Wrap-Up: November

  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (★★★★☆)
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte  (★★★☆☆)
  • Bird Box by Josh Malerman (★★★★☆)
  • The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (★★★★★)


A fairly average reading month – more on the slow side, actually.  Wuthering Heights was definitely a slog and took me a while to get through.  I also had a week off work, which you would think would translate to more reading, but I get like 90% of my reading done on my commute, so I ended up reading little to nothing during my week of.  For some reason I tend to have a very difficult time concentrating on reading when I’m home? I have to wonder what will happen when I stop using public transport every day…. I did read Bird Box fairly quickly though, which is why I really thought I had read more this month. Oh well.

Oh, and I actually struggled through another book this month, which I still haven’t finished: The Bloodprint.  What was one of my most anticipated releases of the whole year has turned out to be the biggest let-down. I’m nearly halfway through the book and struggling mightily. I try very hard not to DNF book but this one is seriously testing me. I really want to try to to finish it by this weekend.  Hopefully I can sit myself down and force myself to get through it, but if not it might last until the end of the year. We’ll see.

The good news is I discovered  The Dark Days Club and am actually reading its sequel now! I have a feeling I’ll finish that fairly quickly since I can’t stop reading it. I’m so pleased I discovered this delightful series! And despite not loving Wuthering Heights I’m feeling a great sense of accomplishment at having read one of the most well-known classics of English literature!

Other than those two books I’m not reading anything else – I haven’t touched my non-fiction book (Before They Were Belly Dancers: European Accounts of Female Entertainers in Egypt, 1760–1870), simply because I only read it at work and there hasn’t been any time! But I’m not too upset about that, because the book is turning out to be the sort of book you use as a reference and flip through, sort of like a coffee table book, more than a straight-shot read. I might relegate it to my ~hiatus~ books. I’m thinking I might want to purchase it to have it for reference (and it has so many useful historical illustrations/photos).

I’m trying not to be too rigid in planning out my TBR these days…I have vague thoughts of reading The Hate U Give or The Library at Mount Char and will likely do a buddy read of Northanger Abbey with Rachel, but otherwise who knows!


Book Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

15993203Title: THE DARK DAYS CLUB
Author: Alison Goodman
Release Date: 2016
Pages: 482
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
My Rating: ★★★★★(5/5)
Review on Goodreads

I. Love. This. Book. You know when you’ve come to enjoy a book so much you don’t want it to end? I was torn between finishing this book quickly to find out what happens, and reading it slowly to savor every scene. I was hooked from the very first chapter, where the setting is quickly and fastidiously established as Regency England. A fascinating time period, and the skill of Alison Goodman’s research shines from every page! I truly felt like I was in Regency London; Goodman pays close attention to fashion, smells, common foods, popular dances, weather, locations, and so on. It all lends the book an extreme authenticity that makes it an absolute pleasure to read. I feel like I’ve just received an intriguing history lesson on Regency London! When I say this I don’t at all mean to indicate that this felt dry or textbook-like! On the contrary! But as a history nerd I do enjoy all the little details that popped up.

In The Dark Days Club, Lady Helen Wrexhall discovers that there is more darkness in the world than she first thought, and that she is inextricably bound to it. As she is introduced to this underbelly she discovers her new powers and abilities, all under the guidance of the mysterious and detested Earl of Carlston, a man who shares Helen’s powers but is also suspected of killing his wife. He and Helen share a budding but unresolved romance – in true Regency fashion, it is quite a slow burn and for the most part remains within the bounds of propriety. I think he’s a little bit of an asshole, but for me that’s what makes him interesting, that he’s so imperfect – he’s a good person, but he doesn’t have great bedside manner, so to speak.

Helen is a much more pleasant character – bright, curious, kind, but also not the stereotype I expected. She is more realistic than that: not quite rebellious, not quite so eager to shirk the boundaries of normal life and society, merely tiptoe around them. She’s a modern day women magically inserted into a Regency-era world to be the ~Exceptional Woman~. Rather, she is a realistic Regency-era woman who is heavily shaped by the customs of her time and place. She also shares a camaraderie with her maid (who becomes her partner in crime in a way), which was so refreshing to see! Female friendship is always appreciated.

