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
๐ŸŽต 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
๐ŸŽต 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
๐ŸŽต 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
๐ŸŽต 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
๐ŸŽต 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
๐ŸŽต 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
๐ŸŽต 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
๐ŸŽต 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!

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

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

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



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

โ€” #20 Jade City by Fonda Lee โ€”



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

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

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

โ€” #18 Ace Of Shades โ€”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

โ€” #10 So This Is Ever After by FT Lukensโ€”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

โ€” #5 Namesake by Adrienne Youngโ€”

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

โ€” #4 Tweet Cute by Emma Lord โ€”

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

โ€” #3 Fable by Adrienne Young โ€”

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

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

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

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

โ†’ romeo juliet retelling
โ†’ emotional rollercoaster
โ†’ enemies to lovers PERFECTION and so. much. angst.
โ†’ 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

Recommending Books Based On Disney Movies Part 2 // here we go again

By this time, it is a fact well known that Rachel lives and breathes two things – books and disney movies. Given this, it is quite convenient to write a post that mixes both of these obsessions, with a dash of movie dialogues and a hint of book quotes. And wait, does that smell like a sprinkle of craziness and irrationality? All in all, the perfect recipe. (in case you were wondering, no i totally did not just watch Ratatouille)

I should have probably said this earlier but retrospection never got anyone anywhere so let me say it now – welcome to the second part of my Disney Movies As Books post! Like in the first part, we are going to be pairing some books and movies together and it’s going to be so exciting, not least because i get yet another excuse to rave about my favourites in both these categories. Oops. Wasn’t supposed to reveal that. Oh well. Let’s start before something else about my ulterior motives slips out.

Soul – House In The Cerulean Sea

SOUL All Movie Clips (2020) - YouTube

Iโ€™m just afraid that if I died today my life would have amounted to nothing.

Joe, Soul

Soul centers on a music teacher Joe Gardner seeking to reunite his soul and his body after they are accidentally separated, just before his big break as a jazz musician. In the Great Before, where souls are given personalities and sparks before they are sent to earth, Joe meets 22, a soul who has still not found her spark.

Sometimes, 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.

Linus, The House In The Cerulean Sea
The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House In The Cerulean Sea focuses on Linus Baker, who lives an ordinary quiet life, until he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside. Whatever happens, one thing which is clear is that Linus’ will never be able to go back to living in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records.

_____________

Soul holds somewhat a special place in my heart because I watched it on my birthday the year it released. I re-watched it recently and I can’t believe I didn’t notice before how similar vibes it has with The House In The Cerulean Sea, one of my all time favourites. The main character in both was a middle aged working man, living an ordinary and monotonous life, not quite happy with their work but having no other choice. Then they are thrust into extraordinary circumstances and realize there’s more to life than they ever knew. Lucy (a literal 6 year old who’s quite literally the son of the devil) from the book reminds me of 22 (an unborn soul), because both are technically children but through the course of the story, they teach the adult main character the true meaning of life. Overall too, both Soul and The House In The Cerulean Sea are heartfelt and bittersweet stories with lots of meaning and a tinge of melancholy.

The Incredibles – Renegades

Incredibles 2 - The Final Battle - Ending Scene - video Dailymotion

Helen: Everyone is special, Dash.

Dash: Thatโ€™s just another way of saying no one is.

The Incredibles is set in a fictional world where superheroes (also known as “Supers”) co-exist with society and are occasionally forced into action despite a ban issued on them by the government. And Incredibles 2 focuses on Helen (the woman in the picture) pulling off a publicity stunt while Bob (the burly red man in the picture) is left to take care of the kids.

“Heroism wasn’t about what you could do, it was about what you did. It was about who you saved when they needed saving.”

Renegades

The first of a trilogy, Renegades follows Nova, who can put people to sleep with a touch and Adrian, who can bring his drawings to life. Except they are on opposite sides – Adrian is a Renegade, a champion of justice, defender of the city, while Nova is an Anarchist, the villain whose sole purpose is to bring the Renegades down.

_____________

What more do I need to say other than superheroes!! *jazz hands and squeaky voice*
Yeah no see, I haven’t seen a single Marvel movie in my life (eek don’t come at me) but with The Incredibles movies and the Renegades trilogy put together, I’ve had a healthy dose of superheroes already. And what a delight both of them were! Secret identities, extraordinary powers and exploring the thin line between “hero” and “villain” were the common themes in the movies and the books. While the movie understandably had a comparatively basic plot, the trilogy was complexity at its finest – with morally grey characters, intertwining storylines, epic showdowns, horrifying betrayals and what not. (also hands up if anyone thinks Max from the books is anything like Jack Jack from the movie *raises hand*)

Raya and the Last Dragon – The Great Zoo Of China

Raya and the Last Dragon' Review: A Wonderful Film, and a Missed  Opportunity | Arts | The Harvard Crimson

Raya: Yeah, well, the worldโ€™s broken. You canโ€™t trust anyone

Sisu: Or maybe itโ€™s broken, because you donโ€™t trust anyone. 

