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

Excellent news alert! I just found out I got selected for a blog tour for one of my most anticipated releases of 2021! *happy little jig* Pretty good, right?

Soo what are we going to talk about today? That’s right, Rachel is going to list certain things that generally (pfft what a joke, the correct word is always) make her fall heads over heels in love with a book. And since short (what an understatement) introductions have become somewhat of a trend on this blog, we get started immediately.

Presenting – The 8 things that I love in books!

#1 Found Family. Let’s face it. Found family is THE best trope to ever exist, and I know I’ll never in my life get tired of it. After all its no coincidence that on Goodreads my ‘found family’ shelf is pretty similar to my ‘best books ever’ shelf, right?

#2 Banter. Come on, give me all that (friendly, or not?) rivalry with the sharp retorts, the stupid (sometimes actually funny, admit it) puns and the hiding of smiles at witty remarks.

#3 Sass. What is a book without at least one sassy character? We all know and love the fearless badass females who never seem lost for words and have the most incredible way of doing or saying even the most mundane things.

#4 Grumpy-Sunshine trope. I realize I can’t call this the best trope ever since I already did that in #1. BUT this is a very close second. It provides for plenty of banter, and who doesn’t love seeing the classic ‘grumpy’ character pretending he’s annoyed but is secretly enjoying the quirks of the ‘sunshine’?

#5 Characters who like to read. Ah well I like to know I’ve atleast something in common with fictional characters, and since I am never going to be brave enough wage battles against the evil, my love for reading will have to do.

#6 Mr. Narrowed Eyes who walks with a flashing neon sign that says “I am evil with no emotions” but is actually a sensitive marshmallow. I actually made an entire post about this trope earlier this year(I still have no idea what it’s called so I made up a name). So these are basically characters who for some incomprehensible reason keep trying to prove to the world just how evil they are but they are the exact opposite.

#7 Mind-boggling endings. It might seem a bit out-of-the-ordinary but I actually enjoy books ending in a way that makes my mouth hang open trying to process everything.

#8 Lots of things happening all at once. It’s no secret that I like to see lots of action and fast paced reads are generally my type (though I have been proved wrong on more than one occasion).

As you probably may have gathered, it would not be inaccurate if I would have titled this post as “Things I Loved In Six Of Crows”, but we’re going to ignore that. Please and thank you.

What are some things you love seeing in books? Let’s chat in the comments!

Missed my previous posts? Click on the links below to read them!

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

The Young Elites vs The Hype-o-Meter!

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

I went on a road trip today. To the dentist.

Well yeah, that’s the closest thing to a road trip I have had in the past two years, and since I had nothing else to write about (*subtly ignores the 14 posts ranging from ‘barely started’ to ‘nearly finished’ sitting in the drafts folder*) I decided to let the impulsive me overrule the overthinking me, and as a result of all this, you’re seeing this extremely random post in front of you.

The idea is to basically compare some of my recent reads to (completely imaginary, I assure you) road trips. Do I realize that doesn’t make any sense? Yes, I do. But I hope the rest of this post makes up for my sub-standard explanation skills.

The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Your ride is the most gorgeous car (read: book cover) you have ever seen in your life. One look at it, and you know that your journey (the story) is going to be an amazing one. But as you’re going to find out, appearances can be deceptive.

The driver is a grumpy man well into his sixties whose worst nightmare is apparently to be caught speeding. He drives at less than half the speed limit (pace of the book) and you watch on skeptically as a jogging woman overtakes your car. You have half a mind to tell the driver to drop you back home (DNF) but something stops you from doing so. The people you meet on this trip (the characters) aren’t that bad after all, and perhaps your destination (the ending) will be worth it. Then, at about 60% into your trip, something changes. The driver throws back his head and laughs, and then accelerates so fast that you fall backward into your seat. Amazement lines your features as the car is suddenly moving at a tremendous pace. The rest of the trip is thoroughly enjoyable, and you’re almost a tiny bit sorry when it ends.

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon by Grace Lin

You do not pay much attention to how your car looks like, just get in and are eager to start. The driver is a cheerful young fellow who drives at a good, average speed, the smoothness of the journey makes you feel as if you are not moving at all. You fall in love with all the people you meet, however ‘out of the ordinary’ some of them may be (a dragon who can’t fly? “buffalo boys”? talking lion statues? yes we have them all)

You soon discover that the driver is quite talkative and friendly. As you progress through a country that is new to you, he tells you about the places, the cultures, and conjures up endless stories on any subject. At first you’re a little surprised at all the stories, which are inspired from folktales that you’ve never heard of, but soon you become comfortable and begin anticipating and even looking forward to the little impossible-sounding tales he weaves. Your destination is just as beautiful as you had hoped it would be. Overall, a soothing, refreshing ride that you needed.

