Book Review: The Bridge Kingdom (2018)

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The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom, #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

All she had ever known was violence. It was nothing to her. And everything.

I heard so much about this book for years before I picked up a copy (not because I wasn’t interested, but because I’m slow and my TBR is insane). And I’m so glad I finally dove in because OH MY GOSH! Everything about this is just YES!

The whole cast of main characters were likeable and believable and even when they were frustrating, I understood why and supported both sides. Lara and Aren make sense, Ahnna and Jor make sense. All the soldiers, all the islanders and townsfolk. I loved all the focus on the dynamic between the nations/kingdoms. The setting was seriously cool and I want to learn more about Ithicana in the next book! Overall, TBK was very well written and thought-out without ever being boring or convoluted. The book moved along at a cracking pace and I loved seeing Lara and Aren’s relationship develop. I’m so, so excited for book two! Especially after that ending!

She would fight for him.
She would bleed for him.
She would die for him.



Thoughts as I read [SPOILERS]:

– I was not expecting the opening to be that bloody, what the heck.
– Liking Lara so far. Her father is actually so awful.
– Aren and Ahnna seem pretty cool so far!
– Pleasantly surprised by so much of this! Lara is likeable, Aren is likeable, the soldiers are likeable. The only one I haven’t liked so far is the grandmother. She’s just so mean? I mean, she obviously has reasons to be, but it seems like she goes out of her way to be unpleasant.
– The layout of The Bridge and Ithicana’s layout is very cool. A kingdom on the bridge between two kingdoms, each one trying to control the seas and trade. It’s honestly such a cool premise?? And like I haven’t seen it before, I don’t think.
– Love Lara/Aren by the end oh my goshhhhhh \o/

Book Review: The Great Hunt (1990)

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The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time, #2) by Robert Jordan

It was his name that caused the problem, and a similarity. Rand al’Thor. Al’Lan Mandragoran. For Lan, according to the custom of Malkier, the royal “al” named him King, though he never used it himself. For Rand, “al” was just a part of his name, though he had heard that once, long ago, before the Two Rivers was called the Two Rivers, it had meant “son of.” Some of the servants in Fal Dara keep, though, had taken it to mean he was a king, too, or at least a prince. All of his argument to the contrary had only managed to demote him to lord.

My review of The Eye of the World is here.

I finished book one recently and basically dove right into book two. I loved the journey of book one and the way all the character’s storylines developed and progressed. What I loved about the end of the book was everyone coming back together for the end. I was a bit sad, then, to see them all go off in different directions for book two, but I ended up loving it all the same!


There’s much, much less focus on Moiraine in this one – I think she only had a chapter or two? There’s much more focus on Rand’s travels with Mat, Perrin, Loial, Ingtar and Hurin as they try to track down the dagger that they need for the final battle and to cure Mat’s sickness. I felt so bad for Rand with how alone he felt and trying to protect his friends while they misinterpreted him. I couldn’t stand Selene from the first scene. She was just so power hungry and obnoxious (like, I know WHY, but it was still annoying lmao). I was so glad when they parted ways.

I loved seeing Nynaeve, Egwene and Elanye getting some bonding time. Their dynamic is super cute. I like Min, too, but her possessiveness of Rand towards the end struck me as a little strange. She sort of shouldered her way in while he was asleep? I know she can read auras or whatever, but it did seem a bit ‘uhhhh, wait, what??’ And it seemed rather dismissive of Rand’ s feelings, since his entire focus was on Egwene up to that point. I wanted more scenes from them! Their loyalty to each other was really lovely.

I’m really loving the unfolding storyline and I can’t wait to see where book three takes the Emond’s Fielders!

