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In a world where demigods and demons walk among mortals, the Emperor of the vast Burnt Empire has died, leaving a turbulent realm without an emperor. Two young princes, Adri and Shvate, are in line to rule, but birthright does not guarantee inheritance: For any successor must sit upon the legendary Burning Throne and pass The Test of Fire. Imbued with dark sorceries, the throne is a crucible—one that incinerates the unworthy.

Adri and Shvate pass The Test and are declared heirs to the empire… but there is another with a claim to power, another who also survives: a girl from an outlying kingdom. When this girl, whose father is the powerful demonlord Jarsun, is denied her claim by the interim leaders, Jarsun declares war, vowing to tear the Burnt Empire apart—leaving the young princes Adri and Shvate to rule a shattered realm embroiled in rebellion and chaos....

Welcome to the Burnt Empire Saga


     First of all, a big thanks to Simon and Schuster India for providing me with a hardcopy of this book as a part of the blog tour.

     Pitched as an epic retelling of Mahabharata and as the Indian Game of Thrones, I was intrigued by this book and the prologue which is kind of long but captivating. I finished reading this book last night and have a LOT of thoughts. 

      The world building is phenomenal. It's so detailed and the author's descriptions are extremely vivid. Right from the prologue I could picture the setting beautifully which drew me into the novel. The world is diverse and there are tons of different empires and civilizations. The story is mainly set in patriarchy but in this world there exist matriarchal kingdoms too and I really was interested to see more of that.

      The characters are multi dimensional. And whatever feelings I had towards different characters from the prologue changed a LOT by the time I turned that last page. There were times when i did not agree with the things the main characters did and there were times when I agreed with the evil villains. This makes for a very interesting group of characters and while I was intrigued by them, I didn't really like any of them much. The character I hoped to see after the prologue wasn't even there for the rest of the story.

      The action scenes are so well-written. And so are the supernatural aspects. They were vivid and had me deeply engrossed in the scene.

      The writing is captivating and the descriptions gave me such good imagery of the scenes. The dialogues were a bit stilted at times though. The very first line of the book is intriguing and captivating though.
“They came to watch the children burn.”
      I wasn't a fan of the time lapse. Suddenly in one chapter Adri is a young boy and in the next chapter he's married and leading a mission and these time jumps jarred me out of the story multiple times. 

      I liked how I could draw parallels between the story here and that of Mahabharatha and yet the author has retold it with his own twists. 

      There are a couple cliffhangers in the character arcs and I'm interested to see how the author takes these characters forward. 

      I didn't like how certain things are repeated throughout. Every time Vrath is a part of the scene, there is a long paragraph about his abilities as a demi-god. The extra descriptions at certain places also felt unnecessary.

      A strong start to the series making me look forward to the next book and see how the story progresses.

(Actual rating - 3.5)
***
Do you enjoy retellings? Tell me in the comments below!

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Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha's past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict.

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.
     Of course I buddy read this awesomeness with my soul sister and Wonder Woman™. Our minds were blown, put back together and blown again.

(Disclaimer - There may be spoilers for the first two books)

String of mostly incoherent coherent thoughts I had while reading this book -

    ↠ Issac Grant is the dad everyone aspires to be? He literally parents these crazy kids while he's bedridden and goes all Captain America on them when they swear and can I just steal away Dr. Grant?

    ↠ I wasn't so sure about Asha and Rhys at first cause I adore the other four so much. But I also felt wary of Nik and Hanna when I started Gemina. So basically Asha and phys aren't my favourite but I really liked them. Asha is so kind, brave and there were some scenes with her that made me tear up. I'll just say, Asha is the kind of person I want for a sister. And Rhys has great hair? That's important. Also he's a dork with girlfriend stuff and reminded me a bit of Ezra.

    ↠ AIDAN oh heavens. I legit can't say anything without giving away huge spoilers so I just am going to flail over the fact that the character who made me the most thoughtful was a frigging AI. Also where would this series be without our murderous AI right? His evolution is basically the main plot of the story and also he's so dramatic sometimes? Also an AI made me cry? Kristoff and Kaufman, what freaking black magic are you brewing??

“I am clarity. I am necessity. I am inevitability. But am I evil?”

