Strings Review

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David Estes


“Sometimes the strings that tie us down are the same strings that set us free.

Sixteen-year-old Pia has always lived in a mysterious facility where mechanical strings control her existence. She plays apprentice to her father, Gio, in performing nanotech designs for the Company, and she soon suspects there are diabolical human forces behind the manufactured reality of her world. 

Though her childhood memories and the origins of the strings remain strangely elusive, she begins to find solace with the introduction of two unlikely friends: daring, irrational Sofia, and calm, tender Marco. 

As the truths of the past and present unravel together, Pia must find a way to free herself from her strings and escape the facility before facing the wrath of the unstable head of security, Mr. Davis. But to gain her freedom, she must navigate the dangers posed by Davis and by her suspicious new friends to find the real identity of the puppeteer. 

If Pia can succeed in revealing the secrets of the Company, she may very well find the independence she so desperately seeks. But in her controlled world nothing is as it seems, and the closer she gets to the truth, the graver the consequences.”

My Review:

I received this in the September box from The Dragon’s Hoard subscription box. When I found it I had never heard of it before, but I was intrigued as I usually like retellings and I had never read a retelling of Pinocchio let alone a gender swapped one.

This retelling definitely did not let me down, it was captivating right from the beginning. Once I started reading this it was so hard to put down, I found the whole book so interesting. There was great plot twists and so much mystery that I was constantly left guessing what was going to happen next. David Estes did an amazing job in making this such an enjoyable Sci-fi/Dystopia book, I have been getting a little sick of dystopia books but this one was different and very well done.

I loved the way each of the characters was developed. We gradually learnt more and more about each character and we got to learn a bit of the character’s backstories which allowed me better understand the reasons they are the way they are. I also loved how there was so much mystery around the majority of the characters, it made me so eager to continue reading and constantly left me wondering who can be trusted. I especially loved the main character, Pia, she was a fantastic mix of kind, smart, loyal, brave, determined and so much more. I really enjoyed getting to see how Pia progressed through the story and how she grew more confident in herself.

I liked that this book included characters that had medical issues, physical disabilities, and mental issues. I don’t get to read many books that have characters like this and I found it very interesting. I also found that this book, despite being sci-fi/dystopian, ventured into areas/issues that can genuinely relate to our own lives. During some parts of the book I definitely felt that a stronger message was being communicated which wasn’t just meant to aid the storyline, if that makes sense, i don’t want to ruin the story for anyone.

There is one message that I got from reading the book that I will share because I think it is really important given what the world is going through at the moment. The story portrayed the importance of letting go of anger and past hurt, and it showed us what holding onto these things can do to us. I won’t go further into this but I just thought it was such an important message.

I thought this was such a great story and I highly recommend it, even to those who don’t usually go for books from the sci-fi or dystopian genres.


Catherine ♥


The Dragon’s Hoard October Box

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I’m so excited to finally be able to share this box with you, I have waited until now because I didn’t want to spoil it for anyone. I absolutely LOVED the October box from The Dragon’s Hoard.

The theme for October was Worlds Apart: “We all feel separate from everyone else sometimes, maybe even worlds away. Maybe that’s why fantasy and sci fi appeal to us so much. Doctor Who, Harry Potter… they just go to show how separate and different people can be. But they also talk about what brings us together in spite of our differences.

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There was so many items and vouchers in this box and all of the items were so adorable and went with the theme excellently. This month’s box is definitely my favourite so far, I have also heard the same thing from many other subscribers. The box contained the following items:

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Here are some individual pics so you can get a better look at each item:

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The theme for the November box has been announced …


Subscriptions for the November box are now open. I am a rep for this box (which does not affect my review) so I have a discount code I can offer you, to get 10% of the subscription price use the code ESCAPEREAD10

Subscribe Here

I hope you enjoyed this unboxing, I know I loved every item in the box.

Catherine ♥

Karen Memory Review


Karen Memory

Elizabeth Bear


“Set in the late 19th century—when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.

Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the old west with a light touch in Karen’s own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science.”

