dream in a dream

Hello everyone!! My name is Jan and this is a slightly different blog post than normal because this is one of my!!! wips!!! that I finished!!

This was originally an anthology submission for the OUT THERE YONDER Queer Anthology submission that I applied for with Ais, (spoiler alert I didn’t get picked LOL) And it’s just been sitting in my laptop with only Ais, and three of my irls who’ve read it. I always post on Twitter about my wips but I never?? Post them?? I either never post my wips or finish them and it’s been eating me alive so.

Here’s my queer horror/thriller anthology submission called Dream in a Dream. A small YA short featuring a clueless and soft sapphic, two girls in love, and a himbo.

Here you go.

Dream in a Dream

By Jan

Aprox 4-8 thousand words

I. 

“We had met once again in a dream. But this time you were either too close or too far away to touch that we ended falling apart too quickly- diving into the dark blue of a dream that was within a dream.”

It was like that moment when one felt as if they were falling through space as they slept. Where all she wanted to do was wake up from this nightmare but ended up drowning instead.

She blinked hard once again and saw the synchronization of their dreams.

Or rather, the ending of one. 

“You promised you would go.” 

Angel stood in front of her with her arms crossed, a look of serious disappointment on her face. 

Nina bit her lip. “I promised I would see.” She tilted her head up and eyed the mysterious blaze of flashing lights from behind Angel. “I saw. Now, I’m leaving.” She attempted a one-step turn away before her best friend stopped her, taking her by the wrist. 

“Come on Nina, this carnival only comes once every ten years,” Angel pouted. She tightened her grip on her and tugged her tightly once more. “It’s just one night, how bad can it be?” 

Screams of horror and mixed delights filled the air as the wind swept through Nina’s arms. If she squinted and tried to look past the horrific billboard of a clown’s red open mouth that indicated the entrance, and the smoke that drifted in the air from the old haunted house and the blending of colors from the moving disco lights, then maybe she could see what Angel saw in the Dream Crawlers Night Circus, but instead she simply saw a horror film come to life. Sure, there were also shrills of happiness, laughter and jokes between groups of friends as she spotted people in interesting Halloween costumes stroll past them as they wandered into the mouth of the clown, but in Nina’s eyes, all she saw was the descent straight into hell.

Compared to Angel, in contrast to her name, loved and breathed everything horror and gory, while Nina would cry on sight if she spotted anyone wearing the iconic Scream mask. The fact that it was also the scariest night of the year wasn’t doing anything in her favor. Usually on Halloween, Nina and her friends would be tucked away at home, watching reruns of the latest trashy reality show they would be binging at the moment and baking mac and cheese. It was tradition for them, but unfortunately for Nina, today out of all days was the 10th year anniversary of the Dream Crawlers Night’s Circus. Which also happened to be the night of the blood moon.

The Dream Crawlers were a group of performers that traveled the globe, consisting of entertainers, trapeze artists, and magicians that did shows back to back from Vegas, Paris, and Rome. They were a pretty big deal if a small town like Vaniville even heard of them miles away from the city. It was most likely because the headliner and founder of The Dream Crawlers was a legend that was born and raised there. Yin Lucas was an absolute king that Vaniville praised. He was the pride of the town, being recognized for his artistry of dance. He was the one who founded the Dream Crawlers, founded and sought more artists in their own little circus with the intent of bringing dreamlike magic to the world.

The last time the Dream Crawlers came to town Nina had only been nine-years-old. She remembered hearing the excited squeals of the older children as they finally made their stop home. She remembered seeing the red and yellow posters cluster together down the street and the lights of the circus brightening up the center of the city like a beacon as their iconic circus music blared loudly in the air.

Their concept of bringing dreamlike magic to the world sure sounded good. In fact, it sounded amazing. Well, according to Angel it did. To Nina, it was terrifying. The distorted sounds of laughter morphing in with the horns and organs. The merging of every color making the hallways look like they have stumbled upon the bottom of the ocean while walking through the galaxy. It was a funhouse come to life, where patterns and lines morphed into one, where artists enticed you with their magic of shifting reality and everything horror came to life. Nina was pretty sure she saw Freddie Krueger wander inside on psychedelics, twirling and twirling around a knife in his hand.

Despite everything in her worst nightmares being right in front of Nina, Angel was also in front of her, and she was simply too hard to ignore. 

“Do you honestly want to go back home and make mac and cheese when we could be here?” Angel made wide gestures with her arms, indicating everything all bloody and gruesome around her like they were at Disneyworld.

“Yes,” Nina replied. She wrung her wrist out of Angel’s clutch. “You know I don’t do this kind of stuff.” 

And it was true, she didn’t. Nina despised horror. She could barely watch It without her toes curling up in fright. Not only was the Night Circus based on horror, but it was also reality jerking. People say they walk out unknown when they first arrived, their eyes swirling in astonishment and confusion. Nina was barely running on three hours of sleep, and she was sure that if she was to walk into this nightmare festival, she wouldn’t be able to sleep for another three days.

Angel pouted. “It’ll be fun.” She urged her once more, looking as other people passed into the mouth of the clown. “Nina, you know I’ve been waiting for this day forever.” 

“Then you can go without me, I’ll just wait for you there.” Nina pointed away to the multiple lines of food trucks and tables. Even though the sun was just beginning to set, the circus already had more locals wander in. Unlike Nina, most of them had smiles on their faces, their Halloween costume shining out brilliantly. They matched Angel just as well. What with their excited faces and interesting costumes. This Halloween Angel was wearing all white. She had exclaimed it was a play with her own name. A white dress that flowed right before her knees, long sleeves that blew gently in the wind and a halo on top of her head to top it off. 

She looked beautiful. Angel had always been beautiful to her, but Halloween was the one night that she liked to go beyond with her makeup and outfit. Specks of glitter were found here and there among her eyelids, her lips were shining in red gloss, looking full and luscious. After realizing she had been staring, Nina’s throat suddenly went dry, and she cast her view somewhere else.  

It should’ve been another regular Halloween for them, Nina thought dreadfully. Staying inside, baking food, and being within the comforts of her home. But there they were, arguing in front of a damn circus. Nina in her regular sweats and Angel in her halo. What a sight it must’ve been.

“Look. You can either go home and be a party pooper all by yourself or you can hang out with me and the rest of your friends in this totally cool place.” 

Nina merely stared at her. “What do you mean?”

Angel pointed behind her. 

Nina turned and immediately heaved a sigh. Sure enough there they were: the rest of their little group of friends, standing a few feet away from the ticket booth, all in their own righteous costumes. 

Louis wasn’t hard to miss with his long legs and green hair. It appeared that this year their friend decided to dress up as the Joker for Halloween; with his red lipstick spread messily over lips as an attempt at the iconic red smile and matched his striped purple pants with a linen blazer. He was grinning widely at the presence of two shorter girls; Rila and Lily, who this year looked like they simply decided to dress as two colors: red and yellow for some reason.

Nina’s heart pounded as her eyes flicked back to Angel’s opened hand. She could just say no. She could say no and go home, watch another episode of Jersey Shore and call it a night. But Angel’s eyes poured into hers. Nina sighed, knowing it was useless trying to get out of something with her. They both ultimately knew who had won in this argument. Wherever Angel went, Nina was sure to follow. 

She sighed, taking Angel’s hand, and ignored the shivers her touch made down her spine. “If I see more than one clown in there I’m walking home.”

“Oh please,” Angel rolled her eyes as they made their way towards their friends. “If any clown, murderer, or demon on psychedelics even thinks about approaching you, they’ll just have to deal with me.”  She squeezed Nina’s hand and smiled at her. Even in the dying light she looked incredible, the halo and sparkles she dabbed around her eyes made them pop out brighter, her lips look shinier. 

“You’re my hero,” Nina said weakly.

Louis seemed to be in the middle of an intense argument by the time Nina and Angel had walked up to them. He gestured at his clothes with wide arms, his voice loud. “Oh come on guys, I actually tried this year-”

“Hey guys,” Angel said. She raised an eyebrow at the trio before them. “What are we talking about?”

Louis’ gaze shifted to Angel for a second before he gestured his hand out again grandly to her. “See?” he exclaimed. “At least Angel’s costume makes sense, and Nina’s…” his voice trailed off. “Nina, what are you supposed to be?” 

“Sleeping,” she answered. “Is it not obvious? I came in my pajamas.” Thanks to Angel dragging her straight after class, Nina didn’t have the opportunity to dress up like everyone else and instead merely wore a black crew neck and sweats. “I came here against my will.” 

“Thanks to me, I also came prepared,” Angel stated. They all watched as she reached into her tote bag, pulling out red devil horns. 

Nina sighed, resisting the urge to smile as Angel placed them upon the top of her hair. 

“Cute,” stated Rila, wrapping her arm around Lily. “You guys are doing a couple costumes, just like us.”

Angel merely beamed while Nina’s gaze traveled from their friends’ adjoined arms to the ground. The only couple here were Rila and Lily.

She cleared her throat. “What are you two supposed to be?” Nina asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?”  Rila asked. She wrapped her hand around Lily and tugged her so that they were both standing in front of Louis. 

Even Louis was just as confused. He raised an eyebrow. “What-?”

“We’re a traffic light,” said Lily. She pointed upwards at her red sweater, then to Rila’s yellow tank top, then to Louis’ green hair. “See?” 

He rolled his eyes. “Ha, ha, very funny.” 

Angel snorted a laugh. “Louis, you look like broccoli.” 

Louis scowled, clearly already annoyed that it’s been less than five minutes of their meet up and he was already getting clowned over his very own clown costume. “I happen to think my hair looks amazing, thank you very much.” 

Nina did a quick headcount of their group, noticing that only one other person was missing. “Where’s Jessie?”

Rila frowned. The last member of their little circle had been MIA for a while, taking the hardest classes than the rest of them this semester. It looks like even Jessie would have to take a raincheck on Halloween this year too. “Studying for the certification exam,” she answered. “She said that she might show up tonight if she finishes her practice test quickly.” 

Nina frowned. She hasn’t talked to Jessie in months. 

Noticing the drop-in atmosphere, Angel nudged Nina by the elbow. “You know Jessie would be here if she could, right?” She pointed her finger accusingly towards her. “Don’t you dare be a party pooper tonight.” She held out her pinky towards Nina only. “All right? Promise me that you’ll try to have fun.” 

She could only stare at Angel’s pinky in defeat. Even though Nina knew that she was inevitably going to do whatever Angel wanted, she wrapped her pinky around hers. “I promise.” 

