It’s my first month off from teaching for the summer so I feel like I have SO MANY favorites from books to videogames to talk about because I’ve just been LIVING. As always, if you want to see more about the individual books I’ve read, check out my recent reads posts because I have more detailed reviews there.
Like I said in the intro, I’ve been reading a lot and while I didn’t have any new standout favorites, I did enjoy most of what I read. I’m going to talk about three things here. First, I want to talk about a book that took me by complete surprise, From Blood and Ash, by Jennifer L. Armentrout. After seeing this fantasy romance everywhere and DNF-ing ACOTAR earlier in the year, I was SURE I wouldn’t be reading this one. BUT THEN one of my best friends was like, you have to! You really have to! And when I saw it at my local bookstore, I thought it was fate so I picked it up. Is this a new favorite? No. Did I have problems with the story? Yes. Am I putting off reviewing it because I don’t know how? Absolutely. BUT I really had a fun time reading this story. I predicted a lot of the plot but I still had fun because of the angst and tension. I’ll be picking up the next book after the Clear Ur Shit Readathon in June so I’m pretty excited.
I also read Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala this month. I’ve never read a cozy mystery before but I’m definitely going to be reading more. I had so much fun with this story about a woman who is helping out at her aunt’s restaurant when her ex visits and suddenly dies in the restaurant. I know if doesn’t sound fun but the food, family, and friendship really made me happy especially over the backdrop of a small town. I really felt like the friendship between the main character and her best friend felt realistic and I’m excited to see what happens in the rest of this series.
Lastly, I’ve been continuing to read through the Blue Exorcist manga series. Wow. I know this story and it’s one of my favorites but this reread has been the exact fun I need. I am particularly drawn to the character development of Rin, the main character, and his relationship with his twin brother, Yukio. Oh yeah, Rin is the son of Satan, in case you’re interested. Seeing them both figure this out as exorcists, is fascinating. I’m currently reading volume 11 and around volume 8 or 9 is where this complicated dynamic is really starts to get interesting and the stakes feel a bit higher. I’ve forgotten some of the plot points because I haven’t read or watched this series in a while so while I’m still in rereading mode, it feels fresh in many ways. I think I’m approaching the point where I start reading volumes I’ve never read before and I’m really excited to see what this series looks like right now.
I have nothing to say about my monthly playlist. I’ve been into older music along with some relatively new tracks. I’ve also been listening to a couple of Last Shadow Puppets songs I included on my older playlists and didn’t want to feature them again but you should certainly check those out too. I’ll embed the playlist at the bottom of this post so you can listen if you want!
Also, I’ve been listening to the Sweet Boys Podcast and I know this part of the Sweet Boys Universe is over and I am devastated but if you want to watch/listen to all of it, I highly recommend. I linked to the YouTube channel because I suggest utilizing the visual component because it’s CHAOS and I love it. I know I haven’t explained anything about it but if you listen to the first episode, you’ll understand why. I can’t explain ANYTHING about it. Just listen.
I haven’t really been watching TV or movies because when I’m not reading, I’m playing video games. I’ve really been in a handheld mode so I’ve been playing Switch and DS. I’ve talked about most of the games I’m playing currently in previous posts but I have two new fun recommendations. First, I got Calico on the Switch. The link takes you to Steam because it’s also available on PC. This is a game where you create a magical girl character and you get to run a cafe and there’s tons of animals you can have live there. Oh and you can make the animals giant and you can ride on them to places. HOW FUN! I’m currently on a quest for new recipes and clothes.
I’ve also been playing the old and highly addictive Crafting Mama on the DS. The Mama game franchise is one of the few series where I feel the need to totally complete everything and once I start, it’s hard to stop. I am enjoying making the different crafts and trying to get perfect scores. I also have Cooking Mama 4 on the DS so I’m thinking about restarting that game when I finish Crafting Mama. I’m currently on the hunt for Gardening Mama because that sounds like a fun time, too. Also, if you want a laugh, please look up Babysitting Mama. I used to have it on the Wii but my brother and I didn’t have the GIANT stuffed baby that came with it so it was a hilarious time.
