Thoughts While Reading The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo

Welcome to the duel of the year: Rachel versus the merciless blogging slump! They’re trading blows pretty quick– wait Rachel seems to be tiring now and blogging slump is getting an upper hand… oof a MONTH without a single post?? That’s GOT to hurt. Rachel is down i repeat Rachel is down. And with that, my lovely audience, this duel comes to a tragic en– HOLD THE PHONE SHE IS GETTING BACK UP oh my gosh it’s HAPPENING. Swaying dangerously, Rachel is BACK in the fight. I’d still not pin my hopes on her though, she looks like she may tip over any moment.

not that this book needs any introduction but-

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

  1. wow the story picked up quickly
  2. not me drawing parallels between avery grambs and monique
  3. waiting for the day when lady luck shines on ME
  4. huh evelyn changes husbands conveniently
  5. ok lets add an almost wife to the count
  6. oh to have a friend like harry
  7. theory: monique is evelyn’s daughter. but i sincerely hope for the book’s sake that its more interesting than that
  8. oof KILL her? what did she do??
  9. no at this point im only reading for baby connor
  10. EXCUSE ME you DON’T fall for that again
  11. husband who doesn’t really “love” her? yeah same old same old
  12. uh oh
  13. UH OH
  14. ok whens the big twist coming??
  15. let’s replace almost wife with wife
  16. i might have reached the aforementioned Big Twist™ but i’m still hoping there’s more to it
  17. yeah no there isn’t
  18. hah petition to make the coffee table a character as well
  19. hm i saw where this was going already and its not even something to brag about
  20. wait did i read the same book as everyone else? the one every living thing under the earth gave 5 stars? i think my kindle is glitching-

So how have all of you been in the time I pulled the disappearing trick? Any other hugely disappointing books I should stay away from?? Let’s chat in the comments!

~ Rachel

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

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

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

March Madness: Battle #2 & #3 + Week 4 Pick// ft. mini reviews and competition galore

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another March Madness But In Books post, where we pit two books against each other every week! Today’s a little bit special, because we bring you not 1, but 2 book battles! Grab a drink and settle back in your seat because the games are about to begin!! (okayy so maybe too many exclamation marks but i’m actively working on my commentary skills ok?)

— Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz—

Synopsis

Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.
But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.


Mini Review

You know those books which have this totally BREATHTAKING cover and the story inside is just as beautiful? Yeah, blazewrath games was definitely not one of them. What got me interested was 1) the cover 2) DRAGONS and 3) the whole competition aspect, but sadly all my expectations were dragged down to the earth from their place high up in the clouds and pitifully crushed in a dragon stampede. Which is to say, I did not enjoy this book.

I think one of my biggest issues was how middle grade-ish the entire storyline and the characters were? Like I’m not saying middle grade books are bad but this one’s clearly categorized as young adult so a person goes into the book expecting that age range right? All the characters, who were actually aged between 16-19 years, behaved and spoke like 11 year olds, and immature ones at that. The adults hardly had any role to play other than a tearful reunion at the end. There was no romance, just a bit of blushing and long looks and “feeling weird”, which you know, once again feels like they’re all awkward tweens instead of almost adults. The writing was off, there was a failed attempt at creating an happily ever after at the end, the redemption arc was predictable, there was too much drama at unnecessary plot points and too little during others and I simply could not bring myself to care about the characters or the stakes.

— When You Get The Chance by Emma Lord—

The winner of the first round and a new favourite contemporary, When You Get The Chance was a gem of a book. Find it’s mini review from the first March Madness post here!

If it wasn’t already obvious, When You Get The Chance has yet again emerged victorious in this almost one-sided game! It is, quite frankly, UNBEATABLE!!

___________

— Fable by Adrienne Young—

Synopsis

For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.
But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive

Mini Review

This the book that turned me into a reading machine.
I don’t think I’ve ever gobbled up an entire duology as fast as I did with this one. There was something about this book, which I can’t exactly put my finger on, that had me hooked. Nevertheless, since I can’t very well write a review that just says “There’s something about Fable I loved, so go read it”, I will proceed to list the things I liked which may have contributed to me becoming obsessed with it. Number one, the worldbuilding was super basic and easy to understand, so there’s no chance of that confusion that usually comes in a package with fantasy books. I liked Fable (the main character) in the kind of way you like an adversary who you know is better then you. Respect coupled with grudging admiration, sort of? Her father, Saint was an extremely well developed character, and might have been my favourite in the duology. (are you really a reader if your favourite character is the main character?)

