WWW Wednesday – July 1, 2020

In an attempt to try and be more consistent with my blogging, I thought I’d try doing the WWW Wednesday tag hosted by Taking on a World of Words. Since I don’t have any semblance of a posting schedule and don’t review every book I read, I figured this might be a way for me to give some quick thoughts about what I’m reading. 

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading Black Enough which is an anthology of short stories edited by Ibi Zoboi. I bought this along with The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas for the #BlackPublishingPower challenge. Black Enough contains stories by a multitude of black authors that speak to the experience of being black in America. I haven’t read much yet but I am excited to read from a perspective outside of my own and hopefully discover some new-to-me black authors.

I’ve finished a couple of books since last Wednesday. First was These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. This YA book about elemental witches got a high three stars from me and and finished it in just a couple of days. I really enjoyed the plot since it had an element of mystery and suspense. I think where it lost me was the characters. I didn’t really feel connected to any of them besides Gemma. Keep a lookout for my June wrap-up for more of my thoughts on this book.

Since last Wednesday, I also read Riley Sager’s Home Before Dark. I had two days left of the month and really wanted to squeeze in one more books. This one was SCARY, like I ran down my hallway the other night because I was so creeped out. Sager has a way of making you think one thing is going to happen and then throwing you for a loop but the ending of this particular book REALLY had me shocked. I am planning to write a dedicated review because it was definitely my favorite book this month.

Next up for me is probably The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan. This is the second book in the Percy Jackson series and since I really enjoyed the first book in May, I’m really excited to continue the series. I don’t know anything about the plot and really want to go in blind so I’m just going to have faith that Riordan can create magic and enjoyment a second time. I didn’t get to read this in June even though it was in my initial plans but from here out, I want to try and read one book from the series each month and finish in October. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I’m mad I didn’t read this series earlier.

Have you read any of these books? What are you reading? If you participate in WWW Wednesday, link me your posts!

July 2020 TBR

It’s that time again; let’s talk about my reading plans for July! This month, I’m taking a break from reading groups and readathons to completely focus on reading my bookcase of unread books. Some of the books on my TBR for July are ones I specifically wanted to read this month, but I have some that were picked by a random number generator. As always, I am only holding myself accountable for five books. This way, I have some room to read other things if my mood changes. So without further ado, here’s my July TBR!

The first book on my July TBR is Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America. This is a YA anthology of short stories that includes authors such as Ibi Zoboi, Tochi Onyebuchi, and Nic Stone. I picked this up during the #BlackPublishingPower initiative because I generally enjoy anthologies and want to continue being conscious of the diversity on my shelves as well as my blog and my Instagram feed. I think the stories in this collection will introduce me to new voices that I can further explore.

In May, I read the first book in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series for the first time, and I am excited to continue this series in July. I don’t want to say much about what The Sea of Monsters is about if you haven’t read the first book yet. Still, I am delighted to continue with what has proven so far to be a magical, fun, and compelling series.

I love the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe and am itching for more content. Good thing there’s quite a bit of it! I picked up The Rise of Kyoshi by F. C. Yee this past Sunday and am so excited to dive into it. This is the first book in a series chronicling the life of Avatar Kyoshi of the Earth Kingdom and the Kyoshi warriors. That’s all I really know about this book, but since the second book in this series comes out later this month, I want to go ahead and read this one.

I have a spreadsheet of all my unread books, and I had my partner pick a random number for this next book. He chose The Crucible by Arthur Miller. This was one of just a few texts I read in high school that I actually enjoyed, but I essentially marked it as unread so that I could reread it as an adult. This is a play that takes place in Salem, Massachusetts during the witch trials and exposes the chaos and hysteria of the time. I haven’t read a play in quite a long time, but I am ready to experience it again.

I used a random number generator to pick my last book, and I got Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. This is Kaling’s second memoir, and I thoroughly enjoyed the first – Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – so I decided Why Not Me? would be a fun, fast, summer read to enjoy outside in the sun. 

