blogging · collabs · shanti · Shar

Books in June and the future of Virtually Read

We’ll be back in June, we said, confidently, in April. It is now July, and it has been far too long without a Virtually Read blogpost. It took about six weeks for me (Shanti) to feel like writing about books again. I had been in a bit of a book slump, but perhaps slower reading is my new normal. I saw Shar a few weeks ago, and we’ve realised that with what we’re committed to offline at the moment, posting at the same rate we used to is not possible. But we’re still reading, and we still care about reading, and we still want to write about reading. What will this mean for Virtually Read? We’ll break it down a bit here.  Continue reading “Books in June and the future of Virtually Read”

collabs · features · shanti · Shar

Tis the season of rereading–plot summaries or plot forgeteries?

Hi Virtually Readers! Have you been following our wildly popular (lol) blog series ‘tis the Season of Rereading? It is Christmas eve here and the air is slightly smoky from the fire and my cheeks are warm from mulled wine. Shar and I have created a fun feature where we summarise the books that the other person has reread to see what we remember. (Ingo technically was not part of the series but Shar had read it and not the Madeliene L’Engle books). Just know that there are spoilers for Ingo, the Wouldbegoods, Strange the Dreamer, and City of the Beasts; if you don’t want to know what happens or hear possibly incorrect versions of such, then click through to the normal posts! (For more thoughts, see Is it worth reading something if we won’t remember it? or Books Shanti Remembers) Continue reading “Tis the season of rereading–plot summaries or plot forgeteries?”

blogging · books · collabs · discussions · features · shanti

Our Fourth Blogoversary!

It’s our blogoversary! Shar and I have been writing about books for 4 years on this little site, and we’ve changed a lot over that time, and hopefully gotten better at writing. We’re going to sort of interview each other about it to celebrate, because writing posts together is fun. This is definitely something to celebrate, and we’re so glad to be here to do it!

Continue reading “Our Fourth Blogoversary!”

book review · books · collabs · shanti · Shar

I Believe in a Thing Called Love co-review

Hi Virtually Readers! Shar and I recently read I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a contemporary YA book about a girl who tries to get the guy of her dreams by following steps gleaned from K-drama. Neither of us watch K-Drama, but that’s not an obstacle to enjoyment of the book—everything is pretty well explained, and it’s entertaining even if you don’t know the tropes. We thought we’d review it together because co-reviews are fun. Shanti is normal type, Shar is italics. Continue reading “I Believe in a Thing Called Love co-review”

blogging · books · collabs · shanti · Shar

End of Year Book Survey 2016

Hi Virtually Readers! You may have noticed that 2016 is over, and we’re doing the End of Year bookish survey again, hosted by Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner. This, by the way, is a really long post, but I’m breaking it up with a few random covers of books we mention. Shar is normal text, and I’m italics. You  can also read our post from last year.

2016 survey.jpg
Image credit to Jamie @The Perpetual Page Turner.


Number of books read: According to goodreads (i.e. novellas are counted) 178, but it’s probably about 186 because Anne of Green Gables wasn’t counted.

More than 82. I don’t use goodreads, but I wrote it down on my calendar. However, I only started that in April, and I know I read books in the first few months of the year, so I’m guessing at least 90, maybe 100.

Number of rereads: exactly 20!

11 that I recorded

Genre read the most from: Contemporary with about 100, but this is an iffy counting because it includes nonfiction and urban fantasy and I don’t really know how I do my goodreads shelves tbh.

I think it’s contemporary, although that’s not because it’s my favourite genre and more that I read fluffy books crazy fast (I just get addicted somehow? It doesn’t really make sense).


1. Best book of 2016: This is really hard, but I’m going to say that its a tie between Salt to the Sea and Faking It and Seraphina and The Sun is Also a Star.

*forgets every single thing she read this year* ummmm, Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Catcher in the Rye, Fahrenheit 451, and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (sorry, every single book I missed

2. Book you thought you were going to love more but didn’t: Our Chemical Hearts. I was really looking forward to this book because I thought it’d be all about making friends and doing newspaper, but instead it was a failed attempt to subvert the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Trope.

AAAA I don’t know maybe The Star Touched Queen? I have yet to finish it. It was basically VERY confusing. Also Cloudwish

3. Most surprising (in a good or bad way): Poisoned Apples. I just read it because it was in the library and looked fun, but it ended up being magical poetry with modern and fairytale elements, and it was so feminist, and inspired my creative writing class to write for a cause!

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. I thought it’d be cliche, but instead it was super awesome and focused on friendship.

