Review: Gates of Thread and Stone

Review: Gates of Thread and Stone

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

The Labyrinth has been humanity’s home for a long as Kai could remember. Despite the damp and discomfort, it is home. That is until her adopted brother, Reev, disappears and keeping her head down isn’t an option anymore. Kai must come to terms with her ability to manipulate time and unravel her past before she loses her future.  

I really enjoyed this a lot more than I expected! I had some initial shortcomings maybe because the title put me off a lot, but I genuinely had a good time reading this.

The fantasy world was substantial. I guess I would’ve liked more on the creation of gargoyles, but the world is rather exciting and inventive. Humanity lives inside this walled off city now named Ninurta, with fractions of communities of differing wealth. We slowly learn throughout the book about the use of magic, how it destroyed the world we once knew, and how it manifests in different beings.  It’s sort of post-apocalyptic with a magical twist. I really enjoyed that fact that it’s given to us in paces because the amount that is needed to create this world, it just wouldn’t have been right to info-dump it all.

I really enjoyed Kai as a protagonist. She’s very headstrong, and I liked that she was very sure about what she wanted from the get-go and was very adamant that nothing was going to get in her way. I really loved Avan as well. Maybe not as a love interest but as a friend to Kai, who you can clearly see these two cared for each other and were willing to anything to keep each other safe. Their friendship was delightful, and I was expecting it to be held more platonic, but the romance wasn’t as bad as it could’ve gone nor did it dominate and overtake the actual plot.

The twist that comes towards the end had me thoroughly shocked. I was initially confused because I genuinely was not expecting the way the plot just shifts so suddenly into something we weren’t necessarily informed about. The ending was a complete 360 from the original set up. But the twist did introduce some new characters that I am indeed very interested in and brought some of the secondary characters to the forefront again. I’m reading the sequel as I’m writing this and I enjoy how the story is progressing from here.  

I listened to the audiobook, though I did swap to the e-book on chapters where it wasn’t available, I think the audiobook made the reading experience more enjoyable. I really loved the voice actor for the book who did an outstanding job at not only bring Kai’s story to life but gave a real warmth to the secondary characters.

Overall, Gates of Thread and Stone was pretty solid and fun to read. It isn’t jumping to the top of my favourites list, but it is a contender. The world and story were amusing and exciting that I do have high hopes for how this series will play out in the end.


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Mini-review: Ripped Pages, sunfish and others

Mini-review: Ripped Pages, sunfish and others

Ripped Pages by M. Hollis

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ (5/5)

Princess Valentina braves the unknown and escapes the tower her father locked her in. A sweet and adorable F/F retelling of Rapunzel. This short story has a lot of potential. I would have definitely loved to have read a full-length version of this where we follow Valentina from being forced into the tower by her abusive father, to her life growing up in solidarity, to then finally breaking free and finding her own space in the world. But M. Hollis does a very good job in condensing everything into such a short number of pages.

A very short but satisfying read.


sunfish by Shelby Eileen

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4/5)A short poetry collection exploring relationships, grief, and loss. Deeply moving pieces that were interesting to read.


in the absence of the sun by Emily Curtis

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ (3/5)

I read this and sunfish because I wanted to branch out what kind of books I was reading. I have a love/hate relationship with poetry, I don’t know where it stems from but slowly I’m more open to reading poetry than I had in my younger years. But this was a pretty good collection, very quick, very impactful. There isn’t much to say, for me, but I guess, it was an okay reading experience.


No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4/5)

*I received a copy via the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

A really cool collection of fantasy short stories where transgender and non-binary characters take centre stage. No Man subverts gendered prophecies of tales that are old as time. There are pronunciation guides provided for each story. And that’s what I liked a lot since I follow Ana Mardoll on twitter, they’re very informative and a pretty interesting person. I was already aware of some nonbinary pronouns, but this book introduces me to some I wasn’t aware of.

My favourite of all the stories was either Tangled Nets or His Father’s Son. All are amazing but these two caught my eye the most and was most intriguing to read. 


