Fiction Friday: Book Review- Thorn by Intisar Khanani

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Alyrra is a princess with a cruel family who take delight in tormenting her. When a King comes to visit with the intention of marrying Alyrra to his son, Prince Kestrin. No one understands why he wants stupid Alyrra instead of someone prettier with a richer kingdom.
Eager to be rid of her, Alyrra’s family encourage the engagement and plans are made for Alyrra to leave home.
On her way to her betrothed’s Kingdom, Alyrra is robbed of her identity by a sorcerer who wants to kill the royal family.
Forced into the role of a goose girl, Alyrra is pleased to not have to follow the rules of court. Her days are her own and she can do what she wants with them.
However the more time that she spends as a commoner, the more faults she begins to find with the kingdom and it’s twisted view on justice.
It isn’t long before Prince Kestrin seeks her out, suspicious about his wife-to-be and her personality which seems selfish and spoiled (not at all like the “honest” woman he had expected).
As Alyrra learns more about Kestrin and his kingdom, she is forced to make a decision between her old life and new.
I loved that this book was about so much more than romance. Alyrra has to chose to either live the free life she wanted as a goose girl (and risk leaving thousands of people at the mercy of a justice system that does nothing to help them) or take up her role as Princess and make a difference in other’s lives.
However as much as I did love that this was more than romance, I was sad that I didn’t get the happy ending that I expected. I loved reading “Thorn” and devoured it in a day, sacrificing sleep and food to finally get to the ending.
The writing was good and the world building was brilliant and easy to follow.
This book left me wanting more and I really hope that there is a sequel.



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Life in the Time of Corona

My alarm goes off at 5:20AM. I ignore it and drift back to a half-asleep state. It doesn’t matter if I’m late. There’s no traffic. My mother wakes me up at 5:30AM and this time I finally get out of bed.

I stumble to the bathroom with my eyes half-closed and pick up my toothbrush. I brush my teeth with one hand and with the other I check the news sites for anything related to Covid-19.

This is an everyday routine. This is our new normal. When we went back to work three weeks ago, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to adjust after more than a month at home but surprisingly it took me a short while to accept our new world.

I leave home at 6:50AM, careful to ensure that I have a freshly washed mask. Our company provided us with three black ones but I have been starting a collection of infinitely more colourful options.

Once I get to work, it’s time for our temperature check. The drive to work is only twenty minutes but I make sure to arrive early just for the temperature check. The lines can get long and I hate waiting even with social distancing.

The lady checked my temperature, has me sign attendance and then sanitizes my hands. I still have to go in the building and press the button for the lift which still creeps me out. The lift reeks of disinfectant but all the same, I am careful not to touch any part of it.

When I get to my desk, it is either already cleaned or in the process of being cleaned. Desks are cleaned daily and the entire office has a night cleaning with extra strong chemicals (allegedly. I’ve obviously never seen these people but I feel pretty good about our cleaning routine).

I sit down at my desk and use the sanitizer given to us by management to clean my hands again after using the lifts. I start up my pc and make small talk with the staff.

We are all spaced apart on the floor and if anyone is approaching you for conversation, masks are required.

There is a limit on the number of staff allowed in areas such as the kitchen and seating areas (the same goes for stores).

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s a pandemic going around. We have adjusted to the rules pretty well.

Life has been going on as normal. Sure you can’t see friends and family nor can you touch them.

But you can go to work, go to the store and almost live your life as normal.

It makes me wonder was I wrong in freaking out when this all started? It has been 3 months since we were first hit with the virus. Our numbers are 20 000+ confirmed cases and 300+ deaths. All things considered it seems like South Africa is handling the virus relatively okay.

Fiction Friday: Book Review- A Heart So Fierce and Broken (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #2) by Brigid Kemmerer