Apart from all that, the best thing about this book was this aura of mystery that surrounded it. There were enough questions to be answered to keep the reader intrigued, and at the same time there were also sufficient reveals to keep the reader from tearing their hair out in frustration. A delicate balance, that. With every scene there was a new twist and I felt like I was holding my breath through the entirety of the novel.

Um. What I said about When You Get The Chance being unbeatable? I take it back. It was a GLORIOUS competition though, and I had an extremely hard time choosing between them. For the record, both are new favourites and absolute winners in their own way, SO GO GIVE THEM A READ!

— Week 4 Pick—

GEEKERELLA

With that, my friends, we have reached the end of two exciting book battles! Did the result turn out to be as you predicted? Have you read any of these? Which book do you think will win next – Geekerella or Fable? Let me know in the comments!!

~ Rachel

ARC Review: Portrait Of A Thief || heists, art, history and identity all in one

History is told by conquerors. And amazing stories, as it turns out, are told by Miss Grace Li.

Portrait of a Thief

Title: Portrait Of A Thief
Author: Grace D. Li
Genre: Adult Mystery, Contemporary
Publisher: Tiny Reparations Books
Publishing Date: 5th April, 2022

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now.
Will Chen plans to steal them back.
A senior at Harvard, Will fits comfortably in his carefully curated roles: a perfect student, an art history major and sometimes artist, the eldest son that has always been his parents’ American Dream. But when a shadowy Chinese corporation reaches out with an impossible—and illegal—job offer, Will finds himself something else as well: the leader of a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.
His crew is every heist archetype one can imagine—or at least, the closest he can get. A conman: Irene Chen, Will’s sister and a public policy major at Duke, who can talk her way out of anything. A thief: Daniel Liang, a premed student with steady hands just as capable of lockpicking as suturing. A getaway driver: Lily Wu, an engineering student who races cars in her free time. A hacker: Alex Huang, an MIT dropout turned Silicon Valley software engineer. Each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they’ve cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.
Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars—and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they’ve dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted attempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.

Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for sending me in e-ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way.

Buddy read with Prutha @Moonchild Lexicons!

I hate to tell you this, but if you go into this book looking for action-packed heists, high speed thrilling chases, so-close-to-getting-caught getaways and a million other things you associate with the word “heist”, you are going to be disappointed.

And to be honest, I was slightly disappointed by the slowness of it all in the very beginning. But with the deliberation with which all of it was written, I soon came to realize that maybe that was the whole point. Maybe the author was trying to prove that all heist stories need not be fist fighting, epic showdowns and dramatic getaways. They can be on the emotional side of things.

For the aforementioned reason, it would be a near crime to define this book as a heist story. Sure, our crew had to battle against gripping stakes and go on a few (read: 5) heists, but as a whole, the story was about SO much more. Our entire cast of main characters were Chinese-Americans college students, trying to cope with questions surrounding their identities, while doing their best to not disappoint their families. They were trying to make a future for themselves while trying not to dishonour their past.

If I had to put it in numbers, I’d say the book was 95% thoughts and 5% action. The internal wrestling with their identities definitely took up all the spotlight, while the external conflict (the heist plot) was comfortable backstage. It was one of those books that gives you insight into what a character is thinking and feeling, rather than doing.

Speaking of characters, I did feel like a couple of the main characters were written in a slightly 2-dimensional sort of way (and I found Irene annoying), but that didn’t stop me for rooting for them throughout the story. Daniel was by far my favourite character, the way he and his father had this thing going on seemed so relatable to me and I could really connect to him.

All that being said, Portrait Of A Thief was an overall contemplative book. I’d recommend it to fans of Jeffery Archer’s Nothing Ventured (with the action amped down a little bit) and anyone in general looking for a slow paced but thought-provoking read. Go add this to your tbr, because it comes out in no more than 2 months from now!

Which is your favourite slow paced read? Have you read Portrait Of A Thief? Is it on your TBR? Chat with me in the comments!

