April Wrap Up + Mini Reviews.

Hey guys! I realised that I haven’t done a wrap up post in 2 months. I didn’t read any new books in March and I got back into reading towards the end of April. I had my exams and even after I was done with them I just didn’t feel like reading anything for a while. So after taking a pretty long break, I could safely say that I was able to read about 3 books this month. I wasn’t even planning on it but then I accidentally discovered a Korean webnovel that ripped me out my reading slump. It was so addictive and entertaining. It was a long web novel yet I couldn’t put it down. Anyways, enough of my rambling 🤭,let’s just dive into my wrap up.

1. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Rate- 7/10

This was an average book for me. It was pretty entertaining to read but I personally had few issues with it. I have a full review of this book and you can check that out if you want to know more about my thoughts.

2. The Beginning After the End by TurtleMe.

Rate- 6/10

Synopsis:

King Grey once benefited from unrivaled strength, wealth, and prestige in a world governed by martial ability, but now finds himself reborn in a society dominated by magic. Given a second chance at life, the once-king strives to understand his role in this new world and the purpose of his reincarnation while correcting the mistakes of his past.

Review:

I love the reincarnation trope. It intrigues me and I think very few authors are able to execute it well. TurtleMe did a somewhat good job at it but it felt more like an experiment rather than a book. It had several good aspects to it. The world building was great and it had a pretty diverse society and culture. The magic system was really cool as well. It was so simple and the way the author explained everything in such a precise way made me really invested in it. It was the best part of the plot and there were still several unknowns that I am curious to know more about. I also loved how our protagonist Arther would make comparisons between his old and new life and use that knowledge as a stepping stone to become stronger. Though I have to admit even if I really loved multiple aspects of the story, the overall plot wasn’t anything new and original. Also, I had some issues with the pacing of the book. It was really fast and there were too many time skips. I didn’t get enough time in a particular time frame to get attached to the characters because I felt that everything was happening too fast. The prose was pretty dry as well and it bored me whenever the protagonist would explain how something in his world worked. It felt like a long lecture and my eyes would just glaze over it. Overall, It was a decent book for me. I saw the reviews on Amazon and a lot of people enjoyed it more than me. So if you are looking to give it a try, don’t let my issues hold you back from reading a good book.

3. Solo leveling by Chugong.

Rate-8/10

Synopsis:

10 years ago, after “the Gate” that connected the real world with the monster world opened, some of the ordinary, everyday people received the power to hunt monsters within the Gate. They are known as “Hunters”. However, not all Hunters are powerful. My name is Sung Jin-Woo, an E-rank Hunter. I’m someone who has to risk his life in the lowliest of dungeons, the “World’s Weakest”. Having no skills whatsoever to display, I barely earned the required money by fighting in low-leveled dungeons… at least until I found a hidden dungeon with the hardest difficulty within the D-rank dungeons! In the end, as I was accepting death, I suddenly received a strange power, a quest log that only I could see, a secret to leveling up that only I know about! If I trained in accordance with my quests and hunted monsters, my level would rise. Changing from the weakest Hunter to the strongest S-rank Hunter!

Review:

If you don’t know this, Solo leveling is one of the most popular Korean webnovels out there and it was officially licensed for English release by Yen press few months back. They released the eBook of the first volume last month and I finished the whole book within a span of 5 hours. It was so freaking addictive and fun. It hooked me from the first chapter. Our mc, Jin woo was really smart while dealing with some of the most life threatening situations. He was perceptive enough to know when to fight back and when to back down in any dangerous circumstances. He was gifted with a rare magic that was similar to video games where he has to finish certain quest in order to level up and become stronger. The first volume didn’t have any overarching plot. It was about the mc trying to figure out his magic and how to use it efficiently. What hooked me so much into this book was the way he handled the quests and fought the monsters in the dungeons. The fighting scenes where great and world building was amazing and very detailed. I went ahead and finished the entire webnovel after reading the first volume. The world started to expand in the later half of the WN and we got to know about the reasons why the dungeons started appearing 10 years ago and what was the purpose of Jin woo in acquiring such a unique ability. I loved the webnovel and the translations were really good but I have to admit that there wasn’t much development of the side characters in this story. I also felt that Jinwoo became too overpowered towards the later third of the web novel and it became a bit repetitive to read. But it had a solid plot from beginning to the end and I had a huge hangover after I finished it.

