Ranking My First 22 Reads Of 2022! // indecisiveness galore

Ranking in general gives me all the feels.

When I’m being ranked, there’s the nervous butterflies, the foot-tapping anticipation and an undignified urge to stick out a tongue at my fellow competitor. When I’m doing the ranking, there’s the undeniable need to do justice, the thrill of selecting the top three and the fear of retaliation from the bottom.

Soo. *claps hands in quick succession* Since I’m in the mood for the package of feelings that comes with ranking today, I’m going to rank… books! Let us ignore the fact that books are, in fact, the only thing I’m qualified enough to rank.

Ok here’s how this is going to work. I am going to be ranking the first 22 books (because it’s 2022, get it?) I’ve read this year based on my opinion on them. We’re going to start in reverse order and work our way all the way to the top, meaning the books are in the order of worst to best. To make things more organized, there are also six categories under which certain consecutive rankings fall under, to express my overall feelings for those books. Each book cover shall be linked to it’s goodreads page and beside it are highlights (from the pov of yours truly) from the story which could either make you want to devour the book whole or run far far away from it.

With all that out of the way, let’s get started!

— #22 Caraval by Stephanie Garber —

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

— #21 Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz —



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

— #20 Jade City by Fonda Lee —



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

— #19 Dead Girls Can’t Tell Secrets by Chelsea Khaso —

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

— #18 Ace Of Shades —

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

— #17 The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe —


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

— #16 Not Here To Be Liked by Michelle Quach —

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

— #15 Portrait Of A Thief by Grace D. Li —

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

— #14 Hani And Ishu’s Guide To Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar —

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

— #13 Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft —

→ sworn enemies to lovers
→ killer×healer pairing
→ wintry night vibes
→ changing sides! betrayal! redemption! more betrayal!

— #12 Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley —

→ sapphic witches
→ sunshine×grumpy
→ magic gone wrong
→ a long journey (more like a quest actually)

— #11 Hidden In Plain Sight by Jeffrey Archer —

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

— #10 So This Is Ever After by FT Lukens—


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

— #9 In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens —

→ pirates and princes
→ and handsome mermen too
→ supportive elder siblings
→ kidnapping and rescues galore

— #8 If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich —

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

— #7 You Have A Match by Emma Lord —

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

— #6 Geekerella by Ashley Poston —

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

— #5 Namesake by Adrienne Young—

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

— #4 Tweet Cute by Emma Lord —

→ twitter wars!
→ ridiculously delicious desserts
→ rivals to friends to lovers
→ anonymous texting

— #3 Fable by Adrienne Young —

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

— #2 When You Get The Chance by Emma Lord —

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

— #1 Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong —

→ romeo juliet retelling
→ emotional rollercoaster
→ enemies to lovers PERFECTION and so. much. angst.
→ rival gangs, blood feuds, stabby women and soft men

Have you read any of these?? Bonus points if you’ve read them this year too! THOUGHTS ON THEM? Which are YOUR favourite reads so far this year?? (do not be fooled by the size of my tbr, i’m ALWAYS looking for yet more recommendations)

~ Rachel

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 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