    ↠ Kady Grant is the most badassest badass to ever badass (Wow look at my English knowledge. I surprise myself). Like I know many like Hanna the most, but for me it's Kady and also Ella! Like these two hacker girls with murderous intentions, being parented by Issac Grant can wreck more havoc than the rest of the group put together. 
“Hey, if hostile battleship takeovers were easy, everybody would do it.”

   ↠ So I was thinking, I know the authors' thought process now, I'll totally see the plot twists com⎯ THE HELL JUST HAPPENED? TELL ME THAT DID NOT HAPPEN! Although to give me benefit, I did see one of the plot twists coming. So there!

   ↠ People die. Okay come on that's not a spoiler. Jay Kristoff wrote this. Of course people die. I'm not over some deaths.

“Would you kill one person to save one thousand? And by logical extension, would you not kill one thousand to save one-thousand-and-one?”

   ↠ It's funny how quotable these books are considering most of it is not in the regular prose format. I mean it's all emails and SMS and notices and somehow it's still freaking quotable?
“The die is cast. But today we will shake the table upon which it lands.”

   ↠ Little Hypatia (I'm just gonna leave this here with no context. You'll have to read and find out)

   ↠ I love how complex all the characters are. Even those characters who are there for literally two pages are so multi-faceted, three dimensional and leave lasting impressions. There are so many morally grey characters and I loved how I couldn't quite decide what I feel about some characters because they're so complex and real and I'm just blabbering as I marvel at the authors' brilliance.
“This is a war! ‘Right’ is whatever the people who’re standing at the end say it is. ‘Right’ is decided by the people who win.”

   ↠ That ending. Also what happens after. I am still shooketh. I got goosebumps all over when I turned that last page.

      Can someone make a series of this trilogy? Netflix you listening? Not a movie because no way in hell any of these books be crammed into a 2 hour movie. 




***
Have you read this trilogy? Did you like it? Any favourite sci-fi books? Tell me in the comments below!
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In a sealed-off city, it begins with a hunt. A young woman, Lena, running for her life, convicted of being a mage and sentenced to death. Her only way to survive is to trust those she has been brought up to fear - those with magic.

On the other side of the locked gates is a masked lady, Constance, determined to find a way back in. She knows only too well how the people of Duke's Forest loathe magic. Years ago she escaped before her powers were discovered. But now she won't hide who she is any longer.

A powerful and terrifying storm cloud unites them. It descends over the dukedom and devastates much in its wake. But this is more than a thunderstorm. This is a spell, and the truth behind why it has been cast is more sinister than anyone can imagine ... Only Lena and Constance hold the key to destroying the spell. Though neither of them realise it, they need each other. They are the blood and they have the thunder within.
 (A huge thanks to Bloomsbury India for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.)

     It's not often that I come across standalones in the fantasy genre. Somehow fantasy stories seem to flow better as series to accommodate all the worldbuilding and long adventures. When I came across We are Blood and Thunder, I was excited. Because although most of my favourite books seem to be series, I love reading standalones. They tend to be more fast paced than books in series and also the feeling of closure at the end of the book is a nice feeling.

      My thoughts on We are Blood and Thunder-

    ↠ I actually liked that we have alternating PoVs. Generally I'm not a fan because I don't immediately recognize that there has been a change in PoV unless it's mentioned in the Chapter title or something but here I didn't have that problem. Lena and Constance alternate every chapter and though it's not mentioned at the beginning, it's always very clear whose PoV it is just then. 

    ↠ I liked that we have characters whose loyalty and allegiance we can't quite figure out till the end and I really liked that. It added the sense of mystery and uncertainty that I liked.

    ↠ It had it's tropes yes. But was it still enjoyable? YES. And that makes me happy! It's not everyday that an author can use age old tropes and give them a bit of twist so it's enjoyable and doesn't feel so trope-y.

    ↠ We have two badass female characters; strong in their own ways. One of them, Lena is unsure about pretty much everything now, mostly herself. And the other, Constamnce is unsure about everything but herself. I really liked the way their paths cross and how somehow they are connected by the magical storm cloud that plagues the Duke's forest.

“Whenever she held the butterfly, she remembered how she had felt the night she'd found it - or rather, the night it found her. She felt wanted. Calm. Secure in the knowledge she was worth something. Because she had something of worth.”

