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

May Wrap Up // contemporaries and conspiracies

CONSPIRACY! I UNCOVERED A CONSPIRACY!

You know when you enter a shopping mall, you just wish to lose yourself in it forever (time? what’s that?) and get all hypnotised with eyes soaking up every store greedily? Be warned my friend, at that very moment a very evil architect will be rubbing his hands and cackling loudly because lots of malls are in fact intentionally designed to be disorienting to confuse customers (YOU) and make them more susceptible to impulse buys.

HA see? I KNEW there was a reason I always keep getting hopelessly lost and then somehow find the exit and pray that the others haven’t already left without m— wait tmi. Ahem.

Ok so I think that my point got lost (lost. get it?? hah i’m so clever) somewhere above so let me put it out clearly. Word fact of the day: That feeling of confusion on entering malls is known as the Gruen Effect. Fancy right?

Welp who knew my quest for word facts would lead me to unraveling such a universal conspiracy? IF I AM MURDERED TODAY BY EVIL PEOPLE WHO PROFIT OFF THIS, I DIE I MARTYR. Enlightening my peoples through word facts in my wrap ups is a very noble cause PLEASE REMEMBER ME FOREVER AND COMPOSE POETRY IN MY HONOUR.

Summer vacations equals contemporary books (and mangoes!) by the bucketful. Like mangoes, some looked good and actually were good while others gave off a fake shine and had me scrubbing the taste out of my tongue. Go metaphors!

May was also AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) month so most of my reads this month were by asian authors! Keep an eye out for them below!

you have a match: summer camps, estranged sisters and best-friends-to-lovers in all it’s awkward glory! what’s not to like? ★★★★½

not here to be liked: yeah girl good for you because i don’t like you one bit. ★★★

a thousand steps into night: idk what’s with me and traci chee’s fantasy books but while being pretty decent, they never really live up to my expectations. ★★★★

pride and prejudice: omg?? talk about pleasant surprises?? i don’t remember my life before this book. ★★★★★

tokyo ever after: the mc was annoying, the romance disgusted me and the enemies-to-lovers was forced into the story like never before. definitely worthy of being compared to rotten mangoes. ★★

dial a for aunties: i. am. obsessed. the asian aunties in this one are straight up icons and the way i nearly died laughing- ★★★★★

fifteen hundred miles from the sun: the singular fault of this book was that i’ve read too many like it already. ★★★

pride and premeditation: aha indulging in my new pride and prejudice obsession led me to this gem! loved how it sticked with the original while also giving everything a fresh perspective! ★★★★½

I tried (and mostly succeeded) in posting every now and then (because otherwise you would forget me and where would that leave us??) and also came up with some fairly decent content!

My first post of the month was a chaotic ensemble of thoughts on the Heartstopper show! We cover everything from tao’s left-handedness to the beach scene.

Next I scream about finally starting a bookstagram! Featuring my walnut-like aesthetic skills!!

On impulse (and because the numbers sound so catchy together) I rank ALL my first 22 reads of 2022 and also divide them into tiers!

It was my second blogging anniversary a while back so that obviously warrants a lot of drama and thank yous!

Finally, I and April bring an end to the wonderful hype-o-meter series with the very last installment – Jade City vs the hypeometer!

I…um… was kind of terrible at blog hopping in may. More specifically, I was terrible at commenting on posts (and replying to comments on mine) like I usually do but i WAS reading most of y’all’s posts ok??

Naemi @A Book Owl Corner’s guessing books based on emojis post is back and tougher than ever! But i did pretty decently if I do say so myself.

April @Booked Till Midnight does her very first blog tour!

Janhavi @Dazed Chronicles shares her plans and tbr for the summer!

Booksy @Booktastically Amazing shares an amazing short story!

Kaya @A Fictional Bookworm reviews the Atlas Six!

Eli @Ace Reader takes quizzes to determine which YA “bird-book” character they are!

📒In contrast to june (which has been a whirlwind of studies and exams. Or a blackhole because boy has it sucked me right in), may was considerably more relaxed academic-wise because SUMMER VACATIONS!!

🍂Found new favourite books like Pride & Prejudice and Dial A For Aunties and made them my entire personality as usual. Elizabeth & Mr. Darcy have become my new OTP and the aunties have become my idols.

📸Hot topic- I STARTED A BOOKSTAGRAM!! Check out my account if you haven’t already, it’s @abookwyrmsparadise,, at the very least the total lack of my aesthetic sense will make you feel better about your own haha!

🔎I discovered I get a tiny dimple on my left cheek when I smile really hard!! Highly exciting, but in my opinion torturing my cheeks for that little hole is not worth it.

🦉My Duolingo streak is going strong at 85 days!! I’ve become pretty decent at basic Spanish if I do say so myself.

Have you read any of these? Is it blazing hot these days on your side of the world?? Let me know in the comments!

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

8 Queer Books I Loved And 8 That Are On My TBR

Don’t you hate it when people answer their own question? I do. (HA see what i did there?) *groans from the audience* Aw come on lighten up, not all of us can tell brilliant jokes ok?

In other news, happy pride month!

