FEBRUARY & MARCH WRAP UP | In which I disappeared from the face of the blogosphere

Hello everyone, happy end-March!

I’ve become more and more convinced that time is a social construct, that it doesn’t exist, as two months off the blogosphere just flew by in a series of hectic schedules and crazy workloads.

Thankfully, things have eased a little (or rather I hope) and I’m popping back here to share with you all about these past 2 months, where I didn’t read much (I’m a couple of books behind my GR goal, yikes!) got to some priority TBR reads and found favourites in them!

For February, I was in a terrible slump and the bookish gods only bestowed upon me 2 books… thankfully in March that number doubled to 4. I’m currently reading two books and I do have a chance of finishing them by the 31st so we shall see if the number increases!

FEBRUARY

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

My Rating: ★★★★½ || Genre(s): Fantasy || Age Group: YA || My Review

I had an inkling I would like The Gilded Ones but I didn’t anticipate falling completely head over heels for it.

It did feel like a typical YA fantasy, filled with the familiar tropes such as the “badass girl as the main character”, “tragic past”, “pain pain pain”… but it was the execution, infused with emotions, as well as incredibly salient messages of feminism, empowerment etc that turned this into such a brilliant read. As did the characters, oh my Deka and the other alaki (girls with demonic blood) have strung themselves to my heart and are there to stay. Found family fans, Y’ALL COME OVER HERE.

Add on all that action with the great amount of foreshadowing and subversion of expectations (rip the nail which was being peeled of in excitement and anticipation), plus some intricate lore and history towards the end, and there you have it, a potential candidate for my top 10 books of 2021!


We Are the Fire by Sam Taylor

My Rating: ★★★ || Genre(s): Fantasy || Age Group: YA || My Review

My first impression of We Are the Fire was it’s comparison to An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, aka one of my favourite YA fantasy series. And of course, when a book is compared to a remarkable series you have to read it, don’t you?

I was so excited, my expectations raised… and then fell flat. We Are the Fire wasn’t a bad book, the tension, action scenes and brutal atmosphere created were thrilling to read about, for that I gave it 3 stars. But where it disappointed me was the world-building. In An Ember in the Ashes, we have intricate world-building of the Martial Empire, rich supernatural elements closely tied in, but in We Are the Fire, the world-building was totally non-existent, which is quite atrocious, in my opinion, for any fantasy novel. There were so many unanswered questions, a silly one being why in the world do they have antlers???

And the romance. sigh sigh sigh If you want yearning and development and everything, read An Ember in the Ashes. If you want repetition, cliche-ness and cringe-worthy scenes, this book is for you.


MARCH

The Sixth Gate by K.T. Munson

My Rating: ★★ || Genre(s): Fantasy || Age Group: YA || My Review

Ah my most disappointing read thus far.

But let me reinforce my point. This isn’t a bad book. It just wasn’t for me with its confusing world building, POVs and confusing confusion. I’m in no mood to sulk about it so please do read my review as linked above if you’re interested.


A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

My Rating: ★★★½ || Genre(s): Science Fiction (Dystopian) || Age Group: Adult || My Review

Ahh it seems like an eternity since the huge dystopian craze. Hunger Games, Divergent, we all know the classics. And because of how obsessed I was, and overwhelmed I became, I took a huge hiatus from the genre.

And I’m back with the first book in The Outlands pentalogy, an adult dystopian that rekindled my liking for dystopian novels.

We had our good old stuck-in-a-life-or-death-and-two-enemies-have-to-work-together situation, and the character to character dynamics truly shone for this one! Their personalities, constantly fluctuating stances on serious matters and BANTER BANTER increased the enjoyment level of this book dramatically. The other elements like the plot, pacing etc were pretty well written as well – here’s one to pick up if you’re keen on revisiting the genre with a refreshing view!


