2021 novel released back in May!

First Lines

“When my twin, Jamie, left, he vowed it wouldn’t be forever. Only a week before Halley’s Comet brushed the London skies, he kissed my cheek and set off. One comet in, one comet out. But two years away is more than enough time to clear his head, even in the coal-thickened air at the bottom of a steamship. Since he hasn’t come home, it is time to chase down the comet’s tail.”

And the book is…….

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee!

Cover of Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee

Synopsis: Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise, though, she’s turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese people aren’t allowed into America. But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother, Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is on board, as is an influential circus owner. Thankfully, there’s not much a trained acrobat like Val can’t overcome when she puts her mind to it. As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, audition for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America. Then one night, the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val’s dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival.

I was fascinated by the Titanic when I was younger. I’ve probably watched the movie 20 times, and I did at least 2 papers on it in school. I’m very excited to read this fresh fictional perspective of such a well known event. It’s on my TBR and I’m probably going to read it in February. Want to read it yourself? You can pick up your own copy here!

Already read Luck of the Titanic? Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Cant-Wait Wednesday: The Red Palace by June Hur

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday book is The Red Palace by June Hur!

The Red Palace book cover

Synopsis: June Hur, critically acclaimed author of The Silence of Bones and The Forest of Stolen Girls, returns with The Red Palace—a third evocative, atmospheric historical mystery perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Kerri Maniscalco. To enter the palace means to walk a path stained in blood… Joseon (Korea), 1758. There are few options available to illegitimate daughters in the capital city, but through hard work and study, seventeen-year-old Hyeon has earned a position as a palace nurse. All she wants is to keep her head down, do a good job, and perhaps finally win her estranged father’s approval. But Hyeon is suddenly thrust into the dark and dangerous world of court politics when someone murders four women in a single night, and the prime suspect is Hyeon’s closest friend and mentor. Determined to prove her beloved teacher’s innocence, Hyeon launches her own secret investigation. In her hunt for the truth, she encounters Eojin, a young police inspector also searching for the killer. When evidence begins to point to the Crown Prince himself as the murderer, Hyeon and Eojin must work together to search the darkest corners of the palace to uncover the deadly secrets behind the bloodshed.

About the author: June Hur was born in South Korea and raised in Canada, except for the time when she moved back to Korea and attended high school there. She studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto. She began writing her debut novel after obsessing over books about Joseon Korea. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop. She is the author of The Silence of BonesThe Forest of Stolen GirlsThe Red Palace, and A Crane Among Wolves published by Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, and she currently lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.

I’m woefully behind in my reading, and have all of June Hur’s books on my TBR list. The Red Palace has joined them, and hopefully I’ll get to read it this spring! A historical fiction set in Korea, the mystery teased in the synopsis promises for an exciting read!

Set to be released on January 25th, you can pre-order a copy today here!

January Check-in – New Services!

Hey there, it’s been a while.

2021 was…something. We went from a family of three to a family of four,  which was a huge adjustment! I thought I would take a small break from blogging to find some balance, but life had other plans. I fell into a reading slump, and stopped making time for myself. I even missed my 1 year Blog-iversary, which was back in November. The longer I went without reading and blogging, the harder it got to start back up again. 

I made a promise with myself for the New Year that I would make time for myself again. I have some lofty goals to grow my blog in 2022, and to start making big moves towards my new career path! In that vein, I am pleased to finally roll out my new Services Offered page!

Along with my continued (free) book reviews and book promotions, I now offer proofreading, beta reading, and transcription services. Anyone can request a free consultation where they can overview their needs and we can discuss a timeline and pricing. I’m so excited to help and encourage both new and experienced writers review their latest works!

I’m glad to be back with this wonderful collection of writers, bloggers and book lovers and I would like to wish everyone a happy 2022!

2022 Happy New Year!

Book Tour: Being Human by Natalie Read

Genre: Non-fiction, Self-help

Published: September 23rd, 2019

A big thank you to Natalie Read, Eleanor Gibson and Literally PR for letting me be a part of this Book Tour!

I don’t think many people could honestly say that the last couple of years haven’t been rough on their mental health. Everyone deals with stress differently, but no matter how well you cope with life, I think everyone could use some more self-acceptance and self-love. Self-care is a big deal, but most #self-care tips involve some kind of bath/drink combo. Sometimes self-care needs to be a little more involved, and that’s where self-help books come in! Being Human is not a self-help book directed towards one particular thing. Instead, it focuses on self-acceptance in general.

Being Human wasn’t stuffy or preachy, it was down to earth and easy to understand. You aren’t forced to read it cover to cover either, you can jump to certain chapters and really tailor the book to your specific needs. One fun thing with Being Human is the inclusion of exercises, which can be worked on while you read or afterwards. I also like the inclusion of meditations throughout the book. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a guide to self-acceptance!

