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Wrap-Up: July 2018

  • The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (★★★★★)
  • Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange (★★★☆☆)
  • The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding (★★★☆☆)
  • Illusion by Paula Volsky (★★★★☆)
  • The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman (★★★★☆)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 5
YEARLY SO FAR: 59

When July started, I had two very specific reading goals:

  1. Do not read too much.
  2. Do not read YA.

My first goal came after I felt overwhelmed with reading these past few months. I felt like I was reading way too much, not giving myself enough time to savor books, and it was beginning to feel kind of like a job. I also was not giving myself time to explore my other interests, namely television or lying around listlessly (yes, that counts). So, for this month, I would only read when commuting and when I really, really wanted to, not when I felt like I had to. Giving myself that space to breathe was wonderful. (Then again, two of these books were over five hundred pages long, and one was nearly seven hundred, so…yeah.)

My second goal came on the heels of last month, where seven out of the ten books I read were YA. I was starting to feel really frustrated with the various tropes present in YA fantasy in particular, the same old recycled plots…they all just started to feel very stale. But YA fantasy is my comfort genre, and I never want to reach a point where I never reach for it at all! So I decided it might be a good idea to take a break until I start to miss it again. This will also give me a chance to explore more books in different genres, which I did this month!

I am currently reading:

Last weekend I read like…thirty more pages of Jane Eyre (*sobs*). I’m getting there! I’m going to force myself to finish in August because this is getting out of hand. I’ve been reading this book since March. Unbelievable. A Place For Us is not as good as I was expecting it to be – I don’t hate it, but I probably won’t finish it as quickly as I want to. Not That Bad is so far as fantastic as I knew it would be, and I’m having to slow myself down in reading it so I can savor it (and so I don’t get all the essays mixed up in my head!).

Mini Life Update: July was a happy month, mainly because I was the recipient of two scholarships that will help me pay for grad school! This is just…incredible because not only are the scholarships prestigious but they just lifted a huge financial burden off my shoulders. I will also get paid trips to Seattle, DC, and an as-of-yet unknown location!

Currently I’m super busy with my summer class, which is ridiculously fast-paced, and I’m putting the finishing touches on my Fulbright application, which is due September 7th. I’m also preparing to enter #DVpit in October! My manuscript is pretty much finished; it needs one more full revision and it’ll be good to go. I’ve written a query letter and am starting to work on Twitter pitches. I want to be done with all this stuff before September, because I’m going to be heading to Egypt for two weeks!

Mini TV Update: I caught up on second season of Daredevil and will probably watch either The Punisher or the second season of Jessica Jones next. I’m also looking forward to the second season of Harlots, which was one of my favorite shows last year; it’s airing on Hulu right now but I think I’m going to wait until it’s all aired so I can binge it like I did the first season. I also want to catch up on the latest seasons of iZombie (which is so far not great), Supernatural (which is pretty awful this season), Agents of Shield, and The Fosters (it’s the last season, unfortunately). I’m also watching The Bold Type, which is the perfect summer show.

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Tentative Summer TBR & Current Reads

So I don’t usually do TBRs because I’m way more of a mood reader, and I might look at this TBR in a week and decide to scrap it completely, BUT there are a bunch of books I want to finish and read within the next month or so, and I thought I would share them here so you guys can see and so that I have some record of what I intend to read.

WHAT I HOPE TO FINISH (by the end of July): 

I am currently reading the above three books: Illusion by Paula Volsky, The Royal Art of Poison by Eleanor Herman, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (yes, STILL). I sped through a couple hundred pages of Illusion yesterday, but the pacing has slowed down again and so have I! I’m still enjoying it very much, however, and I don’t think finishing it by the end of July will be a problem. The Royal Art of Poison, while not what I expected, is turning out to be a quick, fun read too, so I don’t think that should be a problem.

What I’m not sure I will finish in July is Jane Eyre. I really need to sit myself down and just go through the rest of the book already; I’ve been reading it since fucking March! I’m about 44% of the way through, and things are starting to get more interesting, but I still always manage to find something else I would rather read. So, I don’t know, maybe this will go into August? Thing is, there’s another classic I really, really want to read very soon, for a very specific reason.  Read on, friends.