Angel squealed, throwing her arms around them all. They turned until they stood right in front of the clown’s mouth, watching as smoke left in between each gap of its teeth. 

With her heart threatening to break out of her chest, Nina swallowed and glanced one last time over at Angel. She was talking to Louis and making fun of his hair, picking at the strands in between her fingers with a wide grin spread about her face. She briefly remembered Angel mentioning this carnival at the beginning of October, had heard about it every now and then but never thought much about it. Now that the Night Circus was right in front of her eyes, Nina swore all she did was blink and time transported itself to now. Maybe she should take the sleeping pills her doctor prescribed. 

“Win me a stuffed bear?” Lily asked Rila. 

Rila kissed her girlfriend on the temple of her forehead. “You got it.” 

The red and yellow traffic light broke apart from the rest of them, taking each other by the arm and screamed, running straight into the belly of the beast.

“Hey! What happened to sticking together?” Louis yelled after them. He groaned, and pulled apart from Angel’s grasp. He stepped forward and gave a look of tiresome over to both Angel and Nina. “They drank a little bit before coming here.” With that, he ran after the two runaway traffic lights. The Joker became the joke once again.

Nina sighed defeatedly. There was no going back now. Her hand traveled from grasping Angel’s arm to her hand as she fumbled with each finger, counting them underneath her breath.

“You know I’m only doing this for you, right?” She asked her. 

“I know,” Angel said ruefully. She was grinning happily, clearly pleased with how the night was turning out in her favor. She began dragging Nina, pulling her towards the entrance of the clown’s mouth, her voice as loud as ever. “Now come on, come on!” 

Nina tried to ignore the sounds of the distorted laughter of clowns and other terrifying things known to man, keeping her focus only on Angel’s face. “Don’t leave my side.” 

Angel turned around, walking with her back as they entered the carnival. “Never.”

II. 

“Does she know?”

Nina turned towards Louis. He was standing beside her underneath the blinding lights of the carnival. His hands were deep in his pockets, his red lipstick smeared messily over his mouth.

From a few feet away from them were the rest of their friends. Rila, Lily and Angel, laughing to their heart’s content as they threw darts at balloons. Each time they hit a balloon there would be a puff of smoke and slowed laughter, sounding like the same clown they heard when they first walked in. 

Angel was laughing with stars in her eyes, squealing every time a puff of smoke and glitter would explode from the small balloons. Her shoulders would scrunch up every time a new pop of noise or ringing of a bell would pierce the air. The red and purple glow from the lights illuminated off of her face, highlighting her skin and making her smile as white as the moon. 

“Know what?” 

“Know… that you like her.” 

Nina’s heart swelled in pain. It didn’t surprise her that Louis knew about her feelings for Angel. They were as obvious as can be. He caught her staring at Angel for a second too long at their last hang out, pulled her aside by the arm and said that he could see them together ‘til the end of the time. 

But Nina had always kept her feelings to herself. She remembered the day like it was yesterday. It was snowing outside her house. They were watching a movie when Angel suddenly gasped and ran outside without pulling on her coat. Nina had to run after her, with her arms full with both of their jackets. She was yelling at Angel that she was going to catch a cold if she didn’t put it on. But Angel merely shook her head and said that she was already warm as she threw her arms up as if to catch the falling snowflakes. 

“How on Earth are you warm?” Nina yelled.

“I’m warm,” Angel reassured her. Then she reached over and took Nina by the hand. Her touch was warm like firewood, and it sent jolts of electricity down Nina’s spine as her fingers wrapped around her own. That was when Nina knew she liked her best friend. Because she was warm. 

Angel had no idea. 

Nina shook the memory away as the carnival formed around her again. 

Louis nudged her. “You still haven’t told her?” His voice sounded sad and concerned, almost as though he pitied her for pining over the person she was always with. 

Nina shrugged. “Why should I?” They watched as Angel, Lily and Rila all squealed in excitement. The deep laughter of a mechanical machine soon followed afterwards as fake spiders dangled from the booth, landing on top of her hair.

Angel snatched onto it ruefully, making the booth clerk yell at her in alarm. She was laughing as Rila took her turn at distracting the clerk as Lily went and took a plushed skeleton off his wall of toys. In another second they were off, running into the next main attraction they could find. Their laughter mixed in with the screams of terror that faded into the night. Within seconds they joined hands and ran deeper into the carnival, disappearing through the smoke that swam in the air.  

Louis sighed, as they slowly trailed after them. “You should tell her how you feel. There’s no time like the present.” 

“She’s already my present,” Nina replied as they passed through skin crawlers moving like shadows with them. She tried focusing her gaze on the back of Angel’s hair, keeping her halo in sight as they walked through the crowds of people in monstrous demon costumes. Within each step she took made her feel like she was diving deeper and deeper into darkness. The string of light bulbs kept getting dimmer the more they walked. The machine generated laughter became lower and slower, stopping and starting within itself as though its record had scratched. She swallowed the lump that began to grow achingly deep inside her throat. They passed a clown with red liquid trickling down its mask, holding up a machete as he stared after them. A small woman giggled after them, baring only sharp rigged teeth as sharp as sharks as they passed underneath a banner, pointing them in the direction of the main event.

She pressed closer to Louis, trying to keep her breathing steady. Her chest was tingling with anxiety as they walked, nearly bumping into his body. 

Angel, however, seemed as though she was having the time of her life. Her hands were clasped together with Rila and Lily on either side of her. She laughed and pointed at beings that made Nina look away. She  stuck her tongue out at a demon with horns before pushing their shoulder. Rila burst out cackling at the sight of the demon, screeching how fake their costume looked as Lily wiped her tears from laughing. She pointed at the figure and exclaimed how they looked like a monster that used to hide underneath her bed as a child just as Rila thumped her chest out towards them. 

“I feel like I should tip the poor dude for Rila and Lily,” Louis cringed. Lily wrapped her arms around Rila’s waist and pressed a kiss against her forehead, saying that she was the bravest knight in shining armor she’s ever met. The sight made Nina’s heart twist with pain. Angel was looking at them with adoration drawn across her face, her smile as bright as the stars.

Louis shoved his shoulder against Nina’s, jerking out his chin towards them. “See how it completely worked out between Rila and Lily? Why don’t you give it a shot with Angel?”

 “Because,” she said. “I don’t want to ruin our friendship.”

Her friend beside her nodded solemnly without saying another word. As understanding as Louis tries to be, Nina knew that he wouldn’t get it. He wouldn’t understand how it felt to like someone so much to the point of it hurting her like she was being stabbed in the heart every single day she was with her. It hurt. Of course it hurt. To like someone who couldn’t possibly like you back, being the only one to stare at the person you liked the most, knowing they would never look at you the way you looked at them

Nina swallowed thinly as Angel and their friends laughed and screamed into the carnival. Her eyes were brilliant against the hanging light bulbs that scattered among the tents. Smoke filled the air making it difficult to see, but Nina saw her perfectly among everything else. Everytime a figure in a dark costume would pop out and jump at her, Angel would simply grin and jump back at them with her hands outstretched, as if to claw her way into their hearts.  

Her feelings for Angel grew unintentionally. Like a flower fresh in bloom once spring had come around. It was like coming up for fresh air whenever she was with her. But it also felt like she was drowning at the same time. Being held underwater as she watched the one person she liked not know how she felt. 

It was practically agony. 

Nina could never tell Angel how she felt. She’s never tried. She didn’t want to scare her, even if Angel was fearless and wasn’t scared of anything. Nina’s own feelings scared herself. 

“I just don’t want you to waste your time,” said Louis. His gaze was only held in front of them, getting lost into the sea of attractives that were deep inside of the Night Circus. He sounded sad. As sad as she’s ever heard him before. “Rila and Lily were both friends too, remember?”

Nina groaned. It was true, she remembered it all too well just like him. How Rila pined over Lily for months before they started dating. How she was so overwhelmed with her emotions that she cried because she felt so strongly about her.

Nina dug her hands into her pockets as they walked. Her stomach churning around deep inside her gut as it usually did whenever she thought about telling Angel her feelings. She watched their friends disappear, turning the corner before plunging into the darkness of a tunnel, their laughter echoing through as soon as they stepped through.

Her shoulders scrunched up as a man in a ski mask popped out at her, rearing their chainsaw prop loudly beside her ear. Nina shut her eyes quickly and latched onto Louis’s arm.

“Relax. We’ll be out of this tunnel in no time,” he said. 

No time, my ass, Nina thought. The sounds of high laughter and screaming reverberated inside her ears as they bounced off the walls of the tunnel. She didn’t want to open her eyes. She didn’t want to. Not only was Nina afraid of this stupid carnival, but she was even more afraid of the dark. 

But she could hear Angel somewhere in the distance. Her voice was as light and airy as bells chiming through a windy spring day. It was the only thing she could focus on. It was the only sound she heard. 

“Nina!” she heard her cry. “Nina, open your eyes! Come look at this!” 

“She’s calling you,” Louis said.

“Yeah, I can hear her,” Nina snapped. 

After taking a deep breath, Nina opened her eyes. 

Holographic words were written on the walls, moving along the gray stone from a hidden projector, wrapping around each rigged end. Words that spoke of darkness and despair. A low wind was blowing underneath her arms, making her shoulders hunched up together. A whispering was echoing its way from the other end, their voice raspy, almost like the wind itself. Smoke was coming out from the other side. Nina heard even more loud shrieking from the other end. Screams of absolute terror and madness driving into her skull like nothing else. 

Rila and Lily were looking up at the walls with their eyes wide with fascination. The words that were being displayed glitched and changed every second, but Nina could only make out a few of them. She squinted her eyes, and saw the word DISAPPEAR slowly make their way across, before quickly being replaced with the words WELCOME TO THE NIGHT. 

Facing the opposite of Rila and Lily was Angel. Her white dress was brighter than anything else. Her eyes are wide and marvelous like she’s never seen anything else quite like this in the world. 

Her head quickly turned to Nina, and she beckoned her hand towards her rapidly.

Louis gave her a slight shove. “She’s waiting for you.” He untangled her arm off of him and gave her another shove. “Go.”

And with that, Louis walked away.

His words echoed all throughout her skull. Go tell her that you like her. There’s no time like the present. 

I can’t, she helplessly thought as she wrapped her arms around herself. It’s one of my biggest fears. 

After taking a deep breath, Nina trudged herself towards Angel. 

