Upon A Burning Throne by Ashok K. Banker || 5 Stars To A Complex List Of Characters & This Mahabharata Inspired Epic Fantasy

Upon A Burning Throne is a perfect saga of a stone throne that burns if an undeserving even touch it and a wonderfully complex list of characters who are either burning themselves in the name of doing the right thing or are adamant of burning others, again in the name of doing the right thing.

Stonefire, as it came to be known, did not simply burn you. 
It devoured you.

This epic fantasy has been pitched as Indian Game of Thrones and doesn’t shy away from stating it’s inspired by the ancient Mahabharata but if there’s something I want to clear out firsthand is: this is so right! It’s definitely inspired by the mythological writings but it’s not merely an impersonation. While there are evident as well as subtle similarities between Mahabharata and Upon A Burning Throne, the latter is authentic in its own sense. 

It accounts for the Krushan dynasty—the descendants of Kr’ush, the man formed of the burning stone itself—that has sat on the Stonefire and ruled The Burnt Empire for ages because they all have one thing in common: “they did not burn.” Though, not every child born in this royal family can be worthy enough to rule and so, the Stonefire burns the children who are not estimable in a ceremony that gathers all of Hastinaga and renowned men from around the world. It’s interesting to see what happens when the new additions to the lineage—a blind child and an albinic one—are subjected to the judging, to find out who is more capable to rule based on the fire that will or will not engulf them. 

They came to watch the children burn.

Though, the story also incorporates the storylines of other regions and characters which gives a sense of achievable diversity to the book. From the desert regions called Reygistan to the high mountain ranges of The Mountain Kingdom, the landscape and setting are worth imagining and easy to grasp. Speaking of the setting, everything is vivid enough to make it dimensional enough but also not overly complex to draw a reader out. A perfect balance that will impress the reader for sure!

“Among the Reygistani, a child is known by their mother’s name. We are a matriarchal society. A woman may take as many husbands as she wishes, or bed a hundred men, it matters not. Her children are her children.”

The characters are vastly different from each other but also intricately woven together to the mainstream dilemma of good or evil. Though, such a huge list of characters makes the story more and more interesting with every turning page and justifies the epicness of Upon A Burning Throne

⚔ Shvate the albinic Krushan prince, next in line to rule The Burnt Empire. Loves his brother and prefers to protect the kingdom by fighting on the field against the traitors and non-supporters. 

⚒ Adri the blind Krushan prince, next in line to sit on the Burning Throne. Loves his brother and prefers to stay within the safe confinement of his palace. Has strong senses and a smart, strategic mind. 

 Vrath the upholder of Krushan law, a demigod—son of Jeel (River Goddess) and Emperor Sha’ant (previous ruler of The Burnt Empire). Protects his family at all costs. Impossible to defeat on a battlefield.

👑 Jilana the current Emperess of The Burnt Empire, widow of Emperor Sha’ant and grandmother to Adri & Shvate. Wants Hastinaga to always stay the capital kingdom and not be threatened by any outside forces. 

💣 Jarsun a monster with Krushan blood, brother to Emperor Sha’ant, was banished from Hastinaga due to traitorous actions. Now, ruler of Reygistan. Demands his daughter, Krushita, to sit on the Stonefire as the rightful heir. 

🗝 Karni & Mayla wives of Shvate, strong women. 

🗡 Kern born with golden armour, son of the Sun God, born with the best of a fighter’s abilities. 

“Go home, embrace your son, and perform a sacrifice thanking the gods that he still lives. The reason he does is because the boy was only defending himself. If he had been attacking, then your son, and all the others, would now be dead.”

Moving on, the story itself and the writing is commendable. The book is divided into four parts that range over different timelines and characters but finally brings the narrative to enough peak that you can’t wait for the sequel! It’s a multiple POV that is narrated through a third-person perspective and essentially plays the scenes and sequences in the most wonderful manner. In fact, there’s even a short chapter or two from the eyes of a crow and a vulture so that can help a reader understand why I’m appreciating the writing so much. 

Overall, Upon A Burning Throne is a definite recommendation for all those who want to add a diverse read to their pile of books and would love to dive into the world of an epic fantasy that is laid on the base of an even more epic mythological scripture. 

