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Whimsical Wrap-Ups #2: September 2020

Some of my August/September Book Mail.

September was wayyyyy better than August and July mentally for me. I finally like my blog and bookstagram again, I feel less pressure to post, and school is going really well (considering the fact that I am a junior).

I turned 17 on September 25. It went super well and I will have a birthday post up later (maybe Sunday or next weekend; I don’t have much time in the week for blogging). I am super grateful that I received some money from my family and family friends, so I did a book haul at one of my local bookstores: Grown, Maya and the Rising Dark, A River of Royal Blood, and Legendborn! I am sure that I will love all of these (CR: Legendborn. OMG, everyone!!).

Top Books:

  1. The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi: I read this all the way back in July in one day, and now I am re-reading slowly. OH MY GOSH, everyone!!! This is my #1 sequel of 2020. Chokshi is so skilled at writing, and here is my review: https://solaceinreading.home.blog/2020/09/22/review-the-silvered-serpents-by-roshani-chokshi/
  2. LEGENDBORN by Tracy Deonn: I started this on September 29 and am only a little over 100 pages in. Legendborn is my #1 book of 2020 and I love Bree and relate to her so much because of an event that happened to me earlier this year. I hope to meet Deonn someday because she’s so kind and this book is amazing.
  3. Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant: My first 2021 ARC, and it’s one of my favorite books of 2021 already. I don’t want to say too much, but just know that this is a book I would love to see adapted. (Also, Filipino rep!!! The MC’s best friend is Filipino.) Super grateful to Bryant and Harper Teen for providing me with a digital ARC that did not influence my opinion at all in the slightest.
  4. White Fox by Sara Faring: I am so grateful because I got to be on the street team for this book: The Faring Society was so much fun and I got some really cool items related to the book today, which is awesome!!! I highly recommend WF for ~Spooky Season~ if you celebrate it, and if you just want to read a mysterious book.
  5. Iron Heart by Nina Varela: OMG. Another amazing sequel!!! Crier and Ayla and Benji are some of my favorite characters and this finale is perfect. Here is my post for Caffeine Book Tours: https://solaceinreading.home.blog/2020/09/06/iron-heart-by-nina-varela-caffeine-book-tours/
  6. Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan: This was a just for fun read that I actually liked. I related to Lucie and thought the romance was very sweet. Would 100% watch a movie adaptation of this. It’s fun to read about fancy places. (I still believe billionares should not exist, though.)
  7. Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado: Another 2021 ARC I am so lucky to have! It was in the free downloads section of Edelweiss and is pretty good. Again, not saying much, but I know that if you’re trying to get into YA/have a younger sibling who you want to read more, have them read this when it comes out in February.
  8. Skyhunter by Marie Lu: I am not done with this book yet, but know that Marie Lu constantly surpasses herself in how amazing her books are. Lu is one of the most versatile and creative authors I’ve read, and I 100% recommend this book. Thanks to Fierce Reads and Netgalley for the ARC which did not influence my opinion of this at all in the slightest.

I hit my Goodreads goal, which is awesome! I’ve never hit it this early (it’s probably because I set my goal at 100 books and not 300). Now I can read newer books a lot slower. Additionally, I am sort of on Twitter. I have a fanpage for TVD not connected to this blog or bookstagram, but if you want it, I’ll share my username on Instagram if you DM me.

September Evaluation

This September was really good. It was a lot better than August because I threw out my blog and bookstagram schedules and started to focus on when my creativity flows naturally. Also, I need to commit more time to school now.

I am in AP Psych, AP Lit, AP Research, Strength and Conditioning, a TA for a junior English class, and Math 118 (my dual enrollment class). I like all of them. However, online school is pretty tough on my eyes, but I am trying to get off my phone when I don’t need to be on it (which is challenging but I am working on it, so that’s good).

I just realized that I read 20 books last month, which is a lot more than I thought!! Some of those were DNFs that I might return to, but I’d been reading some since July, so I gave up on them since I was wasting my time.

Did I meet my September goals?

