Bookshelf Reveal || it’s my birthday!

Hey! Everybody is supposed to be excited okay? Why, because it’s Rachel’s birthday today!

My questionable rhyming skills aside, it really IS my birthday! I’ve officially blessed this earth with my gracious presence for 15 whole years today (ohno no need to thank me).

I have sort of mixed feelings about this whole ageing thing. In some ways, it feels like I’ve lived an entire lifetime, you know? i’ve certainly read enough books for a lifetime But also, as long as I’m far far away from that cursed number we do not speak of (it starts with 1 and ends with 8 and there’s nothing in between), I’m good, thank you.

Soo I gave a LOT of thought (no seriously, i was daydreaming about this during physics class) to what sort of a post I should put up on this wondrous occasion (did i mention it is my birthday today?) but things turned out to be a little last-minute (pfft with me they always are last minute) so I decided to keep it short and sweet so guess what we’re doing today — *drumroll* BOOKSHELF REVEAL!

Ok I realize my drama probably amounted to nothing because the post’s title gave it away, but play along, will you? After all, it’s my birthday today *wink wink*

Yeah so I got this bookshelf just last year on Christmas (best gift EVER, am i right?) since my old one was practically overflowing. I have also bought new books since then and I’m pretty proud of it so shower it with love okay? Ta-da!

THE MIGHTY BOOKSHELF

I spent literal HOURS putting in the books (and I still pop my nose in now and then to get that book-y smell) so that they look just right. I didn’t really colour code the shelves like a lot of people do (mostly because I have zero aesthetic sense) but i did have a strategy of organisation. Sort of. I think?

Let’s talk about the left rack first. The topmost shelf on the left is for my classics like The Book Thief, Anne of Green Gables, Moby Dick etc. The shelf below that is mostly fantasy, with the Vega Jane quartet stacked on top of each other. My copy of Our Violent Ends, my pride my joy (and my tears), is front and centre obviously. To it’s right are other fantasy novels including A Dark and Hollow Star and King of Scars.

The two shelves below that (the 3rd and 4th shelves in the left rack) are mostly adult fiction with the only fantasy books (Aurora Burning, Blazewrath Games and Sweet & Bitter Magic) displayed proudly, cover and all. Notable adult fiction books from these shelves are those by Khaled Hosseini, Agatha Christie and Mitch Albom among others. (also this photo is a few days old so the 3rd shelf from the top now also houses Emma Lord’s Tweet Cute). The bottom two shelves are a random mix of middle grade and YA mystery thrillers.

Ok onto the rack in the right! I know its a bit of a mess but that’s because the entire rack is mostly filled with books from my childhood and comics and those are a nightmare to try and arrange neatly. There are two shelves dedicated to Enid Blyton (god her books had me in a chokehold) and one shelf each for my Tinkle comics and Geronimo Stilton. And there’s also those big picture books and all from when I had just started reading.

Soo that was all about the mighty bookshelf (she says, nice to meet you guys) aand we’re all done with this post as well because I don’t really know what else there is to be said. (except, it’s my birthday today did you know that?)

How do you organize your bookshelf? What do you use to decorate it? (I’m thinking some Funko Pops might add better aesthetic…) Do you still own books from your childhood? OH AND WHEN’S YOUR BIRTHDAY? Let’s chat in the comments!

~ Rachel

UPDATE: apparently i also decided to do a face reveal? anyway my profile picture for today is my real face ✌️

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

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

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

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

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

Big Hero 6 – We Are Not Free

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

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

Baymax, Big Hero 6

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

“We’re standing on a street corner with everything we’ve ever known about to come crashing down around us.
And we’re angry.
And we’re smiling.
And we aren’t broken.”

We Are Not Free

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

___________

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

Coco – Cemetery Boys

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

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

Hector, Coco

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

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

Cemetery Boys
Cemetery Boys

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

___________

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

Zootopia – The Grishaverse

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

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

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

“Sometimes, the only way to get justice is to take it for yourself.”

Crooked Kingdom

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

___________

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

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

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

Monsters University – Not My Problem

Stop being a Sullivan and start being YOU.

Mike, Monsters University
Monsters University (2013) - IMDb

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

Not My Problem

“I dug deep down into my empathy store and found a dried-up old raisin.”

Aideen, Not My Problem

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

___________

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

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

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

~ Rachel

2021 Wrap Up: Stats, Charts and Reflections + 2022 Goals

It’s new year’s eve you guys! Wow it feels surreal saying that.

It’s scary how “next year” has become “tomorrow”. You know the feeling where you can actually feel time rushing past you? Pretty much like a passing metro right in front of you. And the kind that is accompanied by a blast of air that leaves you sputtering and trying to keep your hair out of your mouth. Ok i spoiled the metaphor didn’t I?

