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

I Started A Bookstagram! // first post and general excitement

NOBODY TOUCH ME BECAUSE IN MY CURRENT EXCITED STATE I MIGHT SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST.

Do I have a tiny snowflake-worth of aesthetic sense? Nope. (i am pretty sure my brain sees in black and white.) Can I take photos half as good as the average person? No sir. (believe me I have never used a filter in my life.) Did that stop me from creating an Instagram account? You bet not!

But since we are not here to talk about my many inabilities and backward technological skills, let’s focus on how I overcame (more like ignored-and-will-later-regret-it) these challenges and did what they said I could never do. (and they were right)

I STARTED A BOOKSTAGRAM! Yes I am aware the title of the post gave it away and regrettably stole the thunder of my announcement but play along, will you?

Soo my very first post went up earlier today and it was an appreciation post for one of my favourite authors from this year so far! No it doesn’t get any better than that. Take a look at it below!

In case you aren’t able to see the embedded post, my username is abookwyrmsparadise, go check it out on my profile!

Knowing myself, its going to be super hard to stick to a theme – but for the time being I have decided to keep pastel peaches and pinks as the backgrounds for my posts.

I plan to do mini-reviews, book features, recommendation lists and my trademark weird posts so all the bases are covered I think!

I also look forward to seeing all your bookstagram content as well so if you have an account, PLEASE tell me in the comments, I’d love to follow you!! And considering my aforementioned technological challenges, I wouldn’t mind if you guys shower me with tips and tricks!

Do you have a bookstagram?? When did you start? Any photo editing tips for me?? Let me know in the comments!

~ Rachel

Thoughts While Watching Heartstopper // my brain is a chaotic place

Hi hi!

With the graphic novels already having amassed a huge number of fans, the Heartstopper show on Netflix is THE craze at the moment. Maintaining my identity as a reader-before-watcher, I dutifully read the comics just after the teaser was released. And now I’m reprimanding myself for not reading them sooner because the cuteness overload!! Dessert in book form tbh.

Not that the show was any less adorable, no sir. I shall forever be in debt to the person who made all the casting choices because each actor seemed born to play their role (i was reduced to a puddle in the ground whenever Joe Locke smiled, it’s just- it’s a Charlie smile all right).

Soo let’s move on to my more detailed thoughts while watching the show, documented live in my notes app. *bows with flourish*

  1. the casting is so perfect oh my lord
  2. i have a colourful variety of names i’d like to call ben
  3. not me drawing scene parallels from the comics
  4. dude no why would you go to the library
  5. charlie ignoring the autofill and typing the same thing anyway is just so charlie
  6. “older sister magic”
  7. aww “charlie situation”
  8. would wishing that I had a friend circle like this be a step too far from my current non existent one?
  9. Charlie’s room is GOALS
  10. the almost hand holding thing gets me every time
  11. oh my lord its the first kiss *dies*
  12. oh my lord it’s the second kiss *resurrects*
  13. sooo we’re back to the super cute hi *raises eyebrows suggestively*
  14. like she said, “gay people can be good at sports”
  15. ok wow this game is intense
  16. NOBODY gets to hurt charlie that’s the rule
  17. oh nick you can never just say no can you?
  18. ok but the question is why didnt i know about tao’s exquisite dancing skills??
  19. i know most people hate imogen for some reason but i mostly just feel sorry for her
  20. ha exactly what I’ve been saying. thank you, charlie’s mom.
  21. oof yeah that pinballing night, i remember
  22. tao nick face off!!
  23. aaand he’s told tara and darcy!!
  24. idk why but tara and darcy are like 100 times cooler to me onscreen than in the comics, and they were already pretty cool in the comics soo
  25. i’m pretty sure sipping has become a personality trait for tori at this point
  26. ohmygod nick charlie tara darcy texting parallels!!
  27. the way tao and elle suddenly became so much more interested in their milkshakes—
  28. tori’s deadpan “called it”…she’s my idol
  29. punching harry in the face must be so satisfying
  30. omg tao’s a leftie like me! so true of us
  31. aw did tao literally have to cry and break my heart like that
  32. charlie and tao making up might just be the best thing that has happened to me today
  33. oh don’t mind the noise its just me yelling BEACH BEACH BEACH
  34. i wish i could yell truths at the universe like nick
  35. nick’s coming out scene shall forever be embedded in my heart (the part that is not already occupied by all the heartstopper adorableness)

With that we’re done and waiting on Season 2! With Netflix’s previous record, I’ll be surprised if all the seasons get released in my lifetime so there’s that,,, but no harm staying optimistic, is there?

