Monthly Wrap-Up: March 2021 – CW Reads Wonderful SFF and Contemporaries… Where is Joce and Skye?

Monthly Wrap-Up: March 2021 – CW Reads Wonderful SFF and Contemporaries... Where is Joce and Skye?

After dropping the ball on this a few times, we are finally back to our (hopefully from now on) regular wrap-up posts! Following all the awesome work that we did for Black History Month, March was a much more relaxed month where we mostly shared book reviews and book news.

It’s just CW wrapping up the books she read this month and the posts that she did. Where are Skye and Joce? Read on to find out. 💜

CW’s Wrap-Up

Books I Read in March

Despite telling myself that I was no longer an ARC book reviewer… I read a lot of ARCs. 2021 is just such an exciting year that I couldn’t resist the opportunities that came my way – and of the books I read, I can assure you that we have some amazing books coming our way later this year.

I usually use Goodreads to keep track of the books I have read and when, but I’ve been so bad at updating it… so this list will not be in chronological order, but in alphabetical order. 😗

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Get a Life, Chloe Brown is one of the most delightful romances that I had ever read – fun, incredibly funny, brilliantly narrated, and just so darn sweet and sexy. Though I haven’t had the chance to read the second book, Take a Hint, Dani Brown, I did read Act Your Age, Eve Brown. This book, the third of The Brown Sisters series, follows Eve, a whimsical and delightful Black woman who, after accidentally hitting her would-be employer with her car, ends up helping him run his B&B. Act Your Age, Eve Brown was just so sugary sweet and so darn sexy – the dislike-to-like-to-romance was so delicious and I loved the chemistry between them. I had an amazing time reading this, and I echo everything that Joce said in her review for this book. Add this book on Goodreads!

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

When I first heard about this book, about a Black teen who is tasked with killing her first love in order to save her family’s magic, I was immediately intrigued. Liselle reached out to me – and she’ll be visiting us at the Pond sometime next month! – and I had the opportunity to read an eARC of this book. And friends, Blood Like Magic is one of the most fascinating and unique stories I’ve read. It’s set in the near future, where technology has advanced, and I enjoy how the story explores the place magic has in a scientifically-orientated world. It’s also a stunning exploration of love, family, making immutable decisions that change the course of our future, and how connection to history and heritage is power. Add this book on Goodreads.

Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch by Julie Abe

When the sequel to one of my favourite books of 2020 finally arrived in my inbox, I dropped everything and started reading it immediately. This follows immediately after the events of Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch and I loved where Julie took the story. I loved the greater stakes, huge twists, and the resilience and charm of Eva, the main character. After having the privilege of having Julie visit the Pond last year, where she took us on a virtual tour across Japan and the places that inspired the setting of Eva Evergreen, and when Julie talked about how this book came about following the devastating earthquake in 2011, I felt so much more connected to the story; I felt the grief, but also the hope. Anyway, it goes without saying that I loved this sequel and how Julie takes Eva’s story to new heights. Loved this! Add this book on Goodreads.

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta

I publish my book review for Gearbreakers early next month, and you will be able to get my thoughts in full when the review is published, but Gearbreakers is… interesting. It has an uncertain start, and I discuss this extensively in my book review, but around the 25% mark, the story takes off and it is glorious. I expected a story about two queer girls piloting mechas – which I got! – but I also got a very profound and compelling story about how children are made soldiers in wartime, visceral and tangible anger at the injustice of things, and also the tenderness of two girls who find home in each other. Despite my criticisms of this book, Gearbreakers was a book I could let go and let myself enjoy wholeheartedly. I think people may dislike this book, because of the beginning, but give it a chance: I think Gearbreakers could surprise you. Add this book on Goodreads.

Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena

This book is criminally underappreciated and I want everyone to pick this up, especially if you love An Ember in the Ashes series. I’ve been craving a good fantasy, and Hunted by the Sky absolutely delivers. Set in a world inspired by medieval India, it follows Gul, a girl with a star-shaped birthmark, prophecised for greatness and to save the kingdom of Ambar from its tyrannical rule. I loved this story; enjoyed the pace that appreciates the details of the worldbuilding, of Gul’s desire to avenge her parents, and the tenuous and tentative relationship she has with a stable boy with secrets of his own. Perfect if you are looking for a slow-paced yet deliberate South Asian high fantasy with kickass women warriors and mysterious magic. Add this book on Goodreads.