Anyway. Being the opportunist I am, let me grab this opportunity by the toes and reflect on my reading and blogging this year. So keep aside that biology assignment (which the school felt essential to give RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER BREAK, why?) and settle down to read this chaotic post. Also, this is my first time wrapping up the entire year, so while i’m obviously very excited, this post is longer than I expected it to be. Like much longer. But hopefully you’ll not doze off in the middle (remember that bio assignment? yeah we cannot have you sleeping while precious time runs out) since I’ve tried my best to keep things interesting with lots of cute ‘lil graphics and with all that said and done let’s start right away!

Reading Stats

Books Read: 71 || Pages Read: 26662 || Average book length: 375 pages

Best Book(s) Of The Year: Six Of Crows duology
Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)
Worst Book Of The Year: The Young Elites
The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)
Most Read Author(s) Of The Year: Leigh Bardugo and TJ Klune
Leigh Bardugo
T.J. Klune
Book Genres

Not surprisingly, fantasy has dominated my reading (imagine little knights and fairies and goblins from the fantasy kingdom charging forward with swords and chasing away the other genres)

I’m honestly disappointed that I hardly read any historical fiction this year. It is one of my favourite genres, but I guess I didn’t find many historical books that sounded particularly intriguing to me, so please, hit me with recs in the comments!

What’s new is that started reading YA contemporaries! I mean, this happened pretty late into the year, like my first one was Perfect On Paper in the month of October. One small step for most of the bookish community, a giant leap for Rachel. (who, btw formerly couldn’t understand why on earth people would choose high school drama over dragons and magic. but she has evolved. congratulations and happy realization to her. and now third person is getting weird so she is going to stop)

Book Formats

This too is hardly surprising. Since my neighbourhood library shut down and then moved to a new location (thank you Covid), I’ve been reading mostly on my Kindle (which has proved such a boon in these trying times). Not that I don’t have a lot of unread physical books sitting on my shelves; it’s just that I haven’t been prioritizing them over others. Guess I need to do that in 2022.

But I started reading audiobooks for a change! Its basically reading without having to use your hands and eyes and that honestly makes it so much easier for someone having a chaotic life (like me, obviously). I also live under the illusion that listening to murder mysteries and horror books makes them less scary than reading them on page, but i’m pretty sure that’s delusional so let’s not go there i’ve embarassed myself enough.

Series / Standalones / ARCs

Till last year, I was a huge series person but now I’m just intimidated by them so I stick to standalones and duologies. And even those 29 books that are mentioned as part of series in the graph are mostly the first books of a trilogy or something, and in most cases I never read the sequels. Like the Gilded Wolves trilogy for instance. I really enjoyed the first book, it was even on my top 10, but for some reason I keep putting off reading the sequel? Idk I feel like I’ve lost commitment to anything more than a duology.

Authors

I mean, since 2021 was the first year I actually became part of the bookish community, I discovered loads and loads of new fantastic authors and books I’d never heard about earlier. Yay to that.

Blog Stats

Posts Published: 85 || Views: 7678 || Visitors: 3291 || Likes Received: 2575 || Comments Received: 1079

Post Categories

So here I’ve analysed the different categories of posts I published in 2021, and i’ve mentioned my favourite posts from each category as well as a few lines reacting to the number of posts in each category I wrote this year. (wow that did not make sense at all)

Book / ARC Reviews

Quite understandably, book reviews make up a significant population of posts on my blog. I feel like I’ve really REALLY improved in writing book reviews (i’m not bragging, you just haven’t seen my very early reviews lol) over time.
I and my friend April also started the hype-o-meter series, which is basically reviewing popular books in a way that deems them worthy (or not) of the hype they get.

My favourite book review posts: The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He || We Are Not Free by Traci Chee || We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Discussion Posts

I have a confession to make. Idontlikewritingdiscussionsanymorehelp *ahem* What I meant was that for some reason I don’t enjoy writing discussion posts these days (yes i know that’s unforgivable, it’s the worst form of betrayal to the book blogging community, it’s treason it’s-) and when I do, they don’t really turn out that great so yeah that’s why there weren’t many discussion posts this year.

My favourite discussion post: Appreciation For Book Bloggers

Lists / Recommendations

These consist of themed book recs, and lists of certain types of books or characters. I like how short and to the point these kinds of posts usually are (please ignore the fact that i gush about nearly the same books in every recommendation post). I’d definitely like to increase the number of this category of posts next year.

My favourite list/recommendation posts: My Top 10 Reads Of 2021! || 8 Diverse Books I Loved, And 8 That Are On My TBR! || My Worst Reads Of 2021!

Random (aka weird) bookish stuff

Aha! Undoubtedly my favourite type of posts to write. I mean, yeah you have to sacrifice a few brain cells, but no big deal. These posts that honestly come out of nowhere can be found aplenty on my blog, especially in these last few months of 2021. We have every level of weirdness here. Comparing books to road trips when they have nothing in common (or do they?)? Check. Trying to relate quotes from books to real life? Check. Choosing books to throw at someone’s face? Also check.