Thoughts from while I was reading [SPOILERS!]:

– The opening was chilling. Black Ajah Aes Sedai? And the man who calls himself Bors.
– I loved Rand immediately worrying about Egwene and Mat and finding his way to them. Mat subsequently shutting Rand out is so sad. ;_; Jeez, let the lad apologise!
– Lan and Nynaeve are cute and need more scenes.
– Liandrin is horrible and I just know she’s only going to increase her horribleness. Ugh.
– Moiraine and Siuan have a great rapport.
– Fain freaks me out.
– The hunt is getting gruesome like whoa.
– The Aes Sedai are not very likeable as a group, lmao. Like, seriously, other than their magic, I can’t think of any reason anyone would want to join them. I’m not sure how I feel about Egwene and Nynaeve going to Tar Valon. I’m worried about them.
– Loial is adorable and I got so sad when Rand hurt his feelings.
– Poor Rand. He’s trying his best!!!
– Ingtar seems cool so far.
– I adore Hurin. I hope he’s at Rand’s side for the next twelve books!
– Selene is so fucking power hungry and it drives me mad that Rand, Hurin and Loial just went along with it. Yeah, I’m sure she’s using power against them, but STILL. If she talks about ‘GLORY! RAND! GLORY!’ one more time I’m going to climb into the book and kick her. So glad when she left. Ugh.
– Nynaeve’s third test with Lan :((((( MEAN!
– Why are so many ladies after Rand lmaoooo.
– So glad Rand, Mat and Perrin finally made up.
– I hate hate HATE Fain. Ugh, terrible excuse for a person.
– I adore the friendship between Nynaeve, Egwene, Elayne and Min. I just love their dynamic and I hope we get more of them!

Review Roundup: The Orc Who Saved Christmas (2023), No Period (2020), She Was the Storm (2018), Super Gay (2022), Symphony of Secrets (2022)

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The Orc Who Saved Christmas by Michelle Franklin

He wasn’t frightening at all—in fact, he looked quite huggable, his muscles rounding his shoulders and arms in a way that made him seem comfortable and pleasant to sleep on.

Once again, Michelle Franklin has penned a lovely and wholesome and adorable holiday book for children! The illustrations are also top tier. I must say am utterly impressed by the artwork!

I absolutely adored Werewolves Don’t Celebrate Hanukkah – I honestly cannot recommend it enough – and I was delighted to learn that Michelle had another children’s book coming this year! SUCH LOVELY STORIES AND SUCH ADORABLE ART AND SUCH JOY OH MY GOSH! If you haven’t picked up your copy of Werewolves Don’t Celebrate Hanukkahdon’t walk, run to get it!

“And what if Father Christmas was an Orc?” Karla rejoined. “He saved our men and brought us our tree and firewood—isn’t that what Father Christmas ought to do? What’s the difference if he wears a costume or not?”

This is just such a wholesome little tale about an Orc who wants to belong and the little girl who helps him do it! It’s about broadening one’s mind and accepting others. Very sweet and kind and lovely!

I can’t wait what adorable little tale Franklin publishes next!

Thank you so much to the author for the eARC!

She Was The Storm by Cherie Avritt

the passion between us
burned hot and fast
it felt like a fairytale
that should’ve been my first
warning sign;

This is a quick read of uplifting, kind-hearted poems!

Super Gay by Jessi Hersey

Very cute! The art was super adorable and it had a lovely message. I do wish it had been a bit longer, though!

Symphony of Secrets by Mia Sanchez

I decided to replace you
With the moon

I’ve been meaning to check out Mia Sanchez’s debut poetry collection for a while now, but alas I’ve been so busy that I didn’t get to dive into it straight away. But I’m such a poetry fan and I love finding new poets so I’m glad I finally found some time recently to catch up on some of the collections I’ve picked up (also reading Roaring Twenties and Blushing Muse: Poems).

Also, I just want to say that the cover is gorgeous! I love the atmosphere and vibes and title.

What will it take for us to realize
The worth of all of this

This collection of poetry is filled with emotion and commentary on modern relationships and had some really great lines!

I will make the midnight mine

Definitely excited to see what Sanchez publishes next!

No Period by Harry Turtledove

and you come to the mournful and melancholy conclusion that, regardless of what you do to the world and its past, there is no period, no period at all, you can change that gives you any real chances of making a go of it with your ex, and that makes yet another Gedankenexperiment, this one dealing with altering the Cambrian Explosion, pretty pointless when you get right down to it,

A stream of consciousness story where a man imagines various different scenarios of how his relationships and life – and the direction of history and wars and evolution – could have gone. No full stops used! I definitely felt a little dizzy by the end, but thought it was a cool way to write a story.

