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

The End Of The Year Book Tag // ft. a fraction of my tbr for 2022!

‘Tis that time of the year, folks! Okay wait no, that doesn’t sound right. I would be saying that if I’d been blogging for decades (or maybe even a couple of years) and this was my 17th time doing this annual tag. Far from it; it’s actually my first time. *sigh* So much for that one line. I’ll go with my usual “hey guys” next time.

Anyway, we have some brilliant bookish questions to answer, so let’s get started, shall we?

~Are there any books you started this year that you still need to finish?~

Not My Problem

King of Scars (King of Scars, #1)

At the time of writing, I am currently reading Not My Problem and King Of Scars. I am almost 60% in the former, but have read only a few pages of the latter. But I definitely hope to finish both in a few days.

~Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?~

Small Spaces (Small Spaces, #1)
The Haunting of Aveline Jones

Umm not really. But I do feel obliged to mention a couple of books with autumn vibes, so we are going to go with Small Spaces and The Haunting Of Aveline Jones.

~Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?~

If This Gets Out

If This Gets Out is the last 2021 release I’m waiting for.

~What are three books you want to get to before the end of the year?~

Our Violent Ends
Aurora's End (The Aurora Cycle, #3)
Rule of Wolves (King of Scars, #2)

*nervous chuckle* sooo that’s a difficult one because there are at least a million books I want to read in 2021 (or what’s left of it), you know, books I said I would read this year for sure but never got to them, books on my shelves collecting dust… but that’s a depressing line of thought so let’s move on.

I picked 3 books from my “asap tbr”, which I would very much like to get to immediately, if circumstances allow it. (by which I mean if I somehow manage to acquire a copy of OVE) All 3 are sequels of some sort, and I guess I want to read them this year so that sometime far away in the future (read: next year) I can say that I finished such-and-such series in 2021.

~ is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite of the year? ~

Well saying the favourite would be a bit of a stretch, since that spot (and a few spots below it as well) has already been occupied… but yeah I guess there can be a couple additions to my top 10? But also. I’ve learnt that books can surprise you when you least expect it, so no promises.

~ Have you already started making reading plans for 2022? ~

Not plans per say, but of course I’ve a huge tbr laid out for the initial months of 2022. There are SO many amazing releases (just LOOK at those covers!!) coming out next year, and also I have quite a lot of backlist books (books released in 2021 and before) that I want to read, so my tbr is a mix of all these. But (i feel like all of my answers have this ‘but’ element??) then again, who follows tbrs over here right?

Is there a 2021 release you’re still waiting for? Which are your most anticipated 2022 releases? Let me know in the comments!

~ Rachel

Discussion Post: Reviewing Books // how it has affected my reading, the kind of books I like to review, and a look into my reviewing process!

Hello people!

Why don’t we start with the elephant in the room – Rachel is writing a discussion?? Yes, yes I am. I know it has been a loooong while since I wrote a proper one, but blame inspiration. It never struck. Anywayy, onto the real stuff now!

I think most of us book bloggers, including me of course, started our book blog primarily to review books, and though we do so much more on our little corners of the internet now, book reviews still remain the soul of our blog.

I read avidly since I was really young, but didn’t always review books, in fact I’m quite a newbie as I started seriously reviewing only in the beginning of 2021. And while obviously my reviews have improved a LOT over time (please don’t read my earlier ones, they’re really cringey), today I’m gonna be talking about how reviewing has changed how I read, my take on the controversial “compulsory reviewing”, and in the second part of the post we look at my detailed reviewing process. (Oh and also, I’ll be asking myself questions since I couldn’t get anybody else to do that for me. Let’s see how that goes)

Do I read differently now that I review what I read?

Definitely. Blogging has impacted my reading in a big way. Not only am I open to more genres, the expectation of reviewing my reads has caused me to read more critically. In order to judge a book fairly, I must pay more attention to specifics like character development, the magic system, the worldbuilding etc, while also keeping enjoyment as a factor. Which brings us to the next big question.

Do I review every book I read?

Nope. Negative. (In fact, in the first quarter of 2021, I hardly reviewed any of the books I read!)
To make this appealing to math geeks, I selected 20 of my recent reads, and counted how many of them I’ve reviewed on my blog and/or on Goodreads. It came out as 11, which accounts for 55% of my reads. While that is definitely not accurate for the entire year (which is approximately when I started reviewing), it is a pretty average number for the ratio of the books I’ve been reviewing to the ones I read. And yes, while I’d like to increase this figure, I am happy with it.

In my opinion, no book blogger should feel pressured to review every single book they read. It’s completely fine if you don’t have much to say about a book. Picking up this thread, let’s move to the next major question – what can be the reason I don’t want to review a particular book?

Which kind of books do I like to write reviews for? When don’t I want to review a book?

