5 Star Book Review: She Who Became The Sun

I genuinely can’t praise this book enough.


Name: She Who Became The Sun

Author: Shelley Parker-Chan

Released: May 2021

She’ll change the world to survive her fate . . .

In Mongol-occupied imperial China, a peasant girl refuses her fate of an early death. Stealing her dead brother’s identity to survive, she rises from monk to soldier, then to rebel commander. Zhu’s pursuing the destiny her brother somehow failed to attain: greatness. But all the while, she feels Heaven is watching.

Can anyone fool Heaven indefinitely, escaping what’s written in the stars? Or can Zhu claim her own future, burn all the rules and rise as high as she can dream?


The US cover 🤤

I’d had She Who Became The Sun on preorder for months ever since I saw a description for a queer historical drama set in Imperial China – what more could you want! Let’s just say that it was worth the wait. The cover may have also been a big factor in my ordering (we’ve all been there). Still, LOOK AT THAT COVER! Can you blame me? I own the UK one above but the US cover is equally gorgeous. Which one do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

The whole book is unparalleled in style. It felt fresh and humurous, but very contemplative and beautiful at the same time. It’s not too long for a fantasy book, only about 400 pages, and the time sped by. I wouldn’t quite describe it as bingeable, but you get so immersed in the story it’s impossible to put down. The pace is brilliant.
Despite being a book about a warrior, there aren’t overly long fight scenes like you get in some war books. It wasn’t particularly gruesome either.

“The greater the desire, the greater the suffering, and now she desired greatness itself.” 

– SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN

There’s no such thing as a side character in She who Became Sun. It balances on the thin line between a full cast, and so many characters they all merge into one… ie the perfect historical book! I wasn’t expecting the many other characters and plot lines not directly involving Zhu. Each character is so interesting and I love how the author fully fleshed out every one. I found Ouyang was such an intriguing, character and he broke my heart in so many ways. The author excels at these dramatic, complicated romances, and I’m living for Zhu’s. The sequel is one of my most anticipated books for the next few years!

“He had done what he had to do, and in doing so he had destroyed the world.” 

– SO COOOOOOOOOL

I learned a lot about Imperial China, although it doesn’t feel like a history lesson. I’m also not sure how much of it is historically accurate… I genuinely can’t praise it enough – the descriptions of people are sublime, the dialogue was golden. It reads like a very beautifully described episode of the Jeremy Kyle show – betrayal! Vengeance! Romance! I couldn’t put it down.

For fans of The Priory Of The Orange Tree, this is your book. For fans of haunting plots, doomed romances, empowering queer characters and clever schemes, this is your book. You reading this, this is your book. Go and get it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

#TTT Pet Peeves: Maps in Books ANSWERS!

For this week’s TTT, I got you to guess which books some maps were form (here’s a link to the post if you missed it!). And here are the answers 🙂 A big shoutout to the hosts of these blogs below for the most correct guessed! As promised, I’ve linked up their sites so you can check them out – all of their content is fantastic.

How many of these maps did you manage to guess? Let me know in the comments!


1. Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo

2. Harry Potter by She Who Must Not Be Named

3. The Priory Of The Orange Tree (this was one of two pages of maps!)

4. She Who Became The Sun

5. Serpent and Dove

6. The Folk Of The Air Series by Holly Black

7. Crier’s War

8. From Blood And Ash

9. The Shadowhunters Series

10. The School For Good And Evil

#TTT Pet Peeves: Maps in Books

Can you guess what books these maps are from? Let me know in the comments! I’ll post answers tomorrow with shoutouts for the most correct 🙂
As always, this great tag was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish but is now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s prompt is about pet peeves, and whilst I can think of worse crimes (cough stickers you can’t peel off cough – find my most popular Top Ten Tuesday about bookish things I hate here) I wanted to talk about maps in books.

Maps in books are pretty – but do you actually use them? Do you really flip back to them when a new place is introduced and memorise the geographical location of it in relation to existing towns? I don’t.

Maps give you a really good overview of how a fantasy world works: whether it’s focused around cities or nature, how far the characters will travel, how developed the world is. I’ll also be judging the quality of the map – and if there isn’t a map in a fantasy book, I’ll be judging it pretty hard!

But realistically, I spend about 30 seconds admiring an aesthetic map and then skip to the part I actually bought the book for. The story! This admittedly sometimes comes back to bite me (the first half of Shadow and Bone was like a fever dream) but even if I study the map really hard, I’ll always have a different idea of how the world looks in my head.

