WWW WEDNESDAY – 10/02/2021

Hey guys!

I missed my WWW – Wednesday post due to travel. I decided to post it today anyway, even though it is a day late!

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This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

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What are you currently reading?

 Chaturanga (Baahubali: Before the Beginning Book 2)

What did you recently finish reading?

Oath Taker (Kingdom of Runes, #1)  Curse Breaker (Kingdom of Runes, #2)

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Once again I have a lot of books on my TBR list that look very interesting. I am going to try to catch up on a few books that I missed in January and then focus on those which will be releasing soon in February and onwards!

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Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

Book Review: Curse Breaker (Kingdom of Runes #2) by Audrey Grey

About the Book:

Curse Breaker (Kingdom of Runes, #2)

Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Holly Black, this enemies-to-lovers adventure romance should come with a book hangover warning.

All magic has a price.

Haven survived the Devourers, but she isn’t any closer to breaking the curse. Meanwhile, her forbidden magic rages brighter and more dangerous every day.

To control her powers and stand a chance against the Shade Queen, Haven made a bargain with two enemy immortals. Now her waking hours are spent fighting alongside the Sun Lord, but her dreams belong to the Shade Lord.

Only the closer she ventures into the wicked Shadow Kingdom the more her magic shows itself—and the more she struggles with whom to trust. The golden but wounded Sun Lord or the darkly charismatic Shade Lord.

Both are off-limits.

And both have the ability to save her . . . or destroy her.

With the Shade Queen closing in and Bell’s time nearly up, Haven will sacrifice everything to break the curse—but will it be enough to stop the mortal realm from falling into darkness forever?

Welcome to the Kingdom of Runes where immortals and humans clash, light and dark magic reign, and mythical creatures lurk in the shadows. If you like fierce heroines, enemies-to-lovers romance, wild plot twists, and endearing characters that stay with you long after you reach the end, you need to discover the book readers are calling dark fantasy at its best. Just make sure to clear out some space on your calendar first!

**Curse Breaker was previously published in the boxed set Shattered Worlds. This is a revised second edition. The Kingdom of Runes series is upper/mature YA and contains mild cursing and adult situations, including romance.**

My Thoughts:

This is the second book in the Kingdom of Runes series by Audrey Grey. Teeming with both dark and light magic, Haven is struggling to find a way to control her magic, learn to use it and at the same time break the curse to get back her best friend, Prince Bell. In addition to this, she makes deals that she is not sure she can keep up, considering that they are with two enemy immortals.

In this book, Haven is drawn into a love triangle between the Sun Lord and the Shade Lord. She knows that both of them have feelings for her and she is conflicted in her emotions towards each of them. I love how charismatic each character comes off as and it is quite entertaining to read about these budding romances. However, there are some things that irked me during these sections, especially how Archeron’s feelings suddenly changed and then the whole group dynamics.

On the other side, we see some of Prince Bell and what he is going through. A wonderful human being, he brings out different sides of people including the creature who saves him from being ripped apart. This is an interesting dynamic to say the least. A lot of the characters are shrouded in darkness and have a ton of secrets which take a lot of time to actually be revealed.

The pace of this book picked up and was quite gripping. It was better than the first and focused more on the adventure and action. I enjoyed this second book in the series and am looking forward to reading the next one.

Book Review: Oath Taker (Kingdom of Runes #1) by Audrey Grey

About the Book:

Oath Taker (Kingdom of Runes, #1)

Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Emily R. King, this first book in a dark and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

Light magic is forbidden.
Dark magic spells death.
Haven has both.


After the Prince of Penryth saved her from captivity, seventeen-year-old Haven Ashwood spends her days protecting the kind prince and her nights secretly fighting the monsters outside the castle walls.

When one of those monsters kidnaps Prince Bell, Haven must ally with Archeron Halfbane and his band of immortals to rescue her friend.

Her quest takes her deep into the domain of a warped and vicious queen where the rules are simple: break her curse or die.