Book Review: The Eye of the World (1990)

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The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

The Wheel of Time has intimidated me since I was a kid. I’ve always wanted to read them, but I just never did. I’ve picked up The Eye of the World a couple of times since, but never properly immersed myself in Jordan’s world until now. It was the television series that finally drew me in, and I’m so glad to finally be able to label myself a fan, ha! And, after having gone into the book world now, I do think I prefer it (just a bit!) to the show. I really do enjoy the show, but I think I liked Jordan’s pacing a bit more. You get all the side stories, all the poems and songs, all the world-building. And I feel closer to the characters in the book as opposed to the show.

This book is very different from the show. I’m glad, in a sense, that I saw the show first, because it helped me visualise parts of the book that were a bit dense, but on the other hand, I find myself wishing things had been kept from the book that didn’t make it into the show. Egwene comes with them because she’s stubborn, not because she might be a Dragon (which is implied in the show); Nynaeve is frustrating and stubborn in the book in a way she really isn’t in the show; we don’t have the wolves and Elyas in the show the way we do in the book; Mat and Perrin’s origins are different; Thom doesn’t leave the Two Rivers with them in the show, which I’m now sad about because I LOVED him as their grumpy sidekick and guide in the book; and I actually find Moiraine more likeable in the book than the show. I couldn’t tell you why, I just felt like I understood her more in the book. In the show she seems so cold. And where Rand and Egwene can barely stammer around each other in the book, they’re wholly involved in the show. All that said, I like both versions, but I do think I’m more swayed by the book now.

The journey of the characters feels very different, too. There’s less focus on the Children of the Light in the books than in the show. On the one hand, I get that they tried to show what was happening with all the characters, but I also just really loathe them, ha! There’s more focus on the dreams and the journey of each of the lads in the book, too.

As I mentioned, I loved the stories the characters were told on the journey. My favourite, though, was undoubtedly the tale of Manetheren.

‘But the price was high for Manetheren. Eldrene had drawn to herself more of the One Power than any human could ever hope to wield unaided. As the enemy generals died, so did she die, and the fires that consumed her consumed the empty city of Manetheren, even the stones of it, down to the living rock of the mountains. Yet the people had been saved.

Nothing was left of their farms, their villages, or their great city. Some would say there was nothing left for them, nothing but to flee to other lands, where they could begin anew. They did not say so. They had paid such a price in blood and hope for their land as had never been paid before , and now they were bound to that soil by ties stronger than steel. Other wars would wrack them in years to come, until at last their corner of the world was forgotten and at last they had forgotten wars and the ways of war. Never again did Manetheren rise. Its soaring spires and splashing fountains became as a dream that slowly faded from the minds of its people. But they, and their children, and their children’s children, held the land that was theirs. They held it when the long centuries had washed the why of it from their memories. They held it until, today, there is you. Weep for Manetheren. Weep for what is lost forever.’

The tale of Manetheren is where I fell in love with Jordan’s storytelling, I reckon. It made me tear up, it was so powerfully told and I think it’s here that I was like, okay I’m going to love this book series.

I loved the journey once all the characters got back together again in Caemlyn. I really wish we’d seen Caemlyn in the show, as opposed to jumping straight to Tar Valon. The journey through the Ways was fascinating and eerie and spooky. The Blight was horrifying, but I loved learning more about Lan’s history and the scene between Lan and Nynaeve was EVERYTHING. I can’t wait to see their relationship develop throughout the series because I already ship them. OTP feels! And I loved the journey to the Green Man. Wonderfully done! (Also, the book kinda made me ship Rand and Mat haha. I know this will never happen, but I loved their relationship and Rand/Egwene are cute and all, but in the book he and Mat definitely read as closer, at least to me.)

I’m really stoked to see where book two goes. I’ve got a vague idea from reading spoilers over the years, but honestly I think even a five hour conversation about the series probably couldn’t spoil everything because it’s just so richly detailed. Can’t wait for The Great Hunt!

Previous audiobook thoughts:

And the Shadow fell upon the land, and the world was riven stone from stone. The oceans fled, and the mountains were swallowed up, and the nations were scattered to the eight corners of the World. The moon was as blood, and the sun was as ashes. The seas boiled, and the living envied the dead. All was shattered, and all but memory lost, and one memory above all others, of him who brought the Shadow and the Breaking of the World. And him they named Dragon.

