The House in the Cerulean Sea | Book Review

Title: The House in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
Publisher: Tor Books
Publish Date: March 17, 2020
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Romance, LGBT+, Fiction
Pages: 394
Format: Paperback

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.


The best way I can describe this book is a warm hug when you least expected it but definitely needed it. This book was incredibly charming and whimsical down to the final word.

First off, the writing was very whimsical, as well as witty. There were many moments where I laughed out loud because of something a character said or did, as well as moments I cried because of how incredibly heart-warming the moment was. It was a roller coaster to be able to read something that could pack so much emotion into one story.

The characters were all so incredibly charming! Well, the main cast, anyway, comprising of the six kids, Linus, Arthur, and several others along the way. I have never felt so connected to characters and their stories before, but I felt my heart strings being pulled as I read this novel. You’ll find yourself head over heels in love with the kids – I seriously wanted to just protect them all and give them all the parental love ever. The adults in the story, too, were in situations often that could be reminiscent of the real world (as this story had real world aspects), and it was a joy to read about Linus’ growing attachment to the family and how he really discovered himself among them.

The romance in the book was subtle, interwoven expertly throughout the pages. There were definitely moments where you knew that something was brewing between the two, but then something would happen to cause them to have to break away. It was so very adorable and wholesome. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book.

Let’s talk about the children because I really feel like they were the stars of the show. The kids were each very unique – not just in powers and what they were, but also their personalities. I found myself wanting to know more about them, to see how they progress into the future and what happens later on, but I guess that’s the beauty of this story is how contained it is. TJ Klune wrote the children in a way that leaves you wanting to care for them, of wanting to befriend them and spend time with them.

It definitely focused more heavily on one of the children, but the others were still woven very nicely into the story throughout and at different times were they allowed to shine. I do wish that more could have been delved into, but at the same time that wasn’t the true purpose of the story, plus sometimes it’s good to not know every detail and come up with a solution yourself.

I think the subtle magical and fantasy aspects were well done. There are orphanages who take care of magical youth, and this house by the sea happens to be one of them. The magic that the kids possess are very different, and sometimes surprising.

The story sets out to promise hope, love, familial connection, and finding your true strengths and place in the world. I think it accomplished each of those things and I highly recommend you check out this book if you just need a break from all of the hard things in the world.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Songs That Remind Me of Books | Top 5 Wednesday

Hey, back with another one that I haven’t posted in a million years: it’s Top 5 Wednesday!

Top 5 Wednesday is a fun meme hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes, where you discuss five books/bookish topics related to the prompt given for that day.

Today’s prompt: “Songs that remind you of your books! Explain why a specific song reminds you of a book. You can do five songs for five books or five songs for a single book, do what y’all feel.”

This one sounded like a lot of fun, so here we go~

5. Merry Go Round of Life by Joe Hisashi from/for Howl’s Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones

Okay, this is totally cheating, but I don’t care. Howl’s Moving Castle is one of my favorite Ghibli movies, and the song Merry Go Round of Life is so beautiful. I recently started reading the novel version for the first time (at the behest of my best friend who’s read it and loved it more than the film, which is saying something), and I got to say that even though I’m not very far into it, it’s already so different from the movie! In a good way, though. But of course, this song is obviously playing in my head while reading it, because how could it not be? Honestly, the whole soundtrack for the movie is, so yeah lol

4. Songs composed by Jeremy Soule for The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Movie and video game scores are seriously inspiring when it comes to, well, anything, let’s be real. This particular compilation of songs are from various games such as Skyrim and Oblivion. I love listening to instrumental music a lot, and I can say that I often get lost in my own world when listening to tracks such as these because they allow your mind to really craft its own world to their sounds. I think that this mix really speaks to The Way of Kings because it’s an epic fantasy with many ups and downs, twists and turns, glory and defeat, and I think the varying music really speaks to that.

3. LION by (G)I-DLE for Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

I love this song LION by (G)I-DLE. It’s so powerful and sultry and makes me feel strong and like I can kick ass. The first thought that came to my mind was Celaena and her journey to get to where she is, and I thought that it was an appropriate song for her.

