Blog Tour: Top 5 Reasons To Read The Wolf’s Curse by Jessica Vitalis || A poignant tale revolving around superstitions and death

Welcome to my stop for the blog tour of The Wolf’s Curse by Jessica Vitalis! Thank you to TBR And Beyond Tours for hosting this tour. Click on the banner below to see the entire tour schedule and visit other bloggers’ stops!

The Wolf's Curse

Title: The Wolf’s Curse

Author: Jessica Vitalis

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Publishing date: September 21st. 2021

Content Warnings: Grief, death

Synopsis:

“The path ahead isn’t easy. It will be filled with darkness and despair, and you will almost certainly regret your decision, just as I regret mine.”
~Narrator, The Wolf’s Curse

Twelve-year-old Gauge’s life has been cursed since the day he witnessed a Great White Wolf steal his grandpapá’s soul, preventing it from reaching the Sea-in-the-Sky and sailing into eternity. When the superstitious residents of Bouge-by-the-Sea accuse the boy of crying wolf, he joins forces with another orphan to prove his innocence. They navigate their shared grief in a journey that ultimately reveals life-changing truths about the wolf––and death. Narrated in a voice reminiscent of The Book Thief and Lemony Snicket, this fast-paced adventure is perfect for fans of literary fiction fantasy such as A Wish in the Dark and The Girl Who Drank the Moon.

Book Links: Goodreads || Amazon || Barnes & Noble || Book Depository || IndieBound || Indigo

The Narration. When I saw that the narration was pitched as a cross between The Book Thief and A Series Of Unfortunate Events, I was (naturally) a little skeptical. But believe me when I say the narration was the best thing about this book – it was just so good. Told from the POV of ‘the Wolf’, the distant third person narrative was definitely worthy of being compared to The Book Thief.

The Writing style. O-kay. I probably made a mistake by saying that the narration was the best thing in the book, because now I want to say that the writing style was the best. But wait, here me out. The writing style reminded me so much of my own (what with all the snarky comments in parentheses) that I fell in love with it (pfft way to be humble Rachel).

The themes of death, grief and acceptance. A lot of the story was about death – how our main character Gauge struggles to comes to terms with his grandfather’s death, how his friend Roux does the same after her father’s death and the Wolf after her daughter’s. Watching as each the trio navigates through their grief was an endearing yet enlightening experience, one that I strongly suggest you have. As a middle grade novel, I was impressed by how it didn’t shy away from these heavy topics.

It talks about dealing with false rumors and superstitions. The village in which Gauge lived – and naturally the village in which the entire story is set, had extremely superstitious and narrow minded residents, so one important message this book sends across was about confronting ancient practices and superstitions and trying to be more open-minded.

Unique storyline. As I mentioned above, it is certainly unique for a middle grade to deal with topics like death and loss and grief. The entire storyline was a perfect atmospheric mythological fantasy and the concept of it all intrigued me so much.

JESSICA VITALIS is a Columbia MBA-wielding writer. After leaving home at 16, Vitalis explored several careers before turning her talents to middle grade literature. She brings her experience growing up in a nontraditional childhood to her stories, exploring themes such as death and grief, domestic violence, and socio-economic disparities. With a mission to write entertaining and thought-provoking literature, she often includes magic and fantastical settings. As an active volunteer in the kidlit community, she’s also passionate about using her privilege to lift up other voices. In addition to volunteering with We Need Diverse Books and Pitch Wars, she founded Magic in the Middle, a series of free monthly recorded book talks, to help educators introduce young readers to new stories. She was recently named a 2021 Canada Council of the Arts Grant Recipient. An American expat, she now lives in Canada with her husband and two precocious daughters. She loves traveling, sailing and scuba diving, but when she’s at home, she can usually be found reading a book or changing the batteries in her heated socks.

Author Links: Website || Twitter || Instagram || Goodreads || Facebook

Do you have The Wolf’s Curse on your TBR? Which is your favourite book featuring wolves? Let me know in the comments!

~ Rachel

Blog Tour: A Clash Of Steel by C.B. Lee (Review + Moodboard) || A diverse retelling set in imperial china ft. lost treasure and pirates!

Hello everyone, and welcome to my stop for the blog tour of A Clash Of Steel by C.B. Lee. Thank you to Coloured Pages book tours for hosting this tour! Click on the tour banner below to check out the schedule for the tour and read posts by other bloggers as well!

A Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island Remix

Title: A Clash of Steel 

Author: C.B Lee

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends 

Publication Date: September 7th, 2021

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction 

Synopsis:

Two intrepid girls hunt for a legendary treasure on the deadly high seas in this YA remix of the classic adventure novel Treasure Island.

1826. The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry.

But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure—the plunder of a thousand ports—that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey.

Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea—and especially those who sail it—are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

Book Links: Goodreads || Amazon || Book Depository || Barnes And Noble || IndieBound || Indigo

Thank you to Coloured Pages Book Tours and Netgalley for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange of a sincere review. This does not change my opinions in any way.

A Clash Of Steel was one of my most anticipated releases this year, soo I was literally squealing when I got selected for the tour and received an arc! Let’s get started with the review, shall we?

A retelling of an old favourite – Treasure Island, this story follows Xiang, a young girl living in a sleepy village in China, who is trying to find her true calling.

The setting alone was a treat to the history nerd in me. I reveled in reading about the pirate legend that was Ching Shih and her enormous fleet, and my adoration of her was exactly why I felt she shouldn’t have been villainized at the end, but we’ll come to that later.

Next, we had a totally cool, diverse cast of characters from all over China as well as neighboring countries and I liked how each of them, without going into too much detail, were described in just the right amount.

The concept grabs all of the points here. Like treasure hunting? Long voyages? Pirates?? Oh so cool! I think this was my first pirate book in a loooong time and I really need to find more of these.

Another thing I absolutely loved about this book was it’s brilliant portrayal of strong women characters. The formidable captain of the Dragon Fleet was a woman, our two main characters were sapphic teens, both their mothers were also independent working women – one a captain of a ship and the other a respected businesswoman. So yeah, a plus point here.

The one thing I didn’t like about this book was the pacing. It felt off at several points throughout the story – certain matters that were not very important were blown out of proportion and others were too quickly over. Some parts were unnecessarily long and that reduced my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, I’d recommend this book to all those who would be interested in a sapphic pirate story combined with historical Chinese legends. (though I don’t see how anyone could not be interested, so I pretty much recommend it to all of you).

Rating: ★★ (4 out of 5 stars)

CB Lee is a Lambda Literary Award nominated writer of young adult science fiction and fantasy. Her works include the Sidekick Squad series (Duet Books), Ben 10 (Boom!), and All Out Now (HarperTeen). CB loves to write about queer teens, magic, superheroes, and the power of friendship.

Lee’s work has been featured in Teen Vogue, Wired Magazine, and Hypable. Lee’s first novel in the Sidekick Squad series, Not Your Sidekick was a 2017 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist in YA/Children’s Fiction and a 2017 Bisexual Book Awards Finalist in Speculative Fiction. Seven Tears at High Tide was the recipient of a Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Fantasy Romance and also a finalist for the 2016 Bisexual Book Awards in the YA and Speculative Fiction categories.

Author Links: Website || Twitter || Instagram || Goodreads || Facebook || Tumblr

Do you have A Clash Of Steel on your TBR? Which is your favourite pirate book? Chat with me in the comments!

And on a final note, my blog reached 200 followers a while back and I am hosting a Q & A session in honour of that! Visit this post and leave me questions in the comments section! Oh, and don’t forget to fill this feedback form too –  https://forms.gle/CYkBpZXUm4hsuJQm8!!

~ Rachel

Blog Tour: Down To Earth by Betty Culley + Moodboard

Hello guys and welcome to my stop for the book tour of Down To Earth by Betty Culley! Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours for providing me an e-arc of this book in exchange of a sincere review. Click on the tour banner below to view the entire tour schedule!

Title: Down To Earth

Author: Betty Culley

Genre: Middle Grade (Science fiction)

Publication Date: August 24th 2021

Synopsis

Counting by 7s meets See You in the Cosmos in this heartwarming coming-of-age story perfect for the budding geologists and those fascinated by the mysteries of the universe.

Henry has always been fascinated by rocks. As a homeschooler, he pours through the R volume of the encyclopedia to help him identify the rocks he finds. So, when a meteorite falls in his family’s field, who better to investigate than this rock enthusiast–with his best friend, James, and his little sister, Birdie, in tow, of course.