The Half-Orphan’s Handbook by Joan F. Smith

My Rating: ★★★★ || Genre(s): Contemporary || Age Group: YA || My Review

The Half-Orphan’s Handbook is one of those books that nails the perfect balance between light-heartedness and cheer, and the sombre themes of grief, guilt and loss. The exploration into loss and acceptance was both sensitive and thought-provoking, the writing metaphorical, sprinkled with deep nuances I appreciated. The characters and their relationships were all so beautiful and heartfelt, and like friendships hello – something rarely focused on in YA.

Truly one to anticipate with its release on 6 April! I’m part of a blog tour for this book at the end of the month so do look out for my full review then!



The Poppy War
 by R.F. Kuang

My Rating: ★★★★½ || Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Fantasy || Age Group: Adult

Yes, I know: I FINALLY READ THE POPPY WAR BY R.F. KUANG.

It feels so surreal to say that, and I’m still reeling after having progressed to another book.

The only coherent word I can mutter now after The Poppy War messed my mind up is brilliant.

The characters? Brilliant. The plot? Brilliant. The historical context with parallels to the second Sino-Japanese War? Brilliant. The lore and portrayal of the gods and its significance in the historical context? Brilliant. R.F. Kuang? Brilliant.

I’ve been rendered a stuttering incoherent idiot by this book… I can promise you a full review, but as to when I can express something other than “brilliant”? Only time will tell. Just know that it lives up to all the hype and is utterly… brilliant.

(I 200% recommend it but please check the trigger warnings first as this is quite a heavy book.)

Ah as mentioned, February and March were crazy months from me and I haven’t been able to keep up with the Reader and bloghop as much, but allow me to share some incredible posts which I read recently!

  • Phoenix @ Books with Wings is back with a discussion post about Teens in YA, which I found so thought-provoking, especially because one of my favs: Six of Crows is notorious for the unrealistic behaviour of the 17-year-olds it features (but I still love the crew nonetheless <3)
  • Riddhi @ Whispering Stories has her One Year Blogiversary + Advice for New Bloggers, go show some love!!
  • Sofii @ A Book A Thought has done some incredible work for the book blogging community by producing the long awaited Definitive Book Blogger List!
  • During the month of February, Eleanor @ Wishing Upon a Star introduced the Insights Upon the Writes series on her blog, discussion posts looking into different writing tactics which was so insightful, my personal favourite was the discussion on political intrigue!
  • Sanah @ Stories and Stardust shared with us her favourite audiobooks and I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Lovely War as per her recommendation and woah, I need to somehow have the audiobook rating exceed my already 5 star one for the physical book haha!

And that was what went on during my 2 months of ghosting the blogosphere… because of that, I’m terrible sloppy in catching up with everyone’s posts, my apologies!

What have you all been doing these past 2 months? Any new favourites? What’s your top TBR book for April? Also, can someone reassure me that The Dragon Republic will not cause my heart to break into two (but NO SPOILERS please!)?

57 thoughts on “FEBRUARY & MARCH WRAP UP | In which I disappeared from the face of the blogosphere

  1. Ah hello Cherelle! Thank you for mentioning my post, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!! I’m currently reading The Gilded Ones and it’s pretty good so far, I’m a bit more than halfway through. (I got a copy of Lost in the Never Woods yesterday and of course have to read that first because I will read anything by Aiden Thomas).
    Ooh, I’ve heard of The Half-Orphan’s Handbook and it looks really good! I’m glad you enjoyed it and I just might have to pick it up when it comes out!
    Awesome wrap up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Phoenix! Ah my pleasure, it was a thoughtful discussion! Ooh I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying it, I hope that the ending blows your away yeah! Ahaha, relatable! The Half-Orphan’s Handbook was such a real and heartfelt read, I hope that you’ll love it if you do pick it up… thank you and have a wonderful April, Phoenix! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad things are easing up for you Cherelle! This first few months of 2021 have flown by and I can’t believe it’s almost April 😱 Seriously… HOW?!?!

    When I read your review of The Gilded Ones a few weeks ago you made me so excited for it!! I can’t wait to read it 😆 And it’s great that you loved The Poppy War as well. I’m a little doubtful whether or not I’ll give that one a shot because I’m not sure if it’s my style.