What an opening. Wowzers.

I like the focus on Rand and Mat at the start of the book. Everything is moving at a much slower pace than in the show, but also now that I’m getting through the book, I wish the show had gone a bit slower, ha! Moiraine also seems a bit less austere in the book, also less centric? The show is definitely an ensemble, but the book is much more Rand-centric so far. I really love the relationship between Egwene and Nynaeve, too.

Paused the audiobook because I was having trouble focusing. Switched to paperback.


I have been meaning to read these books since I was like twelve. BUT IT’S SO EPIC that I was always a bit daunted. Dunno why, I devoured A Game of Thrones and The Pillars of the Earth. But I’ve now started the show and I love Rand, Lan, Egwene and Mat, so I must start the books. I’ve heard they’re different from the show though, so I’m curious about the changes!

Book Review Roundup

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A roundup post of some of the book reviews I’ve left recently. The genres range from a poetry book to an audiobook to a few children’s books to a short story and to a historical fiction! Check ’em out!

Rainbow’s Red Poetry Book by Lily Lawson:

When the first sign of light breaking
takes the darkness from my sight,
the dawn of early promise
shines in the blackened night.

I quite enjoyed this little book of poetry! This is my second read of Lawson’s poetry and I really enjoy their style! Looking forward to the next collection of poems!

Demon in the Wood (Grishaverse, #0) by Leigh Bardugo:

Really enjoyed this audiobook! Ben Barnes and the cast do a great job of voicing the characters. Can’t wait for season two of the show!

Blue Badger and the Beautiful Berry by Huw Lewis-Jones:

Hahah, aww, this little tale is just super cute and wholesome and berry-filled. The art is absolutely stunning and I adored the badgers being all awkward and sweet and uncertain with each other. Definitely worth checking out!

Are You a Monster? by Guilherme Karsten:

Awww, this little book is very cute with fun, colourful drawings and an adorable little monster protagonist trying to find everyone’s inner monster. A charming, interactive tale that kids will surely adore!

A Column of Fire (Kingsbridge, #3) by Ken Follett:

As ever, Follett is a masterful storyteller when it comes to blending history, romance and political intrigue. I didn’t love Column as much as I did Pillars and World Without End, but still found it a solid addition to the Kingsbridge series. I really enjoyed Ned, Sylvie and Margery’s stories in particular! Looking forward to the prequel and to book four!

How to Cook and Eat the Rich by Sunyi Dean

“Did you hear about the cannibal who was late for dinner? He got the cold shoulder!”

A dark dark dark little tale about greed and scarce resources in a polluted, destroyed future that has been ruined by those who take from those who have none to begin with, and still want more. Very well written and the twist was WHOA.

Book Review: Safe & Sound (2022)

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Safe and Sound by Rachel Bowdler

She was beginning to suspect that Shea was just the sort of woman you had to keep trying with if you wanted to really know her. A matryoshka doll with infinite figures hiding within, all different sizes and faces.

Safe & Sound is a suspenseful romance novella that follows Ruby Bright, a singer-songwriter for Gen Y, a popular singing duo who are struck by profound tragedy. When her singing partner and best friend Ezra is killed in an explosion on their tour bus, she finds herself being targeted by an unknown suspect and forced to disappear for a while until they find out who’s after her. Ruby is sent to a farm for her own protection and it’s there she meets Shea, a brooding, grumpy, acerbic former officer healing from her own trauma.

Where Ruby is nervous and broken by everything that’s happened to her, Shea’s gone the other way and become downright caustic and biting. She’s anything but kind to Ruby at the start, projecting her own stereotypes of privilege onto Ruby that, while understandable in light of Ruby’s successes, are anything but true. Ruby’s life and history are dark and full of turmoil and she honestly doesn’t remotely fit a stereotype. (I felt very protective of Ruby at the start, poor thing!!) For her part, Ruby tries to get along with everyone as she struggles to deal with her grief and the awful treatment of her band’s management group.

