January Reading Wrapup

I’m off to a slow start with my reading this year as broken sleep and back-to-back illnesses sapped my energy and attention, so only managed to read 3 books last month, but thoroughly enjoyed them all from two very different parenting books and the eagerly awaited sequel to the brilliant Ninth House that was definitely worth the wait.

How Toddlers Thrive by Tovah Klein

This book focuses on children between the ages of 2-5 years old and really changed my understanding of what motivates toddlers and how they think, feel and perceive the world, which in turn changed how I respond to my own toddler’s behaviour. As is often the case, there are some suggestions for parenting that we’re already doing but it contradicted some of the others ways my husband and I parent our daughters. It also turns some ideas on their head by suggesting that our job as parents is not to make our children happy but to help them learn how to cope with uncomfortable emotions like anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness and fear in order to develop emotional regulation, resilience and flexibility. Klein stresses the importance of realistic expectations for children in this age range, as well as the importance of routines, consistency and learning through play. How Toddlers Thrive is a really interesting and useful book and definitely one I’ll be referring to again over the next few years while we navigate the early years with our girls.

Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo

My most anticipated book of 2023 and I started reading this as soon as it dropped through the letterbox. Reading Hell Bent was like meeting up with old friends, I loved exploring the Yale campus with Alex, Dawes and Detective Turner as they tried to find a way to rescue their friend and mentor, Darlington from Hell. Alex finds herself surrounded by new and old enemies, and as morally ambivalent as ever she’s more haunted by the lives she couldn’t save than the ones she has taken. Although I didn’t find the twists quite as clever or unpredictable as those in Ninth House, Hell Bent is still a gripping, atmospheric read that adds new layers and details to the original, especially about Alex’s powers to communicate with the dead and the history of Yale’s secret societies, and the ending sets the scene for the next part of the series. This has become one of my favourite series and I really can’t wait to see what happens next.

The Unmumsy Mum by Sarah Turner

This is the type of parenting book I usually avoid preferring those based on child development to those that are anecdotal and personal, but I borrowed the ebook late one night while feeding the baby and it made me laugh out loud so many times. Sarah Turner takes an unflinching look at the realities of parenting from breastfeeding and sleep deprivation to mum guilt and so many other aspects of life with young children. The Unmumsy Mum is such an easy to read, relatable, humourous, poignant handhold of a book for anyone that loves their kids but doesn’t love every moment of parenting.

I also had a DNF, The Ballad of Never After, the sequel to Once Upon A Broken Heart, I enjoyed the first book but the sequel just didn’t hold my attention and I gave up at page 134.

Have a lovely week. X

September Reading Wrapup

September was a good month for reading with a real mix of genres, and a couple of eagerly anticipated new releases.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

In the concluding part of the King of Scars (reviewed here) duology (and apparently the final book to be set in the Grishaverse for a while) an old enemy has returned, armies from neighbouring countries are massing at Ravka’s borders, and Nikolai’s legitimacy as King is under scrutiny. I loved the slow burn romance between Zoya and Nikolai, easily two of my favourite characters from the Grishaverse, and how they both had to confront their personal demons (both literal and figurative), and Nina’s mission as a spy behind enemy lines was tense and thrilling too. Rule of Wolves didn’t have quite as many clever twists as I’ve come to expect from Leigh Bardugo, but still an enjoyable read and satisfying conclusion that leaves scope to return to the world and reunite with the main characters from Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows in the future.

The Joyful Environmentalist by Isabel Losada

This was a bit different from most of the other books about environmentalism that I’ve read recently as Isabel Losada sets out to prove that environmentalism doesn’t have to be about guilt, anger and grief, and shares all the joyful experiences that becoming an environmentalist has brought her from playing in Extinction Rebellion’s samba band and a cosy night in with her flatmates during an unexpected powercut to planting trees in the Scottish Highlands with Trees for Life and listening to nightingales and other songbirds while camping at the Knepp Estate. The book also covers various ways that individuals can reduce their impact on the environment but really focuses on the benefits of creating a greener world from a greater sense of community and connection to less litter and pollution.

The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The final part of The Inheritance Games trilogy (reviews for The Inheritance Games and The Hawthorne Legacy) has been one of my most anticipated new releases this year, and it was worth the wait as I binge read it in a couple of days. The Final Gambit finally reveals why billionaire Tobias Hawthorne disinherited his entire family and chose Avery, a random girl he’d only met once in passing to be his heir instead, it also reveals a new enemy seeking to outwit Avery and destroy Tobias Hawthorne’s legacy and fortune. The weakest part of this story is the love triangle between Avery and two of the Hawthorne brothers, which I felt had been resolved in the previous book, nevertheless, The Final Gambit is a gripping YA mystery, and I loved how Avery grows as a character over the series and how she chooses to use her wealth when she finally comes of age and inherits the Hawthorne fortune.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers

I don’t read much science fiction but I make an exception for Becky Chambers, and yet I find her books so hard to describe because they’re character driven stories that focus on identity, relationships, culture and humanity. Record of a Spaceborn Few is the third book set in The Wayfarers Quartet and is set around the same time as the first book, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (reviewed here), though this follows a different set of characters all living and working on one of the human homesteaders, the vehicles that humans built to escape Earth and make a new life in the Galaxy. The undergraduate Anthropology student in me found the practical elements of maintaining the homesteaders and the rituals people developed on board to preserve their history and culture fascinating.I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this one, but Record of a Spaceborn Few is probably my favourite book in the series so far, it’s a poignant exploration of life, death, community and humanity.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

I picked up this from the library because I’d read so many glowing reviews about it but it ended up falling into that awkward category of books that I liked but didn’t love. Nevermoor follows a little girl called Morrigan Crow who was born on the festival of Eventide, believed to be cursed and bringing all manner of misfortune to the people around her and destined to die on her 12th birthday until she’s saved at the last moment by a strange benefactor who whisks her off to the magical city of Nevermoor and enters her into a competition with other children hoping to join the Wondrous Society, an elite group of people with strange and magical abilities. Nevermoor is an enjoyable children’s story about friendship, belonging, bravery and destiny.

