The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2022

Normal people have mid-life crises. Bookworms have mid-year crises. Doesn’t seem that different, until you realize that hiding in dark corners where books from your huge tbr —books that you’d PROMISED you’d read in JANUARY and you blinked and now it’s somehow already JUNE and they are as unread as ever— cannot give you death glares is NOT something normal people do.

And what is the cure to this inevitable bookish sobbing? More books! Preferably not from the aforementioned tbr (YOU DON’T SCARE ME um- *whimpers*), instead ones that you just chanced upon a moment ago while scrolling through goodreads! That’s the glorious bookworm life folks.

Soo apparently I have decided not to stick with the original tag because rachel has trouble following convention—it’s a rebellious phase *shrugs*—so I’ve changed and added questions here and there but it’s still fun i promise. (but that’s not a blood oath or anything mind you, so don’t come at me if you end up falling asleep halfway through)

because we stan math in this house… Bookish Stats!

Soo I’ve actually been working on tracking my reads this year in a very organized way so that I do not become a sorry mess at the end of the year. Hence all the numbers!

Considering that my goal for the year is 65, im doing pretty decently at 39 halfway through!

Honestly there are fewer 2022 releases than I thought, but atleast that means I’ve been finally catching up on my backlist tbr! 3 out of these 8 were ARCs anyway.

2022 will forever be known as the year I took baby steps into the adult age-range! Since I turned 15 earlier this year, it was about time really. My experience with it? Well I have mixed feelings- while most of the adult books I read were awesome (and a couple became new favourites!) there were some that completely let me down *cough* Jade City *cough*. (any recs for this newbie??)

I’ve managed to score some diversity points too because I’ve actively been scourging for books with a central queer representation and those by asian authors. While I’m still slightly disappointed that asian authors made up only about a quarter of my reading so far this year, I’m hoping to increase the number by the year end so cheer me on! (also feel free to scream recs at me)

(note: if you are a math nerd like me, you might have noticed these don’t add up to 39! that’s because some of my reads belonged to two or more genres, for example there were books which were a mystery set in the contemporary world)

Who knew my least read genre of 2021 (because I only started reading it in November) would be my most read so far this year? I blame summer. The heat turns my brain to mush and makes it incapable of processing fantasy or historical fiction.

Also. You’re not dreaming. I really did not read a SINGLE sci-fi this year. I guess I got tired of space missions after all. (not to mention i actually have to use BRAIN CELLS to comprehend it)

Remember how one of my goals for this year was to conquer the world that growing physical tbr?? To no one’s surprise I failed MISERABLY. The physical tbr has only gotten bigger and so has my kindle library. Oh well.

Best Book(s) Of 2022 So Far

Soo I cheated because I couldn’t bring myself to pick 1 or even 2 out of these. Eh I make the rules here remember? BUT you’ve got to appreciate the RANGE i have here like-

our violent ends: omg omg omg chloe gong did it again! this romeo and juliet retelling set in 1920’s shanghai, sequel to the iconic These Violent Delights, was a whole EXPERIENCE. it gave me multiple heart attacks but SO. WORTH. IT.

fable + namesake: a gripping pirate-y adventure if i ever saw one. so addictive i put aside all my assignments and dedicated one entire weekend to finishing the duology. (which, in hindsight, did not work out so well later.)

dial a for aunties: this rom com slash murder mystery was so unique and so chaotic oh my gosh! there’s a lot of frantic running about trying to hide a dead body at a billionaire wedding so obviously! also the asian aunties were ICONS i love them so much i-

pride and prejudice: what was i doing with my life before i read this?? gossiping about scandalous society affairs? it could be a possibility because i literally do not remember a time i was NOT obsessed with elizabeth and mr. darcy.

when you get the chance: a delightful book with one of the most realistic and lovable main characters ever written! my first and favourite emma lord book!!

New Releases I Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

queen of the tiles: mystery, scrabble, muslim rep?? SIGN ME UP. [released april 19]

sofi and the bone song: i’ve been hearing great things and this musical fantasy sounds right up my alley. [released april 19]

a magic steeped in poison: tea brewing competition sounds delicious and that cover has my whole heart so [released march 29]

Most Anticipated Release(s) For Second Half Of The Year

foul lady fortune: AHHHHH ok let’s all calm down *deep breaths* AHHHHHHHHHHHH i mean i’d devour anything chloe gong writes but there’s SPYING and i’ve been going FERAL over those little snippets she likes to keep torturing us with-

a million to one: DESI HEIST ON THE TITANIC?? omg omg omg can the time between now and the release date just go home??

