ARC Review: Malice by Heather Walter

***I received a free ARC of this book from a Goodreads Giveaway***


by Heather Walter

Release Date: April 13th, 2021

Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, Romance

Age Category: New Adult

Publisher: Del Rey




Malice is a new adult, sapphic, sleeping beauty retelling focusing on the origins of the evil sorceress. The book follows Alyce, a young woman and half Vila—dark creatures considered to be the enemies of the surrounding kingdoms. The Kingdom of Briar is known for its Graces, women imbued with Fae magic who are able to cast enchantments with their blood. Alyce is forced into the role of the ostracized ‘Dark Grace’ and is paid to provide curses to anonymous customers. When Alyce meets a stranger with answers to her heritage, and then befriends Princess Aurora, she begins to imagine a different future for herself.

To be honest, I struggled with the beginning of this book. Based off the cover, I expected the book to be dark right from the beginning. That’s not to say there weren’t dark undercurrents that appeared later on, but the world clashed with my original expectations. Additionally, I also struggled with how the story was introduced. The book opened up with numerous blocks of exposition and the beginning felt rushed. Across the board, I found myself wanting more development from the characters and the world. There were a lot of stereotypes that offered little to none unique twists: bitchy girl bullies, evil rulers, idealistic heirs, impoverished commoners, and frivolous nobility.

BUT THEN, my interest and enjoyment significantly improved once I surpassed the halfway point. And upon reaching the final third of the book, the plot transformed into a wild roller-coaster and I couldn’t bear to put down Malice. The story became a jaw-dropping chaotic spiral and I was left internally screaming. The novel wasn’t without some obvious tropes, but there were also quite a few elements I didn’t see coming. To be frank, the ending saved this book in my opinion, and I will now be eagerly anticipating the sequel. I cannot wait to see where Heather Walter will take the characters and worldbuilding in the next book.

If you are nostalgic for Disney, but wanting something a bit older and darker, looking for more sapphic books, or adore villain origin stories, I recommend giving this book a try! Overall, it was a super fun read.

Trigger Warnings: blood-powered magic, death/murder, flashbacks of torture, bullying

Rating: 3.5 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I’m a chaotically fun read that will leave you cursing the world that the sequel hasn’t been published yet.”

A Belated 2020 Wrap-Up & 2021 Reading Goals

red text that says "2020 Reading Wrap-up and 2021 Goals" set against an image of books on a shelf

Hello, my fellow bloggers! It is I, Keri, emerging from the void to FINALLY provide my 2020 reading wrap-up and perhaps even list a few optimistic goals for 2021? (Even though we’re nearly a quarter of the way through the year, whoops.)

Originally, I wanted to go back and cover all the months I missed since I last posted, but honestly, so much happened and covering it all seems rather intimidating, not to mention would require me to write like 4K words and no one wants that.

With the craziness of 2020, I found myself alternating between periods of reading and not-reading. I fell short of the quantity I’ve read in past years, managing only 50 books instead of my usual 70ish books. But at 50 books, I still made my Goodreads goal! Being my procrastinator self, did this require me to complete 3 books on New Year’s Eve with only 9 minutes to spare? PERHAPS, but shhhh, we won’t dwell on that.

2020 Reading Wrap-Up

As I mentioned above, I read 50 books last year. I created a bunch of pretty pie charts based on my reading stats, so please admire them down below! Not only did I track age category, genres, and formats, but I also looked at a book’s place in a series (or if it was a standalone), where I acquired the book from, and what months were most productive.

Age Category Breakdown

a pie chart showing 48% for adult, 14% for new adult, 26% for young adult, 10% for middle grade, and 2% for children's

Genre Breakdown

a pie chart showing that the majority of books read were fantasy and smut

The breakdowns of age categories and genres came as a bit of a surprise to me. For the first time, Young Adult was not my most read age category? Though I suppose it makes since, since I fell into devouring (smutty) romances as comfort reads, and those are very much NOT young adult. Though it was no surprise that my most read genre was fantasy. The day this changes will be the day that pigs fly.

Place in Series Breakdown

a pie chart showing the majority of books read were standalones or the first books in series

To no one’s surprise, I consumed a bunch of standalones and started lots of series, and only occasionally continued on to the following books.

Format Breakdown

a pie chart showing a near equal split between ebooks/audiobooks read and physical books read

Between eARCs and ebooks, over a third (and nearly half) of the books I read were ebooks! I’ve always considered myself to primarily be a physical book gal, but I guess all those spicy romances changed that! And trying out Kindle Unlimited for the first time helped too.

Sourced Breakdown

a pie chart showing that books read were acquired from a variety of places, with the highest percentages from kindle unlimited (26), the library (14), and gifts (12).

The books I read came from all over the place, but as I mentioned above: trying out Kindle Unlimited for part of the year was a dangerous thing to have access to, haha.

