8 Queer Books I Loved And 8 That Are On My TBR

Don’t you hate it when people answer their own question? I do. (HA see what i did there?) *groans from the audience* Aw come on lighten up, not all of us can tell brilliant jokes ok?

In other news, happy pride month!

If you’ve been around for a while, you’d know that I pretty much read queer books all year round and that’s true BUT being the opportunist I am, I couldn’t just let pride month slip by without a post on it, could I? Soo in similar pattern to my diverse books post looong back, here’s a recommendation post for queer books! All of these have lgbtq main characters with considerable focus on their relationships. Now let’s make that TBR pile taller, shall we?

Oh also! Have I inserted song lyrics with similar vibes with the books too for some reason? Why yes I have and you can’t stop me MWAHAHA

In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens: Princes, handsome mermen, pirates and an exciting sea faring adventure! Rep: m|m
🎡 To fall in love with strangers ah-ah ah-ah

Perfect On Paper by Sophie Gonzales: An anonymous dating advice service- run from a high school locker by a girl who is hopelessly in love with her oblivious best friend! Rep: bi f|m
🎡 I can make the bad guys good for a weekend

Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth: Have a problem? Aideen can solve it- in exchange for a favour. Rep: f|f
🎡 You’re turning heads when you walk through the do-o-or

The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune: Superheroes in a contemporary world sounds overused, but this gay best-friends-to-lovers will have you cackling like nothing else. Rep: m|m
🎡 I drive down different roads, but they all lead back to you

Cemetery Boys: Accidental spirit summoning? And falling in love with said spirit?? A brilliant concept with immaculate spooky vibes! Rep: m|m
🎡 If I can’t be close to you, I’ll settle for the ghost of you

Sweet and Bitter Magic: What happens when a grump and sunshine have to save the world from dark magic? Sparks fly of course. Rep: f|f
🎡 Are we out of the woods yet?

So This Is Ever After: A hilariously ridiculous Arthurian retelling which takes after your usual YA fantasy quest! Rep: m|m
🎡 I’ve been loving you for quite some time, time, time

House In The Cerulean Sea: A tired middle-aged government employee discovers purpose, family and love on his newest magical assignment! This one is going to tug at all your heartstrings. Rep: m|m
🎡 In this world, it’s just us

Flip The Script by Layla Lee: Bisexual mc fake dating her way through a Kdrama? Excuse me while I LOSE MY MIND OVER HERE.

Cafe Con Lychee: After Tweet Cute I cannot for the life of me resist anything with rival bakeries. I need lots of food descriptions ok?

Red White & Royal Blue: I’m pleased to report that the hype has finally gotten to me and I cannot put off reading this for any longer if I value my life.

Be Dazzled: Randomly came across this on goodreads and i am, dare i say, DAZZLED.

Something Fabulous: I heard “reserved duke” and “falling for the wrong sibling” and came running like-

Spin Me Right Around: Yeah time travel in contemporary hasn’t really worked out for me in the past but I’m willing to give it a second chance because I’m generous like that.

Late To The Party: Actually this doesn’t really seem any different than all the other ya contemporaries out there, but i see lots of five star reviews from my friends?? Peer pressure exists guys.

Under The Whispering Door: Down with the physical tbr! *ahem* I mean, do I know this is going to BREAK me like Cerulean Sea?? Without a doubt. Is that why I’m scared to read it in the first place? Maybe?

Favourite queer books? (i need RECS) Have you read any of these? Thoughts on them?? (also did you see i actually worked on graphics for once) (aand did you realize i may be slightly obsessed with taylor swift)

~ Rachel

Ranking My First 22 Reads Of 2022! // indecisiveness galore

Ranking in general gives me all the feels.

When I’m being ranked, there’s the nervous butterflies, the foot-tapping anticipation and an undignified urge to stick out a tongue at my fellow competitor. When I’m doing the ranking, there’s the undeniable need to do justice, the thrill of selecting the top three and the fear of retaliation from the bottom.

Soo. *claps hands in quick succession* Since I’m in the mood for the package of feelings that comes with ranking today, I’m going to rank… books! Let us ignore the fact that books are, in fact, the only thing I’m qualified enough to rank.

Ok here’s how this is going to work. I am going to be ranking the first 22 books (because it’s 2022, get it?) I’ve read this year based on my opinion on them. We’re going to start in reverse order and work our way all the way to the top, meaning the books are in the order of worst to best. To make things more organized, there are also six categories under which certain consecutive rankings fall under, to express my overall feelings for those books. Each book cover shall be linked to it’s goodreads page and beside it are highlights (from the pov of yours truly) from the story which could either make you want to devour the book whole or run far far away from it.

With all that out of the way, let’s get started!