  1. I finished 14/23 books that were on my TBR, which is so great!! A lot more than I expected.
  2. I didn’t post 2-3 times per week on my blog but I did post 13 times, which is awesome and again, a lot more than I expected. I also posted 21? times on bookstagram, which again, was so unexpected, but being at home has given me A LOT of time.
  3. I did relax more!! I feel less guilty about taking time for me and have completed all of my homework on time. I currently have a B+ in Math 118, but it’s ok because final grades don’t come out until December, so I have a lot of time. Last year, I was a mess because it was my first year of AP and I had three AP classes, and now I have 3 APs and a DE class, and it’s going well. I wish I could tell my past self to just breathe and find good coping mechanisms.

OCTOBER GOALS

  1. Finish Skyhunter. Start Rebel Rose, Like Home, and Clues to the Universe. I’ve received quite a few ARCs from August to now, which is pretty cool.
  2. Tour for Spell Starter!! (Highly recommend Caffeine Tours.)
  3. Get creative with my bookstagram photos for ~Spooky Season~.

How was your September? Any goals or fun things happening soon?

Mini Life Update ft. My Birthday and a Book Haul

Yesterday was my birthday!! It was so much fun, and this time next year, I will turn the age you need to vote where I live. I am super grateful to have such giving parents because in a book, I read that parents don’t care as much about celebrating as their children get older. I like birthdays! I learned that I just need to relax and go with life because the birthday is the day to celebrate you.

NOTE: I am very very very grateful to my parents and family friends and friends. I am very privileged to be able to receive money for my birthday because the $ I get from my birthday and Christmas almost entirely go to books and my bank account, which is why I am able to get so many books. During this pandemic, both of my parents have still been able to work, which is why I can celebrate events like my birthday and my sister’s birthday, etc. I know that I have a lot in life, and I am so fortunate. TW: mentions of food, birthdays

My cake was chocolate with buttercream frosting and red hearts, plus a red 17 on top. It’s sort of this rose gold brown color, which doesn’t sound the best, but it’s really pretty! Also, it tastes really good, which is the most important part to me personally. I also got 12 cupcakes made by a friend of a family friend from the family friend which was so nice. These cupcakes are gorgeous: chocolate with chocolate frosting and gold dust.

Once again, I am grateful because I got an Owlcrate box for myself and bullet journals, as well as $ to my favorite Independent Bookstore. Here’s a list of books I hope to get; the ones bolded are my top three choices out of books that have recently been released:

  1. Legendborn
  2. Raybearer
  3. A Thief Among the Trees
  4. Spellhacker
  5. Incendiary
  6. As The Shadow Rises (maybe)
  7. Maya and the Rising Dark
  8. These Violent Delights (preorder)
  9. The Ever Cruel Kingdom (preorder)
  10. The Burning God (preorder)
  11. Rent A Boyfriend

This year, I’ve gotten around 10-12 physical books (including physical ARCs) compared to 20-25 physical books last year. I love all of them, but realized that I don’t need to feel pressure to buy every new release that I want because I have so many incomplete series on my shelves.

Overall, my birthday was fun. My family and I got food and ate it socially distant in a park, and then went to my Dad’s bike path/bridge downtown (socially distant! with masks!). The sunset and weather were so nice, and when we got home, I ate more cake and watched Enola Holmes with my mom. For what it was, it was a pretty good and engaging movie, and I hope that there is a sequel, although it doesn’t need one.

Today? I have to study for a DE math test on Tuesday, as well as for an AP Psych exam on October 5. I’m also going to the bookstore (very strict: only four people allowed in at a time WITH MASKS and socially distant!!!!!!), so hopefully I can find the books I want.

Have you received any books recently?

Sent to Solace: Advice Column

Hello! I love giving advice and learning from others, so I decided to start this advice column for my blog. I just thought of this idea today: 9/23/2020 because school is getting more challenging and I want to use my brain outside of an academic setting.

What will be featured in this column?
Advice about: high school, dual enrollment, balancing life and book blogging, bookstagram tips and tricks, etc! This will all be from my perspective because I am a unique individual. Also, I am a teen and NOT an “influencer.” Although I do hope that my posts convince others to read more. I am learning more everyday and so not all of this advice will be helpful.

Who will be writing this column?
Well, I might consider opening this to other bloggers, however, I am a very small blogger. Sumedha has a great series called Blog Letters, which I highly recommend reading, by the way.

I might open this up to questions from people on bookstagram because that is where I know people. I don’t want to make a Google Form just yet because I don’t want to get weird or spam comments.