Those are the only books I’m holding myself accountable for this month, but I will likely be able to read quite a few more. I am excited about all of my choices this month. What are you guys reading for July? Have you read any of these? Come chat with me in the comments ❤

May 2020 Wrap-up

I can’t believe May is over already. To think I was still in school at the beginning of the month AND the official launch of this blog! So, welcome to my first wrap-up! I read so much more than I expected. There are some in-depth reviews on my blog, but I want to share some brief thoughts about the other books I read this month. I read ten books, so this might be a little long, but here we go!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The first book I finished this month was The Guest List by Lucy Foley. I wrote a review of this book here. This thriller was a strong start to my month. I gave this five stars because I thought the cast of characters were well developed and also because Foley has a way of leaving little hints in each chapter until Foley reveals the ending. I read this book so quickly and just had to know what happened next.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The next book I finished was another thriller – Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. I also wrote a dedicated review for this book, which can be found here. I gave this book four stars because I never knew what to expect, and the social commentary Sager provides is exactly the type of thing I want to read. The only reason this wasn’t a five-star read is that I wanted to see some more development of the relationships between characters, and our main character ignored some major red flags early on. Overall, still such a fun time.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The third book I finished this month was a group read with some friends –  Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick. Since I did not write a dedicated review for this book, I will talk a bit about it here. This book follows Ilya, who leaves Russia to come to Louisiana for a year of high school. In addition to navigating a new school and a new culture, Ilya is leaving behind his family. Their lives have been turned upside down because his brother, Vladimir, has been arrested for and confessed to murder. This book is both heartbreaking and complicated. Sometimes characters are unlikable, but I also think they are very realistic. I usually don’t enjoy reading from a teenage male POV, and there were some awkward, cringey moments, but the story is still powerful. I gave this four stars. cw – drug use/abuse, murder

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The last book I posted a dedicated review for is A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight. You can read it here. I gave this 3/3.5 stars. I was initially nervous about this book because I thought it would be a typical legal thriller. Still, the plot has a lot to offer and has some serious domestic thriller vibes. As two seemingly unrelated mysteries start to converge, I found myself unable to put this book down. I enjoyed jumping between Amanda’s and Lizzie’s POVs and slowly learning about both of their lives. I also really loved to hate one character in particular. Some things didn’t work for me, though. I didn’t really understand why most of the couples would have even married each other in the first place. I also found myself having just to accept some things without much development.

The next book I read in May was a nonfiction called The Panic Virus by Seth Mnookin. This book documents the history of vaccines and the rise of the anti-vaxx movement. Mnookin writes in a way people without a science background can understand, and I greatly appreciated it. It is also incredibly enlightening when it comes to the ways the media allows misinformation to spread. I don’t like giving star ratings to nonfiction, but I do highly recommend this book – just maybe not right now. It is a bit frustrating.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The next book I read was Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. This book is a Pride & Prejudice retelling that takes place in modern times (think yoga instructor Jane). I am a sucker for Austen retellings. I enjoyed seeing how Sittenfeld updated certain aspects of the story for a modern US setting. She also chose to end by talking about Mary. In both the original and this retelling, the other characters don’t understand Mary and are mean to her. I’m not too fond of that in both cases, but Sittenfeld gives us a little more about her after the story, and I think that might be a way of giving her a little kindness as the author. I appreciate that.

I do want to note that I do have some concerns about this book. Sittenfeld includes both black and trans rep in her writing. While I get that they are probably trying to use these characters to both challenge the conservative beliefs the older Bennets hold and to tackle tough issues, I can’t help but get the feeling that her attempt at representation might have reduced the characters to simple plot devices. Some of the writing felt very late 90s – early 2000s, and it was weird to read some of these sections.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

While reading Eligible, I also listened to the audiobook for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. This is a prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy and tells the origin story of President Snow. You might know that there has been a ton of mixed reviews for this book. I am here to add to the confusion. I rated this a true three stars because I didn’t care either way about this book. I actually decided to DNF this book before picking it up again a few days later. For me, the pacing was a huge issue. I think the exciting and interesting plot points were breezed through while the less interesting things seem to drag on forever. I also don’t think the social commentary was as sharp as the original trilogy. It could have been more.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Next, I picked up a short story collection by Oscar Wilde called The Happy Prince and other Stories. This is a collection of five short stories, each of which had appealing qualities. The connections between these stories are pretty clear; each story deals with themes of privilege, selfishness, and using your privilege to help those who are less fortunate. It was a wholesome read, and I gave it four stars. My favorite stories from this collection are “The Selfish Giant” and “The Devoted Friend.”