My Review:

This book came with the July box from The Dragon’s Hoard. Seeing as this book was described to me as being part wild west part steampunk, I was a little unsure going in as that is not usually my sort of book. I ended up being pleasantly surprised, while it isn’t one of my favourite books it was definitely enjoyable and am glad I read it.

As I said steampunk, and the wild west, are not usually genres that I enjoy or have read much of. I was worried that this story would go too far in trying to incorporate the two genres that it would feel a little fake or too cliche. But I felt that Bear did a great job of exploring those genres without going too far into them so that they felt overdone. I enjoyed getting my toes wet (so to speak) in both the wild west and steampunk genres. I also felt that the author did a great job with world building, I was able to get a solid image of all the places described in the story which made me able to get drawn in.

I liked how we got to know all the characters progressively, we got to discover and get to know the characters more naturally as the story went on. Lately a lot of books seem to be giving an info dump about the characters at the start of the book instead of working it more into the story, which i hate so much. This allowed me to feel more connected and able to relate to the main character Karen who was such a different, unique and badass character. One thing that was a little odd for me with Karen is that her dialect (not sure if thats the right word?) changed a bit throughout the book and was often a little off in my opinion. Her dialect seemed to go back and forth, she knew the correct pronunciation or way to phrase sentences and then later in the book she didn’t and at times she would know some pretty sophisticated words that would require some education but then she would not know basic words. Despite the inconsistency of Karen’s dialect, I felt that her accent really added to the story and the theme of the book.

I also enjoyed that while we learnt more about the main character, we also got to know the other characters a fair bit. All of the characters in this book were independent and kickass, making them so interesting to learn about. I loved that this book had a strong focus on friendship, loyalty and just sticking together when times are tough. Without giving any spoilers as to the exact characters, this book had a few LGBT and/or diverse characters. This was really interesting to me as I rarely come across books with those sort of characters or topics.

I definitely think this book could have been a little better and there were a few parts in the book where I got a little confused and had to go back to get some clarity, but apart from that, I found it to be a really fun and interesting read. Despite enjoying the book I would not recommend it to everyone as I could see some people having a hard time enjoying this book, particularly those people who enjoy more contemporary or fantasy focused books.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Catherine ♥

September Haul & Wrap up

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I was very busy during September so I didn’t get much reading done. I only managed to finish one book this month. I didn’t go too overboard with book buying this month, which I am pretty proud of myself for lol.


Wrap Up

  • This month I only managed to finish Heir of Fire by the incredible Sarah J Maas. I absolutely LOVED this book, the books in this series just keep getting even better as I go along. I will have a review up for this book hopefully in the next few days, but in the meantime I will definitely be giving it 5 stars.


  • I also started reading Queen of Shadows, again by Sarah J Maas. I was really enjoying the book but had to stop because I had exams coming up and had to study, why does uni work always get in the way of a good book????




  • I received the September box from The Dragon’s Hoard , the theme was The Ties That Bind Us. It had such amazing items and a very interesting sounding book. You can see my review and unboxing here.


  • I also got a box from FairyLoot this month, the theme was Magic & Mayhem. I had never gotten a FairyLoot box before as with the shipping to Australia and the exchange rate, the box can end up being a bit too expensive for me. I got the September box because they revealed that this box was going to be perfect for fans of the Grisha trilogy and Russian folklore, I absolutely adore both of these so I couldn’t resist. I loved all the items that came in this box and am so glad I got it. Having said that, I don’t think I will be able to get many boxes from FairyLoot as its just too expensive for me at the moment (I’m trying to save for a holiday).

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  • I bought two books this month, well technically three because I bought both the UK and US editions of Empire of Storms (yes I am aware I have a problem lol).

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  • I also got a key ring from Belle Regalia using a 20% off voucher I got from a The Dragon’s Hoard box a few months ago. I love it so much, its so pretty 😍.



I hope you all had an awesome month.


