The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2022

Normal people have mid-life crises. Bookworms have mid-year crises. Doesn’t seem that different, until you realize that hiding in dark corners where books from your huge tbr —books that you’d PROMISED you’d read in JANUARY and you blinked and now it’s somehow already JUNE and they are as unread as ever— cannot give you death glares is NOT something normal people do.

And what is the cure to this inevitable bookish sobbing? More books! Preferably not from the aforementioned tbr (YOU DON’T SCARE ME um- *whimpers*), instead ones that you just chanced upon a moment ago while scrolling through goodreads! That’s the glorious bookworm life folks.

Soo apparently I have decided not to stick with the original tag because rachel has trouble following convention—it’s a rebellious phase *shrugs*—so I’ve changed and added questions here and there but it’s still fun i promise. (but that’s not a blood oath or anything mind you, so don’t come at me if you end up falling asleep halfway through)

because we stan math in this house… Bookish Stats!

Soo I’ve actually been working on tracking my reads this year in a very organized way so that I do not become a sorry mess at the end of the year. Hence all the numbers!

Considering that my goal for the year is 65, im doing pretty decently at 39 halfway through!

Honestly there are fewer 2022 releases than I thought, but atleast that means I’ve been finally catching up on my backlist tbr! 3 out of these 8 were ARCs anyway.

2022 will forever be known as the year I took baby steps into the adult age-range! Since I turned 15 earlier this year, it was about time really. My experience with it? Well I have mixed feelings- while most of the adult books I read were awesome (and a couple became new favourites!) there were some that completely let me down *cough* Jade City *cough*. (any recs for this newbie??)

I’ve managed to score some diversity points too because I’ve actively been scourging for books with a central queer representation and those by asian authors. While I’m still slightly disappointed that asian authors made up only about a quarter of my reading so far this year, I’m hoping to increase the number by the year end so cheer me on! (also feel free to scream recs at me)

(note: if you are a math nerd like me, you might have noticed these don’t add up to 39! that’s because some of my reads belonged to two or more genres, for example there were books which were a mystery set in the contemporary world)

Who knew my least read genre of 2021 (because I only started reading it in November) would be my most read so far this year? I blame summer. The heat turns my brain to mush and makes it incapable of processing fantasy or historical fiction.

Also. You’re not dreaming. I really did not read a SINGLE sci-fi this year. I guess I got tired of space missions after all. (not to mention i actually have to use BRAIN CELLS to comprehend it)

Remember how one of my goals for this year was to conquer the world that growing physical tbr?? To no one’s surprise I failed MISERABLY. The physical tbr has only gotten bigger and so has my kindle library. Oh well.

Best Book(s) Of 2022 So Far

Soo I cheated because I couldn’t bring myself to pick 1 or even 2 out of these. Eh I make the rules here remember? BUT you’ve got to appreciate the RANGE i have here like-

our violent ends: omg omg omg chloe gong did it again! this romeo and juliet retelling set in 1920’s shanghai, sequel to the iconic These Violent Delights, was a whole EXPERIENCE. it gave me multiple heart attacks but SO. WORTH. IT.

fable + namesake: a gripping pirate-y adventure if i ever saw one. so addictive i put aside all my assignments and dedicated one entire weekend to finishing the duology. (which, in hindsight, did not work out so well later.)

dial a for aunties: this rom com slash murder mystery was so unique and so chaotic oh my gosh! there’s a lot of frantic running about trying to hide a dead body at a billionaire wedding so obviously! also the asian aunties were ICONS i love them so much i-

pride and prejudice: what was i doing with my life before i read this?? gossiping about scandalous society affairs? it could be a possibility because i literally do not remember a time i was NOT obsessed with elizabeth and mr. darcy.

when you get the chance: a delightful book with one of the most realistic and lovable main characters ever written! my first and favourite emma lord book!!

New Releases I Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

queen of the tiles: mystery, scrabble, muslim rep?? SIGN ME UP. [released april 19]

sofi and the bone song: i’ve been hearing great things and this musical fantasy sounds right up my alley. [released april 19]

a magic steeped in poison: tea brewing competition sounds delicious and that cover has my whole heart so [released march 29]

Most Anticipated Release(s) For Second Half Of The Year

foul lady fortune: AHHHHH ok let’s all calm down *deep breaths* AHHHHHHHHHHHH i mean i’d devour anything chloe gong writes but there’s SPYING and i’ve been going FERAL over those little snippets she likes to keep torturing us with-

a million to one: DESI HEIST ON THE TITANIC?? omg omg omg can the time between now and the release date just go home??

Biggest Disappointment(s)

blazewrath games: how can anything with DRAGONS be so disappointing is beyond me. the characters talked and behaved like 12 year olds and the plot didn’t set well with me.

flip the script: same old same old. highly anticipated release turns out to be a huge disappointment because of a weird childish writing style and predictable storyline.

Book(s) That Made Me Happy

dial a for aunties: i mean, if you can call rolling-on-the-floor-laughing-plus-chortling as happy, sure.

so this is ever after: all the characters are so lovable gosh and its overall so weird?? but in a good way? and the fact how everyone is so casually queer and it is never made a big deal of makes me so happy.

Favourite New Author

emma lord: my first book by lord was her latest release ‘when you get the chance’ and after that i made it my personal mission to devour everything she writes. 3 books so far and no disappointments.

