June 2020 Wrap-up

Reading Wrap-ups

I somehow read thirteen books in June. It’s surprising to me, too. I don’t want to write a long intro because I have a lot of books to talk about so before we get to the actual books, I’ll just give a few stats.

Rating:

3 five-star books

6 four-star books

2 three-star books

2 unrated books

Format:

6 physical books

5 eBooks

2 audiobooks

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I started Crazy Rich Asians at the end of May but didn’t finish it until June. I picked this up as an impulse buy at Harris Teeter and had a decent time reading it. I tell myself I don’t care about “rich people problems” but low-key I sometimes really do. I think Kevin Kwan did an excellent job mixing both superficial problems such as spending too much on outfits with more serious issues such as cheating and divorce. Speaking of Astrid, I really enjoyed her character, and I really wanted to see what would happen for her above pretty much any other character. I think the reason I didn’t completely love this book is because of the pacing. I feel like there were some really traumatic reveals at the end, and then the book was basically over. While the book is already pretty long, I still felt like there needed to be more. I realize this is a series, though, so it does set up for that really well.

I don’t really like rating non-fiction anymore, but I did generally enjoy this book. I listened to Gold Dust Woman on audiobook while playing Animal Crossing. This is another book that started in May and carried into June. This is a biography of Stevie Nicks, written by Stephen Davis. It goes through different stages of her career, including her time with Fleetwood Mac. As someone who hardly ever went to school and stayed home watching VH1 Classic documentaries all day, I enjoyed this book. I like learning about music and music history. I would definitely recommend the audio for this book, and others like it because the writing style can be a bit dry. It certainly made me more excited about Daisy Jones and the Six, which I will talk about later in this post.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Since I wrote a dedicated review for Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House here, I’ll try to keep this brief. I read this with a group of friends, and while I was reading it, I had a good time and initially gave it four stars. It was spooky, gripping, and well-written. As I continued to reflect on this book, though, I kept thinking about the significant number of trigger warnings and how some felt like they were added to push the “dark academia” aspect of the book. I also think Bardugo could have pushed the social commentary a little further since this book is intended for adults. It’s still a compelling read. I would recommend it if you want something a little creepy and dark but definitely check the trigger warnings because a lot is going on.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I think about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz a lot. It masquerades as a simple children’s story, but I am convinced there’s more to it. The glasses at the Emerald City are part of it, but there’s definitely more. I just can’t put my finger on it. I read this as the first prompt for the Make Your Myth Taker Readathon, which was to read a book featuring an animal. I wanted something easy, and since I’ve been wanting to read the entire Oz series, I figured this was a good excuse to start. I always have fun rereading the first book because I keep thinking about Baum’s commentary on our society and the nagging question: Is the book better? There are scenes in the book that aren’t included in the film that I really enjoy, but there’s something so nostalgic about the songs in the movie. Anyway, my rating is blinded by nostalgia, but I really like visiting Dorothy and Oz every once in a while.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I also wrote a review of Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, which you can check out here. I will briefly say that I really enjoyed this book. This is a YA contemporary romance and definitely not something I’ve been known to read. Still, I think the cover is so gorgeous, and our main character, Alice, is asexual and Black, and that isn’t a perspective I’ve read from before. I also was incredibly stressed and sad, and I just wanted something fun and cute. This definitely gave me that, but it also gave me some discussions on serious topics. I also didn’t find the characters too immature, which is something that sometimes happens in YA for me. Kann gave me just what I needed, and I highly recommend picking this book up.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My next audiobook for June was Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. I had such a fun time listening to this, and Gaiman does such a great job bringing his text to life. I read a ton of Greek mythology as a kid. Still, my only exposure to Norse mythology was through general pop culture references. Gaiman’s version was compelling and had an adequate infusion of comedy to keep me invested. I’d enjoy picking up the physical book because I’m sure I missed key points while folding laundry or playing videogames. But generally, I enjoyed this experience.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

For the second prompt of the Make Your Myth Taker Readathon, I read the manga adaptation of Ocarina of Time. This fulfilled the prompt to read a book with a foiled cover. This was also a nostalgic experience for me. Ocarina of Time was the first videogame I ever owned and had such much fun running around being bad at the game. I’ve played it a few more times as an adult, but revisiting it in this format was a first. I immediately picked up the DS remake of the game. If you know the game, it doesn’t add a ton, but it does have beautiful artwork. If you don’t know anything about the game, it’s a fun adventure story about Link trying to save a world he’s never really been to before. This made for a relaxing, fun afternoon.

