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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

~ Rachel

We Hunt The Flame Quotes As Real Life Moments!

I am officially obsessed with this duology. There, I said it.

Remember a stormy July evening when I wrote something along similar lines – Six Of Crows Quotes As Real Life Moments!, I believe it was called? Yes yes that does ring a bell. Since declarations of my love for a book shall now be decreed in the form of such posts, I am writing this post in honour of my newest favourites – the We Hunt The Flame duology.

For those of you are are wholly and truly confused so as to what exactly is going on, believe me, you’re not alone. I have no idea either. (what? did you think I was actually going to explain the concept of this entire thing? do my ideas even have a concept? ughh fine, since you insist.) Essentially, the gist is to relate some quotable lines from this duology to moments in my life, only, the contexts are ~slightly~ different. You’ll see what I mean in a moment. Onto the first quote!

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

Deen Ra’ad (aka the most sensitive and pure boy to ever exist on this earth. The world didn’t deserve him.)

(side note: this line makes me tear up every. single. time.)

This would be me to my Kindle. Do you know the pain of giving up a cozy reading spot in the balcony under the sun, and instead go to some dark, gloomy corner to read my Kindle just because I can’t read with sunlight falling on the screen? I have absolutely no wish to defy the sun but – ah, the things we do for books…

“He came here for one act alone: murder.”

Nasir Ghameq (aka the good assassin)

The ‘he’ in question being authors who, for no apparent reason at all, like to cause us readers literal pain by killing off characters we’ve come to love. (you get what I’m hinting at, eh Faizal?) Murderers.

“Knowledge without action is vanity, but action without knowledge is insanity.”

Benyamin (aka our sweet, arrogant immortal)

Truer words have never been spoken. This does lead my mind to very philosophical roads of thought… but, putting that on hold, how does this fit into my real life? Oh, what about when I get overexcited whenever I see a blog tour sign-up for one of my anticipated releases and happily go sign up for it – until later when I realize my assigned date is not far off, and I have to read a couple more arcs before that one. Insanity, right?

“Sometimes, when you live a life of captivity, trapped for so long, freedom becomes a thing to fear.”

Oh. My. Gosh. This is my exact life situation put very eloquently. I have stayed home due to lockdown for nearly two years now, and still have online schooling where I live, so I’ve got no idea how I’ll adapt to physically attending school again, once the restrictions are eased. Or going anywhere else, for that matter. Yes, I fear my freedom.

“Well,” Altair said with forced cheer. “It’s just the two of us again, and my, what a couple we make.” Nasir gifted him a look that could wither crops. “Keep up your endless yipping and only one of us will be left.”

Nasir & Altair (aka the best grumpy-sunshine duo ever!)

Back when I used to attend offline school, I always got extra cheery partners – be it a lab partner, a partner in a project, picnics etc. It was like Nature’s running joke on me. Anyway, while I used to studiously do whatever we’re supposed to do, my various partners would rather just chat with me, which annoyed me to no end and I’d usually end up snapping at them. In hindsight, that was rather harsh of me, but I couldn’t help it, you know? I’m a lot like Nasir than I ever thought.

“There were moments before moments, in which the world was framed in startling clarity, a defined before hurtling toward a horrible after. Moments in which the powerful were powerless, in which promises became failings.

This was such a moment.”

Okay, this is going to sound really silly, but the first thing that came to my mind after reading this was that moment on a roller coaster when you are right at the top and are just about to go down at top speed. There is that sudden feeling of thrill and fear, anticipation and tension. You know you’re about to drop but can’t do anything about it. This was such a moment.

“Wars could wage and swords could cut and arrows could pierce. None of them compared to the pain of a well-poised word.”

The word in question being the most dreaded word in the history of dreadful words – “rejected”. Few weeks back I requested my first ever Netgalley arcs, and a few days later, I get an e-mail. I am soo excited and close my eyes and then peek out of one eye – for what? To see that word?? Definitely not what I was expecting. I would have rather have a war waged in front of me, a sword cut of my head, an arrow pierced through my heart. Okay that’s gross and overdramatic but you get the point.

Huh. My life is so much similar to that of Zafira and Nasir, Altair and Benyamin, isn’t it? Anywayy that was all for today and the ulterior motive of this post was totally not to show-off these beautiful lines from the beautiful books.

Which is your favourite quote from the duology? Which are some quote-worthy moments in your life? Share with me in the comments!

And on a final note, my blog reached 200 followers a while back and I want to host a Q & A session in honour of that! Visit this post and leave me questions in the comments section if you haven’t! Oh, and don’t forget to fill this feedback form too –  https://forms.gle/CYkBpZXUm4hsuJQm8!!

~Rachel

We Hunt The Flame vs the Hype-o-meter // Review

Before we go any further, I have some good news – we’ve officially reached 200 followers on A Bookworm’s Paradise! In honour of this, I want to have a Q & A session (in a separate post of course), so please put any questions you may have about me in the comments and I’ll answer them in the coming weeks.