Josephine Against the Sea by Shakirah Bourne

I love stories about mythology, so when Shakirah asked whether I would want to read her book and invite her to the Pond, I immediately said yes. (Look out for this; it’s going to be wonderful!) Josephine Against the Sea feels like nostalgic middle-grade – the kind of stories that are simple with its exciting conflict-driven adventure and are just so much fun. It follows Josephine, a cricket-loving Barbadian girl in Barbados, who discovers that her father’s new girlfriend is not all she seems – and may be a being straight out of Caribbean mythology. I had so much fun reading this; Josephine’s voice is charming and so delightful. My book review of this will be published sometime next month. Add this book on Goodreads.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Isn’t it a great feeling when one of your most anticipated books doesn’t let you down? She Who Became the Sun works best for readers in the mood for a dark, grim, and heavy read (which I was, on the one day that I read it in one sitting). It is a phenomenal retelling of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty and is a story about ambition, fate, gender, and ascension to power; thematically rich and complex, yet wonderfully character-driven! I recently published my book review of She Who Became the Sun very recently, and there’s a line in my book review that I stand by: Glorious yet brutal, She Who Became the Sun is a tour de force that will elevate the historical fantasy genre, a beacon of what all historical imaginings should aspire to be. If you love the sound of a queer epic, then you’ll want to read this. Add this book on Goodreads.

The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

If you’re not intrigued by the story’s fascinating blurb, then you will be by its gorgeous cover. (I mean, look at it! Aykut Aydoğdu’s art is just… utterly transcendent and perfect for the story.) I had the pleasure of reading an eARC of this via NetGalley and… hm, my opinions about this book are complex and multi-faceted. I’m publishing my book review of this next week, where I detail my opinions in full (and it’s a longer-than-usual book review). I’ve been going back and editing my book review every other day, because although I ultimately liked the book, I had some criticisms. Anyway, read my book review next week! Add this book on Goodreads.

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert

I am convinced that Brandy Colbert is one of our most understated authors of our time because not only does she write incredible young-adult books, she also writes fantastic middle-grade ones! The Only Black Girls in Town follows Alberta, a surfer Black girl who lives in a small, predominantly-white coastal town with her two dads. When Edie, another Black girl who moves into town with her mother, the the two girls become fast friends. Though the story is simple and moves wonderfully, exploring the typical themes in middle-grade like change and friendships, I also loved this book’s exploration of race and the subtle ways that racism manifests – microaggressions, erasure, how it pervades in history, the complexity of passing, and how Black girls are expected to follow specific labels and expectations. Loved this and I wholly recommend it. Add this book on Goodreads.

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

I never expected that this book would be one of my favourite books of all time, yet, here we are. Reading Tokyo Ever After felt like wish fulfillment – growing up watching The Princess Diaries, I kinda wished I was a secret princess as well. So when Izumi, a Japanese-American teen discovers that she’s a secret Japanese princess, I exploded into a puff of sunshine and rainbows and delight. This book is super silly, super tropey, and just utterly wonderful, and I loved how it blends a coming of age story about family and finding yourself with a soft romance about finding and holding onto joy. I don’t remember the last time I had so much fun reading a book! The royal/bodyguard romance in this is absolutely satisfying and incredible too. Now, if they made a movie of this, I’d be happy. Read my review and add this on Goodreads.

When the Stars Lead to You by Ronni Davies

I picked this up on an absolute whim and I’m glad I did. I really enjoy stories where the characters are ‘messy’ and relationships are not so clear cut. When the Stars Lead to You was an intriguing and vulnerable story about how first loves are not always so straightforward and can be nuanced and complex. I enjoyed the push and pull of the intensity and the close bond that comes with first love and also how the messiness of circumstances and how mental illness can shape our lives in understated but massive ways. I suppose I love this book because the romance between the two characters, Devon and Ashton, is far from perfect, but they try to make it work. I really enjoyed this; an underappreciated gem. Add this on Goodreads.