β€” #22 Caraval by Stephanie Garber β€”

β†’ a magical, dark treasure hunt type competition
β†’ a weak willed, “i just want to save my sister” main character
β†’ too many reminders of how “dangerous” the “game” is
β†’ anticlimatic deaths that aren’t even real

β€” #21 Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz β€”



β†’ a dragon flying Quidditch style sport
β†’ 16-18 year olds behave like 10 year olds
β†’ weirdly written dialogue
β†’ so many characters, so little info

β€” #20 Jade City by Fonda Lee β€”



β†’ rival clans and family politics
β†’ probably the slowest book you’ll ever read
β†’ seriously, it’s sloowww
β†’ oh also lots of POVs

β€” #19 Dead Girls Can’t Tell Secrets by Chelsea Khaso β€”

β†’ pretty classic murder mystery
β†’”everyone is hiding something”
β†’ feels like a wild goose chase
β†’ school secrets

β€” #18 Ace Of Shades β€”

β†’ dark fantasy
β†’ gang lords and con men
β†’ morally grey love interest
β†’ a sadist game of execution

β€” #17 The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe β€”


β†’ heavy themes (pls check tws!)
β†’ more about the past than the present
β†’ the present being a bank hostage situation which could have been made highly interesting
β†’ focuses on one and one character only

β€” #16 Not Here To Be Liked by Michelle Quach β€”

β†’ themes of feminism
β†’ romance was sort of instalove-y, there was no chemistry
β†’ lots of important things happened quickly
β†’ the love interest had zero personality except being an ex jock

β€” #15 Portrait Of A Thief by Grace D. Li β€”

β†’ college students turned thieves
β†’ colonization of art
β†’ chinese american identity
β†’ monologues on imperialism and “the American dream”

β€” #14 Hani And Ishu’s Guide To Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar β€”

β†’ desi main characters
β†’ biphobic white friends
β†’ fake dating (duh)
β†’ parental (they’re asian soo) pressure

β€” #13 Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft β€”

β†’ sworn enemies to lovers
β†’ killerΓ—healer pairing
β†’ wintry night vibes
β†’ changing sides! betrayal! redemption! more betrayal!

β€” #12 Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley β€”

β†’ sapphic witches
β†’ sunshineΓ—grumpy
β†’ magic gone wrong
β†’ a long journey (more like a quest actually)

β€” #11 Hidden In Plain Sight by Jeffrey Archer β€”

β†’ a witty detective story
β†’ smart and well thought out plot
β†’ taking down a drug squad
β†’ new additions to the team

β€” #10 So This Is Ever After by FT Lukensβ€”


β†’ weird in the best way
β†’ friends to lovers awkwardness
β†’ set in a castle
β†’ takes place after your usual YA quest

β€” #9 In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens β€”

β†’ pirates and princes
β†’ and handsome mermen too
β†’ supportive elder siblings
β†’ kidnapping and rescues galore

β€” #8 If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich β€”

β†’ boy bands, fame and cancel culture
β†’ the best mother group
β†’ gay adorableness
β†’ openly gay vs closeted

β€” #7 You Have A Match by Emma Lord β€”

β†’ full summer-y vibes
β†’ best friends to lovers
β†’ secret sisters who couldn’t be more unlike each other
β†’ all sibling and platonic relationships were *chef’s kiss*

β€” #6 Geekerella by Ashley Poston β€”

β†’ modern day Cinderella retelling (minus the cheesy parts)
β†’ a delightful fandom… and a con!
β†’ anonymous texting
β†’ nerd supremacy

β€” #5 Namesake by Adrienne Youngβ€”

β†’ pirate-y adventure
β†’ treasure hunting for a mythical gem
β†’ torn familial relationships
β†’ morally grey cast

β€” #4 Tweet Cute by Emma Lord β€”

β†’ twitter wars!
β†’ ridiculously delicious desserts
β†’ rivals to friends to lovers
β†’ anonymous texting

β€” #3 Fable by Adrienne Young β€”

β†’ dangerous mc with traumatic past
β†’ found family
β†’ a not-so-merry journey through the seas
β†’ shocking reveals at every page

β€” #2 When You Get The Chance by Emma Lord β€”

β†’ a cheerful, goofy mc who is my new favourite person
β†’ reverse mamma mia!
β†’ the best platonic relationships
β†’ witty, immersive writing

β€” #1 Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong β€”

β†’ romeo juliet retelling
β†’ emotional rollercoaster
β†’ enemies to lovers PERFECTION and so. much. angst.
β†’ rival gangs, blood feuds, stabby women and soft men

Have you read any of these?? Bonus points if you’ve read them this year too! THOUGHTS ON THEM? Which are YOUR favourite reads so far this year?? (do not be fooled by the size of my tbr, i’m ALWAYS looking for yet more recommendations)

~ Rachel

Spring & Summer 2022 TBR // sunny stories for sunnier days

Hey everyone, what’s up?

Me? Nothing much, except basking in the glory of having solved today’s (at the time of writing) wordle IN TWO TRIES. Pretty good, huh?

Speaking of basking, SPRING IS HERE! Ok yeah there’s still a few days for it to be official, but it’s spring-ey enough already where I live for me to write this post.