With that out of the way, we are now down to business! This is the second post in a series, in collaboration with the lovely April @Booked Till Midnight, where we review books in a different way because we set them up against our self created hype-o-meter and determine whether or not a popular book is worth the hype! Click here to know all the deets about this series, and here to read the first showdown. Let’s get started!

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)

Title: We Hunt The Flame

Author: Hafsah Faizal

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Format: E-book

Synopsis:

People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya–but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds–and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

The first thing you’ll notice about We Hunt The Flame is the brilliant worldbuilding. The author has somehow managed to make the atmosphere so lush, so vivid that it felt as if the atmosphere had come alive. The book is set in a rich, ancient Arabia-inspired world and I could picture it all in my head.(swirling sands here, biting snow and ice there – honestly the perfect setting) (Pro of being a language nerd and reading a book with snippets of a foreign language: I now know about 4 words of the Arabic language *applause please*) (Also I have taken quite a liking to Arabic expressions and curse words so do not be surprised if you see a the occasional rimaal, khara, and laa in my posts)(okay I am gonna stop with the parentheses now)

Next, all the elements of this new fantasy world – Arawiya, are introduced. Somehow, even some of the info dump did not seem like an info dump, in fact I wanted to drink it all in and everything from the history (the Sisters and such) to the five caliphates and their respective ‘curses’ intrigued me. Way to go!!

“We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.”

I couldn’t do justice to this review without mentioning the characters. This book had exceptionally well-crafted characters and I fell in love with every single one of them. Our female protagonist, Zafira was shown initially as a balanced, collected personality, but as the story progresses we slowly unravel her outer layers and see the true, intense emotions and memories inside. The same could go for Nasir, our male protagonist. Everybody, look up, because THIS is how you write a perfect morally grey character. GIVE ME ALL THAT INNER ANGST. Kifah is our badass, no-nonsense exiled princess who also happens to be the one to say the iconic “We hunt the flame dialogue”. And Benyamin, our arrogantly wise safi who… *chokes and bites back a sudden sob* who looks down on all mortals but slowly comes to care about our zumra over time.

And now I would like to formally dedicate an entire paragraph to Altair al-Badawi, a certain conundrums-loving general who stole my heart. He was (literally) the sunshine to Nasir’s grumpiness, and their banter was *chef’s kiss*. Altair reminded me a little bit of Jesper, but then again, he was unlike any other character I’ve ever seen before. I mean, that character development?? I went from wanting to kill Altair myself to smirking at his jokes to praying Nasir wouldn’t kill him to being all NOOOO about him in the end (don’t worry he doesn’t die… its something worse *evil laugh*) Not surprisingly, he goes on my list of favourite characters (wait I have a list? Of course I do. No I don’t. Shut up internal dialogue.) Bottom line – this man was amazing in every way.

“I’ll have to introduce you by saying, ‘He’s not always this grumpy. Then again, he’s one of those people who talks less and murders more’.”

It looks like Faizal collected all of my favourite tropes and other elements and wove them into a story. Found family!!! Enemies to lovers!!! Slow burn!!! Knife-to-throat trope!!! Witty dialogue and banter!!! (in other words – a guide to make Rachel fall in love with a book) You know how I am generally criticizing certain books *cough* the young elites *cough* for their lack of dialogue? And how y’all might have thought such a book doesn’t exist? Make way, because here comes the book with outstanding dialogue, just the way I love!

 

Finally, we come to the plot (I really need to learn how to sequence and prioritize). The story follows our zumra (arabic for a group), a bunch of characters who couldn’t be more different from each other, who set out on a journey through a cursed island to retrieve a book that’s supposed to restore magic to their kingdom. Oh, and one of them is an assassin who’s supposed to kill the rest. Pleasant, right? Yes I thought so. 

What happens when we pit this brilliantly executed story with settings and atmosphere inspired from ancient Arabia with a totally cool cast of characters and just the best tropes against the hype-o-meter? Why, it wins of course.

But what did April think about the whole thing? Did she love the book as much as I did? Click here to find out!

Oh and before you go, could you take out a minute and fill this feedback form for my blog? Please and thank you. Here’s the link – https://forms.gle/CYkBpZXUm4hsuJQm8

Have you read We Hunt The Flame? What would you rate it on the hype-o-meter? Which is your favourite fantasy set in Asia? Let me know in the comments!!

Goodbye, zumra!

~ Rachel

August Wrap-Up // the month of mostly mediocre reads, creative posts and blog redesign!

Apparently an albatross can sleep while flying. Yes, seriously. I just found out that this bird can doze off comfortably while cruising through the air at a speed of 25km/hr. Talk about sleeping through a journey. (Kinda related, but how are people ever able to sleep in planes? It is the worst kind of torture there is for my neck)

And the “birds as weird intros to Rachel’s wrap-ups” saga continues. We had ducks in June, pigeons and July and the lucky ones this month were albatrosses. I wonder who’ll be next?