Bloody Spade by Brittany Walters

The car started moving even before both your feet were inside. You yelp, but finally manage to hoist yourself in. For the first 10% of the journey you are trying to just get seated and get comfortable in the speeding car, whose driver is oblivious to your struggles. But to be honest, your adventure-loving spirit is kinda relishing the chaos of it all. You soon settle in and get the hang of it (“it” being the ability to not fall outside the car or get jerked backward every time the driver decides to speed up) and are thoroughly enjoying yourself.

The second half of the trip is not nearly as impressive. After such an exciting build-up, you are disappointed by how predictable the way and the destination turned out to be. A good ride, but the last few parts of the journey could have been better. An enjoyable one, all the same.

Supernova by Marissa Meyer

No sooner did you get in than the car started moving. You barely have time to take a seat and the person who designed this car had never heard of seatbelts. But who cares? You are having the time of your life. There are sharp turns along the way (plot twists), moments when it feels like your heart may pop out of your mouth, times when you have to clutch your seat for dear life. And so much tension and unpredictability. People might call this reckless, maybe even dangerous, but you’re always up for something like this. Anything to escape the monotony of life, right?

It was a wild, wild ride, but you enjoy every second of it. You’d do it all over again if you got a chance.

Aaand we’re done! I had a lot of fun writing all of this…whatever this was (come to think of it, would these count as reviews? mini-reviews, at least?). Anywayy let me know what you thought of this post in the comments section. See you there!

The Young Elites vs The Hype-o-Meter!

Guys I have news for you, I redesigned my blog!! (yet again) It now has a new theme, a new header image and other stuff. If you haven’t seen it yet, hop out of your reader and go check it out!

And today we have a much anticipated (for me, but I hope it was for you too haha) post with us – the first in a collaborative series with April @Booked Till Midnight in which we pit popular books against our very own hype-o-meter. (have no clue what is going on? take a look at the introduction to this series here and here)

The first book we (buddy) read for this series was none other than The Young Elites by Marie Lu! Let’s see how it fared against the hype-o-meter.

Book Details

Title: The Young Elites

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Format: E-book

Synopsis:

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

Thoughts

If The Young Elites was to be described in one word by me, the word would have been NO. I know it lacks eloquence, but I cannot find a better way to get my point across. The plot was a no, that characters were a no, the overall atmosphere was a no. Hey hey, don’t come at me with war hammers and pitchforks just yet, I’ll try to explain it all.

There was absolutely nothing unique about this book that separates it from 10476 other young adult fantasies out there. It’s almost like it was screaming “I am a typical fantasy that everybody got tired of long back” in every single page. People with magic are hunted? Check. Secret magical society? Check. Fire-boy? Check. Rebellious prince? You wouldn’t believe it, but unfortunately, check.

Normally, I am all for morally grey characters, but I took a dislike to Adelina, our very morally  grey main character right from the beginning. She was everything I hate in fictional characters – confused, self-pitying, often contradictory and repetitive, and of course, she had no idea how to sort her priorities and made bad decisions all the time. Our other main character, Enzo wasn’t much better either. The only character I actually cared about a little was Lucent, and guess what, only her name gets mentioned and that too perhaps half a dozen times in the book. Ever heard of character development?? Anyway, more on that later. 

The basic essence of the book doesn’t make sense, to be honest. Are you telling me this entire story takes place because our main character accidentally kills people?Is that even possible? If I wanted to sum up the plot of the book it would go – Oh, Adelina kills people by mistake and cries about it later, no biggie. 

What breaks my heart the most is the fact that this book truly had the potential required to make me fall head over heels in love with it – the elites were all that were needed to execute a beautiful found family trope. And there was SO much scope for more dialogue and witty banter between the elites. But do we get this? Nope. What we get are sorely underdeveloped characters (what do we ever get to know about Raffaele except a description of his clothes and mask? And with Lucent and Emma and Michel, we didn’t even get that) with absolutely zero sassy dialogue.

The next paragraph contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.