2. Scared of the Dark by Lil Wayne & Ty Dolla $ign for The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

As I was listening to this song, I was thinking about how much strife Starr went through, and how she was scared of many things after what happened to her friend, Khalil. The Hate U Give deals with a lot of topics of racism, police brutality, self-identity, family, gangs, and more. This song really talks about not being afraid, even if your environment and the people around you are against you. I think Starr really learns that in this book, so it fits.

Also, the whole Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse album is a bop, so go watch the movie, then go listen to the soundtrack.

1 . Paper Rings by Taylor Swift for Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Alrighty, this series is probably one of the cutest, heartwarming, diverse LGBT+ reads I’ve ever read, and I love it so much. I also love the song Paper Rings, and I thought it was appropriate because it’s all about being content with the person you’re with, and how you want to be with them no matter the circumstance. I think it’s a cute song fitting for a cute series.


Alright, this was harder than I thought it would be haha! But I think that these songs fit these stories. Do you agree?

What song(s) do you think fit the current book you’re reading? Or what about a song that fits one of your favorite books? Let me know!

Spring 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

I’m a little late on this post, but that’s okay~ I actually quite like doing these quarterly/seasonal wrap-ups much more than monthly because it’s so much easier to reflect on all of the things over a season, especially when reading webcomics.

These are all of the things (I hope) I read from April-June 2020!

Webtoons

New

A ditsy university student Mew finds a lost student card. Instead of doing the sensible thing, Mew decides to let fate take the wheel and try something silly. Little did she know, she would be confronting the owner of the card, Daze who has some things to say about what she did. Did Mew make the biggest mistake of her life? or the best decision of her life? Follow these two adorable goofballs to find out!

This is such an adorable and hilarious webtoon so far! I really love the art style, and the story is just like reading a k-drama. It kind of reminds me of when I was a teen and reading shoujo romance manga for the first time and being all giddy while reading it because it’s just so dang CUTE! Check out Nice to Meet You if you’re looking for a rom-com to bring up your happiness meter!

★★★★★

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?

By now many of you have probably heard of this comic, Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, and since being able to read it on Webtoon I finally understand all the hype around it! It’s such a cute, wholesome story dealing with love, identity, family, and more. I love the way Oseman handles the topics and presents them in many ways, from super supportive to issues with bullying. A great comic that I highly recommend, especially if you want to squeal with the cuteness of it!

★★★★★

‘The Witch and The Beast’ is an epic-fantasy tale. Marius Bellemore, lord and protector of the vampire race, chooses to ally himself with the last surviving witch of the Redwood circle. That, in itself, is a strange fact for vampires and witches have been enemies for centuries… Join these characters on a journey full of adventures, drama and…romance!

First of all, the art style in The Witch and the Beast is gorgeous. I think it really enhances the overall story because it is a bit darker than the usual webtoons I read, and it really gives a bit of atmosphere to the dark fantasy story at hand. Second, the story itself is really good so far! I mean, we got vampires, we got witches, we got hot demon boys… what more can you want? But seriously, I really am enjoying the story so far and how there’s still a lot of mystery shrouding why the witches are being hunted and who stands with who, etc. Definitely check it out if you want a diverse gothic fantasy read!

★★★★★

Continued

Season two of Freaking Romance started back up and the sci-fi elements just keep on coming! There’s not too many episodes for season two out yet, but it really upped the ante after the cliffhanger from last season, so I can’t wait to see how it continues to unfold.

I Love Yoo is currently on a short hiatus, but I’ve caught up to the current episode and man, the drama just never stops lol But in a good way. We’re learning about more of the backstories of some of the major characters, and seeing new characters be introduced, so I’m excited to see how this unfolds.

Season two of Castle Swimmer started and now the two boys are trying to navigate their own destinies away from one another – and try to change their destinies as well. I’m a few episodes behind as of writing this, but I still am very much enjoying this second season so far.

Currently on pause as of the season two wrap up, The Four of Them really introduced a lot of new struggles between all of the characters, including identity, family, relationship problems (both romantic and platonic), and more. I think that the second season was really well done and I can’t wait for the third.

Season one of Lore Olympus finished in June and man, is there a lot to think about! Kore’s trying to stand up more for herself, Hades is admitting his feelings to himself, and we’re just learning so much more backstory behind who they are and the different sides of Kore/Persephone that I can’t wait to see what season two will bring!

