The Inheritance Games vs the Hype-o-meter // Review

Just yesterday, I came across this new (to me!) thing called a recursive acronym. For those like yesterday-Rachel who have no clue what this official-sounding word means – basically it is an acronym where the first letter is the acronym itself. Ehh sounds over-the-top but the essence is not that complex. For example, GNU is a recursive acronym that stands for GNU’s Not Unix, then we can expand the GNU in the full form again to GNU’s Not Unix, and our new expansion would be GNU’s Not Unix Not Unix and so on till forever. 

Now you must be wondering, “why in the world is Rachel giving us a (barely comprehensible) lesson in literature?? Wasn’t this post supposed to be a review?”. 

Well I do have a reason for talking about all this apart from the fact that it is an interesting concept, and that is – similar ~vibes~. With the book I’m about to review. Traps upon traps, riddles upon riddles – yes, the gist of The Inheritance Games is pretty similar to that of a recursive acronym.

With all that done, let’s get started with today’s showdown, (know more about it this blog series here) which is The Inheritance Games, a book that has recently risen to popularity due to its upcoming sequel, against our hype-o-meter! 

The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, #1)

Title: The Inheritance Games
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Genre: Young Adult Mystery, Contemporary
Synopsis:
Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why–or even who Tobias Hawthorne is. To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man’s touch–and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes.
Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a con-woman, and he’s determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather’s last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

If yes is no and once is never, then how much exactly did I enjoy this book? Now that’s a difficult one, because this was one of those books I am extremely conflicted about. If I had to rate it purely on the basis of enjoyment – an easy 4 – 4.5 stars. But as a reviewer I do have to think a tiny bit about other factors too, and in this case, let us just say these factors were not in the book’s favour. Let’s break it down.

“Everything’s a game, Avery Grambs. The only thing we get to decide in this life is if we play to win.”

The narration was first person. Probably no big deal for most of you, but believe me when I say my relationship with first person POV has not exactly been the best and mostly books with such narrations leave me mildly annoyed (pfft who am I kidding? It’s more like throwing-things-and-banging-doors-and-hitting-my-head-against-a-wall-repeatedly level annoyed.) My aggressive behavioural actions aside, The Inheritance Games was a surprise in this aspect – a pleasant one at that. I actually enjoyed Avery’s POV, so conclusion : she must have been a really good character. Yes, that she was.

In the very opening scene we are told how much of a genius Avery is when she aces an impossible physics test and is lowkey accused of cheating by her principal (which. not cool.) and is confident enough to promise the same score in a re-test. And she also beats a homeless man, who is apparently a brilliant chess player, at chess. After a few scenes we see her answer an impossible-sounding riddle asked by a drunk teenager without batting an eyelid (the riddle: ‘If yes is no and once is never, then how many sides does a triangle have?’). Upto this point, cool. 

The story till here is nicely constructed, all the events well thought out – a normal teenager who was living her life with her half-sister or in her car, attending school on a scholarship gets good news in the form of a snobby boy in a suit who informs her that his rich grandfather has left her his entire fortune of billions. Too easy, but I’ll take it. 

Things went downhill from here. I do not know whether I was just in a very critical mood, but it seemed to me that the author had simply lost interest in creating an intriguing mystery, and decided to just let Avery have a fortunate stroke of serendipity. Everything – the clues and riddles were extremely amateur, and anyone with a little common sense could have easily figured them out – let alone our supposedly brilliant protagonist working with four impossibly-smart brothers. 

“He left you the fortune, Avery, and all he left us is you.”

And man, the stakes?? It was established in the beginning that not much could be done to challenge Avery’s inheritance, so what was the point of the whole solving-riddles thing? I went in expecting a thrilling round of who-solves-the-mystery-first-gets-the-money but apparently my expectations were too high.

Yet, I would not say I disliked this book because, honestly, I did not. While the big reveals were okay-ish (for a mystery, the gasp factor was shockingly low.), it was the little moments that got to me. Those moments when we got away from the main plot for a while (like Avery’s initial disbelief of the house having a bowling alley, later the scene when her stylist were working on her with Libby snorting in the corner) made me giggle and were enjoyable, so that’s a plus. 

And then of course there was all the family drama, the sibling rivalry (4x!) and all the fun moments between Avery and each of the brothers so yes, while the book could have been better in a lot of aspects, it was goood. I’m excited for the sequel!

It was a tough fight with the hype-o-meter, but The Inheritance Games emerged as a solid, so there’s that. Not quite worth the hype, but certainly worth a try. Click here to read April’s review!