The film depicts a warrior princess who seeks the fabled last dragon, with hopes of restoring the dragon gem that would bring back her father and banish the evil spirits from her kingdom.

โ€œConvincing someone to believe something that was inherently unbelievable often meant getting that person to make a quick and easy comparison to something they already knew.โ€

The Great Zoo Of China

The Chinese government have found a species of animal no one believed even existed, and are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever created. A small group of VIPs and journalists have been brought to the zoo to witness the creatures for the first time. But everything goes horribly wrong…

_____________

It’s a pity I don’t talk more about this book because it’s fantastic but criminally underrated. In my defense, I read it long back, before I was part of the bookish community. But anyway. Once again the similarity between the movie and the book is glaringly clear – dragons!! Both feature talking dragons (though the ones in the book is more science than myth) and a unique bond between a human and a dragon. The Great Zoo of China gives more Jurassic Park vibes though, but then again, it’s meant for an adult audience so there’s obviously more violence and creepy money makers.

Frozen – A Sweet & Bitter Magic

Disney's 'Frozen': The Acting and Performance Analysis

Some people are worth melting for.

Olaf, Frozen

Frozen depicts a princess (Anna) who sets off on a journey alongside an iceman (Kristoff), his reindeer (Sven), and a snowman (Olaf) to find her estranged sister (Elsa), whose icy powers have inadvertently trapped their kingdom in eternal winter.

โ€œIt felt too simple. To move forward, carrying the weight of what sheโ€™d done without letting it hold her back. It was a delicate balance. Just like magic. Just like families and relationships and sisters who shared the same face but not the same heart.โ€

In Sweet & Bitter Magic, a witch cursed to never love (Tamsin) meets a girl hiding her own dangerous magic (Wren), and the two strike a dangerous bargain to save their queendom.

_____________

We can’t have a post about Disney movies without mentioning Frozen, the movie which took little girls all over the world by storm (hehe no pun intended) with it’s iconic characters (yes i’m talking about Olaf and Sven) and royalty depiction and ~snow~. (SO. MUCH. SNOW. It physically hurts my eyes sometimes to see all the white. I very much prefer the dark green-ness of the shadow & bone series). Anyway back to comparing it to A Sweet And Bitter Magic. So there are sisters that have been torn apart by circumstances (Elsa and Anna, Tasmin and Marlena) and one sister is magical and the other is not (sort of, for the book). The main conflict in both the movie and the book is magic run rampant, plaguing the town of the characters. Plus, I find both the plots quite basic and straight forward, with just one storyline and minimal twists. (and the colours in the cover match the scene i picked! what more could you want?)

Are you a Disney enthusiast too? Have you read any of these books?
And finally, in true Disney spirit, let’s say it together, to infinity… and beyond! (bonus points to everyone who got the reference)

~ Rachel

Recommending Books Based On Disney Movies // ft. book quotes and movie dialogues because why not

I watched Encanto the other day and I think it’s fair to say that I was, once again, blown away.

Every time, every single time I watch (or re-watch because I’m obsessed) a Disney movie, I think “This is it. This movie is going to be the first disney movie I didn’t like and that would mean I’ve finally grown out of these cheesy stories”, but needless to say that has never happened and I don’t see it happening any time soon. Disney 8093, Rachel 0. (to be fair it’s a very strong competitor and my heart betrays me every time.)

Conclusion is that I LOVE disney movies (especially the animated “family” ones that my mother says I’m too old to be watching) and will probably continue to do so for an eternity. Today I recommend you books similar to certain movies (or the other way round, since most of you have probably read more books on this list than you’ve seen the movies).

So here’s how the formatting is gonna be – one liner premises each for the move and the book, and thirdly why I paired them, with the main reasons in bold. And some book quotes and movie dialogues flying about here and there of course ;))

Big Hero 6 – We Are Not Free

Photos:: Scenes from 'Big Hero 6' - Los Angeles Times

On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate your pain?

Baymax, Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 tells the story of Hiro Hamada (a teen robotics prodigy) and Baymax (the cuddly white inflated lump in the picture, Hiro’s late brother’s healthcare provider robot) who team up to fight the masked villain who killed Tadashi (Hiro’s brother).