AUGUST TBR

As soon as I finish Jane Eyre, I need to pick up Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Not only is it shameful that a self-described lover of the Gothic such as myself has never read it, BUT I also have an e-ARC of Kiersten White’s The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, which I am absolutely dying to read. I realize reading Frankenstein is probably not a prerequisite, but I would still like to read it beforehand. I also of course want to read Kiersten White’s Bright We Burn, the conclusion to her trilogy and a book that will likely be recalled from me very soon (I have it out from the library and it’s quite in demand). So, as soon as I finish my July reads, this is the first book I will start.

 

Another book I have out from the library is A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza. I’ve heard good things about this book, so hopefully it will be a success! Also, this is another highly in-demand book (I was eleven on the queue and it took a loooong time for me to get this book), so I need to get on it soon. Another book I struggled to get and am excited to read is Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay. I’ve heard it’s amazing. Another book I’ve been seeing absolutely everywhere is Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver. I actually acquired an e-ARC of this months ago but never got around to it. Now, though, it seems it’s the book everyone’s going to be reading. I loved Uprooted and I’ve heard people say Spinning Silver is even better.

 

This portion of the TBR for August is more aspirational than anything. So, the next classic I want to read is The Picture of Dorian Gray, not just because I’ve heard great things about it, but because Creatures of Will and Temper by Molly Tanzer, a book I purchased months ago and have been dying to read, is heavily inspired by it. The latter takes place in a Victorian London infested with demonic presence and features a fencing heroine, so I am HERE for it. And finally, I’ve had An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson out of the library for AGES, and I don’t know if I will get to it or put it on hold yet again. Thing is, I’ve been trying my best to stay away from YA fantasy for a while, especially YA fantasy that has such middling reviews. However, the fact that it is not universally beloved means I might actually like it, so who knows? At the very least, I’m told it has beautiful language, and it’s one of the splashier books out there, so I would like to say that I have read it.

I’ll stop there! There’s a few other books on my TBR but I highly doubt I’ll get to them in August.  I might do another TBR as September nears, though!

Have any of you guys read any of these books yet? Planning to soon? Let me know!

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Owlcrate July 2018 Unboxing!

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Drumroll? Drumroll!

I’ve been so excited for this box! Ever since I heard that the theme would be “Strange & Unusual” I was captivated! I thought it was a strange theme for July, certainly more suitable for October than the midst of summer. I couldn’t for the life of me guess what the book was, since it was described as a “reimagining of a beloved classic novel, mixed with the supernatural fun of Ghostbusters.” It also features a “Victorian Gothic setting” and a “glimpse into the Occult”.

Now that I’ve seen the book and thought about it, it makes sense, but I have to say I was positively shocked at the book choice! I wasn’t expecting it at all! So let’s just get into this so I can talk to y’all about the book! Continue reading “Owlcrate July 2018 Unboxing!”

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Top 5 Wednesday: Books I’ve Removed from my TBR

top 5 wednesday

Top Five Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is currently hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Check out the goodreads group to learn more.

July 18th: Books I’ve Removed From My TBR
Discuss the books that you wanted to read at one point, but don’t anymore

This is kind of fortuitous, as yesterday, out of nowhere, I sat down and decided to clear my TBR just a bit. Not extensively, mind you, I don’t have the energy for that just yet, but I thought I would just give it a quick skim and see which books I am definitely no longer interested in reading.

As it turned out, it was quite a lot of YA fantasy.

I don’t know why I’m having this weird about-face with YA fantasy recently. I don’t know if I’ve grown bored of the genre, or if I’m frustrated with the insistence on tepid romances, or if I’m just becoming really, really picky about the YA fantasies I read. Perhaps all three. All I know is, as I was going through the summaries for some of these books, they all sounded exactly the same, and I had no interest in reading any of them. So I got rid of them.