    ↠ The magic system was very intersting to learn about. As someone who adores learning about worldbuilding, pantheons and magic systems, this was very satisfying. This was part of the reason I enjoyed Lena's chapters more because she was learning all about the world and magic along with me.

    ↠ Constance's chapters are more filled with political intrigue, investigations and scheming which too I really liked! But I have to say that the mysterious aura about Constance unnerved me a bit which is crazy cause she's a fictional character but that's just how amazingly the author wrote her that she felt so real.

    ↠ The writing was so fast paced and flowed so well that I pretty much read the book in one sitting. The fact that if say, Lena's chapter ended in a cliffhanger, I'd have to read Constance's chapter before being able to find what happened made me read everything much faster!

“She who spins the cloud, weaves the storm.”

    ↠ I liked having morally grey characters who were so realistically written. Kudos to the author for having written interesting and engaging secondary characters who definitely didn't just fade into the background but rather almost all of them had important parts to play in the plot.

    ↠ That being said, I wasn't a huge fan of the romance. It came really close to insta-love for me and felt rushed. I really think the plot would have been just as awesome without the bit of romance in it.

    ↠ Also while I liked Lena, she was also a bit annoying at times! I did like that she wasn't taking things lying around but sometimes Lena did make me roll my eyes with how she went about with some things.

    ↠ Constance was an extremely complex character and it was SO hard to figure her out with the way she acted. But I have to say I loved how determined and calculating she was. She was the perfect Slytherin and so well written that I couldn't stop thining about her even after I'd finished the book.

“Lies are neighbours with the truth. Release your secret truths one by one, carefully, and only to persuade. Treat them like gold”

We are Blood and Thunder is a fantastic debut with everything from magic and spells to secrets and betrayal. Would definitely recommend!!



***
Have you read this book? Do you like standalones or series? Any favourite fantasy standalone books? Tell me in the comments below!
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     When your soul sister recommends a series to you, tells you you'll love it and then literally buys you the whole series, YOU READ IT. PERIOD.

     And then you do a happy dance because soul sister was 100X right and now the series is life and you sometimes in intense emotional situations start thinking "What would Kestrel do?" (and you do it) or "What would Arin do?" (.......and you do the opposite of it......sorry Arin. Boo you sweet but also like 90% stupid when it comes to emotions)

Okay so I'm going to try and make it a spoiler-free review and this is incredibly hard 'cause I'm reviewing the whole trilogy? Can I get pastries for my efforts?

     ↠ Books 2 and 3 were my favourite. I'm saying this right at the start because Book 1 has it issues and after reading it many people feel underwhelmed and don't continue with the series which is obviously the WRONG decision because trust me books 2 and 3 are SOOOO much better.

     ↠ It has the enemies to lovers trope and kind of forbidden romance which I didn't know I liked! And in book 1 I kind of didn't. But like I said, it gets SO MUCH BETTER. So stick with it!

“He didn’t smile. He cupped her face with both hands. An emotion tugged at his expression, a dark awe, the kind saved for a wild storm that rends the sky but doesn’t ravage your existence, doesn’t destroy every thing you love. The one that lets you feel saved.”

     ↠ Okay so this is a complex one. The book gets shelved as fantasy everywhere but it kind of isn't?? Like yes, it's set in a ficticious world but there's like no magic or anything. It's just a medieval kind of setting in a fictitious world but if you're going in expecting magic and fantastical elements, you could be disappointed. I think because it's an imaginary world and a group of people in the book pray to gods of a fictitious religion, the trilogy gets put under fantasy. But really, try not to go in expecting all the magic. You could be a teeny bit disappointed like our Wonder Woman was while buddy reading the books.

“You can't see both sides of one coin at once, can you, child? The god of money always keeps a secret. The god of money was also the god of spies.”

     ↠ Angst. Again I wasn't aware I enjoyed angst in books. It generally drives me crazy and it did drive me crazy here too but in a good way! Just so you know, Book 2 = angst everywhere. The secondhand angst was so real.

“Once, he'd hated her for it. Then it had somehow touched him. He knew it himself. he, too, felt how the heart chooses its own home and refuses reason.”

