Uncategorized · Wrap-ups

A Year Like No Other: 2020 Reading Review

#RescuePH End SARS ~ Black Lives Matter ~ Free Palestine ~ Kashmir Bleeds 

Happy new year booksicles!

This year has been like no other and it was hard for us all to varying degrees. Now that it has come to an end I will be reflecting in this post on how this year has been overall in terms of my reading and blogging.

Although I didn’t read as many books as I had hoped to at the start of the year I did find a lot of new favourites and I am proud of what I did manage to achieve in this year of turmoil and uncertainty.

To do this, I will be using the End of Year Survey made by Jamie @ Perpetual Page Turner—  thank you so much Jamie for making such a detailed and interesting survey!

2020 READING STATS:

Number Of Books You Read: 53
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From: fantasy (who would have guessed it)

Best in books:

Best book of 2020:

I have read many amazing books this year but I’d say Mirage by Somaiya Daud was the best because it was the first book I have ever read with Moroccan and Amazighi representation. As someone who is half Moroccan and Amazighi it meant so much to me— especially as it was so beautifully done. It’s the book of my heart!

A book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t:

I was so excited to read All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace but it fell so, so flat for me.

 The most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read:

The Damned by Renée Ahdieh surprised me very much because of how unexpectedly different it was to the book before it in both good ways and bad ways.

 A book you “pushed” the most people to read (and did they?):

It was probably These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. I have been endlessly recommending this book to just about everyone and the people I have convinced to read it have loved it!

What was the best series you started in 2020? The best sequel of 2020? The best series finale of 2020?

Best series I started: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Best sequel: The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty

Best series finale: The Burning God by R. F. Kuang (the ending of this trilogy still haunts me)

 Favourite new author you discovered in 2020:

I think it would be Chloe Gong. I love her writing style and creative online book promo— I can’t wait to read what she writes in the future!

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone:

Punching the Air by Yusef Salaam and Ibi Zoboi was a brilliant and powerful novel in verse that I’d highly recommend. I’d never read a novel in verse before reading this book so it was a very new experience and I loved it.

 Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year:

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn was full of action and adventure and it was a lot of fun to read.

 A book you read in 2020 that you would be most likely to re-read next year:

I barely ever re-read books but I guess I would most likely re-read A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown because it was just that good.

Favourite cover of a book you read in 2020:Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud

Court of Lions by Somaiya Daud (which is the sequel to the book I mentioned earlier, Mirage) because of all the Moroccan and Amazighi cultural details in the book cover. It is truly stunning!

Most memorable character of 2020:

Kallia, the protagonist of Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles. I loved her vibrancy and determination, she was a force and I adored her.

Most beautifully written book read in 2020:

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong… I think some people will have found it a bit too much but I loved the writing style and was thoroughly immersed in it.

Most thought-provoking/ life-changing book of 2020:

Punching the Air by Yusef Salaam and Ibi Zoboi was extremely thought provoking in the way it took on themes like institutional racism, gentrification and hope surviving in the depths of despair.

Favourite passage/quote from a book you read in 2020:

This passage is from the anthology Once Upon an Eid, specifically from the short story Creative Fixes by Ashley Franklin:

“It’s hard to see the beauty in things when you can’t see past your insecurities”.

Shortest and longest books you read in 2020:

I got this from by Goodreads ‘year in books’.

Shortest book: The Drowning Faith by R. F. Kuang (I know it’s not technically a book but *shhhh*)

Longest book: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas (yes I actually read this 800 page smirk fest sometimes I question my life choices)

 The book that shocked you the most:

There were several contenders but I think Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko takes the cake… those plot twists!

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship):

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

I feel like I’ve talked about These Violent Delights too much already but I loved Juliette and Roma’s childhood friends to lovers to enemies to lovers to ??? romance and I will go down with this ship!

Favourite non-romantic relationship of the year:

Rin and Kitay from The Burning God by R. F. Kuang. The relationship between these two was the highlight of the book for me. The way they were inextricably intertwined in each others lives, clinging onto each other to cope with the horrors they had committed and experienced, the way they would do anything for each other until the very end made me feel all the emotions. I’ve never seen a m/f friendship so close without romance in a book before so it was also very refreshing!