Biggest Disappointment(s)

blazewrath games: how can anything with DRAGONS be so disappointing is beyond me. the characters talked and behaved like 12 year olds and the plot didn’t set well with me.

flip the script: same old same old. highly anticipated release turns out to be a huge disappointment because of a weird childish writing style and predictable storyline.

Book(s) That Made Me Happy

dial a for aunties: i mean, if you can call rolling-on-the-floor-laughing-plus-chortling as happy, sure.

so this is ever after: all the characters are so lovable gosh and its overall so weird?? but in a good way? and the fact how everyone is so casually queer and it is never made a big deal of makes me so happy.

Favourite New Author

emma lord: my first book by lord was her latest release ‘when you get the chance’ and after that i made it my personal mission to devour everything she writes. 3 books so far and no disappointments.

Most Beautiful Book(s) I Bought This Year

a far wilder magic: bought this one very recently and i am in love with the shiny greens on the cover! i can’t wait to find out if the story is just as good!!

pride and premeditation: ahhh the cover art is gorgeous and i had fun choosing crayola pens to go with it for booksta! (also it is a pride and prejudice retelling but MURDER MYSTERY!! and it was so amazing like-)

Books I Need To Read By The End Of The Year

Favourite books of 2022 so far?? (RECS PLEASE) Books that made you happy?? Have you read any of these? Let’s freak out together in the comments!

~Rachel

Book Review: Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Sutanto

I’ve come to the realization that I like books that make me laugh more than I do those that make me cry. It’s very close though. I mean, sure, raising global water levels with all those tears is nice but snorting out so loud while reading that people begin giving you weird looks? Now that’s fun.

Title: Dial A For Aunties
Author: Jesse Sutanto
Age Group/Genre: Adult Contemporary
Add to Goodreads!

Synopsis: When Meddelin Chan ends up accidentally killing her blind date, her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Unfortunately, a dead body proves to be a lot more challenging to dispose of than one might anticipate, especially when it is inadvertently shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working at an island resort on the California coastline. It’s the biggest job yet for the family wedding business—”Don’t leave your big day to chance, leave it to the Chans!“—and nothing, not even an unsavory corpse, will get in the way of her auntie’s perfect buttercream flowers.
But things go from inconvenient to downright torturous when Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance amid the wedding chaos. Is it possible to escape murder charges, charm her ex back into her life, and pull off a stunning wedding all in one weekend?

Hot off the press- Rachel read this entire book in a single day! I haven’t read a full-length novel in one sitting since what, years now? That speaks volumes about how quick paced and addictive Dial A For Aunties was. (and also about how I really need to learn my priorities but shh)

I still can’t get over how fun the story was! Part rom-com, part murder mystery and wholly ridiculous, it had no business being so hilariously awesome. It follows Meddelin Chan, her mother and three aunties and their antics as they try to cover up an accidental murder and hide the body at a billionaire wedding they are working at. Top off this brilliant concept with witty writing and quirky characters, and *tada* we have a new favourite.

“Yes, you right, more respectful”. She pats me on the cheek. “I raise you so well.”
Hysteria rises from deep in my stomach and I have to swallow it. Trust Ma to take pride in my etiquette when I’ve just shown her my date, whom I’ve killed, in the trunk of my car.

Speaking of characters. Being an Asian myself, I’ve had my fair share of fussy aunties but this?? The aunties in the story were something else entirely. Actually, ALL the women in the story were phenomenal but the aunties were straight up ICONS. Nothing, not even a dead body could faze them, and there was a point where they were all actually sipping tea in the casual asian fashion with their kidnapper. I aspire to be like these ladies, thank you very much.

The romance was definitely a little behind the scenes, but honestly I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Plus, juggling wedding management (with a shitty groom and an ongoing theft) with a dead body by your side doesn’t exactly leave much time for romancing does it?

“I told you to buy Glad brand. Haven’t you seen their ads? Glad bags will hold his cut-up body just fine, no leaks!”

…Pretty sure that when Glad was planning their marketing campaign, they didn’t think their target market would be a bunch of middle-aged Chinese women arguing about how to best dispose of a body.

This book was basically one absurd thing after the other, and I loved EVERY moment (yeeah I probably need help)

★★★★½ stars (rounded up to 5) to this weird-in-the-best-way rom-com! If this wasn’t clear from the review, I’d quite appreciate if you could drop whatever you’re doing right now and start devouring this book.

