Book Review: Curses and Smoke by Vicky Alvear Shecter

“Loving you…is destroying me.”


Title: Curses and Smoke

Author: Vicky Alvear Shecter

Format: Hardcover

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance, Historical Fiction

Rating: 4/5 stars

[Synopsis] (Taken from goodreads) 

When your world blows apart, what will you hold onto?

TAG is a medical slave, doomed to spend his life healing his master’s injured gladiators. But his warrior’s heart yearns to fight in the gladiator ring himself and earn enough money to win his freedom.

LUCIA is the daughter of Tag’s owner, doomed by her father’s greed to marry a much older Roman man. But she loves studying the natural world around her home in Pompeii, and lately she’s been noticing some odd occurrences in the landscape: small lakes disappearing; a sulfurous smell in the air. . . .

When the two childhood friends reconnect, each with their own longings, they fall passionately in love. But as they plot their escape from the city, a patrician fighter reveals his own plans for them — to Lucia’s father, who imprisons Tag as punishment. Then an earthquake shakes Pompeii, in the first sign of the chaos to come. Will they be able to find each other again before the volcano destroys their whole world?


>This song is perfect!! Pompeii by Bastille

(DISCLAIMER: This review is based on my opinion only and may contain coarse language)

Curses and Smoke is a novel which makes me feel as though I journeyed around Pompeii and was walking barefoot, relieving the exact same day that the volcano went off.

Lucia is promised to a man she does not want to marry. Tag wants to fight in the arena but is a medical slave. The both of them are childhood friends.

I really enjoyed the language and writing style of the book, it was really suitable. The story progression was good and the plot twist was awesome! I totally did not expect the plot twist!

If you’ve heard the story of Pompeii, you’re prepared for how this book ends. I was actually surprised at the ending as I was actually quite okay with it (I think I was expecting the worst case scenario). It was still really heartbreaking though.

I was definitely impressed by the author’s thorough research, it really shined through throughout the entire story! She also adds what she finds at the back of the book in the author’s note!

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts and opinions? Leave a comment down below! 🙂

Most anticipated for 2018

I was tagged by the lovely Nosestuckinabook to do this list of most anticipated things for 2018! I’m so excited to do this!




I don’t really keep up to dates about albums, I pay more attentions to the individual songs, but I would have to go with Mania by Fall out Boys! A ton of my favourite artistes don’t seem to be coming out with an album soon


Tv Shows


There are so many I’m really excited about! Lucifer season 3 has resumed! I’m excited for the continuation of Gotham season 4, season 5 of The 100 and the new season for the Shadow Hunters! I’m also excited for the continuation of Miraculous Ladybug season 2 and Star vs the forces of evil season 3!



I am anticipating Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Maze Runner: Death Cure, Incredibles 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Avengers Infinity War, Antman and the Wasp, Hotel Transylvania 3, Ready Player one, Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald, To all the boys I’ve loved before and The darkest Minds! (I’m not sure if exactly all of them come out in 2018)




I’m actually not a big gamer and don’t really keep up to date with games, so nope, none I’m looking forward to yet!




Creative Projects


So far, nothing! When the idea strikes then I’ll just start doing it, but so far I haven’t been inspired yet!




Nope, I doubt I’m going on any trips this year 😦



I hoped you liked my answers! Do any of my anticipations collide with yours? Let me know in the comments down below!

Giveaway! (CLOSED)

As I have promised before, I will be running a giveaway! Thank you guys because if not for you, my blog would just be another website!

To celebrate my bookstagram almost hitting 500, my wordpress blog hitting 200 followers and my twitter hitting 200 followers, here is a giveaway for you guys!

There will be 2 winners and the prizes are a book, a note from me and a set of Disney mini post-it bookmarks!

Just follow the giveaway instructions in the link down below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The giveaway will run from today until the 28th February 2018 and is International!

Bookish Bucket List (10 things)

Hello Bookish friends, I’ve actually never really had a bookish bucket list (I do have a mix of things with a personal bucket list) but never thought of a bookish one! So I finally took some time to sit down and listed 10 things to go onto this bookish bucket list and hopefully it will grow in the future!


Bookish bucket list:

1.Publish my own book

I think a lot of Bookworms or Bibliophiles want to publish their own book as well! Be it traditionally or self-published, I really hope to publish my own book one day! It’s been my dream since I discovered my love for writing when I was 12 years old! ( I’m 21 now so, it’s been 9 years since I decided I wanted to be an author! Wow, how time flies!)

2. Visit all the libraries in Singapore 

In my country, there are 27 libraries and I’ve been to 26 of them, yes, 26! I’m really close to finishing this one, only left with the Yishun library since they are renovating! (I heard that they will be open in February 2018! Can’t wait!)

3. Collate a photo book/Scrapbook of all the bookstagram photos I have taken

I would definitely love to do this! But it would be pretty expensive to do since I have to print out all the photos 😦 Would definitely love to give this a go someday!