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Review: Empress of All Seasons

Review: Empress of All Seasons

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

“The rules were simple: Survive the Rooms. Conquer the Seasons. Win the prince.”

Becoming the next Empress of Honoku is anything but simple. Survive the palace’s magical but deadly seasonal rooms and marry the emperor. Everyone is eligible unless you’re Yokai, magical beings with the ability to transform. Mari’s one goal is to steal the Emperor’s wealth. But her life is on the line as she struggles to keep her identity hidden and learning that everything isn’t as it seems.

Empress of All Seasons is an ownvoices Japanese fantasy that was damn near perfect to read. I was obsessed entirely within the very first pages.

The characters were brilliant. Rarely do I find a book where the entire cast was absolutely excellent. Mari, our main Yokai, has been raised by beautiful women whose primary goal is to seduce wealthy men and steal their wealth. Mari doesn’t inherit the skills and looks, so her mother prepares her to train differently. Skilling fighting she competes in the competition to pull off a steal that would make her the greatest of Animal Wives. Taro, our cold Emperor to be, suffers from the hands of his terrible father and is a quick-thinking inventor that regrets his invention which enslaves all of the yokai. Akira, perhaps my favourite, is half human, half yokai. Mari’s closest friend and helps her in more ways than she knows. Hanako, the leader of the resistance, that really deserves her own novel.

The worldbuilding is where Empress shines. It’s set in such a magical rich world that is really beautiful. The Imperial Palace with its seasonal rooms, the interlude with the lives of the gods’, it’s all so magical but dangerous which really made it compelling to read.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Empress is a standalone, I believe. Which is what made this a little disappointing, especially in the end. The final chapter leads to something more, something even more significant than what we get in the first book. But it’s all very quickly wrapped up in a couple of paragraphs which suggest there will be no more novels. The world Emiko Jean has created is detailed and gorgeous, and I really hope it isn’t just confined to just this one novel because that would be the biggest shame.

For a way of conclusion, Empress almost ticked all the boxes but, nonetheless, I really loved it. A tale of family, honour and love, Empress is a compelling story that I genuinely didn’t want to put down. I really hope Emiko Jean will return to these characters later, or at least this world.


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Content warning: major character death, bury your gay trope, violence and bloodshed. MORE TO BE ADDED.

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire

Review: Girls of Paper and Fire

Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)

* I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.

The Girls is set in a world where there are three castes, Moon (reigning and demons), Paper (lower and human) and then Steel, a mix of the first two. Every year, eight girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. Lei is girl number nine. She’s forced back into the very place her mother was forced into years ago. Slowly, she learns the way of the palace, honing her skills to benefit the king’s comfort only. Until she falls in love.

Girls of Paper and Fire was surprising. I really enjoyed it a lot. Ngan’s storytelling skills are beyond amazing. It was so tense, and her writing is so elegant and smooth. The stakes are high in this, and I was quickly hooked from the first page. The vivid worldbuilding where Ngan creates this devastating but beautiful world and created characters that weave so well into it, and in all makes it an enchanting but compelling read.

I think the most powerful thing of this book is its message of self-empowerment and discovering one’s self while discussing classism and the objectification of women. Girls show the subtle way of how Ikhara, the fictional society, allows misogyny to flourish and aides its abuser by only viewing women as nothing but lesser beings. The Moon King is a disgusting man who uses his position of power to act out violence towards anyone around him. These girls groomed to believe they’re doing something good slowly come together and unravel the trauma they’re facing. Not everyone is exactly happy to be here. The strength of the friendship between all the Paper girls is beautiful – they grow into even stronger women and reclaim themselves and decide what they’re capable of.

Despite the moments of slowness, I would advise you to watch out for this new YA fantasy birthed from Asian mythology and Ngan’s own experiences from growing up in Malaysia. It’s a dazzling and immersive read with a pulse-racing conclusion that will leave you wanting more.


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Content and warnings for rape, sexual assault, slavery, sex trafficking, loss of a loved one, murder, captivity, torture, branding, violence, physical abuse, graphic animal death, and war themes. (More to be added.)