What about you? What’s your opinion on maps in books? Does every fantasy book need one? Do you use them? How many of these maps did you manage to guess? Let me know in the comments!


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2. I have this map on my wall, ignore the stickers! (Although if it helps, that’s Baz from Carry On and part of a stag 😉 ).

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#TTT: Book To Film Adaptations Hall Of Fame

As always, this great tag was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish but is now hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s prompt is a free for all, so I thought I’d look at some of my favourite book to film adaptations! It’s so hard to compare books and films because they are such different consuming experiences – and some bits are inevitably going to be cut out of the film. (Why they always seem to be my favourite scenes or characters, I’ll never know…) . Adaptations are a great way for people to get into a book series and I always love to see the choices the directors made. So, despite in danger of being that reader (the book is always better than the film 🤪), here are my top five films that were as good as the book. What would yours be? Have you seen any of these? Can a film be better than the book? Let me know in the comments!


Questionable actors and authors and other factors affect how I view the film now, but as a piece of film, Call Me By Your Name remains one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. The music and the setting make you feel like you’re there, and I rewatch it every summer.


The film was so humorous, fast paced, engaging, and beautifully shot. I enjoyed it so much!


I love discussing which Little Women adaptation is the best, because people always have different choices and reasoning. For me, it has to be the 2019 adaptation! It remains one of my favourite films of all time because of how it cleverly combines the author and Jo’s stories (and I’m in love with every single actor in it). Which adaptation is your favourite?


This series couldn’t have done a better job of capturing the madness that is a series of unfortunate events. This and Shadow and Bone remain my favourite tv adaptations ever.

I didn’t include SaB because you can find out why I love it so much in my previous post here.


EVERYTHING I LOVE ABOUT JANE AUSTEN IN ONE PLACE!

This film is absolutely hilarious and I love it to pieces.

Dark Academia For Spooky Season

The universal truth: if Summer is for swoon-worthy romances and Winter is for heartwarming, cosy mysteries, then Autumn is the season of Dark Academia novels. While I haven’t read that many Dark Academia novels, here are some of my favourite. What are yours? Have you read any of these? Let me know in the comments!


Anything Leigh Bardugo is obviously god tier, but this book is especially.

Find my reviews of Six of Crows here, why the SOC characters match up oddly well with the Umbrella Academy crew here and my excited rantings on Shadow and Bone tv show here.


The ULTIMATE book to lose yourself in. That’s genuinely the only way to describe it. This is one of those books where you could never recreate reading it for the first time (although I wish I could!). Find my full review here.

I didn’t enjoy The Night Circus, the author’s debut book, as much because of how slow the pace was, but I know some people preferred it to The Starless Sea. Did you? You can find out why I wasn’t the biggest fan in my review here.


I read Ace Of Spades recently and while I’d align it more with thriller than dark academia, it was an absolutely gripping book. Find out why in my review here!


Wilder Girls is the best horror book I’ve I’ve ever read. It’s gruesome, beautiful and full of heart. And gore. It also made it onto my sapphic novel top tier! ——>

Find my review here for why you neeeeedddd to read this. (Ahhh it’s so good).


I don’t know about you, but to me dark academia screams classics. Classics that you can’t forget and change the way you view those offhand things people say and do.

May I present! Some of the oddest metaphors ever written! But seriously, Fahrenheit 451 is such a powerful book and something I’d recommend to everyone.

(Especially if you want to see kerosene described as ‘the trail of an evil snail’.)


Lose yourself in the unfathomably cool Locked Tomb series. You won’t be able to put it down – possibly quite physically, because you’ll be so confused! If you want badass bone nuns, warrior lesbians in space and a lots death, read this series. You won’t regret it.

Find my review of Gideon The Ninth here and Harrow The Ninth here. I can’t wait for the next instalment in the series!

Recent Release Reviews: Ace Of Spades

Okay, Ace Of Spades was ‘recently released’ when I planned this post, but I forgot to factor in the time it would take to actually read and then review it. And… now it’s September. But that in no way takes away from how spine chillingly brilliant Ace Of Spades was.


Name: Ace Of Spades

Author: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Published: June 2021

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light. 

Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power. 

Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game… 


I had had Ace Of Spades on preorder for a very long time. I preordered it as soon as I saw a description for this queer YA thriller where Get Out meets Gossip Girl that looks at institutionalised racism – it sounded like nothing I’d ever read before. I was right.

