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?

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!

Six Of Crows Quotes As Real Life Moments!

You know a book was truly unforgettable when it persists in Rachel’s memory (who doesn’t remember what she ate this morning) after nearly 4 months of her having read it. The constant reading of memes and quotes and the S&B show were quite helpful too. Therefore I present to you SoC nostalgia because I am evil that way quotes from Six Of Crows and Crooked Kingdom as moments in my life!

“Fear is a phoenix. You can watch it burn a thousand times and still it will return.”

I have probably given about a million speeches in front of small, medium, large, huge, and extremely huge (ugh why do I sound like I am naming dress sizes) audiences but my knees still shake and there is always a slight quiver in my voice when I start speaking on any kind of raised platform with hundreds of people staring at me. Stage fright on an epic level, right? And then after the speech, every single time, I get that smug feeling which says that this will be the last time said phoenix attacks me. And every single time, that feeling is wrong.

“Better terrible truths than kind lies.”

Me to my friends/classmates in any group project/literally anything else that they are making extremely ~mediocre~ : No. I hate this. This is not acceptable at all.

My mom/teacher: *insert admonishing tone* Rachel! Don’t be so insensitive!! You’re discouraging them.

Me: *deadpan* Better terrible truths than kind lies.

My Aries self is one with this quote. Period.

“Always hit where the mark isn’t looking”

“Who’s Mark?” asked Wylan.”

Me when I (very rarely, I assure you) zone out during my online classes and the teacher asks me a question. Different context, same energy.

Brick by brick, I will destroy you.

Lower the intensity please, but this is me to every fictional villain who hurts/tries to hurt my precious favourite characters. Grit teeth, clenched fists, totally in character.

“Would it kill him to smile every once in a while?” Jesper asked.
“Very possibly.”

Me when I am trying to keep a straight face in my online classes when some of the hilarious SoC memes I read a day back make a dramatic entry into my helpless mind. Seriously, very bad timing.

“Do not be afraid. Fear is how they control you.”

“They” being most teachers who take often take sadistic pleasure in describing how extremely difficult the examination paper is going to be. So, to all my fellow sufferers students – do not be afraid. You know why, right?

“You’re our chemist, Wylan,” said Nina hopefully. “What do you think?”
Wylan shrugged. “Maybe. Not all poisons have an antidote.”
Jesper snorted. “That’s why we call him Wylan Van Sunshine.”

I feel sorry for Wylan because I get this so much myself. Why is it that I come off as pessimistic when I am only trying to be practical? Like isn’t it a good thing to take all the ways something good go wrong into consideration? Just me? Umm okay, I’ll show myself out.

No Mourners. No Funerals.

This will be future me to myself when I finally muster enough courage to reread the Six Of Crows duology which I know will wreck me all over again.

Do you remember any quote-worthy moments of your life? Share them with me 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!!

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.

May Wrap-Up // ft. lots of books, blogging slump and blog redesign!

Hello guys! Hope you had a wonderful month and read some amazing books (what more could a bookworm possibly want?).

I always enjoy writing my monthly wrap-up posts, and this time it’s no different. So grab some snacks and get comfy, because this is going to be a long post (as usual😉). And if you’re on WordPress Reader, please click here to enjoy better formatting!

Believe me when I say that May was an A M A Z I N G reading month, in fact, it has been the best one so far this year! I read so much more than I usually do (thank you, summer vacations🤗).

I read 8 books and a total of 3516 pages in May (compared to 2410 in April and 2059 in March) and though this may not seem a huge number to most of you, it is a big deal for me!

Let’s take a look at all the books I read this month. I will be putting the cover images, the title and author, my rating, a mini-review and link to my full review. (click on the cover image to visit the goodreads page of any book that catches your eye!)

The Flame of Olympus  (Pegasus, #1)
The Shadow Watch (The Shadow Watch #1)
Six Bad Boys

The Flame Of Olympus by Kate O’Hearn [4 stars]

For a book based on Roman mythology, this book did a really good job at not info-dumping all the names of the Roman gods, their life at Olympus etc. And it certainly was a surprise that most of the gods at Olympus were killed or captured right at the beginning of the book (yes, I’m not kidding) so that the story could focus on Emily and Joel rather than the gods. The ending (and the story in general) was quite predictable, but it is a middle grade after all, so that’s acceptable.

The Shadow Watch by S.A. Klopfenstein [3.5 stars] FULL REVIEW

I received a copy of The Shadow Watch for a blog tour I was part of this month. I found it to be a typical YA fantasy in a lot of ways. But it was definitely worth a read, to know why, do have a look at my full review.