My favourite “random bookish stuff” posts: Books As Road Trips || Books I’d Use As Weapons // aka books i’d throw at jesper if i was david

Look out for more of these posts in 2022!!

TBRs & Wrap-Ups

While I stopped making monthly tbrs a while back, I still love writing monthly wrap-ups! It is a fact well known that the wrap-ups on this blog always start with weird bird facts (also that is getting just a tiny bit old, so wait and watch in 2022 *wink wink*) so that’s a special feature.

My favourite wrap-up post: September Wrap-Up // ft. more diverse reads and lots of blog hopping!

Tags & Awards

While I was absolutely going crazy with tags and awards last year, this year i hardly did any of them. And the ones I did do were the generic ones like the mid year freakout, the end of the year etc etc. Sure, tags are great for a rainy day when I do not have a single post idea in mind, but I tend to not use them much for regular days when I already have posts planned. But. I do have a few very fun tags sitting in my drafts at the moment, so look out for those in the coming weeks!

My favourite “tags / awards” post: The Christmas Song Book Tag || The End Of The Year Book Tag

Read more historical fiction. As I mentioned earlier, though I thoroughly enjoy historical fiction, for some reason I haven’t been reading much of it. So prioritizing historical fics on my tbr is something I hope to do tomorrow next year.

Shorten that physical tbr. Those unread books will collect dust on my shelves no longer. (Let’s ignore the fact that I lost all control and ordered a lot of books recently for some reason so more pretty copies are on their way to me while I procrastinate reading the ones I already have.)

Catch up on arcs and arc reviews. Apparently I have no self control and went on a requesting spree on Edelweiss. Plus when authors contacted me to review their books, guess what I did? I said yes, of course. So I’m slowly wading through the pile of arcs and an even bigger pile of pending reviews.

Follow up on series. At least, the ones whose first books I enjoyed. Because I’m internally dying to know what happens.

Work on my WIP. I realize I never announced over here that I. AM. WRITING. A. BOOK! I mean, it’s less a book than a jumble of words right now, but that’s exactly why I want to give it some more time and effort. And also don’t get too excited because there’s basically no plot yet. We’re thriving on vibes.

Who was your most read author this year? Any historical fiction recs for me? What are some of your goals for 2022?(which, let me very unhelpfully remind you, is not more than a few hours away) Chat with me in the comments, goodbye and happy new year everyone!

~ Rachel

My Top 10 Reads Of 2021! // in which i run out of words to describe these books

Ho Ho Ho! (ok my Santa imitation needs work)

Merry Christmas to all humans and elves alike! Let there be cheer! And presents! (you’ll never guess what i got! but maybe in another post) And candy! And more candy!

What better occasion than Christmas to flaunt my favourites (aka my obsessions) of this year? I read a total of 70 books in 2021, but only some of them are truly special to me. I’ve chosen the 10 books I liked the best (+ some honourable mentions of course), books that own my heart and soul, books I’ll never stop recommending till the day I die (atleast i’ll get prizes for the drama? no?)

I have also done the heart-wrenching task of actually ranking these books (believe me, it only looks easy) however I’d also like to mention that all of them have an equal place in my heart, but some more equal than the others (yes that was an Animal Farm reference). To keep the suspense rolling, we’ll go in reverse order; that means we’ll start off from number 10 all the way to number 1 (with #1 being like the best book of the year), and NOW I’M SO EXCITED I CAN’T WAIT ANYMORE LET’S STA–

~ #10 The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Choksi ~

“’You and your secrets.
‘Secrets keep my hair lustrous,’ said Severin, running his hand through his curls.”

I’d been hearing about this all over the bookish community, and though I read so many mixed opinions, one thing that I found common in all the reviews was the comparison to six of crows. Obviously, I knew I had to give this a try. And I wasn’t disappointed. Sure, it was a lot like the soc duology, but it put a different twist into everything. And not to forget, the author is an indian (like me!) and believe me the desi vibes were up to the mark (“laila-majnun”? i’m dying) and of course I adored the moral greyness (is that even a word?) of the characters. The banter was *chef’s kiss* and don’t even get me started on the found family.

~ #9 Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth ~

“I dug deep down into my empathy store and found a dried-up old raisin.”

To say that this book made me laugh would be an understatement. It had me snorting and chuckling and giggling (in the most embarrassing way) and basically a lot of people around me thought I’d finally lost it so there’s that. There was Aideen, aka the best narrator ever. There was the perfectly accurate description of students in a high school. And then there was Meabh. Sweet, perfect Meabh in whom I saw so much of myself that I think the author somehow based her off my personality. But. The whole point of those graphics were to stop me from boring you to death with essays, so we stop here.

Why I picked this up: It’s no coincidence that I started reading this a couple of days after reading Anoushka’s review! I was feeling the contemporary vibes anyway, so after reading her review I was sure I needed this!

