May 2022 Bookish Wrap Up

May 2022 Bookish Wrap Up

May was a difficult month for me this year. There’s a lot happening in the world. There’s a lot happening in my life and the two combined created a great evil that I couldn’t defeat. I burned myself out by mid-month and by the last week, I wasn’t reading anything at all. But despite the mental and emotional struggles I’ve been dealing with, I was still able to finish the month with five books.

I also only had two favorites from this month, but it doesn’t mean that the rest on this list were duds. They had their own merits and I can see how they can really surprise another reader. All of these stories were intriguing and delightful, but I wish my mood leaned more towards reading than it did not reading. If anything, these books deserve a better reader than me because it took a lot out of me to do it.

Favorites of the Month

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah – Sweep me away to a desert isle with jinn, magic, rivalries, and kingdoms to save. These stories always grab my attention and I loved what Chelsea Abdullah did to take the old A Thousand and One Nights and make it something that belongs to her. I loved following the characters and learning about this world. And as you get closer to the end, more secrets are revealed and more intrigue will keep you on your toes until the next book is out. You can read my full review here.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston – I promised myself I wouldn’t read any more contemporary YA romance stories. Why? Because something about being my age and feeling the disconnect between myself and the young people in the story and how that all makes me feel incredibly old. But I decided to try I Kissed Shara Wheeler when my mental health was at its lowest and something like a nice and easy YA romcom will keep me out of my own mind. This was such an unexpected delight. Not only did I love the mystery aspect (without the high-stakes concerns of losing someone’s life), but I also loved the deeper perspective on persona, who we portray ourselves to be, especially in a high school setting, and the discovery of your true self amongst it all. Also, it’s got a compelling romance. You can read my full review here.

Seasonal Fears by Seanan McGuire – I was so excited about this read because of my adoration for Middlegame. And while it didn’t hit the same way Middlegame did, it still blew me away. In this one, Seanan McGuire features the seasonal monarchs, the competition to the throne, and the cut-throat process of claiming Winter and Summer. Alongside Jack Frost and Corn Jenny, Melanie and Harry find that their lifelong friendship is way more connected than they thought. Also, you get a better idea of The Up-And-Under, which is probably my favorite part of the entire series. You can read my full review here.

Honorable Mentions

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten – There is so much I love about this book. I loved the reimagined Little Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and a few nods to Howl’s Moving Castle. I loved the matriarchal society, the way the trees played a huge role, even the romance! It was such a beautiful debut and definitely looking forward to reading the second book soon. You can read my full review here.

Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard – This was the shortest fantasy book I wished was much longer. I don’t know if I’m a huge fan of novellas because I always end up wanting to read more if the story is intriguing. And this one is definitely intriguing. A princess who’s been held captive in a rival kingdom only to return and not meet her mother’s expectations. On top of that, falling in love with the princess of the rival kingdom and dealing with PTSD of a fire that nearly killed her. And let’s not forget her mother appointed her the diplomat for her country as well. I mean, it’s a lot and this book was less than 100 pages. I wanted a whole series about the young princess, her journey to freedom, her feelings for loving the rival princess, and coming to grips with her mental struggles. I needed way more. You can read my full review here.

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers – I know. It feels weird to put Becky Chambers into this category and not into my favorites, but this particular story wasn’t a favorite of mine. I loved the existential discussions, the look at a spaceship that holds all of human life after we left earth (think Wall-E, but with more human experiences), and the classic connection all of these characters have to each other. But in comparison to the other books in her repertoire, it wasn’t my favorite. You can read my full review here.

April 2022 Bookish Wrap Up

April 2022 Bookish Wrap Up

April was definitely full of challenges. Not only was I reading the books I set up for myself, but I also started doing some experiments on my reading life. Whenever I do experiments like this, I always end up burnt out and exhausted from reading. However, the challenges also share some interesting insights about my reading life and how I want to continue pursuing that in the future.

Two of the main challenges I set myself for April was to read 125 pages a day and also read two books at a time. You might be thinking that it’s not a good idea to schedule out your reading like this, but I will note that the challenge of reading more throughout the day made me find pockets of time where I could read. Also, I found that I needed to really keep my phone away from me so I’m not distracted by my phone.