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review (and then abandoned it for like two weeks when I realised Rhen was going to be a small pawn in this big book. Yes, I’m a fickle reader. Also I didn’t really care about Grey. I found him boring. Please note the past tense).
“A Heart So Fierce and Broken” has a brief mention of Rhen and his kingdom before moving on to the two main characters, Grey- who has been in hiding since he found the truth about his magic and Lia Mara, daughter of the bloodthirsty Karan Luran.
Circumstances find Grey and Lia Mara on the run together. Lia Mara wants to reunite her kingdom with Emberfall and believes that Grey is the key to doing that.
Grey just wants things to be the way they were. He has no desire to rule. However it soon becomes clear that Prince Rhen has a viciousness of his own after Lilith’s curse.
Grey can walk away and leave the people of Emberfall in Rhen’s hands or he can stand up and take his place as ruler to the throne.
Like I said before, I had no interest in boring Grey or a book that was obviously going to paint poor Rhen as a villian. I love him and he is amazing. However from the first start of the book it is clear that his fear over magic was going to spoil things for him.
It took me a while to warm up to Grey and Lia Mara but once I was hooked, I couldn’t stop reading.
They are an unusual pair but I loved them regardless.
Three stars instead of five because I had a book hangover while reading this and yes I am still a bit sulky at the lack of Rhen in this book.
I cannot wait for the next book in this series!
#TeamRhenandGrey #TeamRoyalMalesofEmberfall

***
SPOILER ALERT

THAT ENDING!!!
WTF
I AM DEAD.DEAD!



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Fiction Friday: Book Review- Manage Your Money like a F*cking Grown Up: The Best Money Advice You Never Got by Sam Beckbessinger

Manage Your Money like a F*cking Grown Up: The Best Money Advice You Never Got

Manage Your Money like a F*cking Grown Up: The Best Money Advice You Never Got by Sam Beckbessinger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’ve said time and time again that nothing in school prepares us for “The Real World.” We don’t have a class to teach us how to save, why we should save and how blowing your entire credit card in one month is a bad idea (though most of us have already heard stories about why we shouldn’t do
that last one)
“Manage Your Money Like a F#cking Grown Up” is the book we all need. It is filled with useful, practical advice on money, spending and saving.
There are some lessons in this book that I have had to learn firsthand for myself and others that I won’t have to thanks to Sam Beckbessinger’s advice.
This book is written in normal plain English so there’s no big words that make no sense. This is like sitting down with your older, wiser, more financially mature friend to discuss what you should and shouldn’t do with your finances.
While this book is great for anyone who wants to take control of their finances, I strongly recommend it to people entering their twenties or those who are already in their twenties.
Trust me, this book is everything we wish we knew about money.



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Fiction Friday: Book Review- The Flatshare by Beth O’ Leary

The Flatshare

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


When Tiffy’s crappy on-again, off-again ex boyfriend demands that she moves out of their apartment, she struggles to find a new place. And then she comes across an ad for a flatshare.
Leon works night shift and needs quick cash. His other choices for house guests were eccentric so he agrees to Tiffy’s offer…even though he hasn’t actually met her.
The two of them live together and start a correspondence via post-its (idk I think that is the cutest thing ever). They even build a sort of friendship through their post-it notes despite having never met.
I kept hearing great things about this book so I was really excited to read it.
But it took forever for Tiffy and Leon to meet/move in together which annoyed me. It kind of felt like a chore because I kept waiting for any sort of interaction between the two and I almost gave up twice on this book. But I pushed on and boy was I glad I did.
The agonizing wait for Tiffy and Leon to move in together was simply to build a story about their friends and family. Once I was fully immersed in the story, I got over my irritation quickly.
They have a pretty colourful cast of supporting characters which I always enjoy seeing in a book. I especially enjoyed how unexpected this plot was.
This book was well-written, romantic and oh so cute.
If you’re looking for a light read, I cannot recommend anything better!



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Welcome Back

I really thought by the time I went back to blogging, Corona would be a thing of the past.

But nope, it’s still alive and thriving. It’s just that in South Africa we are now out of lockdown (or quarantine as some people have been calling it).

The president has given us to go ahead for a gradual return to work in certain sectors but things are going to be tough regardless.

The company that I’m working for will be retrenching staff as well as several other companies.

As someone who has seen the struggle of small business owners and those who make their living from the flea markets, I wonder and pray for these people.

Pray for the world, guys.