I do not know what exactly I was expecting in the end. Perhaps I was looking for something extraordinary, something that redeems how bad the rest of the story was. The actual ending was far from extraordinary, and maybe this book would have got a much higher rating from me if that end hadn’t been there.Like of all the mistakes she has done and all the people she has killed, Adelina kills Enzo instead of Teren? Are you kidding me??

Verdict

Soo. That definitely did not go as expected. The hype-o-meter vanquished the Young Elites without a second glance. Tough luck.

Oh, and that’s not all! Click HERE to read what April thinks about The Young Elites!

Have you read The Young Elites? What would you rate it on the hype-o-meter? Let me know in the comments!

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!




July Wrap-Up // I used to write something here but I can’t recall what

Pigeons? Pigeons.

Don’t you think that pigeons have this aura of ignorance and guilelessness surrounding them? Oh come on, it can’t be just me who is unnerved by their continual staring thinks they’re cute but stupid. Come to think of it, they look quite like this

Whoa wait, it is these pigeons you talking about when you say that they can actually tell the difference between a painting by Monet and Picasso? Mind-blown *poof* (btw that IS a true fact, look it up). I suddenly have a lot more admiration for the birds. I wonder who had the audacity to call them ignorant.

So ahem, not exactly the best introduction, but at least it matches with the similarly weird intro in my June wrap-up so I am willing to call it a win.

I read only 6 books this month, which is not that great of a number, but not bad for a busy month either. I was in a kinda slumpy mood, some below-average books are to blame for that. I did manage to catch up on some review copies though, so yay for that!

Bloody Spade (The Cardplay Duology, #1)
The Search For Synergy
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Orphans of the Tide (Orphans of the Tide #1)
Bloody Spade by Brittany M Willows

Rating ★★★★ || Review here

The Search For Synergy by Brett Salter

Rating ½

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon by Grace Lin

Rating ★★★★½ || Review here

Orphans Of The Tide by Struan Murray

Rating ★★★½

The Twin Stars (Book 1 of the Coseema Saga)
The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

The Twin Stars by Bridgette Dutta Portman

Rating ★★★★ || Review to come

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Rating ½ || Review to come

Best Book Of The Month

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon by Grace Lin

Wow. This book was so beautiful and wholesome, with a sprinkle of adventure, friendship, sacrifice and family with lots of Chinese folktales put in. Also, how can anything go wrong when there are dragons?

I’d highly recommend this to those of you looking to escape in a refreshing story about a young girl who sets out to change her fortune.

Read my full review on goodreads.

I had considered going on a hiatus earlier this month because of exams and stuff, but I am glad I didn’t, because I managed to keep on top of my blog even with so much going on *pats herself on the back*. I posted consistently, but not very frequently (just you see, this is going to change in August!). My posts this month were not exactly the most creative, but there were a couple of good ones. Click on the featured images to visit the posts in case you missed them!

I started the month with the popular Mid-Year Freak Out tag! This was my first time doing this tag, and I gained a lot of insights into my own reading.

Next came my very late June Wrap-Up! I ramble about a new favourite and set a tbr for July.

Introducing a very exciting new ‘thing’! Take a look at it if you haven’t already, it’s supposed to start soon!!

I did a Six Of Crows based post after quite a while (thought I’d gotten over my obsession with it? You were wrong) and it turned out to be good, what with all the little crow graphics and the classy Kaz at the end.

I caught up on a couple of tags in this post! I write about things I use as bookmarks, my current favorite book covers and a lot more!!

And we finish the month with an ARC review. I reviewed an ARC after a very long time (the last one was in May first week) but I totally enjoyed both the book, as well as writing this post. I also show off my first moodboard!

What to expect in August

This was a last minute addition to my wrap-up, I have a lot planned for my blog next month, so I thought I’d let you know what kind of content you can expect in the coming weeks!

First, a couple of blog tours – the books are a YA portal fantasy, a middle grade sci-fi, and hopefully (not confirmed yet) a middle grade historical fiction as well.

Then we’ll have the 4 (or more) critical analyses of popular books as part of a collaborative project with April @Booked Till Midnight which I talked about in an earlier post (linked above).

There might also be a discussion post from the Let’s Talk Bookish meme.

And of course there’ll be a couple completely random posts as always if inspiration strikes.

Jawahir @Jawahir The Bookworm talks about whether or not he wants a third book in the Six Of Crows duology!

Sofii @A Book A Thought reviews Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas!

Cherelle @A Bolt Out Of The Book reviews The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman!