“About time!” she smiled. She reached over and grabbed her by the hand, pulling her closer beside her. “Look.” 

She pointed to the wall in front of her, just as the holographic letters made their way across them once more. The words moved soundlessly, glitching among the rough stone, but Nina could make them out just fine. “AND SOMETIMES I HAVE KEPT MY FEELINGS TO MYSELF,” she read. “BECAUSE I COULD FIND NO LANGUAGE TO DESCRIBE THEM IN.” 

And just like that, the hairs on the back of Nina’s neck stood straight up. Her body felt dead and cold as the words moved away, only to be replaced by the same ones. 

She swallowed. “Um, what-”

“Cool, right?” Angel said. Nina turned to look at her, and saw that she was still smiling her smile that she fell for. “That quote reminds me of you. Because you like reading. Isn’t it cute?” 

“It’s c-cute,” Nina struggled to reply. “But-” 

“Maybe he’s the one who comes up with these quotes.” Angel’s eyes went up at all the flickering words around her. The words glitched and streamed across the surface endlessly. Words as dark as the night, drifted across Nina’s eyes. 

“He?” 

“Do you think we’ll get to meet him, tonight?” 

Nina blinked. “Meet who?”

“Yin Lucas,” she said. “You know? The maker of all of this? I hear he’s hot as hell.” 

“Oh.” Nina replied. “I don’t know if he’ll actually be here,” she said quietly. “Don’t the organizers of these kinds of things just stand backstage and watch?” 

Angel pouted. “I guess.” She turned her head away. “I thought this place was supposed to make your dreams and wildest fears come to life.” She began trailing away. “I don’t see any of my dreams or fears here.” 

Nina watched as she left, before turning her gaze back to the quote on the wall. The words glitching and repeating on the same slab of stone over and over again. Unmoving from its spot. 

Her heart dropped to the very bottom of her stomach. I HAVE KEPT MY FEELINGS TO MYSELF, it read, BECAUSE I COULD FIND NO OTHER LANGUAGE TO DESCRIBE THEM IN.

Her fingers began to tremble. The quote right in front of her, no matter how hopeful and lyrical it was, only filled her with despair and terror. That quote was the quote Nina had been planning to use to tell Angel her feelings, all those months ago when first realized she liked her best friend. She had pocketed that quote, knowing it deep inside her heart.

Nina glanced away from the wall, seeing Angel jump up and down excitedly with Rila and Lily as they pointed over at something in the distance, their voices screeching for Nina to hurry up.

Louis waved her over, with a smile on his face. But Nina only looked back at the wall, her throat tightening more and more by the moment.  

The words were disappearing and reappearing within each second, almost as if they never were there in the first place.

Then, in a small flash, a few more words were written right underneath the first quote. Making Nina’s heart physically stop. 

Tell her, Nina. Tell her before it’s too late. 

Nina’s eyes widened at it. She leaned forward,  sounds of screaming and wailing whispers filled her ears once again. She raised her hand forward, to trail her finger along the stone, watching as the holographic words appeared on her own skin. Her own name, showing brighter than the moon. 

“Hey,” Louis’ voice suddenly said. Nina jumped, jerking away from the wall with her heart hammering harshly against her chest. “You okay?” 

Nina looked at him, her voice becoming lost in her throat. “I-” 

“Nina! Louis!” Angel called in the distance. “Come on! We’re going to miss it!”
Louis raised an eyebrow before beckoning his head out towards them. “We should get going.” 

“B-but,” Nina stammered, her hand still on the wall with the projected words flickering on her skin. Look! Why does it say this?” 

Louis’ forehead creased together. “Say what?”

Nina looked back and saw that her name and Angel’s were still there, instead of flickering like a broken light bulb, were melting away like blood across a surface. Or else.

Louis laughed, his voice echoing inside the tunnel, mixing in with the pitched screams. “Come on.” 

“But,” Nina’s voice had gone quiet. “Didn’t you see?” Her eyes were squinting down at the words written on the wall. She turned to look at her friends, but saw that they were already disappearing deep into the tunnel, wrapping themselves into the shadows. 

Louis cocked his head to the side, walking backwards with his hands in his pockets. “See what?”

Nina made one hopeless turn to the wall. Watching her name melted towards the floor. In another flash, Nina saw another set of words, flickering right before her feet. 

You won’t make it out tonight. 

“Nina!” Angel called impatiently. “Come on! What are you doing?”

Nina’s eyes darted to the end of the tunnel, her breathing becoming heavier and heavier by the minute. She blinked and glanced to the writing on the wall, expecting to see the message there once more, but instead saw nothing. 

It said my name, Nina thought. Her palms began getting sweaty, her throat was closing up. 

“What are you doing?” Angel said.

Nina pointed. “There was-”

“I don’t see any mass murdering clowns on psychedelics,” she declared after turning her head side to side. She then reached forward and clasped her hand in hers. “Nina, come on. I said that I was going to protect you, didn’t I? Now keep up, I think I saw something cool up there.” 

She began pulling Nina without getting an answer. 

Angel’s voice was still as airy and light as she hummed within each step she took. As though she was singing a song underneath her breath like they were taking a light stroll in the park. Nina tried calming herself, now that she was right beside Nina, and tried to take slow, deep breaths but her mind kept going back to the words on the wall as they moved all around them. Across their arms, along their clothes, on top of Angel’s hair. 

TELL HER, NINA. TELL ANGEL OR ELSE. 

“About time you come out of there,” Rila said as soon as the two of them emerged from the darkened tunnel. She had her arm wrapped around Lily’s shoulders. “We were just about to miss it.” 

Nina gulped, directing her eyes away from the tunnel. She cleared her throat. “Miss what?” 

Angel pointed. “That.”

She pulled her once more. There was a huge tent in front of them. One with a flag that blew away in the wind at the very top. She heard the shrill of voices more clearly now. Their voices were distinct and louder now. Nina heard the deep voice of an announcer, saying, Come one! Come all! 

“Let’s go in here,” Angel smiled. She was pointing at the sign before the tent, it’s etters shining brilliantly.

Nina squinted her eyes and read. Each single word was written as dark as blood.

SPINEBREAKER.

Test your fears. Enjoy the show. 

An off feeling began to spiral deep inside Nina’s gut. Voices as raspy and deep as Freddie Krueger sang into the stars, screams made the hairs of the back of her neck stand straight up, and the pitch black void of the entrance beckoned and urged her to walk inside.

“What is this place?” Nina asked. 

“I read online that this is the main event,” Angel explained. “Where you really see your dreams and darkest nightmares come to life.” 

“But you’re not afraid of anything,”

“Exactly,” Angel winked. “Let’s see what kind of prize I win.”

A girl ran out of the tent crying, her hands covering her face as she wept. “Gone!” she cried. “They’re all gone!” 

Nina stared after her, her mouth open in disbelief. Meanwhile Angel was still staring at the tent as though it had all the answers in the world. Did she not see the girl? 

“Guys-” Nina said. Her hands were trembling even more by the second. Something was very off about the tent. She stared down the entrance, where the whispering and screaming had gotten louder and louder into her ears.

Test your fears, she heard a voice whisper. Enjoy the show.

Nina stepped. “I don’t-” 

But Angel was already pulling her inside. “Let’s go! Let’s go!”
Rila and Lily squealed, disappearing soon into the dark as Angel followed them. Nina gave one helpless look over to Louis, who shrugged with his hands deep in his pockets.

They plunged deeper into the darkness, until Nina saw nothing at all. 

Test your fears, the voice whispered once again. Enjoy the show..

III. 

Nina was alone. 

Her eyes blinked to adjust to the lighting. Bright lights blared back at her from above. 

The tent was empty. With only empty seats pointing directly at a stage down below. Ropes dangled from the ceiling, as though being the ropes you would find acrobats dangling from. There was an empty cage filled with nothing, and a lone whip, laying on the floor. 

Nina looked around, and saw that there was an invisible glass wall separating each seat.

She tried sitting up, and instead felt something hard pinch against the skin of her wrists. Nina glanced down, and saw that wooden straps were on either side of her, holding her down. 

Panic quickly spread across her chest as she looked around her. Where the hell is everyone? 

She budged against the shackles, relentlessly, and felt hot pain shoot down her skin, felt the wooden straps pinch into her skin, twisting her wrists. 

“Hello?!” she called out. She tried her best getting out of her seat, jumped up and down with tears beginning to build up on her eyes. “ANGEL?!” 

“Nina!” 

Nina turned and saw Louis, sitting in a cubicle just like hers, wrists and ankles shackled to the chair just as hers. 

“What happened?” she yelled.

He shrugged, struggling to free his wrists. “I don’t know!” He jerked his wrists again.“Where is everyone?

“I have no idea,” Nina replied. “I don’t know what happened.” 

She struggled to move once more, and heard Louis. He was yelling, yelling for help as she tried freeing herself. There wasn’t anyone else in the stands beside them. The arena was as empty as can be. What the hell happened to all the noise they heard outside? 

Nina spotted someone sitting in the first row. Hair as red as blood.

Their arm went up, to tuck a strand behind their ear, and Nina managed to get a glimpse of a tattoo on the side of their skin. A long tattoo of a dragon.

“Jessie?” Nina yelled. “Is that you?” 

“Jessie,” Nina cried as loud as she could. “Where is everyone? Where’s Rila and Lily? Where’s Angel?” 

Jessie didn’t move one bit. 

“What’s wrong with her?” Louis yelled. “Hey! Jessie! Jessie, are you okay?”
And slowly, almost like a balloon drifting alone in the air, Jessie turned.

Where her eyes should be, where only black holes instead. Black empty holes. Her mouth was open as well, with the same blackness. 

Jessie’s head tilted upward, and she swayed side to side, lifeless. 

“Jessie…”
A voice boomed loudly on the speakers, making Nina jump in alarm, her shoulders scrunched together. “PLEASE TAKE YOUR SEATS. WE’LL START THE SHOW SOON.” 

“What is going on?” Louis yelled. 

“PLEASE TAKE YOUR SEATS. WE’LL START THE SHOW SOON.”

Someone began to clap.

Slowly, loudly, echoing all throughout the arena. 

Nina squinted her eyes and saw a figure come out of the shadows, walking directly into the center of the stage. 

A man walked out, wearing a nice suit. He had brown wavy hair, spread across his forehead and he was walking with a cane. His skin was as white in the stage lights, his eyes as golden as though fire was inside of them. 