Lost in a land of twisted magic and fabled creatures, Haven finds herself unprepared, not just for the feelings she develops for Archeron, but for the warring powers raging inside her.

Her rare and forbidden type of magic may be their only hope . . . but mixing light and dark comes with a steep price.

Haven’s soul.

Faced with impossible love, heartbreaking betrayals, and a queen intent on destroying the realm, only one thing remains certain.

Haven must shatter the curse or it will devour everything she loves.

Welcome to the Kingdom of Runes where immortals and humans clash, light and dark magic reign, and mythical creatures lurk in the shadows. If you like fierce heroines, enemies-to-lovers romance, wild plot twists, and endearing characters that stay with you long after you reach the end, you need to discover the book readers are calling dark fantasy at its best. Just make sure to clear out some space on your calendar first!

My Thoughts:

I came across this book as a suggestion and decided to give it a try. I do enjoy good fantasy fiction with magic and adventure! This first book in the series follows Haven as she sets out to save Prince Bell who has been kidnapped under the assumption that he can do magic.

Haven sets out on a journey reluctantly aligning herself with Archeron Halfbane as a means to an end. All this leads to unlikely alliances, bonds being forged and a fast-paced adventure as they set out to fulfil some quests and break a curse. I enjoyed various aspects of the story and the concept. However, the character development was lacking for some of the characters and this felt like a let down to the overall plot. Even Haven is a little confusing at times and it took me some time to get into the story. Some of the lands were well described and easy to imagine. This was the fun part of the book, trying to put the words into pictures and see how the story unfolds.

But, putting this aside, I enjoyed the overall adventure, the plot twists, the magic and the strength and togetherness that some of the characters show. This is definitely an entertaining read that once I got into, kept me hooked until the end.

Books to Read (TBR list) – February 2021

Hello All,

In this post, I have made a tentative list of books that I plan to read in February. This is just an initial list, I am not sure how many more I might end up reading!

Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts, feedback or recommendations!


  • The Sigil by Shakail Kanish

The Sigil: A Novel - Part I

 

Genre: LGBTQ+ Dark Urban Fantasy

Release date: 4th March 2021

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I was intrigued by the concept of the book and am looking forward to reading it!

 

 

  • Pawns Gambit by Rob J. Hayes

Pawn's Gambit (A Mortal Techniques novel)

 

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Release date: 26th Jan 2021

I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

 

  • Chaturanga (Baahubali before the beginning #2) by Anand Neelakantan

Chaturanga (Baahubali: Before the Beginning Book 2)

 

 

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction

Being a huge fan of the Baahubali movie franchise and having read book 1 in this series, I have finally got around to buying Book 2. I am looking forward to it!

 

 

 

  • Beautiful Façade by Kathryn S Rose

Beautiful Facade

 

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • An Ordinary Life by Amanda Prowse

An Ordinary Life

 

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

I requested for and received a copy of the book via NetGalley. I have read a few books by the author and have enjoyed them so far! This book sounds interesting and I would love to see what I think.

 

 

 

  • The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron

The Paris Dressmaker

 

 

Genre: Historical Fiction

I have been reading a lot of books in this genre and am enjoying the reads and discovering new authors! I am excited to read this book!

Book Blitz: The Hollow World by Tracy Auerbach

The Hollow World
Tracy Auerbach
(Fragments, #3)
Publication date: February 2nd 2021
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy

The time has come for Kai and her friends to make a final stand, and as the war begins, everyone must choose a side. But with the lines between good and evil more blurred than ever, Kai has to stick with her convictions and follow her heart. Kai’s first priority is to free Finn from the clutches of Tessa Raven, who has become no better than the evil she once fought against.

As Kai reluctantly turns against the people she once considered her closest friends, she becomes entangled in a struggle with a mysterious new power that threatens to destroy what is left of Finn and change everything she thought she knew about the planet.

Meanwhile, Charlie and Aric remain behind and help Raven breach the underground world of the Science Council. All bets are off as they prepare to cross every line and burn every bridge in an attempt to claim the world that has abused them for too long.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

EXCERPT:

Too many missing coefficients.