Have you seen the Heartstopper show yet? Have you read the graphic novels?? Which are your favourite scenes??

~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

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 ✌️

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

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

Hey everyone, what’s up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Rachel

March Madness: Battle #1 + Week 2 Pick // ft. mini reviews and an exciting first game

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to the very first round of March Madness – The Bookish Version! Today we have two equally worthy competitors – Team Down Comes The Night and Team When You Get The Chance and my qualified self will be judging them both and declaring a winner! Grab some popcorn and hold on to your seats AND LET THE GAME BEGIN!

— Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft —

Synopsis

Wren Southerland’s reckless use of magic has cost her everything: she’s been dismissed from the Queen’s Guard and separated from her best friend—the girl she loves. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate, Colwick Hall, to cure his servant from a mysterious illness, she seizes her chance to redeem herself.
The mansion is crumbling, icy winds haunt the caved-in halls, and her eccentric host forbids her from leaving her room after dark. Worse, Wren’s patient isn’t a servant at all but Hal Cavendish, the infamous Reaper of Vesria and her kingdom’s sworn enemy. Hal also came to Colwick Hall for redemption, but the secrets in the estate may lead to both of their deaths.
With sinister forces at work, Wren and Hal realize they’ll have to join together if they have any hope of saving their kingdoms. But as Wren circles closer to the nefarious truth behind Hal’s illness, they realize they have no escape from the monsters within the mansion. All they have is each other, and a startling desire that could be their downfall.

Mini Review

If I had to describe Down Comes The Night in one word, it would be atmospheric. With most of the story taking place in a crumbling, isolated mansion in a icy kingdom during winter, it gives all the wintry feels that the cover promises (i was almost shivering while reading this. and it was a hot afternoon). The writing is extremely immersive, and the romance was enemies to lovers coupled with slow burn, which might just be my favourite combination. I couldn’t relate a lot to Wren since i’m myself quite the opposite—more practical than emotional—yet I appreciated her personality all the same. However, Hal’s character definitely could have been explored more, he felt more like a blurry outline than an actual person to me. And there were a couple of plot points that felt a tad too convenient (like Wren having the return address after the entire letter was burnt etc). Overall though, it was a solid fantasy worth a read for the brilliant writing. (some authors do know how to make me jealous)

— When You Get The Chance by Emma Lord —

Synopsis

Nothing will get in the way of Millie Price’s dream to become a Broadway star. Not her lovable but super-introverted dad, who after raising Millie alone, doesn’t want to watch her leave home to pursue her dream. Not her pesky and ongoing drama club rival, Oliver, who is the very definition of Simmering Romantic Tension. And not the “Millie Moods,” the feelings of intense emotion that threaten to overwhelm, always at maddeningly inconvenient times. Millie needs an ally. And when a left-open browser brings Millie to her dad’s embarrassingly moody LiveJournal from 2003, Millie knows just what to do. She’s going to find her mom.
There’s Steph, a still-aspiring stage actress and receptionist at a talent agency. There’s Farrah, ethereal dance teacher who clearly doesn’t have the two left feet Millie has. And Beth, the chipper and sweet stage enthusiast with an equally exuberant fifteen-year-old daughter (A possible sister?! This is getting out of hand). But how can you find a new part of your life and expect it to fit into your old one, without leaving any marks? And why is it that when you go looking for the past, it somehow keeps bringing you back to what you’ve had all along?