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll see a plethora of positive reviews and barely any negative ones (scratch that. only 2 negative ones till date.) So yes, we can conclude that I love writing reviews for books I loved. I mean, of course, who wouldn’t like to scream about their newest obsessions right?

But then it is often 5 star books that are also hardest to review because sometimes… well… you just loved the book but you don’t know why exactly. Or atleast you don’t have enough words to write 10 paragraphs with. Same goes for some 4 star reads – I rate them 4 stars from instinct, because something is missing – but I have no clue what that something is. Hence, no review for such books from me.

On most occasions I find it easiest to write reviews for books I rated between 2 to 3 stars because then I have a healthy balance of things I liked and those I didn’t to include in my review.

My reviewing process!

#1 Just after I finish a book, I try to gauge my overall feelings towards it – whether I disliked it, liked it, really liked it, LOVED it… you know the thing. This is the most crucial, and sometimes the hardest, part because ultimately the way I feel towards a book decides the tone and vibes of my review.

#2 I write down pointers about the book in a curated list – this can be anything from a pros and cons list to a list of tropes featured in the book, or some general pointers about what stood out about that book. I like to do this immediately after finishing the book because the details are fresh in my mind.

#3 When I finally sit down to write the review a few days later, I make sure to refer my list. Then I organize the flow in my head – like I am gonna talk about the worldbuilding first, the characters next and the tropes later – that sort of a thing.

#4 Finally, I form complete sentences from my rough ideas. It is ironic how writing the actual review is the easiest part after doing all of the above things.

#5 And at the very end, I insert quotes and separators, and the synopsis and details – basically giving the entire thing a fine finish, and tada – you have a review ready! (whoa I really managed to make it all sound so easy)

Has reviewing books affected your reading in any way? What kind of books do you find hardest to review? What is your reviewing process? Let’s discuss in the comments!

~ Rachel

Arc Review: Bloody Spade by Brittany M Willows // ft. my first ever moodboard!

Thank you so much to the author for reaching out and providing me an ARC of Bloody Spade in exchange of an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

Book Details

Bloody Spade (The Cardplay Duology, #1)

Title: Bloody Spade

Author: Brittany M. Willows

Series: The Cardplay Duology #1

Publication Date: 15th September 2021

Genre(s): Young Adult Fantasy

Add to Goodreads!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

A girl full of heart
A thief touched by darkness
A boy with a fiery temper
An unwitting servant of evil

The era of magic was once thought to be a myth, but after the Reemergence ushered forces both dark and light into the mundane world, it has since become a harsh reality. Now those affected by this strange power—a specialized group of Empowered called Jokers, known collectively as Cardplay—must protect their world from the darkness that threatens to consume it, all the while fighting for equality in a society clinging to normalcy.

But the Reemergence was only the beginning.

When another influx occurs on the seventh anniversary of that fateful event, an unfortunate encounter at ground zero lands Iori Ryone, a teenage boy in possession of a corrupt and legendary magic, in the care of recent Joker graduate Ellen Amelia Jane. From him, she learns the Reemergence may not have been the inevitable natural disaster it first seemed.

Someone is trying to tear down the barrier that separates the magical realms from the mundane. The question is, can Cardplay stop them before it’s too late?

Bloody Spade is the first installment in an urban fantasy duology that follows a cat-eared thief and a spirited girl as they try to navigate his wild magic, her hotheaded brother, a sinister plot, and the feelings they’re developing for each other.

My Review

Buddy read with Rania @Rania’s Rambling Reads in July!

Now that was a rollercoaster of a book!

You know books which start off ever so slowly and gradually pick up pace? Well, Bloody Spade was NOT one of those. We were plunged right into the story in the very beginning, and it was such an exciting and promising start! After reading the first few chapters I was completely hooked. We have this cat-eared and cat-tailed thief (yes, thief!) who also yields dark magic, so obviously there was never a dull moment.

After setting up such high expectations in the beginning, the second half disappointed me a little. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was clearly not what I got. The ending and some other stuff in the middle was so very predictable, that was perhaps the only thing that I did not like about this book.

The major thing that makes this book stand out in my mind is its complex and detailed magic system. Though initially it was a lot to take in, I really appreciated the unique magic system (its based on cards!!) and detailed worldbuilding once I got the hang of it.

The characters were fantastic. My favourite was definitely Iori (like the name itself is awesome?), our misunderstood protagonist who basically controls magic that kills everyone else it touches (yes it is cliche but I love it anyway) and it took me a little more time to develop a liking to Ellen, our other protagonist who also yields strange magic but is a hopeless optimistic, but I eventually did. I felt like the side characters were quite underdeveloped, so I am looking forward to some improvement on that in the sequel.

