Rated E for Emotional: ‘The Nobleman’s Guide To Scandal And Shipwrecks’

A perfect ending to THE best historical young adult series. Ever. You can quote me on that.


Book: The Nobleman’s Guide To Scandal and Shipwrecks

Author: Mackenzie Lee

Published: Nov 2021

Adrian Montague has a bright future. The sole heir to his father’s estate, he is an up and coming political writer and engaged to an activist who challenges and inspires him. But most young Lords aren’t battling the debilitating anxiety Adrian secretly lives with, or the growing fear that it might consume him and all he hopes to accomplish. In the wake of his mother’s unexpected death, Adrian is also concerned people will find out that he has the mental illness she struggled with for years.

When a newly found keepsake of hers-a piece of a broken spyglass-comes into Adrian’s possession, he’s thrust into the past and finds himself face to face with an older brother he never knew he had. Henry “Monty” Montague has been living quietly in London for years, and his sudden appearance sends Adrian on a quest to unravel family secrets that only the spyglass can answer.


I read some very good series last year. The Montague Siblings books are hilarious, campy and bittersweet and this was my highest anticipated reads of 2020. If you haven’t heard of them, first of all read them and fill your life with serotonin and adventure. Secondly, the first two books in the series are set one year apart and follow siblings Monty and Felicity respectively. However, The Nobleman’s Guide picks up 19 years later, following the much younger brother of the characters of the first two books. Capiche? While it was a little disconcerting seeing my favourite characters leap from being teenagers to 37, you barely feel the age gap between Monty, Felicity and Adrian. This isn’t hindered by how Monty and Felicity still behave like children towards each other, and make me ugly cackle with laughter multiple times. And sob, but more on that later.

My favourite part of The Montague Siblings series is how each book focuses on parts of life that you almost never see represented in historical young adult books, or historical novels in general. A Gentleman’s Guide To Vice And Virtue is about Monty’s experience as a queer teenager in 18th century Europe (check out my review here!) while A Lady’s Guide To Petticoats And Piracy focuses on women and their struggles, especially women in science. You can find my review here. This final book centers around Adrian and his mental health – and is one of the best portrayals I’ve seen of mental health problems in any YA book, historical or otherwise. The parallel between Monty and Adrian as vulnerable teenagers was so well done, and made me tear up a bit when they were each helping each other get by. Slightly predictable character development, but so well done all the same.

“I want to stop picking at life like it’s a meal I don’t want to eat, because I want to. I want to taste it all. I want life to be a feast, even if I have to eat it raw and bloody and burned some days. I will pick bones from my teeth. I will let the juice drip down my chin.” 

― The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks

Another thing that I love about the series is how each book has a slightly different narrative voice. They’re first person and it fits the characters’ personalities: Monty’s was very coquettish and funny; Felicity’s is so sarcastic. I love how much thought the author puts in. This book had some incredibly beautiful moments of writing, and a tendency to use lots of metaphors which is unlike the other books but suited Adrian’s personality as a writer. It was different, but I really liked it.

The final thing that sets the book apart is Adrian’s established relationship. Book One had pining, book two had exceptional ace representation, while book three has Adrian engaged from the first page and god I love this series. Some books should have stayed stand alone, but this series works SO WELL. However, I sometimes wished it was more romance focused, only because I know that the author is so good at it. Monty and Percy are just so well written, but we don’t get to see a lot of Adrian and his fiancee. This again sets the series apart from most YA books, with only one out of three books being romance focused, proving twice that it’s possible to have utterly brilliant books without romance!

The plot had me on the edge of my seat (the author is mean with my feelings) and balances out world building and character development. The visual aesthetic of the book is GORGEOUS too. Check trigger warnings before you read, but there was nothing I thought was unnecessary or added for shock value as I saw one review say. I think this series will fast become my comfort book – it feels as though the characters are speaking out of the page. I just can’t recommend this series enough.