Disclaimer: I received a physical copy of this via my participation in a blog tour but that, in no way, affects my rating and/or opinions about it. Thank you, Simon & Schuster India! This post may contain affiliate links.

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With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo || 5 Stars To A Delicious Recipe Of Diversity, Dreams, Coming-of-Age & Cooking!

With The Fire On High is the most delicious recipe of a coming-of-age, teenage parent who loves her daughter, Babygirl, to the ends of the world. There’s a core of racial and sexual diversity along with the hard recounting of a judgemental world while the base is all the dreams Emoni wants to see rise up. It’s a story worth devouring for all the characters who support and love this strong woman in every different way. Oh, and it’s topped with so much food, so many recipes, and so many musical recounting of the flavors of a dish!

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I loved this after being awestruck and highly impressed by The Poet X a few months back. Acevedo had easily made it to my list of favourite poets and seeing her prose fiction lined up for a release, I knew I was going to be impressed again. And sure I was!

And maybe I’m stereotyping her, too. Pretending to know what kind of a woman she is because of the kind of women who have hated on me…and all the black and brown girls we know from home; who have shaken their heads and tsked their teeth, and reminded us we weren’t welcome in their part of the city…in their world.

The best aspect of this story was the diversity. And not just the diversity that labels you according to colour but a diversity that you embrace with all your heart; the culture that you want to show off through the things you do best–like Emoni recreating her family dishes with a little something extra. But the main character isn’t the only one blessed with the strength to wear their identity and their own ambitions with pride. It was refreshing to see a set of supporting characters who did support Emoni but who also carried their own stories forward. 

And ain’t that what it means to be a sister [best friend]? Holding things tight when the other one is falling apart?

Angelica, Emoni’s best friend, is a lesbian and a talented designer who is given the much-needed spotlight as the most supportive best friend one can ever ask for. Honestly, seeing these two made me shout goals more than anything! ‘Buela, Emoni’s grandmother, is an understanding woman of age and knowledge. She knows what’s best for her grand-daughter and the little Babygirl, and does all she can do for these two girls she loves. But she also doesn’t shy away from walking on a path that doesn’t just confine her to a set of roles. 

“I want to be remembered for something great. I want to leave a skyscraper sized mark on the world that reminds people, [character] was fucking here.”

I nod along with [character]. I know just what she means.

I’ve always said that dreams and ambitions in stories are something I preach. I’m a strong believer of reaching for the moon so you can at least land among the stars, and seeing Emoni be such an enthusiast about her talent and her love for cooking is an honest inspiration. It’ll make you want to cheer for her with all your heart or you might end up being super motivated yourself. She has been portrayed as one of the most hustling teenagers I’ve ever read in fiction and that excites me like nothing else. She knows her priorities but she’s also not ready to give up on what she finds the most comfort in: cooking! 

I want her to know her entire life her mommy may not have been much but that her mom did everything so she could be an accumulation of the best dreams.

The representation of a teenage parent and most importantly, a mother, is heartwarming and the dripping with honesty. Right from the little sacrifices Emoni has to make to the fact that she doesn’t even consider them sacrifices because she knows she loves her daughter too much to not prioritise her over a few other things, every detail of her parenting journey is raw and displays affection in the best way possible. 

And something special does happen when I’m cooking…an innate need to tell a story through food.

Cooking is the essence of this story! It’s established as the most important aspect of Emoni’s life and no one’s complaining because honestly, who doesn’t like to read about food, about the way it’s being savored, about all the flavors, and sometimes full-fledged recipes. Evidently, Emoni has a talent for twisting dishes to make them taste different and even more delicious. Truth be told, reading this will compel you to become a chef and rush to that kitchen of yours…or to simply dine out or order something because everything sounds mouthwatering.

Some girl–or boy–(Angelica’s always reminding me not to be “so damn hetero”) is going to find themselves caught up with Malachi. I can already tell.

Well, that was a fair warning but trust me, you can’t stop yourself from falling for this love interest because he’s so much more than that! Malachi is a true friend first and his broad-minded male mind is a pleasant surprise because he doesn’t pay heed to what others say about a girl or what defines a girl according to norms. He’s immediately interested in Emoni front he first sight but no, it isn’t cheesy or cringey by any chance. It’s the most endearing and adorable love story that involves jokes, smiles, dimples, and all the cuteness you can imagine. 