This month, I read 10 books. This is more than average and definitely met with a ton of challenges. By the end of the month, I was severely burnt out with wild swings in my mood. I picked up three books I decided weren’t right for me at the moment. I tried reading a few romances to thwart the burnout I felt creeping in. And I think I learned that it’s not about the quantity of books I read, but the quality. It’s good to know because that overwhelming sensation that I won’t read all the books I want to read before I die is crippling.

My favorites of the month

The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne: My first foray into a high fantasy novel that takes place in Norse mythology. And I somehow came out of the book wishing I was a viking and that dragon existed. Brutal in the treatment of its characters, but also left with this hopeful feeling that will carry you into the next book.

Nettle and Bone by T Kingfisher: If you’re a fan of unconventional fairy tales, then this is the book for you. This was my first T Kingfisher book and trust me, it won’t be my last. The princess goes to save her sister in this one with the help of some unusual characters including her fairy godmother, a necromancer witch, a dog made of bones, and a demon chicken. Oh, of course there’s a knight in shining armor, but he’s wanted for murder.

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel: I’m a huge fan of villain stories and I was blown away by this one. Based on the story of Ramayana, this will make you think differently about the position of wicked stepmother. Beautifully written and deeply moving, if you’re a fan of well-written characters, then you’ll fall in love with this one.

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez: This was such a fun one for me and nice foil throughout my month of ups and downs. If you like stories featuring a good-hearted dude who falls absolutely in love with the hardworking and rich doctor, then you’ll like this one. I absolutely loved the small town vibes, the cute baby goats, and the little romance budding between these two

A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I Lin: I’m a huge fan of tea, so when I heard about a YA fantasy story where the young hero needs to brew tea to be the Empress’s advisor, then you’ll really like this one. Filled with political intrigue, a magical competition, and big reveals, then you’ll find yourself at the edge of your seat for this one.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse: A reread for me, but I’m so glad I did it. It was my last book of the month and it made me so happy to end on a high note. A chosen one, a destiny to meet, and a huge twisted world of politics that you won’t have any problems losing yourself in this fast-paced fantasy book.

Honorable mentions

Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer: I read this one to start my Hugo Awards reading early. It’s a YA thriller about a young person who’s on the run from her estranged father. With the help of her new friends and an AI with too much personality, you’ll find yourself worried for the young person and if she’ll ever get away from her dad.

An Arrow to the Moon by Emily XR Pan: Imagine if the goddess of the moon and the god of hunting fell down to earth and met as young people. Well, that’s what you get with this story. A bit more romantic than I imagined and with an ending I didn’t see coming, I thought this was such a great little story with some well-executed fairy tale in the mix.

A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by Natalie Caña: If you wanted a romance story with all the tropes, then this is for you. Second-chance romance, fake dating/engagement, a grump and sunshine couple, and two small businesses to save. I really loved getting into this one and hoping the best for both.

March 2022 Bookish Wrap Up

March 2022 Bookish Wrap Up

Returning to books after a month of moving has been a bit of a slog, but I feel like I’m coming back to my readerly self and finished the month strong with seven reads! While I did get a lot read this month, I also didn’t absolutely love everything I read.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought every book was wonderful, interesting, and something that folks out there will enjoy. However, I’m always chasing that 5-star read that will become a favorite of mine for years to come. I think I saw a few glimmers this month, but I’m hoping that April will definitely surprise me.

What I Read This Month

Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye – I didn’t know what i was expecting when i started this one, but I saw someone I follow on Instagram read it and gush about how incredible it was. She was not wrong. This was a fantastic YA military fantasy (although, I would categorize this as adult because it reads so adult) that’s filled with big world building, character development, and that need to read the second book as soon as you can! The month started off super strong with this one and I’m so glad I read it. Thanks to Tee for the recommendation! The story follows young person, Sloane, who’s recently been recruited to the Lucis army. The only downside is that she’s a Scion and all Scion are to be murdered on site. While trying to hide her identity, she uncovers a big plot taking place within the kingdom and she tries to help as much as she can without revealing who she really is.

Gallant by VE Schwab – I think I read anything VE Schwab writes nowadays and I’m never disappointed. This one is definitely different from the other books they’ve written, but it still very Schwab-ian. The story of a young girl who finds her family and live in the house they’ve inherited over the years only to also realize a massive curse placed on her family line. It’s dark, mysterious, a little scary, but still a whole lot of intrigue and suspense!