Anyways, these are the three books (and web novel) I read this month. It was so refreshing to finally get back into my hobby after the stressful 2 months. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section down below and until then...

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A Maiden…

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty…

The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom…

Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.

Predictable. Everything about this book was too predictable. I am not trying to criticise it nor am I saying that it’s the best book I have read this year but it just didn’t have the same thrill and anticipation that I tend to feel when I start a brand new fantasy series. I still enjoyed it a lot and I loved our main protagonist, Poppy, but the plot was a bit similar to the ACOTAR series by Sarah J. Mass. It’s not a bad thing. Atleast not in this case. There are many books with similar plot lines and I have read some of them too but I also love discovering some originality to them as well. That little bit of difference becomes the trademark of the author and her work. For me Armentrout’s trademark would be Poppy, our mc.

I loved Poppy as the main protagonist. She was brave and feisty but a lot reckless when it came to her safety. She had been isolated from the world from a very early age and had to go through a lot of physical and mental abuse. She was not allowed to experience the things that normal teenagers do. Heck, she wasn’t even allowed to talk to people. So it’s obvious that she would be a bit rebellious and try to sneak off to live her life the way she wanted to. I understood the motives behind her actions even if I personally didn’t approve of them. Her reasons didn’t feel unreasonable and she was a rational human being most of the time. Basically she was a badass protagonists. Her action scenes were so amazing and exciting to read. Her character wasn’t perfect but I was happy to read the book from her perspective. Lately I have been more into books that are in third person POV but the first person pov worked for this book because I don’t think I would have loved her enough if I didn’t know what she was thinking and how she felt when she was hurting. I just wasn’t happy with the way the author executed the romance. It was cringey and there were few instances when I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes at the main couple. I feel that Poppy deserved a better version of the romance than the one we got from this book. I think one of the reasons why it bothered me so much was that I didn’t find anything unique with the male protagonist, Hawke. He was the stereotypical handsome misunderstood hero with a dark past and an “I don’t deserve you” attitude. I don’t personally have an issue with it but I am way too tired of this trope. Hawke was too similar to Rhysand? (I don’t remember his name) from the ACOTAR series and it felt a bit repetitive for me to read the same thing again. The plot was solid from the start and I loved knowing the entire history of the world and the origin story of the ascended but I was a tad disappointed with the whole mystery behind the Dark One because I already figured out who it was within the first 50% of the book. It was so obvious that it almost made me cry. There wasn’t enough shock factor in the plot to keep me on the edge of my seat.

If I have to describe this book in a few words, then I would probably say that it’s a mixture of A Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Acotar series and I had mixed feelings about both of them. From blood and ash is a definitely a better version of the two series but it had some of the tropes that I personally don’t prefer anymore. I would definitely recommend this book to people who love the two series mentioned above and want to read something with a similar vibe and plotline.

Rate-7/10

Writer’s note:

Hi! I am back. Again. I know I haven’t been blogging enough for the last few months. I had been really busy with my exams and then I had to come back home and stay in isolation because the pandemic is exploding in our country right now. I haven’t said this before but I think I should considering the situation we are currently facing. I am a medical student in my final year of university. I am not a doctor yet and I don’t have the required experience or the qualifications to help people the way other healthcare workers are trying to do. I am just a spectator like the rest of you and it frustrates me that I am as helpless as the majority of the population of our country. But what I can do now is provide some emotional support and reassurances to the people around me. I may not be a doctor but I know people who are. So if you need any advice or information about Covid-19, you could dm me in my Instagram or Twitter account. I don’t know how much it will help but if it can make a little bit of difference in your life I am happy to assist in any way I can. My father is a doctor and so is my sister. I am fortunate enough to have access to medical care but I know many people are not. So please don’t hesitate to contact me in case you need any health advice or even just for emotional support. Stay at home, stay safe and wear your masks.

Until next time.

The long way to a small angry planet by Becky Chambers

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space-and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe-in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

And this is where our species are very much alike. The truth is, Rosemary, that you are capable of anything. Good or bad. You always have been, and you always will be. Given the right push, you, too, could do horrible things. That darkness exists within all of us. You think every soldier who picked up a cutter gun was a bad person? No. She was just doing what the soldier next to her was doing, who was doing what the soldier next to her was doing, and so on and so on. And I bet most of them– not all, but most– who made it through the war spent a long time after trying to understand what they’d done. Wondering how they ever could have done it in the first place. Wondering when killing became so comfortable.’