Another thing about the characters was that they sometimes behaved like 12 year-olds (they were actually 16), so keeping that and some other aspects in mind, I would say this book would be perfect for somebody who is just transitioning from reading middle grade to young adult.

Overall, I’d recommend Bloody Spade to fans of the Renegades trilogy, and anyone who is looking for some rich urban fantasy in general.

My Rating:

★★★★ (4 stars out of 5)

Moodboard

I don’t know what it was about this book that made me want make a moodboard, and for once I decided to just go with the flow without overthinking it. Here’s my first attempt at a moodboard!

Do you have Bloody Spade on your TBR? Does it sound like something you’d be interested in reading? Which is your favourite urban fantasy?

Discussion Post: Appreciation For Book Bloggers // Let’s Talk Bookish

Hiya everyone! I am back with a discussion post, but this time it revolves around a topic from Let’s Talk Bookish.

For those who aren’t aware, Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @Eternity Books and Dani @Literary Lion. Today’s topic is – Appreciation For Book Bloggers. Of course, this is not something that is rarely discussed in the bookish community, but it is an important thing and I would like to put forward my thoughts on this as well.

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When you take so much time and effort (and sometimes even money) creating a blog and regularly writing new content, it is natural to expect some appreciation for your efforts. Taking my personal example, I started off very ambitiously and wrote my first couple of posts in the same month I created this blog. And then I saw that my posts got hardly 1 or 2 views, and this made me question my decision of starting a blog in the first place. If nobody is interested in reading what I write, then why should I? This was something of my mindset then. I got quite discouraged, and discontinued writing anything on this blog for a couple of months.

Probably because of the blessing of the bookish gods, one fine day after 2-3 months of creating this blog, I published another post. This one too was a major flop, but I this time I kept going. Slowly, I made friends here, people started reading my content and interacting with me. Even today, each of your views and comments on my posts makes my day. So yes, my readers make me feel appreciated.

And there are also days when I feel particularly desolate, when I feel that my content is under-appreciated because only about 20 people read my posts. But then I am still pretty lucky to have these people, no matter the number, who always are so sweet and supportive. They encourage my to continue writing, and it is because of them that I have grown as a blogger.

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Everyday more and more people are taking conscious efforts to promote and support book bloggers. I have come across many such initiatives and it makes me happy to see all the new creative ways people are finding to recognize book bloggers. For instance, Sofii has created The Definitive Book Blogger List over at her blog, and it is such a cool idea to compile a list of book bloggers! Thank you Sofii for this amazing initiative!!

I’ve observed that it is generally book bloggers who appreciate the work of their peers the most. Since I am a book blogger myself, I relate to that feeling of elation when someone posts a positive comment etc on my content, hence I try to do that for other bloggers as much as I can. That’s probably the case with most of you, right?

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I can’t speak for others, but I know that the only compensation I want from the book industry in return for my work on this blog is for book bloggers like me to be recognized as an important part of this industry. We constantly highlight new books and authors, discuss important topics that readers should be aware of, give trigger and content warnings to readers and so much more. Still I feel that the role of book bloggers is often dismissed as trivial. That needs to change.

And with that, I have said everything I wanted to. I do realize this discussion is quite short when compared to my others, but that was probably because I was pretty blunt and said what needed to be said in a few lines.

Do you feel appreciated as a book blogger? What more do you think can be done to encourage book bloggers? Chat with me in the comments, I’d love to have a friendly discussion!

See ya!

We are now a family of 100!! 🎉 + Introducing a proper posting schedule (finally!)

Hello you guys! I am not sure what to say without sounding extremely soppy. Let me just say it straight. This blog now has 100 followers! Yes I know, I couldn’t believe it either. Thank you so much all of you for all the love and support you have shown this little piece of the internet which is so close to my heart 🥺. I love each and every one of you for showing your appreciation for my content through likes and comments, and even for simply taking the time to read through my posts🥰.

Since a lot of you have been with me for quite some time, I would like some honest feedback about my blog from you all. Even if you are a relatively new follower, your feedback would be much welcomed. To keep everything more organized, I have created a Google Form for the same, so please do fill it out, I would really appreciate it. I am linking the Form below!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScVbNV5zrqc9fXt2gud74QqzyW8RrEENWDzkvNcBHFpsRFT8w/viewform?usp=sf_link

Please let me know in the comments if you’ve filled the form, so I can check!


Another thing I wanted you all to know is that I am working towards making my blog more organized (like that’s ever going to happen😏), so I have decided that from now on, I will not be posting whenever I like. Instead, I will be posting twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I will be following this schedule for atleast this month of April, then I might change the days. Let’s see how it goes.


That is all I wanted to say. Thank you once again for being the reason I have reached this important milestone of 100 followers! And don’t forget to fill the form! See you in my next post on Wednesday!!