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recent favorites ft. mini reviews || talking bears and cheesy high school contemporaries

I literally scoured the entire blogosphere because I have forgotten how to write a wrap-up post: that’s how long it’s been. But fear not, I am not going to hurdle boring lists of books at you. Just going to share a few recent favorites. It’s been a weird few reading months. Everything I picked up turned out to be a two stars or three point five at best. I was this close to going into a slump. But thankfully, I did find a few favorites and it’s not a lot compared to the total number of books. But some of them were incredibly unexpected and totally stole my heart. So, here’s 6 books from the past three-four months which made life worth living. Literally.

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Title: The Northern Lights

Series: His Dark Materials#1

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Rating: ★★★★✪

A classic fantasy/sci-fi middle grade with talking animals, bear kings, air balloons, deadly operations, witches, and a fierce little Lyra – I loved it. It is a box of nostalgia. Personally, I don’t think that this book should be labelled as middle grade because despite the protagonist being a twelve year old the book pretty much reads like a YA and it low-key reminded me of Lord of the Ring’s writing style although they are nothing similar.

Not exactly fast-paced, but it doesn’t drag with unnecessary details either. Exceptional character development, world-building, and some of the best side characters. I am not too sure about the plot yet but for a first book, it seemed enjoyable enough. I am interested to see how it expands as the series continues. The audiobook is the best thing ever and I highly recommend it. Definitely planning on continuing this series!

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Title: The Heart Principle

Series: The Kiss Quotient#1

Genre: NA contemporary

Rating: ★★★★★

The last book in the kiss quotient series ~THIS BOOK HAD NO BUSINESS BEING THIS GOOD! This book is hands down my favorite in the entire series. This actually came as a huge surprise and here’s why. Most of my fav books are my favs because I resonate deeply with the stories or the characters. But in this case, everything was polar opposite of me. It was unexpected and everything I wanted. I am very good at saying no to people and doing things that primarily make me happy. It was borderline scary reading about Anna and her mental struggles as a people-pleaser besides being autistic.

This book is definitely not a light read. It made me laugh out loud, it made me cringe, it made me cry with sadness and happiness and it still managed to be relatable – I have no idea how. It definitely didn’t have a lot of romance it in as compared to the other books in the series but I am a sucker for mental health rep and this book was a balm to my heart. And not to mention Quan. I had this different picture of Quan in my head and I very much expected him to be this clichéd bad boy protagonist but Helen just made him a real person. And his story broke my heart and stitched it back together. It was interesting to watch them work out their differences so incredibly different and yet tied together. This series has been pure joy and I am definitely reading whatever Helen Hoang puts out in the future.

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Title: Ruin And Rising

Series: Grishaverse#1

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: ★★★★★

Yes, another unexpected favorite. I didn’t like the first book in the series very much. And the second book was meh for me but the ending was pretty darn intriguing. The only thing that made it better was the arrogant little privateer. However, there was too much inconsistency with the pacing and the plot kept on lagging. But lo and behold the third book. Loved it. Absolutely loved it.

I didn’t even realize how much I would miss the characters until I turned the last page. It was beautifully done in my opinion. I am very picky about endings in usual. Not a lot of series end in a satisfactory way but this series had one of the best endings I have ever read. It was so bittersweet. Guys! I couldn’t stop the tears. It felt so fair and so unfair. I despised the character developments in the second book honestly, but after the third book when I think of the first one – it seems like these kids have grown so much damn. They deserve every spark of happiness. okay. I need to stop. I think this is a great series for anyone getting into fantasy or someone looking for some good-old fantasy story with clichés and satisfactory endings.

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Title: Counting Down With You

Series: Stand-Alone

Genre: YA contemporary

Rating: ★★★★★

This book is a bundle of joy. You know when you read a book and get this feeling like everything is so eerily similar to your life, it’s almost like the author has specially written the book for you? Well, that’s the feeling I got from this book. I don’t think I can give constructive criticism for this book, because that’s how attached I am at this point.

But it has Asian rep, Muslim rep, Mental Health rep, LGBTQ rep, and most importantly we have the fake dating trope! And *drumroll please* the best part of the deal is that – the boy buys her a dozen books a week. The characters were incredibly realistic and fleshed out. I am not too sure about the side characters but they are not half as bad. Easy to read, easy to follow – just get it already! I think my most favorite part of the book was the poems which were sprinkled every few chapters and they stole my heart <33

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Title: The Inheritance Games

Series: The Inheritance Games#1

Genre: YA Thriller

Rating: ★★★★✪

Read this book if you haven’t already! This is one of those books which you wish you could read for the first time again after finishing it. I had given up on the thriller genre because I read so many that they stopped surprising me. And although I had predicted the ending for this one, it was so beautifully done that I kid you not I threw it across the bed.