So what have you been enjoying this month? Don’t forget to check out my playlist for April!
In the month of April, I decided to try to read 30 volumes of manga in 30 days. I own a lot of manga and really wanted to make a dent in my collection. I decided to read the entirety of Tokyo Ghoul, the entirety of Death Note, and the first four issues of my favorite series, Blue Exorcist. I didn’t include these in my monthly favorites or my recent reads because I wanted to talk about them in their own post. This is that post. I know manga and comics don’t always do well in the book community, but I hope those of you that are interested will enjoy hearing my thoughts.
The first series I read through was Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida. This series follows Ken Kaneki who is living a pretty normal life; he loves books and hanging out with his best friend. But when an accident happens that leaves him half-ghoul and half-human, he must figure out how to survive in both worlds.
This series is one that I’ve been mildly interested in both in anime and manga form but just never picked up. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy it but the more I saw people talk about it, the more certain I became that it would be something I love. I treated myself to the manga boxed set earlier this year and when I planned a “30 days of manga” challenge for myself, I knew this had to be part of it. This series is phenomenal! It opens the door for discussions about good vs. evil and morality. I expected a horror series full of twists and turns and gore; I got that, but I also got so much more. I think what really added to my enjoyment the most was something that I didn’t think I would like – we get to follow both the ghouls and the humans whose job is to hunt the ghouls and that is what really leads to some further understanding of good vs. evil.
The characters really added to my enjoyment of this series, as well. Sui Ishida creates a few characters that really had me wanting to know everything I possibly can about them. The first character I was really drawn to was Uta. He’s a mask maker for ghouls and his character design alone was enough to hook me. Talk about FASHION. We don’t get a ton about him but I loved the things I was able to learn. I am also really interested in Juuzou Suzuya, the ghoul investigator. His backstory is brutal and heartbreaking and I really felt bad for him.
Overall, this series was so much more than I thought it would be and I am so glad I read each issue back-to-back so I could really immerse myself in the story. I hope to watch the anime at some point though I’ve heard mixed things.
The next series I picked up was Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba. I know a lot of people have an idea of what this series is about but I’ll still give a general synopsis. When Light finds a notebook that was dropped by a death god, he learns that any name written on the pages will die. He vows to use it to rid the world of evil but once the police and a detective, L, start trying to figure out what’s going on, Light has to become even more clever so that he can evade capture.
I received the all-in-one edition of Death Note for Christmas so I knew I wanted to include it in my 30-day manga challenge. The first four or five volumes were a reread for me but a particular plot twist made me stop reading the first time. I pushed through this time and while that specific twist didn’t bother me as much this time around, I still didn’t LOVE the series. In this story, you get to see both Light and the people who are trying to capture him and their thought processes unfold right before your eyes. In Tokyo Ghoul, that sort of dynamic really worked for me but here, I felt that I spent pages and pages reading characters figuring out things that the reader already knows. Sometimes it was interesting to see how they got there but other times, it was very tedious. I also think there was a lot of info-dumping going on. This makes me realize that while my taste in anime is not usually action-heavy, I do want more action in my manga.
My experience wasn’t all bad, though. Again, as with Tokyo Ghoul, the conversations about right and wrong, good vs. evil, were really interesting because Light really is a morally gray character. By using the Death Note to kill criminals, crime rates fall and people feel safer but who is he to get to decide who dies and who doesn’t? It’s a fascinating situation to watch unfold in a fictional world. I also think the Shinigami (death gods) are so funny and they really made the whole story especially in the second half. Sidoh is absolutely a gem and is by far the best thing in the second half of this story. I do think that towards the end the stakes felt really high and the tension was wonderfully built and I appreciated that after some of the more tedious chapters. I could say so much more about this series, particularly the way women were quite literally used in the story but this I’ve already talked a lot so I’ll save it.
