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.

My Top 20 Favorite Reads of 2021

My Top 20 Favorite Reads of 2021

Happy end of the year! I know I’ve been a bit MIA for the past few weeks, but it’s mostly to recharge the old blogging batteries before starting a new year. I’ll be back next year, but before I depart from 2021, I wanted to share my favorite books of the year. While this may only be a list of the top 20 books of the year, I do want to make a little shout out to all the books I read this year. Thank you for keeping me company while the world seemed to fall apart outside. You truly are the MVPs of this year and last year (and probably next year).

And thank you to everyone who’s reading this blog! You’re the real champs who have motivated me to keep reading, keep writing, and keep exploring this wonderful world of books. Here’s to another year in the books.

And in no particular order, here’s my top 20 favorite books of 2021!

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

This was one of the very last books I read this year and it honestly blew me away. Filled with dragons, magic, and even a love triangle, you’ll be swept away to a new world and wonderful adventures in this one.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

I really enjoyed this one. I felt like Tracy Deonn really took her time to write this story and putting together this beautiful world that exists within the real world. It’s obvious from the way it’s written that a lot of research went into it. Everything from how King Arthur made his way to the Americas to even Bree’s family lineage all the way back to enslavement were well executed and breathed a real feeling into it. While King Arthur might be legend, this story really brings that legend to life.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


A Master of Djinn by P Djeli Clark

I think the one thing that I can always trust from a book by P Djeli Clark is super rich descriptions and a level of world-building on the same level as the great fantasy writers. The depth of description even to include the backstory of that building or event or thing that’s being described is exceptional. It’s extremely visual, which makes me want to see this one on the big screen. I think that this would translate so easily with a story that will definitely keep you watching.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Get ready for space because there’s a lot of it and it’s non-stop. I loved traveling through space with Ryland and his friend, seeing what happens to Project Hail Mary and earth, and seeing what happens to Ryland. The ending was a bit bittersweet and a really wild ending, but it’s been such a magical journey so far that you’ll definitely be happy with it.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He

This wasn’t the typical YA SFF story that I usually read. I mean, it has the tropes. It has the bits and pieces of a YA SFF story that you want, but it was so much more for me. It read like literary fiction. It had that Kazuo Ishiguro Never Let Me Go vibe and it really surprised me. This was definitely one of those stories where it was less important how the world worked, how the science of everything turned out, and how Kasey eventually figured out how to save the world. It’s more about Kasey and Celia; their fractured relationship, their need to find each other, and the world that they grew up in and how that affected both of their lives in very different ways.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

I had such a good time reading this book. It’s filled with such fun anecdotes, delicious foods, subway rides, and tons of romance. August and Jane were such a lovely couple and I wanted to follow them to the ends of the earth just hearing their stories. Their romance truly made the book and I honestly was on pins and needles worried that it wouldn’t work out for them. Granted, that wouldn’t make this book a true romance, but there was that emotional build up that maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t work out.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

This was my first book from Susanna Clarke and after reading it, I have to say that it won’t be my last. The author was able to pack so much story into so few pages that it can’t even be considered a novella. No, this is a full blown novel that will whisk you away to a world that’s just so difficult to fathom. It was such a multi-layered story that you need to pay attention to otherwise you might find yourself as lost as Piranesi in the labyrinth. She also doesn’t give you any clues directly; it’s all subtle or underlying, so make sure to read everything she provides.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Crier’s War by Nina Varela

I wasn’t expecting anything in particular from the book, but when I started reading and seeing Ayla and Crier coming together and the tension between them both mentally and emotionally, it kept me reading. I loved the play of feelings here; there was the mental struggle to stay loyal to your cause, but then emotional struggle to not fall in love. Ayla’s feelings were so real and her push/pull from Crier really drove the story for me. That isn’t to say Crier didn’t do the same either. Her ignorance of growing up in a gilded cage and then meeting Ayla who questioned everything is literally what you want to see; someone strong enough to open your eyes to what’s around you and make you wonder why.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

This was a wildly beautiful and breathtaking novel. I was so impressed by this book and it was my first from Elizabeth Lim. I can definitely see myself reading more of her books in the future. I loved how much excitement and adventure this book has. There was bit of suspsense, romance, fighting, and magic. It had a little bit of everything and it was so well done. I really appreciate a book I can fully immerse myself in and just feel like I’m along for the adventure.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers

Thanks, Becky Chambers, for triggering my anxiety. It takes an incredible author to write a 150-page novella and bring me down to the level. But I’ll get to that particular part in a minute. Let’s first clear our heads and discuss the other components of the book.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Green Bone Saga trilogy by Fonda Lee

This trilogy featuring Jade City, Jade War, and Jade Legacy will absolutely blow you away. If you’re a fan of mobster style stories filled with political intrigue, magic, and the importance of family, then you’ll really love this series. While it’s action-packed, it also dives deeply into the stories of the Lan clan and how their family deals with not only being one of the most powerful gangs in this fictional world, but also how they survive together.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Yep, this book was ALL THE THINGS I was expecting it to be and then some. While this book is compared to Mulan, I think it’s far from it. If anything, this read more like The Poppy Wars. If you’re a fan of literary fiction, historical fiction, military fantasy, stories with gender identity, queer relationships, or even stories that will flip you on your head, then I invite you to read this book. This is THE book and it was massive and lush and powerful and so damn surprising.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Small Favors by Erin A Craig

This was the first book I read from Erin A Craig, and I have to say, color me impressed. The story was beautiful with a dark and haunting vibe all throughout. From the cover, I was imagining this story to be a bit more light-hearted, but the town’s descent into madness, definitely gave you a completely different vibe. It didn’t take long for the atmospheric writing to set in and I was creeped out by things at night. It’s not a scary book, per se, but it’s definitely got the atmosphere. I might have had some goosebumps.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

I love a book with great world building and this one delivers so much of it. I felt like Jordan Ifueko put in a lot of effort into this part because if the lore and world-building didn’t make sense, then the story wouldn’t make sense either. It’s always great to read YA fantasy books that have much more depth to it. The lore itself is also incredible. I was telling my husband how the systems of government worked with the 12 ruling parties, the sacrificial children to the Underworld, the political struggle to keep everyone happy, but everyone isn’t. And then on top of that, a massive overtaking of people’s culture and traditions all in the name of unifying the country. There’s so much that this book deals with and does it so expertly that I’m really shook by how this is just a debut!

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

I could gush about this book for forever. It was funny and dark and sweet and filled with magical ideas and gruesome endings. It was everything I really love about a good fantasy story; a little magic, a little dark, and extremely beautiful. I’m also surprised with how little book there is and how much story was told. I love it when a short book packs a punch!

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

This story was definitely a stunner and I had so much fun reading it and getting to know The Montoyas. I’m so blown away by the writing, the story, and the characters. I’ve read Zoraida Cordova before, but this felt like nothing I’ve read from her in the past. Well, mostly that’s also because I was reading her YA fantasy fiction and not her adult novels. And this delivered! The writing is gorgeous, the pacing is beautiful (up until the end where it got rushed), the mystery was mysterious (albeit a bit predictable), and all together such a great read. It was not necessarily a fantasy book, but I wouldn’t call it magical realism either. There was magic, for sure, but it definitely felt more like a fantasy. I would go as far as say science fiction, even! But this genre blending book definitely gave me all the feels.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

If you’re a fan of shows like The Bachelor, then get ready for this one. Seriously, I’m pretty sure Alison Cochrun watches the show because the mentions were spot on. “Can I steal you away for a sec?” is probably one of the most iconic lines of Bachelor ever and it was in here! Not only that, but the timeline of the show, the iconic parts that make up the show, the behind-the-scenes scripting of the characters (even how they made someone into a villain), and the best part is that this was the running theme throughout the book. Sometimes you read these romance books and they just drop off on the main plot of the book to focus on the romance. I’m so glad that you basically see until the final episode what happens on the show.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

This book is incredible. Full stop.

Beautifully written and smartly displayed. It gave me TJ Klune and Becky Chambers vibes. It gave me donuts and so much delicious Asian food. It made me think of my violin-playing youth. And it was a massive love letter to the Asian communities of LA. I honestly was so astounded by the beauty, the embrace, and the creativity this book provided. It’s definitely one of my favorite books of the year.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


What were your favorite books of the year?

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 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.

October 2020 Bookish Wrap Up

October 2020 Bookish Wrap Up

It might be a week late, but I’m finally done writing about the books I read in October. While my brain is still a little mushy from the events happening in the United States, I was able to accomplish many of the goals I set up for myself. I read my fantasy books. I doubled up on fantasy and spooky reads. I also read some amazing Latinx authors to celebrate Latinx Heritage Month.

The books I read were all inspiring, hidden surprises, and some great reads. While not every book I read was a winner, there were definitely a few that I wanted to share.