White Rage is a non-fiction book by historian Dr. Carol Anderson. Anderson clearly shows that slavery didn’t truly end in the US, and it merely evolved. She writes in a way that is accessible to people who aren’t familiar with the subject, and while the subject matter is tough, it is relatively easy to follow what she’s saying. I was fortunate enough to go to a high school that taught some of these topics, but I still learned so much. I wish anyone who’s ever said “get over it slavery was 400 years ago” had to read this book. Even if you are familiar with the topics she covers, it is helpful to see in one text a timeline of how these systematic acts against African-Americans work to keep them from being successful. Required reading.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’ve had Daisy Jones and the Six on hold through Libby since April, and I thought it would be another couple of weeks before I get it, but it surprised me and became available early. I immediately started reading it and flew through it in two days. I LOVE this book. As someone who loves music documentaries of any kind, biographies about musicians, and Fleetwood Mac, this book really did it for me. I think the interview format was unusual and really added to the experience. I love the drama and the heartbreak and the rock ‘n’ roll of it all. Both Daisy and Billy had so much growth throughout the story. Camila and Simone added such great perspectives to the story as well. By including everyone involved with the band in the interviews, Taylor Jenkins Reid allows readers to see the story from all sides, and it’s always funny when characters contradict each other. It makes it feel so realistic. This book definitely didn’t disappoint.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I put The Hate U Give on hold through Libby way back in April. As June started, I still had a six-month + wait, so I went ahead and bought it during an impromptu trip to the bookstore. I’m so happy I finally got the chance to read it, and I’m even happier that so many people were requesting this book even before the protests sparked by George Floyd’s murder. This book looks at the impacts of police brutality and racial profiling on a community and individual level. Given that this book is YA, its ability to send this message to teens is incredibly essential. The characters feel real and will be relatable to a lot of teens, but they are also mature enough that it’s enjoyable for adults to read. I also think this book gives insight into many different challenges Black communities face and does these topics justice. It would be easy to gloss over a lot of things, but Thomas is sure to spend time exploring everything she brings up. I am glad this book exists. I read this and the next two books as part of a self-imposed 48-hour readathon, so if you want to see what that was like, you can read about it here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I grew up watching the LOTR films constantly. They’re still some of my favorites today. I read The Hobbit in middle school (and I don’t want to talk about those movies) but didn’t read the trilogy for the first time until high school. I haven’t read them since because I was scared I wouldn’t enjoy them as much this time around. I picked up The Fellowship of the Ring this month for the Make Your Myth Taker Readathon for the prompt to read a book featuring a magical battle. I can definitely say I still enjoy the experience of reading Tolkien. I did use an audiobook to read along with sometimes because I can have trouble focusing just in general, and that was really pleasant. I love reading about Frodo’s epic adventure, and his friendship with Sam is so wholesome. There were times when I would zone out some, and that could have just been me and where I’m at this year but overall, a great read.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling was my last book for the Make Your Myth Taker Readathon, and it fulfilled the prompt – read a book with occult themes. This book follows an elemental witch, Hannah, who has recently broken up with her girlfriend, Veronica. When they suspect a Blood Witch is in town, they have to work together to stop them. This book is equal parts witchy and dramatic, and I had a pretty okay time. I enjoyed the plot of this book and wanted to know what would happen next. I wanted to know what happened next. I think where this book lost me was with the characters. I didn’t feel super connected to them and didn’t even feel like I really got to know them (though Gemma was a delight). I was not a fan of the dynamic between Hannah and Veronica. Veronica is incredibly manipulative, and it was frustrating to read. I might pick up the sequel, but I’m not totally committed to it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I’m planning to write a more in-depth review of Home Before Dark by Riley Sager because I have so many feelings, but I’ll just say a little bit for now. This book follows Maggie, who has returned to her childhood home to prepare it for sale. Her father wrote a book about their time in the house, but she doesn’t remember any of it. When creepy things start happening again, Maggie must figure out the truth. I wanted to squeeze this into my month with two days left, and I did it! This book switches back and forth between present-day Maggie and chapters of her father’s book, which takes place twenty-five years earlier. I am a sucker for unusual narrative structures, and this was so fun to read. It was also terrifying; I kept thinking about snakes and ghosts and listening for sounds while I was reading. I don’t usually get scared from books (movies are whole other things entirely), but Home Before Dark really got me.