Favourite book you read in 2020 from an author you’ve read previously:

Wicked as You Wish by Rin Chupeco, this is the second book by this author that I’ve read and I loved how imaginative and wild it was.

Best book you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else:

I wasn’t planning on reading Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko but I saw lots of people recommending it on Twitter and that was what convinced me to read it!

Best world building/most vivid setting you read this year:

The world building in A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown was incredible— especially for a YA fantasy novel because they usually have less.

A book that put a smile on your face/was the most fun to read:

Love is for Losers by Wibke Brueggemann made me laugh so many times with its dry humour and relatability.

A book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2020:

The book that got closest to making me cry was probably The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty.

The book that crushed your soul:

My first thought when I read this was Attack on Titan because it definitely crushed my soul but then I remembered it was an anime so not applicable. The *book* that crushed my soul was The Burning God by R. F. Kuang with its unending despair and pain.

The most unique book you read in 2020:

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin  because I found its writing style very unique.

The book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it):

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed made me SO MAD and I didn’t like it at all. It made me mad for many reasons, which will all be in a review coming to you sometime soon, but the main reason was the casual sexism rife throughout the book.

Blogging/ bookish life:

New favourite book blog/bookstagram/YouTube channel you discovered in 2020:

SO MANY! Here are a few amazing blogs/ booktube channels that I discovered this year:

Favourite post you wrote in 2020:

It would be this recommendation post about books for fans of Avatar: the Last Airbender because it was really fun to write.

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year:

It was definitely the pandemic. Even though I had so much extra time over lockdown in which I could have read lots of books and written lots of posts I didn’t because it drained all the motivation and productivity out of me. I couldn’t do a thing. I was reading so much at the start of the year and as soon as lockdown was officially announced I read and blogged much less which seems very counterintuitive but that’s what happened.

Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views):

The recommendation post I wrote in Ramadan about SFF books by Muslim authors.

A post you wished got a little more love:

My review of These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong because I put a lot of time and passion into it!

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year:

I completed my Goodreads challenge to read 50 books!

Looking Ahead:

One book you didn’t get to in 2020 but will be your number 1 priority in 2021:

Not including review copies it would be The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winters.

The book you are most anticipating for 2021 (non-debut):

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He!

2021 debut you are most anticipating:

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan!

A series ending/sequel you are most anticipating in 2021?

There are four sequels I am anticipating: A Psalm of Storms and Silence by Roseanne A. Brown, Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong, When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles and Broken Web by Lori M. Lee.

One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2020:

Blog. More. Consistently. 

A 2021 release you’ve already read and recommend to everyone (if applicable):

I’ve already read Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart which comes out next year and it was so good please preorder it and give it as much support as possible!

So how was your reading year? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the comments! 

✨Here’s to a fabulous 2021✨

 

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Interviews · Uncategorized

Sereadipity Interviews… Mahtab Rohan On Her Debut Your Heart After Dark (Rapid Fire!)

Hello my booksicles!

I’m very excited to be sharing the rapid fire interview I did with Mahtab Rohan about her debut novel: Your Heart After Dark. I am very excited to read this paranormal contemporary with Muslim rep (!!!) and I am very grateful for the time Mahtab took to answer my questions!

Here’s a bit about the book [add it on Goodreads]:

Maria Chaudhry’s personal demons trap her in a downward spiral, but the beast lurking in Ehmet’s blood can do a lot worse than that.

After a year of living in a prissy suburb, Maria Chaudhry is back downtown. Back to what she never wanted to leave. But she can’t really enjoy it since neither the living nor the dead will leave her in peace.

JC’s death still keeps her up at night and Ehmet’s sudden ambivalence isn’t helping. Maybe she had read his signals wrong and Ehmet was never in love with her like she thought. Or maybe his love is tangled with secrets too dark to speak aloud, secrets about JC’s death and the unpredictable beast in Ehmet’s blood.

When an upcoming hiking trip is cancelled, there’s no pretty path left towards the truth. A growing spiral of deceit threatens to tear Maria and Ehmet apart forever, but the beast lurking within Ehmet can do a lot worse than that.

Mahtab Rohan’s debut YA novel delivers a paranormal tale of crumbling friendships, malevolent secrets, and the struggle to have hope in the face of uncertainty.