If you’ve been around for a while, you’d know that I pretty much read queer books all year round and that’s true BUT being the opportunist I am, I couldn’t just let pride month slip by without a post on it, could I? Soo in similar pattern to my diverse books post looong back, here’s a recommendation post for queer books! All of these have lgbtq main characters with considerable focus on their relationships. Now let’s make that TBR pile taller, shall we?

Oh also! Have I inserted song lyrics with similar vibes with the books too for some reason? Why yes I have and you can’t stop me MWAHAHA

In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens: Princes, handsome mermen, pirates and an exciting sea faring adventure! Rep: m|m
🎵 To fall in love with strangers ah-ah ah-ah

Perfect On Paper by Sophie Gonzales: An anonymous dating advice service- run from a high school locker by a girl who is hopelessly in love with her oblivious best friend! Rep: bi f|m
🎵 I can make the bad guys good for a weekend

Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth: Have a problem? Aideen can solve it- in exchange for a favour. Rep: f|f
🎵 You’re turning heads when you walk through the do-o-or

The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune: Superheroes in a contemporary world sounds overused, but this gay best-friends-to-lovers will have you cackling like nothing else. Rep: m|m
🎵 I drive down different roads, but they all lead back to you

Cemetery Boys: Accidental spirit summoning? And falling in love with said spirit?? A brilliant concept with immaculate spooky vibes! Rep: m|m
🎵 If I can’t be close to you, I’ll settle for the ghost of you

Sweet and Bitter Magic: What happens when a grump and sunshine have to save the world from dark magic? Sparks fly of course. Rep: f|f
🎵 Are we out of the woods yet?

So This Is Ever After: A hilariously ridiculous Arthurian retelling which takes after your usual YA fantasy quest! Rep: m|m
🎵 I’ve been loving you for quite some time, time, time

House In The Cerulean Sea: A tired middle-aged government employee discovers purpose, family and love on his newest magical assignment! This one is going to tug at all your heartstrings. Rep: m|m
🎵 In this world, it’s just us

Flip The Script by Layla Lee: Bisexual mc fake dating her way through a Kdrama? Excuse me while I LOSE MY MIND OVER HERE.

Cafe Con Lychee: After Tweet Cute I cannot for the life of me resist anything with rival bakeries. I need lots of food descriptions ok?

Red White & Royal Blue: I’m pleased to report that the hype has finally gotten to me and I cannot put off reading this for any longer if I value my life.

Be Dazzled: Randomly came across this on goodreads and i am, dare i say, DAZZLED.

Something Fabulous: I heard “reserved duke” and “falling for the wrong sibling” and came running like-

Spin Me Right Around: Yeah time travel in contemporary hasn’t really worked out for me in the past but I’m willing to give it a second chance because I’m generous like that.

Late To The Party: Actually this doesn’t really seem any different than all the other ya contemporaries out there, but i see lots of five star reviews from my friends?? Peer pressure exists guys.

Under The Whispering Door: Down with the physical tbr! *ahem* I mean, do I know this is going to BREAK me like Cerulean Sea?? Without a doubt. Is that why I’m scared to read it in the first place? Maybe?

Favourite queer books? (i need RECS) Have you read any of these? Thoughts on them?? (also did you see i actually worked on graphics for once) (aand did you realize i may be slightly obsessed with taylor swift)

~ Rachel

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

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

Ranking in general gives me all the feels.

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

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

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

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

— #22 Caraval by Stephanie Garber —

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

— #21 Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz —



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

— #20 Jade City by Fonda Lee —



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

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

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

— #18 Ace Of Shades —

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— #13 Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft —

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

— #12 Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley —

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

— #11 Hidden In Plain Sight by Jeffrey Archer —

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

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


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

— #9 In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens —

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

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

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

— #7 You Have A Match by Emma Lord —

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

— #6 Geekerella by Ashley Poston —

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

— #5 Namesake by Adrienne Young—

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

— #4 Tweet Cute by Emma Lord —

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

— #3 Fable by Adrienne Young —

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

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

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

— #1 Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong —

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

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

~ Rachel

Red (Taylor’s Version) Book Tag

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

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

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

State Of Grace – Best Opening Book In A Series

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

Fable by Adrienne Young

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

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

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

Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong

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

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

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

Treacherous – a slow book that you ended up loving

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

We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

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

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

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

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Barnes

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

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

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

22 – coming of age book

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

In Deeper Waters by FT Lukens

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

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

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

The Red Palace by June Hur

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

Stay Stay Stay – a book everyone dislikes but you love

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

Portrait Of A Thief by Grace D Li

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

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

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

The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

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

Holy Ground – a fan-favorite book

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

A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft

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

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

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

Beautiful People Where Are You by Sally Rooney

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

The Lucky One – a book about fame

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

If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich

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

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

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

The Wave by Morton Rhue

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

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

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

The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

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

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

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

Heartstopper Volumes 1-4 by Alice Oseman

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

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

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

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Choksi

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

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

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

~Rachel

March Wrap Up // i am become a reading machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaya @The Fictional Bookworm recommends books for fantasy beginners!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Rachel

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