Louis whispered. “Who the hell-”

Nina squinted her eyes. Could it be?

“It’s him,” Nina whispered. “It’s It’s Yin Lucas.” 

Lucas flashed a smile in her direction. “Welcome,” he said. “Welcome Dream Crawlers, to my Night Circus.” 

“What’s going on?” she demanded. “Where’s Angel?”

He continued. “SPINEBREAKER is our main event of the night, ladies and gentlemen. We test your fears. We bring your dreams to life. We see if your spine can really break.” He grinned devilishly, making chills shoot down Nina’s back. “Only the ones who can survive their living fears can leave the night. The ones that don’t, well.” He shrugged and pointed his cane over to Jessie. “Your soul becomes mine.” 

“What the fuck?” Louis yelled. “Let us out of here! Where’s our friends? WHERE ARE THEY?”

“Angel,” Nina gasped. “You took Angel.” 

With one more look towards her, Lucas grinned once more. “She volunteered. She’s our first contestant of the night.” 

But Angel isn’t afraid of anything, Nina thought. She’s Angel. She’s fearless, she’s-

A scream cut into the night, and Nina jerked straight up. A scream so painful and awful filled her ears. It was Angel’s voice. It was her beautiful voice, shrieking with everything she’s ever had inside of her. 

“Angel!” Nina cried. She looked at the stage once, only to see Lucas vanish like a whisper in the dark. 

“Angel!” she screamed. “Angel, where are you?”

“Don’t worry,” said Lucas’s voice from right beside her. Nina jumped, he was leaning his body over her cubicle, his face just inches from hers. “She’s about to go on.” 

“Where is she, you piece of shit?” Nina asked him. She tried to move her arms from her seat, feeling the buckles bite into her skin. She looked at him once more, a thin wall of tear sprung up in her eyes. “Where’s Angel?”

“Everyone gets their turn.” Lucas smiled. “You’ll get yours.”

“What are you?” she asked. “The devil? Are you the fucking devil?

Lucas’s eyebrows rose. “The devil?” he said. “I’m touched. Really. No, I’m not.” He smiled down at her, just as red began to fill up his eyes, like hellfire was engulfing his body. “I’m the devil’s associate.” 

Nina moved helplessly. “Let me go-” 

“Shh-” he said. He directed her head back towards the stage. “It’s starting.”

Just like the windup of an old toy, carousel music began to play, as if broken, then all together at once. 

Several lights turned on, a spotlight turned towards the center. A chainsaw reared up, and clowns began to fill the stage. It was everything in her worst nightmares. Every demon she’s ever dreamed of. Every killer from every horror movie. Every ghost and monster. All in one place. 

Then came Angel. 

She walked slowly. Her hair was strewn all across her face, her face was wet with tears.

Angel.

She screamed. 

Her hands went to her face, covering herself as the clowns advanced towards her, surrounding her all at once. The chainsaw reered once more, louder and louder by the second and Angel screamed, trying to push past them, trying her best to move away.

She stumbled on her feet and fell to the ground, sobbing as she crawled from the clowns. She reached a door in the middle of the stage and opened it before stepping through, only to reveal a small woman, thin as can be, skin taut around the bones, eyes black as the galaxy. She was whispering, giggling in fact and Angel wept, cried for her to move so that she could go home before the woman grew ten inches straight up, towering over Nina, her hair becoming spiders, crawling towards Angel, making her shriek and back away, her voice ringing like a thousand bells all at once. 

Angel was crying. “Nina, why did you leave?” 

“I’m here!” Nina cried out. She attempted to move as she watched Angel cry and cry. Her heart was breaking into thin little pieces within each second she said her name. “Angel, I’m here,” she wept. “I’m here.” 

How could this be the fearless Angel that she knew? 

Lucas was watching the show with a fascinated look on his face. “Let me go,” she begged him. “Let me go instead of her.” 

Angel screamed again, burying herself into the corner as a man with a knife came towards her with blood spilling out of his mouth. “No!” she screamed. “No, go away! Nina! NINA!” 

Lucas looked at her with his eyebrow curled up. “Oh?” he said. “You’re willing to face your fears for her place?” 

“Yes.” Her lower lip was quivering, her eyes were spilling out water down the sides of her cheek. “I’m more afraid of this than she is. Take me instead, I’m begging you.” She trembled, feeling more hot tears slide down her face as Angel’s screams filled her ears. 

Lucas smiled, wrapping his fingers around the head of his cane. “As you wish.”

He snapped his fingers and everything disappeared. 

Nina opened her eyes to whiteness.

She turned, and saw nothing of the carnival that was once there. No Louis. No tent. No Lucas. And no clowns. 

Her heart thumped. What did he do to Angel? She thought. She ran forward towards nothing, and  met with the same white wall. 

“HELLO?” she yelled, waving her arms up and down as though Lucas was somewhere high above, watching her. “ANGEL BETTER BE SOMEWHERE SAFE.” She gulped, wrapping her arms around herself, feeling as hot tears rolled down her cheek. “Please let her be somewhere safe.”

A small ding chimed through the room. And Nina’s eyes went up, her heart rate beginning to pick up. This is it, she thought. They’re coming. 

She dug her nails hard into the palms of her hands, feeling blood begin to seep through.

Lucas’s voice whispered in her ear, sounding like music and the tolling of bells all at once. “Are you ready?” He said, the sensation as chilling as ice sliding across her skin. “Turn around.” 

Nina gulped, and turned. 

There, standing in front of her, was Angel. 

“Angel,” Nina whispered. She reached a hand out, to touch her, to cup her by her cheek. She was okay. Angel was all right, she was safe-

“You love me,” Angel said. 

Nina pulled back. “W-what?”

“You love me,” Angel repeated. Her eyes went up to meet hers, her breathing was slow and steady. “Don’t you?”

Nina gulped. “I-” 

Angel simply stared at her, not once moving a muscle to touch her hand, to touch her skin. She simply stared. 

“Nina,” she whispered. “Why-” 

Nina’s eyes focused on behind her and she grabbed Angel’s hand, just as a figure with a knife plunged towards her, stabbing the spot where Angel once was.

There was blood pooling down from their eyes, their smile as broken with stitches holding it together. Their hair was black and stringy, open wounds were seen here, flesh pumped out like an open heartbeat. 

The figure was gurgling their words, sputtering more and more blood as they inched towards them.

Nina clasped her hand in Angel’s, backing them away. “Angel,” she said. “Run.” 

The killer swung their knife once more as laughter began to echo all around them. Laughter and whisperings of the tunnel they were once in. She heard cackling and screaming, heard Louis’s voice telling them to run. Heard Rila’s and Lily’s voice to help them no matter what. 

They ran, hopelessly into the white room, unknowing where they were going as more and more skin crawlers appeared. Screaming, and running towards them. All with claws for teeth and knives for hands. 

Angel was sobbing again screaming as they ducked underneath the reaching arm of a spider, with black drool foaming at the mouth. 

“FACE YOUR FEAR! FACE YOUR FEAR!” The same voice echoed all around them. They ran and ran, backing away from killer clowns, ran from grudges with black hair covering their face, from skeletons with their head spinning around and around above their neck. 

Lucas’s voice rang overhead again. “Break your spine, Nina,” he taunted. “Face your fear.” 

“What is he talking about?” Angel screamed. “You’re already facing them!” She broke away from Nina’s grip and tilted her head up towards the sky. “LET US GO!” 

Nina’s heart thumped. She grabbed Angel’s hand again, nearly yanking her to her feet as the killers came closer and closer, their faces becoming larger and larger, their eyes darker and darker. 

“This isn’t her greatest fear,” Lucas hummed overhead. “These are your fears. Not hers.”

Angel’s face fell. “What?” 

The lump in Nina’s throat broke and she squinted her eyes shut. No, she pleaded. No, please. I’ll do anything else. Anything else you ask of me. 

“DO IT,” yelled the voices once more. “DO IT OR ELSE.” 

Nina stopped running, pulling Angel with her. Her greatest fear, she thought. She had to face her greatest fear. 

Her face was wet with tears as she slowly opened her eyes. Her heart was breaking right inside of her chest, into small little thin pieces. 

The screaming around them came to a mute. The skin-crawlers were gone. 

She started sobbing, sinking to her knees as the words echoed again and again inside her head. “DO IT,” they yelled. “DO IT OR ELSE.” 

“Angel,” she said softly. She looked up at her best friend, who was staring down at her as she trembled. 

“What’s your biggest fear, Nina?” Angel said. “I thought this circus already was it. What are you so afraid of?”

Nina’s lip trembled, and she tugged on her hand to pull her down with her. She slid to her knees. 

“You,” Nina wept. “You’re my biggest fear.” 

Angel’s eyes poured into hers. “What?” 

“I love you,” Nina cried. Her lower lip throbbed, the tears poured down her cheeks as she sobbed. “I love you,” she repeated. “I’ve always been in love with you. You asked what I was most afraid of and it’s this. It’s love. Telling you that I am hopelessly in love with you is my greatest fear.” 

Angel knees buckled. “Nina-”

“You don’t have to say anything,” she replied in a shuddering gasp. “You don’t. I had to tell you. That’s my greatest fear. Telling you is my greatest fear.” 

Angel merely stared back at her, shock fallen for words. 

Nina waited. Waited for Lucas’s voice to ring overhead again, to tell her that she did it. So that this could all be over. She waited to leave.

“Nina,” Angel whispered. She looked up at her once again, and saw that the girl she loved was crying too. “Nina,” she repeated. Her hand went up to cup her by the cheek. “Why were you so afraid?” 

She gulped. “I didn’t want you to be scared.” 

Angel laughed. Her laugh sounded like music. “I’m afraid of a lot of things,” she said weakly. “But I’m not afraid of you.” 

In one single movement, Angel reached forward and pressed her lips against Nina’s, her hand cupping the back of her neck as she kissed her. She kissed her hard and determined, mumurming her name within each kiss. “Nina, Nina,” she whispered. 

Finally she pulled back, and Nina stared at her best friend. Stared at the girl she loved with all her heart. She did it. She finally told her. She finally told her after all this time. 

Angel’s head tilted to the side and she huffed, smiling back at her. “I’m proud of you,” she said softly. “I love you too.”

The words made Nina’s breath hitch. Her hands stopped trembling as she reached up to take Angel’s hands in hers. I love you. 

“My Nina,” she whispered, leaning her forehead against hers. “If only this wasn’t a dream.” 