This list isn’t going to be solely YA, however; I’ve tried to bring in a little variety of genres! (Also, you get six books, because I can’t decide.)


rivers of londonRivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

Funny story: I always thought this was a podcast. I don’t know why I thought that. I see this title thrown around Tumblr a lot and for some reason my brain made the assumption that it was a podcast, not a book. Iwas pleased when  I discovered it’s actually a book. But then I watched Jean @ Bookishthoughts talk about how badly the female characters in this book are represented. I think she literally says that the women in this book seem like nothing more than a pair of boobs and that the male narrator can’t stop objectifying them. Yeah, no thanks.

 


a discovery of witchesA Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I was initially so drawn to this book, because it’s about a scholar and librarian studying at Oxford. She’s also a witch, and there’s vampires and demons and it sounded like it would be super cool. I actually picked it up last month. I read like three pages of it before putting it down. Something about the writing didn’t sync with me, so I thought I’d give it another go sometime later. But then I read some detailed reviews, quotes included, and was disappointed to discover that this book is basically the adult Twilight. Chock full of nonsensical romance and bizarre plot points and a whole heap of toxic masculinity.

Oh, but apparently there’s an upcoming TV adaptation of this with Matthew Goode? You can be sure I’m checking that out.


timekeeperTimekeeper by Tara Sim

I think at one point this was one of the more popular YA books? I was drawn to it because of the Victorian steampunk aesthetic, but the more I learned about it the less interested I was. I think it’s about semi-sentient clocks? Or something? And there’s a romance with a…clock?? That premise seems terrible enough already, but then I read reviews saying it was boring and not at all atmospheric, and that there aren’t many female characters, and that sealed the deal.

 


BLOOD ROSE REBELLION R3 V11.inddBlood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

I added this to my TBR because it’s an alternate Victorian-era Hungary. But it seems like it’s one of many forgettable, carbon-copy YA plots. The protagonist is the equivalent of a squib in her world. Then there’s some kind of rebellion. There’s a love triangle with two tepid romances. Lather, rinse, repeat. The reviews I’ve read pull out some choice quotes about the love interests that had me rolling my eyes. This is the exact kind of YA fantasy I want to stay away from so I don’t start hating the genre.

 


the hundredth queenThe Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

So first, this is an Indian-inspired fantasy written by a white woman, which already has me side-eyeing. But I added it because I thought the concept of a sickly young woman forced out of the comfort of her monastery and forced to fight for the position of wife sounded super cool. But apparently, this book devolves into – surprise, surprise – a tepid romance. Apparently there’s also a lot of girl-hate, which is ridiculous because the concept of this book is practically begging for two girls to team up and blow the whole thing up from the inside out.


everlessEverless by Sara Holland

I was iffy about this book’s concept to begin with.  I mean, it sounded interesting, I guess – time is currency, the rich tax the poor to extend their lives. I mean, it’s fine, just not something that particularly interests me. I don’t even remember why I added this to my TBR. I think that was my “add any and all YA fantasy releases” phase. Anyway, the heroine seeks revenge on one of these wealthy families and also wants to buy her dad more time, buuuuuut…what do you know, all that is forgotten in favor of – you guessed it- a tepid romance!


Mainly this list seems to be showcasing a rabid hatred for romance, which couldn’t be further from the truth! I’m a shipper at heart; I adore romance. I just loathe awkward, forced, tepid romances that are so clearly shoehorned and instalovey and just…cringey. I also hate when romance overshadows plot, which seems to happen in most of YA fantasy these days.

Anyway. Have y’all read any of these books? Am I mistaken for removing them from my TBR? Let me know!

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How I Choose My Books Tag!

Hi guys! So, I realize I popped in yesterday and dropped a book review, then bounced again.  Booktubing is going as well as it can, but frankly? It’s way too freaking hot to film. There’s no way I can film while my AC unit is on, because it’s like thirty years old and it’s fucking loud. I can’t even really have a fan on, because I film with my phone, and even though I have a mic the interference really sucks.

Plus, honestly, I think I’m more into blogging-by-writing, anyway. I’m just never as natural as I want to be when I’m speaking. Which is not to say that I’m abandoning Booktube! I’ll still post unboxings, hauls, and monthly wrap-ups over there, and maybe the occasional tag, but for now I think I’m going to rededicate myself to this blog, which I’ve missed a great deal!