Why are you making this column?
Honestly? I am trying to use my blog and bookstagram equally. It’s so easy to get pulled in by social media because something is always happening, and my blog helps my mind slow down. Plus, I want to have a unique-ish feature on my blog that will help people who might not read as much as I do! I have a life outside of books and social media related to books.

Overall, I just want to help people find books that they will love and then tell their friends about. I need something to do in my free time.

What would you like to see from this advice column?

REVIEW: The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

THE SILVERED SERPENTS by the INCREDIBLE ROSHANI CHOKSHI.

DISCLAIMER: I received an e-ARC from Netgalley. This did not influence my opinion of the book in any way.

DISCLAIMER #2: I also received a free copy from Wednesday Books as well as a finished softcover of The Gilded Wolves. This did not influence my opinion of the book in any way.

SPOILERS: will CLEARLY BE MARKED AT THE END!!!!!!!!!

THANK YOU TO ROSHANI CHOKSHI because she literally made my 2020. I am not joking. This sequel blew me away and I will be waiting for Book 3. First of all, the plot is so tightly written that there are no plot holes, which is great! There is a lot more action compared to TGW, which I really enjoyed. I LOVE SEEING THAT IN A SEQUEL!!! The world is already set up, and I’ve read TGW multiple times, so I remember what happened.

I was slightly worried that the romance between the main cast would take over the book, however, this is not the case in the slightest. The romantic moments are sweet, heartbreaking, and at times, wow. Roshani, just let them be together. *sobs over blank and blank* Roshani excels at writing slow burn romances and ones that I actually care about.

As for the characters? I will say that a certain someone got on my nerves. I am still reeling from redacted’s actions and have not recovered. Enrique, my favorite, is still my favorite and he’s a historian awkward nerd bookworm like me, so I would love him even if his characterization was different. Zofia surprised me because she got a lot more page time in this one, and I love her because she’s so much more relevant than redacted. And LAILA!!!! Wow. I love her as well. Also Hypnos.

The villains? Honestly, I read this ARC in July in less than two hours, so I don’t really remember. I do remember that I felt very surprised where Roshani took the story, in a good way! I forgot the history of the Order, so I will definitely be looking for that during my re-read.

The worldbuilding just gets better. There is a lot more in Serpents than Wolves, which I again loved so much. I want to see more forging in Book 3. However, I read this two months ago, and I paid more attention to the plot and characters, so I don’t have many thoughts right now on this part of the book.

Overall, this is my favorite sequel of 2020 and will likely be in my top 5 if not top 10 books of 2020. Roshani solidifies herself as an age category bending author because this book gets pretty dark towards the end. I would love to see Roshani write an adult fantasy or adult romance in the future because she is definitely capable of it (I’d go as far to say that this series grows with the readers: I was a freshman when I first read TGW and I am now a junior, and I can say that reading this almost two years ago would have been pretty intense in terms of the action). Also, the setting is freaking gorgeous. This is a perfect book in terms of craft and how it made me feel and actually, everything about it is perfect. Highly recommend.

SPOILER SECTION: turn back now if you have NOT READ SERPENTS!!!!!!! TURN BACK!!!! YOU DO NOT WANT TO GET SPOILED!!!!!!!!

Seriously, go away and read it if you haven’t then you can read this section.

If you’re still here, get ready to be spoiled!

I am so mad at Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. WHAT THE —-!!! I swear that that ending and cliffhanger is the BEST. It’s better than the one in Mark of Athena, which I didn’t have to wait for HOH to release because the whole series had already released. BUT THIS? 2021?!!!!! Roshani, please take your time because I would wait five years for the last book. I need time to feel the things Serpents made me feel.

THE ROMANCE? Laila oh my gosh!!!!!!!!!!! Why do I suddenly ship her and Enrique or her and Zofia? COme on, does anyone see it? Just me? Also Enrique!!!! He needs to live. Hypnos? needs friends!!!!!! needs a good romance with someone who will also be there for him.

Yeah. I will never be over the perfection that is The Silvered Serpents. Roshani Chokshi, you are the best author and I am just so amazed that this book can impact me months later even though I forgot most of the plot.

WHAT DID YOU THINK?

