BOOKENDS: June, July, August, & September 2021

I fell off the entire book internet thing because work has been so much busier than I expected, and it’s hard to get motivated about books when a majority of my books are still in limbo because I cannot get a hold of my moving company to actually set a date. However, now that work has evened out a little bit and I’m reading a lot of new things, I’m more motivated to post again. I have also made the decision to pivot mostly to library reads and digital reading to save money! It’s definitely easy to get caught up in the consumerism side of blogging/bookstagram, and to me it should be about the reading rather than the accumulation of shiny things.


I am in between books, and realized I actually did bring The Big Book of Science Fiction with me! I haven’t read anything from it yet, and I’ve been focusing on review copies and library reads. I am in between other books too, as I like to read 3-4 books at a time aside from the anthology. I’ve been venturing into the horror genre a little bit more, and I’m enjoying it, although I generally read them during the day so I don’t keep myself up too late at night. 👀

📚 bookshelf pick  |  📓 physical review copy  |  📱 digital review copy | ⌛️ library/borrowed | 💾 ebook | 🎧 audiobook  |  💞 reread

📱 My Heart is a Chainsaw – Stephen Graham Jones (15%, thank you Gallery/Saga Press!)
📓 Yours Cruelly, Elvira – Cassandra Peterson (33%; thank you, Hachette Books!)
📚 The Big Book of Science Fiction – edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (32%)


I read 10 books in June, 11 books in July, 7 books in August, and 9 books in September.

📚 bookshelf pick  |  📓 physical review copy  |  📱 digital review copy | ⌛️ library/borrowed | 💾 ebook | 🎧 audiobook  |  💞 reread

📱 Cool for the Summer – Dahlia Adler (Thank you, Wednesday Books!)
🎧 The Diviners – Libba Bray
📚 Beach Read – Emily Henry
⌛️ The Helm of Midnight – Marina J. Lostetter
⌛️ The Siren – Katherine St. John
📓 Chosen Ones – Veronica Roth (Thank you, Mariner Books!)
📚 Dick Fight Island – Reibun Ike
⌛️ Bring Me Their Hearts – Sara Wolf
📚 The Beautiful Ones – Silvia Moreno-Garcia
⌛️ Crying in H-Mart – Michelle Zauner

📓 One Last Stop – Casey McQuiston (Thank you, St. Martin’s Griffin!)
🎧 Lair of Dreams – Libba Bray
⌛️ A Master of Djinn – P. Djélì Clark
📓 The Queer Principles of Kit Webb – Cat Sebastian (Thank you, Avon!)
⌛️ Piranesi – Susanna Clarke
⌛️ Minor Feelings – Cathy Park Hong
⌛️ We Were Liars  – E. Lockhart
📓 The Agitators – Dorothy Wickenden (Thank you, Scribner Books!)
💾 Ice Planet Barbarians – Ruby Dixon
📚 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight – Anonymous
🎧 Before the Devil Breaks You – Libba Bray

📓 Earth’s Wild Music – Kathleen Dean Moore (Thank you, Counterpoint Press!)
📓 Faultlines – Emily Itami (Thank you, Custom House!)
📚 The Rakess – Scarlett Peckham
📚 Mythology – Edith Hamilton
⌛️ The World Gives Way – Marissa Levien
📚 The Outside – Ada Hoffmann
💞 Beauty Sleep – Cameron Dokey

💞 Before Midnight – Cameron Dokey
⌛️ Revelations – Mary Sharratt
⌛️ Ring Shout – P. Djélì Clark
⌛️ Tender is the Flesh – Agustina Bazterrica
⌛️ Black Water Sister – Zen Cho
⌛️ The Warrior Knight and the Widow – Ella Matthews
📓 The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina – Zoraida Cordova (Thank you, Atria Books!)
📚 Lessons in French – Laura Kinsale
💞 Sirena – Donna Jo Napoli



I recently updated my Edelweiss information, and now I have access to a lot of e-arcs. I tried not to go download happy, but three of these (The Ex Hex, Sea of Tranquility, and What Moves the Dead) are among my most anticipated. And for What Moves the Dead, as soon as I heard it was an Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” retelling, immediately shot to the top of the list and I was so excited to see it already posted as an e-arc. All of these fit an eerie, spooky vibe for spooky szn 👻👻👻.