Have you read The Inheritance Games? What would you give it on the hype-o-meter? Do you have The Hawthorne Legacy on your radar? Let me know in the comments!

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

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

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!

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!!

3 Bookish Things Tag + The Feelings Book Tag

Hey people!

My exams got over today!! So I am hoping I’ll have a little more free time to devote to books and to this blog for a while before life catches up again (though to be fair I have managed my blog pretty well during this trying period. Scheduling ROCKS.)

I am always looking to diversify my content, and when I realized I haven’t done tags, awards or anything of the sort since quite some time, I thought I’d catch up! We have two tags in hand today, so let’s get started!

The 3 Bookish Things Tag

I saw this one on Madeline’s blog and it looks so much fun. I got lots of new recs from her post, so I am hoping you’ll get some from mine as well. As always, the cover images will take you to the goodreads page of a particular book!

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
  1. TJ Klune (Author of The House In The Cerulean Sea)
  2. Grace Lin (Author of Where The Mountain Meets The Moon)
  3. Markus Zusak (Author of The Book Thief)
The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1)

The Worst Witch (TV Series 2017– ) - Series Cast & Crew - IMDb

  1. A Series Of Unfortunate Events (Well, still watching this one)
  2. The Babysitters Club (it was good, though a little over-dramatic, if I do say so myself)
  3. The Worst Witch (this was superb, but it did get a little repetitive after the first season)

Hmm I don’t really binge a lot of series (especially not in one day or one sitting) so there is only one answer for this. The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare

Just a clarification, I have chosen these three characters from recent reads, and they are in no way my only favourite characters. (had to say it in case any of them are reading this 👀)

  1. Glerk and Fyrian from A Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill (yes they are technically two but you can’t stop me)
  2. Julian from Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
  3. The “buffalo boy” from Where The Mountain Meets The Moon
Under the Whispering Door
King of Scars (King of Scars, #1)
Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle, #2)
  1. Under The Whispering Door by TJ Klune (this is my MOST anticipated 2021 release, and I am looking forward to reading it as soon as it comes out!)
  2. King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (I had ordered this a while back, and my copy arrived just yesterday…and omg it is even more beautiful in real life!)
  3. Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (This is the most beautiful book cover ever, you can’t convince me otherwise)
  1. A bookmark (duh)
  2. My finger/hand (weird and uncomfortable, but efficient. And I don’t lose my hand as often as I lose a bookmark)
  3. Those little tags on new clothes (honestly some of them are so pretty, once you cut out the barcode and price part ofcourse)
  1. Matthias Helvar from Six Of Crows isn’t as bad as most of the SoC fandom makes him out to be. Like he was raised in a stereotypical environment and sincerely wants to change?? In fact, he might have been one of my favourite characters in the duology (along with Kaz and Inej obviously)

2. The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman was infinitely boring. I totally get that the concept was cool, but did you not pay attention to the repetitiveness?

3. An Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is quite overrated. Of course, it was a decent book, but I don’t understand all that hype.

  1. To complete my GR goal of 65 books. I think I am doing pretty well on that, I am currently 7 books ahead of schedule.
  2. I was doing some stats the other day, and found that fantasy is making up more than 85% of my reading. So my goal is to read more of other genres too, especially sci-fi and historical fiction.
  3. Review at least half of the books I read, either on my blog, or on Goodreads.

I tag:

Aria @Book Nook Bits

M @Inking and Thinking

Kaya @A Fictional Bookworm

April @Booked Till Midnight

The Feelings Book Tag

I was tagged for this by Rania @Rania’s Rambling Reads! Shout-out to her!!

Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and give a link to the blog.
  • Answer the 5 feelings given to you.
  • Write the reason in 5 to 6 lines of why does that particular book come under that feeling.
  • Nominate between 5-12 other bloggers.
  • Give your nominees 5 feelings too.
  • Notify your nominees once you’ve uploaded your post.

Rania’s prompts:

A Book You Had To Stop Reading Because You Got Second Hand Embarrassment
Bloody Spade (The Cardplay Duology, #1)

Like I didn’t necessarily stop reading it as such, but omg, I got so much second hand embarrassment from Bloody Spade. We have this cat-boy Iori as one of our mc, and sometimes he reminded me of a bratty 10 year old (there was literally a scene where he throws a tantrum and runs away, only to come back a little while later) and made me cringe inwardly. But I still love him with all my heart.