The mythology here is fantastic! Not supremely original, but executed brilliantly, in a way that makes sense but doesn’t overwhelm the reader with too many details. Goodman created such an interesting world here, one with suitably high stakes that kept the tension high throughout the novel. By the 80% mark I was walking around my house doing things with my Kindle in my face because I simply could not put the book down! I absolutely love books that turn into compelling page-turners, and I love books that feel like home, which this book did. I’m a sucker for period drama set in England, and this book hit on everything I ever wanted: high-society drama, historical accuracy, the supernatural, loads of gory murder, sardonic dialogue, and nail-biting mystery!

I’m going to stop babbling because this review is long and effusive enough, but hopefully it has managed to convey the depth of my enjoyment of this book!

Top 5 Wednesday: Authors I Want to Write Like

Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Check out the goodreads group to learn more.

This week’s topic is Authors I Want to Write Like.

I have been so, so excited for this topic. As an aspiring writer, writing style is something I pay close attention to.  This was a super fun topic for me and really got me thinking about what I admire in authors.

ny42eh4NRoshani Chokshi: Okay, let’s get this out of the way: I love purple prose. I love it. Heavy, heady, overly descriptive, flowery writing. I adore it.  Yes, sometimes it can be too much, but I have a very high threshold.  I’ve only read one of Roshani’s books but I fell completely in love with the writing, separate from the story or the characters (both of which were good, but not as fantastic as the writing).  When I started The Star-Touched Queen I remember being absolutely mesmerized by the quality of the words weaving together. I would go back and re-read paragraphs just to linger on the pretty writing.

“Neither the secret whirring song of the stars nor the sonorous canticles of the earth knew the language that sprang up in the space between us. It was a dialect of heartbeats, strung together with the lilt of long suffering and the incandescent hope of an infinite future.”

– The Star-Touched Queen

13414088S. Jae-Jones: JJ is another writer sometimes accused of overly purple prose.  I wasn’t partial to her book because it was much too slow for me, but I adored the quality of her writing. Yes, it was purple at times, but it was also incredibly elegant and polished, lush and sensual.  Though the story slow, it was beautiful and atmospheric, with a lingering fairy-tale quality.  I also really admired the way she wrote her romance.  It was such a slow burn, and even the sex scenes were written in such a gorgeous, elegant way!

“I surveyed my kingdom. Chaos. Cruelty. Abandon. I had always been holding back. Always been restrained. I wanted to be bigger, brighter, better; I wanted to be capricious, malicious, sly. Until now, I had not known the intoxicating sweetness of attention. In the world above, it had always been Käthe or Josef who captivated people’s eyes and hearts— Käthe with her beauty, Josef with his talent. I was forgotten, overlooked, ignored— the plain, drab, practical,talentless sister. But here in the Underground, I was the sun around which their world spun, the axis around which their maelstrom twirled. Liesl the girl had been dull, drab, and obedient; Elisabeth the woman was a queen.”

– Wintersong

7168230Victoria Schwab: The thing about Victoria’s writing is that it feels absolutely effortless. It’s the sort of writing that makes you feel like you’ve just wrapped a warm cozy blanket around yourself.  She is just an objectively good writer; her prose is neither too purple nor too sparse, she builds characters who feel real, she is so, so creative with her plots, and she writes romance that makes you care.  Also, her productivity is just so admirable? She writes so much and has been writing for so long and she puts out at least one book a year, which is almost unbelievable. I kind of want to be Victoria when I grow up (Victoria is only five years older than me RIP).

“They crashed into each other as if propelled by gravity, and he didn’t know which one of them was the object and which the earth, only that they were colliding. The kiss was Lila pressed into a single gesture. Her brazen pride and her stubborn resolve, her recklessness and her daring and her hunger for freedom. It was all those things, and it took Kell’s breath away.”

– A Gathering of Shadows

3472Margaret Atwood: I’ve only read two books by Atwood (a crime, I know), but I’ve enjoyed both of them (and hey, I’ve been meaning to read more).  Atwood’s writing is just so brilliant and incisive. She has such a clear way of stating universal truths.  Her writing is sensual and detailed, clear and visceral.  Not only do I want to write like her, I want her cleverness and her ability to bend genre conventions.