Prutha @Moonchild Lexicons reviews She Who Became The Sun!

Leellyn @Sometimes Leellyn Reads lists books which feel like a much needed hug!

Rania @Rania’s Rambling Reads recommends books based on their level of sass!

Madeline @The Bookish Mutant writes her take on the Feelings book tag!

April @Booked Till Midnight celebrates her first blog-o-versary!

Alice @Love For Words talks about reading several books at a time!

What was your favourite read in July? Which books are on your August tbr? Let’s chat in the comments!!

Arc Review: Bloody Spade by Brittany M Willows // ft. my first ever moodboard!

Thank you so much to the author for reaching out and providing me an ARC of Bloody Spade in exchange of an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

Book Details

Bloody Spade (The Cardplay Duology, #1)

Title: Bloody Spade

Author: Brittany M. Willows

Series: The Cardplay Duology #1

Publication Date: 15th September 2021

Genre(s): Young Adult Fantasy

Add to Goodreads!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

A girl full of heart
A thief touched by darkness
A boy with a fiery temper
An unwitting servant of evil

The era of magic was once thought to be a myth, but after the Reemergence ushered forces both dark and light into the mundane world, it has since become a harsh reality. Now those affected by this strange power—a specialized group of Empowered called Jokers, known collectively as Cardplay—must protect their world from the darkness that threatens to consume it, all the while fighting for equality in a society clinging to normalcy.

But the Reemergence was only the beginning.

When another influx occurs on the seventh anniversary of that fateful event, an unfortunate encounter at ground zero lands Iori Ryone, a teenage boy in possession of a corrupt and legendary magic, in the care of recent Joker graduate Ellen Amelia Jane. From him, she learns the Reemergence may not have been the inevitable natural disaster it first seemed.

Someone is trying to tear down the barrier that separates the magical realms from the mundane. The question is, can Cardplay stop them before it’s too late?

Bloody Spade is the first installment in an urban fantasy duology that follows a cat-eared thief and a spirited girl as they try to navigate his wild magic, her hotheaded brother, a sinister plot, and the feelings they’re developing for each other.

My Review

Buddy read with Rania @Rania’s Rambling Reads in July!

Now that was a rollercoaster of a book!

You know books which start off ever so slowly and gradually pick up pace? Well, Bloody Spade was NOT one of those. We were plunged right into the story in the very beginning, and it was such an exciting and promising start! After reading the first few chapters I was completely hooked. We have this cat-eared and cat-tailed thief (yes, thief!) who also yields dark magic, so obviously there was never a dull moment.

After setting up such high expectations in the beginning, the second half disappointed me a little. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was clearly not what I got. The ending and some other stuff in the middle was so very predictable, that was perhaps the only thing that I did not like about this book.

The major thing that makes this book stand out in my mind is its complex and detailed magic system. Though initially it was a lot to take in, I really appreciated the unique magic system (its based on cards!!) and detailed worldbuilding once I got the hang of it.

The characters were fantastic. My favourite was definitely Iori (like the name itself is awesome?), our misunderstood protagonist who basically controls magic that kills everyone else it touches (yes it is cliche but I love it anyway) and it took me a little more time to develop a liking to Ellen, our other protagonist who also yields strange magic but is a hopeless optimistic, but I eventually did. I felt like the side characters were quite underdeveloped, so I am looking forward to some improvement on that in the sequel.

Another thing about the characters was that they sometimes behaved like 12 year-olds (they were actually 16), so keeping that and some other aspects in mind, I would say this book would be perfect for somebody who is just transitioning from reading middle grade to young adult.

Overall, I’d recommend Bloody Spade to fans of the Renegades trilogy, and anyone who is looking for some rich urban fantasy in general.

My Rating:

★★★★ (4 stars out of 5)

Moodboard

I don’t know what it was about this book that made me want make a moodboard, and for once I decided to just go with the flow without overthinking it. Here’s my first attempt at a moodboard!

Do you have Bloody Spade on your TBR? Does it sound like something you’d be interested in reading? Which is your favourite urban fantasy?

June Wrap-Up // ft. a new favourite and a tentative July tbr!

Hey guys! What’s up? Did you know this – Anatidaephobia is the fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you.

Ooh creepy!! *darts around eyes nervously to check for ducks*

Sorry for that, I really had no energy to write up a proper introduction hence I went with a random fun fact 🦆 but now I am having second thoughts. Anywayy, I know this wrap up quite late (exams *sigh*) so without further ado let’s start!