Whoever said “It’s as hard as herding cats” has obviously never tried to herd a group of Asian aunties.

Have you read Dial A For Aunties?? Thoughts?? Any books you’ve read recently that made you laugh out loud? Chat with me in the comments!

~ Rachel

Discussion Post: How Pride & Prejudice Does Enemies-to-Lovers Different Than Modern Day YA Books

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Pride & Prejudice is THE enemies to lovers book— in the sense that it was published much before all the 21st century novels with this evergreen trope.

But then the question arises, is enemies to lovers really evergreen?? Personal and probably unpopular opinion alert: I feel, especially in the last few weeks when I’ve been on a YA contemporary binge (owing to the summer-y weather, obviously), that this trope is slowly being diluted in newer releases and/or being forced upon the story without any apparent reason.

No hate on the trope obviously, quite the opposite. It is, in theory, one of my favourite tropes, my one true weakness, the cause of something going into my eye and causing it to water (i’m not crying you’re crying) while reading and the reason for my poor half bitten nails.

And there have been plenty of books which have executed it in ALL of it’s glory if not more (*side eyes These Violent Delights, Six of Crows, We Hunt The Flame etc*), Pride & Prejudice included, so please note that I’m definitely NOT referring to these books when I roast certain aspects of the 21st century adaptation of enemies to lovers.

Lately I keep finding new releases (thankfully, the number is still much lower than the books who have brought it honour) with character relationships that almost bring shame to the grandeur of our beloved trope. And after having spent 11 hours of my life listening to P&P and rooting for Elizabeth and Darcy all those hours more than I’ve probably ever rooted for someone, I feel more than *ahem* accomplished to compare the execution of enemies to lovers in this majestic classic to the one in recent YA novels.

In true loving-anything-with-bullet-points fashion, a list of some of the merits of enemies to lovers in Pride & Prejudice!

Note: This does not contain any major spoilers so even if you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, you’re all good! In fact, I might just convince you to read it by the end of the post ;))

There’s a compelling and realistic build-up to the tension. There are actual, legitimate reasons why our main couple dislike each other. They get off on the wrong foot because Darcy is seen as unpleasant and arrogant and Elizabeth as a lowly girl having poor connections by the other. Circumstances further heighten Elizabeth’s dislike— gossip about him having been cruel, his interfering in her sister’s marriage etc.
Certainly not like some books where random people look at each other the first time and declare the other to be their sworn enemy after NO conversation at all and like zero reason except for the fact that the author thought “oh the people like enemies to lovers?? let me force squeeze it into my book somehow”. I kid you not, this ACTUALLY happened in a book I read *cough* tokyo ever after *cough*

There’s a long period of time for feelings to evolve, and it’s actions that cause them to reconsider their initial hatred. The entire shebang of Lizzy and Darcy meeting and finally getting together spans about a year I think. Also, they were frequently miles away and not staring each other in the face ALL THE TIME. And it was after Darcy’s sudden change in behaviour, the clearing of the bad name that had been put on him that Elizabeth began to doubt whether he deserved her disregard. So just like there were reasons for them to hate each other, there were also valid reasons for them to overcome the hate.
The eternal conundrum in YA, I find, is how to make them fall in love? The answer apparently has not yet been discovered. Usually it’s a few days of forced proximity, one sudden kiss and BOOM they’re in love. Like girl he’s exactly the way he was before so why do you suddenly like him?? (*cough* not here to be liked *cough*)I now almost believe proximity will make anyone fall in love with anyone. (Well considering the situations authors put their characters into where they have to be near each other the entire time, I guess it’s not really the characters’ fault. I mean, I’d “fall in love” with my sworn enemy if it meant I could go atleast an hour without having to see their stupid face soo)

The absence of physical intimacy further brought out the chemistry between them. (a huge thanks to kaya @afictionalbookworm for suggesting this point!) It wasn’t like they could even touch each other because propriety and all BUT. Instead of lessening their chemistry, this “fallback” enhanced it because we could actually see their bond in their words without it having to be obvious with them getting physical. I’d call it a win for Miss Austen.

Society required that they be civil to each other. And boy was it entertaining to watch. Sure, we all love sassy banter and knife-to-throat scenes, but being forced to be polite and exchange pleasantries with someone you hate?? It was almost equally entertaining. Though I felt a little guilty sometimes for enjoying their immense discomfort, Elizabeth’s polite badassery and Darcy’s deadpan and brutally honest statements got me through it.
For once it was not like our “enemies” could actually kill each other (fantasy novels, looking at you) or even exchange outright insulting words and this was, surprise surprise, actually refreshing.

