May Wrap Up // contemporaries and conspiracies

CONSPIRACY! I UNCOVERED A CONSPIRACY!

You know when you enter a shopping mall, you just wish to lose yourself in it forever (time? what’s that?) and get all hypnotised with eyes soaking up every store greedily? Be warned my friend, at that very moment a very evil architect will be rubbing his hands and cackling loudly because lots of malls are in fact intentionally designed to be disorienting to confuse customers (YOU) and make them more susceptible to impulse buys.

HA see? I KNEW there was a reason I always keep getting hopelessly lost and then somehow find the exit and pray that the others haven’t already left without m— wait tmi. Ahem.

Ok so I think that my point got lost (lost. get it?? hah i’m so clever) somewhere above so let me put it out clearly. Word fact of the day: That feeling of confusion on entering malls is known as the Gruen Effect. Fancy right?

Welp who knew my quest for word facts would lead me to unraveling such a universal conspiracy? IF I AM MURDERED TODAY BY EVIL PEOPLE WHO PROFIT OFF THIS, I DIE I MARTYR. Enlightening my peoples through word facts in my wrap ups is a very noble cause PLEASE REMEMBER ME FOREVER AND COMPOSE POETRY IN MY HONOUR.

Summer vacations equals contemporary books (and mangoes!) by the bucketful. Like mangoes, some looked good and actually were good while others gave off a fake shine and had me scrubbing the taste out of my tongue. Go metaphors!

May was also AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) month so most of my reads this month were by asian authors! Keep an eye out for them below!

you have a match: summer camps, estranged sisters and best-friends-to-lovers in all it’s awkward glory! what’s not to like? ★★★★½

not here to be liked: yeah girl good for you because i don’t like you one bit. ★★★

a thousand steps into night: idk what’s with me and traci chee’s fantasy books but while being pretty decent, they never really live up to my expectations. ★★★★

pride and prejudice: omg?? talk about pleasant surprises?? i don’t remember my life before this book. ★★★★★

tokyo ever after: the mc was annoying, the romance disgusted me and the enemies-to-lovers was forced into the story like never before. definitely worthy of being compared to rotten mangoes. ★★

dial a for aunties: i. am. obsessed. the asian aunties in this one are straight up icons and the way i nearly died laughing- ★★★★★

fifteen hundred miles from the sun: the singular fault of this book was that i’ve read too many like it already. ★★★

pride and premeditation: aha indulging in my new pride and prejudice obsession led me to this gem! loved how it sticked with the original while also giving everything a fresh perspective! ★★★★½

I tried (and mostly succeeded) in posting every now and then (because otherwise you would forget me and where would that leave us??) and also came up with some fairly decent content!

My first post of the month was a chaotic ensemble of thoughts on the Heartstopper show! We cover everything from tao’s left-handedness to the beach scene.

Next I scream about finally starting a bookstagram! Featuring my walnut-like aesthetic skills!!

On impulse (and because the numbers sound so catchy together) I rank ALL my first 22 reads of 2022 and also divide them into tiers!

It was my second blogging anniversary a while back so that obviously warrants a lot of drama and thank yous!

Finally, I and April bring an end to the wonderful hype-o-meter series with the very last installment – Jade City vs the hypeometer!

I…um… was kind of terrible at blog hopping in may. More specifically, I was terrible at commenting on posts (and replying to comments on mine) like I usually do but i WAS reading most of y’all’s posts ok??

Naemi @A Book Owl Corner’s guessing books based on emojis post is back and tougher than ever! But i did pretty decently if I do say so myself.

April @Booked Till Midnight does her very first blog tour!

Janhavi @Dazed Chronicles shares her plans and tbr for the summer!

Booksy @Booktastically Amazing shares an amazing short story!

Kaya @A Fictional Bookworm reviews the Atlas Six!

Eli @Ace Reader takes quizzes to determine which YA “bird-book” character they are!

📒In contrast to june (which has been a whirlwind of studies and exams. Or a blackhole because boy has it sucked me right in), may was considerably more relaxed academic-wise because SUMMER VACATIONS!!

🍂Found new favourite books like Pride & Prejudice and Dial A For Aunties and made them my entire personality as usual. Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy have become my new OTP and the aunties have become my idols.

📸Hot topic- I STARTED A BOOKSTAGRAM!! Check out my account if you haven’t already, it’s @abookwyrmsparadise,, at the very least the total lack of my aesthetic sense will make you feel better about your own haha!

🔎I discovered I get a tiny dimple on my left cheek when I smile really hard!! Highly exciting, but in my opinion torturing my cheeks for that little hole is not worth it.

🦉My Duolingo streak is going strong at 85 days!! I’ve become pretty decent at basic Spanish if I do say so myself.

Have you read any of these? Is it blazing hot these days on your side of the world?? Let me know in the comments!