    Loved the posts you included from the community! I will definitely check them out 😉 Great wrap-up Cherelle and good luck on finishing those two extra books ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pilar, I KNOW RIGHT… time is so unpredictable at this point haha… Aww I’m so glad I could hype The Gilded Ones up for you… and yes, The Poppy War was brilliant, and despite it’s unique elements I would say it reads quite like a normal fantasy novel so do give it a try and at most DNF it if it doesn’t suit you after the first few chapters! Thank you so much hehe, have a lovely April Pilar! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The start of your post reminded me of this quote:
    Time is an illusion, a construct made out of human memory. There’s no such thing as the past, the present, or the future. It’s all happening now.

    Blake Crouch, Recursion

    You read some really good looking books while you were away. I have a few of them on my tbr too. I really need to hurry up and get to The Poppy War tin the second quarter of this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cherelle!!! I’m so happy to see you back ❤️ And yes, I agree — time is just a theoretical concept at this point 😂 Ahhh omg I’m ecstatic to hear you enjoyed The Half-Orphan’s Handbook!! So excited to read your review.

    And ooh The Poppy War! I’m still unsure as to whether or not I should try that one, but I’m thrilled to hear you loved it! 🤩 I have a copy of A Touch of Death from the author as well, your review has made me even more eager to pick it up soon 😍

    I hope you’re doing well Cherelle!! Great post as always 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Abby!! Aw yes The Half-Orphan’s Handbook was such a heartfelt read, I’m truly excited to share it with everyone!

      Ah yes I was in a bit of a dilemma about The Poppy War especially because of the trigger warnings. If you’re hesitancy is due to that as well, I would recommend checking out Aentee@Read at Midnight’s review: https://readatmidnight.com/2018/05/20/book-review-the-poppy-war/ – for she provides really detailed trigger warnings and also a summary of one of the darker chapters (based on the Nanking Massacre) that mentions the triggers briefly but does not explore them in-depth like the novel.

      Thank you Abby, stay safe during this time, have a lovely April! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

  5. *SUMMONED AT THE MENTION OF FOUND FAMILY* *also cries in reading slump* I too am behind on my GoodReads goal. I love your reviews of these and I’m glad you enjoyed a few of your reads!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful post Cherelle as usual!! 💕I’m currently reading A Touch of Death and I forgot how much I used to love dystopian novels; it’s a great reminder! So happy that you managed to get out of your slump! The Gilded Ones and The Poppy are also on my TBR and your reviews made me want to pick them up soon!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Awesome post Cherelle! The Gilded Ones is on my TBR, but it’s like waaay below, but after reading your review, I might bump it up a bit!
    Actually, because I read a large number of books in February and January, I am 5 books ahead of my goal (at the beginning of March, I was ahead by 12 books!)
    Thanks for mentioning my post, it means a lot💙

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Riddhi!! Aww, I’m pleased to hear that, The Gilded Ones was such an empowering read, I hope you’ll love it too! Oh wow that is impressive, I’m anticipating your total number of reads at the end of the year haha… ahh my pleasure, happy blogoversary once more! Have a lovely April! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. welcome back cherelle!! i was really glad to see your post on my reader! the gilded ones and the poppy war have been on my radar, so i’m glad to see you enjoyed them! some of the books you mentioned here also sound really promising, so i’ve added them to my tbr. loved reading the post 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ahh I’m disappointed to see you didnt love We Are the Fire. I feel like I haven’t seen many people talking about that one but I picked up a copy bc the blurb sounded so good.