~ #8 We Are Not Free by Traci Chee ~

“Is this what life is like? People coming together and drifting apart, coming together and drifting apart, over and over until there’s no one left?”

The award for “Most Tears Of The Year” (yes I just made that up) goes to We Are Not Free by Traci Chee! 14 POVs brought out the individuality of each character beautifully, and while this was not my first Traci Chee book, it was definitely the most impactful. And I’m sure it will also leave a lasting impact on you (and those poor tissues that’ll get wet in the process)

Why I picked it up: I decided to give this a try after reading Cherelle’s review!

~ #7 Supernova by Merissa Meyer ~

“Some people were always meant to be heroes.
Just like some people were always meant to be villains.”

Superheroes. And supervillains. But not the cheesy kind, I promise.

The third and final book in the Renegades trilogy, Supernova was the best of the lot. It was filled to the brim with action and anguish and secrets and I couldn’t have hoped for a better ending.

Why I picked it up: It was because of April’s review of the Renegades trilogy that I decided to read it. (though April, I do realize that you liked the first two books better?? but anyway.)

~ #6 Sands Of Arawiya Duology by Hafsah Faizal ~

A thousand leagues and a thousand sands. For you, a thousand times I would defy the sun.

I swear there’s some sorcery involved here because Faizal straight off picked all my favourite tropes, topped it with mind-blowing writing and humour, and named the result the Sands Of Arawiya duology. That’s how good this book is.

If you’re curious about the tropes in question, we had enemies to lovers, knife to throat, slow burn and plenty of witty banter. Still need convincing? Read the epic showdown of WHTF against the hype-o-meter!

Why I picked it up: I read Cherry’s and Kaya’s reviews, and it was then I knew that I needed to read this duology!

~ #5 Aurora Cycle duology by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff ~

“He asks for nothing, this boy. No favor. No quarter. He lives every moment of his life is pain, but still, he lives it. And he stands, where others would have long ago fallen.”

Full of complex and well-developed characters, found family vibes, and cool spaceships, the Aurora Cycle duology (now a trilogy) has to be one of the best space operas I’ve ever read! And WOULD YOU LOOK AT THOSE COVERS??

Why I picked it up: Madeline convinced me to pick up this one through her constant ramblings about this series on her blog! Ashmita also recommended this to me!

~ #4 These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong ~

“You know me. Running around. Living life. Committing arson.”

Ok this was another one of those instances where I got carried away by the hype and am glad I was. Because #ownvoices historical fiction! set in asia! blood feuds! morally grey characters! badass girl and soft boy! enemies to lovers at it’s finest! and whatever else I mentioned in the graphic of course, but tell me, do you still need a reason to go bury your nose in These Violent Delights right now?

~ #3 Rule Of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo ~

“The world might crumble, but Nikolai Lantsov would be holding up the ceiling with one hand and plucking a speck of dirt from his lapel with the other when it all went to ruin”

I’ll have you know that this was the book that pushed These Violent Delights out of the top 3 at the very last moment. I finished reading the duology (but I put only rule of wolves here because i found it even better than king of scars) just yesterday evening, it doesn’t get any more last-minute than that. Also please do understand that because of the reason stated above, my feelings for this one are very fresh. So. ASJHDFHFGSJK MISS BARDUGO YOU DID IT AGAIN I LOVED THIS SO SO MUCH IT’S BRILLIANT. And did I mention I’m obsessed with Zoya and Nikolai’s characters? And the Six of Crows references were EVERYTHING.

~ #2 House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune ~

“Sometimes, he thought to himself in a house in a cerulean sea, you were able to choose the life you wanted. And if you were of the lucky sort, sometimes that life chose you back.

With dry sarcastic humour, out of the world character development and found family vibes, The House In The Cerulean Sea is in short, AWESOME. It will tug at all your heartstrings (note the use of “will”) and make you laugh and cry and then smile through watery eyes and much more including staring at the wall trying to process how a book can be so beautiful.

~ #1 Six Of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo ~

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

At this point, I am 200% sure this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone, given the amount of SoC references there are in my posts. And there have also been posts specifically dedicated to this duology (apart from the review), the latest being Books I’d Use As Weapons // aka books i’d throw at jesper if i was david.
I am wholly and truly OBSESSED with everything that has to do with this duology. I don’t even have words (turns out, i do) to describe the sheer PERFECTION this duology is – it’s captivating, it’s brilliant, it’s… perfect. (yeah I’m running out of synonyms here)

Why I picked it up: Well because it is so massively hyped and everyone was raving about it. But I first came to know about it from Cherelle’s blog last year, so shout-out to her!

A quick little vote of thanks before we move one- THANK YOU Anoushka, Cherelle, April, Cherry, Kaya, Madeline and Ashmita for recommending these fantastic reads to me because it’s very likely i never would have read these without your persuasion!