WOW I’M IN LOVE WITH THE AMERICAN COVER. WHY AREN’T I AMERICAN?

At first, I’ll admit I was a little bit disappointed. It certainly had elements of both Gossip Girl and Get Out in it, but that seemed to be the problem. It felt so inspired by both that the boarding school setting; the rich kid – scholarship kid dynamics; the character relationships, didn’t feel like anything new. I could name similar secrets in various other YA books. I really shipped Chiamaka and another character but I thought that only I and a few avid fan fiction writers would ever see a relationship into fruition.

But then! Then! It went from pretty good to brilliant in about ten pages. Ace of Spades was one of the strongest turn-arounds I’ve ever read, and it went from strength to strength. The message was powerful from the very start and I was intrigued by all the side characters.The two main characters, Chiamaka and Devon, have different but very well developed problems and personalities. Chiamaka knows what she wants and whilst she wasn’t always likeable in her ‘step on others to the way to the top’ attitude, it made for an incredibly bingeworthy read. As did the plot twists (but more on that later). Devon was such an interesting character and broke my heart in so many ways. I loved his family focus. I was drawn towards both of them and their romantic relationships – the book keeps you on your toes in every aspect, including romance. There’s no one you can trust.

“No matter what I do, no matter how much I iron down the hair that springs from my scalp, or work as hard as I can, I’m always going to be other to them. Not good enough for this place I’ve tried to call home all my life.” 

– ACE OF SPADES

Ace of Spades was a solid 4 stars for the first seventy five percent. But then the LAST twenty five percent. I can still remember the exact moment I read the plot twist – I sat bold upright and read the rest of it in one sitting (and that hasn’t happened for a while). Purely addictive. I didn’t predict the massive twist but I did some of the smaller ones, which was satisfying. The nature of the plot twist make you question everything and I was too busy not trusting everyone that I didn’t suspect anything near the end either…

It was very difficult to give an overall rating for Ace of Spades. You can find my post on difficulties picking between four and five stars here. Like I said before, I had mixed opinions in the beginning and the middle felt like it dragged a little but the end was explosive. The message is incredibly powerful. The queer rep is also brilliant and every side character without failure had me captivated. Ace of Spades is a creepy, gripping thriller that I’d recommend to absolutely anyone. We should all read this book, and more like it. I think Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is an extremely strong new voice in Young Adult fiction and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ace of Spades covers a lot of heavy topics, including racism, bullying, homophobia and suicide. There is a full list of Trigger Warnings on the Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s website (and on a scannable QR code in the book which I’ve never seen before). I don’t feel like I can comment on how it deals with institutionalised racism, because there are so many other voices that could give you a better understanding. You can find Faridah talking about what inspired her to write the novel in a Nerdist article here. Ace of Spades made me want to do more research into how racism affects education, and you can find The Conversation’s article on institutionalised racism in British universities here. You can find a Guardian article on why white people just reading about black stories isn’t enough here.

While the diversity in my book recommendations is nowhere near perfect, I’m always trying to read books about challenging subjects. Some young adult books I’d recommend that tackle racism include:


Have you read Ace Of Spades? Would you like to? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Hani and Ishu’s Guide To Fake Dating

I have decided that Irish YA sapphic romances are my new favourite genre. (*Cough* read The Falling In Love Montage by Ciara Smyth *cough*).


Name: Hani and Ishu’s Guide To Fake Dating

Author: Adiba Jaigirdar

Published: May 2021

Everyone likes Humaira “Hani” Khan—she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they invalidate her identity, saying she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship…with a girl her friends absolutely hate—Ishita “Ishu” Dey. Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college. But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl.

Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after.


My first note: ITS IRISH!! While that fact didn’t particularly impact the story after its first introduction, I have decided that Irish YA sapphic romances are my new favourite genre. (*Cough* read The Falling In Love Montage by Ciara Smyth *cough*). Hani and Ishu’s Guide To Fake Dating is such a fast paced, fun read and the cover – the layout of the entire book – is absolutely gorgeous. I’d heard a lot about it in passing, but when I saw it in Waterstones and remembered all that I’d heard, I knew I had to get it. You also can’t beat those Buy One Get One Half Price stickers…

“My point, dear sister, is that we all have people who we bend ourselves for the approval of. For you and me, it’s Ammu and Abbu. For Hani, it’s her friends. We all need to fit in, or need approval. You and Hani aren’t that different, if you think about it.” 

– Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating

Hani and Ishu were two strong characters and that comes across in the narration, which was from both of the girls’ povs. Two distinct voices. The pace is so fast and engaging that I read 100 pages in one go! The girls’ problems are well, and equally, developed – although make sure to check Trigger Warnings. The book also looks at ethnic, sexual and religious identity; I learned a lot about Muslim and Bengali culture.

“Hani declares she’s going to drop me home like we’re some antiquated heterosexual couple and not two queer teens who don’t even have access to a car.” 

– THIS MADE ME LAUGH

I was expecting more angst for how the blurb sold it, but I quite like how they don’t start off despising each other. Enemies-to-lovers can be pretty toxic. I’d also say it slightly lost momentum near the end but that makes sense for the speed of the rest of it!

Hani and Ishu’s Guide To Fake Dating isn’t my new all time favourite, but it was very enjoyable and I love Hani and Ishu’s dynamic together. I’ll be looking out for Adiba Jaigirdar‘s other book!


Have you read Hani and Ishu’s Guide To Fake Dating? Or Adiba Jaigirdar’s debut, The Henna Wars (I really want to!)? Does this look like something you’d be interested in? Let me know in the comments?

Discussion: 5 stars versus 4.5 stars?

Hello tiny people inside the internet! I need some advice.

I’ve read a lot of books recently that have been very, very brilliant… in the last 25%, and a solid 3 or 4 stars for the rest. So what do I rate it? Or, I have no faults with the book, but it still doesn’t feel like one of the best things I’ve ever read. Which I feel is what a five star review means? I want a way of differentiating between god tier 5 star books, and books that I don’t want to demote to 4 stars but aren’t my all time favourites.

And that’s where the cursed 4.5 stars comes in! Ahhh it just feels so oddly specific? I like Goodread’s 5 star point system because it feels quite simple. But when you start breaking it into .5 and .25 even (I’ve seen it before!), everything gets very complicated. I think different ratings have different meanings for different people – some are more lenient with star ratings and others are quick to class a book low. What does five stars mean to you? What are your opinions on 4.5 stars? And, most importantly tiny people inside the internet, what do you rate a book that’s not consistent throughout? Let me know in the comments!

How I Choose My Books Tag

By far the most interesting tag I’ve ever done…

There’s a lot to think about when choosing new books. I used to purely go off interesting covers, but then I got into blogging and Goodreads, and now mostly go off recommendations. Or my ever expanding WTR pile! It was also fun to revisit why I picked books in the first place, so a big thank you to Madeline over at the Bookish Mutant for nominating me for this tag. Her site is without fail brilliant, and you can check out her attempt at this tag here. And here is mine!


How I Choose My Books Tag

Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy, but did. Why did you read it in the first place?

When you type ‘Eden book’ into the internet, it mostly comes up with the Bible. I’d never even heard of Joanna Nadin, who wrote Eden, when I found it in a charity shop. The cover had a suitably bloody cover for 12 year old me (it was also 50p) so I thought I’d give it a go. That was a very good choice! The mystery was chilling and I loved the setting. You can find my original review here.

What book did you discover through a film/TV adaptation?

This was a tricky prompt? Normally, I try and make sure I’ve read the book before I see the film adaptation, but after watching A Picture Of Dorian Grey purely for Ben Barnes I really want to try the book by Oscar Wilde.

Pick a book that you discovered through booktube/bookstagram/book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?

I distinctly remember first hearing about From Blood And Ash on three Instagram posts in a row. The romance was certainly as… intense as they promised (and I did actually go on to read the sequel), but I had a few problems along the way. Find my full review here and of Kingdom Of Flesh And Fire here.

Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

One of my friends thought that I’d really enjoy A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder because I loved Truly Devious last year. They weren’t wrong! (And even better you don’t have to wait three books to find out who the murderer was…).

Find a book on your bookshelves with a blue cover. What made you want to pick up this book?

One of the first YA books I ever read – The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin. I think that was why I originally picked it up, because it was aimed at older readers than myself! (We’ve all been there…). Also because the cover is *chef’s kiss*.

Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick a book at random. How did you discover this book?

Mainly because it took up most of the shelf, I landed on Priory Of The Orange Tree. A few months ago, I read it because I wanted to challenge myself – and also the ‘game of thrones but everyone is queer’ blurb sounded like something I’d be very interested in…

I wasn’t disappointed.