After completing these series, I spent the last four days of the month rereading the first four volumes of Blue Exorcist. This anime is definitely one of my favorites and I’ve read a huge chunk of the manga but I took a break ages ago. My goal is to start at the beginning and get caught up. This series is about Rin who thinks he’s a normal kid until one day, demons attack him. He then finds out that he’s the son of Satan. Oh, and he was raised by an exorcist. He then goes on to an exorcist school with the hopes of learning how to defeat Satan.
I’m only going to talk about the first four issues here because I am planning to keep reading a chapter per day until I’m caught up so I don’t have a ton to say other than that this is definitely still a favorite. I like manga that combines action elements with complicated friendship dynamics and comedy. This certainly does that. Rin has to hide his powers from others and that adds to the tension of the story. The fight scenes are really exciting. The other students at the academy are just as interesting as Rin and I love getting to know more about them. This is the first anime (besides Sailor Moon and Pokemon) that I really got into and I immediately picked up the manga. It has a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to get caught up on the story.
Also, this isn’t manga but I started reading Lore Olympus this month. People have been telling me to pick it up but I don’t remember anyone telling me that it was a romance! When I discovered that tidbit, I immediately started reading it and now I can’t stop. IT’S SO CUTE AND FUN! I’m sure I’m the only one who hadn’t picked it up but if you haven’t, please do.
Do you like manga, graphic novels, or comics? Do you have any recommendations? Please let me know!!
Because I’m doing recent reads every week or so, it doesn’t make sense to do full wrap-ups the way I used to but I do want to have a place to reflect on the month overall so I’m going to start talking about some of my favorite things each month. I’ll start with books but I also want to talk about hobbies, movies, music, TV, etc. so let’s get started!
I have two stand-out books from this past month. If you’ve talked to me about books or read anything I’ve posted about books recently, this shouldn’t be a surprise because these books are from two of my new favorite authors.
First, I want to talk about The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin. This is the second book in the Broken Earth Trilogy and I loved it just as much as I loved the first book. This is rare for me. I typically don’t pick up a series because I’m afraid of investing time in something only to not like a large chunk of it. I also have never been a series fantasy reader but I think this series is going to be the thing to get me into fantasy and I am so excited for that possibility. I’ve really loved being able to jump into this world. It certainly takes a certain level of time and focus to read and get everything from Jemisin’s writing. As someone who zones out a lot, it can be difficult for me sometimes but for me, it’s totally worth it. I think Jemisin creates such interesting characters; I want to know what happened to them before and what will happen to them in the future. I also appreciate Jemisin’s narrative structure in both of these books. It isn’t linear and she has a way of bringing everything together in a way that seems simple but takes me by surprise every single time.
I also want to give attention to Grown by Tiffany D Jackson. I never read books in one day. That’s just not my style, but Grown was impossible to put down. This book deals with some difficult subject matter and my heart broke for the main character, Enchanted. I had to know that she was going to be okay and the writing really lent itself to me being able to fly through the story in two sittings. If you’re familiar with Jackson’s work, you probably know that she tends to write hard-hitting YA contemporaries or thrillers. I read a fair amount of YA and enjoy it but it never quite ends up being a favorite but now that I’ve read two of Jackson’s books and they’ve become instant favorites, I’m starting to see what is possible in those genres. With Grown specifically, I appreciated the commentary on the way society doesn’t listen to women, especially Black women, when they have been abused. They are blamed or called liars when they speak up and while this story takes place in the music industry, it has messages that apply to the broader conversation surrounding women and sexual assault, grooming, stalking, etc.
I’m in a *very* specific mood musically. I’ve made a YouTube playlist to put on when I’m having a hard time focusing on anything that’s primarily live performances by Arctic Monkeys and Neck Deep. I really miss live music and since the seasonal depression is hitting hard, I’m reminding myself of better summer when I could go to shows. I’ll include a favorite performance for each band below in case you want to check them out. I wish I had something new and exciting to talk about musically but my brain just wants old, familiar sounds these days.