I had to include an Honourable Mentions section because I am afraid of the wrath of the bookish gods even though these books couldn’t make it to my top 10 because of ~competition~, nevertheless they cannot be left out as they were also absolutely amazing books that deserve all the love they can get.

Cemetery Boys
Perfect on Paper

Soo I feel like I’m supposed to make an eloquent speech at the end of this post so here goes *ahem * GO READ ALL OF THESE BECAUSE TRUST ME, YOU NEED THESE IN YOUR LIFE OKAY?! Ok not quite the eloquence I was hoping for but it gets the point across.

How was your Christmas? Candy? Gifts?? Which were your best reads in 2021? Have you read any of mine? Thoughts?
Oh and before you go, let’s scream it together – NO MOURNERS, NO FUNERALS!!

~ Rachel

The Christmas Song Book Tag

Dashing through the snow, in a one horse open sleigh, o’er the fields we go, laughing all the way…

Am I the only one who has christmas jingles stuck in my head since the past couple of days? I mean I literally cannot seem to get rid of them and my mind unhelpfully supplies them at the oddest of times. Trying to recall the periodic table? “jingle bells jingle bells” Trying to square 33 mentally? “we wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year” See what I mean?

I’m also eating plum cake as I type this, so the conclusion is that the christmas vibes have totally settled in over here.

Anyway. We’ve got a very appropriate tag for this wondrous occasion – The Christmas Song book tag! I saw this tag on Maddie’s blog, and it looked fun so here we are!

You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch

~ Name a villainous character you can’t help but love ~

Kaz Brekker, though I’d never for the life of me call him ‘villainous’. And also Nasir Ghameq (i’m sorry but he’s an assassin so… but I love him okay?)

All I Want For Christmas Is You

~ Which book to you most hope to see under your Christmas tree? ~

Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights, #2)

I’m surprised by how easy this was to answer. The book I’m craving most at the moment is Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong (under a metaphorical tree because we don’t really celebrate christmas that much) because of obvious reasons that I dare not elaborate without bursting into tears all over again.

“Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”

~Name a character that overcomes major obstacles and learns to believe in themselves ~

This Last Adventure

Um okay literally almost every main character? But since I’m bound by the unwritten rules of book tags, I’ll pick Archie from This Last Adventure by Ryan Dalton. It’s about how he handles his grandfather’s growing memory loss due to Alzheimer’s so obstacles? There’s a lot of them. (but more about that in my review later)

“Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”

~Which character do you think would be on the top of the naughty and nice list?~

Naughty list, let’s see. The Darkling? I mean, I finished King of Scars yesterday so he’s the first one to come to mind, and rightfully. (*wagging finger* no gifts for you kirigan)

Look there are a lot of competitors for the nice list okay? But again, remember the unwritten rules of book tags? Yeah, i thought so. Once again I’d pick from King Of Scars, and it’d be Matthias. (i thought i was over him, but then Bardugo had to go write this duology)

“Frosty the Snowman”

~Which book just melts your heart?~

The House in the Cerulean Sea

To answer your unasked question (but you were going to ask, hmm?), no it’s not a contemporary. The House In The Cerulean Sea seriously has so much feeling; believe me when I say Klune’s a magician.

Klune: *writes House In The Cerulean Sea*
Me: *while reading it* omg so adorable, my heart *eyes well up*
Klune: oh you think i’m only good at making people cry? challenge accepted *writes the Extraordinaries trilogy*
Me: *while reading it* omg. omg. what. wh- *undignified giggles and snorts*
Klune: the show’s not over yet! *writes Under The Whispering Door*
Me: *buys a copy as soon as it is out but is too afraid to read it and have her heart shattered* (don’t worry I’ll get to it. eventually.)

“Feliz Navidad”

~ Choose a book that takes place in a country other than your own ~

Yeah no this is too easy, hardly any book I read nowadays is set in India. Let’s go with We Are Not Free by Traci Chee, which is set in America after the bombing of the Pearl Harbour.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year”

~Which holiday themed book do you use to spread the Christmas joy?~

The Miracle on Ebenezer Street

I haven’t read a lot of Christmassy books, but The Miracle Of Ebenezer Street is one I distinctly remember. There’s so much christmas merriment! and joy! and cheer!

“Sleigh Ride”

~Which fictional character would you choose to spend the holidays with (doesn’t have to be a love interest!)~

I’d love to have some cheerful and sarcastic characters around so – Aideen (from Not My Problem), Jesper (Six of Crows), Nikolai (King of Scars) and such would be my top picks.