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake – I love getting into a hyped book every once in a while because you never know! It’s hyped for a reason. And while most of the time I DNF hyped books, this was an exception. I thought it was brilliantly funny, intelligent, and wildly weird! Definitely go into The Atlas Six without reading about it. It’s about six people chosen to join in a society of magical people and only five people can get in. However, it’s way more than that going on.

The Bone Shard Daughter (reread) by Andrea Stewart – I absolutely loved my reread of The Bone Shard Daughter. While it didn’t give me the 5-star feel I was hoping for, it definitely left me really appreciating more after the second read. I plan on reading The Bone Shard Emperor soon, so keep an eye out for that! The story of a young person who’s living up to the throne she’s about to inherit, a young man in the search for his wife, and the people of this world who suffer from the hands of the Emperor.

Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May – If you’re a fan of Practical Magic and The Great Gatsby, then you’ll really like this one. Combining the two stories with some witchy magic, some found family, and some overcoming of the most difficult obstacles (yourself), then you’ll really enjoy getting to know Annie and Emmeline in this one. It’s about a young woman named Annie who arrives on Crow Island; a place of magic and the home of bootlegger Emmeline Delacroix. The only thing is Emmeline is a witch and despite the warnings Annie receieves about her, she can’t help but to get closer to her.

The City of Dusk by Tara Sim – While I really wanted to love this one, this wasn’t one of my favorites of the month. It was still good, but the world building really needed some help to fully grasp what’s going on. However, I did love the characters, the world that they existed, the action was so incredible, and the ending was so surprising! The story follows an ancient kingdom of the gods where four families are about to inherit the city from their predecessors. However, there’s a bigger political plot brewing in the background that will not only change the politics of this world, but also everything they’ve understood about it.

The Bone Orchard by Sara A Mueller – This was such a surprisingly complex story filled with psychic abilities, a mysterious death, big political intrigue, and the woman who stands in the middle. It was a pretty dark story with some pretty graphic depictions and some very big reveals. This one will keep you guessing until the very end. It’s about a young woman who owns and operates a brothel . She’s the personal mistress of the Emperor who’s recently passed. Before he died, he told her that he’s been murdered and would like for her to find the culprit in exchange for her freedom. Determined to do whatever it costs to gain her freedom, she embarks on finding out who killed the Emperor only to reveal a much bigger plot taking place.

October 2021 Bookish Wrap Up

October 2021 Bookish Wrap Up

It’s the end of another month and I can’t believe it’s already gone.

I took some time off this month because I was going on vacation and needed to take a break from everything. Have you ever taken a break and noticed how much you needed it? Well, I needed it.

I read four books while I was on vacation, so I ended the month with nine books read. I’m still in the middle of The Dragon Reborn, but I’m going to read that slowly while I try to finish it up. It’s a doozy of a book, if you could imagine! Here’s what I was able to read:

  • Luminous by Mara Rutherford
  • A Spindle Splintered by Alix E Harrow
  • These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
  • Along the Saltwise Sea by A Deborah Baker
  • Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P Manasala
  • Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw
  • Vicious by VE Schwab
  • Crownchasers by Rebecca Coiniffer
  • The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

This month, I did a lot of review writing and not much content writing. You can tell that I was a little burnt out with how little I actually wrote about. I always find book review months to be less productive despite the fact I put a lot of effort int the reviews. I hope to get back into the writing habit next month with some fresh new posts for you all.

I hope you had a good reading month! What did you end up reading?

August 2021 wrap up: what I learned from a tumultuous month of reading

August 2021 wrap up: what I learned from a tumultuous month of reading

Have you ever started your month with some pretty hopeful feelings only to really struggle through it? I started August with a lot of hopeful reads and ended up with a completely different feeling than I had when I first started the month. Let me tell you how glad I am August is over so I can start again in September.

I had put together a TBR of eight books, my regular routine, and excited to read them all. But the first book I picked up was a DNF. Then I read a couple that were exceptional. Then I picked up another DNF book mostly because I wasn’t in the right headspace to read it. Then I had a wonderful little streak of books only to end it with another DNF.