We need it

Fiction Friday: Book Review- A Throne of Swans by Katharine Corr

A Throne of Swans

A Throne of Swans by Katharine Corr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I received a copy of this book in exchange for a free review. While this was not a title I requested, I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis and started reading (and then purchased the Kindle copy so I could read on the go).
‘A Throne of Swans” begins with Aderyn whose dad passes away, leaving her as the Protector of Atratys. In this world, nobles are able to transform into a bird that represents their family house. Aderyn’s bird is supposed to be a white swan. But she has been unable to transform since the night of her mother’s death where she was ripped apart by hawks. Aderyn survived the attack but has been hunting for answers ever since. Hawks were supposed to be extinct. So who would have attacked her and her mother?
Aderyn’s quest for answers leads her to the heart of the Citadel where her cruel uncle reigns as King. Despite her father’s warnings that she remain in their land, Aderyn knows that she cannot rest or rule without learning the truth about her mother’s death.
Accompanied with a surly advisor (who for some reason I happened to fall in love with at the very first moment he appeared), Aderyn has to navigate court politics and drama all the while hiding that she is flightless- something that could cost her her position as Protector.
From the very first moment I was hooked by this novel. The world-building is incredible, the plot is filled with suspense and the writing is captivating.
If you haven’t already picked this up, do it now. This is a beautiful novel for fans of high fantasy.



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Bookish Confession: I Used to Pirate eBooks

In 2010, I started writing Twilight fanfiction. I was obsessed with the books and movies and desperately needed an outlet for my feelings. So I chose fanfiction. I created an account on Fanfiction.net and made friends with someone to asked me if I had read The Vampire Diaries. I admitted that I hadn’t though I always wanted to. The books were expensive so I never got the opportunity. She offered to send me PDF copies of the books and I agreed.

I loved the idea of pdf books. Ebooks! That you could read on your phone. What I didn’t know at the time was that an eBook was not a PDF file. No, PDF files were illegal and we were committing book piracy. I sent the files to all of my friends.

Once I was done with all the books, I started looking for others. House of Night. Vampire Academy. Blood Bloods. This continued for years. I would read the books and if I liked them, I would save up money for a print copy.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might know that I didn’t have the opportunity to go to the library as a kid as my dad was always busy. So these “ebooks” were great for me.

Sometime in 2012 I stopped reading as I wanted to focus on school. I started college in 2014 and discovered Netgalley. I had a lifestyle blog at the time so I requested books on Netgalley and reviewed them on my blog. It was the same thing as high school. Or so I thought.

I had been reviewing books for a few months when I came across a warning on one of my review copies. “This book is for your eyes and your eyes only. Sharing a copy with anyone else constitutes as ebook piracy.” My first reaction was to laugh. Piracy was for music and movies. Not eBooks. Or was it?

I started Googling and was appalled. I had been committing ebook piracy and I had no clue. I especially had no idea how it affected authors or the book community as a whole. I felt awful.

Fast forward a few years later and I still haven’t purchased print copies of all the books I pirated. Though not for lack of trying. It’s not the same and the damage has already been done but I thought purchasing the books would be some sort of atonement.

I know what I did was wrong and I feel really bad (especially considering how often I review books) but at the same time I feel like there should have been more education on the subject.

Nowadays you cannot mention “free pdf copy” without having someone jump down your throat for it but at the same time there are more avenues to get a book than just the library or the bookstore. Amazon, Scribd and Bookbub to name a few.

For me, there are days where I wonder if I would still be pirating if I hadn’t stopped to read that warning on that one book. I am truly grateful that I did.

Previously On: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1)

Alright, so I’m kicking off this new series with my all-time favorite YA series. I don’t know if you can tell but I am SO VERY EXCITED to share this with you!

Feyre and her family were once wealthy but have now fallen on difficult times. But while Feyre’s father has laments his lack of fortune, Feyre goes out hunting to provide food for him and her two sisters, Nesta and Elain.

Elain is a sweet, gentle soul with Nesta is always angry and argumentative. Nonetheless Feyre goes out of her way to provide for her sisters as her family is unable to do so. During one of her hunting trips, Feyre comes across a wolf and kills it.

A wolf fae barges into Feyre’s house and demands payment for the life she has taken. According to some ancient treaty, Feyre owes a life for a life and has to leave the human world to go to the Fae world of Prythian. Always the protector, Feyre goes with the wolf who she discovers is Tamlin, the High Lord of the Spring Court.

Feyre gets to live with Tamlin and his friend, Lucien in the Spring Court. While the house is grand and luxurious, everyone in the court suffers from a curse that has them wearing masks that are magically attached to their faces. Tamlin and Lucien are trying to find a way to fix the curse to ensure that it doesn’t spread to the human world.

Feyre eventually realises that something about Tamlin’s story is not adding up so she decides to capture a Suriel, a type of fae that cannot lie. Suriel gives Feyre a quick history lesson explaining that the king of the fae kingdom is against the treaty with the humans and sent his soldiers to spy on the other courts. This history class is cut short when Feyre is almost attacked and Tamlin comes to her rescue (Flashbacks to the wolf scene from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”, anyone? I loved that scene). Tamlin and Feyre begin a sort of friendship after this. Much like Belle and the Beast. Now where’s that huge ass library? Oh wait, Feyre still can’t read.