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My next read was The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. When we were growing up, my brother loved the Percy Jackson series, but I was a bit older and never really got into the books. With the excitement of the upcoming TV series, I decided I would finally give them a try. This first book made me regret not picking them up sooner. I won’t say a lot because I want to have a blog post talking about my feelings over the whole series, but I do want to say that Riordan creates an immersive, fun world with interesting connections to history, dyslexia representation that is important for the target audience to see, and fantastic environmental commentary.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My last read for May was the audiobook for Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix. This book follows the employees of Orsk furniture store (think Ikea) as they try to figure out who is breaking and destroying merchandise at night. When spooky occurrences start to become horrifying, they realize they might not be dealing with regular vandals. I had such a fun time listening to this book while playing Animal Crossing. It was a fairly quick listen but full of excitement and scares. It also makes you think about your relationship with buying items and consumerism. If you don’t already know or can’t tell, this is the type of content I eat up! Four stars!

Just like with my June TBR, if you’re still here, thanks! Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What did you read in May? Let’s talk in the comments! Also, if there are other blog posts you’d like to see from me in June, let me know!

Make Your Mythtaker TBR June 2020

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!

Stuck at Home Book Tag

Many of us have been at home for a few months and some people are going back to work (or have been working the whole time) but I’m going to be home for the foreseeable future since I won’t be teaching until August (knock on wood). I’m a bit late to the game but I’m going to do the Stay at Home Book tag!

I’ve seen a few other bloggers do this tag but it was originally created by Ellyn and you can see the original post here. I wasn’t specifically nominated but I most recently saw Tiffany over at My Bookish Fantasy do this and I wanted to give it a try. Hope you enjoy!

What are you currently reading?

I am currently listening to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. I keep putting this book down and picking it back up; it’s been an interesting reading experience to say the least. I also just finished Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s a modern Pride and Prejudice retelling and I thought it was pretty good. That being said, I’m about to pick up another book to read physically and I randomized by TBR so it looks like I’m picking up The Happy Prince and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde.

What’s your favorite “can’t-leave-the-house” activity?

Of course, I’ve been playing a ton of Animal Crossing. My island isn’t the cutest yet but I’m slowly working on it. I made a little park and my next project is to make a boardwalk.

I have also been watching more shows than I normally would. I am currently watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, Bob’s Burgers, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia again. I might also start using this time to watch some more anime – One Piece and Blue Exorcist are both some favorites.

A book you’ve been meaning to read forever:

I have been meaning to get into Shirley Jackson in general for quite a while. I have a few of her books so I am going to try to work them into my TBRs over the summer if I can. I am also trying to get into Junji Ito’s work for a bit. Clearly, I am in the mood for all things spooky.

An intimidating book on your TBR:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. She’s giant, she’s old, she goes on tangents at length. I am interested in the plot but everytime I look at the book, I am unsure of how I’ll ever be able to tackle it. I fear the day that I randomize my TBR and that book comes up. 

Top three priority books on your TBR:

I am really looking forward to reading Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo with some friends in June. I don’t read a ton of fantasy and definitely haven’t read anything by Bardugo so I’m excited to give it a try. I mentioned Junji Ito before but I am really prioritizing Gyo because the synopsis is super intriguing to me. Lastly, I am looking to start the Percy Jackson series for the first time really soon. I’m picking up the books tonight so I want to put those high on my list.

Recommend a short book:

I keep talking about this book but I read it for a class this past semester and LOVED it. It’s a graphic novel called Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. It’s described as a tragicomic and talks about the author’s life and relationship with her father. She is coming to terms with her own sexuality and her family dynamic. I highly recommend it.

Recommend a long book:

I don’t exactly read a ton of really long books but I did really enjoy The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. This book follows one man throughout his entire life. He is on a journey to learn about himself and who he is after he learns that he is adopted. I really enjoyed following him on this lifelong journey of self-discovery.

Something you’d love to do while stuck at home:

Since starting this blog and my bookstagram account, I have been playing with the idea of starting a YouTube channel. I have plans to film this week but I’m not yet sure if the footage will ever see the light of day. I am just really nervous and self-conscious about trying a new medium where people can see and hear me. But who knows?

What do you plan on reading next?

I am picking up The Happy Prince and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde. After that, I might have time to read one more book before I start Ninth House and my June readathon books and I think that will be the first book in the Percy Jackson series.

If you’ve made it this far, I tag you in the Stuck at Home Book Tag! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and learning a little more about books I’ve read and enjoyed or books I’m planning to read. ❤