Five Tropes I Love

Tropes. I can think of so many unique books that take tropes and make them unique and interesting. Here are five of my favorite tropes, along with two to three book recommendations for each:

5. Mutual Pining

It’s painful to wait for the next book to see if two characters get together. However, I love this realistic point of view because I would never admit my feelings for someone until it would be too late/the night before a major battle if I was a fictional character in a fantasy world. I love seeing this in:

  • THE GILDED WOLVES by Roshani Chokshi: This was one of my top 5 books of 2020. Literally all of the people I want to be together just pine and there’s no acting on it (read: in TGW at least). If I could tell Enrique and Zofia and Hypnos something, it would be to just sit down and talk. You’re literally so young; you don’t have to save the world if you don’t want to.
  • A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUIN by Roseanne A. Brown: Malik and Karina. Take a break from scheming to kill each other and have a nice chat, please : ) I just want them to be together and they won’t admit it (although they kind of do by scheming to kill each other in a way, so).
  • 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT PINKY by Sandhya Menon: This is my favorite book in the Dimpleverse and all of them are amazing. Pinky and Samir have such a great dynamic even when there are challenges in their relationship. They thought of each other A LOT, and I was just waiting for [redacted] to happen.

4. Powerful girls who know their worth.

I see people saying, “X character could step on me,” and I never really said that until I met Kallia and Juliette:

  • THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS by Chloe Gong: All I’ll say is that Juliette Cai never stopped fighting for what and maybe who she wanted during TVD. All the way until that ending : ) I love her and Gong is a genius. Juliette is a fighter, and I loved that she never let anyone tell her otherwise.
  • WHERE DREAMS DESCEND by Janella Angeles: Kallia. Wow. She has the best style and words, and I love her as well. She shows off and has no regrets about her choices. Kallia could lead me into battle.

3. Enemies to lovers

This might be my favorite romance trope: I love seeing it in fantasy novels.

  • WE HUNT THE FLAME by Hafsah Faizal: I cannot wait to see Zafira and Nasir in We Free the Stars. Their dynamic!! Oh my gosh. Certain scenes in WHTF really made me feel things.
  • THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT by Swati Teerdhala: Esha and Kunal are two of my favorite characters ever. The chase in TTAM makes sense while also building the world and the conflict, and that’s why I loved every single interaction Esha and Kunal have. Their relationship is very complicated and what The Archer At Dawn did to me? I could write a whole essay on that topic.

2. Journey to find a specific object

I LOVE JOURNEY/QUEST BASED NOVELS! Especially when it’s about restoring magic, which can be done so well.

  • WE HUNT THE FLAME (again): While this book is definitely at a slower pace, I love the journey and how it involves the growth of the characters. I also thought the multiple POVs and players involved in the quest made the story a lto more interesting, and I can’t wait to see what Hafsah does in WFTS.
  • THE NEVER TILTING WORLD by Rin Chupeco: Odessa and Haidee have to restore their world. Also, they’re godesses. The ending of TNTW surprised me and I cannot wait to see what happens next. The sisters have very different quests, yet Chupeco is able to tie all of these facets together to create one of my favorite books of 2019.

1. Battle pair

This can be either two friends or two people who are romantically involved! I just found out about this trope a few days ago, and it took me a while to think of books that fit this trope.

  • GIRLS OF STORM AND SHADOW by Natasha Ngan: Wren and who she fights with? Oh my gosh. Wren is one of the most powerful characters, and she grows so much!! I love that she trains Lei. #LeiandWrenbacktogether2021!!!
  • WE UNLEASH THE MERCILESS STORM by Tehlor Kay Mejia: Dani and Carmen!! Dani and Carmen fighting together!! I forgot what happened in the first book and that’s ok because the action scenes with these two are amazing and I would 100% read a short story about the aftermath of this book.
  • A SKY BEYOND THE STORM by Sabaa Tahir: Laia and Elias NEED TO FIGHT TOGETHER!! I only remember them supporting each other in ATATN and I miss them together!!! I know Tahir will break my heart with this book, but it’s ok. AEITA fandom is about to rise and I cannot wait to see Laia and Elias hopefully do the same.

What are your fave tropes? Any book recs for me based on my fave tropes?

Rue’s Crew + Street Team Advice

Yesterday I got some really great news that I was honestly not expecting: I am a part of J. Elle’s Wings of Ebony Street Team, also known as Rue’s Crew!

