January Wrap Up


I am starting 2024 with a BANG.

I’ve started the year off really well by bingeing a series (4 books plus a novella) about Australian bear shifters by indie author Sam Hall. It’s put me in such a good position for a fantastic reading year. I haven’t reviewed them because they are very adult books, but I enjoyed them a lot.

I’ve read 8 books this month! One of them was a DNF and one of them was a novella, but still. 8 books in one month is almost UNHEARD OF for me. In fact, I don’t actually remember the last time I read so much! Maybe in 2013 when I did Project Animorphs. That’s more than 10 years ago!


I’ve posted my first review for the year, Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross (link at bottom of post).

I requested my first – not one but – TWO ARCs of the year! The first one is Dust Spells by one of my favourite authors, Andrea Lynn, whose books  The Heartless City, The Hypnotic City and The Hysterical City I absolutely adored! I also did an interview with Andrea here.

The second ARC I requested was The Broken Elf King by Leia Stone.

Book Buying Ban – sort of

I saw a video on social media about how to limit your book purchases. Rather than go on an outright ban, which will just make me miserable, I have to ‘earn’ a new book by reading another. And it’s not tit for tat: every single page of a book I read counts as one cent in my book buying budget. If I read a 300 page book, that’s $3 towards my book buying budget. I’m going to try this approach this year, and see if it helps me limit my purchasing piles when I have nearly 700 books to read, having purchased 48 in 2023 – though, to be fair, I think about one-third of those were ebooks which don’t clutter up my reading room, and a large majority of the physical books were paid for with generous gift vouchers.

My issue is that I’ve run out of room in my library, so I need to read more of my physical books to shift them out to my storage area. I’m hoping this approach will help me enjoy more of the books I already own this year. At the moment I’m finding it so much easier to read on my Kindle, both for my hands and my eyes, so I’m still trying to tackle my physical pile.

Please note that all the books labelled ‘purchased’ in this post were actually purchased right at the end of December 2023 and were delivered in January 2024, which is why they’re appearing in this month’s Stacking the Shelves.

Culling Goodreads TBR

In the spirit of fresh starts, I have spent quite a few hours of my free time in January going through my Want To Read list on Goodreads (including my custom shelves where I label all of the books I want to read that are available at my library) and culled several hundred books.

This was done in the spirit of my Culling the TBR feature which I previously used regularly on the blog to control my TBR pile, but haven’t done one since 2020. I looked at the blurb of each book individually and determined if they still ‘sparked joy’. If they did not, I removed them from my shelves entirely. If they did, I checked whether they were available at my library using the Chrome Library Extension. If they were available, I moved them to one of my other lists to keep track of.

I decided to cull my Goodreads shelves because I had close to 350 books on my Want To Read shelf and nearly 500 on my ‘borrow from the library’ shelf, which was horribly out of date. I updated all of my library lists as well. I now have 150 on my Want To Read list and my library lists have also reduced dramatically.

I did this because I have hit 700 books that I own that I am yet to read (not included a fair amount of freebies I just download directly to my Kindle without recording on Goodreads, since my accounts are not linked), so I am trying to be more excited about reading the books I own rather than become a full on book dragon and just hoarding everything.

Premium AI Image | Dragon perched on book hoard in fantasy ...

For Review

Thanks to BookSirens and CamCat Books for providing me with a copy of this book for review!

Dust Spells by Andrea Lynn

She thought a dust storm was getting in the way of her dreams, but there are storms more deadly than dust.

Ever since the dust storms arrived and turned her world upside down, ambitious Stella Fischer spends her mornings hiding moonshine in laundry stacks for delivery before returning home to help her sisters—Lavinia and Mattie—run their family home turned boarding house, hoping to make enough money to finally escape to Hollywood. She has no time for distractions, especially from Lloyd, the handsome drifter who works as a hired hand at the boarding house.

When the group decides to forage for building materials at an abandoned cider mill, they discover a magical passage that sends them back to the mill in its prime. There, they meet Archie, a man trapped in the realm who can conjure lavish parties and bring back a world of joy and splendor. But Archie isn’t all he seems, and Stella must discover the truth before a storm more deadly than dust destroys her and everyone she loves.

For readers who love The Twelve Dancing Princesses fairy tale or enjoy The Diviners by Libba Bray, When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore, and Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor.

Not only is Andrea Lynn one of my favourite authors due to her writing style (it positively sings, I tell you!), but one of my OTHER favourite books (Entwined by Heather Wallwork) is a 12 Dancing Princesses retelling, and I adored The Diviners by Libba Bray, so I’m super excited to read this!


Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Bloom Books for providing me with a copy of this novel for review.

The Broken Elf King by Leia Stone

I never should have taken that loan but my aunt needed the meds and they were too expensive for me to afford by myself. Now I’ve been sold to slavery and the Nightfall Queen’s guards have found out I’m not entirely human.

I guess I’m lucky they didn’t kill me.

The next thing I know I’m transferred to the Elf King’s castle to find out that he has bought me. It will take me five years to pay off the debt but I get to be his personal assistant. Personal assistant to the king. That can’t be so bad, right?

Wrong. Oh how wrong I was.

His council has tasked me with finding him a wife before they will fund his war against the Nightfall Queen. That part should be easy, he’s rich, disgustingly handsome, and smart to boot. The problem? He’s rejecting every high born female I send his way.

The more time we spend together, the more we realize I’m not just some half elf. There is a deep power that runs through my veins, one that makes me a target. His solution?

Enter into a fake marriage with him so that he can get the council off his back and I can get some protection.

That’s a great idea, so long as I don’t fall in love with him.
Should be simple enough…

The Broken Elf King is book TWO of FOUR in the Kings of Avalier series. It’s a full-length standalone fantasy romance that focuses on the Elf King Raife Lightstone.