And of course, it was about thyme spring came. What a re-leaf it is here, isn’t it? My favourite season of the year always puts a little spring in my step. (yep spring puns are superior)

Well I could go on about my love for spring but then we’d be here all day so let’s proceed to what we are actually here to talk about. I gave up on monthly tbrs a long time ago (one of the many quirks of my mood reader-ness) but there have been a lot of contemporaries (and also a fair amount of non-contemporaries) lately that have been catching my eye (read: i’m DYING to read them) and a certain lot particularly give off summer-y and spring vibes (the two seasons are sort of merged in my country) so I thought why not compile a list?

Without further ado, I present to you part of my to-be-read list for the next few sunny months!

tahira in bloom: That cover alone had me sighing contentedly, and the synopsis is the cherry on top because plants! rivals to lovers! and bonus points for all the SPRING VIBES.

geekerella: I haven’t read a lot of retellings (*ahem* no retellings actually, but let’s overlook that) so when Anoushka recommended this to me, I knew I had to give it a try! And I know for a fact that she has got remarkable taste.

i was born for this: Can you really call yourself a contemporary reader if you haven’t read Alice Oseman? (um yeah that’s why I don’t call myself one. yet.) This one looks worthy of being my first Oseman book, what with boy bands and that summery yellow cover.

the sun is also a star : I’ve heard nothing but awesome things about this one and there’s actually a sun in the title and on the cover (i… hope that’s a sun? albeit a very colourful one??). What more could i need?

recommended for you: Books within books never fail to disappoint after all do they? Plus there’s tons of rivalry.

1500 miles from the sun: This sounds absolutely adorable and all the points for sun in the title. I’d actually started listening to the audiobook a while back but my subscription ended before i listened to a chapter so gonna do this again.

a far wilder magic: i’ve heard nothing but awesome things about this one, and I did sort of enjoy Down Comes The Night after all and there’s A. MAGICAL. FOXHUNT.

tokyo ever after: Identity struggles? Lots of drama? “Just found out I am literally royalty”?? yes, yes and YES. This looks a little like The Royal Treatment (fantastic movie btw) in book form which means I have to read it.

fable: After reading In Deeper Waters, I seem to be craving another good pirate-y fantasy and this seems like a perfect choice!

the girls i’ve been: I’ve got a copy of this waiting on my shelves since christmas, and it’s been a while since a read and enjoyed a thriller soo pinning my hopes on this one!

opposite of always: Time travel in a contemporary?? Now this I have got to see.

tweet cute: when you get the chance might just have been the best contemporary i’ve ever read, now watch me as I proceed to devour every other book Emma Lord has written. The woman’s a genius.

And that’s the end of my planned tbr! Chances are I might end up reading these in October when everyone else is reading spooky but wishful thinking never hurt anyone, did it?

Have you read any of these? What’s on your spring tbr? Which is your favourite season? Let’s chat in the comments!

~ Rachel

Trends In YA Murder Mysteries // the one in which I try to sound knowledgeable

I’ve said it before (uh not really but you get the point) and I’ll say it again – 21st century murder mysteries will never be able to beat a good old Christie (personal opinion, please don’t come at me with axes).

I think one reason to this would be that a lot of recently published murder mysteries that I’ve read have certain elements and tropes in common, and with time I’ve just come to expect and predict them. Not that they’re all bad though. And sometimes they’re even executed well. But it’s the repetitiveness that I don’t really appreciate.

But if I got down to my self-contradictory opinions on mysteries, we’d be here all day so without further ado, let me present some common trends I’ve noticed in several recently published YA murder mysteries. Here we go! (and yes I’ve self-created some random quotes to go with each trend to get the point across)

β€” “maybe she got what she deserved”: villainizing the victim β€”

Prepare to get the shock of your lives, because the golden boy/perfect girl who was murdered wasn’t exactly that innocent. *GASP* Yes they had lots of secrets of their own, as the protagonist of the story slowly (agonizingly slowly) discovers. Even the victim’s friends admit that their friend wasn’t as perfect and sweet as everyone thought he was. If I was paid every time the victim turned out to be a liar, cheat, or something worse, I could set up my own bookshop today. (yeah so I exaggerated a tiny bit, so what?)

Okay, dramatics aside, I can’t really hold a grudge against this trope (but I do) because in a way it makes sense for the author to use this because 1. that means the victim did have enemies after all 2. and that means MORE suspects for the protagonists to tackle. How exciting.

β€” “stop looking for me”: threatening letters and mails β€”

Somehow as soon as the protagonist starts investigating, the murderer always gets to know and decides to compromise his identity by messaging threats to, traditionally, stop prodding or else…

I’ll be honest, I don’t even have much of an opinion on this one. One one hand I guess it does increase the stakes because now the protagonist’s life is on the line as well, but on the other… can we ever have a sensible murderer who tries less to deter the protagonist, and harder to, you know, not get caught?

β€” not going to the police because initially “i don’t know enough” and later “i know too much” β€”

It is perfectly reasonable to hesitate to go to the police initially due to lack of evidence. And apparently, according to the unspoken tradition of murder mysteries, it is also perfectly fine to not go to the authorities due to excess of evidence.

