Red (Taylor’s Version) Book Tag

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

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

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

State Of Grace – Best Opening Book In A Series

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

Fable by Adrienne Young

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

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

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

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

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

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

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

Treacherous – a slow book that you ended up loving

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

We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

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

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

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

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Barnes

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

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

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

22 – coming of age book

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

In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens

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

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

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

The Red Palace by June Hur

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

Stay Stay Stay – a book everyone dislikes but you love

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

Portrait Of A Thief by Grace D Li

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

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

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

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

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

Holy Ground – a fan-favorite book

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

A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft

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

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

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

Beautiful People Where Are You by Sally Rooney

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

The Lucky One – a book about fame

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

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

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

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

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

The Wave by Morton Rhue

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

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

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

The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

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

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

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

Heartstopper Volumes 1-4 by Alice Oseman

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

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

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

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Choksi

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

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

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

~Rachel

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

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

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

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

— Geekerella by Ashley Poston —

Synopsis

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

Mini Review

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

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

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

— Fable by Adrienne Young —

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

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

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

Synopsis

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

Mini Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Rachel

March Wrap Up // i am become a reading machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaya @The Fictional Bookworm recommends books for fantasy beginners!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Rachel

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