There are two TV shows I’ve really been watching this month. First, I started getting back into One Piece. This is an anime that follows a group of pirates. The main character has a special ability that made him essentially made of rubber. It sounds lame but it comes in handy quite a bit. The trade-off – he can’t swim. If I’m not mistaken, this series is the longest-running anime and manga and I have a love/hate relationship with it. I’ll never catch up and I’ll never collect all the manga. It’s not feasible. But I love the story so much so I keep trying. Comedy is a must in my anime and while this one has plenty of action, it also makes me laugh all the time. Luffy is blindly confident and sometimes it gets the crew in trouble and a lot of times, it really pays off. Besides him, my favorite characters are Zoro and Ace.
I’ve also been watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Again. I can’t help it. I love this show so much. The main characters are totally unlikeable and are awful people and that’s the point. The creators make fun of the worst people you could meet and shows how ridiculous it is to act horribly and hold the worst beliefs. That being said, I do have a favorite character – Mac. He is incredibly religious and tries to use his religion to justify his ignorant beliefs all while struggling with his sexuality. And somehow, the writers turned this into something that is comedy gold (though I will say that the finale to season 13 takes a more serious look at his character and is just such a beautiful episode).
Especially at the beginning of the month, I was playing a lot of videogames. Primarily I was playing various Assassin’s Creed games. I am not great at finishing or sticking to one game so I’ve been switching between Valhalla, Origins, and Odyssey. I get really sucked in when I’m playing because I like tracking quests and traveling all over the world to accomplish small things that add up. I also played a ton of Kingdom Hearts this month. I played Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance the most. This is one of my favorite game series because I like the mix of Disney + Final Fantasy and how it’s kind of surprisingly dark sometimes. I think a lot about the conversations that were had that made Disney decide to agree. I made it all the way to the boss and then just didn’t finish the game. I’m really bad about that.
I also have been learning to cross-stitch. It’s really relaxing and helpful especially when I’m feeling anxious. Since I’m new to it, I really have to focus on what I’m doing which means I can’t think about everything else that’s going on in my brain. I finished this piece a week or so ago and while I left out the French knots (they’re *really* hard, okay), I’m still satisfied with it.
It’s almost my birthday month and time for all things spooky! While I know it won’t really be cool where I am for a while, I’m still in full fall mode and have a bit of a different idea for my TBR for the next two months. I want to read all things dark and spooky while still working towards my goal of getting through my embarrassing backlog of owned books, but I don’t want the pressure of selecting a few out of the many books I already own that fit the criteria.
The solution? I made a list of all the mystery/thriller/horror/generally dark books I already own and put each title in a jar and I’ll randomly select and read as many as I can over the next two months. I do have a couple of reads I’m already obligated to pick up (Find Me by Nell Grey and The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan) and some library holds are likely to come in but apart those, it’s going to be all spooky, all the time.
There is absolutely no way I can talk about each of these books in one blog post but I will leave a list with links to Goodreads to just show all of the options I have in my fall TBR jar.
This is clearly a long list that I definitely won’t complete in two months but I am looking forward to see how much I can knock off. I will definitely update my progress on my WWW Wednesday posts and at the beginning of November so I hope you’ll join me on this journey to get through my ridiculous backlog of books!
Now that I’m back at work, my reading is a lot more unfocused and truly depends on what’s available through my library at the time so my TBRs are going to be a bit more like “September possibilities.” I definitely have some books I really want to prioritize so I’ll talk about those first and then go from there.
First, I have Trust Me by Nell Grey. I was kindly sent this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. I don’t know a ton about this apart from that there’s thriller and romance elements which sounds like a fun time. I’m always down for a thriller and lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Arctic Monkeys so I’m in the mood to also read a romance so I’m thinking this book will really do it for me.
Next, I am continuing my read of the Percy Jackson series with The Battle of the Labyrinth. I can’t say much without spoiling the other books in the series but I’ve been loving these so far and I have a feeling (and have heard) that Nico is going to have more page time and he’s becoming one of my favorite characters in the series.
I also want to read Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card vol. 1 this month. A friend of mine asked if I’d like to buddy read the series together because we both love Sailor Moon and want more magical girl content. I might also try to watch the show on Netflix as we read through the series so keep a lookout for some blog posts about that experience in the future.