Interview

Pitch Your Heart After Dark in one sentence:

A desi Muslim teen deals with dysfunctional family & her crush hiding that he’s a werewolf involved in her friend’s death.

Describe yourself in 5 words:

President: Secretly-Hates-Weddings Association

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I’m an ex-planster turned full-time plotter.

A fun fact about one of the characters in Your Heart After Dark:

Ehmet is a significant character in a related urban fantasy I’ll be working on soon.

What was the biggest change from the first to the last draft?

The POV changing from third to first person. Yes, I rewrote THE ENTIRE thing.

Why did you choose to write in the supernatural genre?

I didn’t choose the supernatural– the supernatural chose me. Really though, I can’t write pure contemporary. I’m not sure why. I have a hard time reading purely contemporary books, too.

What inspired you the most to write Your Heart After Dark?

Lingering teenage angst. [big mood]

Your favourite books as a child:

Franklin, Clifford The Big Red Dog, The Cloud Book, books on endangered & unique species.

As a kid, I loved those book order forms we got in school. I don’t think there was anyone else in my class who was as obsessed with them as me, even though I rarely got to actually order anything.

Your favourite book of 2020:

I can’t say! 2020 isn’t over yet!

Your most anticipated release of 2021:

WE FREE THE STARS by Hafsah Faizal. Someone please cryofreeze me.

[I’m excited for this one too!]

The author that most inspires you:

I find Hafsah Faizal inspiring because she’s basically the most visible type of Muslim woman there is and she’s not sorry for it. Every time I see her on a graphic for a convention or workshop, I just think about how powerful the image is.

Your favourite word:

Majawar (roughly translates to “religious mendicant”).

What is your favourite quote from Your Heart After Dark?

“There’s no easy way to stop loving someone.”

Do you have a tip for overcoming writer’s block?

If I have writer’s block, I take time away from writing and do some reading, or I work on a different writing project. I always have books and sources of inspiration I can go to if I need a quick pick-me-up.

If my writer’s block gets real bad, I recite a prayer that Moses said when God asked him to approach Pharaoh.

[I love this answer so much!]

Describe the Kashmir-inspired YA fantasy you’re currently writing in one sentence:

Aided by a mountain-dweller who hates royalty, undercover rani Neelum journeys through a treacherous mountain to find a cure for her dying cousin.

[This sounds like the book of my dreams- I can’t wait]

About the author:

Mahtab Rohan is a Canadian writer of South Asian & Himalayan descent. Rohan was born in Ontario and currently resides in the relentlessly cold Canadian Prairies. When she’s not writing stories that keep her up at night, she’s busy perfecting her square rotis and tutoring English. 

Thank you again to Mahtab Rohan for taking the time to answer my questions!

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Book Tags · Uncategorized

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag- 2020 Edition!

Black Lives Matter ~ Free Palestine ~ Kashmir Bleeds ~ Junk Terror Bill

Hello booksicles!

Today, I bring you the Mid-Year Freakout Tag where I review my reading in the first half of the year. I’m not sure who started the tag but it’s very popular with book bloggers and booktubers alike! I didn’t do it last year but it looks fun and I was tagged by Azrah from Az You Read so I decided to give it a go!

Best book(s) you’ve read so far in 2020

The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty: This is the last book of the Daevabad trilogy and it truly was a beautiful conclusion to the series that filled me up with every emotion imaginable.

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles: This book comes out in August but I was lucky enough to read a review copy of it and trust me when I say that this book is fabulous! It is inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and full of glitz, magic and drama- I loved it!

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020

The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty: This is the second book of the Daevabad trilogy and I’d say it’s not just the best sequel I’ve read in 2020 but the best sequel I’ve read EVER!

New release(s) you haven’t read but want to

  • The Silence of Bones by June Hur
  • Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto
  • A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
  • Parachutes by Kelly Yang

Most anticipated release(s) for the second half of the year

  • A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
  • The Burning God by R. F. Kuang
  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (I have a review copy of this one which I’m really excited to read)

Biggest disappointment

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace: This was a really anticipated read but it fell so flat for me. I didn’t find it interesting at all and couldn’t connect to the characters.

Biggest surprise

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas: I had no idea what to expect from this book but I actually quite liked it?! It was a fun read although it was far longer than necessary.