โ€œWeโ€™re standing on a street corner with everything weโ€™ve ever known about to come crashing down around us.
And weโ€™re angry.
And weโ€™re smiling.
And we arenโ€™t broken.โ€

We Are Not Free

We Are Not Free is a historical fiction told from the points of views of 14 Japanese-American teenagers just after the bombing of the Pearl Harbour, when anti-Japanese sentiments in the USA are at an all time high.

___________

Apart from the fact that both of these made me ugly cry like never before, a common theme was teens handling grief. Both start with a happy enough scene (such that it makes one almost suspicious, is this the calm before the storm), and then immediately there’s this horrifying event that changes the main character’s life drastically, as they lose what they’d always known and loved. Then the rest of the story shows the characters learning to live with their loss and moving on. Grab some tissues.

Coco – Cemetery Boys

How Pixar Made Sure 'Coco' Was Culturally Conscious - The New York Times

“If there’s no one left in the living world to remember you, you disappear from this world.”

Hector, Coco

Coco follows Miguel (an aspiring musician, but only in secret), who accidentally gets transported to The Land of the Dead (on the famous Mexican holiday “The Day of the Dead”) where he seeks the help of his deceased great-great-grandfather to return him to his family among the living and to reverse his family’s ban on music.

โ€œI implore you to be more open minded, hermano. If we close ourselves off to the possibilities that lie outside of what tradition has dictated, we are destined for extinction.โ€

Cemetery Boys
Cemetery Boys

Cemetery Boys is about Yadriel, who while trying to prove himself to his family, ends up accidentally summoning the ghost of Julian Diaz. What follows is their adventures and misadventures as they try to solve the mystery of Julian’s death, and Yadriel’s seemingly never ending struggle with his conservative family.

___________

These two give me such similar vibes, I’ve always recommended Coco to fans of Cemetery Boys and vice versa. Both are centred around tight-knit Latinx communities and have a brilliant representation of ancient Mexican culture (especially the whole Day Of The Dead concept that I’ll never get bored of, any recs??) but that is not where the similarities end. Both stories are also about the main characters finding their true selves, even when this requires them to go against the wishes of their conservative families.

Zootopia – The Grishaverse

Did a Disney animated film really say that? If it's 'Zootopia,' prepare to  be shocked - Los Angeles Times

Judy: Nicholas Wilde, You are under arrest.
Nick: For what? Hurting your feelings?
Judy: Felony Tax Evasion.

Zootopia follows Judy Hopps, a police officer with big dreams (and she’s a bunny in case you haven’t noticed) and Nick Wilde, a con-fox who lives off trickery. They are reluctant partners in solving a grave case that has the whole of Zootopia shaken.

โ€œSometimes, the only way to get justice is to take it for yourself.โ€

Crooked Kingdom

The Six Of Crows duology follows six dangerous outcasts on a dangerous mission with high stakes… and a even higher reward.
The King Of Scars duology, which is also set in the Grishaverse, is about a young king trying to bring together a broken nation, while also battling monsters of his own. Literally.

___________

Did I just pair one of my favourite Disney movies ever to my favourite books ever? Why, yes I did.

Nick to me seems like a blend of Kaz and Nikolai, which are two of the best characters in existence, and this makes Nick one of the best characters in existence too (wow. incredible logic rachel). I mean, look at that scene I’ve put a picture of and tell me that’s not Nikolai’s smug grin pasted on Nick’s face. Then look at that quote beside the picture and tell me it’s not something Kaz would say. See what I mean?

Plus, Judy gives me Inej + Matthias vibes, she’s a rabbit with honour and this want to do good for the people, even though she knows she’s not going to get anything back. Do you need any more reasons to just go read those four books and watch that movie? (lemme know if you do, I’ll be happy to provide a list) Missing the deadline of that 12 page geography project will be totally worth it, i promise.

Monsters University – Not My Problem

Stop being a Sullivan and start being YOU.

Mike, Monsters University
Monsters University (2013) - IMDb

Monsters University follows Mike Wazowski (an ambitious, hardworking and studious first-year at the university) and James Sullivan (the “rich dad’s kid” who relies on his family name to make it through college), who hate each other but are thrust together by circumstances.

Not My Problem

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

Aideen, Not My Problem

Not My Problem is a coming-of-age contemporary about Aideen (who is funny and witty and has a million excuses for not doing PE and homework) and Meabh (the one everyone expects a lot from, also the principal’s daughter), and when Aideen solves Meabh’s tight-schedule problem by pushing her down the stairs, an friendship begins to blossom.