We also have these practical friends of the protagonist who frequently suggest going to the police with whatever they know throughout the story. But every time the main character shrugs this off with a “let us be completely sure first” or later a “i’m too deep in now, i HAVE to do this myself

β€” “she was better than everyone at everything”: the jealousy factor β€”

We always have these jealous friends/classmates/siblings of the victim to whom all suspicions are immediately directed because they had the motive. But more often than not, they are not actually the murderers. We get a “yes she was a snob and i didn’t like her, but I couldn’t possibly murder her!” and that’s it.

β€” secrets *said with jazz hands and ominous voice* β€”

I’m going to be extremely frank here- everyone has secrets. No one lives with their entire life displayed in glowing letters on a billboard.

Murder mysteries make a huge deal out of secrets. “oh my gosh he’s hiding something” leads to the immediate conclusion of “he’s the murderer”. Often the synopsis has something along the lines of “but such and such character has their own secrets…” in an attempt to sound ominous and intrigue the readers.

β€” “so it had been him all along”: circling round back to the first suspect β€”

This is something I’ve been seeing frequently of late. Say the protagonist suspects person X first, then realizes he’s wrong and moves on to Y, then to Z and so on. Finally, following a trail of clues and all, they’re back to person X. Now there’s a 50% chance that X is actually the murderer and 50% that it is someone else altogether.

____________

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1)
Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1)
How We Fall Apart (How We Fall Apart, #1)
Dead Girls Can't Tell Secrets

And that was it for this post! (i can’t pretend to be knowledgeable and experienced forever now, can i?) But hold up, you might say, Rachel are we even talking about the same murder mysteries because I have literally never seen these trends in the ones I’ve read?? So I’ve thought up a solution for that – I’ve shown you some of the murder mysteries I’ve read recently, the ones that I had in mind while writing these trends!

Do you read murder mysteries? Have you noticed these trends too? Your favourite mysteries?? (please give me recs because i seem to be having a bad experience with murder mysteries lately)

~ Rachel

My Top 10 Reads Of 2021! // in which i run out of words to describe these books

Ho Ho Ho! (ok my Santa imitation needs work)

Merry Christmas to all humans and elves alike! Let there be cheer! And presents! (you’ll never guess what i got! but maybe in another post) And candy! And more candy!

What better occasion than Christmas to flaunt my favourites (aka my obsessions) of this year? I read a total of 70 books in 2021, but only some of them are truly special to me. I’ve chosen the 10 books I liked the best (+ some honourable mentions of course), books that own my heart and soul, books I’ll never stop recommending till the day I die (atleast i’ll get prizes for the drama? no?)

I have also done the heart-wrenching task of actually ranking these books (believe me, it only looks easy) however I’d also like to mention that all of them have an equal place in my heart, but some more equal than the others (yes that was an Animal Farm reference). To keep the suspense rolling, we’ll go in reverse order; that means we’ll start off from number 10 all the way to number 1 (with #1 being like the best book of the year), and NOW I’M SO EXCITED I CAN’T WAIT ANYMORE LET’S STA–

~ #10 The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Choksi ~

β€œ’You and your secrets.
‘Secrets keep my hair lustrous,’ said Severin, running his hand through his curls.”

I’d been hearing about this all over the bookish community, and though I read so many mixed opinions, one thing that I found common in all the reviews was the comparison to six of crows. Obviously, I knew I had to give this a try. And I wasn’t disappointed. Sure, it was a lot like the soc duology, but it put a different twist into everything. And not to forget, the author is an indian (like me!) and believe me the desi vibes were up to the mark (“laila-majnun”? i’m dying) and of course I adored the moral greyness (is that even a word?) of the characters. The banter was *chef’s kiss* and don’t even get me started on the found family.

~ #9 Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth ~

β€œI dug deep down into my empathy store and found a dried-up old raisin.”

To say that this book made me laugh would be an understatement. It had me snorting and chuckling and giggling (in the most embarrassing way) and basically a lot of people around me thought I’d finally lost it so there’s that. There was Aideen, aka the best narrator ever. There was the perfectly accurate description of students in a high school. And then there was Meabh. Sweet, perfect Meabh in whom I saw so much of myself that I think the author somehow based her off my personality. But. The whole point of those graphics were to stop me from boring you to death with essays, so we stop here.

Why I picked this up: It’s no coincidence that I started reading this a couple of days after reading Anoushka’s review! I was feeling the contemporary vibes anyway, so after reading her review I was sure I needed this!

~ #8 We Are Not Free by Traci Chee ~

β€œIs this what life is like? People coming together and drifting apart, coming together and drifting apart, over and over until there’s no one left?”

The award for “Most Tears Of The Year” (yes I just made that up) goes to We Are Not Free by Traci Chee! 14 POVs brought out the individuality of each character beautifully, and while this was not my first Traci Chee book, it was definitely the most impactful. And I’m sure it will also leave a lasting impact on you (and those poor tissues that’ll get wet in the process)

Why I picked it up: I decided to give this a try after reading Cherelle’s review!

~ #7 Supernova by Merissa Meyer ~

β€œSome people were always meant to be heroes.
Just like some people were always meant to be villains.”

Superheroes. And supervillains. But not the cheesy kind, I promise.