Nina’s eyes shot open, and she jerked away from Angel. “What?” 

IV. 

Angel watched as Nina thrashed around in her bed, sobbing and screaming. Her hands scrunching up her blankets as she sobbed and sobbed. “No,” she cried out. “No, leave her alone! Angel. ANGEL!”

Tears sprung up in Angel’s eyes as she watched. She went down on her knees, taking her hand in hers.

“I’m here,” she said. “Nina, I’m here.” 

“Some nightmare,” Louis commented. He was standing up, with his hands in his pockets as he looked at Nina. “I wonder what she’s dreaming about.” 

“Her greatest fear,” Rila said. She and Lily were on the other side of Angel, all watching Nina as she went through her worst nightmare. Today was the day. The day of the Night Crawler’s Dream Circus.

Bringing their wildest nightmares and dreams to life. 

They got Nina first. 

Angel’s chest scrunched together in pain. This was it. This was part of the deal. For her to leave her nightmare, she had to put Nina in hers instead. 

She looked to her right, straight into the mirror where the reflection of Lucas looked back at her. 

He winked and placed a finger in between his lips. 

Angel nodded. She knew Nina just had to face her fear from this nightmare. She knew it’s what had to be done for her to leave. But Nina wasn’t waking up from her dream. 

She wondered what Nina’s greatest fear was. Her greatest fear was watching her be in so much pain. Watching the girl she loved be in so much pain. 

I love you, Angel thought. I love you, Nina. 

That’s my greatest fear. 

not here to be liked review

Hello everyone! My name is Jan and welcome back to another blog post  ◝(ᵔᵕᵔ)◜ ♥

It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post, I’m vv sorry but lately it’s been hard for me to keep up with school, youtube, and blogging all at the same time but I’m trying my best!!

Today I have brought to you a review for Not Here to Be Liked by Michelle Quach and oh my gosh I loved it. I hope this review pushes everyone to grab a copy because how fluffy and good it was. So, without further ado, let’s get on w/ my review 🙂

Title: Not Here to Be Liked

Author: Michelle Quach

Publishing Date: September 14, 2021

Genre(s): Contemporary, romance, young adult, fiction, feminism, asian literature

Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Writer’s Block

Synopsis

Emergency Contact meets Moxie in this cheeky and searing novel that unpacks just how complicated new love can get…when you fall for your enemy.

Eliza Quan is the perfect candidate for editor in chief of her school paper. That is, until ex-jock Len DiMartile decides on a whim to run against her. Suddenly her vast qualifications mean squat because inexperienced Len—who is tall, handsome, and male—just seems more like a leader.

When Eliza’s frustration spills out in a viral essay, she finds herself inspiring a feminist movement she never meant to start, caught between those who believe she’s a gender equality champion and others who think she’s simply crying misogyny.

Amid this growing tension, the school asks Eliza and Len to work side by side to demonstrate civility. But as they get to know one another, Eliza feels increasingly trapped by a horrifying realization—she just might be falling for the face of the patriarchy himself.

(*note: since I’m a book review/writer based in LV, I decided to add in the bookstore where I intern at. Everyone please support small independent bookstores!!)

Even though Eliza Quan wasn’t there to be liked, I found myself liking her soooo much.

NHTBL is a story about feminism and what it means to be a feminist. We follow our main protagonist Eliza, who is a Vietnamese American girl who knows what she wants and won’t stop until she gets it. Throughout reading this, we follow Eliza’s journey towards what it means to be a feminist and accepting her identity.

This book really did remind me of people that I knew in high school and the fake performanist persona they put on. From the start, Eliza finds herself in a situation where someone uploaded her private thoughts of wasian student Len DiMartile who won their school paper’s Editor in Chief position, saying the election was rigged because she was more qualified to be Chief while everyone else merely voted for Len because he was a guy.

Many points were made.

I loved the discussion of double standards that was brought up as well as patriarchal ideas. And since this was in a high school setting where we see double standards left and right, it was easy to find this story relatable and easy to follow.

Even though Eliza’s character in fact “Not Here to Be Liked” I couldn’t help but love her. What I admire the most about Eliza was the fact that she knows what she wants and she knows who she is. Despite society ideals about a woman staying in her place and her mother’s typical expectations of what a good young asian should be like, that is, “being pretty and likeable” Eliza doesn’t let anyone change her so that she’ll be liked. Wearing dresses and putting on makeup so people would vote for her? Wouldn’t it better if people voted for her because of her experience at the Bugle and how qualified she is? But no. What I admired the most about this book was how relatable this was to me as an Asian American growing up in a society where people have certain expectations of me.

There’s this one quote that I couldn’t stop thinking because of how true it was.

“Everyone loves a girlboss until she tells you what to do”

Not Here to Be Liked Michelle Quach

And it’s so true!!! Because even though everyone praises a girlboss all across media until she actually is your boss.

Not only does Michelle Quach bring up the double standards between a guy and girl, but she also manages to bring up the girl on girl hate stigma. At one point in the book, we see Eliza in the middle of a situation where girls are slut-shaming another girl. It’s sucks to see but it’s crazy how relatable this is in real life.

Overall, I really enjoyed Not Here to Be Liked. It’s an amazing contemporary that brings up the important questions and has just the right amount of romance and fluff. Definitely a book everyone needs to pick up!!!

Thanks for stopping by, I hope everyone is doing well 🙂

Jan

july wrap up + life update

Hello everyone! My name is Jan and welcome back to another blog post  ◝(ᵔᵕᵔ)◜ ♥

It’s been a fat minute since I’ve wrote a post where it’s not an ARC review 😦 I’ve been wanting to blog and upload on my yt but I’ve been helplessly busy this summer with my summer classes and internship, I hope you understand!

Now I feel like I’m in a good place mentally and physically so I’ll try my best to provide content 🙂 I hope you’ve all been well.

Without further do, let’s get on with my wrap up!

I’ve been in a really bad reading slump since summer started because I was trying to get used to juggling my internship and summer classes at the same time so I’ve only read one book in June and four books in July, but I’m still impressed that I read in general! I feel like I’ve strayed away from blogging and my content creating because of other stuff going on in my life that it impacted my mental health, but lately I’ve been picking myself and taking things slow and I’m really proud of myself to be able to get out of my funk 🙂

Reads

I’ve read a total of 4 books in July and after only reading one in June and absolutely none in May, I would say I’m pretty proud of myself 🙂

What I read in July

Ace of Spades was the book that brought me out of my reading slump and I just… I have no words. Ace of Spades was just that book. It was that good. No wonder it was an immediate best seller because what the fuck did I read??? A YA book set in a dark academic school dealing with topics such as institutionalized racism, self-identity, LGBTQ+ and more??? IT WAS JUST TOO GOOD. I think I’m going to post a review with my full thoughts because I just need to discuss them. Maybe I’ll make a video. Hm, we’ll see.

Crooked Kingdom was a book I’ve been putting aside for so long. I know I said I was going to do a reading vlog of myself reading Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom but it just. It didn’t work out. I’m sorry. I’m so disappointed with myself because I started reading this in June but I’ve been procrastinating on this for so long that it took me a whole month to finish LOL. It was okay, in my opinion. I felt like since I already knew who was going to d word it didn’t do anything special to me like I thought it would. Welp. At least I finished! 😀

They’ll Never Catch Us was an ARC I’ve recieved from PenguinTeen as part of their influencer program and!!! It exceeded expectations!!! This was a quick and lighthearted read (I mean as lighthearted as a murder mystery as could be) and was a lot better than They Wish They Were Us which is a murder mystery based in a preparatory school. I really liked the sister dynamic in They’ll Never Catch Us and it just was a good summer read for me 🙂 Of course because I’m picky this book was still all right for me LOL. To read my full review, please click here.

The Taking of Jake Livingston! I think I’ve been reading mostly thrillers this year and this book was just… wow. It was definitely something… I’ve also posted a full review on the blog and it would mean a lot if you guys checked it out 😀 To check out my full review, please click here.

Films

Uhh… I think I watched a fat amount of shows in July… I think I binged quite a few too. I have these phases where I start a show on Netflix and I absolutely won’t watch anything until I finish the show I was watching.

Okay… you already know that I’ve been obsessed with Penthouse. It’s just… that good. I mean, some of the plot twists aren’t even plot twists anymore and they keep using the “this person is actually alive” trope that it’s not even shocking anymore and I’ve pretty much gotten used to every “twist” this drama tries throwing at me but am I going to keep watching it anyway? Yes. I need to see Joo Dan Tae and Choi Seo Jin fall no matter what.

I don’t know why I randomly decided to binge The Walking Dead after giving up when I was in middle school but… I did. There’s ten seasons so far and I watched every single one of them. Did I cry multiple throughout it? Yes. Do I miss Glenn Rhee and Beth Greene? Of course I do. Did I cry like crazy watching a certain SOMEONE k word them… yes. I can’t wait for the final season. I miss Rick and Carl Grimes so much </3

Who else has been watching Nevertheless? Anyone? Anyone at all? Just me? GOD THIS DRAMA MAKES ME SO MAD!!! I started watching the Nevertheless after seeing all the hype about it go around Tiktok and I’ve been watching it with my friends every week and god… Nabi and Jae-eon irritate me sooo… much. I just want to scream at them and Nabi? NABI? MISS GIRL KNOWS HE’S A RED FLAG AND YET… At least she’s self-aware :)) Let me know if you guys are watching Nevertheless too, let’s have a watch party!!!

Also… I dyed my hair hot pink because of Bitna… she’s been on thin ice lately but I’m still in love with her. She’s an icon, she’s a legend and she IS the moment.

Personal

I’ve been very mentally drained since the start of summer because of my internship and summer classes that it’s taken a toll on me content creating and making youtube videos and writing blog posts that it makes me so sad because I really do love what I do!! But ever since I took a break from content creating, I’ve been journaling, cooking, working out and talking with my friends a lot lately and I think I’m in a better place now 🙂 My friends have been helping a lot and we’ve made a lot of memories so far this summer and I think that because of them I’ve made progress with my writing (my wips are almost done!!) and I’m in good place that I’ve been trying to get myself at for so long 🙂

I kind of blew up on my other tiktok (@tenluvr93 if you wanna follow) and I’ve been trying my best to do to THAT girl’s routine and I’m so!!! proud!! of myself!! I’ve been eating breakfast, taking my meds, working out, journaling, and the amount of progress I made from myself in the start of summer makes me so happy 🙂

My intern have helped me a lot this summer too! I’m glad we started talking to each other and helped one another through our stress. I l word them a lot ❤

Here are some pics from my summer!! Next week I’m dying my hair RED 😀

That’s all for today’s post! I’ll get back to my normal uploading schedule this week 🙂 Blog posts every Tuesday and new videos every Saturday 🙂 Thank you all for stopping by, I hope you’re staying safe!