4. Book you pushed the most people to read: Maybe the Sun is Also a Star? I only read in in November, on the magical audiobook, but it was superb, and I loved how philosophical it was. I’ve told a lot of people, not limited to many bloggers, my Indian lit class, and some of my friends to read this book. Also The Old Kingdom

I don’t know. Blogging friends, you tell me.


5. Best series started in 2016? Best sequel of 2016? Best series ender of 2016?

Best sequel was definitely Fire (from the Engelsfors trilogy, not the Kristin Cashore ones). It was so awesome and all about friendship and saving the world, and just a whole different level to the first book. Best beginning was probably To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, because I really like Lara Jean, and best series ender…. Hmmm, I didn’t read that many series this year that weren’t rereads (okay, that could just be my imagination)… The Winners Kiss.

I don’t know how to answer this… well, I’ve really enjoyed The Raven Boys series so far, I loved P.S I still Love You even more than To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and What’s a Girl Gotta Do? was a great series ender (except there’s another book, so it doesn’t count, and also this was the last book I read in 2016 so I’m totally just saying the first thing that comes to mind)

6. Favourite new author you discovered in 2016? So many authors! I guess I would say Ruta Sepetys…. My friend Anna has been pushing me to read her books for a while, so I got Out of the Easy, and then listened to Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea on audiobook, and all were amazing.

Becky Albertali, because Simon is like the coolest thing ever

7. Best book from a genre you don’t normally read/out of your comfort zone? I loved some nonfiction this year. Alex’s Adventures in Numberland and The End of Night were both really good.

I was trying to read a lot of classics (also nonfiction but that…. didn’t happen). I loved The Catcher in The Rye and Fahrenheit 451. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller I read for school, but I liked it.

8.Most Action Packed/ Uputdownable book of 2016? I would say A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows. Persepolis.

9. Book read in 2016 that you are most likely to reread in 2017? These would be the books that I reread really regularly: The Old Kingdom books, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Chanda’s Secrets, maybe Fangirl, The Montmaray Journals…

Probably the Lara Jean books, because of Always and Forever Lara Jean coming out.

10. Favourite cover of a 2016 book? Probably The Sun is Also a Star, or maybe Passenger. Soooo lovely.

The Star Touched Queen, while confusing, is GORGEOUS.

11. Most memorable character of 2016? Elsie, from the Art of Not Breathing, because she was stupidly determined, and Celia and Marcus (they’re kinda the same) from The Night Circus, and Tim from The Boy Most Likely to.

Miles from Made You Up, and the main character whose name I’ve forgotten from More Than This.


12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016? This is SO HARD because I read lots of beautiful books this year. I really loved how beautiful A World Without You was..and the story is also tragically magical.

I loved the writing of All The Light We Cannot See, even though the over-description occasionally bored me.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016? Again, this is really hard to say, because I don’t know how to evaluate a life changing book. But This Changes Everything, whcih I read twice for two different classes, made me think lots about global warming and capitalism, and The Inside of Out and The Wrong Side of Right made me think about how to speak out. I also love the Spinster Club Trilogy for this reason.

I only read/reread these this month, but I’m a forgetful munchkin. Anyway, I really liked When We Wake and While We Run. It dealt with so many things, from refugees to military to bioethics and SO GOOD.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? Seraphina and Something Real are utterly different books, but I loved both of them. They were published a few years ago, but were right up my alley.

The Intern. I heard SO MANY  great things about this when it was first released, and it took me so long.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016? SO MANY…except my problem is that I don’t keep all of the quotes I love in one place. But I love “Fighting is not the only way you can be strong.” from A Wicked Thing and “It was like he was trying to navigate a new country where there was no such thing as the ground” from the Winners Kiss. If I had a proper cataloging system, maybe something would stand out. I Have. No. Clue. And. I’m. Too. Lazy. To. Look.

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Shortest was probably the Wrath and the Dawn estory, The Crown and the Arrow, that was like 9 pages, and longest was The Key. I read the electronic version, but the actual thing is well over 800 pages.

The shortest might have been Poisoned Apples, the longest maybe Alex’s Adventures in Numberland (based on it’s thickness, at least-there were a lot of diagrams)(we’re not counting my chem textbook right?)

17. Book that shocked you the most:

Probably The Secret Chord. This is like a novel version of King David, told from his prophet Natan’s point of view, and it really makes you realise how brutal and bloody and unfair the Old Testament is.

The Hunt by Andrew Fukada. It’s very bloody because it’s a vampire book, but the awesomeness was just as surprising.


18. OTP of the year?

Alice and Tim in The Boy Most Likely To.

SOOOOOOOOOOOO many aaaaaaa. Lila and Kell, for sure.

19. Favourite non romantic relationship of the year?

Moana and Maui from Moana. (shar, that’s a movie)

Dashti and Saren from Book of a Thousand Days have a really interesting relationship.