Most Beautiful Book(s) I Bought This Year

a far wilder magic: bought this one very recently and i am in love with the shiny greens on the cover! i can’t wait to find out if the story is just as good!!

pride and premeditation: ahhh the cover art is gorgeous and i had fun choosing crayola pens to go with it for booksta! (also it is a pride and prejudice retelling but MURDER MYSTERY!! and it was so amazing like-)

Books I Need To Read By The End Of The Year

Favourite books of 2022 so far?? (RECS PLEASE) Books that made you happy?? Have you read any of these? Let’s freak out together in the comments!

~Rachel

Book Review: Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Sutanto

I’ve come to the realization that I like books that make me laugh more than I do those that make me cry. It’s very close though. I mean, sure, raising global water levels with all those tears is nice but snorting out so loud while reading that people begin giving you weird looks? Now that’s fun.

Title: Dial A For Aunties
Author: Jesse Sutanto
Age Group/Genre: Adult Contemporary
Add to Goodreads!

Synopsis: When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—”Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!“—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream flowers.
But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?

Hot off the press- Rachel read this entire book in a single day! I haven’t read a full-length novel in one sitting since what, years now? That speaks volumes about how quick paced and addictive Dial A For Aunties was. (and also about how I really need to learn my priorities but shh)

I still can’t get over how fun the story was! Part rom-com, part murder mystery and wholly ridiculous, it had no business being so hilariously awesome. It follows Meddelin Chan, her mother and three aunties and their antics as they try to cover up an accidental murder and hide the body at a billionaire wedding they are working at. Top off this brilliant concept with witty writing and quirky characters, and *tada* we have a new favourite.

“Yes, you right, more respectful”. She pats me on the cheek. “I raise you so well.”
Hysteria rises from deep in my stomach and I have to swallow it. Trust Ma to take pride in my etiquette when I’ve just shown her my date, whom I’ve killed, in the trunk of my car.

Speaking of characters. Being an Asian myself, I’ve had my fair share of fussy aunties but this?? The aunties in the story were something else entirely. Actually, ALL the women in the story were phenomenal but the aunties were straight up ICONS. Nothing, not even a dead body could faze them, and there was a point where they were all actually sipping tea in the casual asian fashion with their kidnapper. I aspire to be like these ladies, thank you very much.

The romance was definitely a little behind the scenes, but honestly I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Plus, juggling wedding management (with a shitty groom and an ongoing theft) with a dead body by your side doesn’t exactly leave much time for romancing does it?

“I told you to buy Glad brand. Haven’t you seen their ads? Glad bags will hold his cut-up body just fine, no leaks!”

…Pretty sure that when Glad was planning their marketing campaign, they didn’t think their target market would be a bunch of middle-aged Chinese women arguing about how to best dispose of a body.

This book was basically one absurd thing after the other, and I loved EVERY moment (yeeah I probably need help)

★★★★½ stars (rounded up to 5) to this weird-in-the-best-way rom-com! If this wasn’t clear from the review, I’d quite appreciate if you could drop whatever you’re doing right now and start devouring this book.

Whoever said “It’s as hard as herding cats” has obviously never tried to herd a group of Asian aunties.

Have you read Dial A For Aunties?? Thoughts?? Any books you’ve read recently that made you laugh out loud? Chat with me in the comments!

~ Rachel

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

Discussion Post: How Pride & Prejudice Does Enemies-to-Lovers Different Than Modern Day YA Books

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Pride & Prejudice is THE enemies to lovers book— in the sense that it was published much before all the 21st century novels with this evergreen trope.

But then the question arises, is enemies to lovers really evergreen?? Personal and probably unpopular opinion alert: I feel, especially in the last few weeks when I’ve been on a YA contemporary binge (owing to the summer-y weather, obviously), that this trope is slowly being diluted in newer releases and/or being forced upon the story without any apparent reason.

No hate on the trope obviously, quite the opposite. It is, in theory, one of my favourite tropes, my one true weakness, the cause of something going into my eye and causing it to water (i’m not crying you’re crying) while reading and the reason for my poor half bitten nails.

And there have been plenty of books which have executed it in ALL of it’s glory if not more (*side eyes These Violent Delights, Six of Crows, We Hunt The Flame etc*), Pride & Prejudice included, so please note that I’m definitely NOT referring to these books when I roast certain aspects of the 21st century adaptation of enemies to lovers.

Lately I keep finding new releases (thankfully, the number is still much lower than the books who have brought it honour) with character relationships that almost bring shame to the grandeur of our beloved trope. And after having spent 11 hours of my life listening to P&P and rooting for Elizabeth and Darcy all those hours more than I’ve probably ever rooted for someone, I feel more than *ahem* accomplished to compare the execution of enemies to lovers in this majestic classic to the one in recent YA novels.

In true loving-anything-with-bullet-points fashion, a list of some of the merits of enemies to lovers in Pride & Prejudice!