June was a pretty decent reading month. I hit my whatever-a-thon goal of 6 books (yay!) and managed 8 in all. I also found a new book to obsess about, more about that in my “Best Book Of The Month” section below (yeah lets pretend I did not just make that up). I am nowadays open to more formats – out of the 8 books I read 2 were physical copies, 4 were e-books, and 2 were audiobooks. And also, 5 of them were buddy reads, how cool is that?!

On the dark side (ominous much?) I had hoped to write more reviews this month, but unfortunately managed to review only two of them and did not finish reading even a single ARC/review copy (*tries to ignore the increasing pile review copies staring her in the face*).

Onto the books I read!

Small Spaces (Small Spaces, #1)
The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, #4)
The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5)
Believe

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Rating ★★★★ || Review here

The House Of Hades by Rick Riordan

Rating ★★★★

The Blood Of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Rating ★★★★

Believe by Julie Mathison

Rating ★★★½

The House in the Cerulean Sea
Shadow Jumper
Cemetery Boys
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Rating ★★★★★ || Review on my blog and on goodreads

Shadow Jumper by JM Forster

Rating ★★

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Rating ★★★★

The Girl Who Drank The Moon

Rating ★★★★

Book Of The Month

The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Well well well. I have become quite stingy in giving out 5 star ratings nowadays, so it has to be a pretty special book to get such an honour from me. Not to sound sloppy, but I could give The House In The Cerulean Sea all the stars in the galaxy and it would still not be enough. This book was equal parts hopeful, heartwarming, melancholic and so so beautiful that it took my breath away and tugged at my heartstrings in a way no other book ever has🥺. I cannot stop recommending this enough, so bottom line – read. this. brilliant. book.

Books I started, but did not finish in June

Bloody Spade (The Cardplay Duology, #1)
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

I started the month with my first blogging anniversary post This blog turns 1 year old! + An A to Z of me!

Most of you probably know this, but I also did a series themed recommendation posts throughout the month of June, which I am really proud of. Check them out by clicking on the featured images below!

(Note to self: Do not change the featured image in the middle of a series next time)

Further, I wrote a discussion post for Let’s Talk Bookish – Discussion Post: Appreciation For Book Bloggers // Let’s Talk Bookish. Also, I am thinking of posting atleast one discussion post per month from now on, let’s see if I can!

And finally, my sole book review of the month – Book Review: The House In The Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

I love writing out this section and revisiting blog posts that I loved reading! All these bloggers are awesome, so do check out their amazing content!!

Saniya reviewed Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie! This one’s going to give me nightmares when I read it👻

April gives us recs on the trope sunshine and grumpy! Make sure to add these books to your TBR!

Jan assesses trends in YA fiction!

Laura gives us 6 stages of reading a novel! So accurate and relatable!

Sofii gives us tips on becoming a stress free blogger!

Tirilu pitches physical books against e books! Ooh hard battle!

Cherelle reviews spin the dawn and we are not free!

Maya talks about diversity in YA and also gives recs!

Madeline lists classic sci-fi tropes!

M @Inking and Thinking wrote a discussion on whether every reader needs a tbr!

Kaya reviews We hunt the flame!

Emily lists 10 iconic opening lines of books!

Fives discusses appreciation for book bloggers!

I won’t be able to read much in July (exams, duh) but hey, that doesn’t stop me from setting up an ambitious tbr, right? And I really have to get through that little pile of review copies, so I will be reading them on priority basis in the next two months. That being said, I have no idea what else I am going to read if when I finish the ‘required’ reading. Anyway, now I present to you (a very tentative) July TBR!

Bloody Spade (The Cardplay Duology, #1)
The Twin Stars (Book 1 of the Coseema Saga)
The Search For Synergy
A Dark and Hollow Star (A Dark and Hollow Star, #1)
The Ones We're Meant to Find
We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)

What was your favourite read in June? How does your July tbr look like? Do you think doing a blog series is a better idea when compared to individual posts? Chat with me in the comments!!

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2021

Is it weird that ever since I became a blogger, I’ve wanted to do the Mid Year Freak Out Tag without knowing what exactly it is? Yes, definitely weird🙃 But now that has changed since I did my homework and read lots of Mid Year Freak Out posts by other bloggers from previous years.