“She imagines him imagining her. This is her salvation. In spirit she walks the city, traces its labyrinths, its dingy mazes: each assignation, each rendezvous, each door and stair and bed. What he said, what she said, what they did, what they did then. Even the times they argued, fought, parted, agonized, rejoined. How they’d loved to cut themselves on each other, taste their own blood. We were ruinous together, she thinks. But how else can we live, these days, except in the midst of ruin?”

– The Blind Assassin

tumblr_inline_o940q2meUN1qaqnoq_500Alyssa Wong: Alyssa’s a bit different from the other folks on this list, because she hasn’t written a novel just yet. But she’s written multiple award-winning short stories, most of them dark, most of them strange, all of them lovingly crafted.  Her writing is rich and vivid, but above all creative.  She has a way of pulling out common themes and ideas and writing about them in innovative ways. I really admire her skill, and I read her short stories to learn!

“The world ended with a bang, folding in on itself, the lines of the horizon collapsing like soaked origami. Our parents’ house turned to glass, to fire, to energy sparking ripe and rich for the taking. I drained it, pulling it deep into myself until the house was empty, our parents gone. And then there was nothing but me and my sister, her imprint, her echo.”

– A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers

Honorable Mentions: Daphne du Maurier, Erin Morgenstern, Catherine Valente, Alison Goodman, Katherine Arden

Fancast: War and Peace

war and peace fancast

I’ve been planning a War & Peace fancast since before I started the actual book! I’ve been playing around with casting ideas in my head for months now, so I’m really pleased I finally sat down and put it all together.

There were some characters who just jumped out at me and I immediately knew who I wanted to cast for them.  However, I thought I should wait until I had finished reading the novel.  Then I was struggling to cast a particular pair of characters so I set it aside again.  But I’ve had some casting epiphanies again recently, and now I have my cast!

Now, obviously, I couldn’t possibly include every single character in War and Peace (I mean, I could, but I don’t want to).  There are going to be some important characters missing (for example, Denisov) because I just didn’t have any particularly inspired casting thoughts about them. Then there are other characters who may seem minor but whose castings jumped out at me.

So let’s get started!Read More »

End of the Year Book Tag


I was tagged for this by the lovely Steph at Lost Purple Quill! Thanks Steph! I haven’t done a book tag in forever. (I’m also pretty certain someone else tagged me for this as well at some point…I’m SO BEHIND on things I’m tagged on.)

ETA: OMG, I just realized why I thought I was tagged for this before! I was, way back in September, by Rachel! I can’t believe I didn’t remember this at all.  My answers are totally different!

1. Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

I don’t usually like to leave books hanging for a long time, so nothing aside from what I’m reading now! I am determined to finish The Bloodprint before the end of the year, though it’s turning out to be one hell of a slog and I have to force myself to read it.

2. Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

Hmm, not particularly, although I am finding myself partial to a particular brand of historical fiction at the moment. I’m currently reading The Dark Days Club, which takes place in Victorian London, and I don’t want it to end! I’m finding it super cozy and charming.

3. Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

I don’t believe so…Jade City just came out so I’m really excited to get my hands on that, but I don’t think there’s anything else at the moment. Not that I would remember if there were!

4. What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

You know what I’ve been realizing? That planning out what I’m going to read has kind of been bumming me out.  Like, it’s fine to make vague plans of what I want to read in the future, but to structure it strictly like I did for the past two months really took the joy out of it. One of my favorite things to do, when I’m on the verge of finishing a book, is go through Goodreads summaries on my TBR to rediscover a book I want to read. That way there’s a bit of a surprise in it for me!

That being said, I would really love to read The Hate U Give, which I have waiting on my Kindle at the moment! Everyone and their mother has read this, it’s being turned into a film (actors have already been cast!), and I think it’s still on the NYT bestseller list. I really need to get on this.

5. Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

I doubt it. I’ve just read too many awesome books this year! I’m sure I’ll enjoy The Hate U Give, but I don’t think a contemporary will take the place of my favorite book when I’ve read some incredible fantasy books this year.

6. Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

Vaguely! As I said, I’m trying not to plan too strictly.  I know I’m definitely starting Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles in a buddy read led by Chelsea at Spotlight on Stories, which I’m very excited for.  And I think Chelsea wants to read Jane Eyre around then, so I’ll likely join her in that. I also really want to read Libba Bray’s Diviners series.  Oh, and the sequel to The Traitor Baru Cormorant is coming out, so I’m planning a re-read of the first book before the second, since I’ve surely forgotten everything, and I think Rachel is planning on reading it with me!  LOL, I realize this is already pretty strict planning…alas. I’m still super excited for these reads.

I suck at at tagging and I think this meme has made the rounds already, so do it if you like, and do ping back to me so I can read your answers!

Reread, Rewrite, Burn Tag

I saw this post on Rachel’s blog, and I’ve been meaning to take a go!


  • Randomly choose 3 books
  • For each group, decide which book to burn, which one to rewrite, and which to reread (like Marry, Boff, Kill).
  • Repeat until you completed three rounds (or six) (or however many you want to do).

REREAD: A Chalice of Wind.  While Balefire is not my favorite of Cate Tiernan’s works (I think I got bored halfway through the second book), I recall enjoying it somewhat. It also had some interesting plot points about witchcraft in New Orleans!

REWRITE: Poison’s Kiss was a book with such enormous potential! It’s about a young girl trained to be a poison maiden – or a “Visha Kanya” as they were called in Ancient India.  The Visha Kanya allegedly had blood and bodily fluids that was poison to others, but in Poison’s Kiss the protagonist (Lord, I can’t even remember her name!) just has to kiss someone in order to kill them. There’s a boring and predictable romance and the protagonist herself is just so boring. This is the sort of book I’d rewrite as an adult novel, because it really needs more violence and sex to make it interesting.

BURN: Sharp Objects. Sorry, Gillian Flynn. I did actually like this book, but alas.

REREAD: Kissing the Witch, for sure! I read this book such a long time ago that I don’t remember any of the stories. I think I would appreciate it more now.

REWRITE: The Sea of Monsters, I guess? I loved the Percy Jackson series, but I really hated the portrayal of Hades and Persephone, so I’d rewrite it and change that.

BURN: Neverwhere. I’m not a fan of Neil Gaiman, though I do think this book was one of his more palatable works.

REREAD: The Final Empire.  I don’t know if I’ll ever re-read this entire series one day, but I really want to. I remember upon finishing it being absolutely floored by the genius of the plot. Everything came together so brilliantly in the end.

REWRITE: Rebecca. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Rebecca, but I could definitely see myself writing a different version of it. The main plotline is pretty straightforward, but with different characters and different settings the story itself could radically change.  I could set it in Cairo or something and have some fun with it.

BURN: The Mysterious Benedict Society. I had to read this for a Children’s Literature class in college and I didn’t like it. It was touted as “the next Harry Potter” or something, but it is…not. It’s really boring and basic.

REREAD: Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth is always a treat.

REWRITE: The Blind Assassin. I kind of want to re-read this too because I’ve forgotten a lot of it (I read this like…six years ago?), but I remember I really loved the fantasy aspects of it. The realistic aspects of it were fine, but I wasn’t as into them. I would rewrite it to be entirely fantasy, probably.

BURN: Living Dolls. There was nothing particularly wrong with this book, but it’s just so basic. If you’re at all familiar with advanced feminist theory, this book isn’t going to tell you anything you don’t already know.

REREAD: Dreams of Shreds and Tatters. This book is so good and so creepy. It’s inspired by the tale of the Yellow King, which is a vaguely Lovecraftian tale that was actually written before Lovecraft and served as his inspiration (yes, I know calling it Lovecraftian is anachronistic and makes no sense).

REWRITE: The Penelopiad. I like this book a lot, but it’s not particularly great at its representation of women, oddly enough! I’d definitely rewrite it and portray the women in more complex and humanizing ways.

BURN: The Kingdom of Gods.  This is the only thing I’ve read by Jemisin that I did not like. It just feels so messy, going from subplot to subplot without anything really connecting them. And the main character was super annoying.

REREAD: The Diviners, for sure. Y’all, it was such a good book. I don’t even remember anything but little snippets of it, but it was creepy and funny and thrilling and gave me Jazz Age goodness with a side of Great Awakening conspiracies.  Now that the whole series is out and finished, I’m definitely planning to read the whole thing! Probably some time next year.