The third and final book in the Renegades trilogy, Supernova was the best of the lot. It was filled to the brim with action and anguish and secrets and I couldn’t have hoped for a better ending.

Why I picked it up: It was because of April’s review of the Renegades trilogy that I decided to read it. (though April, I do realize that you liked the first two books better?? but anyway.)

~ #6 Sands Of Arawiya Duology by Hafsah Faizal ~

β€œA thousand leagues and a thousand sands. For you, a thousand times I would defy the sun.”

I swear there’s some sorcery involved here because Faizal straight off picked all my favourite tropes, topped it with mind-blowing writing and humour, and named the result the Sands Of Arawiya duology. That’s how good this book is.

If you’re curious about the tropes in question, we had enemies to lovers, knife to throat, slow burn and plenty of witty banter. Still need convincing? Read the epic showdown of WHTF against the hype-o-meter!

Why I picked it up: I read Cherry’s and Kaya’s reviews, and it was then I knew that I needed to read this duology!

~ #5 Aurora Cycle duology by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff ~

β€œHe asks for nothing, this boy. No favor. No quarter. He lives every moment of his life is pain, but still, he lives it. And he stands, where others would have long ago fallen.”

Full of complex and well-developed characters, found family vibes, and cool spaceships, the Aurora Cycle duology (now a trilogy) has to be one of the best space operas I’ve ever read! And WOULD YOU LOOK AT THOSE COVERS??

Why I picked it up: Madeline convinced me to pick up this one through her constant ramblings about this series on her blog! Ashmita also recommended this to me!

~ #4 These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong ~

β€œYou know me. Running around. Living life. Committing arson.”

Ok this was another one of those instances where I got carried away by the hype and am glad I was. Because #ownvoices historical fiction! set in asia! blood feuds! morally grey characters! badass girl and soft boy! enemies to lovers at it’s finest! and whatever else I mentioned in the graphic of course, but tell me, do you still need a reason to go bury your nose in These Violent Delights right now?

~ #3 Rule Of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo ~

β€œThe world might crumble, but Nikolai Lantsov would be holding up the ceiling with one hand and plucking a speck of dirt from his lapel with the other when it all went to ruin”

I’ll have you know that this was the book that pushed These Violent Delights out of the top 3 at the very last moment. I finished reading the duology (but I put only rule of wolves here because i found it even better than king of scars) just yesterday evening, it doesn’t get any more last-minute than that. Also please do understand that because of the reason stated above, my feelings for this one are very fresh. So. ASJHDFHFGSJK MISS BARDUGO YOU DID IT AGAIN I LOVED THIS SO SO MUCH IT’S BRILLIANT. And did I mention I’m obsessed with Zoya and Nikolai’s characters? And the Six of Crows references were EVERYTHING.

~ #2 House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune ~

β€œSometimes, he thought to himself in a house in a cerulean sea, you were able to choose the life you wanted. And if you were of the lucky sort, sometimes that life chose you back.”

With dry sarcastic humour, out of the world character development and found family vibes, The House In The Cerulean Sea is in short, AWESOME. It will tug at all your heartstrings (note the use of “will”) and make you laugh and cry and then smile through watery eyes and much more including staring at the wall trying to process how a book can be so beautiful.

~ #1 Six Of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo ~

β€œβ€œGreed is your god, Kaz.”
He almost laughed at that. “No, Inej. Greed bows to me. It is my servant and my lever.””

At this point, I am 200% sure this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, given the amount of SoC references there are in my posts. And there have also been posts specifically dedicated to this duology (apart from the review), the latest being Books I’d Use As Weapons // aka books i’d throw at jesper if i was david.
I am wholly and truly OBSESSED with everything that has to do with this duology. I don’t even have words (turns out, i do) to describe the sheer PERFECTION this duology is – it’s captivating, it’s brilliant, it’s… perfect. (yeah I’m running out of synonyms here)

Why I picked it up: Well because it is so massively hyped and everyone was raving about it. But I first came to know about it from Cherelle’s blog last year, so shout-out to her!

A quick little vote of thanks before we move one- THANK YOU Anoushka, Cherelle, April, Cherry, Kaya, Madeline and Ashmita for recommending these fantastic reads to me because it’s very likely i never would have read these without your persuasion!

I had to include an Honourable Mentions section because I am afraid of the wrath of the bookish gods even though these books couldn’t make it to my top 10 because of ~competition~, nevertheless they cannot be left out as they were also absolutely amazing books that deserve all the love they can get.

Cemetery Boys
Perfect on Paper

Soo I feel like I’m supposed to make an eloquent speech at the end of this post so here goes *ahem * GO READ ALL OF THESE BECAUSE TRUST ME, YOU NEED THESE IN YOUR LIFE OKAY?! Ok not quite the eloquence I was hoping for but it gets the point across.

How was your Christmas? Candy? Gifts?? Which were your best reads in 2021? Have you read any of mine? Thoughts?
Oh and before you go, let’s scream it together – NO MOURNERS, NO FUNERALS!!

~ Rachel

My Worst Reads Of 2021! // ft. a lot of disappointed sighing

Someone stole my Office keys. He’s gonna pay, you have my Word. (get it? like Microsoft Office? MS Word?)