The couple did not always reciprocate each other’s sentiments. For some reason I haven’t seen a lot of one-sidedness in modern YA?? The couple are generally unanimous in their enemity and unanimous in their love declarations later. In P&P however, we have hate at first sight from one and a general dislike but of much less intensity from the other at the beginning. Then there’s a growing but unrequited affection that is only returned at the very end of the book. And yeah, this actually sounds more realistic than what we see in YA, because I don’t think when someone says “I’ve always loved you” the other ALWAYS replies “oh yes I have too”. Rejection exists dude. Even Mr. Collins knew that.

Have you read Pride & Prejudice?? What did you think of Lizzy and Darcy’s relationship? Do you also feel like some of the recent YA releases are not entirely doing justice to enemies to lovers?? Let’s have an open discussion in the comments!

Jade City vs the Hype-o-meter // Review

It seems befitting that I’m dipping my toes into the metaphorical ocean of adult fantasy just after turning 15.

And pray, what better way to start off my exploration of the genre than to read one of the most* hyped adult fantasy ever?

Everyone cheer for our next, and final hypeometer pick – Jade City! Will it emerge victorious or will it be crushed by the mighty hype-o-meter? *tension tension tension*

*this is by no means statistical, i have a tendency to exaggerate. just a tiny bit

Title: Jade City
Author: Fonda Lee
Age Rating: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Publishing Date: 26th June 2018
Add to Goodreads!

Synopsis:

The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.
The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.
When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.

I feel legally obliged to mention first the one thing i was screaming through the entirety of the book (and April can testify this since i bugged her so much, sorry not sorry) and that was WHERE IS THE PLOT?? Yeah seriously, no plot. Nada. Zilch. We do have lots of characters though, of all ages and genders, and we follow them living their lives. And then dying. If you find teeny tiny plot hidden somewhere, do let me know.

The only thing worse than having a non-existent (we are not sure whether it’s missing or dead yet, investigation ongoing) plotline is a slow pace to go along with it. Like. Really slow. To get the feel of it you could call it, as April and I mutually decided, dragging-an-abnormally-large-elephant-while-wading-through-molasses slow. A real transcript of our conversation:

Ok so I realize there might be some of you who have no clue at all what the book is about (and trust me i know that synopsis is very confusing) so let me try to break it down for you a little. So there is island called Kekon, which is basically a mining site for jade. Now jade, as you might guess from the title, is VERY important. Like illegitimate-daughter-of-the-Crown-Prince-of-Japan important.*

Now if you have been paying attention (i hope you have, for your sake *knife emojis*), you might ask, But why is jade so significant? Should I not have thrown away that old bracelet with a little green stone?? Oh no I regret to inform you that you have not lost much by throwing away the bracelet. *visible disappointment* In this fictional world, jade grants those who wear it certain special physical and mental abilities like enhancing their speed, strength and sensory feelings. The book is centered around the Kaul family, who are extremely powerful Green Bones – the name given to those who wear and wield jade. There is another powerful Green Bone family, the Ayts, and inevitably the two rival clans go to war. And then there are other things put into mix— foreigners developing this chemical formula which can act as sort of a substitute for jade for non Green Bones, specific Green Bone rituals like a victor making the jade of his fallen opponent in battle his own, a madness called the Itches which is like a wild, uncontrollable urge for jade and what not. (hey I never said the story was basic ok? it just lacks a proper conflict is all)

*Tokyo Ever After reference at your service

In short, the story was, for lack of a better word, boring. Not even the huge (nearly as big as our elephant friend back there) cast of characters could make me take interest. Reading this felt like a chore and I was exhausted to the bone when I even thought of picking it up to read again. But if you like extraordinarily slow stories with multiple POVs and a little bit of inheritance family drama, sure, go ahead.

With that, let’s see how Jade City fared against the hype-o-meter!

There. A humiliating loss for such a popular book for sure. (i feel almost sorry. and then i remember those torturous days of reading this. then i don’t.) On the other hand, our hype-y boy is enjoying all the attention.

Speaking of which! With this comes an end of the collaborative hype-o-meter series by April and myself and gosh was it tons of fun. Our self-invented beloved hype-o-meter certainly had a glorious run, and is now all ready to say goodbye!