And I know I should love the freedom, but I don’t think I’m ready for all the safety nets to be cut loose.

A coming-of-age story that defines a young adult character’s push toward the new adult direction due to circumstances is what calls to me. I always feel empathetic to characters who find themselves doing things no one of their age is doing because they need to take up responsibilities. It’s a very personal checkbox for me but I strongly believe it heightens the empathy and realism of a story always.

We all make choices about people. Who we want to hold close, who we want to remain in our lives, and who we are just fine without.

And there’s so much more I can say to help you understand how much I loved this book but it’ll only make you pick up the book a second later and fairly, I don’t want you to spare even a second. Just pick this up and fall in love with one, if not all, the amazing aspects of this story.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this via my participation in a blog tour but that doesn’t, in any way, affect my rating and/or opinion. Thank you, Elizabeth Acevedo, HarperCollins International and the lovely organiser–Karina @AfirePages! This post may contain affiliate links.

Follow along the blog tour schedule and check out all the amazing reviews!

Also, there are TWO International giveaways for a signed copy of With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo and an exclusive t-shirt inspired by the book (check out the designer here!) The giveaways are open until May 22nd so go on, enter asap!

Guest Post || Clo [Book Dragons] Writes A Poem On Her Love For Books

Guest posts are one of the best ways to get some refreshing voices over on this blog and this time I have the lovely Clo [Book Dragons] who is not just a great blogger but also a really good poet. So get yourself ready to be blown away by this sweetest poem she has written to pronounce her love for books. Oh, and it’s too relatable! But first, let’s welcome her.

Firstly, I’d like to thank Fanna for letting me guest post on her blog! Secondly, I’m Clo and I blog over at Book Dragons (as well as bi-weekly over Bookwyrming Thoughts which is owned and run by Sophia!) I’m not sure how many of you are aware of this but before I even started my blog, I was writing stories…then poems and lyrics too.

You can find some of my work on Wattpad but today, I’m going to be sharing with you what I love most about books, in a poem I created.

WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT BOOKS

entangled in blankets
rustling of pages break the silence
as they fall deeper
into a world they wish
was their’s


meeting people they soon
call their friends
even if you can’t see them
they can

laughter fills their room
laughing at ink on paper


the ink weaves into their heart
making them care for
someone they can never have


changing position once more
last half of the story
eyes focused solely on the book
you may speak, they won’t hear
lost in a world where they’re heard


you may see them distressed
wishing they could give a character
a piece of their mind

you may watch their breathing increase
eyes dancing with mirth, if only for a second
one by one tears fall
as a book just shaped them


as characters made them feel heard
made them feel pain, love, heartache
as a book stole their breath away
not for the first time nor the last


placing it back on the shelf
a faint smile on their face
a happiness in their eyes
that only a book can give them
they escaped reality for a while
now it’s time to return

Disclaimer: This poem was written and created by Clo @ Book Dragons, it should only be seen here on Fanna’s blog. If you see it anywhere else please let one of us know.

8 Most Anticipated Non-Fiction Books Releasing in 2019 || Help Yourself & Learn Through These Books

2019 is a year I’m trying to truly take up the adjective ‘eclectic’ so reading non-fiction books is a part of this. Which led me into searching for titles releasing in 2019 that will help me in this yearly goal of mine. So I decided to put these in a list for all the readers out there to easily pick up the ones they’re interested in!

1. THE HOLY SHIT MOMENT BY JAMES FELL

|| “Epiphany arrives like a lightening strike”
|| Motivational psychology
|| Go directly from intention to action

2. THE DARK FANTASTIC: RACE AND THE IMAGINATION FROM HARRY POTTER TO THE HUNGER GAMES (POST-MILLENNIAL POP) BY EBONY ELIZABETH THOMAS

|| Reveals the diversity crisis
|| Explores race in popular youth fiction
|| Black feminism and Afrofuturism

3. THICK: AND OTHER ESSAYS BY TRESSIE MCMILLAN COTTOM  

|| Thoughts on race, beauty, money and more
|| From the perspective of being thick
|| Feminist collection