Favorite new to me author(s)

  • Janella Angeles
  • Intisar Khanani
  • Zoraida Córdova

Newest fictional crush

Uh I don’t have one actually.

New favorite character(s)

  • Nahri from the Daevabad trilogy: I admire Nahri and how smart and unyielding she is in extremely trying situations. She is also so kind and she always chooses what is right for others over what would benefit her.
  • Alizayd al Qahtani from the Daevabad trilogy: He really grows over the trilogy and has a tendency to always say the wrong thing but he’s also very sincere and has the best intentions.
  • Kallia from Where Dreams Descend: Kallia is spectacular in every way. I love her determination and flair for the dramatic!

A book that made you cry

Not a single book made me cry this year, in general it is very rare that books make me cry at all even though I am an emotional person. When I feel sad about something in a book I don’t think it manifests as tears but my heart physically hurts. That being said, the book that was closest to making me cry was The Empire of Gold.

A book that made you happy

Once Upon An Eid is an anthology full of short stories about celebrating Eid by Muslim authors and when I read in in Ramadan this year it filled me with joy!

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year

I bought a hardcover of An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and it’s stunning I love it!

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Well there are quite a lot of books I couldn’t mention them all! Some review copies I need to read are:

  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
  • The Once and Future Witches.by Alix E. Harrow
  • Crowning Soul by Sahira Javaid

And here are some other books I hope to read during 2020:

  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
  • Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K. S. Villoso
  • Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi

So that’s the tag! I found some new favourites in the first half of 2020 and I hope to read some more amazing books during the rest of the year too.

I tag Zainab @ Em’s Bookish Musings and anyone else who wants to give this tag a try.

What has your favourite book of 2020 so far been? Let me know in the comments!

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Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water

Thank you to Tor.com for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water

Author: Zen Cho

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 3.5/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 3/5
  • Overall: 3.5/5

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water was a novella pitched as a found family wuxia fantasy. It was a fun read with a fair bit of humour but it also had the themes of war, religion and identity woven in. 

The book really focused on the found family trope and I really liked the ragtag group of bandits and the strong bonds between them. I loved Tet Sang and Guet Imm so much and the way their relationship developed was perfect in every way. However, I couldn’t connect with any other characters apart from them and I wish the side characters got more ‘screen time’ too.

Although the book is described as wuxia there was definitely less martial arts action and more focus on world building, the dynamics between the characters, their emotions and how they were dealing with past traumas. Personally, I liked that about the novella but if you’re looking for an action-packed book this might not be for you.

I found the writing style quite hard to follow, some of the phrasing felt off to me and I had to go back and reread bits of it to understand what was happening. However, I really liked the dialogue and banter between the characters- quite a few scenes made me laugh. Even though it was a novella it packed in a lot of world building but in an interesting way that gradually revealed more about the world, the war, the customs and the religious beliefs.

I would definitely recommend this book as it’s a short, fun but also meaningful read however I do wish some aspects of characterization and plot had a bit more depth.

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Sereadipity supports Black Lives Matter and stands against racism and discrimination in all its forms. I intend to work harder to uplift Black voices and books by Black authors.

This carrd is constantly being updated with petitions, ways to donate, resources to educate ourselves and more. This thread by Myonna @itsmyoreads on Twitter has a list of videos by Black booktubers talking about Black Lives Matter, allyship and being Black in the book community that I’d recommend to watch and subscribe to their channels as well.

Reviews · Uncategorized

The Black Cat: Review of The Court of Miracles

Thank you to the author, Kester Grant, for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Book: The Court of Miracles

Author: Kester Grant

Year Published: 2020

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 3/5
  • Writing: 3/5
  • Overall: 3/5

The Court of Miracles was a novel inspired by Les Misérables, set in an alternate, early 1800s Paris where the French Revolution had failed. There was a lot that I liked and enjoyed about the book but I also felt a lack of connection to the characters and the plot which lessened the overall impact for me.

The story followed Nina Thénardier for many years of her life, with a few time skips, who was a member of the Thieves’ Guild of The Court of Miracles constantly trying to protect those she loved. The Court of Miracles was basically a criminal underworld consisting of people cast out from and struggling in society, seeking the safety, protection and belonging they couldn’t find anywhere else. It was divided into nine guilds with different specialties for example The Guild of Thieves, The Guild of Smugglers, The Guild of Assassins, etc. Things like race, religion and even family ties made no difference in the Miracle Court.