Finished it in four hours. Fast-paced from the very first chapter, not cliched, stunning side characters, secret tunnels, too many riddles, and intense power play. I must warn that there is a slight hint of a love triangle in it but hey, give it a chance. It’s worth the read. And the cliffhanger will leave you tearing your hair out but lucky for you the second book is out already. You can find my detailed review here.

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Title: XOXO

Series: Stand-Alone

Genre: YA Contemporary

Rating: ★★★

Three stars? And on the favs list? Yep. I have seen so many contradictory reviews going around about this book and I agree with literally all of them. The characters are underdeveloped and the story was lackluster. The pacing was medium but it is one of those books which are incredibly easy to read and you just fly through. BUT it was such a wholesome read for me!

I am a huge fan of k-drama and k-pop and just the Korean culture in general. And personally, I had a great time with this book. A breezy read – exactly the kind you need to get away. Loaded with cuteness, teenage hormones, and angst. It was lovely. I recommend this book if you are crazy about the Korean culture and I suggest that you don’t go into it with a lot of expectations. Just think of it as all your fav k-drama moments but in writing. Don’t think too much and let the sweetness flow through you.

Aaand it’s a wrap baby. Now, you guys tell me some of the books that you have devoured recently and hopefully shed your tears over. What do you think of all these books? Have you read these? Loved these? And don’t tell me if you hated them. See ya in the comments below! <33

45 thoughts on “recent favorites ft. mini reviews || talking bears and cheesy high school contemporaries

  1. Ooh I read The Inheritance Games just last week and while it could certainly have been better in a lot of aspects, I found it to be an enjoyable mystery read so there’s that.
    Lovely list you have there!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Just finished ‘Writers and Lovers’ which was cool and dealt with a wannabe writer’s inner feelings about her career aspirations, two guys she kind of wanted and her mother’s death.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you soo much yesha! I know right! I think one of the main reasons avid fantasy readers might not enjoy the first book is because it is jam packed with common tropes and there is nothing special except for the world which is also a slight bit different from other usual fantasy worlds. But beginners can actually have a great time with it. And the series as a whole it very wholesome. ✨

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aahh ruin and rising has been on my TBR list for a long time 😂😂 I didn’t really enjoy the first two that much so I’ve been putting this one off. I’m definitely going to read this now after hearing your thoughts on it! Great post!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Honestly, I’ve been in a little bit of a reading slump lately! So, this was a nice post to read! I read the Northern Lights last year – and I’ll admit it was a bit hard to get into, but personally, I think you’ll enjoy the 2nd (The Subtle Knife) a lot more as the new character, Will has a lot more of an interesting backstory and personal development! Also, there’s a his dark materials series which is really good! It’s on BBC in the UK and HBO in the US! You should definitelty watch that if you’d like to understand the plot more!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ahh a few of theses are on my list toread too!! Xoxo, counting down with you aswell as the heart principle – so i’m happy you liked thoses!

    We cant keep meeting like this & last chance books have been two of my favorites xx

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Ahh I hope you enjoy these books!! And I personally found the heart principle way better than the bride test. But many people think otherwise. If you are looking for more romance, I suggest u skip it. But if you love mental health stuff then READ IT ALREADY! happy reading ✨

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ahh I totally understand. Reading slumps are not just annoying. They can be draining too. Don’t force urself to read until you find sth that u really want to. And yes. Northern lights was hard to get into but I had the audiobook. And it was like a whole another experience. ✨ I highly recommend it. And yess!! Will is such a mature character. I like it better already. Yes, I should. Thank you Zainab. Have a lovely October 🎃

    Liked by 1 person

  9. 😂😂 I can totally understand. I almost gave up. But I really wanted to read the soc duology and read it in publication order although it’s not necessary. I hope you enjoy it because the last book was definitely worth sticking arnd. Thank you! Have a great October 🎃


  10. Hey!!! You have got a really greatttttt blog here! Wonder how I missed it!
    Anyways… I’m buying the second one for sure! I’ve actually heard quite a remarkable review on that from others as well!
    Love the way you put out your reviews! It’s comin from a “reader heart” 💖

    Read love live


  11. I loved your thoughts on The Northern Lights. It is and has been for years my absolute favourite book, however I honk that the first time you read it, it can be difficult to get into. The series as a whole is utterly brilliant but again I think you need to read it multiple times to really understand the world that has been created especially as the books get more complicated as they go on.
    You are absolutely right the audiobook is gold.
    I don’t think it should be middle grade fantasy either. Although I read it age 7 I think the themes explored are darker than you would normally expect from books for that age group.
    Sorry I’ve rambled on so much, I really enjoyed this post and will definitely be reading some of the blooms on there. ;D


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