Those are the books I definitely need to read this month but I also have three that I’m really hoping to get to. The first is The Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color which is a collection edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa. I have read writings by both of these women and loved them. I’ve also already read sections of this book for school but I want to go back and read the entire anthology. This will likely be one that I start at the beginning of the month and read throughout the entire month much like I did last month with The Complete Stories by Zora Neale Hurston.
Next, I’d really like to catch up on my backlog of Book of the Month books. I just have two sitting on my shelves right now and the one I’m hoping to pick up this month is November Road by Lou Berney. All I know about this book is that it’s a historical fiction set around the time of the JFK assassination. I have no idea how I’m going to feel about this because, while I do like historical fiction, I don’t usually read from this time period so we’ll see!
Additionally, I’d like to finally read Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender. This YA contemporary follows a black, queer, trans boy named Felix who wants to be in love, but when another student starts sending him transphobic messages and posting old pictures of Felix and posts his deadname, things start to get really difficult and complicated for Felix. I’ve heard so many people praise this book and I’ve had the ebook for a while and I want to stop neglecting my ebooks as much as I have been, so I feel like this would be a good place to start.
This might be a stretch but I’d also be down for participating in BooksAndLaLa’s final Buzzwordathon at the end of September. The word this time is “night” and I have two books on my backlog that will word for this prompt. First, is Night by Elie Wiesel. I’ve somehow never read this book and maybe September is the time I finally read it. I also have Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. I’m not usually one for magical realism and this book is chunky but I’ve already seen the movie and would like to compare the experience.
That’s everything that’s on my radar for September. We’ll see if I get to everything but if I don’t, I’m not going to feel too bad about it since I’ve been having to rely on audiobooks a lot more than usual.
What are you reading next? Have you read any of these and what were your thoughts? Come chat with me!
I had a totally different blog post planned for today but as I was catching up on some Youtube videos, I noticed the TolkienAlong was taking place this year and lines up with my original plan to finish the Lord of the Rings trilogy in November and December of this year. I re-read The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring earlier this year and then got distracted by Percy Jackson but I’ve always planned to go back and read the final two books in the LOTR before the year ends.
All of that being said, there’s a tag associated with the read along so I decided to post that today instead of my original plan. You can find the tag here if you’d like to participate!
Frodo “I will take the ring to Mordor.” – A book you’re not actually sure if you like or not
A book that immediately comes to mind for this question is These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. I enjoyed the basic plot but I had issues with some of the characters and that really made me feel confused about whether I enjoyed the book or not and whether I should continue with the series.
Sam “I can’t carry it, but I can carry you.” – A book you’ll always be loyal to
Easy. Atonement by Ian McEwan. That book (and film) is just so sad and powerful and tells a different kind of WWII story than a lot of the others I’ve read in the past. I also appreciate the twist that makes your feelings even more confused than they already were. Plus, a REALLY interesting narrative structure which is something McEwan does in many of his books.
Pippin “What about second breakfast?” – A book you’d like to reread
So many! I love rereading favorites. Turning around to look at my shelves, I think I’ll go with Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I read this a few years ago and I picked it up off and on over the course of a few months and while I really enjoyed it, I think it would be a different experience if I read it straight through without reading a bunch of other books in between.
Merry “We’re going with you, Frodo.” – A book about friendship
I think I’ll pick a manga for this question and choose One Piece. I am super new to the One Piece world which is a questionable and intimidating choice since the anime has over 900 episodes and there are over 90 issues of the manga BUT one of the things I really enjoy about this series is that Luffy is able to befriend anyone he brings into his group of pirates. It’s just such a fun time and I know I’ll probably never catch up but I’m enjoying where I am with the series.
Aragorn “For Frodo!” – A book with a hero or heroine to swoon over
Can I count Red from Get a Life, Chloe Brown? He’s got a tough exterior and seems gruff and unapproachable at first but really, he’s so kind and caring and I love that about him.