Mini Review

When You Get The Chance was my first book by Emma Lord (the hype is intimidating indeed), and it definitely did not disappoint. Millie was like a living breathing person to me and I felt like i’d known her my entire life (and hers too since we’re only a couple years apart? but you get the point). The same goes for Oliver, Teddy, Chloe and literally every other character in the story. THAT is the extent of Lord’s talent. It would be the understatement of the century to say that I fell in love with Millie’s personality (if i knew her in real life, i would have made her my bff and never let go) and this might just have been the BEST first person POV I’ve ever read. With the hilarious narration in the beginning and the entire “finding my true self” towards the end, this book has a wide range of moods and tones, but i’d call it cheerful for the most part. The happily ever after was the happiest in the history of happily ever afters – call it predictable, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. And gosh was the story overall addictive.

Aand would you look at that, WHEN YOU GET THE CHANCE HAS DEFIED ALL ODDS AND HAS EMERGED VICTORIOUS! An unexpected result, since most of you had placed your bets on Down Comes The Night in the previous post. Better luck next time fellas, but don’t forget to cheer for our winner! (the best way to cheer is to go read this masterpiece. obviously.)

— Week 2 Pick —

Our next competitor is Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz, which will be competing with When You Get The Chance next week!

BLAZEWRATH GAMES

What did you think of the result? Would you have chosen differently? Which book do you think will win the next round?? Let me know in the comments!

~ Rachel

Recommending Books Based On Disney Movies Part 2 // here we go again

By this time, it is a fact well known that Rachel lives and breathes two things – books and disney movies. Given this, it is quite convenient to write a post that mixes both of these obsessions, with a dash of movie dialogues and a hint of book quotes. And wait, does that smell like a sprinkle of craziness and irrationality? All in all, the perfect recipe. (in case you were wondering, no i totally did not just watch Ratatouille)

I should have probably said this earlier but retrospection never got anyone anywhere so let me say it now – welcome to the second part of my Disney Movies As Books post! Like in the first part, we are going to be pairing some books and movies together and it’s going to be so exciting, not least because i get yet another excuse to rave about my favourites in both these categories. Oops. Wasn’t supposed to reveal that. Oh well. Let’s start before something else about my ulterior motives slips out.

Soul – House In The Cerulean Sea

SOUL All Movie Clips (2020) - YouTube

I’m just afraid that if I died today my life would have amounted to nothing.

Joe, Soul

Soul centers on a music teacher Joe Gardner seeking to reunite his soul and his body after they are accidentally separated, just before his big break as a jazz musician. In the Great Before, where souls are given personalities and sparks before they are sent to earth, Joe meets 22, a soul who has still not found her spark.

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.

Linus, The House In The Cerulean Sea
The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House In The Cerulean Sea focuses on Linus Baker, who lives an ordinary quiet life, until he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside. Whatever happens, one thing which is clear is that Linus’ will never be able to go back to living in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records.

_____________

Soul holds somewhat a special place in my heart because I watched it on my birthday the year it released. I re-watched it recently and I can’t believe I didn’t notice before how similar vibes it has with The House In The Cerulean Sea, one of my all time favourites. The main character in both was a middle aged working man, living an ordinary and monotonous life, not quite happy with their work but having no other choice. Then they are thrust into extraordinary circumstances and realize there’s more to life than they ever knew. Lucy (a literal 6 year old who’s quite literally the son of the devil) from the book reminds me of 22 (an unborn soul), because both are technically children but through the course of the story, they teach the adult main character the true meaning of life. Overall too, both Soul and The House In The Cerulean Sea are heartfelt and bittersweet stories with lots of meaning and a tinge of melancholy.

The Incredibles – Renegades

Incredibles 2 - The Final Battle - Ending Scene - video Dailymotion

Helen: Everyone is special, Dash.

Dash: That’s just another way of saying no one is.

The Incredibles is set in a fictional world where superheroes (also known as “Supers”) co-exist with society and are occasionally forced into action despite a ban issued on them by the government. And Incredibles 2 focuses on Helen (the woman in the picture) pulling off a publicity stunt while Bob (the burly red man in the picture) is left to take care of the kids.

“Heroism wasn’t about what you could do, it was about what you did. It was about who you saved when they needed saving.”