Wings of Ebony Banner: release date is February 23, 2021

I am so grateful to J. Elle for accepting me into Rue’s Crew. This book is definitely one of my top 10 most anticipated books of 2021, and February is going to be awesome. If any authors are reading this, just know that street teams are so much fun and I will 100% recommend your book in a lot of posts. Street teams are such a special experience. I love doing them because 1. I get to help people who write, which is slowly becoming an idea for what I want to do when I’m older, and 2. The community you get from a group that is dedicated to one book is so fun.

What Should You Know About Street teams?

  1. Make sure you want to read the book first. For example, I knew I loved Sandhya Menon’s books because I read all of them. I knew I wanted to work with Hafsah Faizal because she’s so kind. I knew that A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown would be excellent. However, one exception is for the Faring Society: I hadn’t read any of Sara Faring’s books. Being on the street team pushed me to read her upcoming book: White Fox.
  2. Fill out the application. Double check your responses. For Rue’s Crew, the application had a space for me to describe myself. You don’t have to write a super long response, and you want to convey that you are passionate about this author and their works. If the only reason you want to join is for the free items or ARCs, then don’t join.
  3. Be certain you want to support this person and their book. If you’ve been in the community for a while or follow people in the industry, you’ll know who you want to work with more. For example, a multitude of YA authors ship this incestuous couple of an adopted sibling and their sibling, and as an adopted person, I don’t support any of them even though some might say “it’s just fiction.” Well, to me, it’s highly offensive and I just feel sick thinking about it.
  4. Actually participate. Make sure you are transparent about if you can carry out tasks. My new rule for myself is to only join teams and to make sure I am on Instagram less and the Slack more to make sure I’m following up on what I need to do.
  5. You won’t get paid, but that’s not the point. Street teams are about connecting with a community and promotion. You have to keep confidential information CONFIDENTIAL!!!

Also, know that you aren’t any less of a book blogger/bookstagrammer if you don’t do these or have never been on one. I am currently on 6 and have been on 7 total, and I’ve loved my experiences on all of them. I do feel the pressure to read my e-ARCs quicker, and you should know that promotion is more than reviews. It’s about spreading news about the trailer, commenting on the author’s posts, and in the case of Rue’s Crew, there are some very exciting things coming up.

I’d say that a few goals for me are to join less teams next year because I will be in second semester of a critical year of high school and to keep promoting authors’ books and works after the time on the street team ends. They are a lot of fun, so just keep an eye out for opportunities!

Have you ever been on a street team?

Mini Life Update + Five 2020 Favorite Books (So Far)

I can’t believe the first week of school is almost over. For virtual learning, my week went pretty well. I wish we were back in the class because I like being in the room for class discussioons vs. just seeing everyone’s face. My favorite class is probably going to be AP Psychology because I am completely new to this subject. I also found a new way to help myself since I’ll be staring at the computer for a little over six hours some days: find new songs to listen to and close my eyes for 10 minutes OR read for 10 minutes while listening to the Merlin OST.

Let’s get to the fun part of this post: five books that I’ve loved so far in 2020 that were also published this year.

  1. IRON HEART by NINA VARELA – an excellent finale that had me mentally sobbing on the floor. I am so in love with this duology, and it really is the perfect conclusion. Crier and Ayla work so well together, and so do all of the other relationships. Additionally, this duology has two of my all time favorite covers. There are so many tiny details that I only caught when I looked at the cover a bit more closely. Definitely thinking of writing a fanfic for Crier and Ayla.

  2. NOW THAT I’VE FOUND YOU by KRISTINA FOREST – I ended my summer with a few books, and this is the one of two that I am still thinking about. I preordered this in July and got it the day after release day, which was awesome. Evie and Milo make the cutest team, and I loved that this book was a mystery while also being a light-hearted romantic ya novel. I Wanna Be Where You Are is also amazing, and I am going to try to re-read it before the end of this year.

  3. WHERE DREAMS DESCEND by Janella Angeles – Wednesday Books sent me a free copy along with a few other cool items because I am a part of Shealea @ Shut Up Shealea’s Asian Bookish Creators Directory. This was probably the best moment of a very uneventful but also challenging summer mentally because it’s the first time I’ve received something like this. I highly recommend WDD because Kallia is amazing and fierce. I also love Demarco.