Reading by Month Breakdown

a pie chart showing the most productive reading months were February and December

The first half of the year was definitely more productive than the rest, with the exception of December, when I was frantically making my last sprint to my reading goal.

Additional Stats:

Total Pages Read: 15218 pages

Average Length Per Book: 304 pages

Average Rating Per Book: 3.8 stars

2020 Book Haul

How Books Were Acquired

a pie chart showing that books haul were often bought, bought for school, or free

Format of Books Acquired

a pie chart showing the majority of books hauled were either ebooks, hardcovers, or paperbacks

In 2020, I acquired a total of 40 books (including both physical and electronic), which I consider to be a win, given that this means I read more than I acquired! This was definitely not the case in 2019, when I read 74 books and acquired 100. 😅

How Did I Do On My 2020 Goals?

1. Read 50 books!

By finishing up 3 books on New Year’s Eve, I made it with 9 minutes to spare! ✅

2. Read as many of my already owned books as possible.

I read a total of 10 books that I had owned prior to 2020 and hadn’t picked up before. I consider this to be a decent result, but definitely not quite where I wanted the number to be, so I’ll have to continue my mission of tackling my already owned books in 2021. 🆗❌

3. Read at least ten 2020 releases

I read 12 releases from 2020! ✅

4. Reread at least 5 books

Errr, I read 3 rereads. So close, but not quite. ❌

5. Finish at least 4 series

I finished 2 series…and one was technically a “series” of companion romance novels. Definitely another goal to carry over to 2021. ❌

6. Read a variety of genres!

Mediocre success with this goal? I technically picked up 10 different genres across 2020, but if you look at the breakdown, 68% of what I read was either fantasy or smutty romance. 🆗

In case anyone is curious, the other genres I picked up were: Classics, Contemporary, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, Humor, Magical Realism, Memoir, and ‘regular’ Romance, lol.


I had some additional writing and lifestyle goals, but those all crashed and burned rather quickly, so let’s not even bother talking about them, shall we?

Reading Goals for 2021

1. Read 50 books!
Always my first & foremost goal, though I would of course love to surpass this number this year.

2. Read as many books from my already owned collection as possible.
To be more specific, this means books I owned prior to 2021 and copies that I haven’t read before. I would like to read at least 25 of my already owned books.

3. Read at least 15 releases from 2021.
Perhaps this is a bit ambitious since I also wanna focus on my already owned books, but I also wanna stay up-to-date on book hype *sheepish shrug*

4. Reread at least 5 books.
Perhaps I’ll actually make this goal this year?

5. Finish at least 5 series.
Apparently I’m feeling SUPER ambitious as I sit down and type out all of these goals.

6. Read as many sapphic books as possible! 💕 🏳️‍🌈
This goal goes hand in hand with focusing on further diversifying my reading, though I plan to focus on sapphic books in particular. I would also like to grow my collection of sapphic books, but alas, that requires money. I need to start hunting down those unused gift-cards in my room that I keep forgetting about…

And that’s it for my wrap-up & new goals! How is everyone? I would ask what your goals are for 2021, but since most of you posted about them 2 months ago like normal bloggers, why don’t you tell me how your goals are currently going? What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?

Please drop a comment–I’ve missed talking with you all!

August & September Wrap-Up: Continuing to Barely Read, but hey, I Got a Job! And Moved into an Apartment!

monthly wrap up

Whoops, long time no see! I just realized that it’s been nearly a month since I last posted. In my defense, life has been pretty hectic for me lately. In the middle of August I got hired as a receptionist for a doggie daycare. Then in September, my parents decided to sell our house, so I had to quickly find an apartment and move out! But I’m now living on my own! Of course under the supervision of two of my cats though–they have no problem screeching at me if I attempt to be a couch potato and bail on responsibilities.

Because of everything and the reading slump I was already falling into, I didn’t manage much reading nor blogging these past months. In August I managed 2 books (though one was a novella) and in September I read two books (both of which were rereads and one I just barely finished before the month ended). Fingers crossed I can fight my way outta this slump before the year ends.

August Reads:

1. Lobizona by Romina Garber

Rating: 4 stars

I was extremely honored to be offered the opportunity to participate in the Wednesday Books’ blog tour for Lobizona! This book was an addicting read and the perfect blend of staying true to the YA voice while also touching on so many important subjects. You can check out my full review here!

2. Laid Bare by Anna Stone

Rating: 2.5 stars

I can’t believe it took me this long to read this novella by my new favorite romance author! This is a prequel/novella in the Mistress Series. It’s about two women who fall in love after being trapped in an elevator together. A fun (and of course smutty) read!

Needless to say, I failed my ARC August plans

September Reads:

1. The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

Rating: 5 stars!