Ugh August was definitely not my best reading month. First, I read a lot lesser owing to exams, and even most out of those books were 3 star-ish. Still, I did find something I could call a new favourite, and I reviewed more books than usual so that’s an achievement.

The Supernaturalist
Down to Earth
The War That Saved My Life (The War That Saved My Life, #1)
The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer

Rating ★★★ ½

Comments: Hmm, decent. Like the beginning was extremely promising, but the end did not quite live up to my expectations. But overall a solid sci-fi.

Down To Earth by Betty Culley

Rating ★★★ || Find my review here

Comments: Ehh from the coming-of-age point of view, it was brilliant. I wasn’t a big fan of the pacing and the plot line though.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Bradley

Rating ★★★★½

Comments: Its been a while since I enjoyed a middle grade, but I did. There was war, bombs, horses, found family, spies… what’s there not to like?

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)
We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya, #2)
The Ones We're Meant to Find
We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Rating ★★★★½

Comments: Gooood. Really. But I am not going to go into how fabulous, brilliant, outstanding and enchanting this book is here because you’ll begin to (rightly) think I’m obsessed. (also there’s a full review coming right up)

We Free The Stars by Hafsah Faizal

Comments: Okay I am cheating with this one since I haven’t finished it yet. But look I am like almost done okay?!

The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He

Rating ★★½ || Find my review here

Comments: Umm I get why lots of people totally love this book, but not for me. Sorry.

So as you can see, it was pretty much a sci-fi month for me. I am proud of the fact that I am making progress on my goal of reading more of genres other than just fantasy *applause please*. Next goal – more of crimes and mysteries.

Big news: I redesigned my blog yet again. I know I know, the proclamation has lost its glamour due to repetition, but then again, I get bored of my current them every few weeks, hence the inevitable change. This time though, I’ll try to keep a check on my itchy fingers.

Content-wise, I think I was pretty much at my creative best in August. I had some great ideas and actually had the energy to sit down and type them out so I am proud of that. Most of my posts this month have been some of my favourites so far (am I… am I actually getting the hang of blogging?) so yay to that!! Here are the links to all my posts along with a small description, and in case you missed any of them you are welcome to check them out!

  1. July Wrap-Up // I used to write something here but I can’t recall what: My first post of the month was all about recapping the month of July. Also there’s some talk about pigeons, so umm yeah.

2. Blog Tour: The Twin Stars by Bridgette Portman [Review + INTL Giveaway]: I review an ARC of The Twin Stars, a YA fantasy with a mc with OCD who gets transported into her own unfinished story.

3. The Young Elites vs The Hype-o-Meter!: A very exciting review post, the first in the Hype-o-meter series with my fellow blogger and friend April. Check out whether The Young Elites is worth the hype according to us!!

4. Books As Road Trips // a random post that emerged out of the void: Okay so I impulsively published this post and I’m actually really happy with how it turned out. Maybe its the ~excellent~ metaphoring on my part (comparing books to road trips?!) but it might just be one of my favourite posts on this blog.

5. 8 Things I Look For In Books // does it show that I am desperate for recs?: I list the things that guarantee that I’ll fall in love with a book in hope that I get some good recs (and I did! thank you guys!!)

6. Blog Tour: Down To Earth by Betty Culley + Moodboard: I review an ARC of Down To Earth, a middle grade science fiction full of wonder and coming of age moments.

7. Book Review: The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He || concept? brilliant. execution? not so much: And finally, I review the recently released The Ones We’re Meant To Find in a loong post. But again, I think its one of my better reviews.

Soo. Quality, check. Quantity, check. Not bad, huh?

Its that time of this wrap up where I shout out all of your posts that I enjoyed reading!!

Sofii @A Book. A Thought reviewed The Ones We’re Meant To Find, and I agree with a lot of points she made!

Erin @Reading on a star lists her favourite book tropes!

Laura @The Corner Of Laura writes about the 6 sins of us readers!

Eleanor @Wishing Upon A Star discusses what makes a book popular!

Kashvi @Elfhame Books reviewed We Free The Stars!

Emily @Frappes And Fiction does the reader problems book tag!

Ashmita @The Fictional Journal reviewed The Inheritance Games, a book that I’m currently reading!

Kaya @The Fictional Bookworm writes a mini review of Murder On The Orient Express! Its my favourite Poirot too!

Naemi @A Book Owl’s Corner celebrates 400 followers and gives some pro blogging tips too!

Cherry @Letters To The Lost reacts to 1 star reviews of her favourite books, some of which coincidentally are my favorites too!

Maddie @Inking And Thinking discusses bookish pet peeves!

Cherelle @A Bolt Out Of The Book recommends books based on Marvel movies!

April @Booked Till Midnight pits The Young Elites against the Hypometer!

That brings us to the end of this wrap up!! In one sentence, blogging was good, reading was not. Anyway, happy September everyone!

Which was your favourite read this August? Have you read any of the books I did? Chat with me in the comments, and feel free to link your wrap-ups too!

~ Rachel