REWRITE: Monstress. I love this graphic novel, but if I were to rewrite it, first off, it would be a regular old novel, since I can’t draw to save my life, and second, I’d rewrite it to suit my tastes more. Which means, no talking animals or whatever they are.

BURN: Dreams From the Witch House. This book is a collection of Lovecraftian short stories by women.  It was fine, but unfortunately most of the tales were forgettable. Also, I don’t know why I’m so drawn to Lovecraftian things when I know I get frustrated by weird fiction. It’s always so vague! I hate vague endings!

This was so fun! I’m not going to tag anyone but do link back to me if you do this!

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I’m Thankful For


I haven’t done Top 5 anything in a while, but I thought I could give this week’s Top 5 Wednesday a shot! The topic is Top 5 Books You Are Thankful For.  It ended up being…a little demoralizing.  Let me explain. When I first saw the topic, my mind immediately jumped to books with f/f pairings, just because this has been on my mind lately.  In particular, YA books with f/f pairings. But as I went through my list of books read this year, I realized that none of the books I’ve read this year feature any prominent f/f pairings.  There is a thread on Twitter that recently talked about how few f/f books there are in YA and in fantasy, particularly compared to m/m, and f/f books tends to be sidelined as “special interest” or something.  All of which is to say: please, please, recommend f/f books to me! Preferably fantasy, but I will take contemporary as well! Give me recs guys!!!

Anyway, I didn’t mean to turn this into an essay on the state of the YA market. Despite the aforementioned blow, I did manage to find five books I am thankful for, and for various reasons! In no particular order:

20764879A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab: Aside from being a spectacularly written book with incredible tension and a romance that makes me giggle (a rare thing), A Gathering of Shadows also features Lila Bard, an absolute tour de force of a character. So often women with magic are reluctant to use their powers or stumble into them. Not so with Lila.  Lila actively seeks out her power. She is not frightened by her abilities; she is impressed by them. She wants to be the most powerful of them all, so she trains as hard as she can, even when others tell her not to. She takes ridiculous risks and she’s full of herself and she’s not frightened of anything. She is an absolutely incredible woman, an incredibly written female character, and I am so thankful she exists.

31123249Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali: This was one of my favorite books of the year.  Ali writes about Muslim community with such grace, such love, such complexity! In Ali’s book, Muslims were real and human, lovable and flawed, loving and cruel.  Ali wrote about a niqabi who also happens to be an outspoken badass – talk about flipping the stereotype of oppressed Muslim women right on its head! The narrator is witty and engaging, and the writing is high-quality. I am thankful this book exists because it is such a great example of diversity in literature done right.

33574143The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Probably one of the stranger books I’ve read this year, but also one of my favorites! It’s a novel of manners a la Jane Austen with a touch of magic (telekinesis, to be specific). At its heart, it’s a romance. However, what drew me to it was the elegant writing, the prettily crafted world, and the compelling main characters.  The moment I finished this book I was inspired to write a novel of manners of my own (Egyptian inspired, in my case). So, I am thankful this book exists, because without it, I wouldn’t have my current WIP, which is one of my favorite projects that I’m working on.

29396738Monstress by Marjorie Liu: This one’s a little different, since it’s a graphic novel. I don’t normally read those, but I was drawn to Monstress.  Let me quote the Goodreads summary at you so you understand why: “Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.” I mean. Need I even say more? This book is absolutely wild, so freaking original, with that overwhelming epicness that so many fantasy books strive for but don’t achieve. I am thankful that something this original exists.

16235Sister of my Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: Not only am I partial to f/f relationships, I am super fond of friendships between women. Sister of my Heart features one of the most beautiful, intimate, and enduring friendships between two women that I’ve ever seen.  Two girls, Anju and Sudha, from different worlds, grow up together, close as sisters, and their love for each other goes beyond anything.  There were so many beautiful scenes in this book, but the one that I remember most clearly is Anju watching Sudha look at the moon. Sudha is topless, but her hair is covering her chest, and Anju is thinking she is beautiful.  There were of course flaws in this book, and I’m sure if I went back and looked with a more critical eye I would find them. But I don’t want to. As much as I want to go back and reread this book I’m afraid reading it now, with my more critical eye, might ruin it for me. So I am simply thankful this book has given me such a beautiful and powerful female friendship to think about.