Oh hi. Yeah I don’t know what happened there. Obviously my poor attempt at lightening the mood was unsuccessful. Well then. Points for effort.

Sooo. As part of wrapping up the year, you’ll be seeing a lot of these bookish lists on my blog this month. And what better to start off than a list of the worst books I read this year, right? What can I say, I always believe in getting over and done with the bad stuff first. (if you ever say to me “i have good news and bad news”, like they do in the movies, you know, I’ll always vote for the bad news)

Some quick little pointers before we start!
– all of this is based on personal opinion. Though I didn’t like these books for whatever reason, that doesn’t mean I hate their fans. If you liked these books, i’m happy for you.
– this list is in no particular order, though I did dislike some books more than the others.

With that out of the way, let’s get started right away!

~ The Young Elites by Marie Lu ~
The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

Ironically, The Young Elites was our first pick for the hype-o-meter series (a series of posts in which I and my dear friend April determine whether or not a book is truly worth the hype), because hello, it’s Marie Lu, the popular author whose books everybody seems to love.

I think this book and me got off in the wrong foot (the initial scenes weren’t very encouraging), and after that, well, everything just went more and more downhill. I mean okay, so Ms Lu tried very hard to create morally grey characters but they just turned out to be conflicted and confused about everything in their life. And to top that, the narration was first person, and if I despise the main character, do you really think I’d be interested in seeing the world through their eyes? I mean, Adelina had no direction. She thought something, said something else and did something totally different (and often these actions were stupid). Add to this sorely underdeveloped characters and you get a recipe for what Rachel dislikes in a book.

~ The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman ~
The Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts, #1)

This. This was the biggest disappointment this year, maybe the biggest ever in my life. Maybe it was my fault for having huge expectations? I read this back in the month of April, just a few days after it got released. This honestly had SO much potential, the concept was mind-blowing, but the execution just fell flat. *sigh* Nami as the main character and also our narrator was so repetitive that it got really annoying. Unpopular opinion, i know.
Then the plot twist at the end was sort of lazy writing, to get the reader excited for the sequel i guess. I don’t know. I just didn’t care.

~ Shadow Jumper by J.M Forster~
Shadow Jumper (Shadow Jumper #1)

To be honest, the first part of the book wasn’t bad. In fact, it was good. But I have no idea what happened after that. Like everything seemed too hasty and not properly researched. The plot was quite predictable and the conclusion was extremely unsatisfactory too. I think I also read this during the time I was just giving up on middle grade, so that might have played a part too.

~ The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum ~
The Middler

Once again, the synopsis was so promising, even the whole concept of ” the middle child being bad luck” was unique, but the story as a whole failed to deliver. I read this way back, in February, so I don’t even remember much of it. From what I recall, I almost dnf’ed it several times, it was so monotonous. I felt distanced from the characters; I didn’t care what happened to them. The escapades seemed too convenient and some plot points didn’t even make sense.

~ The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He ~
The Ones We're Meant to Find

This is the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” case. I spent nearly the entirety of the book feeling confused and stumped. The dual povs + the switching timelines were something I couldn’t keep track of, so I barely understood what was going on. Among the things I liked were the atmosphere, the worldbuilding, and the unique take on climate change. Unfortunately it was not enough. Among the two sisters Celia and Kasey, I liked Celia’s chapters much more than Kasey’s (at least initially) and the whole “surviving on a remote island” concept was cool until it got boring, and once again, confusing. I also felt quite underwhelmed by the plot twists. Sorry but no.

Which were your worst reads of 2021? Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Chat with me in the comments!

~ Rachel

8 Diverse Books I Loved, And 8 That Are On My TBR!

Before I became a part of the bookish community, most of my reads were by straight white authors with likewise leads. Since then, I have become so much more aware due to lots of lovely people who promote diversity on their blogs/ booktube etc.

As an Asian myself, I understand how important it is for different cultures to be shown in books, and it is a different feeling altogether to feel represented. In the last couple of months, more than half of the books I’ve read recently are by Asian authors or have Asian characters so I am proud of how far I’ve come.

Diversity in books can mean a lot of things, but this list shall be focusing on books written by POC authors and/or having POC leads. In the first part of this post, I’ll be showcasing some of my favourite diverse reads with their highlights and in the second part, I’ll be listing diverse books which I’ve not read but are on my TBR!

I hope you have your Goodreads (or wherever you make your tbr list) open and ready, because we are starting now!

(the formatting is off in the Reader, kindly click here to read further!)