📚 bookshelf pick  |  📓 physical review copy  |  📱 digital review copy | ⌛️ library/borrowed | 💾 ebook | 🎧 audiobook  |  💞 reread

📚 The Death of Jane Lawrence – Caitlin Starling
📚 Velvet Was the Night – Silvia Moreno-Garcia
📱 The Ex Hex – Erin Sterling (Thank you, Avon!)
📱 Sea of Tranquility – Emily St. John Mandel (Thank you, Knopf!)
📱 What Moves the Dead – T. Kingfisher (Thank you, Tor Nightfire!)


It’s definitely time to get back into reading YA fantasy, because omg, so many good titles are out/coming out.

📚 bookshelf pick  |  📓 physical review copy  |  📱 digital review copy | ⌛️ library/borrowed | 💾 ebook | 🎧 audiobook  |  💞 reread

📚 Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao
📚 Six Crimson Cranes – Elizabeth Lim
📚 Vespertine – Margaret Rogerson
📱Jade Fire Gold – June CL Tan
📱The Keeper of Night – Kylie Lee Baker


GAMING: I bought the HD rerelease of Skyward Sword, and I think the next Switch game I’m getting is Graveyard Keeper.

TV: I’ve watched most of Shadow of Bone, I really enjoyed Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki so far seems like a treat!

MOVIES: I have seen so many since settling in because with my Regal Unlimited card, it’s an easy, relatively inexpensive thing to do. The Green Knight and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.


Nothing exciting to report as I’m still waiting to hear back regarding my stuff from the movers, and that’s been an adventure.


BOOK REVIEW: A Spindle Splintered, by Alix E. Harrow

BOOK REVIEW: A Spindle Splintered, by Alix E. HarrowTitle: A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow
Series: Fractured Fables #1
Published by Tordotcom
Published: October 5th 2021
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 128
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher, Work
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)

USA Today bestselling author Alix E. Harrow's A Spindle Splintered brings her patented charm to a new version of a classic story.

It's Zinnia Gray's twenty-first birthday, which is extra-special because it's the last birthday she'll ever have. When she was young, an industrial accident left Zinnia with a rare condition. Not much is known about her illness, just that no one has lived past twenty-one.

Her best friend Charm is intent on making Zinnia's last birthday special with a full sleeping beauty experience, complete with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, something strange and unexpected happens, and she finds herself falling through worlds, with another sleeping beauty, just as desperate to escape her fate.

Alix E. Harrow’s A Spindle Splintered has been touted as fairy tales meets Into the Spider-Verse, and I can’t agree more with the comps. For all its historical and narrative weirdness, Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorite fairy tales. I love the Disney animated version, I fell in love with Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End, and I got my hands on as many retellings of Sleeping Beauty in any length and form.

The first of a novella duology, A Spindle Splintered follows Zinnia Gray, a young woman born with a fatal condition due to an industrial accident, who finds comfort in the stories of Sleeping Beauty. She, too, thinks of herself as cursed, and falling asleep, only to wake to true love, is just the sort of comfort she needs at a time where her own world is figuratively and literally breaking down

Charm, Zinnia’s best friend, throws a Sleeping Beauty-themed party on her twenty-first birthday, and Zinnia touches a spindle that sends her to a medieval fairy tale world in which she meets Briar Rose, the traditional titular character in a Sleeping Beauty story with which we’re all familiar. From there, the story takes off on its multiverse bent, exploring and shattering tropes and genre expectations that turns the entire concept of a multiverse fairy tale world into a page-turning read. I loved the nods to the fairy tale retelling writers I grew up with, and all of the nods to fairy tale tropes in general.

If you enjoy fairy tales and their retellings, A Spindle Splintered needs to be on your TBRs.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and this week’s topic is “Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2021”! I’m sure there are others that I’m forgetting about, but in a glance at my to-read list and things I can remember off the top of my head, here are ten books I’m looking forward to that are coming out in the latter half of 2021. I can’t believe the year’s halfway gone already!! It’s been such a busy year, but I have a good feeling that the rest of this year is going to be amazing.