Book Tour: Curry Compendium by Richard Sayce

Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook

Date of Publication: September 1st, 2021

A big thank you to Helen Lewis, Literally PR ltd and Richard Sayce for allowing me to be a part of this Book Tour!

Most of the time when you buy a cookbook, you are buying it for the recipes, and don’t end up reading it from cover to cover. Curry Compendium is a bit different. Curry Compendium specializes in British Indian Restaurant cuisine. It features many recipes, but it also teaches the fundamentals of this cuisine, the ingredients featured in the recipes, and the methods of preparing and cooking curry. Curry Compendium starts with detailed information on how British Indian Restaurant curries work, how to manipulate the recipes, and even how to reheat the leftovers. The cookbook also includes information on curry fundamentals, the main ingredients found in the curries and the equipment you will need. Curry Compendium’s recipes rely on pre-prepared ingredients such as powder mixes and base gravies, which can be prepared ahead of time. A very helpful feature of Curry Compendium are the QR codes attached to the recipes. Scanning these codes will bring you to the Youtube video that shows how to make the recipe, which is awesome for people who like seeing the steps laid out.

I like the variety of recipes that Curry Compendium provides. I also appreciate that the main protein can easily be swapped for an alternative if you aren’t a fan of seafood or meat. I will say that these recipes are not ideal for a regular weekday dinner. The ingredients are a bit more complicated and a little harder to find, and the prep/cooking is more involved. I think these recipes would be ideal for a weekend dinner party; their complexity is a great way to impress your friends or family. If you are interested in developing your culinary prowess and learn about a new cuisine, Curry Compendium is a good place to start!

Cant-Wait Wednesday: Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday book is Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray!

Beasts of Prey book cover

Synopsis: Magic doesn’t exist in the broken city of Lkossa anymore, especially for girls like sixteen-year-old Koffi. Indentured to the notorious Night Zoo, she cares for its fearsome and magical creatures to pay off her family’s debts and secure their eventual freedom. But the night her loved ones’ own safety is threatened by the Zoo’s cruel master, Koffi unleashes a power she doesn’t fully understand–and the consequences are dire. As the second son of a decorated hero, Ekon is all but destined to become a Son of the Six–an elite warrior–and uphold a family legacy. But on the night of his final rite of passage, a fire upends his plans. In its midst, Ekon not only encounters the Shetani–a vicious monster that has plagued the city and his nightmares for nearly a century–but a curious girl who seems to have the power to ward off the beast. Koffi’s power ultimately saves Ekon’s life, but his choice to let her flee dooms his hopes of becoming a warrior. Desperate to redeem himself, Ekon vows to hunt the Shetani down and end its reign of terror, but he can’t do it alone. Meanwhile, Koffi believes finding the Shetani and selling it for a profit could be the key to solving her own problems. Koffi and Ekon–each keeping their true motives secret from the other–form a tentative alliance and enter into the unknowns of the Greater Jungle, a world steeped in wild magic and untold dangers. The hunt begins. But it quickly becomes unclear whether they are the hunters or the hunted.

About the author: Ayana Gray is a lover of all things monsters and magic. Originally from Atlanta, an Atlanta, she now lives in sunny Florida where she writes fantastical stories, follows Formula One racing, and worries over her adopted baby rhino, Apollo. Her forthcoming debut, BEASTS OF PREY, will be published with Penguin Random House on September 28, 2021.

I’m always in the mood for a new YA fantasy series, so of course I had to add Beasts of Prey to my TBR list. This book sounds exciting and this new fantasy world is very intriguing! I can wait to get my hands on a copy when it comes out next week!

Set to be released on September 28th, you can pre-order a copy today here!

Review: House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Goodreads Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow has always been strange. Something happened to her and her two older sisters when they were children, something they can’t quite remember but that left each of them with an identical half-moon scar at the base of their throats. Iris has spent most of her teenage years trying to avoid the weirdness that sticks to her like tar. But when her eldest sister, Grey, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, Iris learns just how weird her life can get: horned men start shadowing her, a corpse falls out of her sister’s ceiling, and ugly, impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind. As Iris retraces Grey’s last known footsteps and follows the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs she left behind, it becomes apparent that the only way to save her sister is to decipher the mystery of what happened to them as children. The closer Iris gets to the truth, the closer she comes to understanding that the answer is dark and dangerous – and that Grey has been keeping a terrible secret from her for years.

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

Date of Publication: April 6th, 2021

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Length: 304 pages

My rating: 4/5

I’m sure most people feel like a bit of an outsider at some point in their lives, but Iris is a bit more…out-there than most. Her life has been different to say the least; mystery and tragedy surrounds Iris and her sisters, and all she wants is to be normal. When her eldest sister Grey goes missing, Iris is forced to confront the holes in her past, and she isn’t sure she’ll like what she finds.