4. Meet Marissa Meyer

Ever since I saw Cinder on a shelf when I was 15, I fell in love with the Lunar Chronicles Series and ever since then, have always supported her books! I would love to meet her one day and get my original copy of Cinder signed!

5. To have my own home library

I think every bookworm has this on their bookish bucket list! I current have barely a shelf of books, I only have 1.5/3 of a shelf full of books since I actually don’t really buy too many books, I mainly borrow them from the library. I usually only collect books I really like!

6. Visit the Beach Library (Albena, Bulgaria)

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Yes, this is a real library, ON THE BEACH! Library and beaches are my two most favourite places in the world, and if you combine it together, just take my money! The beach library is located in Albena, Bulgaria.

7. Attend BookCon ONCE


I’ve ever only seen hauls by famous booktubers about their visit to BookCon, and I really hope that one day I will be able to attend as well! I would love to experience the atmosphere with tons of other book lovers and get autographs from authors (I heard that there are many ARCs too!)

8. Visit Abbey Library of Saint Gall (St. Gallen, Switzerland)

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Look at this beautiful library! The architecture is so beautiful and it’s filled with books, Oh My God. Just looking at the photos leave me speechless.

9. Visit Seashore Library (Nandaihe, Eastern China)

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China has a library that is literally on the beach as well! I would love to visit this place and read a book while watching the sea!

10. To read every book in my TBR list


I think that this would literally be shooting myself in the foot, I currently can barely trim my TBR down although I read a LOT, how could I expect to ever finish my TBR list? Well, a bookworm can dream, right?

Here is my bookish bucket list, let me know in the comments below on what you would include in yours!

Book Tour: SINthetic (The New Lyons Sequence #1) by J.T. Nicholas

The New Lyons Sequence #1
by J.T. Nicholas
Genre: Science Fiction – Cyberpunk Noir
Pub Date: 1/23/2018
The Artificial Evolution
They look like us. Act like us. But
they are not human. Created to perform the menial tasks real humans
detest, Synths were designed with only a basic intelligence and
minimal emotional response. It stands to reason that they have no
rights. Like any technology, they are designed for human convenience.
In the city of New Lyons, Detective
Jason Campbell is investigating a vicious crime: a female body found
mutilated and left in the streets. Once the victim is identified as a
Synth, the crime is designated no more than the destruction of
property, and Campbell is pulled from the case.
But when a mysterious stranger
approaches Campbell and asks him to continue his investigation in
secret, Campbell is dragged into a dark world of unimaginable
corruption. One that leaves him questioning the true nature of
And what he discovers is only the beginning . . .
J.T. Nicholas was born in
Lexington, Virginia, though within six months he moved (or was moved,
rather) to Stuttgart, Germany. Thus began the long journey of the
military brat, hopping from state to state and country to country
until, at present, he has accumulated nearly thirty relocations. This
experience taught him that, regardless of where one found oneself,
people were largely the same. When not writing, Nick spends his time
practicing a variety of martial arts, playing games (video, tabletop,
and otherwise), and reading everything he can get his hands on. Nick
currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, a pair of
indifferent cats, a neurotic Papillion, and an Australian Shepherd
who (rightly) believes he is in charge of the day-to-day affairs.
sin- excerpt.png

Chapter 1

The neon signs glowed sullenly, sending sickly tendrils of light slithering down the rain-soaked streets like so many diseased serpents. Once bright and inviting, the reds and blues and greens had dimmed and paled, sloughed off the flush of health, and left behind a spreading stain of false illumination that heralded nothing but sickness and decay. The signs themselves, flickering and buzzing, wheezing like something that wanted to die, something that should have died long ago, offered up a thousand different sins, unflinching in the frank descriptions of the acts taking place within the walls that they adorned.

I stared at those signs, indistinct and hazy beneath the mantle of falling rain. The mist softened their lurid offers, restoring, however imperfectly, an innocence the city lost long ago. As the gentle caress of a silken veil added mystery to the sweeping curves of the female form, hinting at secrets far more tantalizing than the revealed flesh beneath, the cloak of rainfall shrouded the city’s darker side, softening its edges and lending it an air that approached civility.

Approached civility, but did not—could not—achieve it.

With a sigh, I turned my eyes away from the cityscape, and dropped them to the pavement beneath my feet. To the body that rested there, or what was left of it.

After nearly ten years on the job, I still had to fight down the bile threatening to crawl its way up my esophagus and force its insistent path between my teeth. The body—so much easier to think of it as “the body” and not “the woman”—lay flat on its back, arms stretched out above its head and crossed at the wrists, legs spread akimbo. No clothing. Nor could I see any discarded garments in the immediate area. The pose, purposeful and meticulous in its own horrifying way, was a parody of passion. It was a pose that was likely even now being played out in many, perhaps most, of the establishments adorned with the gasping neon signs.

With one very notable difference.