  • Well, This is Exhausting: Essays by Sophia Benoit– I’ve followed Sophia on Twitter for so long and have loved her presence on social media, so I’m excited to read her essays!
  • The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling – I love the vibes of this cover?? It’s a witchy romance out just in time for the spooky season.
  • Little Thieves by Margaret Owen – I have not read her duology yet even though I own them, but this has all of the fairy tale vibes I’m here for.
  • A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow – I really enjoyed her debut novel, and this retelling and reworking of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale is calling my name.
  • The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling – I thoroughly enjoyed Starling’s debut, and this looks like the gothic horror I’ve been wanting (especially after reading Mexican Gothic).
  • Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood – This is a Jane Eyre retelling, and I love seeing what writers do with that story.
  • Gilded by Marissa Meyer – I haven’t read the superhero trilogy of hers yet, but I’ve enjoyed everything else Meyer writes. The cover of this looks so good too.
  • Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – After reading Mexican Gothic (and I’m in the middle of The Beautiful Ones now), I’ll read anything Silvia writes!!
  • The Penguin Book of Dragons by edited by Scott G. Bruce – Penguin puts out such great collections, and after their mermaid book a while back, I’m excited to see one come out about dragons!
  • Activation Degradation by Marina J. Lostetter – Having just read The Helm of Midnight by the same author, I’m looking forward to reading more of their work! This is recommended for those who like Martha Wells’ Murderbot series, and anything to do with robots/A.I./first contact is everything I enjoy.

What new releases are you looking forward to reading in 2021??

BOOK REVIEW: Malice, by Heather Walter

BOOK REVIEW: Malice, by Heather WalterTitle: Malice by Heather Walter
Series: Malice Duology #1
Published by Del Rey Books
Published: April 13th 2021
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 470
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)

A princess isn’t supposed to fall for an evil sorceress. But in this darkly magical retelling of “Sleeping Beauty,” true love is more than a simple fairy tale.

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.

Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again.

Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain.

Sleeping Beauty is probably one of my favorite fairy tales, especially when the tropes are explored and subverted, and the second I heard about Malice I knew I needed to read this. It was everything I hoped for!

Malice deftly weaves the familiar and the new, setting up the familiar Sleeping Beauty tropes while fleshing out the fantasy world in which Alyce and Aurora live because the history, politics, and landscape add so much to the story. Alyce is a Dark Grace, assisting the palace and its courtiers with her skills, when she meets Aurora and her world begins to shift. Alyce’s struggle with her true self and wanting to fit in add so much depth, and I loved that her identity scared even herself. It ties in so much with the feeling of being queer, that society tends to tell us we’re wrong for being who we are or that it’s evil. This is the first half of a duology, so there’s a lot left to be discovered in Alyce’s true self and how much of a villain she becomes later on, but I hope that it’s explored more and that she learns more about her own history.

The romance between Alyce and Aurora is so layered, and I hope there’s a lot more buildup and exploration of their romance in the second book. So much of this first one felt like an introduction to the world and these characters that the last third of the book felt rushed, so I hope the second one develops more specifically with the characters now that we have this world set up for us to explore. Aurora is nothing like what we often expect from Sleeping Beauty retellings – a quiet, almost simple girl who has one set of desires and nothing else – because this Aurora is feisty, willing to fight for what she believes in, and questions everything. She also surprises Alyce by saying that she wants to be just like her, something Alyce never thought she’d hear anyone say. The romance in this feels natural and right, never forced (though sometimes a little insta-love, but it is a fairy tale after all), and it’s all I want out of a sapphic romance – fantasy with both fluff and depth.

Overall, I enjoyed this so much, from the characters to the worldbuilding, and I’m looking forward to the sequel and anything else Walter releases in the future!

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Chosen Ones, by Veronica Roth

Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! The latest feature for these reads are all of the books on my Summer TBR!


Comedian Jessica Krys’s standup routine

Laugh Factory, Chicago, March 20, 2011

I’ve got a question for you: How the fuck did we end up with the name “Dark One” anyway? This guy shows up out of nowhere in a cloud of fucking smoke or whatever, literally rips people limb from limb — apparently using only the power of his mind — recruits an army of minions, levels whole cities, brings about a degree of destruction heretofore unknown to humankind … and “Dark One” is the best we can do? We might as well have named him after the creepy guy in your building who looks at you a couple seconds too long in the elevator. You know, the one with the really moist, soft hands? Tim. His name is Tim.

Personally, I would have gone with something like “Portent of Doom in the Form of a Man” or “Terrifying Fucking Killing Machine,” but unfortunately, nobody asked me.

Many thanks to Mariner Books for sending me a complimentary copy to feature and review!