  4. THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS by Chloe Gong – I AM SO READY FOR THIS BOOK TO COME OUT!! I have something very exciting related to TVD that will be revealed towards the end of October/the beginning of November. DM me @solaceinreading_ if you want to know my fanpage username because this series is going to change the game, and I don’t say that about a lot of books. Juliette is another fierce character who I’d pay to teach me how to throw knives.

  5. INCENDIARY by Zoraida Córdova – I would love to see more people reading this: revolution, magic, sneaking into a palace, royalty with a secret, a very motivated main character who I love: these are all elements of an enticing and magical read. I love the fact that this book deals with courtly intrigue and what it’s like to be a part of the rebellion at the same time in an organic way. Renata is just trying to figure things out, and she is confident and ready to burn down the world for [redacted] or maybe [redacted] by the end of the book. I am so excited for the second book and will be waiting in a state of anticipation until it comes out!!!

I hope you’ll pick up these books because they are seriously amazing. Now That I’ve Found You is one the #1 best ya contemporary romance novels I’ve read this year because I love celebrity romances in YA, and the incorporation of the mystery is seamless.

The YA fantasy genre revived itself because of these authors (and many authors who I’d add to this list, and that would make this post over 5k words long. I will aspire to write a post that long if I can). Thanks to all of these authors because re-reading your books are going to help me get through this school year: I feel as though I can truly escape my everyday life with your words, and I appreciate all that you do.

How Is This Going to Work?

Yeah, you’re probably thinking, “What is THIS, exactly?” Well, THIS is the fact that school starts tomorrow, so I need to set some goals for myself so I don’t get overwhelmed/burnt out/procrastinate/etc. Listen, I am one of those odd people who love school. In fact, my school taught me about Mansa Musa, the Pacific Theater (specifically, the second Sino Japanese War), a little bit about the U.S. colonization of the Philippines, and a lot of other historical figures who others might not have learned about in high school (however, this is the bare minimum of what middle/high schools should be teaching). I’ve gotten to do final projects on the history of immigration by Filipinos to the U.S. after WWII, and influential Filipino women in WWII.

So as much as I love this blogging community, I have to make school my #1 priority, especially since this is a *crucial year* for me. Why? Here are just a few reasons:

  1. I have three AP classes, am a TA, and one Dual Enrollment class. In fact, I am TA-ing for one of the most strict but also cool teachers at my school, and I am sure this teacher will not have me just sit around and make copies. This also means I still have AP exams in May (hey CB, mind cancelling these SINCE THERE’S STILL ONLINE SCHOOL AND A PANDEMIC?!!!).
  2. I need to research colleges. I refuse to elaborate since I am ignoring this at the moment.
  3. Homework. If any of my teachers ever reads this, please go easy on all of your students. Virtual learning is very different from in person learning.

Now that’s out of the way. Here are my goals on how I will balance school and blogging:

  1. Post when I can AND want to, and when I have the energy. I know I’m going to write so many essays this year. The creative writing I do on my blog is vastly different, and I will probably use the blog as an outlet to take a break from writing in the style of writing that I’m taught in school.
  2. When I feel overwhelmed, lie on the floor for 10 minutes and listen to either calming music or music that gives me confidence. I first heard this idea during Janella Angeles’ launch of her book (psst read Where Dreams Descend to fall in love with Kallia!), and it sounds like a really great idea.
  3. Blog to blog, not for the sake of creating content. Same for bookstagram. I like posting everyday when I’m in the mood, but I can’t during this first month of school. Last year, I posted everyday in December, so I think I’ll try to do that this year.
  4. Compare myself to myself. My one thought that I need to keep in mind is that I am doing this because 1. I like books, and 2. I want to share my love of books with the world. As long as I am having fun and editing my work, I will continue this blog.
  5. Focus on SCHOOL. I put a lot of pressure on myself because for a long time, I thought I had to get all A’s to get into a “good” college. Now? I need to let myself relax. This one really nice person told me in an honesty circle that I should be more confident because I am smart and motivated. I will always remember what everyone said about me, and will remember that when I’m feeling like saying negative things to myself.

Overall, setting goals makes me focus on what’s important and what I can control. I hope all of you will stick around because I am doing a really fun post with Sumedha @ The Wordy Habitat, am a part of the Spell Starter tour by Caffeine Tours, and have my first interview with one of my #1 new favorite authors in November.

What are your goals this semester/quarter? If you’re not in school, do you have any goals for September to December?

