Hopeful Reads of 2020 Rundown

It’s finished, it’s over! 2020 has been a very different year than what I was expecting, so I am happy to see it over. Hopefully 2021 will see everyone living a safer and healthier life. At the start of the year I challenged myself to try and read some of the books I was hoping to read in 2020. Check out how I did!


I am proud to have gotten through so many of the below books. I will admit that I wasn’t reading much as during the Australian lock down I was still working and when we opened back up I was quite frazzled (the nicest word for what I was feeling) with the public push back at opening restrictions – so combined this all together it was safe to say I wasn’t feeling all that up to reading.

So when I say proud, I do mean I am proud and surprised that I got through so many of the books.

Check out how I did:



The books that I was able to complete and read were:

The book that I did not finish was:

  • Embrace Your Weird: A Guided Journal for Facing Your Fears and Unleashing Creativity by Felicia Day.

The book was good and I enjoyed the content but I just wasn’t in the mind set to benefit from the content of the book, so I stopped reading 😓

In addition to this I am half way through Mr. Know-It-All by John Waters and since I’m not the biggest fan of biographies, I think this one will take me a little longer to get through.

So as it stands, I have finished 101/2 books out of 16.

One of my 2020 Goals was to read at least half of my Hopeful Reads, so I have smashed it! As I’ve said, I enjoyed this passive challenge, so I’ll make one for 2021 – keep an eye out for that!


It’s been a tough year, were you able to get some reading done? Were there any book you were happy to mark off your TBR pile? Comment and let me know!

12 Tropes of 2020 – The Only Option by Megan Derr

Marriage of Convenience from
12 Tropes of 2020

A marriage of convenience is a mutually beneficial agreement, with both parties profiting from the binding – it may even involve a contract – but not always. Sometimes, only one of the partners may be in it for something other than love.

Taken from TV Tropes.

The Only Option by Megan Derr

A desperate dragon. A lonely necromancer. A marriage neither wants.

When he is summoned to the royal castle, Rochus anticipates nothing more than a particularly difficult assignment. The bothersome journey is almost made worthwhile when he is propositioned by a young, beautiful dragon, Tilo, who seems untroubled by the fact that Rochus is a necromancer.

When Rochus arrives at the castle he is ordered to marry the very same dragon he spent the night with. Though Rochus would rather sign papers and return home, he is helpless against Tilo’s pleas for help, even if it means spending more time around a man he is desperately drawn to but who doesn’t seem to want him.

Taken from book blurb

My thoughts

Megan Derr is a master at crafting in-depth fantastical locations and lore – in The Only Option were are introduced to a necromancer who is quite different from other magical users. Rochus, said grumpy necromancer, has pearly white skin, so black its blue hair, black teeth, and an appetite for blood. Due to his different and off-putting appearance and diet, Rochus is ostracised and feared by people.

Continue reading “12 Tropes of 2020 – The Only Option by Megan Derr”

Clarification on my 2021 Historical Romance Book Bingo

If you are interested in learning more about my Historical Romance Book Bingo I am running in 2021, please follow the below link.

If you are interested in taking part and would like more clarification on what each of the bingo tiles mean, please read on.


Beauty & the Beast – A novel that is an adaption or retelling of the Beauty & the Beast fairy-tale. Doesn’t have to be a complete re-telling, elements of the story are completely fine, such as a scarred or reclusive hero. Eg, The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare.

Christmas Time! – Novel that features or is set during Christmas time. Eg, 12 Dukes of Christmas Series by Erica Ridley.

Continue reading “Clarification on my 2021 Historical Romance Book Bingo”

12 Tropes of 2020 – A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Free Choice: Royalty from
12 Tropes of 2020


A Princess in Theory
by Alyssa Cole

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

Taken from blurb

My thoughts

I have mixed feelings about this book – I enjoyed it and am really keen to read more from Alyssa Cole but some parts of the story were problematic for me. Without going into too much detail there were some actions that really bordered on dubious consent with actions taken and the power imbalance between the romantic couple.

Outside of this though was a great story which made for a compelling read. I enjoyed the world building and loved the main character, Naledi. The whole cast was really engaging and, as I read this years after it was published, I was excited to see characters who got their own books.

Continue reading “12 Tropes of 2020 – A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole”

Hyped Up? Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given

WOMEN DON’T OWE YOU PRETTY will tell you to…
love sex, hate sexism,
protect your goddamn energy,
life is short, dump them,
And that you owe men nothing, least of all pretty.

Florence’s debut book will explore all progressive corners of the feminist conversation; from insecurity projection and refusing to find comfort in other women’s flaws, to deciding whether to date or dump them, all the way through to unpacking the male gaze and how it shapes our identity.

WOMEN DON’T OWE YOU PRETTY is an accessible leap into feminism, for people at all stages of their journey who are seeking to reshape and transform the way they view themselves. In a world that tells women we’re either not enough or too much, it’s time we stop directing our anger and insecurities onto ourselves, and start fighting back to re-shape the toxic structures of our patriarchal society.

