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

Book Review: The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He || concept? brilliant. execution? not so much

Hiya everyone! How are you doing?

I certainly hope your state of mind is better than mine at the moment. I have this big exam coming up tomorrow, and exhaustion, anticipation, tension (but also a little relief) have built themselves a cozy home in my brain. But lets not go into the woes of us students’ because we have a review of a very anticipated release of mine today! Very exciting, right? *wiggles eyebrows*

The Ones We're Meant to Find

Title: The Ones We’re Meant To Find

Author: Joan He

Genre/Age group: Young Adult Science Fiction

Synopsis

Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her.

In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.

Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But nevertheless, she decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

Buddy read with the lovely Janhavi @A Cottage Of Words!

Is it my fault I started reading this book with very high expectations? After hearing countless times how this book was the best of the best (not the exact terminology, but you get the point) and then after reading that amazing synopsis (don’t even get me started on the gorgeous cover), I really thought this was right up my alley. Boy was I wrong.

Imagine this. You are hurtled into a speeding train without any warning. And you’ve got no idea where it’s from, where it’s going to, who are the people around you etc etc. Apart from the obvious physical implications (ouch!) you know that impending feeling of… confusion? Okay so perhaps not the best metaphor, but this was how I felt for the entirety of this book.

Of course I don’t expect to understand every single thing in a sci-fi set decades (centuries? millennia?) in the future. But if I am reading a book, I should at least have an idea about the plot? I have a rule against using gifs in my reviews, otherwise I would have used this opportunity flaunt something of the type, “What’s going on??”. Maybe its just me, but the technological terms, the constantly switching timelines and loads of other stuff was totally beyond my comprehension skills.

“The problem with oceans? They always seem smaller from the shore.”

Let’s talk about what I liked before we go full attack mode again. Number one, the concept behind the story. It was extremely cool, intriguing and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Next comes the world building and the atmosphere. There were several elements which were so interesting to grasp. A city in the sky? “Holoing”? Oh, and the best one was that humans actually invented something that would prompt you with the best phrases during a speech/conversation! I am terrible at socializing, so an AI like that would be incredibly helpful at awkward conversations that I have to face at social events.

So one of our main characters, Celia, is stranded on an island with almost no memories, and for a while, the entire survival plot was done really well (and no it wasn’t turned into a Swiss Family Robinson kinda thing) though I found some things like a ready made house and a robot a little to convenient. But I am willing to overlook that, and I will go as far as to say that I enjoyed reading Celia’s chapters (chapters told from her POV) for most part of the book. Kasey’s though… they were a whole different thing.

Before we go deeper let me introduce you to our two protagonists. Celia is the older sister – a cheerful, outgoing personality (before getting stranded on an island alone of course) who apparently hated the artificiality of their futuristic world. Kasey is a couple years younger than Celia and a polar opposite – introverted, would rather be around gadgets than people, extremely logical and scientific. Due to this, Kasey is often branded as insensitive.

“When I dream of her, it’s in vibrant color, unlike the gradients of gray of my monochrome days. But everything is hazy when I wake. The details merge. The colors fade.”

In the beginning, I found that I could relate to Kasey. Party-awkwardness, a little inexpressiveness are some traits I have in common with her. But the chapters after that were a roller coaster, and not a fun one at that. Literally all the chapters from Kasey’s point-of-view were difficult to grasp, and after a while I began skimming through them. *mock gasp* Yes I know it is a sin in the bookish tradition, but you do get how boring those parts must have been right? They just felt so bland, especially when compared to Celia’s chapters, which were mostly full of colour (omg now those you’ve read the book might think I am mocking Celia, but the pun was unintentional i swear). It came as a huge surprise to me that for once, I actually preferred a first-person narrative over third-person (Celia’s chapters were 1st person POV, Kasey’s were 3rd person) as I generally tend to dislike books with first person narrative *cough* the infinity courts *cough*.

No one, and I repeat, no one has ever mentioned this book without talking about the shocking twists, so I figured I’d cover that too. The thing is, I was waiting for my mind to completely blow up, but I ended up feeling a little underwhelmed by the plot twists. I remember thinking, this was what everybody was talking about? this is it??

Some of the side characters like Hero and Actinum were nicely written, and while I appreciate that, the ending made even less sense than the rest of the story. A character suddenly becomes the “villain” for the last couple of chapters… I mean, what??

Okay that was one chaotic review, but at least it covered everything I wanted to say. Overall, I was very disappointed, but 2.5 stars seems like a fair rating to me.

Have you read The Ones We’re Meant To Find? Which is your favourite book set in the future? Let’s chat in the comments!

~ Rachel

Missed my previous posts? Check them out now!!

Blog Tour: Down To Earth by Betty Culley + Moodboard

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

Discussion Post: Appreciation For Book Bloggers // Let’s Talk Bookish

Hiya everyone! I am back with a discussion post, but this time it revolves around a topic from Let’s Talk Bookish.

For those who aren’t aware, Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @Eternity Books and Dani @Literary Lion. Today’s topic is – Appreciation For Book Bloggers. Of course, this is not something that is rarely discussed in the bookish community, but it is an important thing and I would like to put forward my thoughts on this as well.

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When you take so much time and effort (and sometimes even money) creating a blog and regularly writing new content, it is natural to expect some appreciation for your efforts. Taking my personal example, I started off very ambitiously and wrote my first couple of posts in the same month I created this blog. And then I saw that my posts got hardly 1 or 2 views, and this made me question my decision of starting a blog in the first place. If nobody is interested in reading what I write, then why should I? This was something of my mindset then. I got quite discouraged, and discontinued writing anything on this blog for a couple of months.