I really liked the farm setting and the novella’s themes and focus on healing and growth. Ruby and Shea are both jagged edges who slowly soften each other up as time passes on the farm and they work together gardening and looking after the animals. I do wish Shea had been a bit kinder to Ruby at the onset, but she grew on me once she started to let go of her preconceptions and realised that she was projecting a lot of unfair untruths onto Ruby. Bless Ruby, my heart just went out to her throughout the whole book and I’m really glad she finally had someone on her side in Shea once they passed those initial hurdles! And they made a very dynamic, capable, wholesome couple by the end! (Fans of bodyguard romances will surely enjoy the climax of the novella!)

Overall this is an emotionally grounded and fast-paced romantic suspense novella that romance readers should definitely check out!

Book Review: Sordaneon (2021)

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Sordaneon by L.L. Stephens


Nights in Sordan were never dark.

Ooooooh. This book. Epic fantasy and grimdark fans definitely need to check this one out! It’s dark and brutal and epic and intense and shocking and just WOW. Stephens doesn’t hold back at all and by the end of the book I was trying to get to the end as fast as possible to find out what happens to Dorilian, Lev, Marc and the rest. I WAS STRESS. Except Daimonaeris, truly one of the worst.

“How sad it would be if we shunned love rather than let it open us to the bitterness of loss. There, in the dark places of the soul, is where we find our humanity. You, my friend, have never been more completely alive than you are now as you struggle to make sense of what is left to you.”

Throughout the entire book, my feelings basically boiled down to: PROTECT DORILIAN AND LEV AT ALL COSTS! (Although about halfway through I added Marc to the list. I struggled a bit with him at first, but he really grew on me and I was Team Marc and Dorilian by the end.) Like, I don’t care that Dorilian’s a bit of an arrogant, prickly prince. The lads have both freaking earned it with all they’ve been through.


Light yet pulsed in the tiny body, but he knew so little about babies. His tutors had no prepared him for such things as this. He knew only that the baby’s mind was quiet. Not silent—not as his mother’s now was, unfindable—merely quiet. He could tell, though, that his brother knew him.

These poor boys. Like, I do not blame Dorilian one iota for hating everyone and everything around him other than his brother because that opening scene was traumatising to read. It also very much shapes the tone of this epic, political, immensely bloody grimdark fantasy. He and Lev were just wonderful and I loved how their love for each other formed the foundation of the book.

Now, Sordaneon is dense. It’s immense. It’s rich and detailed and it took me a little while to sink into the complexity of the world! This is definitely the kind of book where I require a pen for underlining passages, accrue several folded pages, and conduct frequent checks to the Appendix at the back.

Note: I found the Appendix incredibly helpful for wrapping my head around the world building, the various houses and connections between the characters, and the backstory of the world of Sordaneon. I definitely recommend checking it if you, like me, often find yourself overwhelmed the first time you dive into a new epic fantasy world. And this one isn’t just the land, but a massive backstory of the world’s creation and devastation and rebuilding and time and descendants and bloodlines. IMMENSE. I will admit I struggled in the first few chapters to remember who was related to whom, so the Appendix, which had all the names, all the bloodlines, all the houses and entities, was very beneficial for me! The worldbuilding is vast in a truly awe-inspiring way, and honestly reminds me a bit of Tolkien’s legendarium. I will say by about 1/3~ I felt like I had a much better grip on all the competing factions and didn’t have to check it quite as much. If DuneLord of the Rings and Game of Thrones all got together and made a book baby, it would be rather like Sordaneon, which is to say that it’s brilliantly done, but took me a hundred pages to really get the hang of it all, something that often happens to me and epic fantasies. And once I got the hang of all the names and power structures and alliances, it was easy to sink into the world along with Dorilian and the others. I’m absolutely in awe of how many layers Stephens brought to the strange world of the Rill and all those fighting for power.

“Before Hestya, the Sordaneons were one of Marc Frederick’s great conquests. But now look: Marc Frederick wonders if Sebbord has power he never guessed at or if it is in the hands of another. Essera’s masses clamor for Sebbord to open the Rill to Stauberg, and its nobles clamor just as loudly that he must not be allowed to do it. They both want the Rill and fear it. They fear Deben and Sebbord alike! And everyone wonders about you.”