4. SOMEDAY IS NOT A DAY IN THE WEEK BY SAM HORN  

|| Practical lifehacks to get what you want
|| Motivational guide
|| Self-help

5. BRAVE FACE BY SHAUN DAVID HUTCHINSON

|| Autobiography, memoir
|| Depression rep
|| LGBT

6. YOU ARE ENOUGH BY JEN PETRO-ROY

|| Self-help
|| Real talk about Eating Disorders & Body Image
|| Mental Health

7. BURNOUT BY EMILY NAGOSKI & AMELIA NAGOSKI

|| Manage stress
||
Empower women to thrive under  pressure and enjoy balanced lives
|| Science based evidence with humor

8. STAY SEXY & DON’T GET MURDERED BY KAREN KILGARIFF & GEORGIA HARDSTARK

|| True Crime stories
|| Self-advocate and value personal safety
|| Cultural & societal issues

Five International Book Bloggers You Should (HAVE TO) Follow For Bookish Bliss

Being a book blogger isn’t easy. It includes binge-reading other book blogs, having heart-eyes every time one comes across a gorgeous book blog, and spilling the love all over the other amazing book blogs through likes and comments. Yeah, I’m basically stating my book blogger routine.

Since I spend so much time being slightly obsessed with some book blogs, I thought I’ll put this obsession to good use and craft a
very helpful post for all the book lovers out there.

So here are five book blogs you can obsess over 
and nobody will judge you!

EVELINA from AVALINAH’S BOOKS

Evelina is a talented book blogger whose taste in books is varied and love for other book bloggers is beyond the sky. She’s a Lithuanian book blogger who has always stood up for the International bloggers and has even set up a support group for new bloggers.

I remember our first encounter–it was a tweet to which she replied enthusiastically and I was instantly impressed by her strong opinions and the power to voice them out. Instantly, I decided to interview her. There’s no turning back now! I’m always impressed by her.

She’s always excited to read books that are not hyped up or the ones everyone is running behind. And the best part? She lands up reading one of the best books and recommends them till the end of it. Evelina is always reading and supporting diversity and women empowerment–something you can look for yourself when browsing through these topics on her blog.

Not only this, she also has a meme set up for motivating other book bloggers (and herself) to cut down the number of pending ARCs they have on their shelf. So if you’re someone who has a large number of ARCs still on your TBR, go ahead and join the meme–you’ll be able to connect with others who are in the same boat and there are themes you can follow to encourage yourself.

Lastly, she’s an overall amazing person. You can talk to her whenever you feel like, ask for her help and you’ll never hear a no, or keep appreciating her because she deserves it all.

SHEALEA from SHUT UP, SHEALEA

Shealea is one of my blogging inspirations. Her blog was one of the first ones I came across when I started taking an interest into book blogging–yes, even before I started my own book blog. I would endlessly scroll through her posts and keep reading because not only is the blog beautiful but it’s even one of the best, and most well-written, content out there.

It was only later in my blogging journey that I finally decided to start commenting on her posts and being more vocal about how much her content inspires me and how much I look up to her. Luckily, she didn’t think of my constant appreciation and applause as an obsession *phew* and even liked me as a book blogger. No, wait! Before you accuse me of living in my own head, I have proof: Shealea’s Favourite Book Blogs LOL, yeah, I’m still in the air, no kidding!

And we even became pretty good bookish friends who accidentally buddy read an amazing poetry collection–Sister’s Entrance.

All that aside, she’s an absolutely supportive blogger who has been in the community for pretty long but she never makes you feel like you’re new to the game. She’ll always have your back, just like she has the back of diversity and Asian representation. Shealea is a huge advocate of using books and literature as a door to diverse representation and doesn’t shy away from voicing out her concerns or applauding the books that she loved in this context.

A book blogger who’s working to bring about a change? I present to you, Shealea! A few posts that you should definitely check out (and then endlessly scroll through the entirety of her blog) are: Asian debut authors (aka why 2019 will be the Year of the Asian || 8 books from Asian authors that I absolutely loved in 2018 (and will love for the rest of time

Lastly, she’s an overall amazing person. You can gush about great reads with her and also discuss everything related to book blogging and reading-of course, diversity and representation conversations will give you the best time ever!