So, that’s all the books I read this month. I think I had a good reading month and enjoyed everything I read at least to some degree. Have you read any of these? What did you think? What did you pick up in June?

I participated in a self-imposed 48-hour readathon and here’s what happened

Reading Check-ins

I’ve been reading a lot this month but most of it was not on my initial June TBR. I am participating in the #MakeYourMythTaker Readathon but I also found so many other books I wanted to read that didn’t fit any of the prompts so I sprinkled them between my readathon books. That being said, on the 25th I wasn’t sure that I’d actually even finish the readathon at all. I had one and a half books left to read plus I was in the middle of another book I wanted to finish. So I set myself a challenge.

Thursday at 11:00 AM, I decided I would start a 48-hour challenge to see how much I could read. I needed to read half of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, half of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien, and get a good start on These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. 

I started the readathon by reading The Hate U Give. I was on page 200 and had about 240 pages to go. My goal was to finish the second half in one sitting. The plot was escalating and I was really invested in Starr and her journey. I completely forgot about lunch (which, to be fair, is VERY common for me) but around 2:30, I had to eat something. I took a fifteen-minute break to eat and then finished the book by 3:00. I really enjoyed this book and it was easy to sit and focus on. That’s a big issue for me; I’m not that great at focusing on one thing especially when my hands are still but this book really kept my attention particularly in the second half.

It was around this time two people in the hallway outside my apartment decided they were going to talk about politics and COVID for actual hours (“You watch. This virus will disappear as soon as the election is over”) so it was a perfect time to put on my headphones and read along with The Fellowship of the Ring audiobook. I like to read along with audiobooks especially when the text is a little dense or when I am generally having a hard time focusing on one thing and this method really helped me with The Fellowship this time around. I got through about 80 pages before I really needed to charge my phone so I took a little snack break and watched The Golden Girls

My partner asked if I wanted to ride to the store with him and we picked up dinner on the way home. By then it was 8:30. I only had about fifty pages of The Fellowship left so I listened to those. I love the ending of this book because it really gets you excited for what’s next. I hope I can get to the rest of the trilogy before too long!

I then immediately started These Witches Don’t Burn but I only read about 30 pages before I started falling asleep. I decided to put it down and fell asleep around midnight. I was certain that I could finish this book before the end of the 48 hours I’d allowed myself. I was feeling ambitious but confident. I was wrong.

The next morning, I read about 50 pages before I got in a mood. During the pandemic, I have been more prone to times where I will just zone out with the TV on and do absolutely nothing for hours. I did this yesterday. I was very aware that I was wasting time and accomplishing absolutely nothing. I felt bad about it but not bad enough to actually read, or write, or take an Instagram photo. I just sat there. Early in the evening, I did get a good chunk of reading done before having dinner. Afterwards, I read quite a bit more before feeling drained and I just sat around until I went to bed.

I had a few hours to read this morning and I took full advantage of them. I’m currently 73% through These Witches Don’t Burn and am very happy about that. I’ll definitely finish it before the end of the month and I *might* have time to start Home Before Dark by Riley Sager too.

So here’s what I learned. If I stay off social media, I can actually read a lot. Who would have known?!? I am really good at keeping up reading stamina for 24 hours but the second day is probably going to get me. I might start trying to dedicate 24 hour chunks to reading more often. When I go back to work in August, that will definitely not be possible as often but I do want to try as much as I can. 

PS – If you read all of this, you’re a saint and I appreciate you.

Make Your Mythtaker TBR June 2020

TBRs

I can’t believe it’s already almost June! Given the stay-at-home orders and the state of things, it doesn’t really feel like summer but I’m hoping I can start getting some sun while I read this month. My TBR isn’t exactly summery but it should be a lot of fun.