~ Rachel

January Wrap Up // apart from the year, nothing new really

Gosh. Let me say it again on behalf of all those like me are confused by the mechanisms of time – How are we already a month into 2022? It’s like I blinked and the year went by. Hold up, does that mean–

*blink* How are we already a month into 2023? *blink* How are we already a month into 2024?

Okay enough of that. Many of you might be kind enough to wonder where my usual bird fact intro is, so let me finally explain. In 2022, we have a brand new category of introductions to my monthly wrap ups – and it is *drumroll* uncommon and weird words! *waits for applause, instead gets the sarcastic slow clap* Hey hey, hear me out at least.

Finifugal sounds like nonsense, but it means “afraid of finishing anything”. (speaking of which, my biology assignment is pending, brb)

If This Gets Out
Sweet & Bitter Magic
Portrait of a Thief

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales Boy bands, secret parties and a glimpse of the stage life with an added dose of heartbreak and identity and fighting back. (Mom squad forever!!) ★★★★

Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley I’m a simple gal. Give me some magical witchy-ness, grumpy-sunshine romance, and perilous journeys leading to epic facedowns, and I’m sold. ★★★★

Portrait Of A Thief by Grace D. Li Not gonna lie, I came only for the heists. And while that certainly did deliver, nothing could have prepared me for the internal conflicts of identity and futures at stake. This one was full of surprises, and I mean that as a compliment. ★★★★

Caraval (Caraval, #1)
Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game, #1)
Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights, #2)

Caraval by Stephanie Garber No we do not need a reminder on how dangerous the game is and a warning of not being swept away every two pages, thank you very much. Plus Scarlett was annoying and a little dumb. ★★

Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody Uhh I think dark fantasy is just not for me?? ★★½

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong Miss Gong did it again. The number of times I died and got resurrected while reading this is not even funny. ★★★★½

My first post of the year, and what better than to review three books from my newest favourite genre and my newest favourite author? Read my mini reviews of Perfect On Paper, Only Mostly Devastated and If This Gets Out here.

I never knew there were so many Disney fans here until I wrote this post and got an overwhelming response? But anyway, I compare some of my favourite disney movies to some of my favourite books, so it’s a win win really. Read it here!

A random post in which I try (and perhaps fail miserably? but shh) to guess the zodiac signs of some of my favourite characters based on their personalities! Read it here.

I review an ARC of This Last Adventure by Ryan Dalton, a middle grade focused on the grandson of an Alzheimers’ patient. You can read it here.

We have a special guest on the blog in this one, and it’s none other than my friend Anoushka from Dipped In Ink! She cleverly answers a set of (extremely hard, if i do say so myself) questions and i do the same on her blog! Read the whole shenanigan here.

Kaya @A Fictional Bookworm reviews Disney’s latest movie Encanto!
Andge @Down The Rabbit Hole reviews You’ve Reached Sam!
Ritz @Living Loving Reading writes a discussion on banned books!
Charvi @Not Just Fiction recommends books based on board games!
Rania @Rania’s Rambling Reads reviews Portrait Of A Thief!
Naemi @A Book Owl’s Corner lists 7 bookish details she misunderstood as a kid!
Suhani @Random Reader’s Rambles recommends books based on zodiac signs!

🪄Academics wise, January was top tier in the sense that I got selected for courses for the next academic year in the institute I’m studying in, with very good ranks (1 and 4 respectively for two different courses) and generous scholarships. Ok now i’m going to stop the bragging.

🪄Not ‘exciting’ per se, and I think I mentioned in one of my earlier posts as well but the third week of January was pure torture, in terms of health at least. I was sick for nearly that entire week, and it was PAINFUL. And I still have a bad cold, which is annoying at the very least.

🪄Some better news is that I’m now paying more attention to my WIP (atleast I was, until I fell ill hmph) which had been pitifully neglected the past few weeks. Progress is still extremely slow though (there go your dreams of seeing a published copy in your lifetime MWAHAHA) but we’re getting there. Slowly. Very Slowly.

🪄I’m also starting to be more active on twitter now, so go give me a follow there! My tag is @callmeabookworm

How did you like the transition from “birds” to “words”?(no it has not escaped my notice that they rhyme) Have you read any of the mentioned books? Thoughts?? And link your monthly wrap ups if you’ve posted, I’d love to read them!

~ Rachel