Note: This does not contain any major spoilers so even if you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, you’re all good! In fact, I might just convince you to read it by the end of the post ;))

There’s a compelling and realistic build-up to the tension. There are actual, legitimate reasons why our main couple dislike each other. They get off on the wrong foot because Darcy is seen as unpleasant and arrogant and Elizabeth as a lowly girl having poor connections by the other. Circumstances further heighten Elizabeth’s dislike— gossip about him having been cruel, his interfering in her sister’s marriage etc.
Certainly not like some books where random people look at each other the first time and declare the other to be their sworn enemy after NO conversation at all and like zero reason except for the fact that the author thought “oh the people like enemies to lovers?? let me force squeeze it into my book somehow”. I kid you not, this ACTUALLY happened in a book I read *cough* tokyo ever after *cough*

There’s a long period of time for feelings to evolve, and it’s actions that cause them to reconsider their initial hatred. The entire shebang of Lizzy and Darcy meeting and finally getting together spans about a year I think. Also, they were frequently miles away and not staring each other in the face ALL THE TIME. And it was after Darcy’s sudden change in behaviour, the clearing of the bad name that had been put on him that Elizabeth began to doubt whether he deserved her disregard. So just like there were reasons for them to hate each other, there were also valid reasons for them to overcome the hate.
The eternal conundrum in YA, I find, is how to make them fall in love? The answer apparently has not yet been discovered. Usually it’s a few days of forced proximity, one sudden kiss and BOOM they’re in love. Like girl he’s exactly the way he was before so why do you suddenly like him?? (*cough* not here to be liked *cough*)I now almost believe proximity will make anyone fall in love with anyone. (Well considering the situations authors put their characters into where they have to be near each other the entire time, I guess it’s not really the characters’ fault. I mean, I’d “fall in love” with my sworn enemy if it meant I could go atleast an hour without having to see their stupid face soo)

The absence of physical intimacy further brought out the chemistry between them. (a huge thanks to kaya @afictionalbookworm for suggesting this point!) It wasn’t like they could even touch each other because propriety and all BUT. Instead of lessening their chemistry, this “fallback” enhanced it because we could actually see their bond in their words without it having to be obvious with them getting physical. I’d call it a win for Miss Austen.

Society required that they be civil to each other. And boy was it entertaining to watch. Sure, we all love sassy banter and knife-to-throat scenes, but being forced to be polite and exchange pleasantries with someone you hate?? It was almost equally entertaining. Though I felt a little guilty sometimes for enjoying their immense discomfort, Elizabeth’s polite badassery and Darcy’s deadpan and brutally honest statements got me through it.
For once it was not like our “enemies” could actually kill each other (fantasy novels, looking at you) or even exchange outright insulting words and this was, surprise surprise, actually refreshing.

The couple did not always reciprocate each other’s sentiments. For some reason I haven’t seen a lot of one-sidedness in modern YA?? The couple are generally unanimous in their enemity and unanimous in their love declarations later. In P&P however, we have hate at first sight from one and a general dislike but of much less intensity from the other at the beginning. Then there’s a growing but unrequited affection that is only returned at the very end of the book. And yeah, this actually sounds more realistic than what we see in YA, because I don’t think when someone says “I’ve always loved you” the other ALWAYS replies “oh yes I have too”. Rejection exists dude. Even Mr. Collins knew that.

Have you read Pride & Prejudice?? What did you think of Lizzy and Darcy’s relationship? Do you also feel like some of the recent YA releases are not entirely doing justice to enemies to lovers?? Let’s have an open discussion in the comments!

Jade City vs the Hype-o-meter // Review

It seems befitting that I’m dipping my toes into the metaphorical ocean of adult fantasy just after turning 15.

And pray, what better way to start off my exploration of the genre than to read one of the most* hyped adult fantasy ever?

Everyone cheer for our next, and final hypeometer pick – Jade City! Will it emerge victorious or will it be crushed by the mighty hype-o-meter? *tension tension tension*

*this is by no means statistical, i have a tendency to exaggerate. just a tiny bit

Title: Jade City
Author: Fonda Lee
Age Rating: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Publishing Date: 26th June 2018
Add to Goodreads!

Synopsis:

The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.
The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.
When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.

I feel legally obliged to mention first the one thing i was screaming through the entirety of the book (and April can testify this since i bugged her so much, sorry not sorry) and that was WHERE IS THE PLOT?? Yeah seriously, no plot. Nada. Zilch. We do have lots of characters though, of all ages and genders, and we follow them living their lives. And then dying. If you find teeny tiny plot hidden somewhere, do let me know.

The only thing worse than having a non-existent (we are not sure whether it’s missing or dead yet, investigation ongoing) plotline is a slow pace to go along with it. Like. Really slow. To get the feel of it you could call it, as April and I mutually decided, dragging-an-abnormally-large-elephant-while-wading-through-molasses slow. A real transcript of our conversation:

Ok so I realize there might be some of you who have no clue at all what the book is about (and trust me i know that synopsis is very confusing) so let me try to break it down for you a little. So there is island called Kekon, which is basically a mining site for jade. Now jade, as you might guess from the title, is VERY important. Like illegitimate-daughter-of-the-Crown-Prince-of-Japan important.*

Now if you have been paying attention (i hope you have, for your sake *knife emojis*), you might ask, But why is jade so significant? Should I not have thrown away that old bracelet with a little green stone?? Oh no I regret to inform you that you have not lost much by throwing away the bracelet. *visible disappointment* In this fictional world, jade grants those who wear it certain special physical and mental abilities like enhancing their speed, strength and sensory feelings. The book is centered around the Kaul family, who are extremely powerful Green Bones – the name given to those who wear and wield jade. There is another powerful Green Bone family, the Ayts, and inevitably the two rival clans go to war. And then there are other things put into mix— foreigners developing this chemical formula which can act as sort of a substitute for jade for non Green Bones, specific Green Bone rituals like a victor making the jade of his fallen opponent in battle his own, a madness called the Itches which is like a wild, uncontrollable urge for jade and what not. (hey I never said the story was basic ok? it just lacks a proper conflict is all)

*Tokyo Ever After reference at your service

In short, the story was, for lack of a better word, boring. Not even the huge (nearly as big as our elephant friend back there) cast of characters could make me take interest. Reading this felt like a chore and I was exhausted to the bone when I even thought of picking it up to read again. But if you like extraordinarily slow stories with multiple POVs and a little bit of inheritance family drama, sure, go ahead.