    Also I’m so glad to hear you loved The Poppy War but can make no promises that the rest of the series wont rip you to shreds. I can totally understand how that series can rip your heart out! Ugh so good!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww but truly, We are the Fire had quite an awesome pitch, I hope you still enjoy it nonetheless! And ahh I’m thrilled and terrified to hear that, The Poppy War was so intense already, and everyone has been singing praises and screaming over The Dragon Republic, I doubt I’ll ever be prepared… but thank you for sharing! ❤

      Like

  10. I’m reading The Poppy War now after it being on my pile for a long time. I have all three books at the ready to read in succession and I have already in one day read over 50% of the first book. I know it’s just going to be one of those reads that I don’t want to put down! I am really excited to read The Gilded Ones so I am so glad you liked that! I’m disappointed by your thoughts on We are the Fire though as that is one I was excited to read too and now I’m not so sure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my gosh I’m so happy to hear that! Did you enjoy it? (Was your heart also ripped to shreds like mine ahh) Having all 3 books ready to read is such a great idea, the ending of book one was just !! Frankly, I’m terrified of what is to come in The Dragon Republic and thus have yet to continue the series… have you finished the series by now? (based on your speed for book one hehe)

      And yay, The Gilded Ones was a pleasant surprise, and I would tell you to just give We are the Fire a go, it was just disappointing due to the comparison to An Ember in the Ashes… I hope you enjoy your reads, thanks for the lovely comment Louise! 🥰

      Like

  11. I’ve been totally absent these past 2/3 months as well – this time of year seems to be so hectic for a lot of people! Glad to see you’re back though and I’m happy to see you had some pretty good reads! The Gilded Wolves sounds amazing; have heard so many positive things and the cover is stunning too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. ahhh!! welcome back cherelle!! time is def only a social construct because where did the entire 2020 even go?? and how is it already the end of march?? the gilded ones was amazing, and i’m so glad you loved it as much as i did!! i feel like the author did include a lot of typical YA tropes, but as you mentioned, everything else was executed so so well!! 💞

    i def need to read an ember in the ashes soon because till now, i have not read ONE negative review of it!! i did want to read the poppy war, and i asked my mum to buy me a copy, but she read all the reviews that said it wasn’t age-appropriate and it was an adult fantasy – not a YA one, which is why i can’t get it now 😭😭 i’m so glad you loved it though – and that it was brilliant (;

    i hope april treats you well!! lovely post as always!! 💓

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahaana, oh my gosh thank you!! Yes so glad that you agree on The Gilded Ones, such a timely reminder that tropes can be explored so differently! Ah, YES YOU DO… An Ember in the Ashes is such a well-deserved series, I hope that you will love it and join the fandom okay! Aww, it’s okay when you’re older, you will have a stunning read to await! Enjoy the rest of your month, and thank you for the lovely comment! 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Cherelle, thank you SO much for supporting the Book Bloggers list project by mentioning it in your beautiful post, honey! ❤️❤️ I’m so glad you enjoyed The Gilded Ones, it sounds really AMAZING. 😍
    I hope you’re ending the month in the best way and have a beautiful April 🥰✨

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m so glad you enjoyed The Poppy War! It sounds like an awesome book!! ❤️
    Also I wanted to quickly let you know that your blog is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I love the graphics, theme, colors, fonts – everything 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Cherelle! I was so happy to see this post in my feed 😊 thank you so much for including my post, I’m really happy you enjoyed the political intrigue discussion!! And…DID YOU SEE THE SHADOW AND BONE TRAILERS?! The visuals, the cast, everything…the beauty is too much!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Glad you enjoyed Poppy Wars, it’s been on my list for a bit. Have some catching up to do in terms of the ARCs I’ve received, but it is definitely up there. My top TBRs for April are The Shadow in the Glass and From Blood and Ash

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Amazing wrap-up Cherelle I’m looking forward to reading The Gilded Ones. My goal for April is to just try and catch up on the never-ending TBR. Recently discovered your blog too, it has such a beautiful design and I love reading your posts!💗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, and I’m pleased to hear that… I hope that you fall in love with The Gilded Ones too! Haha, can definitely relate on the neverending TBR, all the very best, I should truly start tackling mine too instead of gravitating towards shiny new releases hehe! Aww thank you that means a lot, have a lovely end of April! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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