So, I stumbled upon this tag over at The Literary Phoenix – well, “stumbled” is the wrong word to use, since I was actively looking for a tag! But anyways, without further ado, let’s get to the tag!


Find a book on your shelves with a blue pink cover. What made you pick up the  book in the first place?

tipping the velvetI discovered Sarah Waters in a very roundabout way. On Tumblr, I came across gifsets of the Korean movie The Handmaiden, which is an adaptation of Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith. At the time, I knew nothing at all about Sarah Waters or her books, but I just knew that The Handmaiden seemed like a really cool movie, especially as it was marketed as lesbians and criminal intrigue. I watched The Handmaiden, and it ended up being one of my favorite movies of all time. So, naturally, I had to read up a bit on the book it was originally based on, which led me to Sarah Waters.

Because I had just watched The Handmaiden, I didn’t feel like reading Fingersmith, so I looked into Sarah Waters’ other books. I couldn’t make a decision, but then I was in a used bookstore in my neighborhood and I found this gorgeous, vibrant edition of Tipping the Velvet. Upon reading the summary I discovered it was all 19th century London, dance halls, and lesbians, and that’s pretty much the way to my heart.


Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy but did. Why did you read it in the first place?

the star touched queenIn 2016, when The Star-Touched Queen was published, it was all the rage. It was a very splashy debut novel that everyone was talking about. Thing is, it wasn’t all good. Opinions on this novel were vastly divided. It seemed this was the sort of book people either loved or hated. Personally, I was a little iffy about the summary, which made it seem like the book would be the sort of romance-heavy, instalove that I tend to despise, but I was intrigued by the folks who said that Roshani Chokshi’s writing was the most gorgeous writing they had ever read. Since opinions were so divided, I got curious! I thought I would like the writing and hate the romance plot.

I ended up enjoying it very much. I gave it four stars because I found the plot a little lacking, but I was smitten with the writing, which is indeed gorgeous. I have a high tolerance for what others deem purple prose, so I was enchanted with Chokshi’s lyrical writing. I also thought the romance was really well done, surprisingly!


Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick up a book at random. How did you discover this book?

girls burn brighterFull disclosure, I’m too lazy to get up and do this right now, plus most of the books on my bookshelf I haven’t actually read (oops), so I’m just going to choose a book at random from this year’s reads, on Goodreads. So, my finger landed on Girls Burn Brighter.

This was another splashy debut and it made waves in the adult literary community.  People were marking it as to-read on Goodreads and the cover is very, very eye-catching, so I had to check it out. Plus, my friend Rachel was really excited about it, so it was on my radar, and then I stumbled across on Netgalley, so Rachel and I buddy read it (I think?).

I gave it three stars – I thought it was a little too heavy on the torture porn and I hated the ending. I did think it was beautifully written, and I liked its potential.


Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

home fireThis is going to be one of my favorite books of the year, if not of all time. Here’s the thing: I don’t tend to read adult literary, and when I do, I don’t really find myself loving it as much as I loved this book. I usually struggle to connect with the characters, mainly. But Home Fire? I loved it so much. It’s a modern-day retelling of Antigone with an all-Muslim cast of characters, and it has the distinction of having the most beautiful and tragic ending I’ve ever read in my life.

Home Fire was recommended to me by Rachel, who was reading all the books on the Women’s Prize Shortlist (Home Fire ended up winning!). She was a little hesitant about recommending it since, as I said, I don’t generally read adult literary, but I was intrigued by the plot and that it was a retelling of Antigone, a play I had been meaning to read. So I picked up a copy of the play, read it, and then right away I picked up Home Fire. Since I had found Antigone somewhat lacking in emotional resonance (I generally don’t like plays), it was fantastic to read Home Fire right after and get all that emotion I had been hoping for from Antigone, which has such incredible themes.

My one gripe? I wish the covers weren’t so fucking ugly, so I could buy a copy of this book!! But both the US and the UK covers are horrific and meaningless.