With that, let’s see how Jade City fared against the hype-o-meter!

There. A humiliating loss for such a popular book for sure. (i feel almost sorry. and then i remember those torturous days of reading this. then i don’t.) On the other hand, our hype-y boy is enjoying all the attention.

Speaking of which! With this comes an end of the collaborative hype-o-meter series by April and myself and gosh was it tons of fun. Our self-invented beloved hype-o-meter certainly had a glorious run, and is now all ready to say goodbye!

Linked below are all the 10 posts (5 each for both of us) which were part of this series- for nostalgic purposes! Oh and so that you can check them out in case you missed any epic showdowns!!

The Young Elites vs the hype-o-meter: Rachel’s review // April’s review
We Hunt The Flame vs the hype-o-meter: Rachel’s review // April’s review
The Inheritance Games vs the hype-o-meter: Rachel’s review // April’s review
These Violent Delights vs the hype-o-meter: Rachel’s review // April’s review
Jade City vs the hype-o-meter: Rachel’s review // April’s review

Have you read Jade City?? Did you have as much fun with the hype-o-meter series as we did?? Let’s chat in the comments!

~ Rachel

2nd Blogiversary: Shout Outs, Favourite Posts // brace yourselves for the theatrics

Having been blogging since exactly 2 years now, I almost feel ancient.

But then I remember I still can’t design aesthetics which will actually be acceptable to the human eye. Or write deeply informative and helpful posts. (borderline weird seems to be my trademark) Or stick to a posting schedule instead of popping up like a jack-in-the-box every now and then. And then I feel like a newbie again.

The effect cancels out, people. In the end I am just me.

Ooookay. I totally do not know where I was going with that. Oh and all those failures listed up there? Not me. Someone hacked into my account and wrote all that. (brutally honest, you have to give it to them) We do not believe that right? Rachel is a flawless, all-knowing, genius angel.

Alexa, play Dazed & Confused.

So. Before we got all carried away (*glares at the hacker*) what were we on about? Angelic properties in certain human beings? Oh no, that’s for another day. I think.

*someone from the audience raises their hand* Ohh that’s right, my lil blog over here turns 2 today! Can we have a round of applause please?

*exactly 1 person claps their hand. including me.* Wow aren’t we all very enthusiastic today?

(see a few months of drama club at school was certainly not wasted on me)

Theatrics aside, I am pretty excited on the occasion! Sure, there’s been ups and downs but you know what my favourite part about this has been? YOU. (ok that came out a little creepy i guess) The people. The cozy little community we have built here. And other synonyms.

Seriously, though I have always been shouting anything vaguely bookish at the void, this blog was the first place where the void answered back. To be honest, I would have given up blogging a long time ago if it hadn’t been for the friends I made here, the genuine connections forged through screens, that kept me going. Every interaction with you guys, in or out of the blogosphere, makes my day. Since you all have given me so much, I figured a vote of thanks was due. So… shout outs to some of the special people I’ve met on here who keep me smiling everyday! (i have not used their blog names on purpose because I think of them as actual people by now and not just screens)

Shout-Outs!

April thank you for being my bestie and partner in crime in a lot of bookish adventures! They say internet friends don’t last for more than a couple of months but we’re still going strong after more than a year! I feel like I can talk to you about anything (and i do lol) and I absolutely love our weird conversations and of course our buddy reads are awesome!!
Anoushka thank you for being my first ever writing buddy, i’m constantly in awe of your talent. I love your posts (you should post more often just saying) and you are a fabulous person to talk to.
Naemi you have such a sweet and genuine personality omg! Your comments are always so encouraging, I love every interaction I have with you. And your posts ooze creativity!!
Kaya I’m in awe of your consistent posting schedule and such great content every time too! I enjoy chatting with you, you’re always fun to talk to!
Suhani we’ve become friends only recently but I feel like I know you since much longer! I love how casual and familiar we have become!!
Ahaana and Cherelle thank you for being among my first followers and helping newbie-Rachel out in everything!! (I know you’re both inactive on your blogs right now, I’m waiting for you to make a re-appearance haha!)
Aarushi we haven’t talked for a while (and you haven’t been active on the blogosphere too!) but you were always the first one to hype up my writing on twitter so thank you!
Maddie thank you for including me into your march madness idea, it was tons of fun!
Prutha and Janhavi we don’t talk much on a regular basis but I really enjoyed our respective buddy reads! Here’s to more in the future :))
Phoenix hii I haven’t seen you in a while but I used to enjoy chatting with you in the comments!
Ash and Booksy we’ve become acquainted only recently but I’d love to talk to you more and make you book besties too! and i LOVE both your blogs so much like-
Cherry, Jan and Ritz I enjoy all you guys’ content, looking forward to chatting with you in the comments again like we used to earlier!

Favourite Posts

Regardless of what an extremely incompetent hacker said in the beginning of the post, I have grown as a blogger during this past year, just as much as I did in my first year of blogging. Soo a section where I can brag about a few of my posts that I’m proud of and are extremely close to my heart! Feel free to check out any which catch your eye!!