But soon after the meteorite’s arrival, the water in Henry’s small Maine town starts drying up. It’s not long before news spreads that the space rock and Henry’s family might be to blame. Henry is determined to defend his newest discovery, but his knowledge of geology could not have prepared him for how much this stone from the sky would change his community, his family, and even himself.

Science and wonder abound in this middle-grade debut about an inquisitive boy and the massive rock that came down to Earth to reshape his life.

Book Links: Goodreads || Amazon || Barnes and Noble || Book Depository || Indigo || IndieBound

Down To Earth is a thoughtful middle grade novel about a young boy whose life turns upside down when a meteorite falls near his home.

Our main character, Henry Bower, belongs to a family of ‘dowsers’, people who have the gift of locating water underground. The problem is, Bowers are supposed to get this gift when they are ten, and Henry is but hasn’t been able to dowse yet, but he’s not going to give up hope.

I really liked Henry’s personality throughout the book, the author managed to make him same yet unique to a lot of children his age. His love for rocks and his “percent thinking” was what made him… well, him.

One of our other characters – half of one actually haha – is Henry’s two-year old sister Birdie, who communicates using two-word sentences despite Henry’s efforts to make her say a longer sentence.

The sibling dynamics between Birdie and Henry throughout the story was something I really appreciated. It was nice to see siblings feel something better than jealousy or rivalry towards each other for once, and this is something that is really important to portray in such books today.

Further, I liked how the story did not shy away from some serious topics as well. When the Bowers’ home gets flooded, and later when there is some violence and someone gets hurt, things suddenly start to look more… real. Henry’s fear and confusion during this period was relatable and yet another important topic for young readers.

Overall, Down To Earth was a beautiful blend of sci-fi and contemporary which revolves around family, friendship and identity.

Rating: ★★★ (3 out of 5 stars)

Betty Culley’s debut novel in verse Three Things I Know I True, was a Kids’ Indie Next List Top Ten Pick, an ALA-YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee, an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick, and a Junior Library Guild selection. Her first middle-grade novel Down to Earth, is inspired by her fascination with meteorites, voyagers from another place and time. She’s an RN who worked as an obstetrics nurse and as a pediatric home hospice nurse. She lives in central Maine, where the rivers run through the small towns.

Author Links: Website || Twitter || Instagram || Goodreads || Facebook

Do you have Down To Earth on your TBR? Which is your favourite sci-fi?

~Rachel

Missed my previous posts? Check them out here!

8 Things I Look For In Books // does it show that I am desperate for recs?

Books As Road Trips // a random post that emerged out of the void

The Young Elites vs The Hype-o-Meter!

Blog Tour: The Twin Stars by Bridgette Portman [Review + INTL Giveaway]

Welcome to my stop for the blog tour for The Twin Stars by Bridgette Dutta Portman! This tour has been organized by Lola’s Book Tours and runs from 26 July till 8 August. Click the banner below to view the tour schedule.

Displaying The Twin Stars banner.jpg

Book Details

Title: The Twin Stars (The Coseema Saga #1)
Author: Bridgette Dutta Portman
Genre: Fantasy
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: 6 July, 2021

Blurb (from Goodreads)

A magical journal. A world savaged by its own suns. An evil prince. A princess in hiding. And a teenage girl who learns to be the hero of her own story.

Sixteen-year-old Olive Joshi has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and can’t stop worrying about hurting the people she loves. She finds refuge in writing about Coseema, a magical princess on a distant planet. Coseema is fearless, confident, and perfect – everything Olive thinks she’ll never be. When she falls through a portal into her own unfinished story, Olive finds herself in a world in peril: double suns scorch the land, the brutal Prince Burnash seeks supreme power, and Coseema is nowhere to be found. Together with her friends – a bold poet, a cursed musician, a renegade soldier, and an adventurous girl from the desert – Olive will have to face her deepest fears to find the hero in herself.

Links: Goodreads || Bookbub || Amazon

Review

Thank you to Lola’s Book Tours for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

The Twin Stars is an immersive portal fantasy that will transport you to a whole new world. Our main character is Olive, a teenager with an OCD. She accidentally (or not?) gets transported into her own half-finished story she wrote in her journal (hence the separator graphics), and learns that the world and the people she created are not quite what she made them to be.

It is, in essence, the classic “falling into a storybook” tale, but once you read it you’ll understand what I mean when I say that it was so much more than that. The intriguing and unique worldbuilding captivated me right from the beginning, and even more so as the story progressed. The descriptive writing is certainly laudable, it created a vivid imagery of everything from the story in my mind’s eye.