It’s always frustrating when you struggle through a book, go through the routine of whether you want to keep reading the book, and then dump the book despite the number of hours and days you spent putting time into it. However, I’m trying to get better at that aspect and really learned a lot of lessons this month. Before I go into my reading, I wanted to share them:

  • Let books that you aren’t loving go: This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned this month. Give myself 100 pages to read a book and if it doesn’t grab me in anyway, let it go. Either make the decision to put it off for another day or put it in the donate pile. But I’m no longer sacrificing so much of my energy and time to read a book that I hope will get better as I continue.
  • Always have some backups when you’re feeling burnt out: I put too many fantasy and science fiction books back to back with very little room for me to decompress. In future months, I want backups so that if I’m not feeling a book at that time, I can pick up a contemporary story to just cleanse the palate a little.
  • It’s okay if you haven’t read as much as you wanted to: I always get mad when I don’t read as many books (if not more) than I expect during the month. I need to let this go too. Reading one book is better than forcing yourself to read eight when you’re not in the right mindset. Reading may be a part of my self-care, but there’s also great value in rest.
  • You can always try again next month: Not finishing the books by the end of the month isn’t the end of the world. And a crappy month can be fixed with a new month of reads. Don’t be discouraged by a crappy reading month because there’s always next month to try again.

I hope these reminders help you out if you’re having trouble with reading lately. Here’s what I ended up reading this month (with links to my reviews if available):

July 2021 Wrap – Up

July 2021 Wrap – Up

And just like that, another month is over. I can’t believe 2021 is moving so quickly and sometimes I forget that 2020 happened, so time doesn’t seem to want to stop for anyone. But I’ve been keeping busy starting the month with my husband’s birthday, taking some courses, and starting the Olympics. Have you been watching? My husband and I basically watch whatever is on every night. Sometimes we even keep it on during the day so our breaks are all one sport or another. It’s fun to watch the Olympics and see the challenges these athletes face especially with COVID still around.

This month I read eight books, which is par for the course. They were some excellent books too and I only broke from my TBR once to read a YA book and cleanse my palate from some of the heavier fantasy books. It was well worth it and so happy to be entering August with some fresh books.

My Favorites of the Month

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

This was such a sweeping fairy tale retelling with a great story and a mix of Eastern Asian culture. I absolutely loved the imagery, the characters, and I cannot wait to read the conclusion soon! My full review here.

Shiori, the only princess of Kiata, has a secret. Forbidden magic runs through her veins. Normally she conceals it well, but on the morning of her betrothal ceremony, Shiori loses control. At first, her mistake seems like a stroke of luck, forestalling the wedding she never wanted, but it also catches the attention of Raikama, her stepmother.

Raikama has dark magic of her own, and she banishes the young princess, turning her brothers into cranes, and warning Shiori that she must speak of it to no one: for with every word that escapes her lips, one of her brothers will die.

Penniless, voiceless, and alone, Shiori searches for her brothers, and, on her journey, uncovers a conspiracy to overtake the throne—a conspiracy more twisted and deceitful, more cunning and complex, than even Raikama’s betrayal. Only Shiori can set the kingdom to rights, but to do so she must place her trust in the very boy she fought so hard not to marry. And she must embrace the magic she’s been taught all her life to contain—no matter what it costs her.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

I absolutely love Becky Chambers and this book is by far my favorite. It was a beautiful story about a monk and a robot, but it also dives deeply into themes of existence, meaning, and the hope in it all. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good story with a deeper meaning. My full review here.

It’s been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools. Centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again. Centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of “what do people need?” is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.
They’re going to need to ask it a lot.

Becky Chambers’ new series asks: in a world where people have what they want, does having more matter?

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

I decided to read this one on a whim and I’m so glad I did. It reminded me of all those great dance movies, but with a little magical realism twist to it. I read through it so quickly wanting to find out the end, and I’ll tell you now, the ending will break your heart. My full review here.

Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.

As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met.

Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

This was one of my highly anticipated books of the year and it delivered! OMG, I didn’t realize this was based off real people but not in real situations. It’s gender defying, deeply militaristic, and if you’re fan of books like The Poppy Wars by RF Kuang, I highly suggest it. To be warned, this book is marketed as fantasy, but it’s more historical fiction or literary fiction. I wasn’t disappointed there wasn’t much fantasy, but I can imagine folks going into it thinking it’s one thing and getting something completely different. My full review here.