Florence’s book will help you to tackle and challenge the limiting narrative you have been bombarded with your whole life, and determine feminism on your own terms. After all, you are the love of your own life

Taken from book blurb

The Hype

Currently Women Don’t Owe You Pretty has a long reservation list at my library. After processing the book and checking out the blurb, not only was I intrigued but I began to see it pop up all over the place.

I am seeing a lot of hype about Given’s book on the internet and have had a few conversations with people who has read the book who rave about it. After having researched the book, I figured that it would be perfect to use my not often used, Hyped Up feature!


“Up until now we have been bombarded with the same stories that either make us subconsciously hate ourselves or hate others. It’s time to change the narrative, and the power lies in your hands. Consume diverse content. Reinvigorate those tired taste buds.”

Florence Given, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty.

The Verdict

Women Don’t Owe You Pretty is so incredibly worth reading!

From front to back the book was so engaging and relevant! A number of issues are covered over the course of the book and are broken up into very easy to read chapters. You can devour this book in one sitting or you can return to it chapter by chapter and ruminate on the issues raised, how they affect you, and what you can do with your new knowledge.

While the content is by no means new or revolutionary, the accessible way in which Given communicates these issues really speaks to a wide audience. Seasoned feminist pros, people who need a refresher, people new to the idea of feminism, people who don’t want to feel so alone with modern issues, or people who want to better themselves by reading about privilege and how to view the world outside of the toxicity that clouds certain topics. As the blurb says, Women Don’t Owe You Pretty is for people at all stages of their journey.

Towards the end of the book, I found out how old the author is and it pulled me up. I did think, how could someone that age have valid insight into these issues BUT THEN I realised that no, this is exactly what the book is talking about – I need to stop and push through my ageist prejudice and view these from an objective viewpoint. Given’s age doesn’t detract from the validity of her book and comments.

Do yourself a favour, pick up Women Don’t Owe You Pretty and discover for yourself how the book deserves the hype. You’ll thank yourself ❤


Have you read Women Don’t Owe You Pretty? What do you think – do you agree with me or do you think the book is over hyped?

2021 Reading Challenge – Historical Romance Book Bingo

I’m very excited to introduce you to my 2021 Historical Romance Book Bingo Challenge!

I had so much fun last year with my 12 Tropes of 2020 challenge but wanted to expand out again and broaden the challenge by creating a ‘normal’ bingo card.

So without further adieu, check out my 2021 Historical Romance Book Bingo.

Alright so the action plan for my 2021 Historical Romance Book Bingo is to, you guessed it, read a bunch of historical romance novels and reach a bingo. Knowing myself through I’ll try and mark off each square. I tend to read a lot of regency romance but these prompts should span across a number of different subgenres.

As an added bonus, I’ve included the top line of circle prompts which feature some of the British Noble Ranks. These shouldn’t be too difficult to cross off as they feature predominantly in the genre!

If you’re interested in taking part in my bingo challenge all you need to do is:

  • Use my Challenge Card or make/ask for one of your own (I have happy to customise colours and/or include your own logos)
  • Add a link and pingback to this post
  • Use the hashtag #HistoricalRomanceBingo and
  • Have fun!

You may notice a lack of diversity prompts, I have chosen to not include these as I feel that I should be reading broadly anyway and do not need to include these specific prompts as they can be quite problematic. So you want to include characters or authors of backgrounds, sexualities, or voices different from your own – read away and fit them within the offered prompts!

If you’re interested in using the above challenge card, you can download the .png file in the button on the left.


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Read and Rated: October

I haven’t been quite as productive as September but I’ve been hitting the non-fiction books a lot more this month so it all evens out. So here is a quick rundown of the books I finished during the month of October.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Skincare: the Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide by Caroline Hirons

Firstly I am going to say that I have no clue who Caroline Hirons is but I did find their Skincare book quite informative. I could have done without the near constant references back to her YouTube channel but Hirons spelt out skincare issues in easy to understand language and included a lot of helpful pictures.

I have been trying to get a better handle on my skin which has always been a nightmare, so this book was very informative in helping my choose products that would suit my skincare needs – which were also detailed in the book. Win-win!

Continue reading “Read and Rated: October”

Murder on the Rockport Limited: Thoughts of a TAZ first-timer

With the release of the second The Adventure Zone graphic novel, Amy from Lost in a Good Book and I thought it would be a great idea to look at how we each experienced the novel; myself having only read the graphic novels and her having listened to the listened to the entire TAZ Balance podcast.

As I am see this graphic novel with completely new eyes I thought I would take the time to point out some of the things that confused or stood out to me.

Warning: If you haven’t listened to the podcast for this arc or read any of the graphic novels, here there be minor spoilers.


How did you enjoy the story knowing/not knowing the podcast?

Amy: I loved the story because I loved reliving the story in visual form. I heard the boy’s voices in my head and I loved being able to read it with their voices.