We Hunt The Flame Quotes As Real Life Moments in which I draw comparisons between quotes from one of my favourite fantasy duologies and my own life! Ok yeah it’s a stretch but whatever.

Recommending Books Based On Disney Movies Part 2 which is a 2-part series where we scream about DISNEY MOVIES and BOOKS which is a perfect combination really.

Books I’d Use As Weapons in which I select books I’d throw at Jesper if I were David. I can’t promise it will make more sense in the post either.

The Year 2021 Divided Into My Bookish Phases in which there’s lots of love to mood reading.

2021 Wrap Up: Stats, Charts and Reflections + 2022 Goals in which there are NUMBERS and CHARTS and GOALS we will never follow through.

Fictional Characters I’d Take Along For A Heist in which we have gone all bad and assemble our very own heist crew comprised of fictional characters fitting several archetypes!

Thoughts While Watching Heartstopper in which we enter the chaotic place that is my brain and fangirl over heartstopper.

Do you think internet friends can be just as close (if not closer) than irl ones? Which are YOUR favourite posts of mine (if you can remember any?) Here’s to many more years of blogging!!

~ Rachel

Thoughts While Watching Heartstopper // my brain is a chaotic place

Hi hi!

With the graphic novels already having amassed a huge number of fans, the Heartstopper show on Netflix is THE craze at the moment. Maintaining my identity as a reader-before-watcher, I dutifully read the comics just after the teaser was released. And now I’m reprimanding myself for not reading them sooner because the cuteness overload!! Dessert in book form tbh.

Not that the show was any less adorable, no sir. I shall forever be in debt to the person who made all the casting choices because each actor seemed born to play their role (i was reduced to a puddle in the ground whenever Joe Locke smiled, it’s just- it’s a Charlie smile all right).

Soo let’s move on to my more detailed thoughts while watching the show, documented live in my notes app. *bows with flourish*

  1. the casting is so perfect oh my lord
  2. i have a colourful variety of names i’d like to call ben
  3. not me drawing scene parallels from the comics
  4. dude no why would you go to the library
  5. charlie ignoring the autofill and typing the same thing anyway is just so charlie
  6. “older sister magic”
  7. aww “charlie situation”
  8. would wishing that I had a friend circle like this be a step too far from my current non existent one?
  9. Charlie’s room is GOALS
  10. the almost hand holding thing gets me every time
  11. oh my lord its the first kiss *dies*
  12. oh my lord it’s the second kiss *resurrects*
  13. sooo we’re back to the super cute hi *raises eyebrows suggestively*
  14. like she said, “gay people can be good at sports”
  15. ok wow this game is intense
  16. NOBODY gets to hurt charlie that’s the rule
  17. oh nick you can never just say no can you?
  18. ok but the question is why didnt i know about tao’s exquisite dancing skills??
  19. i know most people hate imogen for some reason but i mostly just feel sorry for her
  20. ha exactly what I’ve been saying. thank you, charlie’s mom.
  21. oof yeah that pinballing night, i remember
  22. tao nick face off!!
  23. aaand he’s told tara and darcy!!
  24. idk why but tara and darcy are like 100 times cooler to me onscreen than in the comics, and they were already pretty cool in the comics soo
  25. i’m pretty sure sipping has become a personality trait for tori at this point
  26. ohmygod nick charlie tara darcy texting parallels!!
  27. the way tao and elle suddenly became so much more interested in their milkshakes—
  28. tori’s deadpan “called it”…she’s my idol
  29. punching harry in the face must be so satisfying
  30. omg tao’s a leftie like me! so true of us
  31. aw did tao literally have to cry and break my heart like that
  32. charlie and tao making up might just be the best thing that has happened to me today
  33. oh don’t mind the noise its just me yelling BEACH BEACH BEACH
  34. i wish i could yell truths at the universe like nick
  35. nick’s coming out scene shall forever be embedded in my heart (the part that is not already occupied by all the heartstopper adorableness)

With that we’re done and waiting on Season 2! With Netflix’s previous record, I’ll be surprised if all the seasons get released in my lifetime so there’s that,,, but no harm staying optimistic, is there?

Have you seen the Heartstopper show yet? Have you read the graphic novels?? Which are your favourite scenes??

~Rachel

Red (Taylor’s Version) Book Tag

I think I’ve forgotten how to write a blog post.

I have some ideas (by which i mean only-titled-drafts of course) but putting them into words is another matter entirely. It used to come naturally, but then I give it a break and that spark is just… gone? Like hello didn’t anybody teach you it’s rude to just get up and leave like that? I sifted through at least 4 different intros before deciding I’ll just inform you guys about my latest existential crisis and declare that my eloquent introduction to this post. A round of applause for my amazing critical thinking skills please.

Ok so. I found this tag over at Georgia’s blog and since my coping mechanism includes blasting taylor swift on the speakers, it seems perfect for my life situation really.

State Of Grace – Best Opening Book In A Series

We are alone with our changing minds
We fall in love ’til it hurts or bleeds, or fades in time

Fable by Adrienne Young

This is literally the first question and I’m already cheating but we don’t talk about bruno my nefarious habits loudly ok? So this isn’t actually a series (um. i haven’t completed any series in a year. so.) but a duology and I found the first book better than the second. Anyway I don’t know how anyone of you can pass up this HOOKing (get it??) pirate adventure.