Cemetery Boys
πŸ’˜ spirits (and a certain sweet but possessive, bad boy spirit)
πŸ’˜ mexican culture
πŸ’˜ themes of identity and acceptance
πŸ’˜ fantasy with contemporary feel

The Girl Who Drank The Moon
πŸ’˜ witchy
πŸ’˜ whimsical, dreamy writing
πŸ’˜ magic running wild
πŸ’˜ multiple third person POVs

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon
πŸ’˜ talking goldfishes and lion statues
πŸ’˜ chinese folklore
πŸ’˜ dragons!
πŸ’˜ beautiful atmosphere and conclusion

We Hunt The Flame
πŸ’˜ arabia – inspired fantasy
πŸ’˜ atmospheric setting and brilliant world-building
πŸ’˜ subtle found family with lots of banter
πŸ’˜ morally grey characters

A Clash Of Steel
πŸ’˜ set in imperial china
πŸ’˜ pirates! and lost treasure!
πŸ’˜ strong woman characters
πŸ’˜ treasure island retelling

How We Fall Apart
πŸ’˜ majority of the cast is Asian
πŸ’˜ thrilling murder mystery
πŸ’˜ set in an elite prep school
πŸ’˜ secrets and rivalry and revenge

The Reader
πŸ’˜ secret society
πŸ’˜ a world where books are banned
πŸ’˜ deep and meaningful writing
πŸ’˜ pirate stories!

We Are Not Free
πŸ’˜ set during WWII
πŸ’˜ love, life and laughs amidst war
πŸ’˜ 14 POVs
πŸ’˜ heart wrenching and impactful


Here are 8 diverse books I am yet to read, but will hopefully be picking up soon!

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1)
These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)
Jade Fire Gold
A Magic Steeped in Poison (The Book of Tea, #1)
The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1)
Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology, #1)
Legendborn (The Legendborn Cycle #1)
The Bones of Ruin

Have you read any of these? Do you have any more diverse recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

~ Rachel

8 Things I Look For In Books // does it show that I am desperate for recs?

Excellent news alert! I just found out I got selected for a blog tour for one of my most anticipated releases of 2021! *happy little jig* Pretty good, right?

Soo what are we going to talk about today? That’s right, Rachel is going to list certain things that generally (pfft what a joke, the correct word is always) make her fall heads over heels in love with a book. And since short (what an understatement) introductions have become somewhat of a trend on this blog, we get started immediately.

Presenting – The 8 things that I love in books!

#1 Found Family. Let’s face it. Found family is THE best trope to ever exist, and I know I’ll never in my life get tired of it. After all its no coincidence that on Goodreads my ‘found family’ shelf is pretty similar to my ‘best books ever’ shelf, right?

#2 Banter. Come on, give me all that (friendly, or not?) rivalry with the sharp retorts, the stupid (sometimes actually funny, admit it) puns and the hiding of smiles at witty remarks.

#3 Sass. What is a book without at least one sassy character? We all know and love the fearless badass females who never seem lost for words and have the most incredible way of doing or saying even the most mundane things.

#4 Grumpy-Sunshine trope. I realize I can’t call this the best trope ever since I already did that in #1. BUT this is a very close second. It provides for plenty of banter, and who doesn’t love seeing the classic ‘grumpy’ character pretending he’s annoyed but is secretly enjoying the quirks of the ‘sunshine’?

#5 Characters who like to read. Ah well I like to know I’ve atleast something in common with fictional characters, and since I am never going to be brave enough wage battles against the evil, my love for reading will have to do.

#6 Mr. Narrowed Eyes who walks with a flashing neon sign that says “I am evil with no emotions” but is actually a sensitive marshmallow. I actually made an entire post about this trope earlier this year(I still have no idea what it’s called so I made up a name). So these are basically characters who for some incomprehensible reason keep trying to prove to the world just how evil they are but they are the exact opposite.

#7 Mind-boggling endings. It might seem a bit out-of-the-ordinary but I actually enjoy books ending in a way that makes my mouth hang open trying to process everything.

#8 Lots of things happening all at once. It’s no secret that I like to see lots of action and fast paced reads are generally my type (though I have been proved wrong on more than one occasion).

As you probably may have gathered, it would not be inaccurate if I would have titled this post as “Things I Loved In Six Of Crows”, but we’re going to ignore that. Please and thank you.

What are some things you love seeing in books? Let’s chat in the comments!

Missed my previous posts? Click on the links below to read them!

Books As Road Trips // a random post that emerged out of the void

The Young Elites vs The Hype-o-Meter!

Normal! // Fantasies In Which The Main Character Does Not Have Magical Abilities

Let’s play that game where you have to say the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear a particular word. Music? Dancing. TV? Netflix. Fantasy? Magic…oh wait.

Welcome to the fourth and final post in the series of themed recommendation posts I have been writing on my blog lately! In this series, I choose a random theme, and give you some of the best books I have read based on that theme. You can read my previous posts which were part of this series here, here and here!

Okay, so let’s talk about that little game I played in the beginning. Why is that the human brain associates fantasy with magic? Of course, this association is not unjustified. I believe about 95% of books belonging to the fantasy genre that I have read recently revolve around magic and/or have a main character who has magical powers. But fantasy itself should not be defined as mere magic. In light of this, today Rachel brings you a list of fantasy novels she loved which have a ‘normal’ main character, as in, the main character does not have any magical powers. Click on the cover images to add the books to your Goodreads TBR!