Legolas “That still only counts as one!” – The biggest book on your TBR
That’s easily The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. I have books unread on my shelves that are maybe a bit longer but this is the one that I’m most eager to get to. I want to read it before the end of the year and it might just end up being my entire December TBR alongside The Return of the King. I’ve just heard so many good things about Priory and really want to read it relatively soon but I don’t want to drag it out like I initially did with Anna Karenina.
Gimli “Shall I get you a box?” – A short, but fun read
For this, I’m going to choose Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I read this after seeing the movie and I was surprised by how much more creepy it was but I also had a lot of fun reading it. I liked how immersive this world is and meeting all of Coraline’s odd neighbors. A fun time all around.
Boromir “They’ve taken the little ones!” – A series you still haven’t got past the first book in
This one is a little difficult because I’m in the middle of a few series or either finished with them but I can answer based on a technicality. If you group Little Women and Good Wives together, then I haven’t got past the first book to read the Little Men/Jo’s Boys book(s). I want to reread the first book(s) and continue with the series at the beginning of next year.
Gandalf “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – A book that makes you question your life
I could choose a number of books here but I think I’ll go with Hunger by Roxane Gay. It made me really think about my own relationship with hunger, both literal and figurative.
So that’s the last question for this tag. I have links at the beginning of this post both for the tag and the announcement about the TolkienAlong itself. Like I said, I’m not officially joining in until the last two books but I am very excited to have a community to read them with so hopefully you’ll join if you’re interested.
Since I’m really enjoying checking in here weekly, I’m going to continue doing the WWW Wednesday tag hosted by Taking on a World of Words. I like having a chance mid-week to share what I’m reading and see what you guys are up to, as well.
The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?
I’m currently in the middle of three books. I’m having a difficult time focusing this week as I’m really focusing on getting ready to teach next week and I think my current reading situation reflects that. I’m reading The Complete Stories by Zora Neale Hurston and decided to catch up so that I can read a short story each day and finish it on the last day of the month. It gives me something to either start or end my day with. I’m out of practice with reading books written in regional dialect so that has slowed me down but I’m getting the hang of it, I think.
I’m also listening to the audiobook for Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. This follows a woman named Serena whose interest in reading gets her an assignment with MI5 to recruit and fund writers who would write stories that politically aligned with the British government in the 1970s. I like Ian McEwan’s writing but feel pretty indifferent to the story right now. It has been nice having something to listen to while I build my courses, though.
Lastly, I’m reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I’m only about four chapters in and all I know is “weird boarding school” but I’m really enjoying it. There’s definitely an element of mystery that I’m excited by and am ready to see how these pieces that are dropped throughout the beginning come together. The writing is also so fantastic. It has the same beauty I remember from The Remains of the Day. I am moving a little slower than I’d like, but this might just be me at the beginning of a new semester.
I’ve only finished one book since last week – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I’m not even mad about that being the only thing I’ve finished because I loved it so much. I love the narrative structure and the subtle mystery. I also wasn’t bored by any of the romance (something that usually happens to me). Also, the last 100 pages or so were heartbreaking. I felt like I was always on the verge of tears. What a great read! I’m so glad I finally picked it up.
I’m really torn about what I want to read next. I’m feeling kind of detached from everything I’m picking up and keep thinking about whether I want to throw out my TBR or keep going. If I stick to my TBR, I’ll be picking up The Titan’s Curse and continuing the Percy Jackson series. That might really interest me but I also don’t want to pick it up while I’m in a slump and it taint my enjoyment of the series. If I throw out my TBR, I know I’ll pick up the next two issues of the One Piece manga. I’m currently torn between wanting to binge all my manga (it’s a lot) and wanting to space them out and savor them. I guess we’ll see what happens next week!
Have you read any of these books? What are you reading? If you participate in WWW Wednesday, link me your posts!
I am incredibly late in making this post, so I hope you guys are still interested enough to give this a look. I was debating whether or not to do this tag because I’ve only really been tracking my reading for the past few months, but ultimately, I decided it would be fun to try and answer these questions with the books I have read either for fun or for school before July.