Red – a book that makes you feel a whole spectrum of emotion

Forgetting him was like tryin’ know somebody you never met
But loving him was red

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

See when I said this book was an emo rollercoaster I really meant it. It made me feel emotions I did not even know existed. I was giggling one moment, shocked-with-my-jaw-hanging-open the next, tearing up and then laughing through my tears. Quite the ~experience~

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Yeah like there was the all consuming pity for Elle, then anger on her behalf (and *ahem* possibly murderous feelings towards her stopmom and stepsister), then the nail biting tension and of course the happily ever after.

Treacherous – a slow book that you ended up loving

And I’d be smart to walk away
But you’re quicksand

We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

This was loooong and sloooow. And the sequence went like desert desert desert bang fighting desert desert. A very tempting DNF for sure. Yet I loved it for some reason? (the reason being: plenty of banter, moral greyness, knife to throat, enemies to lovers slow burn)

I Knew You Were Trouble – a book you knew would be bad and ended up being bad

I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Barnes

After the overhyped jumble The Inheritance Games was (oh how i wish it had been a standalone), I did not have high hopes for the sequel. But somehow it managed to be even worse than I had thought? The romance had me gagging and the plot was weakly tied up.

All Too Well – the book that has stayed with you the most

Is this a sign from the universe? I am not able to pick a book for the signature song of the album?? What sorcery is this?

22 – coming of age book

It feels like a perfect night
For breakfast at midnight
To fall in love with strangers

In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens

I felt like most people would choose a contemporary for this prompt, so I went with a fantasy instead (away from the crowd am i right?). Anyway. This one is a sea adventure with mermen and royalty and court politics – highly recommend!

I Almost Do – the one you keep almost reading and don’t

That I can’t say “Hello” to you
And risk another goodbye

The Red Palace by June Hur

Does it make sense that even though it’s been only three months since this book got published, it seems like I have had it on my tbr forever? Like everytime I see a glowing review, I promise people that I am going to read it real soon PLUS its sitting ready on my kindle but I still haven’t got to it? Oops.

Stay Stay Stay – a book everyone dislikes but you love

Stay, stay, stay
I’ve been loving you for quite some time, time, time

Portrait Of A Thief by Grace D Li

It’d be a bit of a stretch to say EVERYONE dislikes this, and also a stretch to say I LOVE it, buut yeah pretty close I guess? I’ve been seeing negative reviews upon negative reviews and while I 100% agree with some of the flaws pointed out, there was a lot of good too.

The Last Time – what was the last book you read?

Find myself at your door
Just like all those times before
I’m not sure how I got there
All roads, they lead me here

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

This was definitely much darker and grittier than I was expecting, and it ended up being a bit of a disappointment. There were no sub-plots at all, and the entire focus was on one and one character only- not saying that’s necessarily bad, but it didn’t feel right to me.

Holy Ground – a fan-favorite book

Back to a first glance feeling on New York time
Back when you fit my poems like a perfect rhyme

A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft

I randomly went through my goodreads shelves looking for hyped up books and this one was the first I found. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a review of this book that is not some starry eyed fan gushing about the wonder this story is. So. My expectations are sky high.

Sad, Beautiful, Tragic – a book with any of these words in the title

Long handwritten note
Deep in your pocket
Words, how little they mean
When you’re a little too late

Beautiful People Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Oof well I haven’t read this one either but I’ve heard loads about it! Someday maybe *fingers crossed*

The Lucky One – a book about fame

Now it’s big black cars and Riviera views
And your lover in the foyer doesn’t even know you
And your secrets end up splashed on the news front page

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

Everyone knows fame and boy bands go hand in hand. If this gets out deals with all the things that come in a package with being a teenage heartthrob – and not all of them are autographs and selfies.

Everything Has Changed – a book that changed how you view something

All I know is you held the door
You’ll be mine and I’ll be yours
All I know since yesterday
Is everything has changed

The Wave by Morton Rhue

It’s a short read, but so much learning is stuffed between those pages like?? It’s eerie that I used to be as skeptical about nazis as the students in the book (because how could someone with an ounce of common sense support that man?) but this book showed me how very possible and realistic it was to “brainwash” people.

Starlight – a book that makes you feel warm and cozy and magical

Don’t you see the starlight, starlight
Don’t you dream impossible things

The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

To those of you who thought I’d finally gotten over rambling about this book in every other post, the joke’s on you ha! Yeah no I very much have not forgotten what a delight this gem of a book was. Puppy eyes emoji in book form.

The Moment I Knew – a book that looks happier than it actually is

But there was one thing missing
And that was the moment I knew

Heartstopper Volumes 1-4 by Alice Oseman

I was taken by surprise when what appeared like a cute fluffy contemporary delved into several heavy topics BUT that doesn’t mean I love my boys any less.

Come Back, Be Here – a book series you want to make a resurgence OR a book series you want to be finished/the author to come back to

Taxi cabs and busy streets
That never bring you back to me
I can’t help but wish you took me with you

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Choksi

Series are intimidating. Ok yeah I know I enjoyed the first book, but something about actually continuing the series and maybe finishing it makes me want to run in the opposite direction. And that wouldn’t do at all right?? Who would write this lovely blog right here?

With that we’re done! I skipped some of the prompts, so if you’re interested in doing the tag you can find the entire prompt list over on Georgia’s blog (linked above). I’m not tagging anyone but feel free to do this on your blog, I’d love to read your answers!!