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

Hey everyone, what’s up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Rachel

Mini Reviews: Perfect On Paper, Only Mostly Devastated and If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales

As much as I’d like to admit otherwise, I’m a mere fledgling in the world of YA contemporaries. Before November 2021, I could not imagine being more interested in high school drama over magical kingdoms and secret societies. But lo and behold, I finally pick up Perfect On Paper by the queen of contemporary romance (I said so, argue with the wall) herself on a whim, and suddenly I’m obsessed with contemporaries, and 3 out of the 4 i’ve read so far have been by Gonzales. Coincidence? I think not. I’m officially in love with everything she writes.

Today I bring you tiny reviews of the Sophie Gonzales trifecta!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Darcy Phillips:
• Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes―for a fee.
• Uses her power for good. Most of the time.
• Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham.
• Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke…who is in love with someone else.
• Does not appreciate being blackmailed.
However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89―out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service―that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach―at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.
Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.
Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong? 

Review

My introduction to the contemporary romance genre, Perfect On Paper was a memorable first. I absolutely loved the first person narration (which, as I later came to know, is apparently a Gonzales trademark) and Darcy was snarky and sarcastic and upbeat (while also slightly insecure in her relationships) and she made the perfect main character. And might I mention that the romance was *chef’s kiss* because obviously it’s BROUGHAM (did you think I was actually gonna offer an explanation?). Among other things (it’s important to add this because there’s no way I’m ever going to be able to list all the wonderful things about this book), I absolutely loved Libby’s relationship with Darcy because I’ve come across SO few non-toxic sister duos in YA. There are heavier themes as well like Darcy being confused about her identity as bi. Despite this, the story had this overall distinctly cheerful vibe, especially compared to the other two books. So if you’re looking for a quirky narrative to cheer you up when you’re feeling dull, Perfect On Paper is here to save the day.

Only Mostly Devastated

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Will Tavares is the dream summer fling ― he’s fun, affectionate, kind ― but just when Ollie thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairy tale ending, and to complicate the fairy tale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it’s the same school Will goes to… except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted ― and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.
Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship, especially since this new, bro-y jock version of Will seems to go from hot to cold every other week. But then Will starts “coincidentally” popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, and Ollie finds his resolve weakening.
The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.
Right? Right.

Review

Leave it to Gonzales to make a contemporary unexpected. Like, don’t 99% ya contemporaries have an happily ever after guaranteed right at the beginning? (pfft don’t give me the look. so what if i haven’t read a lot of contemporary romances? i’ve read a lot of their synopses okay?) This one most certainly didn’t. I was in full edge-of-seat nail-biting avatar (which is normally reserved for thrillers) with one and only one question in my mind – will they or won’t they? I can’t obviously tell you the answer because i want you to go through the same apprehension MWAHAHA spoiler.

Ollie was one of those characters I’d give my chocolate chip cookie (that’s obviously more superior than my life) to protect. I smiled when he laughed and burst into tears when he cried and his life became my life for the timespan in which i read this book. Will, though, I did have mixed feelings about him (and somehow I feel Gonzales had intended exactly that) but if he keeps my boy Ollie happy so be it (ok I sound like a parent now). All this said, Only Mostly Devastated was definitely more towards the emotional side of things, so I’d recommend sitting with a few tissues.

If This Gets Out

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.
On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

Review

Wow. I didn’t know dual pov romance was a thing I NEEDED until this book. The mutual yearning was everything, and I know it’s cheesy but Zach and Ruben actually completed each other. Zach is another one of those characters I’d protect with my chocolate-chip cookie. While I’m fiercely protective of all the four members of Saturday (nobody dare to touch them, i’d go to lengths to defend my boys *adds knife emoji for emphasis*), Zach is a little bit special.

One thing about this story was that it was all vibes, and I’m always ready for some ~feels~. But to be honest, the whole plot wasn’t anything out-of-the-box. Plot-wise, I’d say Perfect on Paper was better written. But hey, the lack of a concrete plot didn’t stop me from getting attached (to an unhealthy extent) to all the characters. Each member of Saturday had a brilliant character arc, and I may sound like a fantasy reader now (which I actually am, but eh) parents actually existed in the story (Mom Squad forever!!). Also I’m filled with righteous rage for Chorus (they had no damn right) so if anyone happens to know where to find them, let me know. I just want to talk (*secretly pulls out dagger*). Anyway, the point being, there’s so much to read this book for.

So this felt less like a review post than a Sophie Gonzales appreciation post (that woman definitely deserves one) but instead of paying attention to that, we are going to GO READ ALL THESE BOOKS IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE RACHEL SAID SO.

Have you read any of these? Which are your favourite YA contemporary novels? Lemme know in the comments!!

~ Rachel