To sum up, The Nobleman’s Guide didn’t beat the first two books, but it’s a very close second. You need to read the series in order, or else you’ll miss out on the introduction of past characters and grinning like a madman with tears in your eyes. (The EPILOGUE! The rest of the book was incredibly good, but the epilogue knocked it out of the park. On its own, the epilogue is the best thing I’ve ever read.). The Nobleman’s Guide certainly put my heart through its paces, and if you want an utterly fun, heartwarming, bittersweet read it’s for you. Rated E for Emotional.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Best Books Of 2021 Tag

Welcome to an original tag, and possibly the simplest one you’ll ever see! I wanted to pick my single, best book of the year but I simply couldn’t choose. So I’ve split the year up into four. Then I wanted to share this tag with others, so if this looks like something you’d be interested in trying, give it a go!

The Rules

  • Link back to the original creator, Hundreds and Thousands Of Books
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you
  • Share your favorite books of the year! And have a great new year 🙂

The Tag!

I can’t believe the Love Simon series is over! But I loved how this novella tied everything together (ahhh it gave me so much serotonin). Rated E for Emotional… Check out my review here!

It was a tough call between this and Rule Of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo, but August and Jane stole my heart and have kept it ever since. Gorgeous book. Check out my review here!

Ahhh I’ve read some very good series this year. The Montague Siblings series are hilarious, campy and bittersweet and while I love all of the books with all my heart, nothing can beat this first one. Check out my review here!

The Raven Boys had to be the best series I read this year. Possibly ever. It’s a blur of almost every genre under the sun, wrapped up in this beautiful prose – and while the plot kind of makes you lose your mind, it’s a very, very cool series. Check out my review here! This was very, very nearly my top book, but that had to go to…

Drumroll please…

Ahhhh it was just so good. So good. SO good. Forgive my inarticulancy, but One Last Stop surpasses words to explain how good it was. You’ll just have to read it for yourself and find out!

I Nominate

Happy New Year! And if you want to have a go and your site isn’t here, let me know in the comments and I’ll nominate you!

#TTT 28/12/21 – Top 21 Books From 2021!

2021 was kind of terrible, but the books weren’t…
We’ve nearly done it! 2021 is nearly over – it’s been a difficult year for lots of people in lots of ways and hopefully 2022 can be much brighter. I was going to do a post talking solely about my Goodreads Reading Challenge, but all I can really give you is the number, so please congratulate me on my…

76

books read this year! I’m incredibly proud of it (had a lot of time to read in the January lockdown…). How many books did you read in 2020?

My New Years Goals for this blog was also going to be another post, but, lucky you, they’re here instead! I managed to complete some of my 2020 goals, including my biggest one of trying out some ARCs. Netgalley was pretty stressful but I’d like to try and review some more in the new year. If you could help me reach my 2022 goals by liking, following or sharing, I’d be very grateful!

  • 600 followers by the end of 2022
  • Read 60 books (hopefully there won’t be another lockdown, so I’ll have less time to read)
  • Read more indie and queer authors. I’d love to try some more classics too – got any recommendations?
  • Read one or two ARCs
  • More interaction with you guys!

Without further ado, here’s my top 21 books from 2021! The TTT prompt is for ten but I really can’t narrow it down. I’ve been accumulating this list since January so my reviews are linked to the images. How many have you read? What were your favourite books from this year? Let me know in the comments 🙂


December

November 

October

September 

August

July

The Raven Boys : Stiefvater, Maggie: Amazon.co.uk: Books

June

40379447. sy475
54860443

May

39336721
The Bane Chronicles: Amazon.co.uk: Clare, Cassandra, Brennan, Sarah Rees,  Johnson, Maureen: Books

April

See the source image

March

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah  Johnson

February

January

Love, Creekwood by Becky Albertalli | Waterstones

Differences Between Physical and Audiobook: The Dream Thieves Book Review

New favourite series alert! The Raven Boys books are trippy, violent and very, very cool. You have to let go of logic a little to enjoy them…


Name: The Dream Thieves

Author: Maggie Stiefvater

Published: 2013

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Blue and Gansey will be the same. Ronan is falling more and more deeply into his dreams … and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Gansey is needed at home, and is struggling to stay in Aglionby. And Adam? He’s made some new friends. Friends that are looking for some of the same pieces of the puzzle that Gansey, Blue, and Ronan are after. Great power is at stake, and someone must be willing to wield it.