Jan

they’ll never catch us ARC review

Hello everyone! My name is Jan and welcome back to another blog post  ◝(ᵔᵕᵔ)◜ ♥

Lately, I’ve been on a reading (what’s the opposite of slump? surge?) surge for the past week now it feels weird if I don’t read for at least an hour before I go to sleep LOL. It doesn’t matter if it’s on my phone or with a physical book in hand, I just NEED to read before I go to bed.

With that being said I actually can’t believe I’ve actually been completing my ARCs? I’ve been trying to do my best to read with my friend Trin at night and I think that it’s really made me more productive with my reading so tysm Trin :3

This week I have brought to you another ARC review and it is by Jessica Goodman, the author who also wrote They Wish They Were Us, a murder mystery at this preparatory school where everyone is a suspect. Check out the goodreads link above if you’re interested!

Jessica Goodman has brought us ANOTHER murder mystery and I’m vv thankful for Penguin Teen for sending me a copy to read and give an honest review 🙂 ❤

Without further ado, let’s get on with my review!

Title: They’ll Never Catch Us

Author: Jessica Goodman

Publishing Date: July 26th, 2021

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary

Rating: ☆☆☆

Goodreads | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

From rising star Jessica Goodman, author of They Wish They Were Us, comes a new fast-paced thriller about two sisters vying for the top spot on their cross-country team–the only way out of their stifling small town. But their dreams are suddenly thrown into peril when a new girl threatens to take away everything they’ve worked for… until she disappears.

Stella and Ellie Steckler are only a year apart, but their different personalities make their relationship complicated. Stella is single-minded, driven, and she keeps to herself. Cross-country running is her life and she won’t let anything get in the way of being the best. Her sister Ellie is a talented runner too, but she also lets herself have fun. She has friends. She goes to parties. She has a life off the course.

The sisters do have one thing in common, though: the new girl, Mila Keene. Both Stecklers’ lives are upended when Mila comes to town. Mila was the top runner on her team back home and at first, Ellie and Stella view her as a threat. But soon Ellie can’t help but be drawn to her warm, charming personality. After her best friend moved away and her first boyfriend betrayed her, Ellie’s been looking for a friend. In a moment of weakness, she even shares her darkest secret with Mila. For her part, Stella finds herself noticing the ways she and Mila are similar. Mila is smart and strong–she’s someone Stella can finally connect with. As the two get closer, Stella becomes something she vowed she’d never be: distracted.

With regionals approaching and college scouts taking notice, the pressure is on. Each girl has their future on the line and they won’t let friendships get in their way. But then, suddenly, Mila goes out on a training run and never returns. No one knows what happened, but all eyes are on the Steckler sisters.

So… I did want to like this book.

It was just okay in my opinion.

I didn’t really like Jessica Goodman’s other book, They Wish They Were Us but I thought that since this story had a sisters dynamic and this common prose of cross country “murderers” in this small town that has a history of being Murderville, I thought I would like this!!!

It was just okay LOL.

However, I really did like this book much better than They Wish They Were Us !

This book really put into perspective how women really aren’t taken seriously when they’re speaking about something and I’m glad that Jessica Goodman pointed that out in a realistic fashion in this book. “We all know teenage girls are capable of lying” that quote physically made me mad and my heart literally stopped for a second because of how true that is? Not in the sense that we do teenage girls are capable of lying, but the fact that teenage girls, women in general, are always perceived in this way that they’re never right or telling the truth and once they try speaking up for themselves, they get shut down.

Stella Steckler is competitive. It’s in her nature to strive to be the best because she knows that she is the best. She doesn’t want anything to get in the way of her full potential. Last year had been rough enough on her, with the whole scandal she had going on that cost her scholarship opportunities in Georgetown, She just wanted to focus on herself and get herself in Georgetown with her talent in cross-country. However, once new girl Mila comes into town, Stella doesn’t only worry about beating her sister in a race, but she also has to keep an eye out for a new ace. Someone who will surely take her spot.

Ellie Steckler, just like her sister wants to get out of Edgewater (or Deadwater, if you will) just as badly. She wants to beat her sister in at least one race. But with Mila in town too, she had to add another girl to the list of people she needed to outrace. But when Mila goes missing, all eyes look at the Steckler sisters.

I was genuinely surprised with the sister dynamic of this book, you can clearly tell who the two different Stecklers are, and even though all eyes are pointing at the Steckler Sister’s for Mila’s disappearance, no matter if they both don’t know each other’s secrets, all in all, they still have each other’s back no matter what.

I read this all in one sitting because I felt like I was watching beef happen right before my eyes LOL. If you’re interested in a family dynamic book, small-town murder mysteries and competitive teenage girls willing to do anything to save their ass, They’ll Never Catch Us is definitely for you.

Thank you for coming to my review! I hope you’re all staying safe 🙂

Jan ❤

the taking of jake livingston ARC review

Hello everyone! My name is Jan and welcome back to another blog post  ◝(ᵔᵕᵔ)◜ ♥

Thank you once again to Penguin Teen for sending me this ARC copy of The Taking of Jake Livingston in exchange for an honest review!

Please be on the lookout for further ARC reviews in the future by Penguin Teen as I’m one of Penguin Teen Influencers for this year! Let me know what kind of content you want to see! More booktube content or more blog posts :3

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Title: The Taking of Jake Livingston

Author: Ryan Douglass

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Release Date: July 13, 2021

pre-order and get ~spooky~ goodies for 10% off!

goodreads | book depository | barnes & noble |

Synopsis

Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA horror where survival is not a guarantee.

Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

Content Warnings: racism, school shooting, death (graphic), violence (graphic), mentions of suicide attempt, physical and emotional abuse, mental illness, parental and medical negligence, sociopathy, sadism, attempted rape, revenge porn, gore, homophobia, bullying.

note: Ryan Douglass is an amazing human being and I’m so glad that I was able to read this ARC copy :3 ❤

Two words. BLACK. HORROR.

LBGTQ+ rep! Horror! BIPOC characters! What more could you ask? Halloween came early with The Taking of Jake Livingston.

This has been one of my most anticipated reads for this year and I can’t believe I got an ARC! Once again, thank you PenguinTeen for providing me with a copy!

The plot was very interesting and I definitely felt the horror aspect of this book come through! As most of you guys know, I don’t really do well with horror but I was greatly surprised at how I was getting goosebumps as well as getting creeped out as I read this book.

First of all, I want to talk about the pun in Jake’s name. Jake Livingston? The kid that gets possessed by a ghost? The kid that fights an undead ghost and lives to tell the tale?Amazing. Superior. Awesome.

When I first dove into this book blind, I thought I was going to get something different. From the cover I suspected an anxious teen who probably had a lot of bad things happen to him fight a ghost in the middle of this large dark academic school where secrets unfold.

Well, there wasn’t a dark academic school, but I was pleasantly surprised with this book! I loved the aspect of a possessing ghost looking for revenge and a witty queer bipoc teen fight back while going through his first ever crush. It was simply… everything.

When I first got my copy, I was surprised with how short the book was but I felt like the pacing was well done and the only thing I was disappointed in was that it wasn’t longer.

We got our medium Jake, a teenager who can see spirits deal with the ghost of Sawyer Doon, a who used to live in their town commit a terrible act on other students before eventually ending his life himself. The plot was well done and everything came full circle, starting with Jake, diving back into the backstory of Sawyer Doon and why he’s seeking revenge, and ending it back with Jake.

The only other characters I enjoyed reading were Allistar and Benji, I didn’t really care for the others but I wish I got more scenes w them towards the climax of the book!

(There are some really graphic scenes that everyone should be aware of before diving into this book and I’ve put all warnings at the top of this post!!!)

It was truly a thrilling book to read and I can’t wait to see everyone thinks about The Taking of Jake Livingston.

Thank you all for stopping by! I hope you’re all staying safe ❤

Jan

hello (from here) ARC review

Hello everyone! My name is Jan and welcome back to another blog post  ◝(ᵔᵕᵔ)◜ ♥

I’m trying to update on my blog and my channel more so pls keep an eye out for more content from I’m working on it I promise T_T

Today I am back with another ARC review! If you didn’t know I am a part of Penguin Teen Influencers Program and I am so excited to share my reviews on these upcoming books! Please keep an eye out for reading vlogs and further ARC reviews for more content like this!

Without further ado, let’s get on with the review.

Title: hello (from here)

Author(s): Chandler Baker & Wesley King

Rating: ☆☆☆

Release Date: May 11, 2021

goodreads | book depository | barnes & noble |

Synopsis

A witty and thought-provoking YA love story set during the COVID-19 quarantine, written by two NYT bestselling authors, with shades of Five Feet Apart and Anna and the French Kiss .

Maxine and Jonah bump into each other in the canned goods aisle of the grocery store just as the state of California is going into lockdown, when everything changes completely. Could there be a worse time to meet? Max’s part-time job at a supermarket is about to transform into a hellish gauntlet. Jonah’s preexisting anxiety is about to become an epic daily struggle. As Max, Jonah, and their friends live together but apart through hijinks, humanity, and heartbreak, Hello (From Here) cuts across urgent matters much bigger than a teenage crush. Differences of class, privilege, mental health, and sacrifice are thrown into stark relief by the profound and personal stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic. As thoughtful, probing, and informed as it is buoyant, romantic, and funny, Hello (From Here) looks at the first two months of the quarantine and adds falling hopelessly in love to the mess.

 

Thank you Netgalley and PenguinTeen for giving me an ARC copy in exchange for a review!

This book made me somewhat sentimental about when we were on the verge of the pandemic. The stocking of toilet paper, the way everyone was confused with no idea what to do or where to begin because we’ve never been faced with such a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic before. Reading this made me actually… nostalgic? For those times. When the world was fighting for toilet paper, when people were rushing home from their study abroad trip in Europe, when people were making tiktoks after tiktoks from boredom and making dalgona coffee and just being… home. This book kind of made me… miss all of that.

I feel like hello (from here) was a different concept and very different from every contemporary I’ve read before since it not only reflected a very serious pandemic, but it touched upon what we went through when COVID-19 was on the very tip of the ice berg and we didn’t know what to do.