This month I’m participating in the #MakeYourMythtaker readathon! I’ve never participated in a readathon of any kind before but I figured that now is the time. I also don’t typically read a ton of fantasy so I’m trying to sprinkle some fantasy and fantasy-adjacent titles into my TBR. This readathon allows you to pick a path to become one of sixteen characters. There’s everything from assassins to oracles and opportunities to switch paths and create a rich backstory for your character. 

I went into selecting my TBR for this readathon by picking a few paths that interested me and seeing which ones I could accomplish with the books I already own and are in my apartment right now. Thankfully, the path of the witch works for me.

This image and others can be found in the description of the linked video above.

The first step in becoming a witch is to read a book featuring an animal. For this I chose The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

This book is about Dorothy, a farmgirl from Kansas, who is caught up in a tornado. It drops her and her house in Oz on top of a wicked witch. Now Dorothy must escape the witch’s wicked sister and return home to Kansas. Dorothy is accompanied by her dog, Toto, and the Cowardly Lion. Not to mention, there’s flying monkeys. Needless to say, this book features plenty of animals.

I read the first two or three books in this series when I was much younger and since it’s a fourteen book series, I’d like to one day complete them so I’m hoping that picking up L. Frank Baum’s first book is the Oz series, I will be inspired to get back into reading everything his world has to offer.

The second step in becoming a witch is to read a book with a foiled cover. For this prompt, I am picking up a manga – The Legend of Zelda: Legendary Edition, Ocarina of Time by Akira Himekawa. The titles and triforce on the cover are foiled.

This book tells the story of Link and his journey to find the triforce and save princess Zelda from the forces of evil. This manga is based on a video game franchise of the same name. Ocarina of Time was the first game I ever played on my Nintendo 64 and it sparked a lifelong love for Link and Zelda and their adventures. I have had this on my shelves for a bit and can’t wait to dive into the land of Hyrule in this new format.

The third step to becoming a witch asks me to read a book featuring a magical battle. This book might not contain a battle that’s as explicitly magical like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows but I’m going to make what might be a tiny stretch and read The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien.

This first book in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy follows Frodo and his journey to destroy the ring of power. Left to him by his uncle, the ring holds great power that could mean the end of the world if it falls into the wrong hands. Frodo must gather a group of friends who will help him complete this dangerous and difficult task. Wizards, hobbits, dwarves, elves, men, and more are represented in this classic fantasy.

I first read this book in fifth grade and have reread it once since then. Later on, the movies held a special place in my heart and I reread the series but I haven’t read them as an adult. I would love to go back to Middle Earth and reignite some of that nostalgia. 

The fourth and final step to becoming a witch is to read a book with occult themes. At first, I wasn’t sure I had anything to fit this prompt but then I remember I’d recently purchased These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling during a Kindle sale.

Hannah is an elemental witch living in Salem, MA who must keep her powers a secret or risk losing them. She’s also trying to avoid fellow witch and ex-girlfriend, Veronica. When there’s a threat from an incredibly strong witch, Hannah has no choice but to team up with Veronica to stop it.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about this book but I really want to give it a try. Queer witches? Count me in! I think it will have a nice balance of witchy magic and teen drama and I’ve definitely been in the mood for some lighter reads.

Apart from the Make Your Mythtaker Readathon, I’m reading my first Leigh Bardugo book, Ninth House with a group of friends. 

Like I said before, I don’t really read a lot of fantasy but this is our book for the month. I don’t know a ton about the plot of this book and want to go into it fairly blind but here’s a link to the Goodreads synopsis!

I try to only hold myself accountable for five books each month so I have some room to pick up other books based on my mood but I want to also loosely hold myself accountable for continuing the Percy Jackson series. I am reading the first book now and am really enjoying it. I am planning a blog post talking about my experience reading this series for the first time.

If you’re still reading, bless you. Here are my reading plans for June 2020. Have you read any of these books already? What did you think? Are you participating in either Make Your Mythtaker or any other readathons this month? What’s on your TBR? I’ve really been enjoying talking to people in the comments here or over on my Instagram so come chat!