The Random Bibliophile

by Renee Alexis

Renee Alexis
20-something Filipina, an introvert who loves young adult fiction, brush pens, Taylor Swift, and BTS. Coffee runs in my bloodstream.


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2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Renee Alexis has read 0 books toward her goal of 30 books.

The Best Books I've Read in 2022

The Best Books I've Read in 2022 | Renee Alexis

Another year has gone by, and this random bibliophile is going to make an attempt to consolidate all my thoughts about the best books I've read this year. Just note that these books aren't published this year. They're just books that I read this year and happen to love so much.

2022 has been a fantastic year of reading, although I haven't read that many published works because my attention was on fanfiction this time. And if I think about it, I must have read a hundred (or more) AO3 fanfics and Twitter threads AUs!

And if I had to narrow it down to five titles, it would be The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, The Poppy War, The Shadow Glass, Where The Crawdads Sings, and Radio Silence. These books have kept me hooked up right from when I started them until I reached the last page of the final chapter. And as much of a fantasy lover that I am, I'm happy to report that my favorite reads are of different genres. 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

I heard so many good things about this Taylor Jenkins Reid book and if you know me, you'd know that I tend to put off reading books that are highly raved about just because I don't want to be pressured to read something that everybody is loving. I tend to get swayed by other people's reviews and there are a number of times that I am let down by books that are overhyped. So I let that initial high simmer down for a few years before I actually pick up the book. And oh boy, I was in for a treat! 

This book was well-written, the story is well-paced and very intriguing from the very beginning. The details are juicy and every chapter leaves you intrigued that it makes you want to proceed to the next chapter immediately. 

Some people say that this story was inspired by Elizabeth Taylor and I really don't know much about her but reading this book was a pleasure and I wish I could read it again for the first time.

Book Blurb:

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

The Poppy War

The Poppy War

This is the latest book I finished among this bunch and I just have to say that I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I've been in a reading slump for the last half of the year and this one managed to get me out of it. Imagine I read this one in just two days. TWO DAYS! It's a miracle when lately I've been struggling to finish books for weeks or more. But this one, this one was something else. I couldn't put it down. I was reading while having breakfast, I was reading while doing my business in the toilet, I was reading while working, and I didn't even let my phone distract me because I just wanted to devour every chapter because this book is AMAZING.

This was such a page-turner. The characters are intriguing and the plot is thrilling. The premise of this book was already interesting but when I really got into it, I found myself enthralled in its world. When I finished the novel, I immediately started book 2 because I was so invested in the story. Safe to say R.F. Kuang is becoming one of my favorite authors already.

Book Blurb:

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

The Shadow Glass

The Shadow Glass

This is the last installment for The Bone Witch trilogy and it really delivered! It was a great ending to the epic fantasy that Rin created and I was so moved when I reached the end. I enjoyed reading this book so much even if it took me some time to get through it. It was a great adventure, a splendid journey and I already miss all the characters very dearly, especially Tea.

Book Blurb:

In the Eight Kingdoms, none have greater strength or influence than the asha, who hold elemental magic. But only a bone witch has the power to raise the dead. Tea has used this dark magic to breathe life into those she has loved and lost...and those who would join her army against the deceitful royals. But Tea's quest to conjure a shadowglass, to achieve immortality for the one person she loves most in the world, threatens to consume her.

Tea's heartsglass only grows darker with each new betrayal. Her work with the monstrous azi, her thirst for retribution, her desire to unmask the Faceless—they all feed the darkrot that is gradually consuming her heartsglass. She is haunted by blackouts and strange visions, and when she wakes with blood on her hands, Tea must answer to a power greater than the elder asha or even her conscience. Tea's life—and the fate of the kingdoms—hangs in the balance.

Where The Crawdads Sing

Where The Crawdads Sing

This is another one of the books that I read so quickly. It was so gripping that I even stayed up late until the wee hours of the morning just to read it. The main reason why I picked this book up was because of Taylor Swift. A movie adaptation was released for this book and Taylor made and sang the OST. She promoted this one before it premiered and being a huge Swiftie, I just had to read the book first before watching the movie.

I think if you haven't read the book, you wouldn't understand when you first listen to Carolina. Here's a reading vlog I did for it and you can watch it if you wanna know my thoughts about the book. 😁


I haven't watched the movie yet as of now. I've listened to Taylor's soundtrack made for this movie and I heard that the movie itself was good but I'm just not in the mood yet to watch it. Maybe one of these days before the year ends? We'll see.

Book Blurb:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. Kya Clark is barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her.

But Kya is not what they say. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life's lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the dishonest signals of fireflies. But while she has the skills to live in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world—until the unthinkable happens.

In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a profound coming of age story and haunting mystery. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the child within us, while also subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

The story asks how isolation influences the behavior of a young woman, who like all of us, has the genetic propensity to belong to a group. The clues to the mystery are brushed into the lush habitat and natural histories of its wild creatures.

Radio Silence

Radio Silence

Last but not least in this list is this YA novel by Alice Oseman called Radio Silence. This was one of the standout books I've read this year because it was different from all the other YA books I've read before. Plus a podcast was a main thing in the story and I could relate because at the time that I was reading it, I was still actively creating new episodes for my own podcast. It was a nice read and I really liked the characters in it. I made a podcast episode talking about my thoughts about it, too. It just shows that I really liked this book! 

Book Blurb:

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has been a study machine with one goal. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside. Then Frances meets Aled, and for the first time she's unafraid to be herself.

So when the fragile trust between them is broken, Frances is caught between who she was and who she longs to be. Now Frances knows that she has to confront her past. To confess why Carys disappeared…

Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

Engaging with themes of identity, diversity and the freedom to choose, Radio Silence is a tour de force by the most exciting writer of her generation.

It was a wonderful year of reading. My Goodreads reading challenge may only have 20 books but I know I've read so many more if you add mangas and webtoons to the list. I hope I'll have an equally good reading year in 2023! xx


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