I think this quote really sums up the theme of the book. Everyone wants control, everyone mistrusts everyone, everyone has a game to play, pieces to move, aims to achieve – and no one wants to move an inch in any direction. With Dorilian, who will never move past his mother’s murder and how it impacted his brother for life, this means that the heir is ANGRY. So very, very angry. And each time someone picks at his wounds or tries to direct him, he lashes out. What’s more is that he’s smart. Almost too smart for his own good. Something characters like Marc Frederick, who wants unity and will go to great lengths to enforce that unity, notices long before Dorilian cares to admit it.

Dorilian is a great character and honestly my favourite. While he’s rich and arrogant about his birth right, his opening chapter put me firmly on his side. I just wanted him and Lev to be protected. It’s very clear from the onset that the pair have enemies on all sides, so Dorilian’s attitude made sense to me. He has no reason to like or trust anyone outside of his very small circle because all he’s ever known is being treated as if he’s the enemy. My hope for the series is that he and Lev will end up some place peaceful by the end.

The answer bore a sincere spine. But there was muscle to it, an entire skeleton of other purposes sheathed in cunning ambitions. A viable thing.

The side/supporting characters had that great quality of being fascinating even when utterly frustrating (I am looking at YOU, evil siblings). I did find it really hard to like Stefan throughout pretty much all of it, although once he started to grow up a bit, he was more tolerable. And he was a very interesting, complicated foil for Dorilian and I am curious to see where they go in the next book. Will Stefan and Dorilian learn to get along, as Marc always hoped? I am curious to find out! On the other hand, I quite liked Jonthan, his uncle. (Also, JONTHAN!!!!! WHYYYYYY!!!!) Marc Frederick was in equal measure fascinating, impressive, loving, and someone I wanted to slap with my glove, lmao. (AND BY THE END I ADORED HIM. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. ;_;)

I can’t wait to see where Stephens takes the rest of this series and I’m gonna be here, cheering on Dorilian and Lev every step of the way.

Thank you so much to the author for a paperback review copy of the book!

Book Review: Werewolves Don’t Celebrate Hanukkah (2022)

Werewolves Don’t Celebrate Hanukkah by Michelle Franklin

Werewolves prefer their doughnuts jam-filled, because they cannot have chocolate. Some believe that werewolves can eat chocolate in their human forms, but many are afraid to test this, so no one has tried.


Hanukkah is the international day of sock-exchange. Socks make popular gifts because everyone needs them, except werewolves, who slice through the toe bits with their claws. Werewolves love Hanukkah, but not enough to do socks about it.


They would be adept at playing dreidel. They would have to spin the dreidel in their human forms, but once the dreidel is spinning, the werewolves could chase it round in circles, which they’re used to doing, because they often chase their long fluffy tails.



I literally have tears in my eyes from laughing the whole way through this. Every single year I ask for more Jewish-themed holiday books and this was just the most amazing find!! It’s cute! It’s wholesome! It’s hilarious! The art is utterly adorable and just – I’m so impressed and delighted. This is the perfect book to get for any little kid (and adult, clearly! I’m now this book’s number one fan lmao)!

It’s so sweet and lovely and I just want to recommend it to everyone. PLEASE GET YOURSELF A COPY NOW!!!

Thank you so much to the author for an ARC copy.

Book Review: Passenger (2016)

Book cover of Passenger; Manhattan in a bottle, a ship in a bottle reflected underneath.

Passenger (Passenger, #1) by Alexandra Bracken


Softly, Nicholas asked, “Do you really believe I’d take my leave of you without so much as a good-bye? If nothing else, I gave you my word that I would take you away from here if you were in danger.”

“Promise?” Etta whispered.


I really appreciate this book. Is that a weird compliment? Well, I do. I appreciate it. I love time travel stories and I love romances and I love books with historical settings that pay homage to those settings while rightly calling out issues that impacted different people of the time. We get a modern lady and a historical lad and we get commentary on the past and the present and I just – I appreciate it. It’s a very nice book to have picked up.