     ↠ Arin is basically that friend who has a good heart and means well but then does things that make you want to murder him. Throughout the trilogy I alternated between wanting to give him a hug and wanting to give him a hug...around his neck...with a piece of rope. Also sometimes he's so intense and dramatic, I adores him.

“Arin smiled. It was a true smile, which let her know that all the others he had given her were not.”

     ↠ Kestrel is one of my favourite female characters ever. Her story arc is so complex and so freaking well-written and I am in awe. She grows throughout the series and I felt like a proud mama hen everytime Kestrel learnt from her mistakes and grew up amazingly.

     Kestrel is a 'strong female character' but not in the way people usually interpret that phrase. Kestrel pretty much sucks at physical fighting. She can't hold the sword right, gets her toes stomped on and everything. BUT she's a freaking cunning strategist with brains Hermione would envy at times. She is a brilliant badass. AND I AM SO HERE FOR IT. We don't see characters like her often and that is kind of sad because me thinks all kinds of strengths need to be celebrated.

“The general's daughter? We'd be fools not to. You talk about her as if she's made of spun glass. Know what I see? Steel.”

     ↠ The brilliance of it all. Marie Rutkoski is a genius. The plot is freaking awesome and for once, I actually enjoyed politics. I still hate real life politics meh BUT the political intrigue and all that backstabbing and power grabbing in this trilogy is BRILLIANT. There were twists in that final book that I so did NOT see coming.

     The plot is freaking intense I forgot to breathe sometimes. The action scenes are SO intense but what I loved was there were also extremely intense scenes that were NOT fighting scenes. Like you know when that kid you hate in class is paired with you for a science project and there's this palpable tension around you two but not physically? (Wow look at how well I describe). Anyway, take that tension and multiply by infinity, that kind of intense scenes were my favourite.

“The emperor loved to shape silence into a tool that pried open the anxieties of others.”

     ↠ The writing is perfect. It's not extravagant or magical but it's so PERFECT and just magic⎯ wait. (Wow I'm constantly amazed by my ability to put things in words.) So verdict - Writing = Perfection. I approves.


“Kestrel thought that maybe she had been wrong, and Risha had been wrong, about forgiveness, that it was neither mud nor stone, but resembled more the drifting white spores. They came loose from the trees when they were ready. Soft to the touch, but made to be let go, so that they could find a place to plant and grow."

     ↠ Marie Rutkoski is not above putting her characters through a world of pain. She's just a smidgen below Kristoff in this aspect. This series had me tearing up more than a few times. Also screaming and staring with shocked eyes? Basically I was a bag of emotions and I liked it.

“As he spoke, it occurred to her that maybe he, too, felt like two people, that maybe everybody does, and that it's not a question of whether one's damaged, but of how easily or not that damage is seen.”

     ↠ Secondary characters done right. All those little characters who come and ago and we dismiss as 'secondary' characters were so freaking brilliant here. I love it when I can get emotionally attached to secondary characters 'cause it's only then the book feels whole to me.

So basically, I adore this trilogy and I feel it's so freaking underrated? Like it totally deserves more love! Now go read the trilogy and love it!!



Have you read this trilogy? Did you like it? Do you have a favourite trilogy? Tell me in the comments below!
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Adapting what may be the most popular of graphic novels, by the edgy Hard Case Crime author, adding layers and exploring the nature of morality.

A tragic, unnamed engineer-turned-criminal is immersed in chemicals that disfigure him bizarrely, driving him mad and thus giving birth to the Joker. While the insane criminal is imprisoned, Batman and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) patrol Gotham City together, taking down perps such as the crime boss Maxie Zeus. Simultaneously Detective Harvey Bullock works with Commissioner James Gordon to take down a drug factory. Back in Arkham Asylum, Joker learns of a new technology he wants to acquire and escapes, setting out on a mission designed to break the Commissioner, forcing him to abandon his ideals as a police officer. In a violent home invasion he shoots and cripples Barbara, then takes Gordon hostage. Batman races to rescue Gordon, ultimately confronting his arch-foe in an amusement park fun house. This edgy adaptation by Hard Case Crime novelist Christa Faust expands upon the cast and adds intricate layers to the events of the graphic novel, further examining the nature of morality.

(A huge thanks to Bloomsbury India for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.)

     I'm going to start off by saying that I have not read the comic, The Killing Joke. So my review won't be comparing the two but rather just be talking about the novelization by itself.

