March Wrap Up // i am become a reading machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kaya @The Fictional Bookworm recommends books for fantasy beginners!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Rachel

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

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

— Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz—

Synopsis

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


Mini Review

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

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

— When You Get The Chance by Emma Lord—

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

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

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— 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

Fictional Characters I’d Take Along For A Heist // how to plan a heist tutorial 101

Yes I’ve been watching Ocean’s Eleven, why do you ask?

It is no great secret that me likes heists. A little bit. Yes I have been obsessed with six of crows (the ultimate heist book) since forever and yes I am currently binge watching classic heist movies (Ocean’s Eleven was first of course) but doesn’t mean I’m totally and utterly in love with anything that has a heist plot, right? right??

Now, this post as a whole might be a bit misleading about my persona. See I’m usually a good law abiding citizen. I never ever break any rules. (well there was that one episode in school when I sneaked off to play basketball on the court with my friend when I was supposed to be in class studying a subject I hated and on the court we pretended we belong to the other class which actually had sports then… but there’s no way you know this, is there?). But heists? They’re sort of my guilty pleasure. I don’t know, there’s something about a bunch of gangsters pulling off an epic heist right under the nose of the target that just gets me in the feels. Money is a motivation of course, but I especially love it when the real motive is some good old ~revenge~.

The latest development in this love for heists I might have gone from watching and reading heist stories to planning my own. And what does every heist need? A crew! (wow. smooth transition.) So welcome, wannabe thieves and notorious lords of the criminal underworld, to my wonderful crew comprised entirely of fictional characters!

The Mastermind

For obvious reasons Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows comes to mind. The man is a literal genius, I swear his braincells were manufactured differently from the rest of us. He always has a backup plan of a backup plan, will probably scheme his way out of hell and he’s never in the dark about anything. (even if he is actually surprised by something, he will convince you he already knew about it)

The Backer

Heists don’t come for free right? A lot of money is needed, and hence we require someone rich to cover our huge expenses. Avery Grambs from The Inheritance Games literally went from a nobody to a billionaire overnight, I’m sure she’ll see no reason not to sponsor our cause. Is there a thing like a luxury heist? Because if there is, with Avery backing us up, that is what we are going to do.

The Muscle

Tamar and Tolya, the bodyguard twins from the King of Scars duology would be my first pick whenever there are punches to be thrown and people to be quietened. And for good reason, because they are positively deadly (and yet that doesn’t stop me from swooning over them, just saying) AND TOLYA FREAKING LOVES POETRY. Okay yeah that doesn’t make sense in this context.

The Searcher

Alisa Montagov from These Violent Delights specialises in squeezing into impossible spaces and spying on people so she’d be ideal for gathering information about the target and spying on the organization ahead of the heist. Her talents were criminally underused in the duology though… and did I mention she’s 12?

The Distraction

We need someone to distract the guards/the target while the others tiptoe behind his back and I know just the person for the job. Kavi Thakrar from Not My Problem will efficiently rattle off an entire 3-minute monologue in a single breath and the target will be busy recovering for two minutes after that so that’s 5 minutes of safety guaranteed.

The Safecracker

Soo I’m sorta cheating with this one because I couldn’t think of a character who’s specialised in opening vaults and cracking safes. I’ll go with Tamsin from A Sweet & Bitter Magic since she’s a witch she can hopefully make up a spell to burn a hole right through any safe, right?

The Gadget Guy

Dex Dizznee from the Keeper Of Lost Cities series because the guy’s a literal Technopath, which means he has a way with anything that starts with m and ends with e and has tiny gears and possibly motors (yep, a machine!). He will also be our hacker (i believe he already has some experience in that field eh?😏) and the one who sits in a hotel room shouting instructions in the earpieces while the heist is going on.

The Getaway Driver

This one’s based on pure imagination because she never actually drives in the book as far as I remember, but I’m sure if you hand Millie Price from When You Get The Chance car keys, it’s going to result in pure and speedy chaos (tighten your seatbelts because we’re in for a ride!) and that’s the best kind of getaway there is, am i right?

That’s the end of this list folks! I think we’ve covered most archetypes so we’re doing pretty good here. And to those who are in the process of putting on their scandalized and appalled faces after this whole episode of mingling with criminals, what can I say? Books can be a bad influence *shrug*.

Which characters would you take along for a heist? Do you think the ones I mentioned fit the archetypes? What are your favourite heist books and movies? Let me know in the comments!!

~ Rachel

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

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

— Down Comes The Night by Allison Saft —

Synopsis

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

Mini Review

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

— When You Get The Chance by Emma Lord —

Synopsis

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

Mini Review

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

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

— Week 2 Pick —

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

BLAZEWRATH GAMES

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

~ Rachel

Introducing March Madness-But In Books! + Week 1 Picks

Heyy everyone, drop everything (but nothing fragile okay? i am basically broke i won’t be able to reimburse) and looky here because we have an exciting new bookish project to introduce today. *round of applause in the background*

Ok first off. If you were paying attention, you’ll now ask me Rachel who’s ‘we’? Fear not, I am not using the royal we, I actually have another person collaborating with me on this, and that is none other than Maddie from Inking and Thinking! *another round of applause*

Now your next question (because I like to take care of my audience’s needs, no need to thank me) is probably going to be enough talk Rachel, now can you tell me WHAT exactly this is all about?? Hey hey I’m getting to that, don’t shout. 

So let me introduce you to our own bookish version of March Madness (which is a single-elimination basketball tournament played each spring in the United States), brought to you by Maddie and myself! 

The basic idea is to compare two books each week and declare a ‘winner’, as in select the book we enjoyed more. Then this book will be ‘competing’ with a new book the next week and so on. We’ll start off with two books for the first week (which starts today, so look down below for our book picks), and then read one book each for the following weeks and compare it with the previous winner. 

Slight twist here. Keeping in mind our different reading tastes, Maddie and I are going to be choosing 2 different books each week. This will also allow us to incorporate more genres and more books. But since we do not want to take away the “collab” sense of it all, at the very end, when each of us has a final winner from our lot, we are going to compare these to for the ULTIMATE BOOK CHAMPION (ok that sounds a little extra)

We’ll be picking 5 books initially, and then our 6th read will be the other’s “winning” book, so this project is expected to be continuing a bit into April as well. (Mapril Madness?? Eh no let’s stick to the original)

I understand if this is not making a lot of sense at the moment, but there are going to be progress check-ins and all, and I’m sure it’ll make a lot more sense then.

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And now, without further ado, here are my picks for the first week of March! Put your hands together for our first competitors!!

We’re really going for contrast here. On one side we have a dark-ish fantasy that gives wintry night vibes and on the other is a cutesy reverse mamma mia contemporary! Who shalleth wineth? (ok I’ll google the old english next time) That, my friends, only time and Rachel’s mood will tell.

Before you leave, don’t forget to check out Maddie’s post to see her book picks!

Which book do you think will win? Place your bets quickly, because you shall soon know the winner in the next March Madness post!

~ Rachel