True to the name of this post, I am freaking out. Like seriously, when did time sprout wings? Just yesterday I was getting tired of the new year wishes and memes, and we are halfway through already? Whoa.

Till 25th June, I’ve read 37 books and a total of 14348 pages which are both mind blowing, when compared to previous years (I didn’t track my reading before this year, but I know I got nowhere close to these figures). I am doing quite good on my goodreads goal of 65 books, considering that I am 6 books ahead of schedule. Without further ado, let’s start with the tag!

Best Books So Far In 2021

Surprise surprise! Six Of Crows and The House In The Cerulean Sea. Linked below are my reviews for the same.

Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo | Book Review || Book Review: The House In The Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Best Sequels In 2021

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)

Supernova was by far the best book in the Renegades trilogy! Read my review here

I love the Aurora Cycle series with all my heart, but somehow Aurora Burning was even better than Aurora Rising! Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff | Review

Crooked Kingdom does not need any explanation as to why I am willing to die over it. Period.

New Releases I Want To Read

There are SO many of them, but I’ll go with the top 3.

The Ones We're Meant to Find

The Immortal Game

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1)

Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half Of 2021

Aurora's End (The Aurora Cycle, #3)

Definitely Aurora’s End, the final book in the Aurora Cycle duology-soon-to-be-a-trilogy. After THAT cliffhanger in Aurora Burning (which is THE worst cliffhanger in the history of cliffhangers, if I do say so myself) I can’t wait to see how this turns out. (Also, can we please scream about THAT GORGEOUS COVER?!)

Biggest Disappointment of 2021

The Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts, #1)

There have been quite a few books that did not live up to my expectations, but the one that hurt the most has to be The Infinity Courts. I rated it 1.5 stars. Shocking, isn’t it? What’s more is that this book had so much potential with such a cool concept *cue the sighing and head shaking* Read my review here.

Biggest Surprises Of 2021

Malamander and Book Scavenger. Both these lovely books reminded me why I love middle grade so much. Linked below are my reviews!

Book Review: Malamander by Thomas Taylor || Book Scavenger by Jennifer Bertman || Mini-review, some art, and a little “book scavenger” game of my own!

Favourite New Authors

Well, Leigh Bardugo and Marissa Meyer probably?

Book That Made You Cry

The House In The Cerulean Sea all the way. It takes a lot for a book to make me cry, and this one had it all and much more.

Book That Made You Happy

Is it cheating if I say The House In The Cerulean Sea again? Because yes, this book gave me ALL the feels. I laughed, I cried, I smiled through my tears.

Most Beautiful Books You Got In 2021

These were both part of my birthday book haul. I am currently reading The Girl Who Drank The Moon.

Books You Need To Read By The End Of 2021

A Dark and Hollow Star (A Dark and Hollow Star, #1)
The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)
Sweet & Bitter Magic
King of Scars (King of Scars, #1)
The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1)
These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)
It Ends in Fire
The Ones We're Meant to Find
Legendborn (Legendborn, #1)
The Immortal Game

I just picked some books from the top of my head, and though I definitely want to read these books asap, they are in no way the only books I want to read this year. Also if you’ve read any of these, I’d love to hear your opinion!

Which are your best reads of 2021 so far? What are some new releases that you haven’t read yet but want to? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to link your mid year freak out post if you’ve made one!

Book Review: The House In The Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

A home isn’t always the house we live in. It’s also the people we choose to surround ourselves with.

Hello guys! Before we move on, I wanted to tell you that we have reached 150 followers!! I’ve probably said this before but I want you all to remember that I’m extremely grateful to all of you and and I feel deeply appreciated whenever any one of you leaves behind a like or a comment on my posts. So a big thank you for that, I love you guys🥰

That brings us to what I am here to do today, which is review The House In The Cerulean Sea. This review is going to be completely spoiler free. (Also, quotes from the book will be all over this post, as you might already have noticed. I think I might have a case of book hangover) Without further ado, let’s get started!

Synopsis (via Goodreads)

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

My Rating : ★★★★★ [5 out of 5 stars]
My Review

I have no idea how to begin, so how about this – I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. Okay, so that was pretty obvious from my rating (when was the last time I gave a book a full 5 stars? hmm, in March I think) but seriously, The House In The Cerulean Sea probably deserves a million stars.

People can present themselves as being one way, and once you’re sure you know them, once you’re sure you’ve found what you’re looking for, they reveal themselves for who they really are.