Pick a book you discovered through book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?

stalking jack the ripperI have a thing about Victorian London. Frankly, if a book is set in Victorian London and has those Victorian Vibes (you know what I’m talking about), there’s a 99% chance I’m going to pick it up regardless of what it’s actually about. So, when I stumbled across Stalking Jack the Ripper, I immediately knew I had to read it. People were excited about it, it seemed to be a popular series (this book has a 4.02 on Goodreads!), and I kept seeing it everywhere!

Sadly, it did not live up to the hype. My main problem was that this book was boring. It’s really short, but it draaaaaaged. There was just a lot of nothing going on. Plus, it was seriously anachronistic with its characterization. Audrey Rose read like an overeager college freshman who’s majoring in Women’s Studies, not a Victorian-era young woman. It was a bit much. To add insult to injury, there’s no other major female characters besides Audrey Rose.

I didn’t hate this, however. I didn’t mind the romance, surprisingly, and I thought it was atmospheric. I’ve heard good things about the second book in the series, so I acquired it on my Kindle and it’s waiting to be read. I’ll probably get to it sometimes later this year!


Find a book on your shelves with a one word title. What drew you to this book?

mirageAgain, we’re going with virtual shelves here, and my pick is Mirage by Somaiya Daud. I first heard of this book on Twitter, when the book deal was announced, so I’ve been anticipating it for a long, long time. What drew me to it was that the author is Maghrebi and the book is inspired by North African culture. Being North African myself (though Egyptian, not Maghrebi, two very different things), I was immediately excited by the prospect of this book. When a detailed summary of it came out, I was a bit less excited, but I tried to withhold judgement.

Unfortunately, I did not love it. I didn’t hate it, either. I gave it three stars and wrote a lengthy review on Goodreads (which I might post here retroactively, maybe). Mainly, I found it predictable. It felt like the same old YA plot tacked onto a different settling. Plus there was a really jarring mishmash of Olden Times setting and modern sci-fi setting that I kind of despised. I did think the writing was really good, though, so I’ll probably look into Daud’s other work!


What book did you discover through a film/TV adaptation?

wizard's first ruleNever, never have I ever seen a source material that is so radically different from its adaptation. And thank goodness, frankly, because this is godawful source material.

A few years back I discovered the popular fantasy series Legend of the Seeker. After a few false starts (the pilot episode is a bit slow), I finally binged it all, and I fell in love. It was beautifully filmed (in New Zealand!), with fantastic characters and relationships, along with light-hearted humor. I also liked various elements of the fantasy world. I was devastated when Legend of the Seeker was cancelled, so I thought, hey, why not check out the source material?

The Sword of Truth series is garbage fantasy. That may seem harsh, but trust me. This is everything you don’t want in fantasy – it’s got generic Anglo-Medieval worldbuilding, a Gary Stu white male hero who all the ladies want to bone, disgusting amounts of misogyny and sexual violence, and cartoonishly evil villains. Wizard’s First Rule isn’t the worst of the books, but I hated myself enough to read three more books in the series, and they just got progressively worse and more misogynistic. Seriously, there is SO MUCH unnecessary sexual violence in these books!

Also, I’ve heard Terry Goodkind is an asshole in real life, which frankly doesn’t surprise me.


Think of your all-time favorite books. When did you read these and why did you pick them up in the first place?

the beautiful onesHmm…what are my favorite books of all time? I don’t think I’ve kept track. Because I don’t really have a single favorite book, I’m gonna pick one that comes close and that I think is sadly underrated. That book is Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Beautiful Ones.

In a world where people are always vying for Pride and Prejudice spin-offs, adaptations, and reimaginings, I don’t understand why The Beautiful Ones isn’t more popular. It’s a gorgeously written book, with old world elegance, light fantasy elements, and a swoonworthy romance!

If I recall correctly, I initially picked this up because Moreno-Garcia was on my radar, since she’s one of the editors of The Dark Magazine, where I’ve published two short stories. I had been wanting to read something of hers and this seemed like it would be most suited to my tastes. I hadn’t realized it was a Regency Romance with a Telekinetic Twist (as the author markets it!), and I hadn’t thought I would love it this much, but it’s definitely one of my favorite books of all time.


Tagging!

I’m actually going to tag people, because why not!

pace, amore, gelato
lost purple quill
i have thoughts on books
aurora librialis