Linked below are all the 10 posts (5 each for both of us) which were part of this series- for nostalgic purposes! Oh and so that you can check them out in case you missed any epic showdowns!!

The Young Elites vs the hype-o-meter: Rachel’s review // April’s review
We Hunt The Flame vs the hype-o-meter: Rachel’s review // April’s review
The Inheritance Games vs the hype-o-meter: Rachel’s review // April’s review
These Violent Delights vs the hype-o-meter: Rachel’s review // April’s review
Jade City vs the hype-o-meter: Rachel’s review // April’s review

Have you read Jade City?? Did you have as much fun with the hype-o-meter series as we did?? Let’s chat in the comments!

~ Rachel

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

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

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

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

— Geekerella by Ashley Poston —

Synopsis

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

Mini Review

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

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

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

— Fable by Adrienne Young —

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

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

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

Synopsis

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

Mini Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Rachel

March Wrap Up // i am become a reading machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaya @The Fictional Bookworm recommends books for fantasy beginners!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Rachel

March Madness: Battle #2 & #3 + Week 4 Pick// ft. mini reviews and competition galore

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another March Madness But In Books post, where we pit two books against each other every week! Today’s a little bit special, because we bring you not 1, but 2 book battles! Grab a drink and settle back in your seat because the games are about to begin!! (okayy so maybe too many exclamation marks but i’m actively working on my commentary skills ok?)

— Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz—

Synopsis

Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.
But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.


Mini Review

You know those books which have this totally BREATHTAKING cover and the story inside is just as beautiful? Yeah, blazewrath games was definitely not one of them. What got me interested was 1) the cover 2) DRAGONS and 3) the whole competition aspect, but sadly all my expectations were dragged down to the earth from their place high up in the clouds and pitifully crushed in a dragon stampede. Which is to say, I did not enjoy this book.

I think one of my biggest issues was how middle grade-ish the entire storyline and the characters were? Like I’m not saying middle grade books are bad but this one’s clearly categorized as young adult so a person goes into the book expecting that age range right? All the characters, who were actually aged between 16-19 years, behaved and spoke like 11 year olds, and immature ones at that. The adults hardly had any role to play other than a tearful reunion at the end. There was no romance, just a bit of blushing and long looks and “feeling weird”, which you know, once again feels like they’re all awkward tweens instead of almost adults. The writing was off, there was a failed attempt at creating an happily ever after at the end, the redemption arc was predictable, there was too much drama at unnecessary plot points and too little during others and I simply could not bring myself to care about the characters or the stakes.

— When You Get The Chance by Emma Lord—

The winner of the first round and a new favourite contemporary, When You Get The Chance was a gem of a book. Find it’s mini review from the first March Madness post here!

If it wasn’t already obvious, When You Get The Chance has yet again emerged victorious in this almost one-sided game! It is, quite frankly, UNBEATABLE!!

___________

— Fable by Adrienne Young—

Synopsis

For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.
But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive

Mini Review

This the book that turned me into a reading machine.
I don’t think I’ve ever gobbled up an entire duology as fast as I did with this one. There was something about this book, which I can’t exactly put my finger on, that had me hooked. Nevertheless, since I can’t very well write a review that just says “There’s something about Fable I loved, so go read it”, I will proceed to list the things I liked which may have contributed to me becoming obsessed with it. Number one, the worldbuilding was super basic and easy to understand, so there’s no chance of that confusion that usually comes in a package with fantasy books. I liked Fable (the main character) in the kind of way you like an adversary who you know is better then you. Respect coupled with grudging admiration, sort of? Her father, Saint was an extremely well developed character, and might have been my favourite in the duology. (are you really a reader if your favourite character is the main character?)

Apart from all that, the best thing about this book was this aura of mystery that surrounded it. There were enough questions to be answered to keep the reader intrigued, and at the same time there were also sufficient reveals to keep the reader from tearing their hair out in frustration. A delicate balance, that. With every scene there was a new twist and I felt like I was holding my breath through the entirety of the novel.

Um. What I said about When You Get The Chance being unbeatable? I take it back. It was a GLORIOUS competition though, and I had an extremely hard time choosing between them. For the record, both are new favourites and absolute winners in their own way, SO GO GIVE THEM A READ!

— Week 4 Pick—

GEEKERELLA

With that, my friends, we have reached the end of two exciting book battles! Did the result turn out to be as you predicted? Have you read any of these? Which book do you think will win next – Geekerella or Fable? Let me know in the comments!!