Nina was clever, agile and decisive, the best thief of her guild and known as ‘The Black Cat’. She often got herself into and out of dangerous situations and came up with complex plots to achieve her goals. There was no boundary, no obstacle she would overcome to protect and save her loved ones. I admired her survival instinct and bravery but there was something missing and I couldn’t bring myself to care. I think it’s because I found the writing style quite detached and sometimes even disjointed and I struggled to understand her feelings, motivations and thought processes. However, I did find her relationship with Ettie (her adopted sister) really sweet.

The mysterious Miracle Court with its rules, conflicts and lore was well fleshed out and I also liked how the book conveyed the grim depths of the struggles of the poor and contrasted it to the opulent indifference of the rich. The plot had multiple time skips and minimal explanation of what was happening in favour of explaining the world and history that made it very hard to follow and connect with, so much so that even the major plot twists at the end had little to no effect on me. However, I had no prior knowledge of Les Misérables so maybe if I did it would have helped, I’m not sure.

Overall, I liked The Court of Miracles but while it had the makings of a new favourite it fell short for me and I’m still not sure if I’ll want to read the sequel, however, if it sounds like an interesting read to you I’d still reccomend you to give it a try.

Twitter Goodreads


Sereadipity supports Black Lives Matter and stands against racism and discrimination in all its forms. I intend to work harder to uplift Black voices and books by Black authors.

This carrd is constantly being updated with petitions, ways to donate, resources to educate ourselves and more. This thread by Myonna @itsmyoreads on Twitter has a list of videos by Black booktubers talking about Black Lives Matter, allyship and being Black in the book community that I’d recommend to watch and subscribe to their channels as well.

#SixforSunday · Uncategorized

#SixforSunday: STRANDED!

Hello my booksicles!

#SixforSunday is a weekly meme hosted by A Little But A Lot. This week’s theme is, ‘characters I’d like to be stranded with’– I’m going to assume it means stranded on a desert island!

If I had to be stranded with a character of my choice, I’d choose a character who firstly, has the right skills for survival/ escape and secondly, would be interesting to talk to so the whole experience isn’t too boring. So here are the characters I’d choose:

1) Silas from Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

I think Silas is awesome- he definitely ticks the ‘interesting to talk to’ box and I’m sure he’d have lots of exciting tales to tell. Also, as a demon he has many supernatural abilities that would aid our survival and he wouldn’t even have to eat so there’d be less strain on resources!

2) Nina Zenik from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Nina is amazing and I wouldn’t mind being stranded if it was with her. And we’d definitely survive- I have no doubt about that!

3) Lazlo Strange from Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I’d want to be stranded with Lazlo because he’d be able to tell a lot of interesting, whimsical stories but he also seems practical enough for survival.

4) Csorwe from The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

Csorwe would probably come up with a reckless, seemingly impossible plan to get off the island and we’d probably come near to death many times but ultimately survive.

5) Lia Mara from A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Lia Mara is smart and she doesn’t mind doing what needs to be done so together we’d make a detailed survival plan and once that’s in place we’d just chat about books.

6) Kell Maresh from A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Kell is an Antari and all his blood commands would be very useful for survival. And he could even teleport us to that same island in a parallel universe and it might not be a desert island there and we could escape!

Which characters would you want to be stranded with on a desert island? Which characters would you hate being stranded with? Let me know in the comments!

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Reviews · Uncategorized

Mini-view: The Never Tilting World

Book: The Never Tilting World

Author: Rin Chupeco

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 5/5
  • Characters: 4/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Overall: 4.5/5

∗ It was a climate fiction fantasy novel about a world called Aeon split between permanent day and permanent night with extreme weather and dangerous magical creatures.

∗ I absolutely loved it- it was so imaginative and action-packed!

∗ The world building was really well fleshed out. I liked learning how both the day and night sides coped with their situations.

∗ I loved the backstory. It was inspired by Assyrian mythology and was really intriguing.

∗ The plot was full of surprises and I never had a bored moment! I liked watching the two story lines converge.

Odessa was a goddess who lived on the night side of Aeon ruling a city called Aranth. She became braver and more sure of herself as the story progressed. Her character arc was all about fighting the allure of power and how it nearly corrupted her.

