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!!

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.

June TBR // I’m taking part in Whatever-a-thon!

Its been so long I took part in a readathon, I jumped at the chance when I saw Whatever-you-want-a-thon (or Whatever-a-thon for short) doing rounds on Twitter. (you can find the announcement video with all the details here).

I’m part of the team Middle Grade Monarchs, so most of the books on my TBR are going to be middle grade BUT June is also pride month, and there is a HUGE point bonus on reading lgbtq books, so I’ve tried to incorporate some of them in my TBR as well. My goal for this readathon is to read 6 books (which I think I’ll manage, but just barely), but even after removing so many books I really wanted to read, the smallest TBR I could come up with has….drumroll please….10 books! I realize that’s a lot more than my goal, but I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving any of these out. Huh, guess that just means more options for me, right? (says she who is now going to have a difficult time choosing what to read first because there’s no way she can read them all😭). My bookworm tendencies aside, lets move on to see all the amazing books I have on my June TBR!! (as always, you can click on the cover image to visit the goodreads page and add a book to your TBR as well!)

The Girl Who Drank the Moon
The Blood of Olympus (The Heroes of Olympus, #5)
Small Spaces (Small Spaces, #1)
The House in the Cerulean Sea
Orphans of the Tide (Orphans of the Tide #1)
Believe

Cemetery Boys
Pegasus and the Fight for Olympus (Pegasus, #2)
The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, #4)
The Unbreakable Code (Book Scavenger, #2)

  • The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
  • Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
  • House of Hades by Rick Riordan
  • The Blood Of Olympus by Rick Riordan
  • Orphans Of The Tide by Struan Murray
  • Pegasus And The Fight For Olympus
  • The Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
  • Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
  • Believe by Julie Mathison

So that’s it. (whoa, this post is a baby compared to my usual posts😂) I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these books in the comments!