     I found this book to be quite dark and gritty. There's physical and mental abuse and quite a few things that can make people feel queasy.

     That being said, the author has done an immensely good job of bringing together multiple plot lines and binding them together into one story.

This is not just the story of Batman and Joker. 
This is the story of a girl who moonlights as a superhero and revels in the freedom. 
It's the story of the girl who wants to escape from life under a drug dealer. 
It's the story of a man who lost his family, it's the story of a cop trying to play the hero.
It's the story of a cop who loves his daughter. 
It's the story of a boy who worked for the wrong man.
It's the story of how one bad day reduces the sanest man alive to lunacy... 

or does it?

For me the character that stood out most was Barbara Gordon. Her character arc was the most dark and complex but I can't say much about giving away any spoilers. This book sets up the arena for the future DC novelizations from Titan Books. Introducing a certain character the way the author did at the end was so genius and unexpected.

I enjoyed the conversations between Bruce and Alfred. Not all the conversations added much to the story but they sure added a lot to the characters' personalities. Growing up with Nolan's version of Alfred, this Alfred seemed quite different to me and it was intriguing to learn about him. I also enjoyed the conversations between the patients of Arkham asylum and their conversations with the doctors there. It was interesting seeing how some criminal masterminds justified their crimes in their own twisted manner.

Although I was quite underwhelmed by Harleen Quinzel whenever she appeared in this novel. Hopefully her character will be built more in Mad Love because it's about her and I'm really looking forward to reading that! I also missed seeing enough of Batman. He's probably considered the main character but he wasn't around as much and I wished we'd seen more of him throughout the book.

To sum up, this novelization of The Killing Joke is dark and gritty with a well written and brought together plot but I'd have liked to see more development when it comes to some characters.



***
Do you read comics? Have you read The Killing joke comic or novelization? Tell me in the comments below!
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     A genre that I never hesitate to pick up is thrillers so it's pretty weird that I don't talk about them much! So here are some crime and thriller recs from me! These books are all crime/mystery/thrillers but span other genres too and across ages too. Hope you find a book you might enjoy! ♥

GOODREADS // AMAZON
It's about crime! Of course I have to start with Agatha Christie, the queen of crime! I pretty much love all her Poirot books! Murder on the Orient Express" is one of her best works ever although my personal favourite is "And then there were none"

But I do realize Agatha Christie books aren't for everyone. If you like your crime and thrillers to be full of action, you might be disappointed. But if you love seeing deduction skills and brain work, Poirot is your man!

 GOODREADS // AMAZON
Black-eyed Susans is a psychological thriller and this one had me guessing till the very end. It was so not what I expected! I didn't know much about the book when I went in but I bought it at a secondhand bookstore 'cause Id been seeing it around bookstagram a lot! And boy was I glad I got it!

It's creepy, chilling and makes you wonder about human nature. Unexpected plot twists make it even better and I'd make guesses and then keep doubting my guesses! It was such a ride!

GOODREADS // AMAZON
I read Untraceable long back after coming across it on Netgalley. You can read my review here

The book is about Grace who's looking for her missing father and along the way uncovers secrets and tries to stop bad guys. It's a fast paced book and quite a fun ride! I don't remember many details now but I really loved it back when I read it. I enjoyed the writing and was hooked to the plot what with all it's twists and turns!
GOODREADS // AMAZON
I read the Kitty Hawk books quite a while ago and it's safe to say they're fun, mostly lighthearted reads. You can read my reviews here

The books are about Kitty's adventures as she fries across the world. Kitty is supposed to be old enough to be a pilot but her personality and behaviors gives off a middle grade feel. This isn't necessarily a bad thing! If you're looking for a fun filled adventure along with a lot of scientific facts, this is a must read. In many ways it's the perfect series for younger readers as it has it all - adventure, a little bit of romance and well-written characters!
 ***
Do you have any recommendations? Have you read any of the books from my list? Tell me in the comments below!
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Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.
     I've read this book twice in the last year alone so that should give you an idea of how much I enjoyed it! In December, as a reread before starting Obsidio, I buddy read this awesomeness with my soul sister and Wonder Woman™. And holy heavens, our BR chat exploded all day, EVERYDAY till we finished reading it. (Then it exploded three fold as we read Obsidio but I'll get to that another day)

“Patience and Silence had one beautiful daughter. And her name was Vengeance.”