CW’s Posts During March

I’m proud to say that I’ve been on an eARC reading-and-reviewing rampage and I published a lot of book reviews this month. Have a read, if you have missed my reviews:

Book Blogger Resources: 8 Tips on how to manage a book blog on a busy schedule. an image of xiaolong holding many balloons with a stressed expression, with balloons reading blog? work? read? social life? sleep? request more ARCs?

I’m trying to do a new Book Blogger Resource post once a week, and I’m really proud of my latest where I give tips on how to manage a book blog while on a busy schedule! Read on for tips!

Infinity Son and Infinity Reaper by Adam Silvera.

I had the privilege to read Infinity Reaper by Adam Silvera and wrote a Five Reasons Why of why you should read the Infinity Cycle series!

Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Iyimide. A badge at the bottom-left that says, 'Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond'. In the centre is a image of Xiaolong, the pink axolotl wearing a flower hat, waving at you.

I reviewed the highly anticipated young adult thriller, Ace of Spades. If you want a terrifying book that also explores racism and elitism that’s fast-paced, shocking, and just so good, then you’ll want to read this book.

Book Recommendations: 11 Stories in Verse that will shatter your soul. Varian stares out a window, with a wistful look, with flowers transforming into birds.

Skye and I teamed up and we recommended stories in verse! We love novels in verse and the ones we recommended have stayed with us – and will probably shatter your souls like it did ours.

I reviewed what is now one of my favourite young adult romantic contemporaries, Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa. Absolutely loved this and how it balances tender and romantic with vulnerability.

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean.

I read and reviewed what is now one of my favourite books ever: Tokyo Ever After. In the mood for something light, silly, and a lot of fun? Then you’ll love this.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

I reviewed She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. This is historical reimaginings at its finest and I loved the exploration of gender and fate.


Other things CW Did During March

Even though blogging was relatively quiet in March, I’ve had one of the busiest months ever.

  • In the last two weeks of March, I’ve traveled 7/14 days for work. I’m exhausted. While it’s a huge privilege to travel for work and see parts of the country that I had never seen before, I just want to plant my feet down into the ground and it’s hard being away from home so much.
  • When I’m not working/traveling for work and reading, you will probably find me playing Genshin Impact. I’m having so much fun playing it at the moment, and it feels nice to be invested in a video game again. For those who play, I’m currently AR48 and I main Anemo Traveler, Diluc, Bennett, and Mona. My dream character at the moment is Xiao, so I’ll be saving all my primogems for his next banner. 🥰
  • I still have 6 eARCs to read, and I’m going to try and read them all before April! I’m going to be reading Pawcasso, Between Perfect and Real, Up All Night, In the Watchful City, Made in Korea, and Of Trust and Heart!

Where’s Joce and Skye?

Sprout the sparrow holding onto and looking down at a book.

Don’t worry – Joce and Skye are still around!

Skye is busy chipping away at her humongous dissertation and has been working really hard on it. Though you will still see Sprout and Skye share book news every week, just imagine Sprout curled up in a corner of the Pond, reading and writing away. Please wish Skye your best ‘good luck’ thoughts.

An illustration of Cuddle the otter, sleeping.

Joce is super busy, being a super-mum, working multiple jobs, and also balancing writing reviews for the Pond and her awesome podcast. Please send Joce warm and happy vibes! As for Cuddle, she’s just chilling in the Pond – reading a book, having some snacks, doing her cute lil thing.

6 thoughts on “Monthly Wrap-Up: March 2021 – CW Reads Wonderful SFF and Contemporaries… Where is Joce and Skye?

  1. Blood Like Magic sounds great! So does Gearbreakers – I’ve had my eye on this book and I’m looking forward to your review 🙂
    The Ones We’re Meant to Find has one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever laid my eyes on 😍 I can’t wait to able to read it 😀
    Your book blogger resources post was so, so helpful! Thank you for sharing it!
    Great wrap-up 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG YES, HUNTED BY THE SKY IS SO UNDERRATED!!! I absolutely need more people to pick it up, it’d definitely one of my al timie favourite fantasies. Also, wait till you read the sequel hehe, it’s just a perfect duology ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wishing you best of luck, Skye! Strength to you as well, Joce. That’s a lot to juggle, but I hope you find a balance that brings you joy. And thank you for your amazing reviews as always, CW. I think I discovered most of my recent reading list thanks to you and the Quiet Pond team. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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