Best book you’ve read so far this year
This might just be because it’s a recent read and because I JUST talked about Fun Home last time, but I’m going to say that my favorite book this year is Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. I’ve never had so much fun reading a thriller, and I’ve also never been so scared! Talk about the definition of a page-turner; I sat on the floor for hours completely entranced by this story. I never needed to know the end of a book so badly in my life. As someone who primarily comes to books to be sad or scared, these haunted house vibes really did it for me.
Best sequel you’ve read so far this year
I haven’t really read many sequels this year, but I did re-read The Hunger Games trilogy, so I’m going to go with Catching Fire. Remember how I said I like to be sad when I’m reading? Well, this one gets me every time. I also just enjoyed meeting all of the contestants in this set of games. Each character really had something to offer, and they didn’t feel like they were just thrown in without any thought. Plus, I think most people agree that Catching Fire is the highlight of the series.
New release you haven’t read yet but want to
For this question, I’m going with Mexican Gothic. I just got this in the mail last week, and I am so excited to be creeped out again this year. I also just have a feeling this book will be really atmospheric, and that’s something I genuinely enjoy. The historical element is also incredibly appealing to me. Fingers crossed, I can read this before the end of July!
Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
I recently added Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell to my list, and since we have a thriller/horror/general creepy theme going on, I’ll say that one. I don’t know a ton about it apart from a woman goes missing, and everyone thinks it’s a guy who lives near the place where she went missing. I also know GabbyReads included it in a reading vlog recently, and we tend to have similar taste in thrillers, so I definitely want to check it out.
Biggest disappointment so far this year
Since I’m not going with books I read in July, it’s a little more difficult to choose my biggest disappointment this year. I guess I’ll go with The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. This book had the potential to really give some new ideas about feminism, and instead, it was just a bunch of rich white people not doing much. I don’t really have anything else to say apart from the fact that it was so long and didn’t offer anything new.
Biggest surprise so far this year
Easy. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I was a little older than the target audience when this book came out, but my younger brother LOVED it. We usually don’t agree on books, so it was a LONG time before I picked it up. I’m so mad I didn’t read this book sooner. It’s such a good story that pulls from mythology and history while still being a ton of fun. And talk about magical! I haven’t finished the series yet, but I’m just going to say who needs Harry Potter when we have Percy Jackson?
Favorite new to you or debut author
I haven’t read a ton from the same author this year, but my experience reading Daisy Jones & the Six made me want to read everything Taylor Jenkins Reid writes. I flew through Daisy Jones in two days, and not long after, I ordered The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I am so excited to jump into more of Reid’s work.
Newest fictional crush
I don’t really crush on book characters at all, so I’m going to pass on this one!
Newest favorite character
I really admired Starr Carter’s ambition, and vulnerability in The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I also re-read The Fellowship of the Ring this year, and I have such a soft spot for Samwise Gamgee. What a great example of a friend!
A book that made you cry
I don’t ever actually cry at books this often, but the saddest book I read this year is probably Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (I had to talk about it, okay!). I read this for a class, and we were asked to listen to some songs from the musical as well, and that combination really hit hard. This graphic novel is funny and sad and insightful and made me feel so many things.
A book that made you happy
I read volume one of One Piece this year, and Luffy just makes me so happy. There’s something about high seas adventure mixed with a bit of comedy that makes me smile the whole time I’m reading. Also, unpopular opinion, but Usopp makes me laugh a lot.
The most beautiful book you’ve bought or received this year
I treated myself to Gyo, Uzumaki, and Tomie by Junji Ito this year because I was really sad about finished grad school during COVID. Not only are the covers beautiful in such a creepy way, but the artwork inside is also fantastic!
What books do you need to read before the end of the year
I definitely want to finish the Percy Jackson series this year, but apart from that, my main goal is to just work through my tremendous backlog of physical books so that I can start parting with some of them. I usually randomly pick books from a spreadsheet and work through them that way, so we will see what happens for the rest of the year!
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.
3 five-star books
6 four-star books
2 three-star books
2 unrated books
6 physical books
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 Househere, 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 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.
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!