     Here is a Gemina 101 without any spoilers (sprinkled with me telling you passive aggressively to go read it

     ↠ It's narrated by new characters. I admit I was worried about this at first and it took a little while before Nik and Hanna grew on me. BUT like 10 minutes or so into the book, I grew to love them! - Nik is an absolute cinnamon roll; bad boy with a good heart and Hanna is this rich, spoilt but badass fighter girl who loves drawing in her journal. I know they sound kind of cliched but I promise, they're written SO well and Nik is definitely one of my favourite characters ever!

    ↠ It's got murderous girls with vengeance in their hearts. Both on the good side AND the bad side and I'm so here for it!

“And now, born from the ashes, she’s a warrior in bloodied black.”

     ↠ So much space stuff. More so than in Illuminae. We've got unstable wormholes and so many other space words and theories I didn't even know about before this book! But fret not, it's all explained well and I quite LOVED it.

“I'm not going to sit here and spitball about hyperspatial reality theory with a psychopathic calculator. This conversation is over.”

     ↠ It's got crazy BeiTech terrorists killing anything and everything and our above said cinnamon rolls fighting them like the badass kids they are! LOTS of action scenes guys, and strategizing and hacking.

     ↠ Amazing dads discussing dad stuff and exchanging stories about their kids. Excuse me while i go melt into a puddle.

     ↠ All the dark humor, sass and snark. Nik and Ella Malikov are my spirit animals. I LOVED how much the cousins cared for each other but obviously they are absolute potatoes so they mask their love-and-care with teasing and snark but honestly they're just precious cinnamon rolls.

     ↠ Ella Malikov. I would reread this book again and again for her. Mafia raised hacker goddess with a will of steel and a sharper tongue.
“The traces of worry, sorrow, fear, all of them smoothed over as she slips into the code, the network, the world where she doesn’t need a pair of legs to run. She lets loose her defenses, the spider god at her back spewing one million glittering minions onto her datawalls, defending their mistress’s layer with swords and shields of ones and zeros.”

     ↠ Gorgeous art courtesy of Marie Lu. Loved Hanna's journal pages to bits. Seriously guys, pay attention to the journal pages. PAY CLOSE ATTENTION.

     ↠ PLOT TWISTS EVERYWHERE. Honestly this book should win an award for most plot twists or something. I had my brain pulled and turned to mush like 5 times and everytime I'm just making velociraptor sounds and internally screaming NOOOOOO into the void.



***
Have you read this series? Did you like it? what was a book you read with the most unexpected plot twists? Tell me in the comments below!
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     Of late I'd been posting pictures of my journal on my Instagram stories and I've had a lot of people ask me tons of questions about starting and maintaining a journal. I've wanted to do something about that and now finally I am! Presenting to you, a new series on my blog - JOURNALING 101, where I'm going to be talking about how I journal and all the tips and tricks I've learnt over the past couple months!

     This first post, I'm going to talk about what you need to get started on journaling! Truth be told, all you need is a notebook and a pen and you can journal. But if you're like me and plan to make your journal aesthetically pleasing and look artsy, there are a couple more things you'll be needing!

     What you Need -

     1. A NOTEBOOK

     I personally love using dotted journals. But you could use a plain notebook or a checkered notebook. I'd personally advice against using ruled notebooks as it's hard to doodle or be artsy when there are lines across the page. But again, that's just my preference. The Leuchtturm journals that many use is honestly too expensive for me and I buy dotted journals from an Indian brand (MatrikaS) on amazonDOTin.

     2. WRITING TOOLS -

     ↠ Pens - I use Artline drawing system pens of sizes 0.2 (for drawing fine lines), 0.3 (for the regular journal writing) and 0.5 (for writing important stuff or headings and such)

     ↠ Brush Pens - Brush pens are the best for lettering and I know the Tombow ones are the best but if you're looking for less expensive alternatives, I always go for Sakura Koi brush pens. They have so many amazing colours and shades and the quality is awesome too.

     ↠ Pencils - Even though I've been journaling for about ten months now, I'm still scared to just go in with my pens on my first try. I draw up things faintly with my pencils and go in again with the pens.