What’s your favourite song from Red? Have you read any of these books? Which is a book that made you feel a whole spectrum of emotions? (And can someone yell at me to read The Red Palace?) Let’s chat in the comments!

~Rachel

March Madness: Battle 4 & 5 // welcome to the finale

Hey long time no see! I have found out firsthand how stressful going to regular in-person school after 2 whole years of online classes is. But atleast with this post, I am popping my head up into the blogosphere once more though I can’t promise it won’t go back to languishing in the depths of the underworld once again.

Anyway! Exciting stuff today! March Madness But In Books is back for one last time – with the two final rounds you’ve all been waiting to see the results of. That’s right, the final winner shall be declared in this very post!

No idea what I’m talking about? Check out the post where we introduce this series here. Yes idea what I’m talking about? Well then what are you waiting for? Scroll away!!

— Geekerella by Ashley Poston —

Synopsis

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.
Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. 

Mini Review

SO. MANY. FEELINGS. But mushy probably makes up a major part of those feelings.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never read any Cinderella retelling before and now I’m experiencing major fomo because WHO KNEW THEY COULD BE SO MUCH FUN? We had all those significant details from the original Cinderella – Magic Pumpkin? Check. Leaving behind a glass slipper? Check. Evil stepmom and stepsisters? Check. An adorable prince? Also check. PLUS these characters actually had some depth unlike the superficial Cinderella characters (there i said it, don’t hate me). So basically, if you were a fan of Cinderella, this book is for you. If you were not a fan of Cinderella, this book is totally for you.

Elle’s character was very practical and realistic and she didn’t run around making stupid decisions (looking at YOU, typical ya heroines) and she actually lived for months without murdering her horrible stepmother and stepsisters (with the non-existent level of tolerance I have, they wouldn’t have lasted for more than a day and i would have gone to jail) so naturally she has my highest form of respect. Also, her coworker slash bestie Sage? She’s the cool kid everyone (read: i) aspires to become and I LOVE her for being there for Elle. Our prince Darien was well written too, though the side characters on his part (like his bodyguard, his dad etc) seemed a little 2-dimensional but that could just be me. Overall it was cute and funky (but also tense and nail-biting-y but we do not talk about that) and a must read for anyone looking for nerdy adorableness.

— Fable by Adrienne Young —

Already reviewed for the previous round, see it right here!

It was an extremely close battle, but Fable finally emerged as the winner and will be moving on to the final round to compete with the winner from Maddie’s lot!

— Hani & Ishu’s Guide To Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar—

Synopsis

Everyone likes Humaira “Hani” Khan—she’s easy going and one of the most popular girls at school. But when she comes out to her friends as bisexual, they invalidate her identity, saying she can’t be bi if she’s only dated guys. Panicked, Hani blurts out that she’s in a relationship…with a girl her friends absolutely hate—Ishita “Ishu” Dey. Ishu is the complete opposite of Hani. She’s an academic overachiever who hopes that becoming head girl will set her on the right track for college. But Ishita agrees to help Hani, if Hani will help her become more popular so that she stands a chance of being elected head girl.
Despite their mutually beneficial pact, they start developing real feelings for each other. But relationships are complicated, and some people will do anything to stop two Bengali girls from achieving happily ever after.

Mini Review

I’ve heard so many glowing praises for this one, I have no idea why I didn’t read it until it became the victor from Maddie’s side and entered the March Madness finale. Anyway. I’ll console myself by saying better late than never.

The best part about the story were by far the relationships – and not only the romantic ones at that. Hani and Ishu (Hishu? Ishani?) seemed quite natural of course—and oh my gosh they were adorable together— but familial relationships shone most brightly for me. Ishu and her sister Nik going from competitive to being supportive and just present in that sisterly way, Hani and her mother’s mutual understanding and quiet love, both Hani and Ishu wanting to be the best for their parents because they’d worked so hard to get all the way to Ireland– all these really tugged at all my heartstrings. (i’d like to mention how i didn’t mention Hani’s toxic, biphobic friends because you can stay away from my darlings forever, please and thank you)

However this book got stuck at the eternal YA contemporary conundrum- it was too predictable, and the characters fit typical personality cutouts too perfectly. Ishu was the pressured loner overachiever, Hani the easy, outgoing popular girl. I had the entire story plotted out in my mind right from the first page and that’s never good, is it? Though it does have its flaws, the good far outweighs the bad, and overall it was a quick read with lots of learning and great representation.

It is time to crown Fable the ultimate book champion!! A title well deserved certainly.

But wait! Does Maddie think the same thing? Check out who won the final round on her side of the court here!

And with that, my friends, we are at a formal conclusion of March Madness. We both had a blast and hope you did too!!

Have you read any of these books? Which one was the best in your opinion? Any more pirate-y recs for me? Let’s chat in the comments!

~ Rachel

March Wrap Up // i am become a reading machine

(no the title is not a grammatical mistake, shadow&bone anyone?)

Hullo inhabitants of the mortal realm, how are we doing today?

Ok here’s a joke. The guy who invented the umbrella was going to name it the brella. But he hesitated.

Wait why aren’t you laughing? *dramatic widening of eyes* Ohh I get it. You must be an agelast, which means a person who doesn’t laugh!

Believe it or not that was the weird word fact of the day. Oh well. It seems I’ve lost my touch since I haven’t written a wrap up since two months. Oops.