Find a book on your shelves with a one-word title. What drew you to this book?

I don’t have a lot of one word titles, but my favourite one has to be Pet by Akwaeke Emezi. I really remember being drawn to it because of all the reviews saying it was out of this world and an experience to never forget. I wanted to experience that! Find my raving review here.

Think of your all-time favorite books. When did you read these, and why did you pick them up in the first place?

My all time favourites… is quite a long list. But for the ones that have the most interesting backstories, I remember seeing my friend’s copy of Gideon The Ninth by Tamsyn Muir and thinking that’s a book I’d like on my shelf, without even knowing what it was about. Have you ever done that?

Another one: I got Carry On by Rainbow Rowell from the library originally. I remember being so confused because Fangirl was also there and I didn’t understand at all why they had the same character. Ha, it’s funny retelling this because I remember the exact moment when I put it back on the shelf, but then the cover fell open and I read the blurb. In fact, the only reason I brought it home was because it said Simon had a girlfriend and I was in a phase where I refused to read a book unless it had romance in it!

Let me know in the comments how you remember finding your favourite books because this was a very fun process!


I Tag…

You! If you fancy having a go, let me know in the comments and I’ll add your site to the list 🙂

ARC Review: Jane Austen Investigates

This is such a fun read!


Name: Jane Austen Investigates: The Burglar’s Ball

Author: Julia Golding

Publish Date: 22nd October 2021

Join young budding detective Jane Austen in her second investigation to uncover a devious diamond thief at the glitziest, most scandalous ball of the year! Inspired by Sense and Sensibility.

When the headmistress invites her past favourite pupil to attend their end of term ball, Cassandra brings her younger sister, Jane, along too. Cassandra plunges into the feverish excitement of preparing for the biggest event of the year – the dresses, the dances and the boys expected from the neighbouring school.

Feeling rather excluded, sharp-witted Jane unearths the reason for the fuss – the headteacher wants to impress a rich family returned from India as the school is at risk of going bankrupt. Jane also befriends the dancing master’s assistant, a former slave, called Brandon, who is as quick to notice things as she. At the ball, a diamond necklace is stolen from a locked room and they are propelled into a race to uncover the burglar and save Brandon from gaol.

With the ever-present Austen spirit, Jane with notebook in hand, boldly overcomes the obstacles to finding the truth.


A huge thank you to the publishers for providing me with an advanced copy in return for an honest review via Netgalley. I read the first book in the Jane Austen Investigates series through Netgalley as well, and was thrilled to be able to join Jane on her adventures again. You can find my review of The Abbey Mystery (book one!) here. While you can read this book first, I’d recommend reading the series chronologically as there are recurring characters you met previously. I enjoyed seeing what Jane’s friends from The Abbey Mystery were up to and it still felt like we were learning new things about them.

Jane is the highlight of the series and I love her relationship with her sister. The narration is humorous and fun too. Dotted in between chapters are Jane’s imaginative letters to her brother; they’re full of codes that younger readers will love. I wish I’d had this book when I was younger!

“Everyone looked at her in surprise. True, a girl in a grubby hemmed muslin dress didn’t seem a likely person to have unearthed such a plot, but then it was often the ones sitting in the corner overlooked who saw most.”

– THE BURGLAR’S BALL

Despite not having read Sense and Sensibility, I can see how Julia Golding has taken inspiration from the time period. The author has clearly done her research and everything feels very genuine. The Burglar’s Ball is more insightful than the first book – there is exploration of the British Empire from the point of view of those occupied, and the slave trade. I haven’t seen these topics a lot in children’s books; while they don’t overpower the mystery it’s enough to inform younger readers.

“In Jane’s opinion, Cassandra had too strong a belief in the rational behaviour of mankind”

– TOO TRUE, JANE

My only comment is that I’d like it if Brandon, the ex-slave whose name Jane is trying to clear, had a stronger character and stronger hand in proving his innocence. He was fine, but at points he felt less of a developed character and more of a plot point; some people might see it as bordering on white-saviour themes.

To sum up, the Jane Austen Investigates books are so entertaining for any age. The mystery is engaging and easily solvable, although there are some unexpected twists. I’d recommend them for fans of the Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens or the Lady Grace series by Grace Cavendish – or anyone looking for a fun light read.

Rating: 5 out of 5.