This is Book 2 in a series and I have not read the first book, however it is a standalone series, which means the books focus on a different character each time and can be read independently of each other. I was drawn to the tropes:

  • PA to the king
  • Help him find a wife
  • Fake Dating
  • Oops, I caught the feels

FAIRLY basic and I’m not expecting anything ground breaking, I just want a good fake dating the king the book.


The Message (Animorphs Graphic #4) by KA Applegate and Chrine Grine

The wildly popular, bestselling sci-fi series by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant returns in a new full-color graphic novel series, adapted by Chris Grine. It begins with the dreams. Cassie has been having strange nightmares of a voice calling to her from deep beneath the ocean. They’re unsettling, but it isn’t until Cassie discovers Tobias has been having dreams too―the exact same dreams, of a voice pleading for help―that she decides it’s time to start listening. When pieces of debris wash up on shore, marked with alien writing, the team realizes they may still have allies in the fight for Earth―allies who are trying to make contact. Now they just have to reach them, before time runs out.

I had ‘liked’ the wrong version of this on Goodreads so I didn’t get the notification it had published in October 2023 and instead only found out when I remembered, ‘Huh, aren’t we expecting one Animorphs Graphix a year?’ and then looked it up and found I had missed it.

What We Devour by Linsey Miller

The story of a girl who must tether herself to a violent ruler to save her crumbling world.

Lorena Adler has a secret—she holds the power of the banished gods, the Noble and the Vile, inside her. She has spent her entire life hiding from the world and her past. She’s content to spend her days as an undertaker in a small town, marry her best friend, Julian, and live an unfulfilling life so long as no one uncovers her true nature.

But when the notoriously bloodthirsty and equally Vile crown prince comes to arrest Julian’s father, he immediately recognizes Lorena for what she is. So she makes a deal—a fair trial for her betrothed’s father in exchange for her service to the crown.

The prince is desperate for her help. He’s spent years trying to repair the weakening Door that holds back the Vile…and he’s losing the battle. As Lorena learns more about the Door and the horrifying price it takes to keep it closed, she’ll have to embrace both parts of herself to survive.

Yes, I’ve already read this, but I did so by listening to the audiobook. I need to read it again, and I want to do it with the physical copy to see if it is a different experience, since the audiobook narrator was so weird.

Business or Pleasure by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Chandler Cohen lies for a living.

When she accepts her next ghostwriting gig penning a memoir for cult actor Finnegan Walsh, it should be a dream job.

However, Chandler knows him best as something else: her worst-ever one-night stand . . .

She’s determined to keep things professional. But when she finally admits to Finn that their night together wasn’t as mind-blowing as he thought, he’s mortified, and determined to make amends.

So, they strike a deal. During the day, they’ll work on the book, and at night, she’ll school him in the art of satisfaction.

As they grow closer, the line between business and pleasure starts to blur.

Can Chandler and Finn have both, or will they have to choose?

I read this blurb and instantly was just like, I need this book.

How I’ll Kill You by Ren Destefano

Your next stay-up-all-night thriller, about identical triplets who have a nasty habit of killing their boyfriends, and what happens when the youngest commits their worst crime falling in love with her mark.

Make him want you.
Make him love you.
Make him dead.

Sissy has an…interesting family. Always the careful one, always the cautious one, she has handled the cleanup while her serial killer sisters have carved a path of carnage across the U.S. Now, as they arrive in the Arizona heat, Sissy must step up and embrace the family pastime of making a man fall in love and then murdering him. Her first target? A young widower named Edison—and their mutual attraction is instant. While their relationship progresses, and most couples would be thinking about picking out china patterns and moving in together, Sissy’s family is reminding her to think about picking out a burial site and moving on.

Then something happens that Sissy never She begins to feel protective of Edison, and before she can help it, she’s fallen in love. But the clock is ticking, and her sisters are growing restless. It becomes clear that the grave site she chooses will hide a body no matter what happens; but if she betrays her family, will it be hers?

Ren Destefano, also known as Lauren Destefano for YA and MG, is also one of my favourite authors. I feel like this has been a good month for favourite author releases! This is Ren’s debut adult novel, but certainly not her first book. Of course I had to get it, because I have all of DeStefnao’s books (reading them? Uhm… when I have time!).


Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Two sisters.
One brutal murder.
A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…
And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked—princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

I was very interested in reading Throne of the Fallen, which is a spin-off from this series, so I thought first I’d better read the original series. This book has over a quarter of a million ratings on Goodreads and it only came out in 2020 the year of our lockdown, which is crazy because I don’t think I’ve even heard of it. It’s also got fairly positive reviews from my friends, so here’s hoping it’s a five star read for me!

Monthly Wrap Up

Book Stuff

  • Number of books read: 8
    • Bears in Mind (Ursa Shifters #1) by Sam Hall
    • Bears With Me (Ursa Shifters #2) by Sam Hall
    • Gallant by VE Schwab (DNF).
    • Grin and bear it (Ursa Shifters #3) by Sam Hall
    • Poke the Bear (Ursa Shifter #3.5) by Sam Hall
    • More Than I Can Bear (Ursa Shifters #4) by Sam Hall
    • Divine Rivals (Letters of Enchantment #1) by Rebecca Ross
    • Role Playing by Cathy Yardley
  • Finished a series: I’m hoping there are more Ursa Shifter books on the way so I don’t want to say I ‘finished’ it, but I read everything that’s currently published, including the novella.
  • Started a series: Ursa Shifters by Sam Hall, Letters of Enchantment by Rebecca Ross
  • New to me authors: Sam Hall, Cathy Yardly
  • Favourite book: Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

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About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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