I feel like I should have read this book closer to Halloween, it would have been better suited in a spookier season than late spring. House of Hollow has a unique vibe that I can’t compare to another book. It’s surreal, creepy, and dark, but also strangely beguiling. The connection between the sisters is both comforting and powerful, making me (an only child) yearn for sisterhood like that. I really enjoyed the whole atmosphere of the book, and the mystery of the Hollow sisters was engaging throughout.

Iris and her sisters are a very interesting trio, with very different personalities. They draw you into their lives and it’s hard to tell if you want to be friends with them, or be them. I was fully invested in their story, and couldn’t put the book down until I learned what happened next.

House of Hollow was a great read, and I would recommend it just for the vibe alone. The characters are tantalizing, and the story pulls you in immediately and keeps a tight hold the entire way through. It’s not something I’d suggest if you’re interested in light reading, but it would make a great spooky read for the month of October.

Have you read House of Hollow? Let me know what you think in the comments!

First Lines Friday- 27 August 2021

First Lines Friday is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

This week’s First Lines Friday book is a 2021 novel released back in May!

First Lines

“The first thing the ghost said to Jess was: Does your mother know you’re a pengkid? The ghost said it to shock. Unfortunately it had failed to consider the possibility that Jess might not understand it.”

And the book is…….

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho!

Cover of Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Synopsis: Jessamyn Teoh is closeted, broke and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. So when Jess starts hearing voices, she chalks it up to stress. But there’s only one voice in her head, and it claims to be the ghost of her estranged grandmother, Ah Ma. In life Ah Ma was a spirit medium, the avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a gang boss who has offended the god–and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it. Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny. If she fails, the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.

I have a spot in my heart dedicated to books about mediums, so of course this book made it onto my TBR pile as soon as I heard about it. Ghostly revenge is always exciting, so I’m definitely looking forward to reading Black Water Sister! Want to read it? You can pick up your own copy here!

Already read Black Water Sister, or have any other recommendations for books about mediums? Let me know in the comments!

Cant-Wait Wednesday: My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week’s Can’t-Wait Wednesday book is My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones!

My Heart is a Chainsaw book cover

Synopsis: “Some girls just don’t know how to die…” Shirley Jackson meets Friday the 13th in My Heart Is a Chainsaw, written by the author of The Only Good Indians Stephen Graham Jones, called “a literary master” by National Book Award winner Tananarive Due and “one of our most talented living writers” by Tommy Orange. Alma Katsu calls My Heart Is a Chainsaw “a homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre.” On the surface is a story of murder in small-town America. But beneath is its beating heart: a biting critique of American colonialism, Indigenous displacement, and gentrification, and a heartbreaking portrait of a broken young girl who uses horror movies to cope with the horror of her own life. Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold. Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges…a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.

About the author: Stephen Graham Jones is the NYT bestselling author of nearly thirty novels and collections, and there’s some novellas and comic books in there as well. Stephen’s been an NEA recipient, has won the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Fiction, the LA Times Ray Bradbury Prize, the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, three Bram Stoker Awards, two Shirley Jackson Awards, four This is Horror Awards, and he’s been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award and the British Fantasy Award. He’s also made Bloody Disgusting’s Top Ten Horror Novels, and is the guy who wrote Mongrels and The Only Good Indians. Next up is My Heart is a Chainsaw. Stephen lives in Boulder, Colorado.

When I read The Only Good Indians I was horrified, intrigued, and disgusted all at the same time. This is truly the mark of a good horror story! That’s why I’m so excited for My Heart is a Chainsaw, which has been on my TBR list since I first heard about it. I’m not always in the mood for horror, but when I am, it needs to be good, and I think Stephen Graham Jones can deliver!

Set to be released on August 31st, you can pre-order a copy today here and here, or check out your local indie bookstores!

WWW Wednesday- August 18th, 2021

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words! All you have to do is answers the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid. This jewish-inspired adult fantasy is so far very engrossing! It is steeped with folklore and historical references, and it’s very interesting to see how it draws comparisons to real-world issues. I’m only half-way through it now, but I look forward to writing a review once I’m finished!

What did you recently finish reading?

I recently finished reading Star Eater by Kerstin Hall! Recently released in June of this year, I was super excited to read it simply because of the concept of ‘cannibal nuns’. Star Eater did not disappoint! It had some fantastically novel world-building, and the plot was a delightful mix of mystery and fantasy. I will hopefully have my review of Star Eater up soon.

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m pretty behind on my reading because of my hiatus, and I have a ton of great new books on my TBR just begging to be read. I think my next book will be The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri. Another recently released adult fantasy, it’s already been getting great reviews so I’m excited to give it a shot!

What are you currently reading? Are any of these books on your TBR pile? Let me know in the comments!