Ally: Before reading Murder on the Rockport LimitedI had read the first in the series, Here There Be Gerblins and I remember really loving both the story and characters. While I’m not as familiar with the characters as Amy, I very much got a clear grasp of their characters.

Amy: With the hints and clues to future events I knew what was coming and I loved the easter egg hunt to see just what Carey had included in the illustrations. From background detail, characters in crowds or the smallest detail in character stat sheets it was a fun read to see the references I understood, and it often replaces some of the jokes that were excluded by simply making them visual.

Ally: Sometimes I would see little details in the background or read an offhand comment by a character and it would pull me up. Just the knowledge that this story has already been told in a different format really made me aware of little things like this – I couldn’t help thinking, ‘I am sure this means something to someone.’

Amy: It’s hard to say just listen to the arc to match the graphic novel because it draws from multiple episodes. Murder on the Rockport Limited takes storyline from episodes before and after the actual arc and even alludes to things that are far from happening.

Ally: I will admit that after I finished the graphic novel I did flip back to certain pages and ask my partner questions like, ‘will this come back in later books?’ or ‘Is this character important?’ I swear the characters Angus talks to at the end were too fancy and pretty looking to just be throw away characters – I swear they must be coming back or something!

Continue reading “Murder on the Rockport Limited: Thoughts of a TAZ first-timer”

Quick Queer Reviews – LGBTQ+ Fantasy Romance Part 3

So, when I have previously said that Queer Fantasy Romance novels were a favourite genre – I really did mean it. So welcome to my third post of quick queer reviews of books from this genre. Enjoy!


LGBTQ+ Fantasy Romance


Red Heir by Lisa Henry and Sarah Honey

Imprisoned pickpocket Loth isn’t sure why a bunch of idiots just broke into his cell claiming they’re here to rescue the lost prince of Aguillon, and he doesn’t really care. They’re looking for a redheaded prince, and he’s more than happy to play along if it means freedom. Then his cranky cellmate Grub complicates things by claiming to be the prince as well.

Now they’re fleeing across the country and Loth’s stuck sharing a horse and a bedroll with Grub while imitating royalty, eating eel porridge, and dodging swamp monsters and bandits.

Along the way, Loth discovers that there’s more to Grub than meets the eye. Under the dirt and bad attitude, Grub’s not completely awful. He might even be attractive. In fact, Loth has a terrible suspicion that he’s developing feelings, and he’s not sure what to do about that. He’d probably have more luck figuring it out if people would just stop trying to kill them.

Still, at least they’ve got a dragon, right? 

Taken from book blurb

As soon as I found out these two authors were working together, I was so excited. As a follower of their individual fan fiction work I was looking forward to an emotional and fun romp – I was not disappointed. Red Heir is a book with a larger than life, rouge-esque character called Loth who over the course of the book catches feels for his counterpart, Grub.

The book is a fun, humorous, and at times emotional fantastical ride. I initially had the book marked at 5 stars but there was a poor taste joke that persistently followed Grub. I do understand that it was made to be funny but surely it could have been replaces with something else. Either way, despite this one niggle the book was an great read from these first time collaborators.

Continue reading “Quick Queer Reviews – LGBTQ+ Fantasy Romance Part 3”

Thoughts on a 2021 Reading Challenge

Check out the 2021 Reading Challenge here!

Ally Asks

In preparation for next year, I’m starting to think about what I’m going to do for my next reading challenge. I have really enjoyed my 12 Tropes of 2020 challenge and am looking forward to doing something similar in 2021.

Looking back at the posts that I have done the 12 square template has been a lot less stressful than my previous Book Bingo attempts so I am thinking of sticking with that format. I am on the fence about the theme of the challenge though.

I very much enjoy reading romance novels and the majority, if not all of my 12 Trope posts have been from the romance genre. Also since I enjoy the genre so much, should it be focused solely on historical romance? So I am considering focusing down on the romance genre but I am unsure if I should continue to pick tropes or if I should try and mix it up a bit with prompts like, Blank in the title or *this type of character.

The below are some of my current ideas:

  • Wallflower.
  • Beauty and the Beast.
  • Non-titled romantic lead.
  • and the obligatory Duke, Marquess, Earl, titles.

Buuuut having said this, I really enjoy reading diverse books, so should I be looking at a diversity challenge to make sure that I am always striving to read broadly – especially in a genre which can be quite whitewashed.

Prompts like:

  • Bisexual representation.
  • Disability representation.
  • Indigenous character.
  • Biracial representation.
  • and a whole range of representation from characters and backgrounds.

But having said this, when I put all of these diverse things down, it makes it feel a bit trite because I should be reading these things anyway. I shouldn’t need a challenge like this to make sure that these representations are included in books or in my reading list.

So I’m putting it to you, do you have any suggestions? Honestly I’m tempted to either make two challenges or mix them all up and have a very interesting historical romance challenge.


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