“Baby its cold outside”

~Which book that you didn’t like would you sacrifice to a fire to warm yourself up in the cold?~

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

As much as I would like to gasp and say “oh no i’d never do that to a book!!”, I unfortunately have had the (dis)honour of having read The Young Elites by Marie Lu, and I despise it with all my heart so into the flames it goes. (it’s probably best that I don’t own a physical copy of this)

“Do you hear what i hear”

~Which book do you think everyone should read?~

Now that. Is. Hard. You want me to rattle off a list of my favourites? Or recommend a book that will magically make non-readers readers? (it doesn’t exist sorry) Or maybe a book that people of all ages, and fans of all genres will love? (that doesn’t exist either)

So very graciously, we are going to skip this question and not talk about it. (and yes I run away from problems instead of facing them) don’t tell a soul.

i tag…

Amber @EscapeLifeInThePages || Georgia @Lost In Neverland || Saima @Stories With Saima

Which book do you hope to see under your Christmas tree? Which is your favourite Christmas-themed book? Let me know in the comments!!

~ Rachel

The Year 2021 Divided Into My Bookish Phases

Everybody, say happy birthday to my laptop! *chorus of Happy Birthday, Laptop!* That’s right, this lovely device and my partner in crime came into being (aka was gifted to me by my parents) somewhere a little before Christmas last year. It seems like yesterday (for the record, it does not.) when I first cradled it in my arms, and it’s nearly one already. Look at it grow!

Now onto today’s main deal. I don’t know about you, but I find myself suddenly wanting to read a murder mystery one moment and a fluffy contemporary the next, an underrated book one moment and an overrated one the other. Sometimes these “moments” are actually literal moments, sometimes they can be hours, days or even months. Being the mood reader I am, I often give in to these urges.

In this post I bring you all those bookish phases which together made my reading year a big chaotic jumble of books of all shapes and sizes (not literally though, most of them are e-books). Ready? Here we go!

(also, the formatting is terrible in the Reader so please read it here)

The “ooh I wanna read what everybody else is reading” phase in which I read hyped books (February-March and October-November)
Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)
We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)
These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)
Skyward (Skyward, #1)

I am literally the co-founder of the “Hype-o-meter” series so yeah, I have a thing for popular books haha and sometimes I just get carried away by the hype. Specifically, it was in February, March, October and November when I read a lot of hyped books. Some of them were totally worth the hype, and others just… weren’t. (if you’re curious – SoC, WHTF, and TVD were the ones worth the hype)

The “yay, childhood” phase in which I read middle grade (May – July)
Small Spaces (Small Spaces, #1)
Malamander (The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea, #1)
The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1)
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
Believe

Yeah so I’ve pretty much given up on middle grade now, but there was a time when I was super into mg books. And then in June, I also took part in this read-a-thon called Whatever-a-thon, and joined the team “Middle Grade Monarchs” so middle grade was pretty much what I read that month. And then I binged the entire heroes of olympus series.

The “i wanna play detective” phase in which I read mystery-thrillers (September – October)
The Inheritance Games (The Inheritance Games, #1)
How We Fall Apart (How We Fall Apart, #1)
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1)
Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1)

This phase started with me buddy reading The Inheritance Games with April. After that I was suddenly into solving murders in elite prep schools and small towns and the like. I think I’m over this phase now (thank you, Truly Devious, for being so truly terrible)

The “science geek” phase in which I read sci-fi (April and August)
The Supernaturalist
Down to Earth
The Ones We're Meant to Find
The Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts, #1)

Nowadays I feel like I’ve lost my interest in the science fiction genre, but there certainly was, and probably will be a time when I was fascinated by all books that had to do with technology and space and aliens. In August especially, sci-fi made up most of my reading.

The “I’ll review you! And you! And you!” phase in which I read arcs and review copies (September and November)
A Clash of Steel: A Treasure Island Remix
The Wolf's Curse
This Last Adventure
The Helheim Princess (The Helheim Prophecy, #1)

Yeah I have those occasional phases where all upcoming releases suddenly sound just my type and I cannot wait for them to be published so I go ahead and request and arc, or sign up for a blog tour. The story ends with me buried under a pile of arcs. And then under a pile of pending reviews.

the “i desperately need more happiness in my life” phase in which I started reading contemporaries (November-December)
Perfect on Paper
Not My Problem
Only Mostly Devastated

This is a fairly recent development in my reading life. I felt like I couldn’t handle any more pain and death that usually comes in a package with fantasy books, so I finally started reading YA contemporaries. And my, I’d no idea what I was missing out on all this time.

So that was my year in bookish phases, tell me about yours! Do you also have these sudden urges to read certain genres? Chat with me in the comments!

~Rachel

My Worst Reads Of 2021! // ft. a lot of disappointed sighing

Someone stole my Office keys. He’s gonna pay, you have my Word. (get it? like Microsoft Office? MS Word?)

Oh hi. Yeah I don’t know what happened there. Obviously my poor attempt at lightening the mood was unsuccessful. Well then. Points for effort.