Raven ran her ungloved hand over the smooth, cool metal of the missile. She needed it to shatter the barrier—opening the way down so that she could destroy the Science Council. She knew enough about terminal ballistics to be able to calculate its exact impact on the crystal tube that led to the Science Council’s underground lair when it struck. The only problem was that the makeup of the tube was so unique…

“It’s a thing of beauty, Raven,” Sayers commented. He stared at her hungrily from his spot amongst her people, seeking approval.

“Yes, it is,” she offered, and he smiled.

“The only problem is, because the substance we’re striking has never been studied, there’s no way to tell if it will work without testing it. Our likelihood for success is still low.” She glanced around the interior of the Dome of Artifacts, taking in the relics from the original Earth with an appreciative eye. “And I’m not willing to risk destroying all of these artifacts by blowing up the whole place when the chance of it failing to destroy the tube is unacceptably high.”

Her soldiers stood around her, silent, waiting for her suggestions. She’d been trying to puzzle this out for three weeks, and the answer was painfully obvious: a last straw plan. And yet, she hesitated, because there was a small part of her that wanted to try every other possible scenario before resorting to what she knew would work, even though she knew that wasn’t logical.

Damn my weakness.

“We’ll need something softer,” she said at last. “Something that will turn to mush on impact rather than ricocheting off the crystal and taking out this whole place. Also, we’ll need something much bigger… heavier.” She scrutinized the crystal tube housing of the elevator platform that had, thus far, been impossible to penetrate.

“Would you like us to try crafting a hollow missile that’s twice this size?” asked Larson. “We’d have to melt this down first.” He gestured toward the missile they’d taken three weeks to craft and painstakingly calibrated.

“No.”

The time to divulge her last straw plan was now. She knew a missile wouldn’t work. A rain of bullets wouldn’t work. But she happened to have a special tool—a former friend who could run at the speed of a bullet and who was close to two hundred pounds.

A human body hitting the tube at that speed would spread adequate weight over a large enough surface area to crack open the entryway to the Science Council’s underground world like an egg. Also, a body would explode upon impact, resulting in a mostly liquid byproduct, causing minimal damage to the artifacts.

Finn’s sacrifice would save the planet.

Author Bio:

Tracy Auerbach is an author of science fiction and fantasy for teens and adults. As an avid reader with a vivid imagination, she chose to study film, English, and education, and went on to teach and write STEM curriculum for the New York Department of Education. This helped to polish her writing skills and ignite her passion for science fiction and fantasy.

Her first scholarly article, published in Language Magazine, was about the value of active, creative learning in science.
On the fiction side, Tracy’s work has been featured in the online literary journal Micro-horror, The Writing Disorder fiction anthology, and the “(Dis)ability” short story anthology, in addition to her novels.

When she is not teaching or writing, Tracy is usually reading or spending time with her family. She lives in New York with her husband and sons.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

 

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WWW WEDNESDAY – 03/02/2021

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

 ——————————————————————————————————————

What are you currently reading?

Oath Taker (Kingdom of Runes, #1) Chaturanga (Baahubali: Before the Beginning Book 2)

What did you recently finish reading?

The Last Queen by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A Vow So Bold And Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Once again I have a lot of books on my TBR list that look very interesting. I am going to try to catch up on a few books that I missed in January and then focus on those which will be releasing soon in February and onwards!

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Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

Wrap-Up: Books Read in January 2021

Hey guys! 

Here’s my first wrap-up post of 2021!

I would like to talk about the books that I read in January and focus on the books that released in the month.

I managed to read 17 books in the month ( I have no idea how I managed this feat and I am not sure that the streak will continue, but let’s see :P), some of which made it to my 5 star reads category!