-Dr Chef.

I have to say Becky Chambers is one of the loveliest person I had the pleasure to know this month. Sometimes you just know how an author feels and thinks from the way they write their books and Becky Chambers’ prose let me know just how positively open minded she is. Her book made me introspect about a lot of stuff that is a part of our real life. Her character interactions and relationships were natural and organic and not once did I feel like they were plot devices to move the story forward. It may sound a little bit cliche but this book made me realise just how small humans are in this vast universe. There are so many unknowns out there that we still aren’t close to figuring out and I loved that Becky Chambers showed me a glimpse of them even if they were fictitious. I believed in her world and her characters wholeheartedly. They were so uniquely different in their species and culture but at the core of it they were genuinely good people. Each and every member of the wayfarer were unfairly sweet and flawed and I was constantly rooting for their happy ending. This was a heavily character driven book and the sci-fi aspect added more depth to it. It’s safe to assume that Becky Chambers wanted to talk about a lot of important issues like war, gender and politics in a way that doesn’t offend anyone. Her stunning world building and beautiful speciation of characters were just an added bonus to the plot. Her writing was so peaceful and accessible and it’s a great place to start if you are looking to get into science fiction. I adored this book so much. It was beautifully written and the words were inspiring and comforting to me. It made me feel at peace with myself and I hope others feel the same way too.

Rate-7/10

P.S. Hey guys! Sorry for not being able to post regularly this month. I had my exams and I didn’t have enough time to read a new book or write a new post. But I am back now and I am gonna try to be as regular as I can. I am excited to get back into blogging again soon 😃.

Anyways, let me know your thoughts in the comment section down below and we can have a chat.

Until then.

Light Novel Recommendations.

If you have been following my blog for a while then you have probably heard about this term once or twice. Light novels are Japanese young adult books where the average page count rarely exceeds more than 300 pages. They have beautiful illustrations to go with the story and most of them come in serialised format, sometimes going beyond 20 volumes per series. They may seem like a huge commitment and intimidating to some people but the series that I have read so far have been so entertaining and fast paced that it barely felt like a huge deal. Over the past few years many light novels have been officially translated by publishing companies like J-novel or Yen press and we get new english releases in every 3-4 months. I discovered this new genre at the beginning of 2020 and it effectively got me out my long reading slump. They were an absolute delight to read. Some of them had pretty ridiculous plot lines but they were so fun and addictive that I couldn’t stop myself from finishing them. So today I am going to be recommending you some of my favorite light novels I have read so far. So without further ado let’s jump right into it.

1. 86 by Asato Asato (6 volumes, ongoing).

Genre- war, action, sci-fi, dystopian, psychological.

The San Magnolia Republic has long been under attack by unmanned weapons from the neighboring Empire. Against this onslaught, the Republic has also deployed similar weapons, narrowly avoiding great loss of life and impending disaster-or at least that’s how it seemed.

The truth is that it has never been possible to have no casualties. Young men and women drawn from the Republic’s supposedly non-existent 86th district are organized into the “86 unit” and then ordered to pilot the “unmanned weapons” before heading to battle.

I have been in love with this series since I read the first volume back in 2020. I have a full review of the 1st volume (here). It’s one of my favorite series of all time and I want it to get the love it deserves. This isn’t an easy book to read because of its mature themes and graphic violence but the plot is outstanding and the translation is so well done that it didn’t feel like it was originally written in a different language.

2. Spice and Wolf by Isuna Hasekura (22 volumes, completed)

Genre- Adventure, fantasy, slice-of-life, romance

The life of a traveling merchant is a lonely one, a fact with which Kraft Lawrence is well acquainted. Wandering from town to town with just his horse, cart, and whatever wares have come his way, the peddler has pretty well settled into his routine-that is, until the night Lawrence finds a wolf goddess asleep in his cart. Taking the form of a fetching girl with wolf ears and a tail, Holo has wearied of tending to harvests in the countryside and strikes up a bargain with the merchant to lend him the cunning of “Holo the Wisewolf” to increase his profits in exchange for taking her along on his travels. What kind of businessman could turn down such an offer? Lawrence soon learns, though, that having an ancient goddess as a traveling companion can be a bit of a mixed blessing. Will this wolf girl turn out to be too wild to tame?