My Favorites of the Month

Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters

I picked Would Like to Meet just because I needed some lighter books as we approach the end of the month. Would Like to Meet was just perfect for it. It’s about a young woman who wants to prove herself as the next best rom-com screenwriter. She just has a big ass obstacle: her boss doesn’t take her seriously and he wants her to work with one of the best screenwriters. And we’re talking Hollywood level big time screenwriter who’s a little too arrogant for his own good.

This one was definitely surprising and in a very good way. I loved how this story moved and made you root for one of two very eligible dudes. It’s not a romance by definition, but if you’re looking for something a little bit relaxed, this might be for you.

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

I am always blown away by the worlds Marie Lu writes. Skyhunter is no exception as we journey to what feels like a dystopian world. It was definitely action packed with so much intrigue that I need to read the next one just to find out what happens next. I’m such a sucker for a military fantasy and this one is definitely on this list.

The best part of this book has to be the world building. There’s references to a world before, which makes me think this is Earth but after some cataclysmic catastrophe that wiped us out to the point of extinction. But that’s just my prediction. With the Skyhunter weapons and humans being turned into something evil, it will definitely keep you busy and make you think about what will happen next.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

This was THE spooky book of October and it was a perfect blend of fantasy, horror, and real world issues. I loved that Yadriel is a young trans man who wants to prove himself a brujo despite not having the kind of traditional ceremony the rest of his family received on their 15th birthday. Of course things go wrong on his way especially when the ghost of a newly dead person starts to follow him around. There were some light-hearted moments and it also had its darker components. I also love the deeper conversation about gender especially in a culture that’s got some hard and fast rules on what men and women should be doing.

But absolutely heart-filled and the scary bits weren’t too scary. It will definitely put a smile on your face, but also creep you out a little.

Lobizona by Romina Garber

This one was an absolutely sleeper. I’m so glad I read it, but I wish more people would. It’s the story about a young girl who is running from her father and moves to the United States to do just that. However, her family is being chased by ICE and being an undocumented immigrant is only the tip of the iceberg especially when Manu finds out the truth about why her family came to America and what her family is hiding from her. Similarly to Cemetery Boys, there was this conversation about how gender is deeply ingrained in the culture and traditions of this world.

It was such an exploration into YA fantasy and if you’re still getting your feet wet in the genre, this is a perfect one to start you off with especially since there’s that subtle connection to reality. I will say, I wasn’t a fan of Manu’s “Mary Sue”-style tendencies, but that’s just me.

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson

With every book I read from Brandon Sanderson, I feel like my love for the Cosmere grows. This is no exception especially when the focus on this book was one of my favorite characters from The Way of Kings, Shallan. I love Shallan and I love that we got a taste of the world she came from and what her role is in the middle of all of this.

Of course the book also dives into more about the stormlight and how it works. I feel a lot more lore and intrigue will follow suit in the next book. Even though the book was over 1000 pages long, I still would reread this book in a heartbeat.

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

This was my first book from Agatha Christie, but it’s not my first Agatha Christie story. I knew that there would be some opulent story about rich folks who find themselves in the middle of a murder. What I absolutely loved is how scandalous the entire thing turned out especially at the end. HOLY COW!

I wouldn’t say this is the book for hardcore sleuths. It’s super quick and has a cozy feeling to it instead of the suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat vibe from most modern thrillers. It really caught my attention and I found myself trying to figure out the killer right alongside Poirot. If I had a moustache, I would’ve twirled it.

Honorable Mentions

Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

I had high hopes for this one especially when the cover had a bunch of cats on it and the main character is a captain traveling across space to save her sister. Sadly, the story was a little too surface-level. I didn’t need the book to be hard science fiction or be super technical, but I did want more about Eva and her crew. Also, the plot itself felt a little scattered as it started with one thing, pivots a few times where you’re confused by the main plot again and then resolves itself to create another plopt. I don’t konw, but that scattered feeling was defintie

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

I was so exited for Alyssa Cole’s first thriller book and she brought a level of fear that’s a little too close to reality. Learning about the horrors of this little neighborhood in Brooklyn while also trying to save the neighborhood was such a refreshing take on the psychological thriller. I was definitely creeped out especially when the body count started to go up. I think the only issue I had with this book is that it moved pretty slowly at first and then wrapped the entire thing in the last 50 pages. While I’m totally a fan of a slow burn, I’m not a fan of all the time spent writing the story with little hinting at the bigger creep factor trickling in and then stuck with everything happening all at once that the very end.