The plot was quite decent too, though it could have been better. One thing I noticed was the stark absence of sub-plots. Almost everything that happened contributed to the main plot. A little more complexity could have really added to the story.

Let’s talk about the characters. The main character was nicely crafted and her character development in the story was superb. I was able to connect and relate to most of the characters, especially supporting characters like Jambol and Nestra, and the well-written side characters were another thing I liked about this book.

Overall I’d recommend The Twin Stars to those looking for themes of adventure, survival and even lowkey found family.

My Rating

★★★★ (4 stars out of 5)

About The Author

Bridgette Dutta Portman is an author, playwright, and teaching artist. Dozens of her plays have been produced across the United States and overseas. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University, as well as a PhD in political science from the University of California, Irvine. She is past president of the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco and is currently a member of Same Boat Theater Collective, the Pear Playwrights’ Guild, and the Dramatists’ Guild. She recently joined the board of the Pear Theatre in Mountain View, CA. The Twin Stars is her debut novel, and the first of a planned trilogy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Deepanshu and their two young children.

Author links: Website || Newsletter || Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads

Giveaway

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of The Twin Stars. One winner wins a signed paperback copy of The Twin Stars + a custom designed journal that ties into the book thematically. Open International.

For a chance to win, enter this rafflecopter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you have The Twin Stars on your tbr? Does it sound like something you’d be interested in reading? Let’s chat in the comments!




Blog Tour: The Shadow Watch by S.A. Klopfenstein [Review + Favourite Quotes]

Hello everyone, and welcome to my stop for The Shadow Watch by S.A Klopfenstein blog tour hosted by Storytellers On Tour. You can click the banner below to view the official tour schedule and check out the tour stops made by other bloggers!

Title: The Shadow Watch

Author: S.A Klopfenstein

Published: September 2020

Series: Shadow Watch(#1)

Pages: 400 (print length)

Genre: Epic Fantasy, Young Adult

Review

Synopsis

A fierce sorceress on the run. A charismatic rebel with dangerous ambitions. Will their revolution save the realm or bring it to ruin?

Ripped from her homeland and sold for a handful of coins, seventeen year old Tori Burodai grew up a slave in a foreign empire. All her life, surrounded by injustice and cruelty, she has ached for the chance to fight back.

When her only friend’s life is threatened, a buried power awakens, catapulting Tori into a harrowing new reality. For the first time in centuries, magic has returned to the world, and Tori may finally have the opportunity to change her fate.

Desperate for answers, Tori joins forces with a charismatic rebel bent on righting the scales. Soon, she is thrust into the heart of a magic revolution. But magic is not the only power that has returned from the depths of the world. And some secrets should never be uncovered.

War is coming. But does Tori have what it takes to defy an empire?

Filled with complex characters, slow-burn romance, wild plot twists, and epic battles, the Shadow Watch series is perfect for fans of Throne of Glass and the Grishaverse.

Welcome to the breathtaking world of the Shadow Watch, where sorcerers are hunted, monsters rise out of myth, and the fate of all hangs on love and betrayal. Start the Four Book series now!

The Shadow Watch started off just like the Shadow and Bone netflix series (I am talking about the series because I haven’t read the s&b books). The main character, Tori (aka Alina) living her life until her best friend Darien (aka Mal) is about to die, and that’s when her powers awaken and she saves him (but ends up dooming both of them). Enter the chancellor (aka General Kirigan, but a worse and probably uglier version), who wields some magic himself. He (kidnaps and) dresses up the mc and treats her like a queen and talks about using their magic “together”. That is where the story begins going on a different track than s&b. Tori is tortured by the chancellor for months before getting rescued and whisked off to a place where there are others like her.

So what I liked was how we were taken straight to the point; the events of actual story started almost immediately after beginning the book. There was no beating around the bush, and this allowed for so much to happen within those 400 pages of the book.

The pacing was pretty balanced too. The story started off with a medium pace, but in the later parts it speeded up and I barely had time to process everything that was going on.

Another thing I enjoyed was the ambiguity of all the characters. There was no telling who was the good guy, who was the bad one. This made it all the more interesting, I never saw the surprises and betrayals coming.

That being said, one thing that disappointed me was how there was no likeable character at all. I mean, I understand the need for morally grey characters, but still, none of them made me want to root for them. Often, just as I began to like a character, he/she would do something horrible which would change my opinion immediately.