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Here are the books read so far (images from Goodreads):
The Henna Artist by Alka JoshiA Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid KemmererThe Last Queen by Chitra Banerjee DivakaruniThe Awakening by Andreas SuchanekMeet Me in Bombay by Jenny AshcroftBlood Casino by Nina WalkerThe Newlyweds by Arianne RichmondeThe Wrath of the Hellfires by Shatrujeet NathCrooked Kingdom by Leigh BardugoThe Conspiracy at Meru by Shatrujeet NathThe Vengeance of Indra by Shatrujeet NathSix of Crows by Leigh BardugoChristmas in Evergreen by Nancy NaigleAn American in Paris by Siobhan CurhamShelly's Stocking Goes Missing by Anitha RathodForget Russia by L. Bordetsky-WilliamsMy Name is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde
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Among these books, a huge shoutout to the following which were released in Jan 2021!
These books were beyond amazing and were straightaway promoted to favourite books of the year!

A Vow So Bold And Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

This is the final book in the Cursebreakers series and is a wonderfully crafted conclusion that ties up all lose ends and answers all questions! I loved it and am now craving for more content on some of our favourtie characters.

The Last Queen by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Historical Fiction

The author is a favourite and her books are an absolute must read! This book based on Rani Jindan Kaur, a lesser known, almost forgotten Queen of the Sikh Empire is very well-written. The story based on historical fact, brings out a myriad of emotions that will pull the reader in and keep them hooked until the very end!

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Once again, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts or book recommendations! You can also just stop by to chat, I’m almost always around! 🙂

Book Review: The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

About the Book:

Vivid and compelling in its portrait of one woman’s struggle for fulfillment in a society pivoting between the traditional and the modern, The Henna Artist opens a door into a world that is at once lush and fascinating, stark and cruel.

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

My Thoughts:

The Henna Artist is an interesting story that follows the life of Lakshmi as she navigates high society as a henna artist. Known for her unique designs, she is well-known in Jaipur and sought out quite often. The story pulls the reader into a world of gossip, scheming and wealth. We learn a lot about India in the time just after independence, the sights, the scenes. The author does a wonderful job describing this and pulls the reader in with her words.

As the story progresses, the author reveals tidbits of information about Lakshmi’s past, but everything starts to change when her husband, whom she after two years of marriage, turns up at her door-step with her sister. The shock of finding out about having a sister is enough to turn Lakshmi’s life up-side down. As time progresses, she tries to adapt and take care of her sister, giving her everything she can and did not have growing up. Forced into dealing with a young teenager and one who doesn’t know much of the world, Lakshmi’s work and reputation are under scrutiny and at risk.

The author brings out the feelings of the characters and everyone around them as the story unfolds. However, it felt as though some of the issues were dealt with from a surface level where more details could have been given. Radha’s thoughts and the reason behind some of her actions are never truly explained. But, inspite of this, the story flows very well and it both amazing and shocking all at once. I love how the author portrayed the interactions of the various characters and brought to us a vivid picture of the kind of life different people live, across castes and class.

A truly well-written novel, this book is definitely worth a read!

Book Review: A Vow So Bold and Deadly (Cursebreakers #3) by Brigid Kemmerer

About the Book:

A Vow So Bold and Deadly (The Cursebreaker Series)

Face your fears, fight the battle.
Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone—even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.

Fight the battle, save the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.

As two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.

 

My Thoughts:

Finally! The final book in the Cursebreaker series is available and it is a worthy emotional conclusion.

The book picks up where the second leaves with Grey aligned with Lia Maria on one side and Rhen on the other side with Harper. Each try to find a way to handle their kingdoms and win favor with their people. The story as always is divided into point of view chapters and is handled very well by the author. With Lilith back and working her master plan in the background, it takes a lot for Harper and Rhen to trust each other again and work through their anger.

On the other hand, Grey is trying to learn how to wield his magic as well as get the soldiers of Syhl Shallow to work with him and not against. Lia Mara, a queen who is looking for peace instead of violence in how things are handled faces pushback at every turn and is trying to find her footing.

As everyone works together on their own side, Harper works to bring Rhen on a path to peace. Grey and Rhen have too much history to move against each other. The story is well-written and is a fitting conclusion. The relationships between the characters grow, but bonds of family are the strongest in the end. It is beautiful to see how everyone fights for something or someone they love and in the end they all realize what they are fighting for. This is a story of courage in the face of adversity and the courage to stand up for what you believe in. The choices to stand up for the ones you love and support them!