     3. EMBELLISHMENTS

     ↠ Stickers - I buy a lot of pretty stickers from nearby stationary shops. I also get a lot of free stickers online. Jordan Clark has some pretty amazing collections up for free on her website and even more collections for low prices at her shop. They're among my favorite stickers for they're so whimsical and lovely.

     ↠ Photographs - I print out photos I click on cardstock and use them in my journal. If you're not quite sure about the photos you take, check out sites like Unsplash for amazing, royalty free photographs to print out and use in your journal.

     ↠ Washi Tape - Washi tape is the easiest way to jazz up that journal page without spending a fortune. I've been collecting washi tape ever since I started journaling and I love using bits and pieces in my layouts.

     ↠ Book Pages - I know many of you are looking at me all scandalized but let me explain. I buy extremely old worn out books from secondhand bookstores to use in my journal. They are cheap and not in a readable condition anyway. The browned, vintage-y old papers are perfect to use for journaling. You could also use pages from old dictionaries.

     ↠ Scrapbook Paper - They're easy to find at stationary shops as well as online. They come in so many themes and look cute added to your journal.

     4. OTHER STATIONARY ARTICLES-

     These include items like rulers and watercolours. I'll do a more detailed post about watercolours someday.

     5. THAT'S IT. That's basically all you need to get started with your journal!

     In the next post of this series, I'm going to be talking about the types of trackers you could put down in your journal.

***
Do you journal? What kind of journal do you use?
     
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      Dan, Abby, and Jordan remain traumatized by the summer they shared in the Brookline asylum. Much as they'd love to move on, someone is determined to keep the terror alive, sending the teens photos of an old-timey carnival, with no note and no name. Forsaking their plan never to go back, the teens return to New Hampshire College under the guise of a weekend for prospective students, and there they realize that the carnival from the photos is not only real, it's here on campus, apparently for the first time in many years.

Sneaking away from sample classes and college parties, Dan and his friends lead a tour of their own—one through the abandoned houses and hidden places of the surrounding town. Camford is hiding a terrible past, and the influence of the asylum runs deeper than Dan ever imagined.
     I haven't read many horror books to be honest. I'm the kind of person who watches horror movies with her eyes closed and can't sleep after watching one. So for a long time I've stayed away from horror except for the occasional Goosebumps when I was a kid.
   
     Asylum by Madeleine Roux was the first horror novel I read. I picked it for a Halloween read-a-thon and guess what? I really enjoyed it. Many people talked about how it felt childish but honestly speaking, I was creeped out, thoroughly entertained and looking forward to book 2 (I'd call that a success). Although it could also have been due to the fact I hadn't read much horror before but I can't deny the fact that I enjoyed it.

     With Sanctum I was quite excited and frankly looking forward to seeing creepy pictures inside!

     My thoughts -

     ↠ Sanctum was definitely less creepy than Asylum. It had just as many creepy pictures as the first book but somehow the atmosphere didn't feel as dark. That said, I feel like the author has grown a lot with her style of writing in Sanctum.

     ↠ The ending leaves us with a lot of questions and a little something of a cliffhanger. But I actually liked how it ended and I'm looking forward to the third book.

     ↠ My biggest problem with the book was probably the fact that the photos inside are misleading. They're all these creepy carnival and circus photos but the story ends up not having much to do with it. So it felt like the photos were there just for the creep factor. 

     ↠ The characters felt a little erratic. Their relationships weren't addressed throughout. There's inconsistencies in their characterization and I couldn't connect with them at all.

     ↠ It was interesting but also really easy? As in the mysteries in the book are so intriguing but the characters solve them SO easily and the answers are literally falling into their laps. There was TOO much coincidence and I stopped getting very excited about any questions that came up because I was sure the answers would be just around the corner.

     ↠ I wish we had gotten more creepy descriptions and scares. This read more like a thriller than a horror novel and not in a good way.

     ↠ Yes I still gave it 3 stars and you're probably wondering why. but sometimes, despite all the technical problems, the overall experience ens up being entertaining. That was the case with this book. So while it wasn't the best I can't deny the fact that it was entertaining.


***
Have you read this series? Do you rate books solely by their technical qualities or the entertainment or both? Tell me in the comments below!
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