A quick note before we start this section- I might have gone full ballistic with my reading this month because I haven’t had free time like this since what, a whole year? Plus March is my birthday month so I decided to sort of treat myself by going on a reading spree especially during the last two weeks. I haven’t read these many books in a month like ever so that’s something to remember this March by right? Anyway another amazing thing is that I loved (like, loved loved) most of the books I read this month?? It seems the bookish gods have been showering me with blessings hehe.

Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft An immersive atmospheric read perfect for a dark wintry night! Brr I shiver just thinking about it. ★★★★

When You Get The Chance by Emma Lord The characters? Love. The plot? Love. The writing? Love. Literally everything about this contemporary is quirky and witty and it shall forever hold a place in my happily-ever-after loving heart. ★★★★★

Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz What a letdown. Here be dragons, but apparently here be disappointment as well. ★★

Heartstopper Volume 1-4 by Alice Oseman I’ll be honest, I went in expecting lots of fluffy gay adorableness and was unprepared for the many heavy themes that were handled, BUT I’m so glad I read this. Also the art was unparalleled. Also also yes I finally picked this up because I wanted to read the books before the Netflix show (!!) came out.

Fable & Namesake by Adrienne Young It’s a testament to how obsessed I was with this duology that I read it completely in two days—which unexpected because I’ve never read full length novels that fast. A gripping pirate-y adventure if I ever saw one! ★★★★★

Geekerella by Ashley Poston I don’t know if it’s just my inexperience in the world of contemporary novels speaking, but Geekerella was very different from any other ya romance i’ve read. I believe it was also my first ever Cinderella retelling and OH. MY GOSH. The way the elements from the original story were given a twist (scratch that, they were turned 180 degrees) had me squealing into my pillow. ★★★★½

Tahira In Bloom by Farah Heron Technically not counting this as a read because it was a DNF. *gasps from audience* i know i know, i dont think I’ve ever dnf’ed a book in the past few years but idk something just felt wrong about this which is sad because I had HIGH hopes.

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord Another Emma Lord book! Not surprising in the least, because I’ve made it my personal mission to devour everything this genius of a woman writes. With family rivalry, anonymous texting and DESSERTS (ok i swear i dont know how that found its way in this sentence) it was a fun, totally adorable contemporary. ★★★★½

I posted quite frequently this month, especially compared to February when I was writing part of a different post every day and finishing none of them. Click on the featured images to be taken to that post!

Part 2 of the iconic (if I do say so myself) Book Recommendations Based On Disney Movies is here! There are book quotes and movie dialogues and whatnot.

Someone evoke my mood reader license please because TBRs? But atleast seasonal tbrs are easier to follow than monthly ones right? Right?? Anyway, I present my TBR for Spring & Summer!

New blog series alert! Maddie from Inking & Thinking and I collaboratively started a series called March Madness But In Books where we pit two books against each other every week and choose a winner!!

You know I’ve gone full bad when I put together my own crew of fictional characters for a heist! Anyway its a lot of fun assembling characters according to heist archetypes, go check it out!!

March was my birthday month (which you couldn’t POSSIBLY have missed, given that I mention it a million times in my posts) and I decided to do a bookshelf reveal!!

Ash @Ink & Ash talks about the found family trope and gives recommendations!

Naemi @A Book Owl’s Corner recommends books based on weird Duolingo sentences!

Kaya @The Fictional Bookworm recommends books for fantasy beginners!

Emily @Frappes And Fiction talks about why book blogging is dying!

Suhani @Random Reader’s Rambles lists things she does not like about her favourite books!

Zainab @Dead Bookish Society recommends poc-poc romance books by bipoc authors!

Phoenix @Books With Wings lists things she has used as bookmarks!

🪄Ok I’m actually regretting calling this section EXCITING because my life isn’t always that. But anyway. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. *wards off evil* So there was this extremely bad family situation for most of March and while I do not wish to bombard you with details, I can tell you that I was miserable. But atleast it’s settling down now (i think)

🪄Yeah back to the actual exciting things! *drumroll* I started learning Spanish! Yes this was actually back in February but I did not do a february wrap-up so shh. Spanish has always been one of my dream languages but somehow it felt out of reach sorta? But after I’d assured myself that my German skills won’t go anywhere even if I learn Spanish, I felt invincible. Even more so by the fact that i now have a 24 day streak on duolingo and am constantly trying to beat my neighbour’s daily xp (he’s also learning spanish hehe)

🪄It’s hot here. Spring is not supposed to be this hot ok? I swear I’ll melt in the heat one of these days.

🪄School is starting offline from April after two whole years of online classes! Yeah I’d gone to school physically last year for exams but its the first time regular classes will take place offline. (also, despite what the exclamation mark led you to believe, I have mixed feelings about this whole thing)

🪄I ordered new books! Like for my birthday sort of? One of them was Tweet Cute, A Far Wilder Magic is on its way and there are a couple more.

🪄Surprisingly, I’ve still not given up on my fantasy wip, like I initially predicted I would. Instead now I’ve decided to go on full outlining mode and drafting now and then. I’ve befriended other writers on twitter and it’s all very encouraging.

🪄There’s a Heartstopper show coming on Netflix in April! Pretty sure you already know this (otherwise i hate to inform you that you’ve been living under a rock dear friend) but its an update fit for this section so i can’t just leave it out.

How was your March? Have you read any of these? Thoughts?? Any “exciting” things happening in your life? Let me know in the comments!!

~ Rachel