I did like the characters, I found them endearing and actually very relatable. I think we could see a lot of ourselves in Jonah and how he dealt with his constant anxiety and how it peaked over these unknown times. I liked Maxine as well and I liked how very… real her relationship was with her family and her friends, how they talked over Zoom and how she still had to work with her job as a groceries attendant.

The plot was nice and all but it seemed to lack some sort… substance? It seemed very… empty, I guess you could say. Half of it was plot, and half of it was these two teens trying to build a kind of romance over Zoom which I must say was very different and I liked the concept a lot but I think the way it was executed was not for me.

However, I do think that now with everyone’s gotten to learn to live during the pandemic and how we’re all very used to it, it would make everyone nostalgic for those times when we were just beginning with COVID-19. I think that teens would enjoy this book, especially when COVID-19 is over, future teens can get a glimpse of what we lived like during those times :))

That’s all for my review! Thank you so much for stopping by and I promise to upload more content in the future ❤

Stay safe and stay healthy! I appreciate you all 😀 ❤

Jan

ARC Review: Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta- Two Sapphics Killing Mechas for a Good Ol’ Time

Hello everyone! Long time, no blog post (T_T)

So sorry, so sorry life has been getting in the way and I’ve been so behind on my ARCs and reviews that I just want to scream now haha!

But of course, since I’ve been anticipating this book for so long by a very cool friend of mine, I am back to give my thoughts! (╹◡╹)♡

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta has been a much anticipated read for me this entire year and I am so thrilled to be a part of the #GearbreakersTour !

Without further ado, let’s get started with my review!

Title: Gearbreakers

Author: Zoe Hana Mikuta

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Release Date: June 29, 2021

pre-order here!

goodreads | book depository | barnes & noble

Synopsis

Two girls on opposite sides of a war discover they’re fighting for a common purpose–and falling for each other–in Zoe Hana Mikuta’s high-octane debut Gearbreakers, perfect for fans of Pacific Rim, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, and Marie Lu’s Legend series.

We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead...

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer–as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more… 

Gear up Gearbreakers, you’re in for a wild ride.

Ahaha… Zoe bestie you didn’t just… end the book like that… you ended me.

ANYWAYS, I went into this book completely blind only knowing a few details. Sapphics, mechas, and Gearbreakers.

I really had high hopes for this book and I was expecting k wording some mechas, some rich enemies to lovers beef, and two girlbosses ready to go at it at each other’s throats and can I just say… I was well fed.

This book was an absolute ride and I’ve loved so many parts of it! The pairing of Eris and Sona and how they slowly came to be after being subtle enemies, the family dynamic between Eris and her sister Jenny and the rest of their Gearbreaker squad and I absolutely loved those badass mecha killing scenes. It was a rush and such a thrill to go through and I am in absolute pieces of what this book has done to me.

It starts off kind of slow, introducing the world and the characters, Eris and Sona and where they fall into this war but then about 100 pages in, it really takes off. There’s action after action and two Asian rep MCs in a dystopian world with mechas and gods and deities and it was all very interesting to read!

I had issues following along where the plot was going, but then I realized how very much character driven this book was. I loved how Zoe wrote characters that were still trying to figure out their identity and how this war came to be a part of it. How Eris and Sona had this drive inside of them to keep going and how they continued learning more about each other every day. I especially love how Sona is trying hard to come to terms with who she is. Part bot, and part of her trying to realize how flawed the system in which she was raised in was. There was very strong character development for Sona and I admire how Zoe wrote her character and I’m excited for more things to come!

At the end of all this, I get painted with the big picture. Teenagers stuck in the middle of a war with no one else to run to except for each other, and that alone is what I love about Gearbreakers.

The start was a bit rocky and slow, but things really start picking up midway that you’re left with wondering what else is going to hit you. Especially the end. Oof, I still have not recovered.

Thank you so much for stopping by for my review friends! I hope you’re all staying safe and well ❤

Jan.

april wrap up | a mix of spring depression and sarcasm

Hello everyone! My name is Jan and welcome back to another blog post  ◝(ᵔᵕᵔ)◜ ♥

I’ve lowkey disappeared off of the face of the earth because seasonal depression rlly do be a thing and I’ve been taking a hiatus off of social media so that my mental health could take a break but I reminded myself how much I loved blogging and making videos so I’m here to do just that 🙂 ♥

It’s finals season and I uploaded a cafe study with me to hold you accountable to study 😡 go watch it right now!!!

Anyways… without further ado, let’s get on with what I’ve read and loved in April

Books

In April I read about 7 books which is pretty impressive in my opinion because the most books I would read in a month would probably be about 4, so I’m just proud of myself in general 🙂

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

The Atlas Six was the first book that I finished in April after seeing it float around twitter for the longest time and… can I just say… what the actual heck was that… I ENJOYED IT DON’T GET ME WRONG BUT I felt like it was too big brained for me and I had no idea wtf was going on half of the time :(( I think I’m going to re-read it later this year when my brain if off dumb bitch autopilot.

One of the reasons why I picked The Atlas Six up was because of the stunning art I keep seeing float around twitter like look at it!!! Are you KIDDING me?!

goodreads | amazon |

I also have a reading vlog regarding every single thought that ran through my head while reading this book! If you want to see me doing writing sprints with my friends, reading sprints with Ren, and complain in general, check out my reading vlog! I’ve been thinking about doing weekly reading vlogs and I really enjoy doing it 🙂

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2) by Holly Black

To be honest I have been taking my sweet time with this series after hearing my friend Ren read this series and I’ve been taking one month to finish one book and I think that my high for the fairy aesthetic has slowly faded away, but I still think this story was interesting enough! I don’t know what it is with me and toxic men with dark hair but I can’t stop reading about them!!

goodreads | book depository | amazon | barnes & noble

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

Last month I received an ARC to review Black Water Sister by Zen Cho and I absolutely ATE it up. A stressed zellenial fighting ghosts and bickering with the spirit of her hilarious Ah Ma? Sign me TF up!!! I reviewed this recently and the post is now up on my blog so be sure to check it out 🙂

blog post | goodreads | book depository | amazon | barnes & noble

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

I love fairytale re-tellings (and I’m writing one right no) and my heart has a soft spot for Peter Pan and Wendy Darling as they have been childhood favorite characters of mine and the fact that I finally read a re-telling of my favorite duo made my soft heart become so much more softer. This re-telling was soft and refreshing and great twist to the Peter Pan story that I hold very dear to my heart. It was so cute and I honestly would d word for Peter Pan 😦

goodreads | book depository | amazon | barnes & noble

The Grishaverse Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo

Seeing that the show was so close to premiering, I absolutely HAD to read the series before watching the show and I’m surprised that it’s taken me this long to do so since I was in love with YA fantasy when I was in high school. I know a lot of people say that this series was the worst and that the Six of Crows duology is SOOO much better but after reading this I couldn’t help but??? Enjoy it??? I really should’ve read this series before I read Six of Crows bc it helped so much with the world building and the magic system that I was so helplessly confused with in SOC. I can definitely see where people say that this series is “all right” but I think I liked it more than I thought I would? Can I just say F*CK the Darkling fr?? I don’t understand why people ship him and Alina LMAO. I honestly love Alina and Mal and I would d word for them 😦 A reading vlog is coming soon for this trilogy so be sure to keep an eye out for that !!!

Media ♡ 

I don’t think I consumed that many shows or anything in April except for binging two seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and the entire Shadow & Bone show in one sitting jjsfjakjsf

Grey’s Anatomy has always been a guilty pleasure show for me ever since I was in high school and since I was in the medical program back then, and re-watching this show now in my 20s makes me realize how much I missed this. Mark Sloan and Lexie Grey have my whole heart 😦

Other than Grey’s Anatomy I also binged the Netflix show Shadow & Bone after reading the Grishaverse trilogy and can I just say f*ck the Darkling me and the homies hate the Darkling!! I won’t lie that Ben Barnes is certainly attractive but I must say that my bias has got to be Jesper, I l word him so much ❤

Also I want to talk about the Crows!!! I love the Crows so much and seeing them in action made my heart so full. I truly think Freddie did an amazing job portraying the infamous Kaz Brekker. Jesper and Inej were amazing as well and I simply love with all my heart. Kit as Jesper was simply EVERYTHING!!! HE IS SO FUNNY!!!! I LOVE HIM!!!

Also the way the producers and writers set up the story for the Crows is like… amazing, it made me so excited for the second season. When Matthias and Nina were introduced bro… stop. I was always confused when Matthias first saw Nina in the Ice Court and started ch*king her and seeing the reason why Matthias did what he did… dude….

I still need to re-read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom and a reading vlog will soon be up about that so be on the look out! 🙂

Personal ☼☽

Safe to say that April was a good month to me but of course me and my dumb ass needs my brain to mess up everything for me and put me in a emotionally draining rut. Sometimes I wish my brain could just turn off for once like PLS!!!

Since my brain has decided to decrease my seratonin levels, I’ve decided to take a smol break off of my bookish socials since I realized that place was toxic for my mental health and I was comparing myself to every single person I was friends with and I think??? that I’m in a better place now that I’m focusing on myself? WOW the things that could happen once you’re off of social media folks… it’s crazy I highly recommend it.

Taking time off of social media has led me to reading and writing more, I spent more time with the people I care about (being said the sarangbaes and my besties Shan, Ren, Kianna and Azeemzoom and I dressed up Lao New Year with my family and celebrated with them ) and I’ve been journaling almost every night my feelings so I don’t go to bed with too much in my head. I forgot how therapeutic journaling was and I highly recommend it to everyone who tends to get highly overwhelmed with everything.

I also dyed my hair for the first HAHA. This is where my mental health has led me to… and I really like it 😀

May has been slightly better, I’ve just been studying for finals so I don’t know if I’ll read as much as I want to. NCT Dream came back with a new album!! Everyone stream Hot Sauce for clear skin ❤

Thank you all for stopping by, I hope you’re well and okay ❤

Jan

black water sister ARC review

“A stressed zillenial lesbian fights gods, gangsters, & grandmas in 21st century Penang” – Zen Cho

Honestly… SAY LESS

Hello everyone! My name is Jan, and welcome back to another blog post ◝(ᵔᵕᵔ)◜ ♥

After I saw the cover of Black Water Sister floating around Twitter, I knew that I MUST read it, I mean seriously it is GORGEOUS. Aftering hearing about a “stressed zillenial lesbian” who fights gods, gangsters and grandmas in Penang, I knew that I was automatically going to be hooked. I absolutely love stories that include ghosts and gods, especially if those ghosts and gods embody a Malaysian grandma with an attitude.