If I could describe this series in one word I would probably say ‘peaceful’. Spice and wolf has its own share of drama and fantastical elements but it’s equally wholesome and soothing. Holo and Lawrence are some of my favorite characters of all time. Their witty and flirtatious banter has been a constant source of entertainment for me since I started this series last year. The world building is fantastic and beautiful and the characters are well fleshed out. This is a heavily character focused series and much of its plot is based on economics and finance. There was so much information on profit/loss and the currency of the world that it took me a while to get used to it. But it eventually got interesting as our dynamic duo used their intelligence and a bit of underhanded tactics to win against powerful businessmen and make a name for themselves. This is one of those 20 volumes long series that will probably intimidate you but I am in volume 5 and I am loving it and I don’t find the thought of continuing it daunting at all. I dedicated my blog name after this series so you can guess how much I adore it. If you want to read something chill, this book would be a good place to start. This is a completed series so you wouldn’t even have to wait for months for new releases.

3. Book girl series by Mizuki Nomura (8 volumes, completed).

Genre- mystery, slice-of-life, psychological, romance, supernatural.

For self-styled “book girl,” third-year high school student Tohko Amano, being the head of the literary club is more than just an extracurricular activity with minor perks. It’s her bread and butter . . . literally! Tohko is actually a literature-gobbling demon, and instead of the less palatable option of water-soaked bread, she opts to munch on torn out pages from all kinds of stories. But for Tohko, the real delicacies are handwritten stories. And to satisfy her gourmet tastes, she’s employed (aka. browbeaten) one Konoha Inoue, an underclassman who has retreated from writing novels after his experiences with getting published at an early age. So day in and day out, Konoha scribbles away to satisfy Tohko’s appetite. But when, one day, another student comes knocking on the literary club door to seek advice on writing love letters, will Tohko discover a new kind of delicacy to whet her voracious appetite?

Book girl doesn’t pull back any punches . It started out as a pretty generic mystery slice of life novel but soon turned into a deep exploration of toxic relationships and it’s different psychological impact on a person. It’s hard to describe this series in few words. The characters were deeply flawed and emotionally immature but the growth and development of each and every one of them was absolutely spectacular. I felt so many different emotions while I was reading this series and most of the time they were anger and frustration for the messy decisions the characters made for themselves but at the end I realised that these people were just teenagers who had to go through difficult circumstances and as much as I hated the way they acted I understood how they felt. Added to that, this series has beautiful prose and rich descriptions of Japanese literature. Trigger warnings for suicide and depression for any one who wants to start this series. It might get too dark sometimes so it’s better to be in the right headspace before you start reading it. I wasn’t prepared and it surprised the hell out of me.

4. Three days of Happiness by Sugaru Miaki (standalone)

Genre- slice-of-life, romance

HOW MUCH IS LIFE TRULY WORTH?

Kusunoki used to believe he was destined for great things. Ostracized as a child, he held on to a belief that a good life was waiting for him in the years ahead. Now approaching the age of twenty, he’s a completely mediocre college student with no motivation, no dreams, and no money. After learning he can sell his remaining years-and just how little they’re worth-he chooses to divest himself of all but his last three months. Has Kusunoki truly destroyed his last chance to find happiness…or has he somehow found it?

I have talked too much about this novel so I won’t say anything about it now. I have a full review of this book (here). Let’s just accept the fact that I am probably not going to stop talking about it for a very long time.

5. So I am a spider, so what? By Okina Baba (10 volumes, ongoing).

Genre- humor, mystery, action, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi.

I used to be a normal high school girl but in the blink of an eye, I woke up in a place I’ve never seen before and-and I was reborn as a spider?! How could something that’s nothing more than a tiny spider (that’s me) possibly survive in literally the worst dungeon ever? Are there no rules? There should be some rules! Who the hell is responsible for this? SHOW YOUR FACE!

I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started this series but it surprised me to the core. It had the most ridiculous plotlines ever but my god it was good! There was so much drama and humor and pretty amazing plot twists that blew my mind at every turn. It also has an adorably snarky spider girl who made me laugh out loud too many times to count. The action sequences were brilliant and the plot is so cool. I love this series and even though the translation wasn’t as good the story and the characters made up for every little flaw in the book.

6. Durarara by Ryohgo Narita (13 volumes, completed).

Genre- action, comedy, romance, supernatural.

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE DOWNRIGHT WEIRD.