Obscure-ish Fears of An Online Book Person (ft. solutions)

This will probably be deleted, however, I need to get my thoughts out there:

  1. What if I tag authors too much? Well, authors don’t have to respond to me, but it’s cool if there is a possiblity!
  2. What if everyone is secretly talking about me? Ha. Everyone? This is where I have to tell my ego to go away for a moment because 1. This isn’t middle school, and 2. Sometimes your mind messes with you.
  3. What if I need a Twitter to grow my blog? Untrue. Also, somehow I hit 70 followers? Nice!! Thanks to everyone for sticking around.
  4. What if I don’t read enough? Well, most of the books I’ve read this year have been awesome since my goal is smaller, so I’d say I am reading the perfect amount because I haven’t wasted a lot of time on bad books/books I didn’t like.
  5. What if people think I’m doing this for fame/clout? Once again, my ego is in the way. Stop it, ego! I know that I am doing this for myself and no one else, and that’s what matters most.
  6. Do people actually want to be my friend? Yeah, you’ve maintained connections with people for over a year, so I’d say I am at least acquainted with them. (Note: there are so many Internet friends I want to meet. BookCon 2022, anyone?)
  7. What if all the ideas get taken? Doesn’t matter. I have the ability to put my own unique additions to these ideas.
  8. What if people are faking being my friend? Hmmm. Would someone who you’ve known FOR A YEAR fake being my friend?
  9. Am I too cling-y? Oh gosh. I need to let go of my middle school nightmares. Seriously.
  10. What if people think I’m online too much? Lucky for everyone, that’s going to change because school starts tomorrow!

Anyway, this is how I get my brain to slow down. The Internet is not real life. I will definitely be doing some in-depth posts about school so all of you can get to know me a bit more beyond reading, which is my main hobby. I have no posting schedule, except the book tours I need to participate in and a few ARCs I need to review. Other than that, expect about 3-4 posts a week, probably one to two during exam times. Thank all of you for following me!! The best place to talk if you want is through DMs on bookstagram: I am @/solaceinreading_.

Iron Heart by Nina Varela: Caffeine Book Tours

This post plus this blog post took 2+ hours! It’s the most I have ever worked on a book tour. Goes to show that this is an amazing book.

DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED A FREE ARC AS A PART OF THIS TOUR FOR THIS TOUR. THANK YOU CAFFEINE BOOK TOURS. THIS DID NOT INFLUENCE MY OPINION OF THIS BOOK. NO SPOILERS FOR IRON HEART IN THE REVIEW SECTION. SPOILERS FOR CRIER’S WAR.

Book Information

Title: Iron Heart
Author: Nina Varela
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: 08 September 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Synopsis:

An unstoppable love between two girls—one human, one Made—both set on destroying the Iron Heart.

For too long the cruel, beautiful Automae have lorded over the kingdom of Rabu, oppressing the humans who live there. But the human revolution is on the rise, and at its heart is Ayla. Once handmaiden, now fugitive, Ayla escaped the palace of Lady Crier, the girl Ayla had planned to kill . . . but instead fell in love with. Now Ayla has pledged her allegiance to Queen Junn, whom she believes can accomplish the ultimate goal of the human rebellion: destroy the Iron Heart. Without it, the Automae will be weakened to the point of extinction.

But playing at Ayla’s memory are the powerful feelings she developed for Crier. And unbeknownst to her, Crier has also fled the palace, taking up among travelling rebels, determined to find and protect Ayla.

As their paths collide, neither are prepared for the dark secret underlying the Iron Heart.

In this stunning sequel to acclaimed author Nina Varela’s Crier’s War, the love that launched a revolution must now pave the way for a whole new era . . . and the ultimate change of heart.

Review

Oh my gosh. I just finished this book yesterday, so everything is fresh in my mind. I do not have the words for this. Here is my review of Iron Heart by Nina Varela:

Crier’s War is by far one of the best debut YA novels of 2020. I fell in love with fantasy that focuses on royals again because of how amazing Varela is at writing: the worldbuilding, plot, and characters were so captivating. Now that is a trio. Master those three elements, and I am sure to love your book.

At the end of Crier’s War, Crier and Ayla were separated (crying face). Ayla and Benjy were going to Varn and Crier was planning to take down Kinok. I absolutely LOVE where Iron Heart starts off because it really feels like a natural flow from the end of Crier’s War to the beginning of Iron Heart. I knew Iron Heart was off to a great start.