Review: Vicious (Villians #1)

Review: Vicious (Villians #1)

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Victor and Eli began as college roommates, almost friends, where curiosity leads to near-death experiences and development of supernatural powers. Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison determined to exact revenge on his old friend. Both are armed with terrible controls, a product of their actions ten years prior, but who will survive? 

I think I’ve found a new favourite book. And I haven’t found one of them in a while. Vicious was a delightful surprise. I have never read a V.E (or Victoria) Schwab before, and Vicious sounded like the safest options out of all her books to try. And, is this what all her books are like? Because you can now count me in the Schwab hype train.

Vicious from the get-go was so different. A true twisted tale of a friendship gone wrong. Victor and Eli, former friends, now current foes, are reunited after Victor breaks out of prison for revenge. Both developed supernatural powers from experiencing near-death experiences. In their case, they forced it to happen to test a theory that Eli was developing. Eli believes his capability puts him above others and sees others like him as a rodent that must be exterminated. And Victor may be the only person that can stop him.

Victor and Eli both see themselves as the hero and the other the villain, but neither can be categorised as good or evil. And that’s what makes me them so appealing. Schwab really is a killer at this. The story unfolds in a way that would appear disorienting, but it’s deliberate, and it works well. The constant jumping back and forth between everything, it goes from their time at college, their time in prison before bouncing back to the present time.

Overall, I loved Vicious. It’s a grim tale that had me gripped from the beginning all the way to its sinister ending. A story of corruption with its evil moments and moments of sweetness that worked well. Extremely thrilling with a cast of complex characters, Vicious was a difficult book to put down and once finished, I never wanted it to end.


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Content warning: self-harm, suicide, extreme violence, torture, murder.

Review: The Darkest Minds

Review: The Darkest Minds

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5)

A sickness spreads across the United States, killing a majority of its children and leaving its survivors with something uncontrollable that has the government shaking in fear. Swiftly taken from their parents, children are quickly taken away and placed in rehabilitation camps. Ruby was ten when she learnt that suppressing her skill keeps her alive. Six years later, Ruby escapes and on the run to find others like her.

The Darkest Minds has such a captivating concept. It’s a shame that it is so painfully slow. I’ll give applause to Chubs and Suzume who technically saved this book for me. The two that stood out the most for me. Without them, I wouldn’t even question my decision to not finish this series.

There’s a lot of confusion, especially when it came to worldbuilding. They gain these powers and are then categorised according to how much of a threat they are. Maybe the reason why these powers happen are revealed later down the line in the series, but there’s not much to keep you hanging but just completely confused. How a world is seemingly wiped out but still existing in some places like normal despite having locked up a majority of its youth population.

What even was the point of the romance in this? Honestly, I give most romances the benefit of the doubt but like how did Ruby and Liam even happen. She spends most of her time ignoring him, which is fair enough, but then suddenly with no warning, they’re all over each other. I just don’t think enough space was given to develop these two the way they deserved.

The narrative is an actual snail pace after Ruby escapes the first camp. There are multiple flashbacks. And even when it’s at a point where it should speed up, it’s just chapter after chapter of them on the least exciting road trip in the world. There’s a couple of car chases scenes to give us the illusion that something is happening.

There is a lot of good to this book, it wasn’t exactly terrible, I think the pacing just dragged this book to hell for me. I don’t understand how a book with a lot of plot aspects that I usually enjoy disappoint me like this.

I’m sort of in the middle of this series right now. TDM didn’t really do much for to compel me to want to continue its series. The ending was a bit of disappointment considering it chucks Ruby straight back to where she was 15% of the novel. But there’s a lot to like, a bit and pieces of it was really intriguing to me. The variety of powers and the shocking treatment these children receive. The found family aspect was a sweet shining moment in the rest of the dullness. I’ll sit on it, for now, maybe I’ll be interested later down the line to finish the series.


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Content warning: Violence, sexual assault, murder, gun violence, physical violence, PTSD, unchallenged ableist language.