I read this book in almost one sitting and am glad for it. The story evokes strong emotions in the reader as they traverse the kingdoms with the characters. It is good to be back with our favourites and to join them in this final journey!

I thoroughly enjoyed this final book and love the series! It is indeed a must read!

Book Review: The Last Queen by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Hello Everyone! 

I would like to share some happy news before diving into my review of this wonderful book!

This is my 500th Post on the blog and a milestone for my blogging journey of 7.5 years!

I am very happy to have reached this milestone and to have all of you wonderful people (authors, publishers and bloggers alike) come along with me on this journey!

A huge thank you to everyone for the encouragement and support! 

Now, here goes…. My Thoughts on The Last Queen by one of my all time favourite authors Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

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About the Book:

‘I am Rani Jindan, Mother of the Khalsa. That is my identity. That is my fate.’

Daughter of the royal kennel keeper, the beautiful Jindan Kaur went on to become Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s youngest and last queen; his favourite. She became regent when her son Dalip, barely six years old, unexpectedly inherited the throne. Sharp-eyed, stubborn, passionate, and dedicated to protecting her son’s heritage, Jindan distrusted the British and fought hard to keep them from annexing Punjab. Defying tradition, she stepped out of the zenana, cast aside the veil and conducted state business in public. Addressing her Khalsa troops herself, she inspired her men in two wars against the ‘firangs’. Her power and influence were so formidable that the British, fearing an uprising, robbed the rebel queen of everything she had, including her son. She was imprisoned and exiled. But that did not crush her indomitable will.

An exquisite love story of a king and a commoner, a cautionary tale about loyalty and betrayal, and a powerful parable of the indestructible bond between mother and child, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s unforgettable novel brings alive one of the most fearless women of the nineteenth century, an inspiration for our times.

My Thoughts:

The Last Queen follows the life of Rani Jindan, the youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh as she goes from being a common to a Queen. Her story is exquisitely written in this book by author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni with a keen attention to detail and historical fact. This is a poignant tale of love, loss, loyalty, bravery, betrayal, changing alliances and much more.

Jindan Kaur comes off a strong woman whose thirst for knowledge sets her apart. She seeks to learn and when she catches the Maharaja’s eye, she also partakes in many conversations about the kingdom and the many intricacies of ruling. Learning to navigate her way through the Zenana, Jindan becomes careful and shrewd, bowing down where necessary and standing up otherwise.

I truly enjoyed reading about her in this book which brings the Last Queen of the Sikh Empire to life. It is not a simple fantasy of a love story and a happy ending. There are so many layers to the characters and their lives that the reader is in for an emotional ride! The most important part of the story that resonates even after reading it, is the bond between mother and child. The way Jindan fights for the kingdom for her son and later fights just to see him is the strongest, most pure form of love!

As the last wife of the Maharaja, Jindan’s son doesn’t have any claim to the throne. However, circumstances change making him the king at a young age and Jindan the regent. As she navigates her way through the durbar and meetings, we see a side of her that is intriguing. Stepping above the norms of the community which dictates that women do not show their face or even take part in matters of the state, Jindan takes her role as regent seriously and thus makes quite a few enemies. With the British knocking at the door, there’s no clear way to determine whom to trust and whom not to.

This book is well-researched and very well-written. The author brings to us a story that is long forgotten, but one that should be known. It shows us what a woman can do and how much she is capable of dealing with, both physically and emotionally. The historical aspects of the story are handled well and thus we learn quite a lot from it, right from how the kings handled things, to the War of Independence and even get a glimpse into Sikhism and it’s many aspects. I choose not to talk much about the story as it is clear from the synopsis. I am more taken by the delivery and the final effect of this book!

Having been a fan of the author for some time now, this book was indeed a must read and it is totally worth it! This book will inspire you to read more, know more, learn more!