And oh my gosh. Iron Heart is amazing from beginning to end. I felt the full range of emotions while reading this beautiful and perfect sequel. First of all, the world seems massively larger in this one because of the new locations we see and the new characters we meet. I LOVE travel in fantasy books because in the case of Iron Heart, I felt like I was actually traveling along with the characters. Furthermore, Varela is amazing at writing descriptions because, again, I feel like I am able to escape into every facet of this world, including the Queendom of Varn, and into the history of the world with the tidbits of history sprinkled throughout the book in between the chapters.

As for the plot, WOW. I love the fact that Iron Heart was faster paced because Crier’s War set up Iron Heart perfectly to do this. Crier’s War drew you slowly into a beautiful but deadly world by introducing the characters and the politics of the world, and Iron Heart takes you farther into how complex this world is with a plot that will have you gasping for breath (yeah. I felt very emotional when reading this book because I would scroll through the pages on my computer and felt so captivate. I finished this book in one sitting). Varela balances the political intrigue and action so well. The duality of Crier’s War and Iron Heart is what makes them work so well together: they complement each other.

Finally, the characters. Omg. I really wanted the best for Crier and Ayla and rooted for them the entire time. I love the fact that their personalities work so well together, and it feels like you are right beside them as they go on their journies throughout Iron Heart. I could read a book about them doing anything and be in love with them. Additionally, the sibling and friendship relationships!! Varela writes such beautiful relationships that made me realize that you should tell the people you love that you love them (yes, I am so soft over this duology).

All three of these elements work so well to create a stunning finale that will leave you on the floor as a pining and yearning mess.

Thinking Creatively

Books I Think Crier and Ayla Would Read.

I had so much fun making this photo! The stars represent Crier and Ayla’s star-crossed romance in Crier’s War, and the roses represent, well, romance! Once I get a copy of Iron Heart, I am taking so many pictures with it.

This feature is to take what I saw in Iron Heart and apply it further. There are so many books that I think Crier and Ayla would read based on [redacted] which happnes [redacted]. (If you’ve read the book, you know which part I am thinking of.) I chose these books for: their top tier world building and political intrigue.

  1. The Girls of Paper and Fire trilogy: I mean. The worldbuilding in the Crier’s War duology and the Girls of Paper and Fire trilogy? Amazing. I could live in these worlds forever, and they are vastly different fantasy worlds with unique plots and characters. Who do I think would read this? I think both Crier and Ayla. These are worlds where girls learn and advocate for themselves and each other. I feel like Ayla wouldn’t be afraid to yell at some of the character’s choices in Girls of Storm and Shadow, while Crier would smile softly at her. At the end, they would both comfort each other, and then read. . .
  2. The Never Tilting World duology: HELLO CRIER AND ODESSA BONDING? LAN AND AYLA BONDING? HELLO THE FOUR OF THEM? Wow, I need to write this fanfic. Crier and Ayla would 100% read The Never Tilting World and then develop a way for them to meet Odessa and Lan. Crier and Ayla would surely read this together, and I think they would definitely read it in one sitting. While Crier and Odessa are both princesses, they are quite different characters with different motivations, and I think their friendship would be amazing. They could discuss how it’s different/similar being a goddess who is also a princess and an Automa, who is also a princess. Meanwhile, Lan and Ayla would bond over how much they like to learn about the history of their worlds.

One of my goals is to write a fully fleshed out fanfiction where Crier, Ayla, Lan, and Odessa meet at some point in this tour to flesh out this idea a bit more. I had so much fun thinking about how I could take Iron Heart and think about it even more because this duology is going to stick with me for the rest of my life.

Nina Varela’s Biography:

Nina Varela is a nationally awarded writer of screenplays, short fiction, poetry, and novels. In May 2017, she graduated magna cum laude from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with a BFA in Writing for Screen & Television. Crier’s War was her debut, and this is the sequel. She is originally from Durham, North Carolina, where she grew up on a hippie commune in the middle of the woods. She now lives in Los Angeles.

Author Links

Book

Thank you so much for reading! Here is the link to the tour schedule: https://caffeinebooktours.wordpress.com/2020/07/31/iron-heart-tour/. I hope you will follow along with the other tour hosts because this is my favorite tour I’ve been on.