“I refuse to be nothing…”

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty yellow plain, two children are given two fates. A boy, greatness. A girl, nothingness…

In 1345, China lies under harsh Mongol rule. For the starving peasants of the Central Plains, greatness is something found only in stories. When the Zhu family’s eighth-born son, Zhu Chongba, is given a fate of greatness, everyone is mystified as to how it will come to pass. The fate of nothingness received by the family’s clever and capable second daughter, on the other hand, is only as expected.

When a bandit attack orphans the two children, though, it is Zhu Chongba who succumbs to despair and dies. Desperate to escape her own fated death, the girl uses her brother’s identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. There, propelled by her burning desire to survive, Zhu learns she is capable of doing whatever it takes, no matter how callous, to stay hidden from her fate.

After her sanctuary is destroyed for supporting the rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu takes the chance to claim another future altogether: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

Jade City by Fonda Lee

This was our Fantasy Book Club read and I was so surprised by how incredible the story was. It was filled with action and intrigue. If you’re a fan of crime families like in The Godfather, then I highly recommend this one. It follows one family amongst two that are fighting each other for power over the city. And as you read, the story starts to turn for the worst for the Kaul family. I ended up rooting so hard for them in this interesting world Fonda Lee’s created. I plan on reading book 2 eventually, but this one definitely blew me away. Full review coming soon.

The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.

The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.

When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.

Small Favors by Erin A Craig

The final book of July 2021 and I have to admit, I wish I waited to read this one until the fall. It’s a spooky story, which would be perfect for October and Halloween time. Alas, I read it in July but that’s okay. This book was gripping and atmospheric from page one and I couldn’t put it down. Since it’s the final book of the month, I haven’t had a chance to write my thoughts, so full review will be coming soon!

Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range–five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned.

As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.

What about you? What did you read this month?

June 2021 Bookish Wrap Up

June 2021 Bookish Wrap Up

I can’t believe it’s the end of another month! It’s been a quiet reading month for me trying to juggle reading books while also starting my full time job. Apologies if I haven’t responded to your comments! I hope to make better of my time on here this month.

But let’s get to the books. This month, I read six books and DNF’d one. It was a pretty rough month on my mental health, so I spent a lot more time outdoors and exploring my city than staying in and reading. I also feel like now that things are opening up around me, so I’ve been wanting to get out of the house.

And we did just that. Not only did I head out to New Orleans for a work trip, but we stopped in Las Vegas for a weekend and then headed down to San Diego for a night. Maybe that’s why I’ve been so tired for the rest of the month.

My Favorites

Crier’s War and Iron Heart by Nina Varela

These were the last two books I read in the month, but they were stunners. I’m not usually the type to forego my entire TBR and read something else, but I was so enamored by this story after finishing Crier’s War for book club, that I needed to dive into Iron Heart right after. I will say I liked Crier’s War more than I liked Iron Heart, but the story was so well written, so well imagined, and beautifully romantic in all the ways you want fantasy to be that it didn’t even bother me. I finished reading both books like I just had a satisfying meal. It was a great read for those who are looking for something a little more character and human based.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

I probably don’t have to say a lot about this one especially since Casey McQuiston’s been getting a lot of love for this work. It’s inclusive, a little sci-fi, and so romantic it made me squeal on more than one occasion. I love when a book makes me so happy I want to burst and the attraction between Jane and August is definitely worth the read.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

This was my first Susanna Clark book and it probably won’t be my last. What she’s able to accomplish in the 250 pages that make up this book was so weird and awesome at the same time that I couldn’t put it down. I put off reading so many books so I can savor every page of this one. While I was a little disappointed in the end, it was the creativity, the usage of Theseus in the labyrinth, and the mental state of Piranesi in the labyrinth that really kept me going. Wow. If she’s able to do that in 250 pages, I wonder what she accomplished in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

Honorable Mentions

  • Very Sincerely Yours by Kerry Winfrey
  • Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

What did you read in June?

My April 2021 Wrap Up

My April 2021 Wrap Up

Happy end of another month! I swear, if I wasn’t paying attention the month would end much sooner than it does.

While nothing much happened this month for me (another month in the pandemic), I did celebrate my wedding anniversary with my husband. I think this was the most eventful anniversary since we took some time out in nature, watched movies and tv together, and then headed to the Wedge; a huge surf spot in Southern California where the waves were monstrous! I took a few photos with my phone and so happy to capture Mother Nature doing her thing.

