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

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

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

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

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

~ #10 The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Choksi ~

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

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

~ #9 Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth ~

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

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

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

~ #8 We Are Not Free by Traci Chee ~

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

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

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

~ #7 Supernova by Merissa Meyer ~

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

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

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

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

~ #6 Sands Of Arawiya Duology by Hafsah Faizal ~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ #4 These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong ~

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

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

~ #3 Rule Of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo ~

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

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

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

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

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

~ #1 Six Of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo ~

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

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

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

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

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

Cemetery Boys
Perfect on Paper

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

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

~ Rachel

These Violent Delights vs the Hype-o-meter // Review

If you’ve never heard the name “These Violent Delights”, it is very likely you’ve been living under a rock all this while.(if that’s the case, welcome back! hope you’re enjoying our bright sunny world) Such is the extent to which this book has been hyped. And where there is hype, there is the hype-o-meter! (okay that sounded better in my head)

These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1)

Title: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retellings
Publishing Date: 7th November 2020
Add to Goodreads!

Synopsis:
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

I must admit I’m uncharacteristically late to the hype-train with this one. But. What a delightful journey it was. Chloe Gong really did pull all the stops (stops. like train stations. get it??). I’m usually not one for spoiling the suspense and taking away the thunder of our cute little hype-o-meter graphic at the end, but boy, believe me when I say this story was worth every inch of the hype. 

Okay. So what all did I love about this book? Number 1. Gong created such an amazing story and she did it from the real world, a real Shanghai in the early 20th century  – and if that does not scream TALENT I don’t know what does. Speaking of real, the political intrigue in the book was so good? I loved how all the political aspects of westernisation and communism and other brewing tensions were happening in parallel to our story in a way that seemed significant yet did not overshadow the main plot. 

Romajuliette romajuliette romajul– I don’t think there have been better fictional soulmates like ever (take that Shakespeare). I mean, what was there about them not to love?? They actually completed each other. (cheesy, i know) Juliette was everything Roma was not – tough and sharp and badass, like the sharpened edge of a sword. Whereas Roma was… Roma. Sweet and kind and soft, a butterknife to Juliette’s glinting sword. (enough with the knife metaphors already). The childhood best friends to lovers to enemies to lovers to enemies was PERFECTION. The angst!! The yearning!! The secrets!!It was everything. I have never found anything else more frustrating and endearing all at once. Roma and Juliette are my one and only (okay maybe not only but you get the point) OTP from here on. 

Speaking of which. Ben and Marshall. Yet another pair of marshmallows who were meant for each other (how do you do it miss Gong? Spill your secrets). 

What was especially unique about this book is how Gong (can you tell I’m an awe of this woman?) made me feel for every single character. Like, I hated Tyler and Paul with the same passion with which I loved Roma and Juliette and Ben and Marshall. There was no “you know what? I don’t care what happens to this character”, because I did care. I wanted to see the ones I liked live happily ever after, and the ones I hated should die slow and torturous deaths. (moral of the story – never get on my bad side)

click to view spoiler i disliked Paul Dexter from the beginning. It seems fitting that he’d be the villain and all, but really, I’d rather that miserable weasel had no major role in the story at all

THAT END?! What– how– when– why? (yes I seem to have become incapable of forming full sentences at the moment) It had me S H O O K. Which is why I need the sequel right now even though I don’t think I can take the pain anymore (are you listening, Universe? How about you drop a nice shiny copy of OVE in my open hands now?) 

click to view spoiler normally I am not a fan of the resurrection trope – something about bringing supposedly dead people back to life creeps me out –  but gosh I’ve never been happier in my life than when I found out Marshall was not dead (though the synopsis of OVE explicitly states otherwise and I accidentally spoiled myself by reading the synopsis when I was halfway through tvd)

Not surprisingly, These Violent Delights emerges a clear victor in the battle with the hype-o-meter (tough luck hype-y boy, maybe another day) which means that it was worth the hype through and through! 

That’s not all – click here to read April’s review of These Violent Delights!

Earlier posts featuring the hype-o-meter:
The Young Elites vs The Hype-o-Meter!
We Hunt The Flame vs the Hype-o-meter // Review
The Inheritance Games vs the Hype-o-meter // Review

Have you read These Violent Delights? (I’m sure you have, remember what I said about the rock?) Would you agree with my hype-o-meter rating? Did you also have a chance to also read Our Violent Ends? (If yes, I am extremely jealous) Let me know in the comments!!

~ Rachel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Siena @Booksophobia discusses why she never requests arcs anymore!

Khyati @Booklore recommends books with pretty covers!

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

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

Isha @Paperbacktomes writes why she prefers paperbacks over hardbacks!

April @Booked Till Midnight reviews Down Comes The Night!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Rachel