Last summer, I listened to the audiobook of the first Raven Boys book. I decided to read the second book in the series, The Dream Thieves, in physical book form and I noticed lots of differences in the way I experienced the books. I can see the series as a whole becoming one of my favourites – the books are trippy, violent and very, very cool. It’s… a weird series. Some scenes feel like they’ve happened already or alternatively, characters will reference situations that I have no recollection of happening. I’d love to crossreference everything and work it all out but I think the confusion is purposeful. You have to let go of logic a little to fully enjoy the series. The narrator is pretty unreliable (or there’s just a lot of metaphors). I’d love to explain the plot to someone because it would just sound ridiculous. Incredibly enjoyable books!

‘We know the ley line messes with time’ said Gansey immediately, but he felt undone. Not exactly undone but unmoored. Released from the ruts of logic. When the rules of time became flexible, the future seemed to hold too many possibilities to bear.

– YOU AND ME BOTH GANSEY

So here are the differences I found between reading The Raven Boys in audiobook and its sequel The Dream Thieves in physical form. Which form (or book) do you prefer? Let me know in the comments!

Accents

Will Patton, the audiobook narrator, had the most gorgeous Southern accent that really brought the characters to life. I’ve never experienced an American West Summer but I feel like I have now, and I missed him doing all the speech in the physical book. However, some of the spellings came as a bit of a shock – Aglionby? Cabeswater? I also thought that Gansey was called Candy for half of the audiobook because of his accent!

Time!!

You actually have time to think with a physical book. You can go back and reread sections without your finger slipping on the time bar, skipping a chapter and catching a plot twist (I thought it sounded impossible too…). You also have more time to enjoy the writing – I’m a sucker for poetic writing and Maggie Stiefvater has the rhythm of words down perfectly. It creates this gorgeous, emotional fantasy world. The writing is abrupt and addictive; I love it.

Characters

This is more comparing the two books rather than the media, but I think that there was so much more character development in The Dream Thieves. The group dynamic is so interesting – I genuinely ship them all. Every possible combination works! I hope that they continue to focus on one character per book – Ronan was heartbreaking. Also, I want more information on Noah! He’s such an interesting and unique character but never gets much page time. In the middle, when it dragged a little, he could easily have been given some of the Rich Boys . That being said, the ending was electric.


This book is the culmination of The Dark Is Rising Sequence, The Power Of Five series and a black comedy romance film I can’t name. If you’re a fan of any of those, this is for you. I can’t wait to read the the third book – although the cover feels a little too 2013 YA, I believe this series is timeless.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

5 Short Books To Read To Finish Your Goodreads Challenge

How books do you have left in your Goodreads 2021 Reading Challenge? Three? Four? I’ve got six and I’m very aware of the time flying by until the new year. So if you’re like me and need some short books to read, have a look at this list! Have you read any of them? Do you have any other short book recommendations? Let me know in the comments!


Pet by Awaeke Emezi is a super short YA novel I actually picked up last year to try and finish my Goodreads challenge. And I’m so glad I did! It’s thought provoking and incredibly moving – I read it in one sitting. Find my review here!


If you haven’t had to suffer through analysing it at school, An Inspector Calls by J B Priestley is actually a really engaging play. It’s super short, and happens in real time so you’ll be at the big plot twist in no time.


The ratio of pages to the number of times The Outsiders by S E Hinton made me cry is ridiculous. A brilliant read, and one of my favourite classics!


This should be a modern classic, but no-one’s ever heard of Eden by Joanna Nadin. Granted, I found it at a charity shop, but it’s a min-warping, all-consuming thriller with only 240 pages. Let me know what you think!