___________

There’s this common academic background in Not My Problem and Monster’s University – the former is set in high school and the latter in college. Both have a dash of rivals to best friends and show that friendships can be found in the unlikeliest of places (at some point, the mcs in both the movie and the book were told that the other mc is “out of their league”), The main characters couldn’t be more different than each other, yet as they get to know the other better, they discover edges of their personalities they’d never imagined. Sullivan from the movie and Meabh from the book were both pressured to live up to their family name, so that’s another similarity.

As we conclude, I’d like to remind you that regardless of whether you are obsessed with enjoy Disney movies or not (the latter is a crime I tell you, a CRIME), all of these books belong to my favourites of 2021 so you have to give them a read (i’ll haunt your dreams if you don’t) and later scream about them to me too! (also i do have some more recs in mind, so let me know if you’d like a part 2 of this post!)

Do you watch animated movies? Which is your favourite one? Any Zootopia fans here?? Do you vote for a part 2 of this post? Let me know in the comments!

~ 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 STAโ€“

~ #10 The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Choksi ~

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

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 ~

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

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 ~

โ€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?โ€

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 ~

โ€œSome people were always meant to be heroes.
Just like some people were always meant to be villains.โ€

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 ~

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

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 ~

โ€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.โ€

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 ~

โ€œYou know me. Running around. Living life. Committing arson.โ€

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 ~

โ€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 ruinโ€

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 ~

โ€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.โ€

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 ~

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

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 Iโ€™d Use As Weapons // aka books iโ€™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 โ€“ 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

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
๐Ÿ’˜ spirits (and a certain sweet but possessive, bad boy spirit)
๐Ÿ’˜ mexican culture
๐Ÿ’˜ themes of identity and acceptance
๐Ÿ’˜ fantasy with contemporary feel

The Girl Who Drank The Moon
๐Ÿ’˜ witchy
๐Ÿ’˜ whimsical, dreamy writing
๐Ÿ’˜ magic running wild
๐Ÿ’˜ multiple third person POVs

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon
๐Ÿ’˜ talking goldfishes and lion statues
๐Ÿ’˜ chinese folklore
๐Ÿ’˜ dragons!
๐Ÿ’˜ beautiful atmosphere and conclusion

We Hunt The Flame
๐Ÿ’˜ arabia – inspired fantasy
๐Ÿ’˜ atmospheric setting and brilliant world-building
๐Ÿ’˜ subtle found family with lots of banter
๐Ÿ’˜ morally grey characters

A Clash Of Steel
๐Ÿ’˜ set in imperial china
๐Ÿ’˜ pirates! and lost treasure!
๐Ÿ’˜ strong woman characters
๐Ÿ’˜ treasure island retelling

How We Fall Apart
๐Ÿ’˜ majority of the cast is Asian
๐Ÿ’˜ thrilling murder mystery
๐Ÿ’˜ set in an elite prep school
๐Ÿ’˜ secrets and rivalry and revenge

The Reader
๐Ÿ’˜ secret society
๐Ÿ’˜ a world where books are banned
๐Ÿ’˜ deep and meaningful writing
๐Ÿ’˜ pirate stories!

We Are Not Free
๐Ÿ’˜ set during WWII
๐Ÿ’˜ love, life and laughs amidst war
๐Ÿ’˜ 14 POVs
๐Ÿ’˜ 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

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 course๐Ÿ˜‰) 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 ๐Ÿ™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!

Wet Worlds! // Books set in or by the sea

Hey guys! Water you up to? Did you sea what I did there? I am shore you did. (Okay stop groaning, I am just beginning to realize that puns are overrated.)

So I have decided to do a series of themed book recommendations because my brain can’t really think of anything else to post (take a hint and give me some suggestions!). This post is the second in this series (click here to read the first one). Personally, I do enjoy writing such posts and surfing (ooh no pun intended this time, I promise๐Ÿ˜‚) through my Goodreads shelves trying to find more books which fit the theme.

As you already know from the title (and from my not-so-subtle intro lines), today I am going to be recommending you books set in or by the sea. What usually makes such books stand out is there extremely sea-vibey writing (who likes imagining sand between their toes and inhaling fresh salty sea air while reading books set by the sea? *raises a hand, and then the other as well for good measure*) Without further ado, let’s see what recs I have in store for you!

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Set on an island isolated except for 10 strangers, this remains till date, one of my favourite murder mysteries (and can I also mention that this was my first one?) My best start into a genre if there ever was one.