Sooo. As part of wrapping up the year, you’ll be seeing a lot of these bookish lists on my blog this month. And what better to start off than a list of the worst books I read this year, right? What can I say, I always believe in getting over and done with the bad stuff first. (if you ever say to me “i have good news and bad news”, like they do in the movies, you know, I’ll always vote for the bad news)

Some quick little pointers before we start!
– all of this is based on personal opinion. Though I didn’t like these books for whatever reason, that doesn’t mean I hate their fans. If you liked these books, i’m happy for you.
– this list is in no particular order, though I did dislike some books more than the others.

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

~ The Young Elites by Marie Lu ~
The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)

Ironically, The Young Elites was our first pick for the hype-o-meter series (a series of posts in which I and my dear friend April determine whether or not a book is truly worth the hype), because hello, it’s Marie Lu, the popular author whose books everybody seems to love.

I think this book and me got off in the wrong foot (the initial scenes weren’t very encouraging), and after that, well, everything just went more and more downhill. I mean okay, so Ms Lu tried very hard to create morally grey characters but they just turned out to be conflicted and confused about everything in their life. And to top that, the narration was first person, and if I despise the main character, do you really think I’d be interested in seeing the world through their eyes? I mean, Adelina had no direction. She thought something, said something else and did something totally different (and often these actions were stupid). Add to this sorely underdeveloped characters and you get a recipe for what Rachel dislikes in a book.

~ The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman ~
The Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts, #1)

This. This was the biggest disappointment this year, maybe the biggest ever in my life. Maybe it was my fault for having huge expectations? I read this back in the month of April, just a few days after it got released. This honestly had SO much potential, the concept was mind-blowing, but the execution just fell flat. *sigh* Nami as the main character and also our narrator was so repetitive that it got really annoying. Unpopular opinion, i know.
Then the plot twist at the end was sort of lazy writing, to get the reader excited for the sequel i guess. I don’t know. I just didn’t care.

~ Shadow Jumper by J.M Forster~
Shadow Jumper (Shadow Jumper #1)

To be honest, the first part of the book wasn’t bad. In fact, it was good. But I have no idea what happened after that. Like everything seemed too hasty and not properly researched. The plot was quite predictable and the conclusion was extremely unsatisfactory too. I think I also read this during the time I was just giving up on middle grade, so that might have played a part too.

~ The Middler by Kirsty Applebaum ~
The Middler

Once again, the synopsis was so promising, even the whole concept of ” the middle child being bad luck” was unique, but the story as a whole failed to deliver. I read this way back, in February, so I don’t even remember much of it. From what I recall, I almost dnf’ed it several times, it was so monotonous. I felt distanced from the characters; I didn’t care what happened to them. The escapades seemed too convenient and some plot points didn’t even make sense.

~ The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He ~
The Ones We're Meant to Find

This is the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” case. I spent nearly the entirety of the book feeling confused and stumped. The dual povs + the switching timelines were something I couldn’t keep track of, so I barely understood what was going on. Among the things I liked were the atmosphere, the worldbuilding, and the unique take on climate change. Unfortunately it was not enough. Among the two sisters Celia and Kasey, I liked Celia’s chapters much more than Kasey’s (at least initially) and the whole “surviving on a remote island” concept was cool until it got boring, and once again, confusing. I also felt quite underwhelmed by the plot twists. Sorry but no.

Which were your worst reads of 2021? Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Chat with me in the comments!

~ Rachel

October + November Wrap-Up // superheroes, murder mysteries, heists and aliens

*inside a cave* Quack. Quaaaaack! *no answer*

Ahem. Sorry, I was just testing whether this unbelievable bird fact that I came across was true.
Apparently, a duck’s quack does not echo ANYWHERE, and no one knows why.

With this time’s monthly weird bird fact we have established, once more, that ducks are creepy.

I am not kidding when I say October was a terrible reading month. It was one of those hectic months when suddenly all sorts of exams and tests came up- school, coaching institute and other additional projects. However, lack of time wasn’t the only reason I didn’t read much, I also fell in a sort of reading slump. The result – only 4 books, my lowest so far this year.

The Extraordinaries (The Extraordinaries, #1)
★★★★
THE HUMOUR?! unfortunately it was a tad too predictable for my taste

Skyward (Skyward, #1)
★★★½
idk how to feel about this book

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1)
★★★★
the mystery was nicely constructed, but i personally am not a fan of how it was resolved at the very end

Perfect on Paper
★★★★½
ahh i finally understand the massive hype surrounding this

November was a total turnaround from October. I suddenly had lots of free time and found myself out of my slump too so naturally, lots of books and a very happy human.

The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games, #2)
★★★
um. no. sorry.
Flash Fire (The Extraordinaries, #2)
★★★★
once again, spot on humour and the plot was better than the first one
The Helheim Princess (The Helheim Prophecy, #1)
★★★★
something about the structure of the story felt a little amateur, but otherwise all good
The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)
★★★★½
the six of crows vibes this gave me was just-
Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
(reread)
as good as the first time if not better??
Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1)
★★½
i am no expert but this is not how a mystery is supposed to be written. and what even was that ending?
These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)
★★★★★
whoa. just whoa. i need the sequel now😭
This Last Adventure
★★★★
so emotional and thought provoking

Hmm there’s not much to say really. I spent more than half of October on hiatus so I posted very little, and November was a pretty average month.
Here are my top 3 posts from October and November! (click on the featured images to be taken to the respective posts!)