Soleil is still as cute in style as ever, but the story introduced some new mechanics to the plot and how the characters interact with one another, and I think that it just really enhanced the story. There’s a lot of mystery shrouding it right now, but I’m excited to continue!

Books

I’ve done a full review of this book, but Sorcery of Thorns was an okay read for me. I felt myself lose interest very early on because I was heavily annoyed by the main protagonist, and I really only felt drawn to it in parts where the main love interest was introduced and the magic elements itself. It wasn’t a bad read, but I found myself disappointed.

★★★☆☆

I’ve done a full review of this book, and man, let me just say it again that this was a fantastic read. I can see why it was so hyped up – and is still hyped up – and I’m really glad I read it. I felt a huge range of emotions reading this, and it really showed me just how important community can be. The story touched on issues of race, identity, police brutality, and more. Such an impactful, great read.

★★★★★


That’s it! I was sucked into the world of Animal Crossing New Horizons in late April, so my reading went way down lol But what I did read was enjoyable and really made an impact on me, and I think that that’s more valuable than the amount I read. Quality > quantity.

Here’s what I’m currently reading, what I want to read, and what I hope to share my thoughts on in the (hopefully near) future:

Currently Reading

I need to get in the habit of reading only one book at a time. Seriously lol The ones I’m actually actively reading at this moment are Pachinko and A Song Below Water; the other three are currently put down for now.

TBR

Rereads

I never read the last two books in the Throne of Glass series or the last book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series due to life several years ago being really rough for me, so I want to reread them from the beginning and actually finish them before I read Crescent City. As for Air Awakens, I never finished reading the last book, and when I tried to late last year I was so lost because it had been years since I read the fourth book and I couldn’t really remember what was going on.

Pretty much these rereads are just me not being able to finish series.

I plan on reading these over summer (though I don’t know how long the reread will take me as I have other books I also want to read), but I’m just going to go at my own pace and enjoy myself. No need to feel pressure to read some great books, right?


How was your reading habits over spring what with quarantine and other happenings in the world? What was your favorite read? Your most impactful? Did any make you feel a certain emotion strongly over others? Let me know all the things!

The Hate U Give | Book Review

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publish Date: February 28, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 444
Format: Hardcover

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

I bought this book when it first came out and I didn’t read it until now. There was an incredible amount of hype behind it – and rightly so – but I just couldn’t bring myself to read it. A lot was going on in my personal life, but I knew I wanted to read it eventually.

And boy, am I finally glad I did. I started to read it at the height of the protests this past June, and I wanted to take it slow, so it wasn’t until almost a full month later that I started reading and couldn’t put it down. It’s such a fast, impactful read.

I’m just going to say it now: I really loved this book. It filled me with anger, sadness, relief, happiness, love, hope, disgust; pretty much a whole range of emotions. Let’s talk about my thoughts on the story itself:

First of all, the family aspect in this book is AMAZING! I never get to read a lot about family dynamics in any books I read, regardless if they’re YA, adult, middle grade, whatever. So being able to see such a strongly rooted family was so refreshing. I loved not just the relationship Starr has with her parents and siblings, but also her uncle and how he’s very much like a second father to her.

Of course, with this greatly tight-knit family comes the opposite for many of the other characters in Starr’s world, like her half-brother Seven’s mom and stepfather, or Khalil’s mom. There’s many sides to the dice, and I appreciated getting even just a glimpse into some of the other relationships some of the other characters had.

I felt sadness for Starr, not just because of what happened to Khalil right in front of her eyes (which is obviously tragic and horrible and no one should ever have to witness that), but also that she felt such a need to separate who she was depending on where she was: if she was in Garden Heights, she was one person; if she was at her school at Williamson, she was a completely different person, a held back version of herself. As the book goes through many ups and downs, Starr has many realizations about herself and the world and people around her, including one of her “friends.” I’m glad that she figures it out, to some degree, by the end as to who she is and where she fits in with all of it.

Reading about the gangs in the book kind of put in to perspective just how much gangs can be like a family to people, as well as how hard it can be to leave if you no longer want to be part of them. It can be scary, for sure, but it was also cool to see rival gangs come together for a similar purpose.

I felt that the whole journey that Starr took to reevaluate her stance on everything – her friend groups, her family, her race, everything – was handled really well and felt very real. I could see her struggle with it, especially when it came to opening up and being more vulnerable with her white boyfriend, Chris. I could see her struggle and how she really handled it with a lot of consideration and care for herself.