Malamander by Thomas Taylor

Malamander was such a lovely middle grade! The entire story takes place in a town called Eerie-On-Sea (naturally, it is situated by the sea) and the sea itself does play an important role in the book (Malamander is the name of a giant sea creature after all). The atmosphere was beautifully created – the sound of waves, the smell of salty sea air, the eerie noises that give the town its name, all seemed pretty much real in my head.

The Haunting Of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes

A spooky middle grade set in a small coastal town, this story had very atmospheric vibes. It can easily be read in a single sitting, so get out your blankets, snuggle in your couch during a rainy day and give this book a read!

Frostheart by Jamie Littler

Frostheart is a cute middle grade about a little boy trying to find his missing parents. He is often shunned by most people because of this power he has, but he gets taken in by the crew of a ship called Frostheart and finds friendships and betrayals on his journey. I haven’t read the sequel yet, but I hope to read it soon!

The Storm Keeper’s Island

A magical story set in an Irish island, this book is about the power (literally!) of nature and definitely worth a read.

The Adventure Series by Enid Blyton

You haven’t had a childhood if you haven’t read any Enid Blyton! Anyway, this particular series of hers called the Adventure series deals with ship voyages and other sea-stuff.

And that, my friends, brings us to the end of this post (I realize its much shorter than usual but…). Hopefully you got some great recommendations and your TBR just got a little bit bigger. See you in my next post!

โœจ๐“ก๐“ช๐“ฌ๐“ฑ๐“ฎ๐“ตโœจ

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Book Scavenger by Jennifer Bertman || Mini-review, some art, and a little “book scavenger” game of my own!

Hello you guys!! Hope you’re having an amazing day so far!

Today’s post is going to be all about Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, which is a (brilliant, if I do say so myself) middle grade fantasy that I read last week. I didn’t want to write a full review on it because I have no idea what to write so I decided to just to a mash-up kind of thing, which, as the title suggests, includes a mini-review, a Book Scavenger-inspired piece of art, and a fun game at the end! Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Book Scavenger (Book Scavenger, #1)

A hidden book. A found cipher. A game begins . . . .

Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold’s attackers make them their next target. 

(If you click on the cover image above, it will take you straight to Goodreads, so you can add this book to your tbr!)

My Rating :

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

The concept of a game with hidden books and clues to find them was so cool! What more could a bookworm like me possibly want? (except now I am left praying that this game existed in real life and I could play it โ˜น๐Ÿฅบ)

I think this story was more plot-driven than character-driven, and though I usually favour the latter, its good to know that there are a whole bunch of amazing plots such as these out there!

I also admire the research the author has put in on different kinds of ciphers and stuff. It really showed, and I like puzzles in general, so I enjoyed reading whatever snippets of information was there about decoding different ciphers.

The character development through the book was executed wonderfully. Emily finally reassessed her priorities (being a good friend definitely beats finding an epic new game๐Ÿ˜‰), and Matthew was a completely different (in a good way!) big brother than he had been at the beginning.

I would definitely recommend this book to all of you bookworms, but if you additionally like a good mystery or deciphering clues, you HAVE to read this!!

(This book is actually first in a series, but it can totally work as a standalone, so for those who avoid series in general, don’t hesitate!)


I think I have mentioned before that I am terrible at all things aesthetic, and that naturally includes drawing. But I had nothing much to do that day, and I had just finished reading Book Scavenger, so I drew a little something in my bullet journal inspired by it.

Yup, it’s our main character, Emily who has found a hidden book wedged between the branches of a tree. There is no exact scene in the book as such, I just invented one, considering that I wanted to keep my work really simple and minimalistic. And to be honest, I actually enjoyed working on this. Who knows, maybe I’ll do this more often!


Time for what you all have been anticipating!! Presenting…Book Scavenger 2.0, created by yours truly!

It is in no way similar to, or as huge and amazing as the Book Scavenger game in the book. It is just a little quiz that I made up. And don’t worry, you don’t have to literally go out and “scavenge” books, all the book scavenging is going to happen in your mind๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s how it will work :

  • Below is a link to a Google Form that I have created. When you click on the link, you will be taken to the Form.
  • I have written the names of three characters each from 8 different books. It could be main characters, side characters, anything.
  • All you have to do is rack your brain (or maybe Goodreads, though that would technically be cheating๐Ÿ˜‰) and write the name of the book/series in the blanks given
  • (The books I have chosen are pretty popular to reduce the difficulty level)

All the best, book scavengers!! Click HERE to access the Form.


Have you read Book Scavenger? Is it on your TBR? Do you have any ideas for me if I want to do (very simple) journal spreads for some books?