Catherine ♥

The Dragon’s Hoard September Box



The September box from The Dragon’s Hoard arrived a few weeks ago. I’m sorry it has taken so long for me to post a review  🙈, I have been unwell and I had exams during late September so I only now have time.


The theme for September was The Ties That Bind Us: “The ties that bind us to each other are powerful and varied. Family, friends, responsibility, history, love, hate, all the books we love the most are the ones where characters are bound so tightly together.”


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Every month I fall more in love with this subscription box. The items that came this month were awesome and went with the theme so well. I am really looking forward to reading this month’s book, it sounds so interesting and again we got to discover a book from a lesser known author. So, without further ado, here is the September unboxing:





This month I took pics of each individual item so you could have a better look at them.



The theme for the October box and a bit about the box’s contents has been announced …
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“We all feel separate from everyone else sometimes, maybe even worlds away. Maybe that’s why fantasy and sci fi appeal to us so much. Doctor Who, Harry Potter… they just go to show how separate and different people can be. But they also talk about what brings us together in spite of our differences.

So, too, does our October book. We’re pleased to feature an Australian indie author in this month’s box. Her YA sci fi book was a fast read for us, and really interesting to experience!”

Subscriptions for the October box are now open. I am a rep for this box (which does not affect my review) so I have a discount code I can offer you, to get 10% of the subscription price use the code ESCAPEREAD10

Subscribe Here!

This month The Dragon’s Hoard is also hosting a photo challenge on Bookstagram. If you participate (even if its just a few days) you will be entered to win weekly prizes and a monthly prize. The prompts look really interesting, I’m looking forward to participating this month and I hope to see your pics.

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Catherine ♥

August Haul & September TBR

I was pretty good this month with my book buying. I got 3 books, I purchased two books, both of which were on a special and the other I received in a subscription box. So I’m pretty happy with myself.



This month I received the August box from The Dragon’s Hoard, which I absolutely loved. You can see my unboxing post here. P.s. if you want to subscribe for the September box I have a discount code you can use to receive 10% off: ESCAPEREAD10



Additionally this month I received two beautiful ribbon bookmarks from TheBookMarked. You should check out their etsy store, they have such gorgeous bookmarks.



This September I am hoping to read the following two books as well as Empire of Storms, which I am so EXITED for!!!




I hope you all have a great month!


Catherine ♥

The Dragon’s Hoard August Box



The August box from The Dragon’s Hoard arrived a few weeks ago but I was away from home for a little while so I’m sorry for the late blog post.


The theme for this month was Be Your Best Self. This was the description of the box “A lot of modern-day ideas come from Plato, the Greek philosopher. But most compelling was his belief that people should try to be their best selves. Only then could we live in a fair and just society. If that sounds boring to you, trust me, it isn’t, and this month’s book shows just how much chaos trying to be your best self, or making others be their best selves against their will, can be. Oh, and there are gods.”

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Just like last month, I absolutely adored this box, I was so happy as I went through the box and discovered each item. The items included this month are wonderful and the book sounds amazing. So without further ado, here is the August box:





This month’s book has such a beautiful cover and it sounds like an amazing story, I can’t wait to read it. The bookmark matches the book perfectly. It is so pretty, on the other side of it there is a beautiful design with foil too.


I am loving the unique themes that we are getting with this subscription box, they are so different to what is being offered by other subscription boxes. I am also loving getting the chance to discover some great lesser known books that I probably wouldn’t have heard about otherwise.


The theme for the September box has been announced and it is … 

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The ties that bind us to each other are powerful and varied. Family, friends, responsibility, history, love, hate, all the books we love the most are the ones where characters are bound so tightly together.”

We already know a little bit about what will be included in this box:

  • A book released earlier this year by an indie author. It’s somewhere between YA dystopia and YA sci fi.
  • One of the items is from a recently launched Australia business and The Dragon’s Hoard is the first subscription box to feature an item from them.


Subscriptions for the September box is now open. If you would like to subscribe use my code ESCAPEREAD10 to receive 10% of the price of the box.


Subscribe here! 


Catherine ♥