Modern classics and poetry collections always super short. The Weight Of Water by Sarah Crossan is a fast paced, YA poetry book – and I absolutely loved it. A must-read if you’re trying to fill up your Goodreads Challenge!

Book Review: The Lady’s Guide To Petticoats And Piracy

It’s so feminist and so funny – I’m in love with this series.

I thought I’d celebrate the near release of the third book in the Montague Siblings series by reviewing the second one! This series is fast becoming a firm favourite of mine.


Name: Lady’s Guide To Petticoats And Piracy (Montague Siblings 2)

Author: Mackenzie Lee

Published: 2018

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.

But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.


The Montague Siblings Series is fast becoming one of my favourite YA series. Last month, I read The Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue… and then immediately bought the sequel! I had thought that Monty and Percy would be with Felicity the entire time but I think it let her grow as a character. I loved Felicity in the first book, and even more in this one as I learned more about her. (Plus, her narration is impeccable.) It was the type of predictable character development I can stand, where I’m waiting for Felicity to see where she’s going wrong. However, the plot was anything but predictable – clever, funny and very difficult to foresee.

“Everyone has heard stories of women like us—cautionary tales, morality plays, warnings of what will befall you if you are a girl too wild for the world, a girl who asks too many questions or wants too much. If you set off into the world alone. Everyone has heard stories of women like us, and now we will make more of them.”

– THE LADY’S GUIDE TO PETTICOATS AND PIRACY

The entire cast of characters are so interesting. While the book built on people we met in the last book (read them in order!) and reintroduced characters at critical points that genuinely made me laugh out loud; Felicity meets a whole host of new faces. Each female character is different, but each show the challenges faced by 18th Century women ‘in a world where even the staircases are made for men’. I can’t praise it enough.

I wrote this note so many times that it needs to be said verbatim: ‘AHH ITS SO FUNNY!’ I wanted to tab so many quips but I fully think I’d deplete the worlds stickers. The dialogue is so quippy and clever and (you’ve guessed it) funny. The message is stronger than all the concoctions needed to keep Georgian Lady’s wigs afloat (which is quite significant). In other words, this book is a gem.

“You’re trying to play a game designed by men. You’ll never win, because the deck is stacked and marked, and also you’ve been blindfolded and set on fire. You can work hard and believe in yourself and be the smartest person in the room and you’ll still get beat by the boys who haven’t two cents to rub together. So if you can’t win the game, you have to cheat. You operate outside the walls they’ve built to fence you in. You rob them in the dark, while they’re drunk on spirits you offered them. Poison their waters and drink only wine.” 

– OOF

So, if you enjoy historical YA books about gripping adventure and pirates and fiery teenage girls, this book is for you. Or if you want a (wait for it…) funny, empowering read, try The Lady’s Guide To Petticaots and Piracy. You won’t regret it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Have you read any of the Montague Siblings books? Do they look like the sort of thing you’d be interested in? What are some of your favourite historical YA books? Let me know in the comments!

#WWW Wednesday – 10/11/21

This one of my favourite weekly tags, so many people do it that it’s really fun – and it’s always nice to rant about how excited I am for my next read. WWW Wednesday is hosted over at Taking On A World Of Words, go and check out their site! If you’ve had a go at this tag, feel free to link your post in the comments. And here’s what I’ve been up to this week!

(I realized after I’d made the graphic that the date is wrong. Sorry!)


What I Finished Recently

I had a revelation this week. It sounds ridiculous but I had been really stressed about having loads of books to read, then took a step back and realised … it didn’t really matter! Reading is just a hobby. And whilst I really wanted finish this series in time for the sequel’s publishing date… it didn’t really matter. Have you ever got a bit too caught up pages to speed through and not really focused on enjoying yourself? Let me know in the comments.

So I instead read a romance book that I’ve wanted to read for YEARS and it was such a fun read! You can check out my full review and why booktok was what lead me to read Shelby Mahurin’s Serpent and Dove here.