Of course, some of the hardest parts to read were her recounting the murder of her best friend. I almost cried at the very end of a chapter where she was recounting it in front of people and just her last sentence felt so impactful, so raw, so real, that I almost started to ball my eyes out because… wow. I’ll most likely never have to experience or think something like that ever in my life, and how she had to think that at 16? It hurts.

And how she had to call out one of her friends for having said several racist things over the years, and the white girl never admitted to it and would always play the victim. It was frustrating and I wanted to slap her, but I was also glad to see that there was also Chris, Starr’s boyfriend, who wanted to prove that he loves her for her, nothing else. It was nice to see.

Overall, this whole story is incredible. I’m not doing it justice by talking about it here (other than the fact that I’m rusty at these book reviews lol), but I can understand the hype, and I highly recommend you read this book – especially if you’re white – just to get a glimpse into the world Black people experience every day.

Also remember: Black Lives Matter, all day, every day.

★★★★★

The Risk | Book Review

Title: The Risk
Series: Briar U #2
Authors: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Elle Kennedy Inc.
Publish Date: February 18, 2019
Genre: New Adult, Fiction – Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Kindle eBook

A sexy standalone novel from New York Times and international bestselling author Elle Kennedy. THE RISK takes you back to the world of hot hockey players, feisty heroines, bro banter, and steamy scenes… 

Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take. 

I’ve gotta say, I definitely enjoyed this book much more than the first stand-alone in the Briar U arc. It was funny, heartfelt, steamy (as always), but also showed more sides to people than just those in the universities, and I think that really played a big role in my overall enjoyment of this book.

Brenna is, probably, my favorite person. She’s tough as nails, she wears red lipstick as her armor, she doesn’t give two shits if someone doesn’t like her, she’s sassy, intelligent. She’s a woman after my own heart. I also very much admire her self-control of her temper in certain parts of the book, because I don’t think I’d be a big enough person to be able to hold my tongue to the kinds of comments she received numerous times from some of the men in the novel.

Jake is… well, he’s a steamy man, I’ll give him that, and he’s alpha, which, if you don’t know what that means, it means he’s the kind of person who’s in charge, who takes the lead, doesn’t take “no” for an answer, is very loyal to his team. Well, Jake will take “no” for an answer, so he’s not the kind of stereotypical jerk alpha that I’ve read in stories before. But he definitely exudes a presence in the book. People just notice him, and not just because he’s handsome as heck.

We also got to see smatterings of Summer from the first book, The Chase, as well as Fitz, Hunter, Mike Hollis, and one new character whom I LOVE and am soooo glad she’s getting her own book: Rupi. I fell in love with her almost instantly. She’s very quirky and determined and very much won’t take “no” for an answer.

The plot centered a lot around the hockey tournaments that Jake’s team, Harvard, and Brenna’s dad’s team, Briar, are preparing for and to face each other to go onto nationals, but it also centers a lot around Brenna striving to get her dream internship. I appreciated seeing that side of the field and how, yes, even today there’s a lot of misogyny in the sports broadcasting field. It was believable the way some of the men talked about women, and like I said earlier: I applaud Brenna for holding her tongue, because I really don’t think I would have been able to.

There was also a smaller second element to the plot that played into it about Brenna’s past, and let me tell you: the story behind her past was a shock that I did not see coming and I literally did a double take reading it. Definitely a good plot twist.

The dynamic between Brenna and her father is also one I understand, even if my own dad isn’t quite like hers. I understand how hard it is to want to be close, but not understanding how to get close, or when that closeness faded away. And the ugly shame that comes with feeling you’re a huge disappointment to your parent. It was very much a real moment, and I almost cried as a result of it.

The sex scenes were quite steamy, as expected of these Briar University books, which I’m not complaining about. The scenarios were different almost each time, the romance aspect felt a little rushed, but also the chemistry between the two had already been established, so it was an overall great element to the story.

I only wish there had been a different ending. Not that the ending was bad, I was just hoping we would have seen slightly farther into the future, or that there had been just one more chapter.

But I definitely recommend the book if you’re reading the Briar U arc, and even if you’re not and want a steamy romance, then definitely pick this one up!

★★★★½☆