SORRY IF THE LINKS AREN’T WORKING. SHEALEA RECENTLY SHIFTED HER BLOG AND MIGHT NOT BE HAVING THESE POSTS UP AT THE MOMENT. BUT DO SURF HER BLOG BECAUSE YOU’LL FIND SOME GREAT POSTS!

MARIE from DRIZZLES & HURRICANE BOOKS

Marie is not only a creative, supportive, and a great book blogger, but she’s even a kind soul who helps out and motivates other bloggers at the same time. Whether it’s her posts that are wonderfully written and put-together or her honestly sweet comments on other blogs, she goes all out and that’s what puts her to this list.

She was one of the top bloggers I had started interacting with in my early days of blogging and never did she leave a comment un-replied. She takes out the time to even check out your blog and spread some love–despite being super busy herself and just so consistent with her blog. Not only is she a great writer and content creator, but she’s also a huge enthusiast about supporting international bloggers which can be seen even in her Work With Me policy where she only accepts to host giveaways that are international.

Recently, I decided to take a leap and ask her for an interview because I think she can provide immense tips and tricks regarding book blogging and she has agreed! So keep an eye out for an Interview with Marie.

Not only this, Marie is also quite vocal about her bookish opinions and loves to weave together book discussions like WHY I DON’T RE-READ and WHY I DON’T BINGE-READ (LIKE, EVER) that will entertain you while also getting to know her more as a reader. She even loves to post helpful content for the fellow book bloggers like HOW TO AVOID THE HYPE AS A BOOK BLOGGER (CAN YOU REALLY?)

If you’re already impressed by Marie, then be prepared to become a fan once you know she also blogs about her travel trips. And she’s also a writer and once in a while, decides to talk about it and blog about it.

All in all, she’s a great person who will not only give you loads of amazing and genuinely helpful content but will also support you as a content creator yourself! So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and follow her everywhere! Though, she’ll most likely keep you alongside instead of behind you.

FADWA from WORD WONDERS

Fadwa is a true inspiration when it comes to diverse book bloggers who stand up for more diversity in the bookish world, or stand up against the lack of diversity. She has always been a supporter of characters with different skin colours, different mental statuses, and different sexual preferences. And she openly states that on her blog: “I will be mainly showcasing books featuring or/and written by marginalized voices.”

She was one of those bloggers who I admired from afar and just appreciated everything she does for the diverse book bloggers or the diverse representation in books. Until recently when I finally decided to comment on her Instagram pictures and blog posts. She’s honestly an amazing woman who somehow manages both her studies (as a medical student) and her passion for books.

Recently, I thought of trying (after a LOT of thinking) to approach her for an interview and when she agreed, I was the happiest person on Earth. So keep an eye out for an Interview with Fadwa!

She also has a bag full of discussions by diverse book bloggers around the world under the heading: Diverse Book Bloggers Discuss where you can see some amazing posts like: WHERE ARE ALL THE BRITISH PAKISTANI AUTHORS IN YA? or PANSEXUALITY IN LITERATURE.

Not only this, Fadwa is also a sensitivity reader so if you’re a writer or author reading this, you can check out her specifics here and get a great feedback on the representation in your book.

A great book blogger with a vision that can actually change the book community, Fadwa is an 
amazing bookish soul who doesn’t shy away from speaking up for the change she aims to bring.

SIMANT FROM FLIPPING THROUGH THE PAGES

Simant is a fellow Indian book blogger who is a superwoman, no kidding! She has a full-time job, a married life and a baby on the way (WOHOOO!) but does that stop her from creating amazing content? You bet, no! Right from Book Reviews to Bookish Ramblings, Simant goes all out when it comes to talking about the books she read and loved.

One of the first blogger friends I ever made, Simant has supported me in almost any and everything. She’s not only the first one to comment on my Instagram posts and tweets when no one else does, but she also grants my bookish wishes like The Poet X and Circe. Being the cool people that we are (ahem, no self-acclamation) we also decided to work together on a book club! Classics N Christie is aimed at reading one classic and one Agatha Christie book every month, join us on Instagram or Goodreads.