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

This one is only on the honorable mentions list because I already read it before! This was a reread for our book club and it was just as enjoyable the second time as the first. Although, I will say I listened to the audiobook version of this one and I had to admit, I was a little disappointed. The narrator seemed to be much older than I imagined Kell to be, so every time Kell spoke, it seemed gruffer, older, and rougher. It’s very weird especially when you have a specific view of Kell from your first read.

September 2020 Wrap Up

September 2020 Wrap Up

Wow, we’re here again. I don’t know what’s happening, but I feel like these months keep getting shorter and shorter. I welcome it, though because that means October is a day away and I’ve got some great books to read in October.

This month, I fell into a little bit of a reading slump and only read six books. I feel like I slumped myself with a big science fiction novel, but then kept on reading and did myself a disservice. It was rough. I went days without reading anything, which is completely fine and something we all should do if we’re not feeling like reading, but at the same time I was so desperate to fall in love with a book and get myself out of the slump. Sadly, all I did was read another book that made me slump even more.

But my friends were talking about how they like to craft and listen to audiobooks. Since I didn’t have any audiobooks lined up for my September TBR, I did a little diverging. This was my first real move away from my TBR to read by my mood. In one way, I’m a little upset with myself for not reading what I planned out. In another (and more important) way, I feel like I did myself a service by switching over to a historical romance audiobook while I picked up knitting again. I cannot agree more with my friends who have been crafting and reading. This is such a great way to keep busy and read books at the same time. It really saved me especially with my mental health a little on the grim side (six months in quarantine will definitely mess with you).

Next month, I think will be a better reading month for me. I have my spooky books for the Halloween spirit, my fantasy reads for my yearly Fall for Fantasy reading challenge, and I’ve added a couple of Latinx authors to celebrate the end of Latinx Heritage Month. I’ve also mixed it up with both audiobooks and physical books as well as a few women’s fiction novels in case I start to slump again. I think it’s safe to say I’ve got a big old list of books to read next month.

But let’s get into this month. Here’s what I read:

Favorites of the Month

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

This was such a good book on audio. I think that the audiobook helped contribute to my overall feelings about this book. It read like a science fiction movie, but with military fantasy elements to it. I’m working on my review for this currently, so I haven’t finalized my thoughts. I just want to say that this is my second book by Tochi Onyebuchi this year and his versatility in writing for both young adults and adults is incredible. I hope to read more from him in the future.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

I made some surprising moves this month with my TBR. Because of my slump from reading TSIASOS and Where Dreams Descend, I decided to read a historical romance that my friends have been telling me was good. They didn’t disappoint! I have a love/hate relationship with romance novels mostly because I need more story than just the two main characters’ relationship. This had a little bit of that especially with the main character who is a seamstress and a duke who wasn’t your classically handsome rake. It was also a slump buster because after this book, I felt like I could read again.

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

Probably one of my favorite books of the month. I can always count on Sabaa Tahir to soothe my slumping soul and bring me a book that I will devour. And yes, I devoured this book like I have with the other books in this series. I’m finally caught up with the series and I can’t wait to see what Tahir has in store for all of us.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

I started getting spooky in late September because I couldn’t wait any longer for the best month of the year. And this was the perfect pick with all the horror and romance and fantasy you would want. I did have a few little issues with the book. Some did mess with my enjoyment of the story, but I think it was still a super strong start to a new YA fantasy series. I’ll be writing my review for this one in a couple of days, but it definitely exceeded my expectations and I would love to check out more work by Kerri Maniscalco. This book publishes on October 27, 2020.

Honorable Mentions

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

I started off with super high hopes this month reading this big tome of a novel. I hoped it would be one of my favorites of the year, but truthfully it didn’t reach my expectations. It’s still a good novel and if you’re a fan of hard science fiction, then this is for you. It gets super detailed and doesn’t leave anything out, but at the same time that detail got so convoluted that it made the rest of the story difficult to read. There were many points where I didn’t understand why the details were important especially when they contributed nothing to the story.

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

I’ve been holding off on sharing my review of this book because this was my least favorite read of the month. It wasn’t the worst book (I DNF those books and not give them any more time), but it was just okay. Perhaps my issue was that I put too much expectation into this book because I loved stories like Phantom of the Opera and Caraval. It just read flat to me and needed a bit more in it to make it truly intriguing and magical. Also, I felt the romance was forced and a little unnecessary in the story.

How was your month of reading?