Final Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

(3.5 stars)

Favourite Quotes

She did not know how to say goodbye. The people she cared for usually just disappeared from her life.

Beauty meant little to him these days. It served no purpose.

“Let’s eat! I’m starving,” said Mischa. Then she looked Tori’s rail-thin body up and down. “Sorry, no I’m not. Don’t worry, Tori, you will not stay skinny long around these halls.

Don’t forget those who live as you once did. But don’t cheapen what they themselves long for and die for – comfort and freedom.”

I’ve learned to guard my mind from those dark thoughts because…they would rule me if I let them.


About The Author

S.A. Klopfenstein

S.A. Klopfenstein grew up on a steady dose of Tolkien and Star Wars. As a child, he wrote his first story about a sleepwalking killer who was executed by lethal injection. He lives in the American West with his wife and their dog, Iorek Byrnison. He can be found exploring the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, or daring the halls of the high school where he teaches English and mythology.

Have you read The Shadow Watch? Is it on your TBR? And are you excited for book 4 which is coming out soon? Let me know in the comments!

Blog Tour: A Wilder Magic by Juliana Brandt (Review + INTL Giveaway!)

Hey people, I am so excited to be participating in the Book Promo tour for A Wilder Magic hosted by MTMC Tours! A huge thanks to MTMC tours and Netgalley for providing me an eARC (my first ever!) of this book.

Title: A Wilder Magic

Author: Juliana Brandt

Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers

Publication Date: May 4, 2021

Genres: Middle Grade Historical Fantasy

Add on Goodreads!

From the author of The Wolf of Cape Fen comes a
beautiful and lyrical standalone story about one
family with magic in their bones, who are tied to the
mountain valley in which they live in more ways
than one. And what happens when the land they
love is destined to be flooded, whether or not they’re still on it.

For generations, Sybaline’s family has lived in a magical valley in the Appalachian mountains, helping the magic grow the land. But now the government has ordered them to relocate; their valley is needed to create a dam for electricity. In one week, their home will be flooded.

Sybaline can’t imagine life without her home and without the magic. Stopping the dam proves to be impossible; the government is too big and too strong. She takes the only choice left: she stays. Using her magic, she builds a wall, and as water floods the valley, it covers her house, leaving her living beneath the lake itself.
But there is a consequence to using magic in such a way, one that will transform both herself and the friends who end up trapped beneath the water with her. If she can’t find a way to escape the prison she’s created, both she and those she loves will end up staying in the watery grave of the valley forever.

My Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It’s been a while since I enjoyed a middle-grade fantasy book so much! There is so much to love in this book, so I have decided to put together a list of all the things you should read this book for.

The strong sibling relationships. This book was all about family relations. I loved how the main character, Sybaline, and her three cousin sisters shared such a strong bond. Tevi, the youngest, was downright adorable, though I have to appreciate the courage she showed throughout the book.

The positive character traits. None of the four cousins were pampered little children, they were all independent and headstrong young women. I think they would provide great inspiration to all little readers.

The beautiful nature descriptions. Since the setting of the entire story is a picturesque valley, obviously the description matters. And this was done very beautifully throughout the book. Though I am usually not one for artistic depictions, I did pay a lot of attention to them in this book, and found it really easy to picture the scenery in my mind.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this to all those who enjoy scenic descriptions, heart-touching platonic relationships and live-saving (or threatening) decisions and choices.

Juliana Brandt is an author and kindergarten teacher with a passion for storytelling that guides her in both of her jobs. She lives in her childhood home of Minnesota, and her writing is heavily influenced by travels around the country and decade living in the South. When not working, she is usually exploring the great outdoors.
Her debut novel, THE WOLF OF CAPE FEN, was published by SourcebooksKids on April 7th, 2020. Her sophomore novel, A WILDER MAGIC, will publish May 2021. Her writing is represented by Natalie Lakosil of Bradford Literary Agency.

WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS | TWITTER

INTL Tour-wide Instagram Giveaway!

Head over to Instagram and visit the #AWilderMagicMTMC hashtag where 10 lucky readers will win:

A Wilder Magic sticker, signed bookplate, and official bookmark.

This giveaway is open internationally and ends on April 30th, 2021. Winner will be announced on @mtmctours’ Instagram account.


What did you think of my first blog tour? Do you have A Wilder Magic on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!