~ Rachel

January Wrap Up // apart from the year, nothing new really

Gosh. Let me say it again on behalf of all those like me are confused by the mechanisms of time – How are we already a month into 2022? It’s like I blinked and the year went by. Hold up, does that mean–

*blink* How are we already a month into 2023? *blink* How are we already a month into 2024?

Okay enough of that. Many of you might be kind enough to wonder where my usual bird fact intro is, so let me finally explain. In 2022, we have a brand new category of introductions to my monthly wrap ups – and it is *drumroll* uncommon and weird words! *waits for applause, instead gets the sarcastic slow clap* Hey hey, hear me out at least.

Finifugal sounds like nonsense, but it means “afraid of finishing anything”. (speaking of which, my biology assignment is pending, brb)

If This Gets Out
Sweet & Bitter Magic
Portrait of a Thief

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales Boy bands, secret parties and a glimpse of the stage life with an added dose of heartbreak and identity and fighting back. (Mom squad forever!!) ★★★★

Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley I’m a simple gal. Give me some magical witchy-ness, grumpy-sunshine romance, and perilous journeys leading to epic facedowns, and I’m sold. ★★★★

Portrait Of A Thief by Grace D. Li Not gonna lie, I came only for the heists. And while that certainly did deliver, nothing could have prepared me for the internal conflicts of identity and futures at stake. This one was full of surprises, and I mean that as a compliment. ★★★★

Caraval (Caraval, #1)
Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game, #1)
Our Violent Ends (These Violent Delights, #2)

Caraval by Stephanie Garber No we do not need a reminder on how dangerous the game is and a warning of not being swept away every two pages, thank you very much. Plus Scarlett was annoying and a little dumb. ★★

Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody Uhh I think dark fantasy is just not for me?? ★★½

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong Miss Gong did it again. The number of times I died and got resurrected while reading this is not even funny. ★★★★½

My first post of the year, and what better than to review three books from my newest favourite genre and my newest favourite author? Read my mini reviews of Perfect On Paper, Only Mostly Devastated and If This Gets Out here.

I never knew there were so many Disney fans here until I wrote this post and got an overwhelming response? But anyway, I compare some of my favourite disney movies to some of my favourite books, so it’s a win win really. Read it here!

A random post in which I try (and perhaps fail miserably? but shh) to guess the zodiac signs of some of my favourite characters based on their personalities! Read it here.

I review an ARC of This Last Adventure by Ryan Dalton, a middle grade focused on the grandson of an Alzheimers’ patient. You can read it here.

We have a special guest on the blog in this one, and it’s none other than my friend Anoushka from Dipped In Ink! She cleverly answers a set of (extremely hard, if i do say so myself) questions and i do the same on her blog! Read the whole shenanigan here.

Kaya @A Fictional Bookworm reviews Disney’s latest movie Encanto!
Andge @Down The Rabbit Hole reviews You’ve Reached Sam!
Ritz @Living Loving Reading writes a discussion on banned books!
Charvi @Not Just Fiction recommends books based on board games!
Rania @Rania’s Rambling Reads reviews Portrait Of A Thief!
Naemi @A Book Owl’s Corner lists 7 bookish details she misunderstood as a kid!
Suhani @Random Reader’s Rambles recommends books based on zodiac signs!

🪄Academics wise, January was top tier in the sense that I got selected for courses for the next academic year in the institute I’m studying in, with very good ranks (1 and 4 respectively for two different courses) and generous scholarships. Ok now i’m going to stop the bragging.

🪄Not ‘exciting’ per se, and I think I mentioned in one of my earlier posts as well but the third week of January was pure torture, in terms of health at least. I was sick for nearly that entire week, and it was PAINFUL. And I still have a bad cold, which is annoying at the very least.

🪄Some better news is that I’m now paying more attention to my WIP (atleast I was, until I fell ill hmph) which had been pitifully neglected the past few weeks. Progress is still extremely slow though (there go your dreams of seeing a published copy in your lifetime MWAHAHA) but we’re getting there. Slowly. Very Slowly.

🪄I’m also starting to be more active on twitter now, so go give me a follow there! My tag is @callmeabookworm

How did you like the transition from “birds” to “words”?(no it has not escaped my notice that they rhyme) Have you read any of the mentioned books? Thoughts?? And link your monthly wrap ups if you’ve posted, I’d love to read them!

~ Rachel

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