And the locations!! You’re not just going to one place in history, no. You get MANY. This is a book for history nerds. We also get to travel with Etta and Nicholas from modern day New York City to 1700s Atlantic Ocean (pirates!) to 1940 London and then to France and Cambodia and Damascus (can’t remember the years) – SO MUCH TIME TRAVEL. The settings are so richly detailed, you get descriptions of the fashion, the technology, the lack of technology, the openness of later developed lands, the sounds and smells. Bracken is a really evocative writer.

We first meet Etta when she’s having an overwhelming case of imposter syndrome. We find out this is largely related to her relationship with her mother, whom she feels detached from. The opening really focuses on how much she seeks her mother’s love and affirmation, and I felt quite bad for Etta. Her entire sense of self worth was related to winning her mother’s affection. Her only friend is Alice, her violin teacher.

The night of Etta’s big rehearsal, she suffers a great betrayal, but before she finds her answers, she’s pulled out of the rehearsal and through a passage – a doorway through time. You go to different years, but the same day (1 December 2014 could only bring you to 1 December 1770, etc). The girl who’s brought her to the past, Sophia, tells her that she’s being brought to the wealthy and infamous Ironwood family. A historical time travelling family of whom Etta is apparently distantly related. Worse, most of the Ironwoods are caught up in a scheme to control the timeline (there are other time-travelling families), led by the cruel, racist and abusive Cyrus Ironwood. And it’s Ironwood’s exiled son, Nicholas, who’s been tasked with bringing the ladies to New York.

Nicholas is just wonderful. You get both his point of view and Etta’s. We actually start off with Nicholas, when his brother Julian dies in a time travelling accident. The entire family blame Nicholas for Julian’s death and think he did it out of jealousy. Nicholas put them behind him for a time, but he needs the money Cyrus is offering to be free of them once and for all, and so he’s agreed to a final job. That job being taking Etta to Cyrus.

But what Sophia and Cyrus never told Nicholas is that Etta had no knowledge of her ancestors, no idea what a passage is or how it works – and Nicholas is rightly furious on her behalf. He instantly appoints himself her protector and THEY ARE SO ENDEARING FROM THE START. They fall quickly into guarded friendship and then sparks of romance blossom. Both intend on going in different directions, but they can’t help falling for each other and IT’S SO GOOD. SO LOVELY. I LOVE THEM.

I’m so glad I gave the book a go. It was sitting on my shelf for years and I honestly did not expect it to be what it was and IT WAS SUCH A NICE SURPRISE. I loved the time travel explanation and set up. I loved that it wasn’t just Etta who could time travel, but all of them. You could change time, but you couldn’t erase yourself from the timeline, you got expelled from it instead. It was fascinating! I loved the romance and how they developed together. Pirate partners! And ooooh, the twists at the end. Nice. Definitely going to pick up book two when I can!

Book Review: The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)

The Book of Life (All Souls #3) by Deborah Harkness

The Book of Life (All Souls #3) by Deborah Harkness


It took me way too long to finish this series, but seeing as I just reread book one for the autumnal vibes, I finally managed to get back into the groove of the series and wanted to see how it ended. And I really wanted to see how Matthew and Diana wrapped things up in the book (rather than the show, etc). I think overall it’s an incredibly interesting, vividly written tale, but I didn’t love it as much as book one, mostly due to the characters rather than the plot (which, again, I found quite interesting). That said, I am picking up book four promptly, so it certainly left me wanting more!

I will say, I missed the dark academia atmosphere of A Discovery of Witches. This one is more focused on the vampire family dynamics and Diana’s pregnancy – and Matthew’s overprotectiveness as a result of that pregnancy. I was particularly fascinated by how Harkness worked out mythology in the All Souls universe and props, because it was very scientifically done. It kinda reminded me of Underworld insofar as it’s fantasy with a focus on genetics and diseases and such. The dynamics of vampire families and the relationship that Harkness builds between fantasy and science fiction is also endlessly intriguing (I like the comparisons to wolf packs) and I found myself pondering the lore quite a lot (and still am whilst reading book four). It’s honestly super cool.

I did however find myself a bit frustrated at times by some of the characters’ decisions and relationships – especially their endless need to adhere to a hierarchy that is just constantly working against them and which none of them enjoy – but it is intriguing. (I did find the lack of werewolves an interesting exclusion, especially with how much focus there was upon wolves in general, and Matthew’s indignance at the idea of werewolves was quite funny.) There’s also quite a lot of talk of mitochondrial DNA, which went a bit over my head, I will admit.