And if you’re wondering how Simant manages all this and so much more, you can read this interview of her–hosted by me!

She also posts some highly helpful content through her series, Blogging 101 where she lays out some greatly put-together essentials of blogging, like: 8 Reasons Why Graphics are Important for Your Blog or 10 Things Your Blog Needs If You Are a New Blogger (or not)

Simant’s love for book blogging and books will make you want to be her friend instantly, and don’t worry, she’s a sweet soul who will happily help you out and support you in the passion you 
share with her–books! So go on, follow her and find the ultimate bookish bliss. 

8 Books With South-Asian Characters Releasing in 2019 || Make Your TBR More Brown

As an Indian, despite being born and brought up in a country (UAE) where a wide range of nationalities live, I’ve always looked forward to seeing more characters like me–more characters who I can relate to, more character who represent people like me. So here are sixteen books with brown (South-Asian) characters in them!

HERE ARE 10 BOOKS TO MAKE YOUR TBR MORE BROWN

1. THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT BY SWATI TEERDHALA

|| Indian MC – Assassin female + Soldier male
|| Hindu Mythology
|| Ancient Indian history

2. THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI BY SABINA KHAN

|| Bengali MC
|| F/F Romance
|| Bangladesh setting

3. THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE BY SANDHYA MENON

|| Indian-American MCs
|| Fat Protagonist
|| YA Romance

4. A MATCH MADE IN MEHENDI BY NANDINI BAJPAI

|| Indian MC
|| YA Contemporary
|| High school hierarchy turns upside down

5. KINGS, QUEENS, AND IN-BETWEENS BY TANYA BOTEJU

|| Half-Indian MC (Biracial) 
|| Macho drag kings & magical queens
|| LGBT YA Contemporary

6. TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL BY AMINAH MAE SAFI

|| Brown MC
|| F/F Romance
|| YA Contemporary

7. UPON A BURNING THRONE BY ASHOK K. BANKER

|| Indian Characters
|| Indian Game of Thrones
|| Adult Epic Fantasy

8. THE GILDED WOLVES BY ROSHANI CHOKSHI

|| Indian MC
|| Sexual & Racial Diversity
|| Historical Fiction, Fantasy

10 Most Anticipated LGBTQIA Novels To Be Released In 2019 || Make Your TBR More Sexually Diverse

A LIST FEATURING MY TEN MOST ANTICIPATED 
2019 RELEASES TO MAKE YOUR TBR MORE SEXUALLY DIVERSE

2019 is going to be a great year in terms of more representation and this is exactly what the readers are excited about too! So if you’re on the search for adding some upcoming releases that have a LGBTQIA representation, help yourself and increase your ever growing TBR.

1. THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI BY SABINA KHAN

|| F/F romance
|| Female POC protagonist
|| Bangladesh (South Asian) setting; Bengali character

2. I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST BY MASON DEAVER

|| Non-binary protagonist
|| Anxiety & depression rep
|| Queer romance

3. THESE WITCHES DON’T BURN BY ISABEL STERLING

|| F/F Romance
|| Coming-of-age and coming out
|| Young adult witches

4. WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE BY TEHLOR KAY MEJIA

|| F/F romance
|| Forbidden love
|| Young-adult Dystopia

5. ONCE & FUTURE BY AMY ROSE CAPETTA

|| Pansexual and gay MCs
|| Gender-queer characters
|| Gender-bent retelling of King Arthur


6. TELL MW HOW YOU REALLY FEEL BY AMINAH MAE SAFI

|| F/F romance
|| POC protagonist
|| YA rom-com

7. THE PAST AND OTHER THINGS THAT SHOULD STAY BURIED BY SHAUN DAVID HUTCHINSON

|| Queer characters
|| Friendship focussed
|| Zombies and such

8. THE WEIGHT OF THE STARS BY K. ANCRUM

|| F/F romance
|| Slow-burn
|| YA science fiction

9. OUR YEAR OF MAYBE BY RACHEL LYNN SOLOMON

|| Bisexual protagonist
|| Unrequited love of best friends
|| Jewish MC

10. SMALL TOWN HEARTS BY LILLIE VALE

|| Summer vibes
|| Bisexual protagonist
|| Pies and coffee