I also recently read The Yearbook by Holly Bourne. I normally love her writing but I feel like it lacked the usual spark. It was a bit preachy – the message was very strong but it felt forced. I thought there’d be more of a focus on the actual Yearbook, but it only was discussed within the final pages. I liked the main character’s development and it was SO easy to read (I read 200 pages in one go!) but the love interest was very pretentious…

What I’m Currently Reading

The mysteries in this series are beyond perfect. At the moment, the mystery is six out of five stars but I’m not that bothered about the other parts of the story, like Pip’s friends or relationships. I get that the backstory is connecting the sequel to the first book but it could be a standalone mystery and I wouldn’t really mind. I’ve very nearly finished it. I’ve always liked and admired Pip for being such a dependable character but now I don’t know what to think. Her reaction to this traumatic news is justified but I’m not sure about her actions? Her character took quite a dark twist and I’m a little concerned for her, for the third book. Have you read any of the Good Girl’s Guide To Murder Books? I’d love to know what you thought in the comments!


I’m so excited to return to the hilarious, witty world of the Montague siblings for a Nobleman’s Guide to Shipwrecks and Scandal. I LOVE THIS SERIES SO MUCH!

Booktok Made Me Read It: Serpent and Dove Review

The definition of a bingeable book.


Name: Serpent & Dove

Author: Shelby Mahurin

Published: 2019

Song: Any song by Lou Reed (Get it! Get it!)

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned. Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.


Serpent & Dove seems to be one of those books that never dies. Despite being published over two years ago, it drifts back from the limelight for a few months, and then resurfaces again… and again, and again. Because can a book truly die when it’s popular on Booktok? Although, I’m sure all the forced marriage, enemies to lovers and ‘soulmates but hating each kind from birth’ tropes didn’t not help. (Were they the reasons why I bought Serpent & Dove? Possibly… on with the review!)

I had high hopes for a fun, romantic, angsty, enemies to lovers plot with a strong fantasy world but lead by romance… and I’d say it delivered. Except perhaps the fantasy world taking second place – I’d say that world building and romance had pretty much equal attention. This can lead to massive info dumps (*cough From Blood and Ash *cough*) but the author handled providing info really well. And I wanted as much information as possible because I LOVE the magic system. It’s one of the best I’ve ever read: for starters, it’s well thought out and makes sense (there goes 50% of fantasy systems.). The idea is that you have to sacrifice something equal to the magic you’re trying to perform; it’s clever and brilliant and I can see it setting up some heartbreak later in the series.

“Such a love was not something of just the heart and mind. It wasn’t something to be felt and eventually forgotten, to be touched without it in return touching you. No . . . this love was something else. Something irrevocable. It was something of the soul.” 

– Serpent & Dove

Next fangirl moment: LOU! She is gorgeous, funny and has a spine, which is always nice to see in female love interests, especially in an enemies to lovers book. Her and Reid had some sweet moments together. However, because so much time was put into building up Lou’s brilliant character, it meant that Reid’s was really lacking. The book had dual narratives, but it was almost not worth having the chapters from Reid’s POV for how few they numbered. I think it would have worked so much better to just be from Lou’s perspective – because it practically was already. Literally all I learned about Reid is that he’s an Angry BoyTM who roars, growls and at one point quite literally punches a wall. The main facts we learn about Reid’s past are from his conversations with Lou, not from flashbacks, and I think it let the romance down. In my head, you either have two strong narrators falling in love, or one POV and a more mysterious love interest because you can’t see their thoughts. The author aimed for the first one but it fell flat and landed in an awkward middle ground.

There were other strong characters. I loved Lou’s friends and how both Reid and Lou had been in love previously. I feel like that doesn’t happen enough in YA romance books – Serpent and Dove never reveals their age, but I assume they’re both teenagers. Also, the writing was of a much higher quality than I expected for this genre. Maybe that’s stereotyping of me, but it was a nice surprise! The writing… had its moments (me and my friends are very divided over what I declare the genius of Big Liddy) and I think it could have done with fewer profanities. They added humour and depth to Lou’s character, to a certain point, but when she says ‘ass’ four times in one page, she needs some other idiosyncrasies.