Renegades

The first of a trilogy, Renegades follows Nova, who can put people to sleep with a touch and Adrian, who can bring his drawings to life. Except they are on opposite sides – Adrian is a Renegade, a champion of justice, defender of the city, while Nova is an Anarchist, the villain whose sole purpose is to bring the Renegades down.

_____________

What more do I need to say other than superheroes!! *jazz hands and squeaky voice*
Yeah no see, I haven’t seen a single Marvel movie in my life (eek don’t come at me) but with The Incredibles movies and the Renegades trilogy put together, I’ve had a healthy dose of superheroes already. And what a delight both of them were! Secret identities, extraordinary powers and exploring the thin line between “hero” and “villain” were the common themes in the movies and the books. While the movie understandably had a comparatively basic plot, the trilogy was complexity at its finest – with morally grey characters, intertwining storylines, epic showdowns, horrifying betrayals and what not. (also hands up if anyone thinks Max from the books is anything like Jack Jack from the movie *raises hand*)

Raya and the Last Dragon – The Great Zoo Of China

Raya and the Last Dragon' Review: A Wonderful Film, and a Missed  Opportunity | Arts | The Harvard Crimson

Raya: Yeah, well, the world’s broken. You can’t trust anyone

Sisu: Or maybe it’s broken, because you don’t trust anyone. 

The film depicts a warrior princess who seeks the fabled last dragon, with hopes of restoring the dragon gem that would bring back her father and banish the evil spirits from her kingdom.

“Convincing someone to believe something that was inherently unbelievable often meant getting that person to make a quick and easy comparison to something they already knew.”

The Great Zoo Of China

The Chinese government have found a species of animal no one believed even existed, and are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever created. A small group of VIPs and journalists have been brought to the zoo to witness the creatures for the first time. But everything goes horribly wrong…

_____________

It’s a pity I don’t talk more about this book because it’s fantastic but criminally underrated. In my defense, I read it long back, before I was part of the bookish community. But anyway. Once again the similarity between the movie and the book is glaringly clear – dragons!! Both feature talking dragons (though the ones in the book is more science than myth) and a unique bond between a human and a dragon. The Great Zoo of China gives more Jurassic Park vibes though, but then again, it’s meant for an adult audience so there’s obviously more violence and creepy money makers.

Frozen – A Sweet & Bitter Magic

Disney's 'Frozen': The Acting and Performance Analysis

Some people are worth melting for.

Olaf, Frozen

Frozen depicts a princess (Anna) who sets off on a journey alongside an iceman (Kristoff), his reindeer (Sven), and a snowman (Olaf) to find her estranged sister (Elsa), whose icy powers have inadvertently trapped their kingdom in eternal winter.

“It felt too simple. To move forward, carrying the weight of what she’d done without letting it hold her back. It was a delicate balance. Just like magic. Just like families and relationships and sisters who shared the same face but not the same heart.”

In Sweet & Bitter Magic, a witch cursed to never love (Tamsin) meets a girl hiding her own dangerous magic (Wren), and the two strike a dangerous bargain to save their queendom.

_____________

We can’t have a post about Disney movies without mentioning Frozen, the movie which took little girls all over the world by storm (hehe no pun intended) with it’s iconic characters (yes i’m talking about Olaf and Sven) and royalty depiction and ~snow~. (SO. MUCH. SNOW. It physically hurts my eyes sometimes to see all the white. I very much prefer the dark green-ness of the shadow & bone series). Anyway back to comparing it to A Sweet And Bitter Magic. So there are sisters that have been torn apart by circumstances (Elsa and Anna, Tasmin and Marlena) and one sister is magical and the other is not (sort of, for the book). The main conflict in both the movie and the book is magic run rampant, plaguing the town of the characters. Plus, I find both the plots quite basic and straight forward, with just one storyline and minimal twists. (and the colours in the cover match the scene i picked! what more could you want?)

Are you a Disney enthusiast too? Have you read any of these books?
And finally, in true Disney spirit, let’s say it together, to infinity… and beyond! (bonus points to everyone who got the reference)

~ Rachel