Vestiges of beauty clung to the woman, holding desperately to a youthful vivacity that was losing an inexorable battle to the unnatural slackness of death. Makeup adorned that face, hiding the pallor beneath blush and eyeliner, lipstick and shadow, only now beginning to fade and run beneath the unrelenting assault of a thousand raindrops. Her features were symmetrical, regular, past the awkwardness of youth, but not yet touched by the wrinkles or worry lines that would fell all of us in time.

I forced myself to look past her face, past the strong lines of her outstretched arms, sweeping past her bared breasts and to the…emptiness…that extended beneath her sternum.

From her lowest ribs to the tops of her thighs, the woman had been…

I realized I didn’t have a word for what had been done to her. The words that stormed through my mind—savaged, brutalized, tortured—leaving a teeth-gnashing anger in their wake and making my stomach twist itself into a Stygian knot, were almost certainly true, but they did not describe what lay before me.


The word floated up from somewhere in my subconscious, bringing with it memories of carving into pumpkins and scooping out the seeds and ropey innards with big plastic spoons made slick and awkward from the pulpy mess.

I clamped my teeth so hard that a lance of pain shot along my sinus cavities, but it kept me—if only just—from vomiting.


The skin and muscle had been removed from the woman’s stomach and groin. The organs that should have been present—stomach, intestines, kidneys, everything south of the lungs—were gone. The tissue beneath them, the muscles along the spine, back, and buttocks remained, exposed to the air and rain. I could just make out pinkish gray tissue poking from beneath the ribs, so I guessed the lungs, and probably the heart, were intact and in place.

There was no blood.

The steady rain had formed a small pool in the resulting cavity, taking on a cast more black than red in the dimness of the night. No more blood on the body. No more blood at the scene.

“Holy Mary, Mother of God.”

The heartfelt exhalation came from behind me, and I glanced over my shoulder, tearing my eyes from the horror before me. The uniforms had finished cordoning off the area, spreading the yellow tape in a rough perimeter maybe twenty yards in diameter. Even on a night like this, in a neighborhood like this, a crowd had gathered, a few dozen people pressed up against the tape as if it were the glass wall at an aquarium, desperate to peer into the darkness and see the wonders and horrors within. All of them pointed screens in my direction or stared with the strange motionless intensity of someone wearing a recording lens. I prayed that the darkness, rain, and distance would cloud their electronic eyes, and grant the woman what little privacy and modesty were left to her.

Halfway between me and the tape stood a small, trim man in his late forties. A fuzz of iron-gray hair sprouted from his head like a fungus, and a pencil-thin beard traced the line of his jaw. He wore blue coveralls, stenciled with the words “Medical Examiner” in gold thread. Dr. Clarence Fitzpatrick had been medical examiner in New Lyons for longer than I’d been a cop. We had worked some gruesome homicides, scenes far messier, at least in terms of scattered gore, than what lay before us. But nothing quite so damn eerie.

“Yeah,” I muttered. “What can you tell me?”

He made his way to the body and knelt by it, blue-gloved hands extended over it as if trying to divine information from the ether. “Liver temp is out of the question,” he said. There was no humor in his voice, no attempt to make light of the nature of the remains; he was simply stating the facts of the case before him, retreating behind cold professionalism. It was something you learned quick on the job. Those who could not put a wall between the atrocities and their own souls never lasted long.

He touched the flesh of the woman’s arm, pressing against it, feeling the elasticity. “No rigor mortis, which means that death was either very recent or she’s been gone awhile.”

He panned a flashlight across the body, the pale flesh luminescing under the harsh white light. “No discoloration of the remaining tissue. The damage sustained to the torso is sufficient to cause death, but there is no way to tell in situ if that occurred before or after she expired. Though if it had been done here, we would certainly be seeing a lot more blood, even with the rain.” He spoke in short, clipped bursts, keeping the medical jargon to a minimum, for my benefit no doubt.

His hands moved to the woman’s head, peeling back the eyelids. “Cloudy. Most likely, she was killed more than twelve, but less than forty-eight hours ago. Apart from the obvious evisceration, there is no readily identifiable cause of death.” He cupped the woman’s face in his hands, twisting it gently to the side, continuing his field examination. He brushed back the dark locks of her hair, revealing the back of her neck. A deep sigh, a sound of relief, not regret, escaped him. “Thank God,” he said.

I stared down at the woman, not really seeing what the doctor saw, but I knew what would be there. Only one thing could have drawn that reaction from Fitzpatrick. A raised pattern of flesh, roughly the size of an old postage stamp, darker than the surrounding skin and looking for all the world like an antiquated bar code. The tissue would be reminiscent of ritualistic scarring, but, unlike the woman herself, would not have known the touch of violence. It could be called a birthmark, but “birth” was not a word applied to the lab-grown people that were, collectively, known as synthetics. They bore other names, of course, dozens of them, all derogatory, all aimed at dehumanizing them further, at driving home the point that, though they might look and act and feel like us, they were not humans.

Dr. Fitzpatrick was not immune to that dehumanization. “Thank God,” he said again. “She’s a mule.”

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