Lan was Odessa’s bodyguard. She was fierce, strong and disciplined and she had PTSD after a traumatic experience. I liked how she started to come to terms with what happened to her and open up her heart.

Haidee (my favourite character) was also a goddess who lived on the day side of Aeon and ruled the Golden City. Her and Odessa were twins but neither of them knew. She was really smart as a mechanic, extremely caring and definitely reminded me of myself at times.

Arjun lived in the desert on the day side of Aeon and he went with Haidee on her journey. He was an amputee and also really smart and resourceful. My favourite thing about him was how he pretended to be all gruff but his softer side gradually emerged as the novel progressed.

∗ Both the romances were adorable and flawlessly done.

∗ Even though the climate change was caused by a magical disaster the message of being responsible for the damage we cause to our world applies to us all.

∗ It’s a brilliant, creative novel- I’d definitely recommend it!

Thank you to HarperTeen for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

To find out more about the book, check out this interview I did with the author, Rin Chupeco.

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Interviews · Uncategorized

Sereadipity Interviews… Rin Chupeco!

Hello my bookish dolugongs! I’m so excited to share this interview I did with the lovely Rin Chupeco about The Never Tilting World. You can read my review of the book here!


About The Never Tilting World:

Publication date: 15th October 2019

Frozen meets Mad Max in this epic teen fantasy duology bursting with star-crossed romance, immortal heroines, and elemental magic, perfect for fans of Furyborn.
Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.

While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.

But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.


Hello Rin, thank you so much for doing this interview with me! Climate change and the balance between humans and nature are very important themes in The Never Tilting World. Why did you decide to base the novel on these themes and frame them in a fantasy setting?

I live in a country (the Philippines) that is extremely susceptible to the effects of climate change, and would be very vulnerable should bad policies be enacted. I haven’t read a lot of YA books that focused on this particular aspect and thought there should be more books that reflected that reality, which I know is a weird thing to say when it’s very obviously a fantasy book. But I’ve always found that fantasy can take aspects of reality and put readers at a respectable distance from those issues, enough that the themes can have some measure of objectivity that the readers can later choose to unpack once they’re ready to deal with them personally. Someone else actually suggested that initial visual – that of a world torn between night and day – and I was excited by the idea of taking that image and turning it into a story, of making it a conflict that people can relate to. Eyeball planets are actually a thing in science, and hypotheses suggest that they can actually sustain life, albeit very limitedly.

I loved the world building in the book, especially the history of the goddesses and the story behind why they always had to be twins. What inspired you to create and integrate these fascinating legends into the novel?

A lot of the myth I took from Assyrian mythology, primarily from the legend of the goddess Inanna, who obviously has the same name as the very first goddess in the book and is the ancestress to my goddesses Haidee and Odessa. I took a very general summary of that mythology and then added my own spin to it by making them less about being a revered, distant goddesses of worship and more like your average girls who also just happen to have exceptionally powerful abilities capable of wrecking the planet if they so chose – and, as the story reveals, they in fact did choose to!

If there’s one thing about this novel it’s that it’s incredibly imaginative. Everything from sand deserts to rainbow haired goddesses to shadow demons to milking giant sandworms. Where do you get such awesome ideas from?

I seriously have no clue! Ideas pop into my head on the daily, traipsing in and out with impunity into my brain because I never bothered to change the lock. With the goddesses and their rainbow hair – well, I’ve always been a huge fan of anime, and the joke is that you can spot who the main character is in the first episode if they have differently colored hair. So I just really doubled down on that. Dolugongs, for example, are probably just a spin on my pets, except I tried to think of the coolest but most inappropriate/ inconvenient pet to have, and came up with the dolphin-dugong hybrid. Giant sand worms probably came from my interest in cryptozoology, where some massive worms are said to live in deserts and eat people.

The Never Tilting World is written from four different points of view, which perspective did you enjoy writing the most?

I hate to admit it, but I like writing Arjun’s POV best because he is the most like me. He’s really fond of acting tough because acting tough is how he’s survived so far, but at his center lives a very soft cinnamon roll of a boy who really just wants friends and falls very easily for the person who is nicest to them. He also has a bit of my snark – I usually describe him as a Hufflepuff who’s convinced he’s a Gryffindor, and I think that’s very accurate. That said, there’s a little bit of myself in all four – Haidee who can be a bit bossy, romance-loving Odessa, and Lan who really hates asking other people for help.