After reading The Tea Dragon Festival earlier in the summer, I decided to go back and reread the first one! As many of you already know, O’Neill’s work is beautiful, cute, and inclusive. Now I just need to get my hands on the recently released third book…

2. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Rating: 4.25 stars

September was apparently a month of rereads for me! I also buddy read this novel with Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den! Did I binge-read the second half of the book while falling sleep in order to count it in September? MAAAAAybe.
Nonetheless, I’m still excited to see the characters again in the sequel! (I’m currently a few chapters in and already hooked).

Random Life Updates:

  • I got a job! I’m now working as a full-time receptionist for a local doggie daycare! It’s basically a minimum wage job, so definitely not a career or long-term job, but it’s a job!
    • It’s fun to see a bunch of different doggos everyday, but wow going from doing nothing to working full-time has been an adjustment!  
    • It’s actually already been 2 months since I started, which is so crazy!
  • I moved into an apartment! Given the above, my mother is currently helping me with the rent, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed I can convince someone to be my roommate.
    • I’ve never moved before (excluding packing for college) and wow I didn’t realize how much stuff I had and how exhausting it was to box it all up. To be honest, I had a couple of breakdowns during the process.
  • Given the exhaustion for the things above, I’ve continued to struggle with motivation and finding the energy to do things outside of the bare minimum. I’m hoping over the next couple of weeks as I start to check things off my list and maybe actually unpack my things, my stress will chill out. Fingers crossed.

Posts By Other Bloggers I Loved:

I wish I had something to put here and I’m totally ashamed that I don’t, but blog-hopping was also one of the things I fell off of during these last couple of months.

So if you have any posts of your own that you’re proud of or posts of others that you loved from August and September, please link them below in the comments! I would love to read them!

October TBR:

The Silvered Serpents– Buddy read with Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den!

Kissing DoorknobsRecommended to me by my writing buddy! We’re trying this new thing where we assign each other books to read each month (and to keep ourselves accountable you get fined if it takes ya longer than the month). This is my October book! It follows a girl with OCD and I’m excited to pick it up!

The Girl in Red– This seems like the perfect spooky season read, right? Don’t know how likely I am to get to it but I wanna try!

How was your August & September? Anyone else going through some life changes?

Seriously, if you have a post that you wrote or adored from the last couple of months, don’t be afraid to drop the link in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall 2020 TBR

This week’s TTT topic is “Books On My Fall 2020 TBR.” I’m ecstatic it’s time for a seasonal TBR because I love compiling book lists! (Even though I haven’t been reading much lately and I completely failed at my summer TBR list aka only read 1 of 10. BUT we’re not gonna talk about that.) Ahhhh, it feels like it’s been so long since I’ve participated in a TTT (according to WordPress it’s been nearly 2 months?!?! crazy). I’ve definitely been in a weird funk and reading slump lately so fingers crossed this post helps me claw my way back into reading (and blogging tbh).

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1. The Deep by Rivers Solomon


Here for all the stories about mer-people and sapphic romances. I finally got my copy in early August and I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet! (Yes, this is a repeat from my Summer TBR.)

2. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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Still repeatedly mentioning this book (yes, this was also on my Summer TBR). Really need to get on this reread though, because the end of the year and the release of the 4th book is coming upon us quickly!

3. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

This year especially, I have been continually obsessed with and craving romance books. I’ve heard great things about this book and author, so I actually purchased a physical copy of this novel for myself recently and I’m excited to get to it!

4. The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

Meant to have this read before its release date today, but alas, the reading slump is real. I’m currently in the middle of rereading the first book in a buddy read with Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den and we’ll definitely be moving onto this one soon! (well, hopefully)

5. The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

My writing buddy recently started reading this book, reminding me that I actually own this book and haven’t read it yet?!?! Definitely wanna hop on this book soon so we can discuss. I also don’t read enough MG and really need to change that.

6. The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Been meaning to read this book for YEARS since I picked it up at a local bookstore as a underclassman in college.

7. The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

Political intrigue fantasy, a sapphic romance, rave reviews…why haven’t I read this up yet??

8. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Whoa, how did this come out a year ago? And how am I still slacking on Leigh Bardugo books??

9. Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Thriller, another genre I need to read more of. Also, still really need to read this so I can return it to my grandfather’s wife since she kindly loaned me her copy, oh, almost over a year ago.

10. The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

With the spooky season approaching, it would be fun to pick up a horror fairytale retelling, right? Even though I’m not sure I’ve ever read a true horror book before?!?

Wow, I’m really proud of myself for incidentally creating a TBR list with a wide range of genres and age categories.

That’s it for my Fall TBR! Fingers crossed I actually get around to most of these!?! What books are you hoping to read this fall? Have you read any of the ones I mentioned above? If so, which ones do you recommend I start with? PLEASE, give me all the encouragement and motivation to kick this reading slump!

Also, if you participated in TTT this week, feel free to link up your post in the comments below–I would love to check them out!