The Six Bad Boys by Enid Blyton [4.5 stars] I talked about this here

I reread this in May for the umpteenth time in my life. In my discussion post on the role of fictional parents (linked above) I talked about The Six Bad Boys and how it is an extremely important book for coming-of-age children as well as new parents, and how it makes my all emotional every time I read it🥺

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1)
Supernova by Marissa Meyer

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan [4 stars]

I am buddy reading the entire Heroes of Olympus series with my amazing friends Cass and Nefeli! To be honest, I have always been a little skeptical of Rick Riordan books, but I have to admit, The Lost Hero was pretty good. Jason always seemed a little distant, Piper really needed to sort out her priorities, but Leo pretty much made the book for me.

Malamander by Thomas Taylor [4.5 stars ] FULL REVIEW

Ahhh my second ever audiobook but my first audiobook love😍 (don’t ask me about my first one, it was meh). It was a roller coaster ride of a book, with the narrator increasing his pace and making his voice more urgent and making my heart beat faster as I waited for something to happen and then jumped out of my skin at the narrator’s perfect but ear-splitting imitation of a desk bell (yeah, that actually happened once). Seriously, go read Malamander.

Supernova by Marissa Meyer [4.5 stars ] FULL REVIEW

Whoa whoa. This book was PACKED. It was full to the brim with action, secrets, pressure, redemptions and what not. I think Supernova would have got full 5 stars from me had it not been for that epilogue. But focusing on the good things, I would say, read the Renegades trilogy for the last book guys!!

The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus, #2)
The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3)

The Son Of Neptune by Rick Riordan [3 stars]

Idk why exactly, but I liked this one a lot less than The Lost Hero. I understand the Romans are more disciplined and harsh and stuff, but I wanted this book to be entertaining and light, like The Lost Hero. If my mental image of The Lost Hero is a fluffy peach teddy bear, The Son Of Neptune looks something like a dark foreboding castle. Just me? Okay.🙃

The Mark Of Athena by Rick Riordan [4 stars]

Ahh definitely better than The Son Of Neptune…but remember when I said that Jason always felt a bit distant in my mini review of The Lost Hero? Well, take that feeling and multiply it by 10, that is how Jason was in Mark Of Athena (atleast give the guy a POV, man!) Otherwise, it was all good and I cannot wait to start House Of Hades!


So this month I took part in Wyrd and Wonder, and they had a bingo board! Here’s how my completed bingo board looks like –

The one month I decided not to follow my blogging schedule, I face a blogging slump and go on accidental week-long hiatuses (moral of the story – blogging schedules are very important). Nevertheless, I did have some posts already planned, so it wasn’t that bad.

Some of my favourite posts from May are:

Discussion Post: Role of Parents in MG and YA fantasy (Part 2) + 8 book recommendations with active parent roles!

Book Review: Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Into The Mist || A short story penned by me

Okay, now for the big news. *holds breath* I REDESIGNED MY BLOG!! *lets out the breath in a whoosh* (okay I realize a lot of you have already noticed that, but…now its official, you know?) Of course I didn’t do it all alone. A big thank you to Evin @A Curly Sue’s Ramblings for helping me in setting up the new theme! So what are you guys waiting for? Go check out my new home page HERE!!

In other news, it was my first blogging anniversary on 27th May! (I have a post for that coming up soon) This blog is now 1 year old, you guys!!

A regular feature of my wrap-up posts, this section is all about promoting other bloggers’ content!

REVIEWS

Ritz @Living, Loving and Reading reviewed These Violent Delights and made a playlist!

April @Booked Till Midnight shares her thoughts on King Of Scars!

Jan @The Doodlecrafter reviewed Rule Of Wolves!

Lia @Chain Of Books reviewed The Immortal Game as part of a blog tour!

OTHER POSTS

Nehal had her first blogging anniversary a few days ago! (can’t believe we both started our respective blogs only 10 days apart!)

Aria @Book Nook Bits discusses age categories in books!

Veronika @Wordy And Whimsical recommends books with the found family trope!

Maya @Pretty Little Scribbles did a character case study!

And that’s a wrap! A pretty eventful month, don’t you think?

Let’s Chat!

What did you read in May? Found any new favourites? Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Do you like the new blog design? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!!

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

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

Title: The Shadow Watch

Author: S.A Klopfenstein

Published: September 2020

Series: Shadow Watch(#1)

Pages: 400 (print length)

Genre: Epic Fantasy, Young Adult

Review

Synopsis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

(3.5 stars)

Favourite Quotes

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

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

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

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

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


About The Author

S.A. Klopfenstein

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

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