If Odessa, Lan, Haidee and Arjun lived in the modern world, what would their hobbies be?

Odessa would be an avid romance book blogger and would be The Ripped Bodice’s biggest customer. Haidee would still be a gearhead and work in auto shops and would absolutely have her own car that she’d built with her own hands. Lan would be very into fitness and martial arts, and would have tried to make a go for the Olympics at some earlier point in her life. Arjun would probably just like doing as little work as possible, staying in and playing video games (but would be horribly embarrassed for anyone to learn he helps out at soup kitchens on Saturdays)

Do you have any recommendations for other climate change related books?

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi! I don’t know if The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin counts, but I wanna give that a shoutout all the same!

Can you give us any hints as to what to expect from the sequel to The Never Tilting World?

Indiana Jones-style adventures. The arrival of more characters you’ve only been shortly introduced to in the first book. A lot more unraveling of the facts behind the goddess myths and their repercussions. More demonic shadows seeking blood, more politics. Arjun complaining about everything, and Haidee shutting him up. Unexpected deaths. And, as always, more chances for redemption!


About the author:

Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.

She is represented by Rebecca Podos of the Helen Rees Agency. She is also fond of speaking in the third person, and may as well finish this short bio in this manner. While she does not always get to check her Goodreads page, she does answer questions posed to her here as promptly as she is able to. Find her at the following places instead:

Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Blog

For updates, events, and new releases, sign up for her newsletter at http://www.rinchupeco.com/newsletter.


Thank you so much again to Rin Chupeco for doing this interview with me- it was an honour!

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Blog Tours · Discussion Posts · Uncategorized

7 Books About Royalty (Kingdom Cold Blog Tour)

Hello my bookish barnacles! Welcome to my second stop on the Kingdom Cold Blog Tour where I talk about seven amazing books about royalty. If there’s one thing that Kingdom Cold has a lot of it’s kings, queens, princesses and princes so if you like these books, Kingdom Cold is for you!


About the book:

Title: Kingdom Cold
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Publisher: Self-published
Publication date: 14 February 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis:
Attempted murder, that’s how sixteen-year-old Princess Charlotte’s engagement starts. It seems like the only thing she has in common with Prince Young of Vires is their mutual discontent. When her kingdom’s attacked, Charlotte’s parents renegotiate her hand in marriage to a handsome stranger with a sinister plan. With the people Charlotte loves dying around her, and her kingdom’s future at stake, the only person she can turn to is the prince she betrayed. But, should she save her kingdom or her heart? One must fall.

Book links:
Amazon |Goodreads


My own quote graphics:


7 Books About Royalty:

(1) The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas:

This series is about a queen trying to take back her kingdom from the people who stole it from her and it’s full of royalty. Throughout the series we see both Aelin and also Dorian develop from quite immature, carefree princesses and princes to wise, just queens and kings.

(2) Descendant of the Crane by Joan He:

Descendant of the Crane is a brilliant Chinese-inspired fantasy about a smart and cunning princess called Yan Hesina who embraced her role as queen when her father died so that she could discover his murderer. It is a fantastic read full of mystery and court intrigue! Read my review here.

(3) The Beholder by Anna Bright:

An alternate history novel where Selah, the Seneschal-elect of Potomac, went on a voyage to visit various princes and choose a suitor to marry. It is a light read that I would recommend to romance fans or people who love fairy tales. Read my review here.

(4) We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal:

We Hunt the Flame is set in a world inspired by ancient Arabia and it was about a hunter called Zafira and a prince called Nasir go on a quest to save their world from an ancient evil. It is worth a read for anyone looking for a diverse fantasy. Read my review here.

(5) The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty:

This book is set in 18th century Cairo and it’s not about human royalty but djinn royalty who lived in the magical city of Daevabad. Full of scheming, betrayals, and rich world building, The City of Brass was a book about royalty with a fresh twist. Read my review here.