The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune || My Review

The House In The Cerulean Sea is going to be at the top of every recommendation post (and other posts too) from now on so you’ll have to get used to it. What can I say about this beautiful book that hasn’t already been said? Go read this heartwarming, hopeful and magical (albeit without the literal magic- at least not in the main character) fantasy if you haven’t already.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I am impressed how the author has created such an immersive dystopian world without it being based on magic. I was quite obsessed with the trilogy when I read it though some things in Allegiant were disappointing *cough* that ending *cough* but do give it a read if you’re looking for an intense and fast paced dystopian fantasy.

Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman || My Review

Yes, yes I know what you’re thinking but I am not really considering Auri as a main character because she doesn’t have much role to play in this book as in the second one (and anyway what she does is not exactly ‘magic’, right?). But looking at our crew, the six main characters, none of them have magical powers and perhaps that’s one of the reasons Aurora Cycle duology is a huge favourite of mine.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Ah I had read this so long back (read: 1.5 years back), in the school library. I don’t remember much, but I do recollect recommending this to a lot of my friends and being surprised about the lack of magical powers in the characters.

The Great Zoo Of China by Matthew Reily

I just realized I haven’t mentioned this book on my blog ever! I mean, how is that possible? Trust me to forget unforgettable books. Anyway, The Great Zoo Of China is a brilliant book (5 stars from me when I read it a year back!) with lots of action, and even more dragons. Perfect for anyone suffering from Jurassic Park hangover.

Honourable Mentions

Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo!! Yes, there is magic and all in the Grishaverse, but do notice that of our six crows, four do not have any magical abilities (oh my god I hope nobody got spoiled) hence the mention.

I recently read the entire Heroes Of Olympus series by Rick Riordan and I realized that from the crew of 7 demigods, it is only Annabeth who does not have any magical powers. The HOO series will definitely not make it to this list (too much magic!) but Annabeth does deserve an honorable mention, doesn’t she?


And with that, my friends, we conclude this post as well as the recommendation series! I must admit, recommendation posts are much harder than they look, but I did enjoy writing all the four posts. Hopefully you enjoyed reading them too and found some new books to add to your TBR list.

Did you find this recommendation series helpful? Have you read any of the books I mentioned in this post? Which is your favourite fantasy with a ‘normal’ main character? Chat with me in the comments! Until later!!

Hidden Gems! // Under-hyped Books Which Deserve More Love

Hiya everyone! Today I bring you the third post in the series of themed recommendations that I have been doing on my blog since last week (read the first post here and the second one here in case you missed them!) Today’s theme is underrated or underhyped books which are favourites of mine.

I constantly keep bugging all of you to read Six Of Crows (in a very non-threatening way, of courseπŸ˜‰) but I have realized of late that I don’t need to. 8 out of every 10 people I find on Goodreads have read (and loved, mostly) this duology. Similar is the case with so many books – Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, The Lunar Chronicles(I haven’t read this yet eek!), Hunger Games and countless more that we hear spoken about everyday in the bookish community. But what about all those books which are in no way lesser than these hot shots, but due to some reason are hardly ever mentioned in this blogosphere, or in the bookish community in general? There are so many hidden gems out there which definitely deserve much more hype than they get. So today I am going to be recommending you some amazing books which are unfortunately on the lowest rung of the ladder of “status in the bookish society”. Click on the cover images to add the books to your Goodreads TBR!

Nevermoor: The Trials Of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

Of course this HAD to be on the top of this list! Nevermoor was one of my favourite reads in 2020, and it breaks my heart to see how so few really talk about it. All the characters were just *chef’s kiss* and it was endearing to see a child rejected by all (including her own father and step mother) because she was supposedly cursed and then later finding her place in Nevermoor. And Jupiter might just be the best fictional character ever written.

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Why haven’t more people discovered this amazing book yet? It might be the only book written in first person POV that I have enjoyed so far. The main character, Herbie, was so simple yet so complicated, oblivious yet witty. You can read my full review of Malamander here.

The Wave by Morton Rhue

The Wave is a contemporary historical fiction based on a true event. It is a quick read, but it is truly thought-provoking and a must-read if you’re interested in history (like me!) blended with some high school drama.

The Flame Of Olympus by Kate O’Hearn

This was kinda like Percy Jackson set in a more contemporary world! There were redemptions, new friendships and so much more in this middle grade novel based on Roman mythology.

The Miracle On Ebenezer Street by Catherine Doyle

This is under-hyped on an epic level – only about 300 ratings on Goodreads! It was one of those warm (uhh metaphorically of course, its set during Christmas lol) and fluffy books you’d want to hug (does that sound weird πŸ™ƒ) and will definitely cheer you up.

The Finisher by David Baldacci

I realize that this is probably the first time I am speaking about this book on my blog, but it use to be quite a favourite of mine when I bought and read the entire series. The Finisher is the first book in the four-book Vega Jane series, a dystopian fantasy that fans of Divergent and alike would probably enjoy.

And we are done for today! Hopefully your TBR got a little bigger!

Let’s Chat!

Have you read any of these books? Which is your favourite underrated/underhyped book? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. I am sorry if I am being a little boring nowadays, school’s really got to me and I think I may have began experiencing blogging burn-out. Hopefully I’ll be back to writing my normal *fun* posts soon!