Photo of the ocean with a giant wave crashing on the beach. There’s white water all around and a bit of the sandy bottom on the left side. The sky is above and it’s super grey giving the photo an ominous feel.

This month I did a lot of experimenting with my reads. First, I tried to continue my poly reading journey. That didn’t happen since I’m a creature of habit and all I did was go back to one book at a time. Then, I also scheduled out my reads. This was something I was trying to see if I can stay on a schedule. Turns out, that’s not possible either. Finally, I tried listening to books while I was at work. That also didn’t work because it became too distracting to either the story or to the job.

So with a ton of failed experiments, I actually did a lot better than I thought. I read nine new books and one reread. Most of the books were physical with two audiobooks in the mix. I’m so happy with the books I read. I started off the month with Becky Chambers and then ended the month with P Djeli Clark. Starting and ending your monthly reads with authors you love is probably the best reward for reading books lol.

I had a good mix this month! I read a few contemporary stories, a few sci-fi, and I’m always reading fantasy nowadays. I’ve discovered new favorites, disappointed in some highly anticipated books, and just generally stayed off my phone and read the books. Let’s talk about them.

A Master of Djinn by P Djeli Clark – I really loved this one and finished my month with it. Clark is a fairly new author to me since I’ve only read Haunting of Tram Car 015 last year. But after this book, I’m a fan for life.

Luck of the Titanic by Stacey Lee – I didn’t know there were people of Chinese descent aboard the real Titanic! This story is loosely based on those people and while it may not be true, it was such a great story filled with heroism, strength, and tons of support.

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders – Ah, a highly anticipated book of the YEAR and I was a little bit disappointed. I was hoping this would solidify my love for Charlie Jane Anders and in some ways it did, but this one didn’t really meet the mark for me.

Malice by Heather Walter – A Sleeping Beauty retelling that I really loved. Heather Walter really embraced the story and made it her own with a sapphic romance between Princess Aurora and Alyce, a Vila whom everyone believes to be the villain. But there are bigger dangers than Alyce in the world and this story brings up those subjects.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – This was my first time reading this book! Yes, I know I’m very late to the game. But after that BookTok trend about it being so good it’ll bring you to tears. While it was a good book and I definitely loved it, I didn’t cry. But then again, I don’t cry for sad romance stories. My heart is made of stone.

Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez – I absolutely loved this one! I’m probably blinded by my love for this story that I missed some bigger issues with the book, but it really kept my attention and made me fall in love with the two characters. It also brings up some important themes like taking care of yourself and not putting such harsh restrictions on yourself because of some inevitable fate. Plus, there’s a goofy rescue pup in it that I couldn’t resist.

The Conductors by Nicole Glover – I really enjoyed this one and if you’re a fan of mysteries that take place in historical settings, then you should check this one out. I loved meeting Hetty and the interesting magic surrounding her. I wished I like the story more, but I have more hopes this is just debut jitters and the next book will be even better.

I Was Told It Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman – I’m always surprised by Abbi Waxman’s stories and when I heard she wrote a mother/daughter story, I wanted to check it out. It was such an interesting story to see this duo go on their college visits road trip and stumble across some interesting moments. However, the story kind of falls apart with this admissions scandal included in it. I get that it’s supposed to be reminiscent of certain admission scandals that happened a few years back, but it was abrupt and entered the story way late. Other than that, a great mother/daughter story if you’re into them.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers – I will always and forever stan Becky Chambers and this book is one of the reasons why. While the first book in the series, The Long Way Down to a Small, Angry Planet, felt like a fun space adventure with a ragtag crew of aliens and humans, this is an example of her softer side. The story focuses on two narratives and as you read, you get to know these people and who they were and the worlds they had to survive to get to the point they are today. I’m always so impressed by Becky Chambers because of this and I’m so glad I started the month with this one.

That’s it! How successful was your month? Did you get a lot of reading done?

My Favorite Books of 2020

My Favorite Books of 2020

It’s getting close to the end of the year, which always means looking back and reminiscing about the events and happenings. Like the memes all mention, 2020 felt like the entire decade of events happened in one year.