Without further ado, let’s get on with the review!

Title: Black Water Sister

Author: Zen Cho

Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Release Date: May 11, 2021

pre-order here!

goodreads | book depository | barnes and noble |

Synopsis

A reluctant medium discovers the ties that bind can unleash a dangerous power in this compelling Malaysian-set contemporary fantasy.

Jessamyn Teoh is closeted, broke and moving back to Malaysia, a country she left when she was a toddler. So when Jess starts hearing voices, she chalks it up to stress. But there’s only one voice in her head, and it claims to be the ghost of her estranged grandmother, Ah Ma. In life Ah Ma was a spirit medium, the avatar of a mysterious deity called the Black Water Sister. Now she’s determined to settle a score against a gang boss who has offended the god–and she’s decided Jess is going to help her do it.

Drawn into a world of gods, ghosts, and family secrets, Jess finds that making deals with capricious spirits is a dangerous business. As Jess fights for retribution for Ah Ma, she’ll also need to regain control of her body and destiny. If she fails, the Black Water Sister may finish her off for good.

CW: attempted rape, homophobia, racist microaggressions

I jumped into this completely blind except for the fact that the mc is sapphic and she fights ghosts with her grandma and can I say… I was well fed!

Jess was a character I could see a lot of people relating to- the type of character that’s basically stressed out about life in general and had no idea what was going in her life.

She is a closeted sapphic who is a recent college graduate and moves back to Malaysia with her parents not knowing what to do next. Moving back to Malaysia is a bit of a culture shock since she lived in the US all her life. She tries to adapt back to the culture and language and has even more stress upon her tightening relationship with her girlfriend. Just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, she becomes haunted by a ghost. That ghost more specifically being her grandmother.

Her grandmother is back and as witty and sarcastic even as a ghost. Her Ah Ma refuses to move onto the afterlife and she needs Jess’s help to get revenge on gangster Ng Chee Hin on behalf of the goddess Black Water Sister.

Even typing her name sounds cool af.

This book goes back and forth from having hilarious scenes between Jess and her Ah Ma, trying to figure what to do next and fighting ghosts, I found myself having a lot of fun reading this! I’m not Malaysian myself but I learned a lot about the culture and the folklore which were all very interesting to read!

This story has it all from fighting goddesses and ghosts, gangster gang rivalry, family secrets, a witty and fun grandma that isn’t afraid to speak her mind. While I enjoyed the story, I wished I got more explanations and more background about the culture and language as a reader who is not Malaysian myself. But I still enjoyed the book nonetheless!

Black Water Sister was a very fun and interesting book to read! If you’re the type of reader that loves ghost stories and fun adventures with a stressed zellenial who has no idea what the heck is going on, then you’ll absolutely love Zen Cho’s stunning book.

Thank you for stopping by for my review! I hope you’re all staying safe ❤

Jan

march wrap up | my spring days

Hello everyone! My name is Jan and welcome back to another blog post ◝(ᵔᵕᵔ)◜ ♥

Welcome back to my blog! I haven’t been posting a lot because I’ve been absolutely swamped with school work and other things 😦 On the bright side, I’ve been filming a lot more for my channel and I’m excited for you guys to see it! I’ve been trying to do weekly reading vlogs and I’ve been having a lot of fun filming them, it would mean a lot if you guys checked out my channel :,)

Today I have brought you my march wrap up (I still need to film my march wrap for my channel but I thought I would get closer with you all in a blog post with what I’ve read and loved in March :,) )

Without further ado, let’s get started!

March was surprisingly a really chill month for me. I spent the majority of that month, reading, writing, talking to my friends and going on picnics! It’s been a very much needed slow and therapeutic month for me and I actually got a lot of work done!

I’ve been focusing a lot more on my writing and my books, and I feel like I’ve been really productive with that! I can only thank my friends Ais and Trin for holding me accountable whenever we read or write together LOL.

I think March was a really good month for me because I was surrounded by positive vibes, good friends and good books. I started journaling more often and it’s definitely helped my mind space 🙂

Reads

In total I’ve read 4 books, which isn’t a lot but I’m proud of myself for reading that much! (There are more books and short stories that I’ve read for class but this isn’t a discussion post about them so I won’t bore you with those details.) The books I read were AMAZING! All of them have been books that I’ve been anticipating this year or books that my friend Ren recommended for me to read and they were all just great.

What I read in March

Chain of Iron has been a book that I’ve waiting to read FOREVERRRR. Even though CC has her *moments* I’ve been really invested in the Shadowhunter Chronicles ever since I was in high school. I’ve grown attached to the characters and I’m in too deep. This book messed me up (in a good way of course!) The angst, the fight scenes, everything hooked me in from beginning to end and I can’t wait for the last book next year. How will I survive 😦 At first I was contemplating on doing a blog post for this CHOI alone but if you want to know my thoughts more in detail, click on the link above and check out my reading vlog! It contains a lot of crying and a lot of pain 😦

XOXO by Axie Oh was a gift that my friend Mari over @ macnbooks gave me after she saw that I’ve been wanting to read ARC for so long and I can honestly say… I did not like this as much as I wanted to. I feel like if I was younger in high school then I would absolutely eat this book up, but since I’m not anymore… the y/n agenda was simply too strong for me. I still really enjoyed this! I feel like it’s a book that my little sister would enjoy because she likes KPOP as well as I do 🙂 Still a really enjoyable and easy read!

As you probably already know, The Ones We’re Meant to Find has been a book that I’ve been wanting to read FOREVERRR. Once I finally received an ARC I was… screaming. At first I just thought this book was a LOST meets WE WERE LIARS but I was pleasantly surprised and shook once I saw the Black Mirror aspects come in. I could go on and on about this book but if you would to know my thoughts in more detail, check out my ARC review here.

I don’t know what’s been up with me lately, but so far I have been absolutely loving the fairycore/cottagecore aesthetic like there’s no tomorrow? Which is really weird because I do not fw the ACOTAR series at all even though that was the first fairy book I’ve actually… read. BUT my friend Ren somehow managed to convince to read The Cruel Prince and for some reason… I cannot… put it down? I’ve been seeing the names Jude and Cardan circling around twitter for the longest time and I’ve always wondered who tf they were and finally… I found out. I DON’T KNOW WHY BUT I RLLY LIKE THE “I HATE EVERYONE BUT YOU” TROPE LIKE… I’M ABSOLUTELY TRASH. I’m surprised to say that this book was actually pretty good! I actually really liked it!

(Also look at the art of Cardan and Jude like… ABSOLUTELY INSANE…)

Films

I didn’t really watch a lot of shows or movies this month because I was mostly focusing on books, but I still watched a good amount of film!

Okay first of all.. Penthouse… I’ve never been so invested in a kdrama like this one before. I think the last kdrama where I was hooked hooked was True Beauty and Extraordinary You. I never thought I would be so drawn into this kind of drama. Penthouse is way more mature than dramas I would usually watch. Normally I would watch wholesome, light-hearted and romantic dramas, I would’ve never thought that I would watch a drama so mature. The characters are all so interesting, their each individual plot lines have me hooked. And the overall PLOT itself is just amazing. This show really emphasizes on what privilege and power can get you, how, no matter who you are in the world, even if you’re the most toxic man to EARTH (*cough cough Joo Dan Tae) as long as you have money, you are unstoppable.

You all probably know that I am the type of person that doesn’t like any main character whatsoever and boy… Do I hate each and every character in this show. Except Shim Suyeon and Logan Lee and Bae Rona, but that’s pretty much it. Every single character in here is toxic, manipulative and they have their evil tendencies, but that’s what I LOVE.

I honestly can go on and on about this show, but I have a lot of things to say in this blog post, so maybe another time :,)

Another show I binged was the second season of Love Alarm! Ren and I watched every single episode together and it was so much fun texting each other and screaming about what was happening LMAO. Me and Ren are the type of people to hate the main mcs and main love interest and it was hilarious yelling at each other what was going on and who we hated and who we didn’t LMAOO.

I’ve also binged all four seasons of Big Time Rush in two days and… I have no regrets. I forgot how good the show was and how much I loved BTR’s music. There are no skips on their discography, I love them all so much! I became really nostalgic watching Big Time Rush again, I miss those times where I was a kid watching iCarly, Victorious and Big Time Rush over and over again. My bias was either Kendall and Logan LMAO. Who was your bias?

I really wished Lucy and Kendall ended up together. But anyways…

Personal

March was a really good month for me mentally! I got really close with some new friends and I went on very much needed therapeutic picnics with my friends from high school ❤

(I also want to mention that I got a 99/100 on my first exam for my literary theory and criticism class last month and I’m still SHOOK and really proud of myself :D)

All of my friends have been really supportive of my blog and channel and they told me that they’re all subscribed to me (even my best friend’s bf LOL) and that honestly makes me really happy! They’ve been helping me with my new books n looks concept that I’m trying to do on twitter now 🙂

I went to cali with my friends for spring break and we had a small road trip and just had a really fun time with each other :,) (you can watch clips of my smol break in my newest reading vlog!) We were all safe during our trip and spent time at the beach, melrose, and K-Town 🙂 I’m vv happy with my group of friends, they’ve all made my heart so whole ♥ (*I love you sarangbaes)

Also during spring break, I’ve been doing daily writing sprints with my friends Ais and Trin and we’ve all been writing and brainstorming ideas together for the #BIPOCFairytaleRetelling anthology submission and I’ve been having the best time writing and vibing with them (even tho they made me feel like I only have one brain cell). Being in the book and writing community has led me to have so many wonderful friends and I’ve created the best memories with them 🙂

March was a really wonderful and much needed month for me. I considered it to be one of my healing months because I actually had a really nice time.

That’s all for today’s post! Thank you so much for stopping by, I hope this month is wonderful to you all and I hope you read some amazing books 🙂 I post on channel my every Saturday and there’s a new blog post up every Tuesday!

Be sure to follow my Twitter for more bookish and annoying tweets as well as my Goodreads for bookish updates and more 🙂

Here are also some important links and resources that you need to be aware of:

anti-asian-violence-resources

info on the hijab ban in france

blacklivesmatterALWAYS

important resources & info

Stay safe,

Jan.