Have a lovely week. X

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

I read and loved the Six of Crows duology (reviewed here and here) last year, and I was curious about Leigh Bardugo’s first adult novel set outside of her Grishaverse series. Ninth House is about the eight most powerful secret societies at Yale and how each one specialises in a different type of arcana. Into this world of wealth, privilege and the occult, comes high school drop out and stoner Alex Stern who is admitted for one single reason: she can see ghosts. Alex is invited to join the Ninth House which oversees the rituals of all the other houses. Haunted by both the ghosts she can see on campus but also the mysteries of her past as the sole survivor of a gruesome multiple homicide, she finds herself investigating the murder of a girl on campus and unravelling a more sinister conspiracy in the process.

The narrative switches between Alex and her mentor, Darlington, which was a little confusing at first because Darlington’s narrative is all set in the past while Alex’s runs from the past to the present. This is incredibly well plotted and there are several different mysteries running through the story, the murder on campus, her mentor’s disappearence, the night Alex survived a multiple homicide that she has no memory of, and another related to one of the ghosts haunting New Haven that Alex accidentally befriends, yet the story has a very clever resolution and still sets itself up for a sequel too.

I loved the setting, the descriptions of Yale and New Haven, and the awkward juxtaposition of student life and frat parties with ghosts (or grays as they’re called in the story) and the occult practices of the secret societies. I also adored the characters from Alex who is just trying to survive and make the best of the second chance she’s been given, Darlington the gentleman scholar, and Dawes, the reticent PhD student who works as the Ninth House’s housekeeper to Turner the straight laced detective who is Yale’s liaison with the local police department and the ghost of a local murderer who wants to clear his own name.

I enjoyed Ninth House so much that I tracked down a second copy in hardbook to survive rereads and because I will definitely be buying the second part in the series in hardback as soon as it comes out rather than waiting for the paperback like I normally do. Ninth House was thrilling, original, addictive and delightfully macabre, it’s a story to keep you up reading late into the night but one that might give you a few nightmares too, and a perfect read for Halloween or a dark and stormy night. Have a lovely week. X

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo


It feels very much like we’re living in a dystopian novel at the moment, like many others I’ve been staying at home, worrying about family and glued to the news over the last week, yet at times it’s been necessary and calming to retreat from our strange, new reality into fiction.

Crooked Kingdom starts just after the events of Six of Crows (reviewed here); betrayed by the merchant Van Eck who hired them for the seemingly impossible prison break in the first book, the Crows are seeking vengeance while Van Eck attempts to eliminate them.

I have such a soft spot for rogues and underdogs who refuse to give up no matter how impossible it seems, and I loved seeing how this band of misfits fought back when Kaz’s carefully laid plans fell apart. What makes this duology so compulsive is that time after time the Crows are outwitted, ambushed and betrayed, yet somehow they always drag themselves out of it and refuse to give up. Although magic exists in the Grishaverse, I also really appreciated that most of the characters rely on a combination of skill and cunning rather than superpowers.


The romantic subplots are a little bit neat in that all six of the main characters pair off, though not everyone gets their happily ever after. Kaz and Inej in particular have become some of my favourite characters, and I was fascinated watching them circle each other warily, trying to bridge the distance across their personal traumas.

Crooked Kingdom contains the same blend of humour, action, twists and romance as Six of Crows, but I enjoyed the second book even more than the first. When reality seems stranger than fiction, I’m grateful to have stories as absorbing as this to escape into. Hoping everyone is safe and well. X

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows

Although I read a lot of fantasy, I’ve outgrown most of the stories about dragons, dwarves and elves, but one aspect that continues to draw me in is ordinary characters who find themselves caught up in epic events and I have a particular soft-spot for rogues and underdogs. Six of Crows kept getting recommended to me based on other books I’ve enjoyed and I regret waiting so long to read it because it was exactly the type of character driven fantasy adventure that I love.

Six of Crows follows a group of teenage thieves, misfits, orphans and runaways lead by the criminal prodigy, Kaz Brekker. Kaz and his handpicked team are hired by the merchant Jan Van Eck for a high risk, high reward heist: break into an impenetrable military stronghold to rescue a hostage – preventing chaos and war in the process.

Six of Crows2

For a young adult novel, this was a little darker than I expected containing descriptions of torture and references to sexual exploitation, but it also ticks all the boxes for diversity with a cast made of different races as well as LGBTQ and disabled characters.

Six of Crows contains plenty of unexpected twists, action and suspense, romantic pining and humour, it’s a thrilling roller-coaster ride of a story that ends on a cliffhanger, and I can’t wait to find out how the final part of this duology resolves itself. Have a lovely week. X