A Book That Gave You Butterflies

We talking about happy butterflies? Or nervous ones? Or something else entirely?? Anyway, that pure tension and anticipation in Supernova definitely matches with this.

A book with a ship you will support till the day you die

Okay, that is quite intense. But if I had to choose, I’d say Kanej from Six Of Crows.

A book you knew you would love after reading the first chapter

I am cheating a little here because I knew I would love this book even before starting it. But still, it starts right in the middle of an action sequence, and for me that is the perfect beginning to any book.

A book you knew you would hate but read it anyways

Nope. I do not do that. However, I was to bend the prompt slightly, The Girl Who Drank The Moon was something I thought I’d dislike after reading the first few chapters, but I ended up liking it afterwards.

Here are my five questions!

  • A book which blew your mind?
  • A book which gave you nightmares?
  • A book that made you think and reflect? (on existence, deeper meaning of life etc)
  • A book you rolled your eyes at?
  • A book that has been etched into your memory?

And the five people I tag!

Birdie @ Birdie’s Booktopia

Janhavi @ A Cottage of Words

Pheonix @ Books With Wings

Emily @ Frappes and Fiction

Sofii @ A Book A Thought

What are your bookish goals for the year? Which is your most anticipated release of 2021? Let me know in the comments!

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!

Normal! // Fantasies In Which The Main Character Does Not Have Magical Abilities

Let’s play that game where you have to say the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear a particular word. Music? Dancing. TV? Netflix. Fantasy? Magic…oh wait.

Welcome to the fourth and final post in the series of themed recommendation posts I have been writing on my blog lately! In this series, I choose a random theme, and give you some of the best books I have read based on that theme. You can read my previous posts which were part of this series here, here and here!

Okay, so let’s talk about that little game I played in the beginning. Why is that the human brain associates fantasy with magic? Of course, this association is not unjustified. I believe about 95% of books belonging to the fantasy genre that I have read recently revolve around magic and/or have a main character who has magical powers. But fantasy itself should not be defined as mere magic. In light of this, today Rachel brings you a list of fantasy novels she loved which have a ‘normal’ main character, as in, the main character does not have any magical powers. Click on the cover images to add the books to your Goodreads TBR!

The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune || My Review

The House In The Cerulean Sea is going to be at the top of every recommendation post (and other posts too) from now on so you’ll have to get used to it. What can I say about this beautiful book that hasn’t already been said? Go read this heartwarming, hopeful and magical (albeit without the literal magic- at least not in the main character) fantasy if you haven’t already.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I am impressed how the author has created such an immersive dystopian world without it being based on magic. I was quite obsessed with the trilogy when I read it though some things in Allegiant were disappointing *cough* that ending *cough* but do give it a read if you’re looking for an intense and fast paced dystopian fantasy.

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman || My Review

Yes, yes I know what you’re thinking but I am not really considering Auri as a main character because she doesn’t have much role to play in this book as in the second one (and anyway what she does is not exactly ‘magic’, right?). But looking at our crew, the six main characters, none of them have magical powers and perhaps that’s one of the reasons Aurora Cycle duology is a huge favourite of mine.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Ah I had read this so long back (read: 1.5 years back), in the school library. I don’t remember much, but I do recollect recommending this to a lot of my friends and being surprised about the lack of magical powers in the characters.

The Great Zoo Of China by Matthew Reily

I just realized I haven’t mentioned this book on my blog ever! I mean, how is that possible? Trust me to forget unforgettable books. Anyway, The Great Zoo Of China is a brilliant book (5 stars from me when I read it a year back!) with lots of action, and even more dragons. Perfect for anyone suffering from Jurassic Park hangover.

Honourable Mentions

Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo!! Yes, there is magic and all in the Grishaverse, but do notice that of our six crows, four do not have any magical abilities (oh my god I hope nobody got spoiled) hence the mention.

I recently read the entire Heroes Of Olympus series by Rick Riordan and I realized that from the crew of 7 demigods, it is only Annabeth who does not have any magical powers. The HOO series will definitely not make it to this list (too much magic!) but Annabeth does deserve an honorable mention, doesn’t she?


And with that, my friends, we conclude this post as well as the recommendation series! I must admit, recommendation posts are much harder than they look, but I did enjoy writing all the four posts. Hopefully you enjoyed reading them too and found some new books to add to your TBR list.

Did you find this recommendation series helpful? Have you read any of the books I mentioned in this post? Which is your favourite fantasy with a ‘normal’ main character? Chat with me in the comments! Until later!!