My last point was how excited I was to have chapter titles (I hear it too, but it was just nice to have titles!). I gave Serpent & Dove 4 stars overall – 5 for the magic system and world building, 4.5 for plot (a bit predictable) and 4 for romance. The whole dynamic of the romance lacked because of Reid’s weak character, and I feel like the characters didn’t act like teenagers over them being married? I get that’s the whole USP of the book, but I don’t think teens would care so much about the core values of matrimony and call their significant other ’my husband’ even in their head. For a solid 300 pages. That’s Lou not mentioning Reid by name for 300 pages, only as ’my husband’. 😩

I loved that it was set in France and it was utterly bingeable. I read most of it in one sitting! I won’t be rushing to read the other books but if I find myslef in a lull, I might look for them. Or they’ll find me – because after all, nothing dies on booktok.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you read Serpent and Dove? Would you like to? What are your favourite enemies to lovers books? Let me know in the comments!

The Last 10 Books Tag

It’s been so long since I did a book tag on here, so here goes! A huge thankyou to the Steven over at Steven Writes for nominating me for this tag. You can find the brilliant site and Stephen’s take on the tag here. And here’s mine!


Last Book I Bought:

I literally just ordered Good Girl Bad Blood by Holly Jackson. I’ve been feeling pretty rough and really wanted a fun mystery I could lose myself in. I swear murder mysteries are as good as paracetamol for feeling better! (sort of).

Last Book I Re-Read:

I have to go back quite a long way! I’ve been on a pretty long streak of reading only new books. It would have to be when I reread Carry On and Wayward Son for the release of the third and final book in the series – and purely coincidentally, you can find my review of Any Way The Wind Blows here. The main reason I reread books is if I can’t remember what happened and the series is expanding. What about you?

Last Book I Gave Up On:

I’d never read any of Jeff VanderMeer’s books before… and I think I’ll be keeping it that way. I’m always open for new styles so I tried to power through A Peculiar Peril, but it was a style that only really works for short stories, not a 600 page book. I was also shocked when the main character was eventually introduced as only 16 – I thought he was 36. Have you read any of his books? I’d love to know someone else’s opinion on his style. Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Last Book I Said I Read But Didn’t:

No comment 🙂

Last Book I Wrote in the Margins Of:

When I read the final Murder Most Unladylike Book, Death Sets Sail, I annotated the mystery as I went to see if I could solve the puzzle before the characters (maybe not the biggest flex since it’s aimed at children…). But, I forgot I’d done that. And then lent it to a friend.

It was a fun conversation! Here’s my review.

Last Book I Lost:

I don’t think I’ve ever lost a book? I’m normally pretty careful because books aren’t cheap.

Last Book That I Had Signed:

Have you seen the Waterstones exclusive edition of They Both Die At The End? It is very very pretty. And possibly now one of the coolest books I own 🤩 Find my review of this devastating book and why it’s my comfort read here.

Last Book I Had to Replace:

My copy of A Little Life was ripped open down the seam before I could read it (don’t ask 😭). However, I haven’t replaced it yet. The damage may have been a good thing because I feel like it might save me a world of hurt. I’m not in a massive hurry to read A Little Life!

Last Book I Argued Over:

This seems to be a very hot take at the moment, but I quite enjoyed Dune by Frank Herbert! It took me a while to get through it, but I don’t think it deserves some of the hate it’s getting- and I’m so excited to see the film.

Check out my review here.

Last Book You Couldn’t Find:

I lose whatever book I’m currently reading all the time. I don’t know how. Do you? Let me know I’m not alone in the comments!


I Tag:

You! If you want to take part let me know in the comments and I’ll add your site to the list 🙂

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.