Feyre starts to overhear conversations about a “her” but no one wants to tell her who this person is. It is the evil Amarantha who has declared herself queen of Prythian.

There is a solstice celebration and Feyre is warned not to leave her room. She does anyway and runs into two fae who are very excited to see her for some reason. What do fae do with humans? Eat them? Torture them? I don’t know. Feyre is saved from the two fae by a gorgeous male with dark hair and blue eyes who pretends he knows her and has been looking for her.

Feyre sneaks back to the house and she and Tamlin shares a passionate kiss. The next day, Feyre’s breakfast with Tamlin and Lucien is interrupted when the male fae from the night before barges in. He is Rhysand and he works for Amarantha. This scene broke my heart because how can you be bad when the book makes you look so good? Also, this question can be applied to many YA villians.

Rhysand demands to know who Feyre is and she gives him the name Clare Beddor, the name of her neighbour back home in the human realm. Tamlin decides to send Feyre back home after they spend one last night together.

When Feyre returns home she sees that her family have a better life. They have a huge house, servants and money. Her father and younger sister, Elain think Feyre has been with a rich aunt while Nesta is the only one who remembers Tamlin in wolf form, breaking into the house.

After a while, Feyre learns that Clare’s home has been burned down and Clare is missing. Feyre decides to go back to the Spring Court, worried that something might be wrong.

Sure enough when she gets to the Spring Court, everything is in shambles and there is only a single servant, Alis remaining. Alis explains to Feyre that Amarantha was an emissary that came from Hybern with her sister, Clythia. Clythia and Amarantha fought in the mortal war together until Clythia fell in love with a human warrior named Jurian. Jurian eventually betrayed Clythia causing Amarantha to hate all humans ever since. Amarantha has been keeping the fae as her slaves. Alis also tells Feyre that she could have ended it all. After Tamlin refused to become Amarantha’s lover, she put a curse on him. He needed to find a human girl who killed a fae and make her fall in love with him (oddly specific but okay then). As part of the curse, no one in the Spring Court could tell Feyre this.

Alis leads Feyre to Amarantha’s mountains where she is found by the Queen’s lackeys and taken to see the Queen. Tamlin pretends not to know Feyre (because he is now a spineless ass) but Feyre sees the burned body of Clare Beddor. Amarantha and Feyre make a deal. Feyre has to complete a task a month for three months and if she does, the fae are all free. Alternatively Amarantha provides Feyre with a riddle which, if she solves at any time, they will all be free immediately.

Feyre’s first task is to defeat a giant worm monster. She manages to complete it but injures her arm in the process. Rhysand visits her with his own bargain. He can heal her but she needs to spend a week with him every month for the rest of her life. Left with no other solution, Feyre accepts his offer. Rhysand marks Feyre with a tattoo as proof of their deal. He also decides to take her out to parties as his date, flaunting her in front of Tamlin who isn’t even allowed to visit her.

Feyre’s second task is to solve a riddle but she struggles with this as she still cannot read (this would have been resolved had Tamlin given her the library like the Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”. Honestly at this point, I find Tamlin a waste of a creature). Rhysand helps Feyre to find the correct answer through the tattoo on her hand linking the two of them. He admits that he does want Feyre to win.

Feyre’s third task is to kill three innocent fae. She decides to do it as it is three fae vs the entire world. But when she takes the covering off the third fae, she sees that it is Tamlin. Feyre cannot think of a way out until she remembers overhearing people constantly referring to Tamlin’s heart as being made of stone. Feyre shoves the dagger into his chest. As Tamlin is recovering from the wound, Amarantha flies into a rage and tells Feyre that she never specified when she would free everyone. She starts to break Feyre’s bones. In the middle of her pain, Feyre solves the riddle and instantly everyone is freed. Tamlin attacks and kills Amarantha but she has already broken Feyre’s neck. Feyre is dying but feels herself watching everyone from above.

The High Fae offer up a piece of their magic and Feyre eventually becomes an immortal High Fae. Feyre and Tamlin can finally be together but Feyre feels like a part of her is lost after killing the Fae. Feyre and Rhysand have one last conversation where he confirms their deal before bowing to her and vanishing.

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