The beginning was great (so was everything else but we’ll come to that) and the story wasted no time in getting to the point and shipping off Linus (the main character) to the Marsyas orphanage home. So one absolutely cannot complain about a slow beginning here.

Life, Linus Baker knew, came down to what we made from it. It was about the choices, both big and small.

The characters were just perfect. Linus was amazing, right from the beginning and even more so towards the end, and of course I loved each and every one of the children and their quirky personalities. Arthur and Zoe were so well written too. And might I add that Linus’s character development (not that there was anything wrong with him before, but you know) was the best I have EVER seen?

But even if you have bad dreams, you must remember they’re only that: dreams. You will always wake from them. And they will fade, eventually. I’ve found that waking from a bad dream brings a sense of relief unlike anything else in the world.

Among other things, I loved the dry humour which was quite prevalent in the first half of the book. Then of course, there was the found family trope (yes, found family!!) which was executed oh so beautifully, and once again proved my point that found family is the best trope to ever exist and that I’ll never ever get tired of it.

The things we fear the most are often the things we should fear the least. It’s irrational, but it’s what makes us human. And if we are able to conquer these fears, then there is nothing we’re not capable of.

Okay, so I am not even going to go into the regular stuff like the pacing, the writing style etc, because this book is just too good for any of that to be used to judge it. Everything about this book was so adorable and sweet and wholesome and just…beautiful🥺 and it definitely felt like a warm hug that goes right down to your soul. While reading this, I spent half of my time trying to swallow the lump in my throat, the other half smiling through my tears. The children, my precious lovelies, made me cry so many times with their sweet words to Linus. The story tugged at my heartstrings and gave me all the feels.

The world likes to see things in black and white, in moral and immoral. But there is gray in between. And just because a person is capable of wickedness, doesn’t mean they will act upon it.

So basically the whole point of my review is to say this – The House In The Cerulean Sea is a masterpiece. It made me feel all warm and fluffy and happy from the inside, something that no book has made me feel on such a large scale ever before. I have got no more words to describe how exquisite this entire story was.

“Smile and maybe tomorrow,” Arthur whispered in his ear. “You’ll see the sun come shining through for you.”

Found family? Check. Slow burn? Check. The best-est book ever? Check.

Sometimes, he thought to himself in a house in a cerulean sea, you were able to choose the life you wanted. And if you were of the lucky sort, sometimes that life chose you back.

Book Review: Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Hello everyone, today I am going to be reviewing Malamander, a middle grade book I finished reading (or rather, listening to) just yesterday. This review will be completely spoiler-free, and you can click on the cover image below to go to Goodreads and add this wonderful (though very under-hyped) book to your TBR!

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Synopsis

Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep…

Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl. No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander. Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger…

My Rating [ ] (4.5 out of 5 stars)
My Review

This was my second audiobook, and my, what an experience! The audiobook was narrated by Will M. Watt, and I absolutely LOVED the narration! It really added to the story. The drama and the constant urgency with which the story was narrated was really cool. I doubt I’d have liked this book as much as I did, if I’d read the e-book or a physical copy. So if you’re looking to read Malamander, I would HIGHLY recommend you listening to it. Trust me, you’ll enjoy that rollercoaster.

The major reason why Malamander got such a good rating from me is because of Herbie, the main character. Herbie was quirky, funny and witty – this made him instantly likeable. I am not saying a main character should always be perfect, but hear this – Malamander is written in first person POV, which means, we get to know the story, the characters, the world, entirely through Herbie’s eyes. I have always believed that it is immensely important to develop a liking to the main character if you’re going to be stuck in his or head for the duration of an entire story. 4 stars out of the 4.5 I gave this book belong to you, Herbie!

If you’re anything like me (by which I mean, a scaredy cat who goes out of their way to avoid reading horror books) and got kinda misled by the synopsis, let me tell you – you have nothing to worry about! Whatever you might assume after reading the synopsis, the tone for most part was Malamander was quite light hearted, and there is hardly any horror element.

I liked the feeling of the entire town Eerie-On-Sea being a friendly (well, mostly!) community where the locals knew and treated each other like family. I also found the idea of Herbie being ‘adopted’ and accepted by the entire town positively endearing. The side characters in the book were quite well-written too.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Malamander to readers of all ages, though I suppose children especially will find this book particularly appealing.

Let’s Chat!

Have you read (or listened to) Malamander? Do you have it on your TBR? If not, did I manage to convince you to read it? Let me know in the comments!