Funnily enough, where Matthew and Diana’s love and relationship were my favourite aspects of book one, I found myself more invested in the wider de Clermont family in this one, but much less so in their relationship. Matthew’s overprotectiveness of Diana and the pregnancy became a bit much for me, personally. I don’t know how she tolerated it. Like, character wise I suppose it made sense, but him hissing and growling at Chris, Diana’s best friend, and Jack, the boy they raised together, seemed quite … territory marking, lmao. Around Baldwin, Benjamin and Peter, sure, go forth and lose thy shit, Matthew. But around family and friends it just got a bit irritating. That said, it was nice to see how their relationship’s progressed since book one and how Matthew is trying not to be so overbearing, and it’s good to see Diana putting her foot down a bit more. (Wish she’d do it even more, but I digress.) Towards the end Diana exerted more agency, but I just felt a little confused by her characterisation at times in the beginning/middle. Although maybe that was the point, what with her changing so much throughout.

Speaking of romance, Phoebe and Marcus were super cute and I really liked their relationship (and they’re why I picked up book four, which I’m quite enjoying!). I found them much less obsessed with each other as opposed to Diana and Matthew. They were quite practical about things, too, and always seemed like they were on the same page. Marcus wasn’t ordering her around the way Matthew often did with Diana (and everyone else). Garrowglass and Fernando were two of my favourites! Chris and Jack, too. I loved Chris just flat out refusing to put up with the vampires’ shenanigans. He was such a breath of fresh air. Baldwin, on the other hand, drove me up a wall, honestly. I did quite like when he and Matthew were exchanging barbs, although I wish Matthew had a bit more of a spine when it came to Baldwin. He was just so insufferable throughout. Ysabeau and Sarah remain fabulous, however. Marthe is great throughout! Benjamin made for an interesting villain, but I wish there was more focus on Matthew’s relationship with him. I feel like that was glossed over. Matthew’s so quick to claim other vampires – even abhorrent ones – and so much emphasis is on blood and the power and pull of blood, both in vampire romantic love and in platonic love and their ties to each other, and yet with Benjamin and his family line, it felt like they were almost one-sided in their villainy. It has been a while since I read book two, though, so I may have missed something. Benjamin just seems to come out of nowhere a bit and then he’s after Diana, but it all felt a bit convenient. Where was Benjamin her whole life? If Gallowglass and Philippe knew about her, then surely Benjamin knew, too. (And why did Gallowglass never try and save her parents? If he knew she was going to have such enormous power, why didn’t they go into hiding from Peter Knox when Diana was young? They could have introduced her to Matthew some other way if need be, no?)

I also feel like Matthew got away with a lot? If he spends like 5 (?) hours reciting the names of every vampire he killed in New Orleans during a spree to stop blood raged vampires, then he killed so. many. vampires. I don’t care for Baldwin, but Matthew I grew less fond of throughout this one, which wasn’t how I felt reading book one. His willingness to fold to Baldwin and sacrifice Jack until Diana told him not to was absolutely appalling. Matthew’s obsessive love seems to have some odd limits with his son where it doesn’t with Diana. Honestly towards the end I even mildly hoped Gallowglass would come back and Diana would pick him.

It is a fascinating read, and the characters are so layered, but the absolute devotion and adherence by everyone to Matthew didn’t feel earned for his character backstory. And it felt like Matthew earned it less and less with every chapter. Diana, maybe. She’s the first one to fight back against the Congregation in centuries. The first to say straight out that their laws are bullshit. But then Matthew comes in and I feel like he overshadows her story after she gets pregnant. She folds into vampire life, as Sarah rightly points out. And while she does eventually connect with the London witches, it still read to me like she was going to follow behind Matthew, rather than stand at his side. She was more forthright in book one, I found (ironically, I found it maddening every time she insisted on opening her door in that one [it happened like three or four times?]). They make a big thing of Matthew naming the scion after her family, too, but I dunno. He just frustrated me a bit at times. I do overall recommend this trilogy though, and I am excited to see where the next book goes.