Probably because of the blessing of the bookish gods, one fine day after 2-3 months of creating this blog, I published another post. This one too was a major flop, but I this time I kept going. Slowly, I made friends here, people started reading my content and interacting with me. Even today, each of your views and comments on my posts makes my day. So yes, my readers make me feel appreciated.

And there are also days when I feel particularly desolate, when I feel that my content is under-appreciated because only about 20 people read my posts. But then I am still pretty lucky to have these people, no matter the number, who always are so sweet and supportive. They encourage my to continue writing, and it is because of them that I have grown as a blogger.

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Everyday more and more people are taking conscious efforts to promote and support book bloggers. I have come across many such initiatives and it makes me happy to see all the new creative ways people are finding to recognize book bloggers. For instance, Sofii has created The Definitive Book Blogger List over at her blog, and it is such a cool idea to compile a list of book bloggers! Thank you Sofii for this amazing initiative!!

I’ve observed that it is generally book bloggers who appreciate the work of their peers the most. Since I am a book blogger myself, I relate to that feeling of elation when someone posts a positive comment etc on my content, hence I try to do that for other bloggers as much as I can. That’s probably the case with most of you, right?

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I can’t speak for others, but I know that the only compensation I want from the book industry in return for my work on this blog is for book bloggers like me to be recognized as an important part of this industry. We constantly highlight new books and authors, discuss important topics that readers should be aware of, give trigger and content warnings to readers and so much more. Still I feel that the role of book bloggers is often dismissed as trivial. That needs to change.

And with that, I have said everything I wanted to. I do realize this discussion is quite short when compared to my others, but that was probably because I was pretty blunt and said what needed to be said in a few lines.

Do you feel appreciated as a book blogger? What more do you think can be done to encourage book bloggers? Chat with me in the comments, I’d love to have a friendly discussion!

See ya!

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Okay, so I still can’t believe it. I, for the first time ever, got nominated for a blogging award! Thank you so much Riddhi @Whispering Stories for nominating me. It is a really big deal for me.

What is The Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is a blogging community-driven award wherein bloggers nominate their fellow bloggers. Its primordial intent is to bring recognition to bloggers, especially those who fly under the radar, for their inspiring, creative, and motivational blogs.

What are the Rules?
  1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Here are the answers to Riddhi’s questions

  1. When and why did you start blogging?

I started blogging in July (I think) this year. I didn’t have a lot of people around me who share my love for books. I started blogging so that I could talk about books with others who have the same interest.

2. What is your favourite thing about blogging?

As mentioned above, I could finally connect with other bookworms, who understood my love and my obsession with books. Blogging also gives me a sense of accomplishment whenever I achieve a reading milestone.

3. What is your least favourite thing about blogging?

Hmm, I guess it is just that for new bloggers like me, who don’t have a lot of friends on social media, it is difficult to get a good audience. Since there are so many blogs on WordPress, mine often goes unnoticed.

4. What are your hobbies beside blogging?

Reading, of course. I also like to listen to music, and I used to enjoy playing the guitar, but I am quite rusty at it now. Other than that, languages interest me a lot. I am currently learning German and French (and a tiny bit of Spanish) and am always looking for ways to improve my English grammar and vocab.

5. What would the title of your biography/biopic be?

It would definitely be something book-ish. “Between The Pages”, perhaps? Aghh, I am SO not good with titles.

6. Some advice for people who have just started blogging?

I have just started blogging myself, so I think it would be safe to say this – Be original, write about what interests YOU the most. You should write selfishly, only for yourself.

7. Describe yourself in seven words? 

Bookworm, Introvert, Achiever, Self-Centered, Confident, Creative, Animal-Lover

8. Dogs or Cats?

Dogs.

9. A TV show you can binge-watch forever?

There are so many! Greenhouse Academy, Just Add Magic, Trollhunters – Tales Of Arcadia will be the top three. Oh, and I just started watching The Bureau Of Magical Things, and I think that might be added to this list too.

10. A song you relate to? / A song you will never get tired of listening?

A Head Full Of Dreams song, which is part of an album of the same name. You should listen to it too.

11. Who is your favourite author?

As much as I wanted to answer all of the questions, I will have to abstain from answering this one. There are so many amazing authors out there, it would be unfair to pick one. But a few of the many authors I admire are – Agatha Christie, Shannon Messenger, Markus Zusak, Enid Blyton etc.

Okay, it was a lot of fun answering those questions. Thank you for these amazing questions, Riddhi!

My Nominees

Nehal @Books and Words

Annemieke @A Dance With Books

Cherelle @Cherelle The Bibliophile

Stephanie @Adventures Of A Bibliophile

M.T. Wilson @The Last Book On The Left

Sofii @A Book. A Thought.

Ahaana @Windows To Worlds

Tiction @Fictionally Crazy

Iris @Countless Words With Iris

Kay @ Hammock of Books

Evin @ A Curly Sue’s Ramblings

My Questions
  1. Which is the book that has a main character who is a lot like you?
  2. Which is the most gorgeous book cover you’ve seen?
  3. If you could invite five book characters to dinner, who would they be?
  4. Which would you prefer- Physical book or E-book?
  5. Whom would you like to meet – An author or an illustrator?
  6. A TV show you could binge-watch forever? (Sorry Riddhi, this question was just too good)
  7. What is your favourite reading spot?
  8. If you are at a gathering, would you rather talk to people, or sit in a corner reading?
  9. If you could wish for any one magical ability, what will it be? (Eg. Teleporting, Becoming invisible etc.)
  10. A song whose lyrics are currently stuck in your mind, and are replaying continuously?
  11. A book you could re-read again and again, and still enjoy it?

To the people I have tagged, there is certainly no pressure for you. But if you do decide to write a post, do ping me back, or post the link in the comments. I will love to read your answers.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it!