20. Favourite book you read in 2016 from an author you’ve read before?

I loved The Scorpio Races, although I hated Shiver a lot when I read it.

The Forbidden Wish from Jessica Khoury was AMAZING
21. Favourite 2016 book that you read solely based on a recommendation/peer pressure?

Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, because Elizabeth @Musings from Neville’s Navel said it was hilarious. She was right.

I can’t remember. (Really, this post should be retitled ‘Shar Attempts to Remember What She Read in 2016 But Fails). Shanti tells me to read a lot of stuff (basically she’s my guinea pig and read stuff before I do then tells me if it’s good) and one of those was Made You Up.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

I love Liam from Behind The Scenes.


23. Best 2016 debut you read?

I clearly don’t pay much attention to whether things are debuts or not, but I guess The Crown’s Game was pretty entertaining.

I really liked Bookishly Ever After.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The setting of The Night Circus was absolutely enchanting and absorbing.

I really liked the setting of The Game of Love & Death.


25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Unexpected Everything was so fun and clever and enchanting.

Most fluffy books do. I certainly liked Fangirl (Honestly, this post should be retitled ‘Shar remembers everything she read in December, no other books make the survey’)

26.  Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

I have a whole goodreads shelf called ‘made me cry’, but I have to say that the honour goes to The Serpent King. I was sobbing in public after I had just done a 10 k race and some people were concerned and I was like ‘it’s my book’.

Me Before You. I was lying on the couch crying at the end and my mother’s coworker was there and made so much fun of me it was terrible.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. I thought it’d be cliche, but instead it was super awesome and focused SO much on friendship and I should read the rest of the series.

The Pellinor cycle by Allison Croggon was a really absorbing fantasy series.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Aside from ones I’ve already mentioned, Am I Normal Yet wrenched my soul.

Stars Above because IT’S OVER. Also amazing.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

The Girl with All The Gifts has a really unique premise, and is executed splendidly.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone has this angel/devil/dystopia/war/real world mood which I haven’t seen a lot of. (This could go in the worldbuilding question too)

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

The Memory of Light, because Vicky’s family is SO unfair to her…or they’re just hopeless. But I really loved the story.

You Know Me Well annoyed me with the fact that it made about zero sense and all the characters did dumb things and yeah.

Book/blogging life

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2016?

Actually, this a booktube, though they also have a blog: I love Heart Full of Books, because they’re really thoughtful and diversity advocates and twins.

I really like Rain from Ivyclad Ideas. (Also other people, but see: forgetful munchkin)

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2016?

Probably my review of A World Without You

My review of The Lost Girl, because I talked about why the Indian setting bothered me.


3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

The one about Just Another Chapter syndrome. Also, I feel like I may have discussed diversity at some point…

I’m really proud of Why are We Obsessed with World War TwoWhy are We Obsessed with World War Two

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

We didn’t really go to any events this year, but I loved the Book-tube-a-thons, and #TheThanksUGive

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2016?

Reaching 200 followers! And doing a THIRD year of ‘Tis the Season of Rereading, oh my goodness.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Balancing school, other things like music and exercise and friends, with reading and blogging.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

By views, it’s Are Favourite Books a Static Thing?

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Just Another Chapter Syndrome. I actually scheduled it while I was away and so then I guess it was easier to miss. Considering that, it actually did really well, but I wish it did better.

The Bookish Planet: The Paranormal City. I’m really proud of all the Bookish Planet posts, but people aren’t really into them 😦

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Bookstagram. I first stalked people without an account, and now I finally have one yay.

I really love the book community on twitter, I guess? Also, Cait’s society 6 store.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I wanted to read 10 nonfiction books. I think I read 4. But I did manage to read more than my goal of 3 classics 🙂

I completed my goodreads goal of 150 books, and didn’t really have any other goals?

Looking ahead

1 . One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

I never managed to read Blue Lily, Lily Blue. It’s sitting on my iPod making me feel guilty.

I really need to finish Goldenhand! It is my eternal shame that I haven’t yet. 

3. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

Always & Forever, Lara Jean



3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Mmmmmm… When Dimple Met Rishi sounds good.

I second Shar!

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

Umm, A Conjuring of Light I guess? YES!!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

Get a new design and a blog button. I actually worked on a blog button then basically got bored, so hopefully I’ll get to that soon.

Explore and comment on more blogs! I feel like I want to get to know this community better 🙂

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

We don’t get arcs. Though maybe we should look into netgalley… I keep thinking I’ll do this and then not.