(6) And I Darken by Kiersten White:

And I Darken is one of my favourite books and it is a reimagined historical story based on Vlad the Impaler. Lada Dragwlya did not fit into the stereotype of a princess in her time. She was unapologetically brutal and ruthless and her only goal was exacting her vengeance and reclaiming her homeland, Wallachia, for her own. This book isn’t just a book about royalty but a book about a girl trying to make her place in a world where every single person was against her and where she had to fight twice and hard and be twice as cruel to get what she wanted.

(7) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh:

This was a retelling of the classical One Thousand and One Nights tale where a girl, Shahrzad, had to tell the Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid, stories every night so that he wouldn’t kill her by morning. It was a cleverly-crafted story with multi-faceted characters and a gripping plot.


About the author:

Brittni Chenelle currently lives in Seoul, Korea, which inspires her multicultural fantasy books. Her favourite genres to read and write are young adult fantasy, young adult romance, fairytale retellings, and young adult dystopian novels. She’s very passionate about equal representation and makes a point to include characters from different backgrounds and cultures in her fantasy stories. Here are five fun facts about Brittni:

  1. She lives in South Korea. It’s true. She does most of her updates in the morning or at night to account for the time difference. She also infuses most of her novels with her observations about Korean culture.
  2. She’s a Type 1 Diabetic. She uses an insulin pump for survival and refers to her diabetes as “Beetie” which is what inspired her children’s book “Life with Beetie”. When she wants something from her parents she tells them, “My Beetie hurts.” It’s a trick that has never failed her.
  3. She doesn’t really BELIEVE in fiction. Despite all the; Dragons, Elves, and Magic present in her novel “Involuted the Tale of the Red Ribbon Tree”, Brittni INSISTS that it’s a true story.
  4. She’s OBSESSED with dark chocolate. She made me put that in and would also like me to inform you (on an unrelated note) that her birthday is in May.
  5. Sorry guys, she’s married. If you ask her, she’ll tell you her husband saved her life but every time someone asks “how?” she gives a different reason. I’ve overheard her give about 4 different reasons, but I bet she has more. He must be an amazing guy.

Author links:
Author website (and newsletter) |Blog |Goodreads |Instagram |Facebook |Twitter


Blog Tour Schedule:

Thank you to Caffeine Book Tours for choosing me to do this tour!


What are your favourite books about royalty? Let me know in the comments!

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Reviews · Uncategorized

Review: The Resurrectionist of Caligo

Book: The Resurrectionist of Caligo

Authors: Wendy Trimboli, Alicia Zaloga

Year Published: 2019

  • Plot: 3/5
  • Characters: 3/5
  • Writing: 4/5
  • Overall: 3/5

The Resurrectionist of Caligo was a Victorian fantasy and murder mystery with strong themes of medicine, grief and illness. It had a promising premise and although I liked the ideas in it, I felt slightly let down by it at the same time.

Roger Weathersby was a resurrectionist– a person who unlawfully unearthed corpses to sell on to medical schools. However, when he one day discovered a strange and horrifying corpse he began to follow the clues surrounding a string of terrible yet similar murders along with the help of his former friend, princess Sibylla, and together they went down a dark and dangerous path from which there was no return.

I liked the way Roger’s character was developed because although at first glance he seemed like a careless rogue he was actually a really kind person who just wasn’t very good at dealing with authority and had a knack for getting himself into messy situations. I liked the way he looked out for Ada and her mother.

Sibylla was interesting because she could seem petty at times but she did care deeply for her people. My only problem with her was that she wasn’t particularly memorable in any way. Now, when I think about the book I can’t think of one thing she did that really stood out to me or was very admirable. The dynamic between Roger and Sibylla was… weird. They did like (maybe love?) each other and though their relationship did grow stronger once more I felt like it didn’t really go anywhere.

Also, this novel had major pacing issues. I’m pretty sure around 68% of the way through it I found myself wondering whether the main story was going to get started yet, then realising to my horror that I’d already surpassed over half the book. It was extremely slow at the start and then at the end there was a few plot twists and reveals and that was it. The ending was ambiguous and while I sometimes appreciate books that are open-ended I didn’t like this one because it didn’t give me any sense of conclusion or leave me with any implications or thoughts to ponder over.

The Resurrectionist of Caligo is a creative yet flawed read. I think it’s worthwhile giving it a go- just don’t go in with very high expectations.

Thank you to Angry Robot for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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