But I think the one saving grace of the entire year was my love for books. With books, staying home didn’t feel too hard. Luckily, as readers, we don’t mind an entire weekend of reading. However, the novelty of having every weekend free until the foreseeable future messed with my head a bit. I definitely felt the anxiety about our future and I definitely felt that “when will this end?” So I’m glad books are in my life and I can spend my time reading.

This year, I read 98 books, over 34,000 pages, from across different authors, stories, and worlds. Just a few books shy of my yearly 100-book goal, but at the same time I kind of don’t care. I went into this year with a lot of different goals and challenges for myself and ended up just being a slug on the couch. I think it’s safe to say that this is the year for that kind of thing. But, I did find read some incredible books, found new authors I adore, and read much more into the sci-fi and fantasy genres than I have in years past.

I’m going to say it right now. 2020 sucked, but at least my reading life was profound. Here’s the books I loved in 2020. There’s 21 of them and I’m not even going to try to distill this down to a specific number because they were all great and I’m not a huge fan of trying to determine a top 10. Each of these books had something incredible to offer the readers, so I decided to write one sentence about each about why I loved it. I hope you enjoy!

The Unspoken Name by AK Larkwood: ORCS! F/F love story, but ORCS! I never see orcs used as the main content of a book. They’re usually the villains, but reading this one definitely excited me and being a dark fantasy was also a nice touch.

My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame: A book that made me cry! This manga series was two volumes, but I ended up reading it in one sitting. I was so emotional at the end.

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson: I always describe this book as Top Gun in space! As a YA series, Brandon Sanderson really nailed the tone and there were some really funny lines in this one. I will always be a fan of doomslug as well.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: My first Becky Chambers and it was perfection! I love a good space opera, but with a ragtag team of misfits who somehow come together to save the universe is totally my thing too. If you’re a fan of Firefly, then you’ll really love this.

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers: This book was my second Becky Chambers, but also I loved the themes and the ending. It most definitely made me cry.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab: Do I need to say anything about this one? Incredible writing, lovely story, and I love the play on “the muse” character.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire: I’m now a huge Seanan McGuire fan because of this book. I want to read everything she’s written. This book has alchemy, chess, twins, science fiction, fantasy, everything you ever wanted. It’s super complex and kind of confusing, but still so interesting and satisfying.

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P Djeli Clark: This one made me a fan of P Djeli Clark! I love alternate realities and this one dives into an alternate Cairo with an interesting murder mystery and a ton of fantasy elements. I cannot wait for his full-length book within this world coming out next year.

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders: My first Charlie Jane Anders and it was so good. I love dissection of different worlds and how those worlds play out with each other. Most definitely enjoyed it.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir: My favorite lesbian necromancers. It’s super dark and the story has so many twists and turns. You’ll be scratching your head for a while, but at the end it’s completely worth it.

The City We Became by NK Jeminsin: What if cities were people and they needed to fight against a greater power threatening to destroy humanity as we know it? What if each of New York’s boroughs were represented by the people who actually lived in them. This book explores not only magical themes in the real world, but also dives into the racial injustices we see everyday. Plus, it’s a great love letter to New York City.

An Ember in the Ashes Series by Sabaa Tahir: Yes, the entire series. It’s probably the first series in a very long time where I was so excited for the next book and had my jaw on the floor. I’m so glad I got into this series this year. I read the books slowly, one a month until the final book released. And I have to say that Sabaa Tahir is one of the most brutal authors I’ve ever read. This is a good thing because I haven’t seen an author be this ruthless with their characters in a really long time. Bravo on this series! I can’t wait to read what Sabaa will be publishing next!

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A Brown: I absolutely loved this one. It was filled with blood magic, princesses with power and dreams, a young guy looking for his stolen sister, and their relationship to either fall in love or kill each other. I love stories like this so much and I cannot wait for the second book to finally come out.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune: This book was the biggest bear hug from a best friend you can ever get. I treasure this story and the young folks who are portrayed in it. It discusses being different, having lost family at an early age, and the power of finding a new family. It most definitely made me cry at multiple moments.

Lobizona by Romina Garber: This was my surprise story of the year. I didn’t know what to expect when reading this, but I was so surprised that it didn’t get the kind of love it deserves. It discusses undocumented citizens in many ways than one, finding your family, yourself, and where you belong. It’s most definitely a YA filled with its regular tropes, but I didn’t mind any of that because the story was that good. I highly recommend if you’re a fan of magical schools, werewolves, and brujas!