Okay, thanks for reading this HUGE post. What were some of the best parts of your 2016?

books · collabs · shanti · Shar · tags · Uncategorized

Book BFF Tag

A few days ago, I saw the ‘Book BFF’ tag on Heart Full of Books youtube channel. Given that Shar and I are twins and ‘book BFF’s’ I thought it would be fun if we joined in too. Basically, we have to guess each other’s favourite book or author in each of the groups. It may be a little confusing in written form, but it’ll be fine. Also, I feel too lazy to add links to all these books, so I just list the title and author. However, the categories of books that they had seemed sort of random, so I made up our own categories, because I’m divergent and I can’t be controlled.

book bff.jpg

Category 1: Favourite Fantasy Series

Shar said hers were Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling), Eragon (Christopher Paolini), and Percy Jackson (Rick Riordan). I (Shanti) said that Shar’s favourites were Harry Potter, so she was right.

I said that my favourites were The Old Kingdom Chronicles, by Garth Nix, and also Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. Shar said that my favourite was The Old Kingdom. Again, spot on. This was a pretty easy question, though, because we both like fantasy and read lots and lots of it.

Category 2: Favourite NZ/Au book

Shar said that her favourite were Karen Healey’s When We Wake and Lili Wilkinson’s Love-shy. I had a total mind blank and said any books by Fleur Beale, which was exceedingly stupid of me, because When We Wake was sitting on the shelf.

Anyway, my favourite New Zealandy books are the Dreamhunter books (very creepy) by Elizabeth Knox, and Montmaray Journals (by Michelle Cooper) and The Old Kingdom also. Shar totally guessed on this one and said Lili Wilkinson too. Not that I don’t like her also, she’s just not a favourite.

Category 3: Favourite Contemporary Author

Shar’s favourite contemporary authors and Jenny Han and Rainbow Rowell. I said Morgan Matson and Jenny Han, which was close enough.

My favourite contemporary author, in case you haven’t noticed the screeching, is Jenn Marie Thorne. Her books are still fairly new to me, but I love them an absurd amount. With a few wee hints from me, Shar got this one right.

Category 4: Favourite non-YA

Apparently, Shar’s favourite non-YA (or crossover) are Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, and The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger. I absolutely missed the bat on this one and said A Darker Shade of Magic, by VE Schwab. .

I wrote my favourites as The Secret Life of Bees (which is adult-ish) and The True Meaning of Smekday, which is MG and decidedly wonderful. Shar had no idea and said The End of Night, by Paul Bogard, which I also love, so she wasn’t wrong.

Category 5: Favourite Retelling

This was an easy peasy one: The Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer, all round. However, points also to A Curse Dark as Gold, The Forbidden Wish, Vicious (it is TOTALLY a Frankenstein retelling), The Weight of Feathers and A Wicked Thing.

Category 6: Favourite Historical Fiction

Shar doesn’t read that much historical, so I sort of gave her hints and we ended up both putting down The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak as her favourite one.

Mine was also pretty obvious: have you heard me tell you how FREAKING AWESOME The Montmaray Journals, by Michelle Cooper are before? They are such excellent books. (If you need convincing, go read this Tis the Season of Rereading review. Also, ‘Tis the Season of Rereading is almost upon us. Be excited!) There is so much great historical fiction out there: If I gave out second place, Ruta Septys would get a lot of credit.

Category 7: Favourite Royal Protagonist

So the problem with The Lunar Chronicles is that there are too many royal characters, which is to say that I said that Shar’s favourite would be Cinder, and she said Prince Kai, adding a lot of hearts after his name and a note saying ‘except he’s Cinder’s’.

Shar said that my favourites would be Winter (who I do love) or Sophia from Montmaray who absolutely wins as one of my favourite characters of all time. So we sussed eacho other out pretty well on this one.


Category 8: Favourite Boarding School Book

Shar said her favourite was White Cat (Holly Black) or Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger). I was utterly confused and wrote Harry Potter or Song of the Lioness (Tamora Pierce) for her. This was quite a random category, so maybe that’s why I was so long.

For my favourite boarding school books, Tamora Pierce’s Protector of the Small definitely wins. I love Keladry a ridiculous amount. Shar said that my favourite would be White Cat or the School for Good and Evil (Soman Chainani). Sadly, after the mess of the second book, my love for the School for Good and Evil has faded a little.

Category 9: Favourite Literary Family

I love families in literature, so I thought this would be a fun category. Shar said that her favourites were ‘The Weasley’s ?? Idek’ and I put down the Weasley’s for her also.

I said that my favourites were The Garrets (from My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick) and The Dregs, from Leigh Bardugo’s 6 of Crows, because they totally count as a family. Shar said Karou & co for me (from Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone) which is also true.

This tag was quite random, but a fun chance to look at some favourite books. I tag anyone who has a bookish BFF.