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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Romance Recommendation: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea

by T.J. Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

Taken from book blurb

Length: 12 hours 12 minutes

Series: N/A

Genre: Fantasy. QUILTBAG. M/M Romance.

Read as an: eAudiobook


My Thoughts

The House in the Cerulean Sea had me messily sobbing while driving on the freeway.

Thank goodness it was always on my way home from work, otherwise I would have spent the day an emotional and red mess. The emotions that this book inspire are so wholesome and loving yet so cutting and sharp.

The feels, people!

The emphasis of this beautiful book is family. However it also looks at hate and how the fear of the unknown can foster contentious and angry feelings which breed to hate and violence. The fact that the books is about an ‘orphanage’ of magical children too dangerous to be housed in normal facilities only adds to the poignancy.

My god the feels, people!


“Just because you don’t experience prejudice in your everyday doesn’t stop it from existing for the rest of us.”


Continue reading “Romance Recommendation: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune”

12 Tropes of 2020 – Two Dukes and a Lady by Lorna James

Love Triangle from
12 Tropes of 2020

When two people both love a third person, and that third often loves them both. The object of their love may be conflicted as to whom he/she wants.

Taken from Urban Dictionary.

A state of affairs in which one person is romantically or sexually involved with two others (one or both of whom may not be aware of or complicit in the situation).

Taken from Lexico.

Two Dukes and a Lady
by Lorna James (aka Jamie K. Schmidt)

Charles Ashdown, Duke of Densmore, and his closest friend William Kenwood, Duke of Tennison, love gambling and womanising too much to ever be ensnared by a debutante. Certainly, no decent wife would allow the debauchery they enjoy. But the only woman they’ve ever loved has returned. Unfortunately, Society, and likely darling Lily, will never accept the sharing relationship they’d like to propose.

Lillian Drew returns to England after her husband’s mysterious death and finds solace with her girlhood crushes, Charles and William. Sure, they’re as unapologetically crass and self-centered as always, but she loves them both. When her dead husband’s creditors come after her, she has no choice but to remarry, though she can’t make up her mind which duke she’ll propose to. With a toss of one of the few coins she has left to her name, she hopes the loser will understand.

Taken from blurb

My thoughts

Full disclosure, I am a bleeding heart and couldn’t stomach the typical ‘love triangle’ trope. So instead of the usual V pattern of a relationship where one person is ultimately chosen, I went with a book where both romantic options are chosen 😋 Yes, yes I am aware that this is a menage or polyamorous trope but I couldn’t handle the angst of someone being rejected 😥

Continue reading “12 Tropes of 2020 – Two Dukes and a Lady by Lorna James”

Read and Rated: September

I was quite productive and read a fair amount this September. So here is a quick rundown of the books I finished during the month of September.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Who’s that Earl by Susanna Craig

Who’s That Earl is the first book of Susanna Criag’s I have read and I quite enjoyed it. The characters of the historical romance were very nuanced and I not only did I like them as individuals but I really liked them together. First in the Love and Let Spy Series, I will deifnelty be looking out for the next in store.

Also I do love the cover of this book, it is so striking and different. However every time I look at it I can’t help but think that there is something wrong with her arms? Maybe it is the style of the dress that is throwing me off? I’m not sure, what do you think?

Continue reading “Read and Rated: September”