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas: Speaking of magic, Cemetery Boys was such a sweet story about a boy trying to prove himself as a brujo to his family after coming out as trans. Of course, things work a little too well and our main character is stuck with the ghost of another boy following him around. While he tries to figure out how to save his new ghostly friend, our main character also discovers his own ability, defies the strict gender-based rules of his family’s culture, and falls in love.

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson: The second book in the Stormlight Archive. OMG, I think with every book I read from Brandon Sanderson, I fall in love with his world a little bit more. I can most definitely see me devouring the rest of the Cosmere in the future.

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter: If I had a top 5 list of favorite books of the year, this will most definitely be on it. OMG, this book was so good with a hero’s journey, the chosen one, but also a lot of heart and loss. I love stories like this and I cannot wait to get into the second book next year.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse: This is my first book by Rebecca Roanhorse and wow, I was totally in love with it. Seriously, this was way different from any of the other stories I’ve read and it’s filled with Pre-Columbian folklore that was way worth the read. We read this one for book club and I have to admit, it was one of my favorites of the year.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan: I finally started the Wheel of Time and I’m so glad I did. The first book in the series was interesting for sure. I loved all the characters and enjoyed the homage to The Fellowship of the Ring in the beginning of the novel. As you get into the rest of the story, then it starts to diverge and that’s when I started to really get into it. I think this series will definitely be appearing on my TBR next year.

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson: I’m so glad to finish this year with another Brandon Sanderson novel. This will make my third Brandon Sanderson of the year and I don’t think I’ll be stopping. This story really impressed me especially with its magical systems and characters. I will most definitely be finishing this series next year.

November 2020 Bookish Wrap Up

November 2020 Bookish Wrap Up

Happy Monday and happy last day of November! I can’t believe we’re here again!

Around this time of year, I’m always feeling a little bit of fatigue from reading. I think it’s because the year is winding down and all I want to do is watch comforting movies and eat cookies and hang out with my family. But because of COVID, I think I’m feeling it a bit more expontentially so a month of reading some lighter books while eating an entire tray of apple pie leftover from Thanksgiving is sometimes a necessity.

Looking at my reads from November, it looks like I was allergic to fantasy books. I read two fantasy and the rest were contemporary or romance fiction. However, I did read two fantastic fantasy books that are now treasured stories and authors who I’ve put on my pedestal of great fantasy authors. There’s only a few folks up on this list, so adding a few more makes me feel so good.

I also got to read an excellent graphic novel that stirred my heart and actually brought a tear to my eye. I’m grateful for a lovely graphic novel as well especially when the story is very straightforward and easy to read and fall in love with.

My Favorites of the Month

The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

This was such a great fantasy story and one that rivals authors like Brandon Sanderson. Evan Winter masterly creates a fantasy novel with characters you want to know. It’s a military fantasy, but it’s also got a little bit of romance, a lot of revenge, and a story that moves. Honestly, I was surprised with how quickly I was getting through the book! It keeps you on the edge of your seat and the scenes all feel realistic. Evan Winter is also brutal, but the way the story moves will really make you a fan. I loved the intrigue and the plot and all the characters. While there is one central main character, I do feel like there’s a bit of an ensemble and it’s a cast you will definitely back.

Heartstopper Vol 1 and Vol 2 by Alice Oseman

I received a copy of these graphic novels for a promotion I had later in the month. Luckily, they were quick reads and I finished them in two separate sittings. I laughed. I shed a tear. It made my little cold heart feel things (lol). Charlie and Nick were such sweet characters who really took care of each other and as their friendship blossoms into something else, so do some of the bigger questions and discussions from the book.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

I have to say, I’m blown away by this book. The synopsis is just the tip of the iceberg of this story and while yes, what is said does happen, there’s so much more complexity to it. The story is written in four different perspectives from four different groups of people existing in this fantasy novel based off of pre-Columbian folklore. Like Rebecca Roanhorse says, this book is entirely made up, but there are components to the story that live within indigenous storytelling. I think this is my first time reading a story of this kind and I’m completely enthralled. I want more and need more books like this.

Honorable Mention