I share my thoughts on We Are Not Free, an emotionally wrenching story set during WWII (basically a whole lot of crying and screaming)

I recommend my favourite books by POC authors and likewise leads and also share a part of my diverse tbr!

In this insanely chaotic post I choose books to throw at Jesper if I was David from the Shadow & Bone show!

Kashvi @Kerch Books lists her favourite books of the year so far!

Phoenix @Books With Wings shares 5 reasons she’s grateful for blogging!

Siena @Booksophobia discusses why she never requests arcs anymore!

Khyati @Booklore recommends books with pretty covers!

Madeline @The Bookish Mutant shares sci-fi books with the found family trope!

Amanda @Bookish Brews explains what dark fantasy is and recommends some diverse dark fantasy reads!

Isha @Paperbacktomes writes why she prefers paperbacks over hardbacks!

April @Booked Till Midnight reviews Down Comes The Night!

Aashi @Words On Fleek shares some things she gets told as a bookworm!

Gauri @ A Book And Chai lists lots of diverse 2022 debuts to look out for!

Birdie @Birdie’s Booktopia shares her anticipated releases of November!

Kaya @ A Fictional Bookworm lists the 5 tropes she can’t get enough of!

Cherry @Letters To The Lost shares her fictional bucket list!

Rania @Rania’s Rambling Reads reviews A Lesson In Vengeance!

Asic @ Haven lists the things she’d rate a 0/10!

Saima @Stories With Saima shares her top 10 books she’s read this year so far!

💨 I went on a road trip with my parents and our neighbors to Shirdi, a very popular temple where I live. The trip took a little longer than planned (we spent more than 10 hours in the car!) but okay.

💨 I created an account on Edelweiss and went on a requesting spree, not expecting to get approved for any of them. BUT I GOT APPROVED FOR MY FIRST REQUEST (Portrait of a thief) WHICH WAS ONE OF MY MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASES OF 2022!! I mean, it has a heist plot so… (I’m still waiting on my other 5 arc requests🤞)

💨 I did not touch a single cracker this Diwali! #GreenDiwali

💨 I started writing again! My WIP, which I started in late October, was abandoned for most of November, but then in the last week of November I finished writing the first chapter of my fantasy novel!!

Do you use Edelweiss? Have you read any of the books I read in these two months? Scream with me about them in the comments!

~ Rachel

8 Diverse Books I Loved, And 8 That Are On My TBR!

Before I became a part of the bookish community, most of my reads were by straight white authors with likewise leads. Since then, I have become so much more aware due to lots of lovely people who promote diversity on their blogs/ booktube etc.

As an Asian myself, I understand how important it is for different cultures to be shown in books, and it is a different feeling altogether to feel represented. In the last couple of months, more than half of the books I’ve read recently are by Asian authors or have Asian characters so I am proud of how far I’ve come.

Diversity in books can mean a lot of things, but this list shall be focusing on books written by POC authors and/or having POC leads. In the first part of this post, I’ll be showcasing some of my favourite diverse reads with their highlights and in the second part, I’ll be listing diverse books which I’ve not read but are on my TBR!

I hope you have your Goodreads (or wherever you make your tbr list) open and ready, because we are starting now!

(the formatting is off in the Reader, kindly click here to read further!)

Cemetery Boys
💘 spirits (and a certain sweet but possessive, bad boy spirit)
💘 mexican culture
💘 themes of identity and acceptance
💘 fantasy with contemporary feel

The Girl Who Drank The Moon
💘 witchy
💘 whimsical, dreamy writing
💘 magic running wild
💘 multiple third person POVs

Where The Mountain Meets The Moon
💘 talking goldfishes and lion statues
💘 chinese folklore
💘 dragons!
💘 beautiful atmosphere and conclusion

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

A Clash Of Steel
💘 set in imperial china
💘 pirates! and lost treasure!
💘 strong woman characters
💘 treasure island retelling

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

The Reader
💘 secret society
💘 a world where books are banned
💘 deep and meaningful writing
💘 pirate stories!

We Are Not Free
💘 set during WWII
💘 love, life and laughs amidst war
💘 14 POVs
💘 heart wrenching and impactful


Here are 8 diverse books I am yet to read, but will hopefully be picking up soon!

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, #1)
These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)
Jade Fire Gold
A Magic Steeped in Poison (The Book of Tea, #1)
The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1)
Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology, #1)
Legendborn (The Legendborn Cycle #1)
The Bones of Ruin

Have you read any of these? Do you have any more diverse recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

~ Rachel