The Ikebukuro district in Tokyo is full of interesting people. A boy longing for the extraordinary. A hotheaded punk. An airheaded pseudo stalker. An information broker who works for kicks. An underground doctor who specializes in truly desperate patients. A high school student infatuated with a monster. And a headless rider on a pitch-black motorcycle. Their story may not be a heartwarming one, but as it turns out, even weirdos like these sometimes fall in love.

There’s no shortage of bizarre characters in Ikebukuro.

It’s probably obvious from the synopsis that DRRR! is a weird series. It’s a multi-perspective featuring a large cast of characters, each of them having atleast one irredeemable quality that makes them beyond abnormal. At first it felt like I was following several different storylines but the way everything slowly came together made it one of the most compelling light novel series I have read so far. Plus it has some of the coolest cast of characters including a headless rider. Doesn’t that make you curious?

There we go. Something different to add to your pile of TBRs. I am still new to this genre so I have barely covered the surface of it and there are still too many untranslated works out there that are slowly getting licensed for english release. But its such a fun and entertaining medium and if any of you have ever read any light novels before let me know in the comment section below and we can have a chat.

Until then.

February wrap up & Mini Reviews.

I can’t believe this year is flying by so quickly. It wasn’t that long since I started blogging and now it’s already been 3 months. February was yet again another busy month for me. I wanted to read more but I just didn’t have the drive to do so. It was still a pretty fulfilling experience for me because I read some pretty good books. So let’s not waste any more time and get down to business shall we?

1. You deserve each other by Sarah Hogle (Romance).

I had mixed feelings about this book. I did not like the main couple, Naomi and Nicholas. Nicholas was still better but I despised Naomi for the majority of the book. She was always inside her head and was barely aware of anything around her. She was rude and judgy and her attitude made me feel embarassed for her. She got a lot of character development in the later half of the book but it still annoyed the hell out of me. Both the protagonists were full grown adults and all of their issues could have been solved if they had just communicated with each other from the start. I guess the plot wouldn’t have progressed if they had done that but it still bugged me how childish these two idiots were acting. I had a fun time with their pranks but the rest just didn’t appeal to me.

Rate- 5/10

2. Artificial Condition by Martha Wells (Sci-fi).

I can’t stop gushing about this series. It’s sooooooo good. The 2nd novella in the Murderbot diaries was equally amazing as it’s predecessor although I was a little bit disappointed to let go of some of the casts of book one. But the newly introduced characters were so different and interesting that I was able to enjoy this novella as much as the first one. Artificial condition follows Murderbot as it journeys to a distant planet to learn more about it’s past and what happened during one of it’s previous missions. It had a bit of a serious tone to it but Murderbot’s snarky internal monologue was still funny and adorable as hell. ART is my 2nd favorite character of the series. I adored it’s friendship with Murderbot and their interaction was so entertaining. This book was just fantastic in it’s execution and characterization and I really loved it.

Rate- 9/10

3. The Blade Itself Joe Abercrombie (Fantasy).

The blade itself was my major reading goal of the month. I started it back in January but never got around to finishing it. I have to admit that when I thought about reviewing this book I kinda faced a blank wall for while. I kept thinking ‘How do I even start talking about it? What should I even talk about?’ Even now while I am writing this post I am confused. At first I wasn’t enjoying this book as much as I hoped to. It was a slow burner for me and I didn’t understand where it was going with the plot. But it got interesting after the first part of the book. It was heavily character driven and none of those characters were the stereotypical good people. They were unapologetically brutal and did horrible things and no amount of grovelling or suffering would ever excuse them of their past mistakes. But Joe Abercrombie didn’t create these characters so that we could empathise with them. We are supposed to be the spectators to a literal horror show where everyone is suffering in their own way and all we can do is root for them to survive. It was so refreshing to read a book with such a degree of morally messed up characters after a long time. This was my most anticipated book of this year and I am glad it didn’t disappoint me. I did find it weird that my paperback didn’t have a map. I don’t know if its a printing error or the book itself doesn’t have a map but it did bother me a few times because I didn’t understand where the characters were placed or where they came from. It made it hard to understand the world. But it was still an engaging book to read and the characters were unique and compelling.

Rate- 8/10

I know I am a bit late with my post but I haven’t been well these last few days. But I am all better now and back to reading😁. Anyways, let me know your thoughts in the comment section down below and we can have a chat.

Until then.

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